You have to promise not to tell anyone…

By Thursday, February 19, 2015 0 4

I was recently told a secret.  Oh man, it was a good one.  Once it was told to me, it became my secret, my burden.  Instantaneously, I was faced with the tortuous challenge of holding the secret in.  It became mine to keep or mine to tell.  Stupid, tortuous secret.

Secrets take up space inside you and once you have one, something has to be done with it.  The secret is like the alien creature, Edgar the Bug, from Men In Black that stuffs itself inside a human host but never quite fits.  You try to play it off like everything’s cool and normal, but the whole time the secret is trying to burst its way out.  You have to conquer it before it conquers you.

Let’s be honest, 99.9999% of people tell at least one person another person’s secret.  If you have a significant other, it’s a given that you get to tell them (unless specifically forbidden by the secret blabber at the time of the secret blab).  It’s like our “get out of jail free” card!

There are a few secrets we know not to share with anyone, and these we guard easily.  But these are rare.  The bulk of secrets are just gossip and bound to come out eventually anyways.  You know why they’re bound to come out? Because everyone tells at least one other person, that’s why.  Duh.

As I’ve been consumed by thoughts about secrets, I now hear the same phrases everywhere: “I just HAD to tell someone,” “I couldn’t hold it in,” “I feel soooo much better after telling someone.”  It’s like we instinctively have to let the cat out of the bag.  That cat does NOT want to stay in that bag.

It always starts out the same: “I have to tell you something but you have to swear not to tell anyone…”  We hear those words and start salivating.  We lean in, cross our hearts and hope to die, ready for the sweet, sweet juice.  The good times really start when you’re around people that don’t know the secret and you get to exchange sneaky eye glances with those that know.  Deliciously secret eye glances.

Telling someone a secret forms a trust between you — even though it’s a break of trust with the source of the secret, but somehow we overlook that.  A bond forms by sharing something you shouldn’t share.
I find it interesting that feelings get hurt if you don’t tell someone your secret.  I’ve been hurt myself by being left out of a secret.  “Why didn’t you tell me?” we whine, obligating the person to feel guilty and apologize for not spilling precious beans.  But that’s forgetting the basic tenet of a secret — it’s supposed to be kept, you know, secret.

Acknowledging this human need, the internet has provided.  Places to anonymously divulge secrets are everywhere and PostSecret is a fantastic example of this.  PostSecret is an ongoing project where people mail their secrets anonymously on a postcard, then some are posted on the PostSecret website, published in books, or displayed in art exhibits.  Frank Warren, who started the project, has received more than a million from around the world.

“I see this secret every time I go to my mailbox. I always see it expressed a different way,” Warren said in an interview with BuzzFeed. “It’s basically a story about trying to find that one person who you can tell all your secrets to. There’s that common thread, that search for intimacy, that search for the one person we can be our whole and true selves with.”

As I struggle with this secret I know, I’ve been thinking about what we get out of sharing secrets.  Spreading a secret seems to fulfill an almost biological need, but what is that need? Is it societal connection? Is it a social rank thing to know something others don’t? Is holding something in contrary to our nature?

I think we need to divulge, we need to take the weight of the secret and pass it on.  It’s like the more people that know, the more the weight is dispersed, the more shoulders carry its burden.  I’ve known people to tell strangers a secret simply because the weight was too much.

Long, long ago when our crusty but big brained ancestors ventured out of the jungles and onto the savannas, many traits allowed them to evolve and thrive.  One of these was the ability to form speech, the ability to communicate verbally.  As human relationships became more involved and important, human societies became more complex and connected.  “We moved from a primitive ‘live fast and die young’ strategy to a ‘live slow and grow old’ strategy and that has helped make humans one of the most successful organisms on the planet,” said Tanya Smith, Harvard professor of human evolutionary biology.

This is where I think our need to divulge secrets comes from.  Being all up in each other’s business was good for survival.  A tight group meant that when things got hard and the mammoth pickins’ were slim, we stuck together and helped each other.

