It’s been close to 8 years since I’ve drank alcohol. I’m an alcoholic and as such I choose to abstain from alcohol because, for a variety of reasons, I was never able to “handle my alcohol” and often ended up making a fool of myself while in a blackout state.
I don’t want to drink again. I don’t like the taste of alcohol, so I don’t miss alcohol. I think I abused it in part because of how damn socially awkward I am, not because wine is delicious or anything like that.
As a kid I was really confident, outgoing, and never thought twice about what I was going to say or do. For most of elementary school I was popular, but as puberty hit my confidence plummeted. I had a strict mother, so flirting or dating boys was something I was taught not to do, and that affected my social status. By grade 7 how sexy a girl was started to become what the boys were interested in, and so since I didn’t look or act sexy my social stock was weak and I felt like a loser.
Anyways, by the time I hit high school I was full on uncool. I remain that way to this day. I didn’t have my first kiss until I was 18 years old. Due to my negative relationship with alcohol via how I saw it affect my father (he went to rehab multiple times during my childhood and struggled to stay sober) I took the perspective that I would never drink. Then one day when I was 19 my impulsive brain changed its mind and I decided I wanted to drink.
The first night I drank I got totally out of control, which lead to my house getting trashed during a party, and the cops getting called. My mother and sister hated me when they came home from Toronto the next morning to find their home in quite a different state than they’d left it the day before.
I could only remember bits and pieces of my first night drinking and that night was definitely an indication of how almost all of my future drinking experiences would unfold.
The thing is I have a lot inside of me that I’d like to let free. For example, by dancing like a ma-ni-ac. But since I was uncool and didn’t feel confident, I was incapable during my early 20s of letting myself go wild while sober (for the most part I’m still incapable of doing this in front of anyone who isn’t a close friend or my boyfriend). Also, since I viewed most other people as more attractive than myself, anytime I was in a party or social environment with any people who weren’t close friends I immediately started drinking copious amounts to try to help myself relax and feel more comfortable around the people I was intimidated by.
Then I’d act a fool and feel very ashamed the next day. Then I’d feel even more self-conscious and nervous the next time I entered a social environment, especially if the same people I’d been blackout drunk of in front of before were there, so the cycle would continue and the need to use alcohol as a social lubricant, or more appropriately social flood, carried on.
Eventually, I reached my breaking point and was able to admit to myself that I was an alcoholic and the only way to ensure that I didn’t get super drunk ever again was by stopping drinking entirely.
The plan worked because I haven’t had another drink of alcohol since I quit at age 24. I still continued to have an addiction to marijuana that only came to an end 2 years ago, so it’s not to say I abstained from drugs after I quit drinking, but I didn’t have a substance to rely on that took away from my self-consciousness and stopped my incessant stressed-out internal dialogue like I did with alcohol.
I think I thought that the longer I was sober I would suddenly become relaxed and totally at ease when going to a party or meeting new people.
But that hasn’t been the case. I still feel minor levels of panic when entering a party or entering situations where I don’t know the people. It might not seem like that on the surface because my approach is to push on through and be openly friendly and enthusiastic, but I’m usually feeling a lot of fear at the same time.
One thing I was able to overcome 2 years ago was my fear of dancing in public. Now I’m able to go out to clubs sober with other people or alone and dance my heart out.
It’s the social situations with groups of people that still really freak me out.
Part of this is because I am definitely not a “chilled out” person. I’ve got A LOT of energy, which is both a gift and a curse. What sucks is when I’m around people either at a new job or at a party and someone tells me to “chill out”, “relax”, “don’t be nervous”, “don’t let them see your fear” (this last one was told to me by a work supervisor before I started to teach a new, high-level class and it immediately caused my stress level to spike because it indicates that I am showing my fear and somehow need to make it immediately disappear–not possible). Also, before I was okay with dancing sober it used to make me so uncomfortable when I wouldn’t be dancing and the dancing king or queen who seems to have no fear of dancing in public (but I also noticed the only people who ever tried to force me to dance when I wasn’t up to it were drinking themselves…coincidence? I think not.) would point me out and try to get me to dance.
