People

On being in the moment


There’s this idea that technology takes us away from the present. Our phones and the internet make it easy to avoid really experiencing what’s around you.

There was a story in the news recently about a man who almost walked right into a bear. When you look at the video, you see the man was staring at his phone and walking down the street without looking up for a long period of time. This is one of those instances where staring at your phone too much can have really dire consequences.

Other news stories and studies on the topic of how our phones and social media affect us tend to point out that we’re interacting less, talking less, and experiencing less of what’s actually around us.

There’s another idea that gruesome images can have a negative effect on people’s moods. For example, if you see a photo of a decapitated puppy every time you browse your phone, you’re probably going to have a bad time. For many of us, simply reading the words describing dead puppies is enough to put a damper on our day.

Things that can have a negative effect on our moods don’t necessarily need to be gruesome. Facebook taught us that when they used us as human guinea pigs in order to see if people who were shown sadder things on their feeds would in fact be sadder. It turns out, Facebook has more of an effect on your mood than you would probably like.

I’m not advocating against phones or the internet or even time-sucking apps like Facebook. Sometimes you’re in a situation you need to take your mind off of. Maybe you’re on public transportation and everyone is coughing or sneezing around you and instead of having a panic attack about all the germs you’re breathing in you scroll through Buzzfeed’s 17 Dogs Hanging Out The Passenger Side Of Their Best Friend’s Ride And Trying To Holler At You article to feel better. Our phones, social media, and the internet in general get a bad rap for being distracting and taking us away from what we should be experiencing. But it’s not social media’s fault.

What we forget about the internet is we can create our own experience. And we can turn it off. If looking at Facebook makes you feel like everyone has their shit together and you don’t and you go home and cry while eating a tub of cookie dough, stop looking at it. Switch that out for something that doesn’t make you feel that way. Google pictures of cute mini pigs instead.

We all need to take a minute after we’re done staring at our screens to evaluate how we feel. We need to actively assess our emotions. I realize this sounds suspiciously like work and doing some thinking which is totally counter to what we’re looking for when we just want to waste time on social media.

But if we’re not stopping to look at the negative and positive effects of our actions and letting those facts change our behaviors, we’re basically addicts.

I want to be clear. I’m not saying you need to be in the moment all the time and trade your phone in for a carrier pigeon. Sometimes the moment can be stressful and unpleasant which can make you feel bad too. I’m suggesting we all take some time to just check up on ourselves. Like a friend would.

A little introspection can go a long way.

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People

When your dogs fight


There are really few things I care as deeply for, as I do for my dogs.

One of them I’ve known since he was 6 weeks old and the other 2 I’ve known for a little over a year. There are people who I have known longer than all my dogs have been alive and I would throw those people into a burning building to save any of my dogs. I’m not going to talk about how important animals are and I’m not going to talk about why dogs are better than cats, although they absolutely are. What I’m going to talk about is one of the most heart-wrenching things that happens to me and my partner too regularly.

Orbison Pedro III is a 26 lbs., tan, terrier mix. He has a curly tail, he loves food more than anything in the world, and he enjoys passing the time staring out the window. He’s willing to share his toys, even at the dog park. But he grew up as the runt of the litter and he’s used to being picked on. He is resilient. He never lets down. He never stops being who he is and he doesn’t apologize for it.

Soto is a mid-sized, black, Australian shepherd with brown legs and white paws. She’s unbelievably gorgeous and her personality matches. She loves being petted and purrs like a cat, but we love her just the same. She will steal your food anytime, anywhere, no regrets. Soto loves people, but if you’re a dog, she has no problem reminding you she is the one who gets the most attention and who is the most beautiful. No exceptions.

Pete is a husky. I don’t have to tell you how gorgeous she is. All huskies are beautiful. What you need to know about them is their personalities. Pete talks back. Pete guards socks. Pete lets you know when breakfast and dinner should be served. Pete is a fucking boss and she makes sure you’re aware. Pete doesn’t take shit from anyone. But also please, scratch her butt when she asks because she likes it.