So here I sat, isolated under the weight of my secret and reading about the catharsis of passing my secret along.  I decided to mail my secret into PostSecret.  I HAD to tell someone, right? Might as well anonymously tell the world.  Don’t ask me what it is, I already told my one person (aka the world…I also told my husband but that’s allowed).  Shhhh…

To end today, here are some juicy secrets I found on PostSecret worthy of further spreading:

Things They Forgot to Mention, blog, secret, postsecret, skittles

Things They Forgot to Mention, blog, secret, postsecret, celebrity dad

Things They Forgot to Mention, blog, secret, secrets, postsecret, 911

Things They Forgot to Mention, blog, secret, secrets, postsecret, dog poop

Things They Forgot to Mention, blog, secret, postsecret, wrong sibling, affair

Things They Forgot to Mention:

We all think we have secrets.  In reality, the secrets have us.

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The Time I Brokered a Peace Accord

By Thursday, November 13, 2014 1 6

I’m pretty sure I can communicate with animals and one night while visiting my parents, I came across two cats in a kitchen stand-off.  The air felt like a gas stove had been left on; anything could have ignited it.  As a result, movements were slow and movements were calculated.

The two cats were seated stiffly on the counter with tails clearly fluffier than normal, signifying the presence of an imminent threat.  Low growls rolled like thunderstorms between them, as if each cat was saying “Make the first move, you pussy.”  I quickly calculated that it was up to me, and me alone, to mediate this cold war.  I knew because of my animal communication skills that I could fix this; it was my duty.  I was like the United Nations called to action.  Suit me up. Sergeant.  These cats were on the brink of very serious escalation and I couldn’t let them spiral to the nuclear option.  Not on my watch.

Let me describe the warring parties:

Sally, aka “Ding Dong”:

Defending her home territory and weighing in at ten incredibly flabby lbs. is Sally.  She is a black calico and the runt of her litter, but now she’s nine years old and completely in love with my dad.  Her nickname is Ding Dong because sometimes you wonder if anyone’s home at all.  Here are photos that capture Sally:

Things They Forgot to Mention, blog, photo, cat, kitty, Sally

The photo on the left is typical sweet, petite Sally while the photo in the center shows Sally’s preferred sleeping position.  The photo on the right with Luigi (our more regal cat) shows Sally in the background gazing with embarrassing devotion at my dad.  Here is a close-up of that shot because it’s just so ridiculous:Things They Forgot to Mention, blog, photo, cat, kitty, SallyOh Sally Ding Dong….

Sally enjoys meowing at the attic for hours until my parents take down the ladder for her to climb up.  She also enjoys sitting by the faucet for hours waiting for fresh spring water to appear.  Sally has never gone past the mailbox, often miscalculates jump distances, and has a muscle tone I describe as “sea cucumber-like”.  Regardless of this, she is ruthless.  Sally is a serial killer and leaves regurgitated evidence of her massacres as a reminder to all: this is Sally’s house.

Tibet, aka “Miss Buffet”:

The visiting invader from the Bay Area, the “de-clawed? no problem!” Tibet.  She is my brother/sister-in-law’s cat and her nickname is Miss Buffet since her trips to my parents’ house inevitably involve vomit due to her inability to control her eating in the “All You Can Eat (Cat Food) Buffet”.  Tibet is incapable of understanding consequences.  It makes no sense how bold she is — she doesn’t have claws, yet she is utterly fearless.  As a visitor, she is the territorial intruder, but she struts past Ivan, our 100-lb. German Shepherd (R.I.P. Big Boy) and Luigi, our 17-lb. cat who can only be compared to a majestic jaguar (shown irritated in the photo with Sally above).  Here are photos that capture Tibet’s “whatevs” attitude:

Things They Forgot to Mention, blog, photo, cat, kitty, Tibet

Look how chillaxed she is.  Mowin’ on a catnip “pick-me-up,” rockin’ the Santa look, and yawnin’ like you’re boring her.  She embodies the self-confidence we all strive for, but it comes with a lack of social awareness where she doesn’t see she’s in danger or being rude by not following the pecking order (inadvertent shout out to The Pecking Orders!).

Back to the cold war.  It was clear that both kitties were just looking to feel accepted, respected, and seen by the other… the cause of most wars, right? Sally wanted Tibet to respect her home and her status as head wife.  Tibet wanted Sally to welcome her as a family member.  I decided it was my job to show them this since I am way wiser.  First I had to establish rapport…

Starting with Sally, I pet her small head and said nice things like she has a really great rainbow of colors and I like when she timidly touches people with her paws.  To Tibet I said I admire her courage and although her meows sometimes last too long, I like that she expresses herself.  Both cats relaxed, gave me their trust, and a temporary ceasefire was reached.