Ahhhh…I would wonder, “Can’t you see I’m incredibly self conscious? Everyone isn’t a social butterfly like you…please leave me alone so I don’t feel even more weird than I already do”. I don’t think anyone had bad intentions in these situations–they’re enjoying themselves and probably just want me to enjoy myself in the same way they are–but it only lead for me to feel even more like a sober loser who is way too uptight and not easygoing like everyone else.
My body language is rigid, and I know that. I never know what to do with my hands. For example, I took a counselling course at UBC this summer. We had to videotape ourselves with a “client” (another classmate) and practice being a “counsellor” and critique how we moved and spoke and then receive feedback from the instructor about the same things. One of the first things my instructor focused in on during my first critique (thankfully I was able to greatly improve and “lean in” more by the last assignment) was how my body language was awkward and closed-off. I wasn’t surprised. I know that this is the way I appear to others and it was a minor consolation to have my instructor confirm this, because at least it shows my perception is not all in my head.
The point I’ve reached now though is I’m no longer entering situations like this and constantly repeating “relax” over and over to try to seem calm. I am hyper. I do have an excess of energy that doesn’t always flow out of me in a perfectly dispersed way. My body isn’t free-flowing and that’s OKAY.
I’m sober and I’m a socially awkward geek. I am who I am and I’m happy to have reached the point where I’m no longer trying to be something I’m not. Oh, and when it comes to the supposedly chilled-out people who have told me to slow my roll, are they really all that chill themselves if they’re telling someone else how they need to behave when I was just doing my own thing?
This article is primarily addressed to women, so I’m going to start off with a question for all you ladies out there: Are you drop-dead gorgeous?
(Mickey is played by Gillian Jacobs (left) and Gus is played by Paul Rust (right))
OK. Well, if you answered no to that question, then I want to let you know I’m with you. I think I’m beautiful, and I love myself, but I am no beauty queen and I don’t get attention from men in any noticeable way during my daily life. I am also not friends with guys, and subsequently, I have no platonic friends who are also male admirers (that I know of). Therefore, I was sadly very disappointed by the representation of women in Netflix’s new series produced and created by the highly-successful Judd Apatow (director of 40 Year-Old Virgin, Knocked Up, This Is 40, and producer of HBO’s Girls), and real-life married couple Lesley Arfin and Paul Rust (who’s Gus on “Love”).
Due to the female characters on Girls, which I think are relatable (maybe because I’m a 32 year-old, privileged, educated white female who lives a trendy, comfortable lifestyle in Vancouver, BC), I thought this TV series might be another example of a television show that would make me feel better about myself, and that would make me laugh at all of the crazy things people do. Well, sadly I was wrong.
“Love” perpetuates the idea that a woman can be a cruel, insensitive, and ignorant person who doesn’t hesitate to use her friends as tools, and she’ll still end up with the sweet, loyal, kind geeky guy, or find love, in the end all because she’s such a rebel (aka HOT) and complicated (aka HOT) and trying to change (aka HOT).
Since most of us are not perfect physical specimens this narrative is quite troubling. Mickey is one of the two protagonists on the series “Love”. Mickey is played by the insanely sexy-looking (my opinion of course) actress Gillian Jacobs. I loved how Gillian Jacobs played the character of Mimi Rose on “Girls”. After Hannah (played by Lena Dunham) and Adam (played by Adam Driver) break-up, Adam rebounds with the beautiful, talented, and successful artist Mimi Rose.
Hannah is understandably threatened and jealous of Mimi Rose, and I related to that since I have felt jealous of my boyfriend’s ex-girlfriend because I think she is really attractive, skinny, and from what I’ve observed of her online image, she is free of flaws. Of course, I know that’s not the truth, since everyone has flaws, but the storyline with Mimi Rose was one I connected with. Image is not reality, but it’s sometimes so hard to realize you don’t know the truth about people from an online profile. In the end, Adam finds out that Mimi Rose had an abortion and didn’t tell him, and he’s hurt and feels like he can’t trust Mimi Rose.