Usually, we describe dogs with words like loyal, obedient, loving, and playful. Some of these words I would like if they were used to describe me. But recently I’ve been wondering if my dogs are caring. Do they care about us? Probably. Do they care about each other? Maybe. Do they care about getting enough vitamins? Absolutely not.

I come to this questions because, while I feel and have seen my dogs exhibit not only the human qualities of sadness and love, but also understanding, they fight.

There are moments where they go black in the eyes and their lips pull back violently to reveal wolf-like teeth with purpose. The sounds they make are like war cries from warriors going all in. They attack swiftly and without hesitation. It’s as if their minds have temporarily gone blind, inhibiting them from recognizing the comrades they’ve shared a home with for more than a year. That’s almost 8 years for dogs!

Like anyone who cares about anything, as soon as said thing is in danger, hysteria ensues. They’re all about to kill each other and I’m an accessory to the crime because I’m just standing there letting it happen. Can someone tell me how hard you kick one of your dogs to stop it from murdering your other dog? Or cat or pig or whatever you have?

I sincerely hope that no one ever has to go through this. I hope no one ever has to witness, a couple of beings you love unconditionally try to hurt each other.

The only thing that gets me through it is realizing that they’re not going in to kill. If that were the case, someone would be dead already. It’s a matter of the pack. It’s a matter of who is the alpha, who is the boss. It’s a not so gentle reminder that they’re still animals despite the way they lick our tears and put their paws on our shoulders like they’re going in for a hug.

I will never stop loving any of them. I will never stop loving dogs. I will just do my best to do the best I can for them. Sometimes that means accepting their mistakes and moving forward.

dogs

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People

What kind of liar are you?


There are many kinds of lies.

There are white lies, lies about lies, omissions, lies we tell children, lies we tell ourselves, butler lies, fake sarcasm lies.

Lies we tell children

These seem to be the type of lies most people are comfortable with. In some cases, you can be labeled downright deranged if you don’t keep up the lies everyone has agreed on. Like you would never tell a small child who isn’t yours that Santa Claus doesn’t exist. Unless said child has been non-stop screaming and kicking the back of your seat on a 4-hour flight. Then it’s war. Another thing we lie to children about is death. Death is an incredibly difficult concept to process. Even some adults never figure it out. It can be especially hard to decide if a pet goes to heaven. Thankfully, the Pope is working on clearing that up. In the meantime, here’s a shoutout to all the dead pets believed to be living on a farm. RIP.

White lies

People who tell these lies think of them like they think tasting a grape at the supermarket isn’t stealing. Generally, these lies are small but I guess that’s all relative anyway. Small to some can mean lying about your age, while small to others can be hiding the fact that they stalked you for three months and that’s how you casually met at your favorite bar. These lies are the gateway lies. They can lead to lies about lies and lies about truths that didn’t make sense with our other lies. Some people would argue these lies can save lives or potentially make life more pleasant for everyone before they die. The lies can be useful if used only in emergencies and sparingly.

Lies about lies

These lies can be breakthrough lies or they can be asphyxiating lies. When some people reach this point, it’s like their rock bottom. Other people are just too lazy to remember lies this much. That’s right. We can thank everyone’s inherent laziness for much of the honesty in the world. People who can keep up with this many lies should write a book because they’re clearly wasting their imagination on trivial things. They could write a book about a person who tells lies about lies and then that will get turned into a Netflix drama series and we’ll all be forced to watch it with friends while secretly wondering what they lie to us about and trying not to look suspicious when we think about the things we’ve lied to them about. It will be a hit! Lies about lies are like Pringles.

Omissions

These are one of my favorite kind of lies because they’re so hotly contested. The people who don’t believe lying by omission is lying, haven’t been screwed by a used car salesmen yet. Lying by omission can seem harmless but you won’t know until the facts come to light if they ever do. This type of lying is very popular in soap operas and shitty tv dramas where entire seasons are focused on someone knowing something very important that this other person doesn’t know. You know what series I’m talking about. These lies are like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re going to get.

