Archive | August, 2011

Move on

27 Aug

When you hate moving as much as I hate moving, there’s probably more to it than the hassle. Don’t get me wrong—that’s a big part of the anxiety. I like having stuff; I don’t like taking that stuff and putting it into boxes. I can’t use my stuff when it’s in boxes, and I can’t lift boxes when they’re heavy. There are a lot of obstacles here. Still, I’m self-aware enough to know that there’s a deeper root to my hesitation.

I remember moving to Berkeley seven years ago. The only way I could cope was insisting that it was a temporary situation. Never mind that I intended to stick with the whole college thing—I was determined to never think of the Bay Area as home. Which was naïve, obviously, but I was 17. (For reference, I also thought I’d be going to grad school!) The difference between “moving” and “a very long vacation” is what kept my stress level relatively low. And for that whole first semester away from home—my “real” home—I dreamed of returning to LA.

I’m not trying to be poetic: I literally dreamed about LA all the time. I also dreamed about my teeth falling out, but that’s neither here nor there. It was only at Thanksgiving, when I took my first trip back since moving north, that I realized how deluded I was. Life in your hometown doesn’t just take a time-out when you leave. It seems obvious now, but I assure you it wasn’t at the time. Just as I assure you I spent way too many tearful nights overidentifying with that scene in Garden State in which Zach Braff talks about losing a sense of “home.” Bad movie or not, the sentiment rang true. I suddenly didn’t feel as though I belonged anywhere. I was an idiot to purposely avoid adjusting to Berkeley, and I was an idiot to pin all my hopes on LA staying just as I’d left it. You can’t go home again, stupid.

If you told me I’d still be in Berkeley in 2011, I would have a) called you a liar, and b) been surprised humanity managed to survive that many years of a Bush presidency. But here I am, sitting at the same coffee shop I’ve been coming to since first forcing a caffeine addiction on myself. What I found after a few years of living in Berkeley was that I wasn’t so much looking for a “home” as I was looking for stability. I missed LA because I was used to LA, because I understood my life there (more or less), and because there were routines and patterns I associated with the city. Moving somewhere new means establishing new habits, and holy crap, that is not as easy as it sounds. But eventually I was settled.

Too settled, maybe. Sometimes I think I could live here forever. Not because I’m so smitten with Berkeley—although it’s objectively a nice place to live—but because I’ve once again let my fears of being uprooted get the better of me. As much as I’ve come to appreciate LA when I go down for extended vacations, I’m still comforted by my ability to return back to a rather mundane existence in the Bay Area. But there’s a difference between being secure and being stagnant. I could stay here indefinitely, but I don’t want to. I know there is more for me in LA right now. And while I’m also sure I could make more of my current life in Berkeley, experience shows me that I won’t.

I need to push forward despite the discomfort, and that means taking my stuff and putting it in the goddamn boxes. I’ll think about leaving my apartment for good. I’ll think about saying goodbye to the friends I’ve made here, though admittedly many have already left. And I’ll let that anxiety wash over me, because you have to feel it build before you can feel it subside.

I don’t want to move. There, I said it. I want to be in LA, sure, but I don’t want to have to make the choice, to take the action, to plunge myself into once-familiar waters. I’ll do it because I owe it to myself to not let anxiety hold me back. I’m nearing the quarter-century mark (hey, it’s as good a milestone as any) and growing up means facing fears, right? Besides, the logic of my decision to move will soon trump any feelings of unease. If it happened before, it will happen again.

And with that, I’m going to stop staring at the boxes—and start filling them.

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Inane bullshit

22 Aug

you seem like a good writer, why waste your time writing such inane bullshit?

This is maybe the best backhanded compliment I have ever received. It was a comment on my last post, my (apparently controversial) defense of Kim Kardashian. And while normally I’d let a bitchy remark like that slide, I’d actually like to answer the question. So, “Ben,” you’re in luck! Why do I “waste my time” writing about the Kardashians and vampires and other seemingly useless facets of pop culture?