Jacobs ability to portray Mimi Rose in a way that made me feel like Mimi Rose is a real person led me to incorrectly assume that I would relate to Jacobs on “Love”. Gillian Jacobs portrayal of Mickey got under my skin pretty quickly, maybe in part because I’m the opposite from a girl who always says dude, just chill man, and lies whenever it suits her fancy. My honesty has gotten me into trouble many times before, so I know I have extra resentment when I see people and characters who lie and pretend like it’s no big deal.
Spoiler alert: I’m going to start getting into more specific plot details from here on in, so if you want to watch the series with fresh eyes, I suggest you stop reading. For example, Mickey is a self-identified alcoholic and drug addict (marijuana and ecstasy were the drugs she uses over the course of the series), and after bingeing on vodka one weekend she goes to an AA meeting and lies about how long she’s been sober for. I am an alcoholic and I haven’t drank alcohol for over 7 years now, and I’ve been to AA before. It’s such a personal thing to attend an AA meeting, and I felt vulnerable sharing my experiences at the meetings I went to, so it’s kind of disgusting someone would lie in that kind of a situation.
I know I need to be more compassionate for people who are different from me though, and while it’s hard to understand compulsive lying, I can also see that if you’re ashamed of what you’re doing, then there’s a chance you’ll lie to conceal what you’re embarrassed about. Another night Mickey blows off plans with Gus to “be alone”. Then she ends up going out with a bunch of people partying, doing ecstasy with a guy played by Andy Dick and staying up all night, and by the time morning rolls around Mickey calls Gus and he’s right there ready and waiting to make plans with her for later in the day.
Part of my anger towards a character like Mickey comes from my own experiences where I’ve chosen to have a sexual relationship with men who make it clear they’re not really all that into me, and that they’re not monogamous. Then I’ve subjected myself to listening to them go on about how hot the girl they wish they could be with is, or I’ve been ditched as soon as one of these femme fatales (how I judgmentally chose to see them) want some male attention. I’ve never been in the position of the girl who has all these guys chasing after her. There have been a few times when I’ve had casual sexual relationships with men who I didn’t find very attractive, but I would quickly cut things off entirely in these situations, because I don’t like stringing people along. Yep, you’re sensing that I have a superiority complex, and that’s probably annoying, but I’m letting you know how I think whether it’s right or not.
I told a guy who I wasn’t into that I didn’t think we could be friends, because if we were to go out to a bar together and I found someone attractive, I would feel bad for ditching him. He said he wouldn’t care, but I thought he would and I didn’t want to cause him unnecessary pain. I think that sometimes it’s wise to ignore what people say and go with your gut. If a guy wants to have sex with you, spend time with you, and you tell him you’re not into him, then it’s also realistic to assume he might feel frustrated or crappy if you attempt to have a platonic relationship with him. Awkward situations can be minimized or avoided if you’re willing to sacrifice the attention that comes having lots of guy or girl friends (who also might secretly or not-so-secretly be into you).
Gus meets Mickey when she’s in a convenience store, and she doesn’t have any money to pay for the coffee she just poured. Mickey starts verbally harassing the Asian clerk (and this is the first of three time total where Mickey feels the need to treat Asian people with accents like crap by yelling at them) and Gus steps in to save the day. He offers to pay for her coffee, and instead of appreciating that, she asks for him to buy her a pack of cigarettes too. Gus is an average–or maybe below average (I think he’s hot, but he’s definitely not traditionally good-looking)–guy, and since he’s immediately intrigued by Mickey (I guess beauty is hard to ignore) he gladly pays for both.
Outside of the store Mickey tells Gus she can pay him back, and then proceeds to insult him when he says she doesn’t need to pay him back. From what I saw, Mickey’s sense of entitlement makes her really annoying and rude. Nevertheless, Gus is still into her after this short interaction and their “friendship” starts to unfold. At least the television show stays true to real-life by showing that Gus is always openly aware that he’s attracted to Mickey because of how hot she is, and doesn’t lie and tell himself he only wants to be her friend.
(Mickey’s roommate Bertie (Claudia O’Doherty)…I want to see more of this funny actress!)
