Tattered Rag Magazine

Posts tagged relationships
February 15, 2016

Trick or Treat, Lovers?

Valentine’s Day is a cheap trick of a holiday or as comedian Jen Kirkman likes to refer to it as, “…kind of childish.” I couldn’t agree more. It’s just another holiday where everyone feels pressured by marketing executives into keeping up appearances with the status quo, most of which are really just a bunch of meaningless stupid shit, anyway. It’s like high school, but in the real world. Chocolate, flowers, greeting cards, dinner out at fancy restaurants, lingerie, yada-yada-yada. Most of these marketing ploys always end up either giving you a fat ass or being tossed in the garbage. Valentine’s Day is the one day out of the year when people try so ridiculously hard to be so incredibly over-the-top, unnecessarily romantic that more often than not it just looks and feels fake.

“The thing about Valentine’s day is that people discover who are single and who to feel jealous of.” – Faye Morgan

“Why buy flowers for Valentine’s Day? Just go to a cemetery and collect a dozen off a few graves.” – Jarod Kintz

“Then, Valentine’s Day came. There was a dance, and balloons and flowers and cheaply made rings and all sorts of lame teddy bears and stuffed animals, as if teenagers can be wooed with the same shit as five-year-olds. It was the Dietzes’ most hated holiday of the year, too, because it dealt with the consumerization of something sacred. Mom and Dad had agreed never to buy each other anything on the day. It was a false, Hallmark holiday. A sham. A moneymaking sideshow for insecure couples who didn’t have true love…” – A.S. King

Most people around this time of year tend to exaggerate their relationships in public as if they are on the set of some soap opera or reality television show. You know, the ones that consume most of our culture’s attention. The ones where everyone is trying too hard to be the picture perfect couple, but underneath the facade the relationship is, more often than not, shallow and fallacious.

I overhear phrases all the damn time such as: “I’ve got to…” or “I have to…” or “…I don’t want to show up empty handed.“ And every time, I pause and think to myself, ”If it’s really a holiday about celebrating the love we feel for someone, then why would we have to get them anything? If we truly love someone, then wouldn’t we want to show them how much we love them? Do we even know why we are doing all of this shit? Do we really want to waste our money on trivial crap that marketers shove in our faces and say that we need? Are we all just floatin’ downstream with the rest of the perch and bass because it’s a national holiday and it’s the thing we’re supposed to do? Are we even really in love? Or are we all just pretending because everyone else is doing it and we don’t want to feel left out? Peer pressure is not just a high school problem, after all.”

“This is the story of America. Everybody’s doing what they think they’re supposed to do.“ – Jack Kerouac

Every year in my observations, I try and spot the authentic lovers. Think of it kind of like a game of "Where’s Waldo,” but with lovers. Each year, the game increases to another level of difficulty. Valentine’s Day has become a lot like Halloween in a fallacious, deceitful kind of way. It’s scary out there. Everybody wears their costume of love all throughout the day, but by the end of the night most end up shedding their costume and by the next morning nothing is left except their naked soul; the real them feeling empty and alone. Underneath the cloak of love lies emptiness, loneliness, betrayal, and heartache. Valentine’s Day should more aptly be called One-Night-Stands Day because it’s not really a day about love anymore. It’s about lust and everyone wanting to feel loved, even if just for one day.

Truthfully, in accordance with its origin story, Valentine’s Day was a lot like Halloween. It was violent and graphic and gory. There was a massacre. Hearts literally torn and pierced. Blood shed. Secret affairs and marriages. A hero who defied a tyrannical government. So in all actuality, we should celebrate in secret and remembrance.  

NEWSFLASH. We don’t need a holiday to be sexy or romantic. We don’t need a nationally-declared day written on the calendar to give permission to or remind us to express our feelings for someone. If the feelings are truly there, they will already be expressed. They can not be hidden or forgotten. Love can’t be hidden or forgotten. Everyday is, can be and should be Valentine’s day, but in a more individualistic sense. The calendar day is different for each pair of lovers. It’s whatever day(s) is special between you and the one you love.

My challenge for everyone is that we evaluate our relationships this year by asking ourselves these questions. Do I want to get this person a present? Do I want to show them how much I care about them? If the desire to give and show isn’t genuinely there, then maybe we don’t really care about them as much as we thought. Maybe we shouldn’t waste our time, or their’s, in a relationship that has maybe already run it’s course.

“Let’s forgive someone for Valentines day, it’s a great way to show love, and forgive yourself too for the hurt you held onto.” – Jay Woodman

Boycott the trite and conventional Valentine’s Day. Celebrate genuinely. Love authentically.

July 31, 2015

Playbook For A Childfree Life

i can barely take care of myself by Jen Kirkman is more than just a hilarious series of stories about a young woman’s life being center stage in the limelight of critique and ridicule about her personal decision of not wanting to bring a child on board her already frenzied train to the free-spirited, strangely cool island of Quirksville. Instead, it’s also kind of like a how-to, didactic playbook manifesto for navigating through a life filled with inconsiderate prejudices from persuasive cavilers.

“Most people who don’t want kids also don’t want to be cornered by strangers at parties who launch an informal investigation into our psyches and backgrounds and decision-making capabilities.” - Jen Kirkman.

“It’s time for the bullying from breeders to stop.” - Jen Kirkman.

Between the pages, Kirkman repeatedly reassures and explains how she does not dislike or, dare I say, hate children or the people that want to have them or even her friends, for that matter, that have or want to have them. She points out that, obviously, ones friendships and interests’ do change a little from how you spend your time and money when you have a child, but it should not change your attitude of respect and common decency towards others!

As you grow up, you begin to realize that the peer pressure in high school wasn’t actually all that bad after all.

“This is the real reason lots of people end up changing their minds and having kids. They don’t want to lose their friends. It’s just like drugs. Peer pressure eventually gets to everyone.” - Jen Kirkman.

However, baby, a child, another human being with a heart should not, under any circumstances, give parents the right to become some kind of rude, elite force; an army of ‘spawnists’ who can’t seem to respect others’ personal choices to not want to multiply their genes. I know how to multiply my jeans just fine, thank you.

“Childfree by choice is the new gay. We’re the new disenfranchised group. People think we’re irresponsible, immoral sluts and that our lifestyle is up for debate.” - Jen Kirkman.

True. Babies and children can be cute little blessings (most of the time). But this doesn’t mean that everyone on earth is cut from the same bib cloth. (no pun intended…well, maybe just a little) Not everyone is cut out or even wants to handle that kind of responsibility of caring for another tiny human being’s every desire and demand. Not everyone follows the same generic recipe for life. Some people find it much more fun to concoct their own original recipe.

“It also takes a lot of strength and dedication to carve out a life that doesn’t seem normal to anyone else.” - Jen Kirkman.

For some of us, it’s hard enough making it on our own; surviving the best we can to make sure we alone get the proper amount of food, sleep, exercise, respect and love to and from others, showering and staying potty-trained. How then should we be expected to be responsible for a little ankle-biter when some of us are already daunted by the task of being responsible for just ourselves?

For more information about Jen Kirkman, go to her website at jenkirkman.com or follow her on twitter: @JenKirkman & instagram @JenKirkman. Everything you need and could ever want to know can be found there. If it’s not there, then you were not meant to know about it…yet.

i can barely take care of myself is available in hardcover, paperback, electronic copy and audiobook (which is read by Jen herself).

Download & listen to her podcast “I Seem Fun: The Diary of Jen Kirkman Podcast” on Itunes, Soundcloud & Libsyn