Lying to yourself

Sartre coined this type of lie “Bad Faith” which involves self-deception. Lying to yourself can be the best thing you ever do or it can be the worst. Everyone does this. If they tell you they don’t, they’re lying. Just a regular lie though. Some people use this type of lie to create confidence. Some people don’t realize they’re lying to themselves and miss out on big opportunities.  We’ve all done this – unless you’re a soulless, egotistical prick that thinks you can do anything. People like to say, believe in yourself. I like to think, don’t believe in yourself. Instead, just believe yourself. Then, always tell yourself you’re awesome. These lies can cause greatness or can cause great damage. Proceed with awareness.

Butler lies

These lies are babies. Communications professors at Cornell University coined the term just a few years ago in honor of butlers who used to do this type of lying for you. Or like when you would make your mom answer the phone for you and say you weren’t there as to avoid talking to someone. Now we use them more commonly when we communicate electronically. Examples include texts messages saying: I’m on my way!, Sorry. Just saw your message., I didn’t receive a call from you, weird., I would love to but I already have plans., I’m at the gym!

Fake sarcasm lies

“Yea, I ate alllll the pizza myself lol.” We know. We know you did it. We’re laughing, but we know. Just stop it.

Undoubtedly, there are more lies than this. Personally, I think lies you tell your employer should be called Lie Taxes because taxes are mandatory and lies you tell your employer can sometimes be mandatory to keep your job. No one would have a job if they hadn’t done this at least once. Don’t lie to yourself.

Anyway, we’d all love to believe we’re super honest people. But let’s face it. We all lie. It just depends what kind of liar you are.

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People

21 days


With the start of the new year, a lot of us are thinking, what we can do to better ourselves? If you’re one of these people, I’m betting you’ve heard it takes 21 days to form a habit.

In 1960, a plastic surgeon named Maxwell Maltz published a book called Psycho-Cybernetics in which he noted that amputees take 21 days on average to adjust to the loss of the limb.

And like most things, the internet found it somehow, took it, and ran with it.

If you Google, 21 days to form a habit you’ll find a slew of articles going back and forth on the concept. But when you look at the images, you find what people really believe or at least want to believe.

google image search

Anyone who has tried to do something new, every day for 21 days, knows how challenging this is. It’s challenging because they probably picked something that is hard for them. No one challenges themselves to brush their teeth every day for 21 days.

On the flip side, anyone who has managed to do a new thing for 21 days knows that there isn’t some magical awakening at the end of the time where suddenly you can do this thing with great ease.

This is where the 21 days concept is inherently flawed. We’re all different people. Some things are going to be harder for some people than others and more importantly, a habit isn’t formed in 21 days. It’s formed in every day that you do it. It literally means, “a settled or regular tendency or practice, especially one that is hard to give up.”

When you try to pick up a new thing for a set number of days, you’re not thinking in the mindset of habit forming. You’re thinking in a span of time. That’s not a habit. Like the time I tried to do something every day that I had never done before in an effort to experience more of life. I think I lasted 17 days and I did feel rather accomplished but the feeling was fleeting and I didn’t accomplish my overall goal of living more fully. Maybe in those 17 days I was a more adventurous person but it didn’t last because I gave up. I didn’t pace myself like you would when you want to keep doing something for a long time.

The other problem with the idea of 21 days to form a habit is how you perceive the goal you’ve just set up. Every day you don’t start, the task becomes harder. Let’s say you want to be a more consistent runner. Every day you don’t run, the task grows into a mountain. I’m not saying you shouldn’t have quantifiable goals. But when you want to make a change in yourself, there is no beginning, middle, and end. There’s just now and what you’re doing or not doing. If you want to be a runner or be a better runner or a more consistent runner, all you need to do, is run. Go, right now. Go do it.

The only difference between you and people who are where you want to be, is action.

You don’t need to do something for 21 days for it to become a part of you. You need to not give up on it and not give up on internalizing it.