Mickey gets an Australian roommate named Bertie (played by Claudia O’Doherty) to move into her place. Bertie is my favourite character from the series. Bertie is also a sexy young white female, but not quite as model-like as Mickey, and therefore much more relatable. Early on in the series Mickey sets-up Gus and Bertie on a date. Since Gus and Bertie aren’t meant for each other, the date starts to go badly. Bertie goes to the bathroom and accidentally texts Gus a message intended for Mickey about their terrible date. Gus texts Mickey the text he receives from Bertie (originally meant for Mickey) and then Mickey texts Bertie the text Gus sent (are you following me?).
A cat-and-mouse game ensues where Mickey plays both of her friends in order to entertain herself. It’s the first night that Mickey is trying to be genuinely sober and spend time at home alone without any male attention, so she devolves into screwing over Gus and Bertie, even though Mickey’s the one who set them up on this date in the first place. Gus drops Bertie off after their horrendous date, and when he leaves Mickey and Bertie’s place, Mickey runs out and kisses Gus. He’s suddenly attractive after letting Mickey know her antics are not okay.
Also, this is supposed to be a comedy! Do you think this stuff sounds funny? I didn’t think it’s funny at all. Want something funny to watch? I watched all 3 seasons of the Showtime series “Episodes” starring Matt LeBlanc this past week. “Episodes” actually made me laugh. The entertainment I got from watching “Love” came from how easy it was to criticize the characters of Mickey and Gus.
When I started watching “Love” last night I had 2 female friends over, and they both started asking why Mickey’s dressed like a 70s porn star and wearing next-to-nothing. So true! During the first episode Mickey is super scantily clad in a red one-piece (bathing suit?) and her nipples are very erect and apparent through her spandex top throughout most of the scenes. It’s distracting! Yes, women and men shouldn’t have to suppress or hide their sexuality since it is a part of human nature, but I think that this crosses the line to the point where Mickey is her nips, and not much more.
Based on what I have seen in my own life, I think it’s undeniable that physically attractive people are given certain privileges that other people are not. I have watched hot people speak and behave in ways that I can’t imagine less attractive people trying to pull-off. I think the reason why some beautiful folks are extra self-centred behaviour is because they can get away with it. Lots of not as hot people let very hot people do whatever they want all because us normal peeps hope the freakishly hot people might want to have sex with us.
The part that I think “Love” overlooks is that while a beautiful girl like Mickey will never be alone, people that are huge users like Mickey probably don’t end up with genuine, sweet, and loyal people. If you’re a conniving, manipulative person who puts your own needs above others at all times and lies to get what you want, then I think the people who will want to be around you in a permanent way aren’t going to be all that great. People who love themselves and respect themselves eventually walk away from the Mickey’s of the world (or so I hope).
I did a little more research and I found out something interesting that surprised me: co-creators Lesley Arfin and Paul Rust are married, and they apparently used their own relationship as a loose model for the series. This detail made me like the series a little more, and feel a little bit less offended by the sexism on the show. Is that weird?
I started watching UnREAL on Thursday. It is now Saturday, and I have just finished watching all 10 episodes of the 1st season of this outstanding scripted dramedy. UnREAL is about the behind-the-scenes action on a fictional reality TV show called “Enchanted”.
I am a huge fan of reality TV. As a teacher, it is my job to be sociable, patient, friendly, and emotionally available to students during the day, so I look forward to getting home from school, downloading a reality show, and being able to zone-out and observe different personality types and drama without having to react to them…or smile…or respond in any way. Therefore, I find these shows highly entertaining, and, yes, relaxing.
While I am a fan, I would also be an idiot if I were to deny the fact that the aspects of humanity that reality TV shows use to create drama are primarily negative. I believe that my life has been positively impacted by some of the stories I have seen shared on reality TV, but there are also many values that are promoted on most of these shows that are disgusting: judging women and men based on their physical appearance alone, taking advantage of people’s insecurities and/or mental health issues, and reinforcing racist, sexist, homophobic, and various other stereotypes about people.
UnREAL is the first scripted show that I have watched that honestly deals with the types of people who would choose to produce and work on reality TV shows. For example, the show’s protagonist, Rachel, is a producer. She is willing to use any information and any angle she can think of (and she can think of many since she is a highly intelligent and perceptive person) to get something exciting for the cameras.
