No filter...

I've been addicted to Spotify lately, and yes, I'm one of those who pays just so I can avoid the ads and interruptions. Mostly, I've been listening to radio stations based on some of my favorite songs. This morning, on my way to campus, one of my favorite artists, Audra McDonald, showed up with a song by John Mayer called "My Stupid Mouth." I fell in love with her all over again, not simply because of the amazing tamber in her voice, but also because the song puts perfectly to words how I feel most every day of my life.

My stupid mouth has got me in trouble. I said too much again...

Yup. That's me. I don't care what the situation is — somewhere along the way, my filter died, disintegrated, and was destroyed. I can be in a meeting, a class, heck, even at church, and all of a sudden, out of the blue, something that was in my mind for only a nanosecond finds its way across my vocal cords, over my tongue, and out of my mouth. I get this look on my face that evinces my thoughts far too vulnerably: Oh shit, did I really just say that?!?! Dammit!!!

The impact of this reality has a far reach. I get paranoid. I'm worried that I've offended someone. I feel the glare of someone around me, and I retreat into my own little world, putting a piece of invisible duct tape over my mouth. I glance around, hoping to not catch the eye of someone who heard my unfiltered voice, scared of how they might look at me for being such an idiot.

Most of the time, I never see anyone else looking at me. Once in awhile, I'll catch someone's stare, but it's not an unfriendly one. Instead, it's a smile. It's an affirmation that what I just said really was funny or brilliant or thoughtful. I really didn't have anything to be ashamed of or feel guilty about. I'm not as dumb or thoughtless as I made myself feel or thought myself to be. In fact, I'm not even alone. Others have told me of their similar feelings.

Apparently, feeling as if one's voice isn't significant is not as uncommon as I once thought. We all struggle with communicating in ways that are both authentic to who we really are and sensitive to the perspectives of others. Worse, we don't know how to let others know that, even if we disagree with them, their opinions, feelings, and thoughts are more than valid. They're sacred. They're something to be honored and respected. If our thoughts are part of who we are, and if we as individuals have intrinsic value and worth, then the words we speak share in that worth. It's not easy for us to believe, and therefore, it's not easy for us to convey that reality to others, espeically when we're offended or annoyed by what they have to say. But if we're treat others the way we want to be treated, if we're to love others as ourselves, then we need to honor them as often as possible.

It's good to know that, even in those times when I have no filter, even when I feel that it doesn't, my voice matters...

Across your face...

The following is my first post for In Our Words: Salon for Queers & Co.

1. You stop going to Monday night Showtunes at Sidetrack because the crowd is “so much younger”, you have to be up before 6am the next morning, and you feel like you “fit in better” with the Friday or Sunday evening crowd.

2. You’ve experienced the reality of heartburn, and it’s a bitch.

3. You buy off-brand medication, not because you’re cheap or poor as dirt, but because it feels like a waste to buy Zzzquil when you know it’s just dyphenhydramine hydrochloride (Benadryl) at twice the price.

4. You know medications by their chemical name instead of their brand name.

5. You get an inheritance from a family member, and you decide to pay off your loans and open an investment/retirement fund knowing that you might never see a dime from Social Security.

6. You use phrases like “Kids these days” or “My, you are so young.”

7. You start thinking about cholesterol… seriously.

8. You realize anyone turning 21 this year was in 5th grade when you were a senior in high school… and you cry.

9. All your joints hurt, and it’s not from the amazing sex you had the night (or even 5 minutes) before.

10. You get the feeling of being “settled,” and it doesn’t horrify you.

11. You hear yourself saying, “Yeah, we’re thinking about having kids.”

12. All of the 18 year olds look like 12 year olds.

13. You’re not afraid to admit to watching shows like Family MattersFull House, Blossom, or Are You Afraid of the Dark.

14. You miss the 90′s, and then realize they started almost two decades ago.

15. You see the clock says 10pm and either have medicine to take, or you just go to bed — and not because you have to be up early.

16. You’re slightly scared realizing that Mark Paul Gosselaar (Zach Morris from Saved by the Bell) is only 10 years older than you… and only 2 years shy of turning 40.

17. You worry that you friends might do for your 30th birthday party what Brian Kinney’s friends did for him: throw him a funeral with a tombstone cake and their own version of This Is Your Life

18. You see Lisa Ling on The View and remember when she was an anchor for Channel One News, which you watched in 6th grade.

19. You realize the OJ Simpson murder trial took place when you were in 6th grade; you were thankful because it meant your teachers stopped teaching for the majority of that time so you could all watch it.

20. Someone asks you what you think of 1984, and you have to do a mental check to make sure that really was the year in which you were born… it was, and so you answer with something  snarky about George Orwell.

21. You talk about going bald as “your hair losing the fight against gravity.”

22. You talk about your favorite scene in your favorite movie (Sally Fields’ historical breakdown in Steel Magnolias), and your younger friends who watch Lifetime but won’t often admit it dare to say, “I bet Queen Latifah will be so much better.”

23. Breakfast is a real meal… not just hangover food.

24. You remember when gas was $2.00 and cigarettes were $5 — and that was expensive!

25. You start getting flyers from AARP… and you open them.