I’ve failed many times. So many times, I’m tempted to call it a habit. But the thing that has brought me success in the end, is not stopping. And when you fail, don’t think of it as starting over. Think of what you’re trying to achieve as a road you’re walking down not a mountain you’re climbing. When you trip on the road, you can get back up, brush yourself off and keep going. When you fall off a mountain that’s much harder to do.

When you’re thinking of what you want to become or achieve this year, think about what you want the road behind you to look like.

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People

You and Me and We and I


You and Me and We and I are unpredictable.

You is mostly caring but can be combative at times.

Me is closely followed by -lancholy but when Me is alone, Peace can usually be found.

When You and Me are together, Peace will stick around. But it can still feel like something is missing.

We is happiest. No one can really deny. But We can be very tumultuous.

I is completely different with Love, but alone, I only confides in Misery.

You and Me can turn into We, but they don’t really decide when that will be.

There is speculation it happens the less time they spend with I.

I is quite the smooth talker and incredibly possessive.

I speaks unfavorably of We, although We never does of I.

You and Me often don’t know who to believe.

And even when they think they believe We, they say to themselves, “I bet I could be a better We.”

I tends to sneak back in.

I lingers for fear of being forgotten, of becoming a memory like the Is past.

I wasn’t always so different from You and Me. I once tried to become We.

You and Me risk it all when they try to become We. I took that same risk without realizing I has to become You and Me before it can become We.

Angry, Alone, and Afraid were the first to come when I failed to become We. I wouldn’t listen to You or Me, and soon found solace in Misery.

You and Me and We and I are unpredictable. But they are also, undoubtedly familiar.

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People

The Other Woman


I don’t like being alone or not having plans because the other woman invites herself over.

She invades my place and makes herself right at home, like a roommate you’ve come to hate but can’t kick out.

There were times long ago when she would be nice, even if it was backhanded. But lately she’s been mean.

I don’t like it when I don’t have anything to listen to or read or talk about. The other woman is one of those people who needs to fill the silence.

She can always read me so well.

She says the meanest things. And what impresses me the most about her is the way she always asks questions that make you feel like your chest is being crushed.

Why would anyone love you forever? I mean after they really got to know you.

What are you so proud of? Anyone could have done that and probably better.

Don’t you think you would have the thing you want by now if you really deserved it? You’re just not good enough.

She is relentless. She is cold.

I try to reason with her but that usually ends up with one of us in tears. Mostly me.

The other woman knows me better than anyone I know or have ever known. And I know her better than anyone, because I used to be her.

She is not my shadow. She is not an evil clone.

She is a scared and very lonely, little girl who is too lost and too disillusioned to remember what hope is.

The other woman isn’t a nightmare. She doesn’t only appear in the dark.

She appears in the emptiness. She appears where there is nothing. Whatever appears there after her is chased away, twisted into something empty or simply destroyed.

I think she would retire or maybe find her own place if there weren’t anything for her to wrap herself around.

But how do you chase away a woman who can turn your weapons against you? A woman who can take joy and mold it into a garbage that produces such a foul stench your mind refuses to believe it was ever anything else?

Did I mention she’s a liar? And she paints, too.

She paints these elaborate, huge works of art that eat up empty space. Paintings that could make a person feel like they’re drowning.

The other woman is careful. And sometimes I think she has a plan for me. Because she never stays longer than a few days.

So for now, I guess I’ll try to be a good host and politely ignore my unwanted guest and rejoice in the fact that she has not introduced me to her brother.

I hear he’s the worst house guest, even though he only ever visit once.

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Technology

A haiku poem to Orion


As a child I wasn’t particularly marveled by the space I couldn’t see. I tried counting all the stars in the sky and stared tirelessly into the abyss for the chance of catching Orion’s Belt or the Big Dipper. But that’s as far as it went.

This past weekend, I went to see Interstellar and despite what critics say about the movie, I think it sparked a curiosity in space for me that so many other space-related films failed to do.