One of the characters on “Enchanted” is Mary, who is a single mother, and she recently got out of an abusive relationship. For “good TV” Rachel finds Mary’s abusive ex-partner and brings him on the show to confront Mary and the “Bachelor” character, Adam, without Mary or Adam’s awareness that the ex was going to suddenly appear. A fight ensues, and Mary’s situation becomes incredible tragic (likely due to this and because of another factor that a different drama-hungry producer on the show stoops to an all-time low to create) as the series progresses.
This situation reminds me that drama is exciting, and it is a great distraction from my own life, but the lengths reality TV shows creators and producers will go to to provide me with “entertainment” can irreparably harm real people’s lives. Since I consume those shows, I am also contributing to the destruction of people’s lives.
Even though it would be easy to shrug it off and say these reality TV show characters/people/performers are asking for it by going on these shows instead of getting “normal” day jobs, UnREAL highlights how many of these shows are using desperate people, who may have pre-existing mental health problems, and exploiting them. I think that part of the stigma surrounding mental health is that people are blamed for their sickness, and the ridicule that is heaped on people who act “crazy” is somehow viewed as completely acceptable. I still see a variety of examples that lead me to believe that most of mainstream society still thinks that “insane” people are not sick people; instead, they’re bad people. When people who have “freak-outs” on these shows are discussed on social media, in real-life, and in the media the dialogue surrounding them must only make it that much harder for these people to move on from having a mental breakdown on national TV and build a life away from reality TV.
Most people want to claim that they are sensitive to people who are mentally ill, but based on what I have heard people say in real-life when talking about people who have been depressed, acted bizarrely, or erratically there usually seems to be a complete lack of compassion. On the one hand, people who exhibit a lack of self-control and bad behaviour should not be rewarded or given a pat on the back, but on the other hand, if a person is clearly not well or of a sound mind, does it really help to gossip about them and treat them like there’s something wrong with them?
During the summer, I biked to UBC to go to Wreck Beach. While I was locking up my bike at the tops of the stairs there was a man about 15 feet away who was screaming and shouting about “Pigs” (the police, I assume). I would characterize him as mentally-ill. He later walked around the beach area screaming at someone/something that was not there, and I am not a mental health professional, but he seemed delusional. There were a few young men across the street from the bike rack area who were taunting the man and making fun of him. When I see people, who would likely describe themselves as sane, do this sort of cruel thing it reminds me of how ignorant we all are about mental health and what it means to be mentally ill.
The biggest problem is not the man who was ranting and raving, instead it is the “sane” people who pick-on sick people, thereby increasing people’s paranoia and fear. Yet, my own choice to obsessively watch reality TV shows that do the same sort of thing, and much worse, to people who are already in a weak position in terms of their state-of-mind, makes me wonder if I am any different from those young guys who were yelling at the man who seemed mentally ill? I will keep on watching reality TV, but UnREAL provides a lot of food for thought about what I am actually taking part in when I watch these kinds of exploitative shows.
Up until now this article has been a downer, but UnREAL is not only dark and thought-provoking, it’s also hilarious. The characters are complex, lovable, imperfect, believable, and so brutally honest that a lot of the dialogue made me laugh. Shiri Appleby plays Rachel to superb perfection. Rachel does so many things wrong to other people, but we get to see that she is also seriously struggling with her mental health and her own personal life is just as negative as her work life. Rachel is always trying to figure out what she can use other people for, instead of focusing on what she can do to truly help them. I think that if people are being honest we all have the same thing in ourselves. Sometimes, I am more concerned with what I am getting out of an interaction than what I’m giving, but that is something I want to work on minimizing.
Rachel’s boss is Quinn. Quinn is played by Constance Zimmer, and she is everything you’d imagine a ruthless boss bitch would be. But, of course, Quinn also has a heart, and I felt compassion for her, even though I think her behaviour is appalling. Quinn has been having a long-term affair with the show’s executive producer/owner, Chet, played by Craig Bierko. Quinn is not as strong as she seems, and UnREAL illustrates through these characters’ personal lives that there is no on-and-off switch for using and manipulating people.