Now that we had a suspension of aggression, I moved the negotiations forward.  I went back and forth between them, now gently telling each cat what they could do to help diffuse the situation.

“Sally, you could be a little more welcoming to Tibet.  She’s our guest and yes, sometimes a little intrusive and noisy, but she’s family.”

“Tibetsy, Sally feels you don’t respect her and her home.  Have a little more consideration and be more courteous to your hosts.”

The cats listened.  They protested at first with sullen meows to defend their actions, but I pushed on.  Soon enough, I saw Tibet steal a glance at Sally and I knew we were ready to proceed to the next phase.

I took a deep breath, sent calm waves through the kitchen, and pulled out the big guns: I pet both cats at the same time.  They immediately froze as if they could feel each other through my hands.  They were rigid and Siberian.  I continued talking, now addressing both Sally and Tibet as if we were all in a conversation.  I soothed and they slowly relaxed.  The meows started again but now they were playful.  The cats defrosted, their tails unfluffed, and they even made eye contact.

The final phase was risky, but I knew it would work.  I poured two bowls of crunchies and set them side-by-side.  Tibet and Sally didn’t even hesitate and happily ate within swatting distance of the other.  The war was over!  I was proud of myself, and of Sally and Tibet.  I knew I had the way to find peace and was proud of my mediation.  I left them so I could do research on how to join the United Nations.  The world needed my skills.

An hour later, I went to the kitchen and my heart sank.  There was Sally and Tibet seated in the same spots as before.  Low growls, tails fluffy, back on “imminent threat” alert status.  I had accomplished nothing.  We did not have peace.  They were still on the brink of a terrible war and there was nothing I could do.

I saw in that instant that I did them a disservice by trying to fight their war for them.  I saw that this wasn’t a war at all.  This was just Tibet finding her place and I couldn’t force her into a place, she had to find one on her own.  She had to find it with Sally.  I could tell them over and over again what they should do, but nothing would resolve this struggle until they both stood up for themselves, until they decided where they fit.  Real growth happens when you fight your own battles.

The next morning I woke to find Tibet engaged in another stand-off, this time with Luigi, the black panther of all panthers.  Oh Tibet, you naive daredevil you, will you ever learn? I knew that as long as I tried to save her, the answer was no.  This was her conflict, not mine.  Luigi was going to crush her, but that was OK.  That’s what cat fights are for.  I didn’t intervene this time, I left them to figure it out for themselves.

Things They Forgot to Mention, blog, photo, cat, kitty, Tibet, Luigi

Things They Forgot to Mention:

Sometimes being saved doesn’t mean you were saved at all.   Being left to fight your own battles is when you learn to save yourself.  That’s when who you are really shows up.

Also, cats are the rulers of the internet.  All hail to your rulers.

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Saran Wrap Sucks

By Thursday, October 9, 2014 6 6

I am not good with saran wrap.  I know I’m supposed to capitalize saran wrap, but I do not care to give it the respect of a proper noun.  There is nothing proper about it.  I also know that I should call it by the generic phrase “plastic wrap”, but I just can’t.  It is saran wrap to me and saran wrap sucks.  I can’t control it, I don’t understand it, and I don’t trust it.  How can I control something I can’t see?!  Nope, saran wrap is no good.

Cutting it is a challenge for me.  One section always refuses to sever and instead stretches, resulting in an irritating salt water taffy scenario.  I know about applying pressure while cutting. I know about the nifty side tab thing that is supposed to facilitate in the roll out. I know all the tricks, and yet cutting saran wrap continues to suck for me.

When I do manage to cut a piece, the situation unravels from there.  The saran wrap will fold in on itself, most likely as a means of self-defense, making it impossible to recreate a flat and useful structure.  Or worse, the saran wrap starts to attack.  It wraps itself around my hand like a boa constrictor, cutting off air and rendering my fingers inoperable.  I end up balling up my failure in a tantrum and starting over.