Today, a different Orion was scheduled to blast off into the sparkly vastness but due to the forces of nature and the failures of mankind, the launch has been delayed.

In tribute and anticipation, I wrote a short poem in haiku style. Enjoy.

Oh poor Orion

Stuck on land with all of us

Waiting for the show

Antsy you must be

To detach from your clutter

And blast off, fly free

orion

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People

The ways in which I am like my father


Some people are afraid of becoming their parents. There have been times when this was true for me, like the first time I caught myself rationalizing like my mother or avoiding conflict like my father. But to quote one of my favorite books, The Sandman, “We do what we do, because of who we are. If we did otherwise, we would not be ourselves.”

I am like my father because we both try to avoid conflict at all cost. I used to think this was selfish of him and I didn’t understand why he wouldn’t rather talk about his feelings than have an outburst or go off by himself. Now that I find myself guilty of the same crime I realize that while it is a little selfish, it’s coming from a place of desire to love. My father worked a lot and my mother did too, so we didn’t have much time together. My work days are long now and I only see loved ones for a few hours every evening much like my parents used to see each other. The last thing I want to do with that precious time is argue or disagree. Those moments are like treasures that I want to polish every night, not bruise.

I am like my father because we can both quickly lose our patience with people we love. As a child, I remember my father immediately shooing me off after failing at some task. I thought he didn’t like me very much because I wasn’t as capable. Now that I do the same thing, I see how hard it is to watch someone you care about struggle and fail. My father and I must be the most cynical idealist to ever walk this earth. We want everything to be nice and flowy and happy.

I am like my father because sometimes we just need to be alone. I don’t know if you’ve read Harry Potter but there’s a werewolf in one of the books and he has to hoard himself up in this room underground so he doesn’t hurt anyone when he changes. But of course he doesn’t tell anyone he’s a werewolf so Harry Potter and Co. follow him and nearly die. My dad and I think we’re werewolves and as egotistical as that might sound, we can be mean and hurtful. I always thought it was childish of him to walk away from arguments. He would go hide in the garage. Now that this happens to me, I think he just knew himself well enough to go to a room when he was changing so as to not hurt us.

This makes it seem like we’re monsters and we probably look like that sometimes but all of these things seem so small when I think of all the ways I hope I’m like my father.

I hope I can be as dedicated to anything as he is to his family. I have never felt safer in my entire life than when I’m with my father.

I hope I can be as talented with my hands. My dad can fix anything, he can paint, play the guitar, work on cars, cook, mend a little bird’s broken wing, and in a pinch figure out how to make a ponytail.

I hope I can be as strong. My father has always had muscles, but he’s also always had the incredible ability to move on from anything. When anyone tells me that after a certain age people don’t change, I know they’re wrong because my father has grown every year since I’ve known him and it’s always for the better.

I hope I can be as accomplished. As a teenager my father moved to the states from Mexico. He found a job, saved money, bought a house, and helped other people who were trying to do the same by letting them live with him. Then he met my mother and kicked them all out. Since then he’s worked hard to give us the world. Money can’t buy you happiness if you don’t have love and he gave us both. It’s incredible to me that a man with nothing but the shirt on his back, a lack of education, and a language barrier could come to own a few houses, a few cars, send a kid to college, and still have some money and energy left over to encourage his wife to retire early.

In some ways I have turned into my parents and I guess I’m pretty okay with that.

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People, Pop Culture, Technology

What it’s like when all your friends are on the internet


When you only communicate with most of your friends through the internet, you feel like what happened to Joaquin in Her is totally plausible.

Your writing skills are impeccable and you can translate the hieroglyphics coined emojis like an expert.

You think you’re more interesting because you can have long, thought out discussions but really you’re just reading Wikipedia faster than the other person.

There’s this unwritten rule about greeting each other after a certain amount of time. It’s like when you see someone in person again after 6 hours, you say hi again. But since you can always say hi to each other over the internet, when people ask you how you are, they really want to know.