If you think it is okay to capitalize on people’s weaknesses for a reality show at any cost, then it is likely that you will do the same to people you are dating and friends with. And, they will do the same to you. Since I don’t want to give away any of the important plot points about the show, I will end my review here. If you love or hate reality TV, it doesn’t really matter, because I think this show appeals to both of those categories of people. UnREAL is a genius show in my opinion. Life is complicated, and UnREAL doesn’t shy away from looking at the darkest undercurrents of reality TV. I totally related to all of the main characters, though I’d like to believe I wouldn’t be willing to do what they do, though I’ve done some terrible things in my time. Just like Rachel, Quinn, and Chet, I’m not perfect. I am constantly trying to balance my own selfish desires with what I think will make the world a better place. UnREAL helped me feel better about myself while simultaneously encouraging me to think more deeply about the choices I make in life. Bravo to the show’s creators Marti Noxon and Sarah Gertrude Shapiro!
On this gloriously sunny New Years Eve day, I got shut-down by the first five people I asked to interview for VANISREAL.com. Thankfully, I continued to search, and I kept walking around looking for an interview subject. When I saw Sydney Gregoire, I thought her unconventional style was interesting and attractive, so I asked her if I could interview her.
The beautiful Sydney agreed. When I told her that my second question is, “If you’ve ever felt like a freak or an outsider, what helped you through it?”, she informed me that she owns an agency called FREAK (amazing) for local artists, and DJs. The website for the agency is FREAKAGENT.com.
As they say, great minds think alike!
These are some of the things Sydney said:
“I think meeting other freaks and outsiders in the city is probably the way to feel most normal in Vancouver, I think. There’s a lot of fun, creative people over here, so it’s nice.”
“I do actually run an agency called FREAK. It has local artists, visual artists, DJs, that sort of thing, so it’s all like the weirdos in the city. We get together and kind of make art together.”
Thanks to Sydney…it felt really nice to not feel like a freak while asking people if they’ve ever felt like a freak or an outsider (if that makes any sense)!
I asked my usual 2 questions today, and the responses I got to the second one (If you’ve ever felt like a freak or an outsider, what has helped/is helping you through it?) was met with some invigorating responses.
Victoria said what’s helped her is, “The fact that everybody else is an outsider too. So we’re all from somewhere and that’s helped me.”
“We agree that it’s [Vancouver I’m assuming] a place for freaks, and that’s why we like it so much!”-Hiro
And to finish it all off Shlomo added, “Freak right out!”
I asked Josh the usual questions on Main Street in Vancouver today, and I was very entertained by his responses. I love it when people speak the truth, even if it involves them being vulnerable in order to do so. Josh definitely opened-up in a hilarious and honest way.
When I asked, “If you’ve ever felt like a freak or an outsider, what helped you through it?” His answer was, “Huh…I don’t know that I’m through it.“
I love that answer! I also often still feel like a freak or an outsider, and while that feeling is not permanent, I don’t know if I’ll ever stop feeling awkward and weird some of the time.
Josh then went on to say, “I think that you can go in and out of stages of comfortability, you know, but I think that what gets me out of anything is just sort of the knowledge that I’m going to be OK. You know I like just sort of look at my past and figure out, have I got through shit before? And it’s like, yeah. Am I gong to get through this next shit? Yeah.“
“Yes, I always feel like a freak, like an outsider. But again, at the same time it’s a very safe place to be, an outsider, actually, you have the freedom to be yourself and no one is going to come and tell you to stop being this.”-Patty
Patty answers my usual questions:
1) What do you love about Vancouver?
2) If you have felt like a freak or an outsider, what helped you through it?
I asked RITCHIE FERNANDEZ (Instagram: @Ritchiee1) and KAIL (just in from Queensland, Australia) if they could answer a question that is very near-and-dear to me:
HAVE YOU EVER FELT LIKE A LOSER/A FREAK/OR AN OUTCAST? IF SO, WHAT HELPED YOU THROUGH IT?
Here are their answers (and I greatly appreciate them letting me film them, because other skaters were camera-shy, or said they had never experienced feeling this way and therefore didn’t have an answer…Kail said he thinks everyone has felt this way at some point, and I have to say that I agree):