A few months ago, I started taking pictures of my ongoing war and here is a sampling of my strife:

Things They Forgot to Mention, blog, photo, saran wrap

Things They Forgot to Mention:

I may win the battle, but saran wrap always wins the war.

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By Thursday, October 2, 2014 3 5

One time I went to Costa Rica with some girlfriends.  We arrived late in the capital, San Jose, but were excited to be out of the U.S., so Emily, Ellen and I did not go to sleep.  We went out to grab a late night snack and some tequila (items not necessarily listed in order of importance).

We wandered our way into a maze of local establishments, soon finding a restaurant that could almost literally be defined as a hole in the wall.  Inside, two locals were eating good looking things and these good looking things told us to come in.

There was no menu so we ordered our food by pointing at what the two other people were eating and adding the words “más queso” (“more cheese”).  Sitting on the counter was a large vat of something that looked like pickled cabbage.  Emily is our foodiest friend and she felt this cabbage would compliment our mystery meal perfectly.  She piled a healthy portion onto our communal plate and we all gave a thumbs up.  This was our first mistake.  I remember seeing the locals as she did this.  There was fear, hesitation, and silence.  But we ignored them, and this was our second mistake.

We sat at a table facing the street, whispering that it was unsettling and possibly rude how much everyone was staring at us.  We chalked it up to being super sexy and moved on.

Emily created the first bite.  It was a fabulous bite that included a large ratio of the cabbage concoction.  I did the same and we placed it in our mouths.  The fire hit Emily first and I knew I was in trouble when I saw her eyes.  She wasn’t looking at me, she was somewhere else.  Then the fire hit me and I went somewhere else too.  The place I went was a bad, bad place.

The cabbage was not cabbage, it was thinly sliced, light green, massively hot peppers.  As gringas, we should not have eaten even one sliver, but Emily and I had eaten what only professionals should attempt.  This is what the locals thought about telling us but did not.

The spice was on a level that I feel should be illegal without written consent and an educational video.  The heat is hard to describe but it was on the level of demons.  It was like my tongue had been replaced by a burning coal that clawed down my throat.  The demon was a grow-er as well as a show-er, and as it matured, my face and entire body turned vivid red.  I wanted to rip out my tongue and call it a day.  I considered knocking myself unconscious rather than deal with these repercussions.

Emily, who is typically more intelligent than me, leapt into action.  She stood up, banged her fist on the table, and screamed “LECHE!!!” (“MILK!!!”) through the tiny restaurant.  Like, loudly.  We were battling demons and everyone, including Ellen, started laughing at us.  They were laughing us, you guys.  Then Emily and I began to laugh.

Emily and I were served a glass of room temperature milk — the only glass of thick, room temperature milk I’ve ever desired — and we desperately chugged it down.  The minutes crept along and we fought for survival.  We were animal, we were instinct, we did what we had to do.  I had an ineffective hand fan thing going and Emily was gasping.  When we could speak, we could only say: “Oh my God…holy sh*t…that is sofa-king hot…oh my GOD…I’m going to die…”.  Soon we stopped speaking because the burn had evolved and any air entering or leaving our oral cavities now felt very bad indeed.  Emily stepped outside to dry heave for a while and I went into catatonic meditation.  Emily remembers a big full moon shining down on her as she writhed.  I only remember red.

The whole ordeal lasted about ten minutes, but those were some loooong minutes.  When we were capable of conversation again, the locals explained what we had eaten and used the phrases “muy malo” (“very bad”) and “muy caliente” (“very hot”) a lot.  Yeah, no sh*t Sherlocks, very much muy malo.

I don’t think I need to describe the exorcising of the demons the next day.  The below image adequately portrays the experience:

Things They Forgot to Mention, blog, photo, Costa rica, cabbage, spice, someecard

Pain, after all, is relative mis amigos.  But, the madness found in the comment section of a news story is a topic for another post.

In the end, I can confidently state that when eating a mystery meal that makes locals give questionable glances, I will NOT take a bite until someone else has completed one first.  I can also confidently state that I will NEVER eat from a vat of cabbage again.  Fool me once, shame on you, cabbage; fool me twice, shame on me, cabbage.

Things They Forgot to Mention:

If the locals look concerned for your safety, YOU should be concerned for your safety because they know that demons can hide in cabbage.

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