Your significant other is always surprised at how many messages you receive. But they only know how many messages you receive because you don’t have any local friends and you don’t leave the house often.

Instead of inside jokes you have inside gifs.

You only share the parts of your lives you want to. But you get to see people’s lives through their eyes sometimes and that perspective can be really insightful.

Happy hour can be anywhere if you text a friend to have a drink too. Even if they’re in Sweden.

You can’t really introduce your friends to other friends by bringing them along. Instead, you reply all on group emails where you don’t know everyone. All it takes is one solid link to forge the beginnings of an internet friendship.

Internet friendships can make you more empathetic. It takes keen perception to notice when someone is being different through text.

When all of your friends are on the internet, you wish you could see them in person all the time. But you still go through things with them as if they were because they can always be there for you. They are literally in your pocket.

One day people will be collecting our emails and making them into a book as if they were letters from Socrates, Neruda or Virginia Woolf. A poem, a love letter, a touching note is still itself when it’s typed. Shakespeare asked if a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.

I ask, would a word by another medium have such meaning?

And that’s what it’s like having all your friends on the internet.

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Music, Pop Culture

What it feels like when you stop enjoying a relationship


She would make everything easier when she was around. She would make the hours go by so quickly. She could put a smile on my face at the drop of a hat. But when I was sad, she let me cry it out. She said the things I wanted to say but couldn’t. She touched parts of my soul or wherever we store our feelings that I don’t think many humans have. She was my motivator. She was my rock. She was my joy.

And then something changed. Something terrible happened. She’s gone now. I don’t feel any of those things. Maybe the sadness.

I don’t yearn her. I don’t pine after her. I don’t think about her when I don’t have her near me. It breaks my heart.

I try to go back to her. I try to feel like I once felt. I’m just indifferent. She doesn’t do the things to my heart that she used to do.

Music and I were in a relationship. I think it’s over.

I used to listen to music almost constantly. With the graces of technology, I found a device to blast over the sounds of the shower. I was so proud the day I heard a Mumford’s song while vacuuming. It was truly enjoying the the advances of the 21st century in a first world country.

I was that annoying person who foolishly had a song set to play as a wake up alarm. You can be sure that every song I’ve ever had as an alarm is dead to me now. Although, that never stopped me from playing a new song I was addicted to on repeat for weeks.

Playing music at work was not only a necessity, but a must that had prerequisites. I would spend weekends compiling the perfect while working playlist, workout playlist, sad playlist, happy playlist, angry running playlist, can’t fall asleep playlist; you name it.

Tweet: Music to me was like an unexpected massage, by a beautiful person, while someone else hand fed me pizza. @jesspuente http://ctt.ec/2ec2b+Music to me was like an unexpected massage, by a beautiful person, while someone else hand fed me pizza. My music selection is generally seduced by my mood. At other times it lifts me up higher than Snoop Dogg on a Friday.

Yet, I have to confess, I feel it less than I used to. I don’t know why. I don’t know when it happened. I don’t know how long it will be.

This has happened in the past. There was always someone there to tell me it didn’t have to be this way. That I could truly feel and love again. Maybe it’s the lack of new music. Maybe it’s the level of stress that has completely overpowered any and all other emotions.

I figure I have two options. I can turn into a passionless, musically devoid, semi-human. Or, I can play music every day for as long as possible. I can drown out my fears, I can drown out my apathy, I can drown out my stress, I can dance instead of sit.

Recently, a very good friend suggested I listen to Nick Cave. Suggested isn’t the right word, enthusiastically and almost forcefully insisted is better. I’m so glad she did. I loved him. Perhaps, fondly remembering him from the Harry Potter series but this music paired perfectly with my mood. Like when you’ve had a hard day and you go to a new coffee shop and they get your order right on the first try.

I want music back in my life. If you have her in your life, send me your favorite songs. Not the catchy ones. The ones that make you feel. The ones you play on repeat. The ones that you couldn’t imagine a year without listening to. The ones you will never forget the lyrics to.

Send me those.

 

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