I’ve encountered various versions of this question over the years. Sometimes it’s not a question so much as a suggestion that I might want to write about something that matters. It usually comes from people who “don’t even own a TV” and only see foreign films and keep the radio perma-tuned to NPR. There’s nothing wrong with choosing to live your life free from pop culture clutter, but just as that’s your prerogative, this is mine. The way some people feel about sports, the way others feel about history—that’s how I feel about mainstream entertainment.

It’s not that I don’t also have an appreciation for the highbrow. (Ask me about Faulkner!) It’s just that I understand the importance of pop culture in our society. I also think that almost anything, however silly or irrelevant you might find it, is worthy of analysis. The Kardashians, for example, strike you as frivolous. A fair assessment, to be sure, but they obviously have a huge effect on the media, television, and angry commenters all over the internet. Doesn’t that make you wonder why? We can probe and expose trends without validating them. We can put our own spin on “inane bullshit.”

Kim K. aside, though, there is plenty of pop culture that I legitimately care about. It’s not all ironic appreciation and musings on popularity. I sincerely care about Buffy comic books and A&E’s Hoarders and the Final Destination series. I don’t necessarily think they’re great, but I do consider them to be worthwhile diversions. To that end, I never worry about wasting my time by indulging in pleasures, guilty or otherwise. As a wise pop musician once said, “If it makes you happy, it can’t be that bad.”

But am I wasting my time writing about this stuff? Am I wasting your time by suggesting you read it? Of course not. (And if you do think it’s a waste of your time, by all means, don’t read it.) The way I see it, someone has to write seriously about pop culture. It can’t all be E! News briefs and gushy TV Guide reviews. (Which is not to say those outlets are useless either—they just serve a different purpose.) I’ll readily admit that much of my writing has been inspired by the great Chuck Klosterman, who has a broader depth of pop culture knowledge than I could ever hope to attain. I highly recommend you check out his work, even though it’s going to make my blogging look worse in comparison. See, I’m a giver.

Why police what other people are writing, anyway? “Inane bullshit” is a relative concept: one man’s trash is another man’s camp classic. When you tell people to only write about what’s important, you’re ignoring the fact that a writer’s relationship with his subject is likely different than yours. Nothing is inherently a throwaway topic, especially for those of us who relish the opportunity to dig deeper. And luckily for you, Ben, my decision to write about Kim Kardashian doesn’t take away from other writers’ decisions to cover Bachmann’s presidential aspirations or Libya. There’s plenty of room on the internet for all of us.

So, why do I waste my time writing such inane bullshit? Because I’m not wasting my time. Because it’s not inane bullshit to me. But mostly, because I can.

Why I defend Kim Kardashian

20 Aug

Look, I don’t think Kim Kardashian needs any help from me: she’s far too rich and famous to actually let the haters bring her down. And yet, I feel compelled to come to her aid—if not out of genuine sympathy, then at least because her role as walking punchline is absurd. There are people out there who spew hate and actively make the world a shittier place. There are people more deserving of our mockery. Which is not to say that Kim should be off limits comedically—far from it. Make all the jokes you want, but do make sure they’re original. Because Kim’s mere existence isn’t as inherently hilarious as so many seem to think.

In light of her wedding, the jokes have been more and more persistent. And sure, some of them are funny, but the vast majority come down to the following—Kim Kardashian is a vapid, vacuous whore. Let’s break this down.

1. Kim Kardashian is stupid. Is she, though? I’ll give you that she doesn’t have a whole lot of actual talent and has gotten famous for, well, nothing, but that in and of itself is a skill. It takes some sort of savvy to know how to market yourself and make a career out of fame. So while jokes about Kim’s blatant attention-craving behavior make sense, jokes about how she’s a total idiot don’t, really. Not to mention the fact that, like Paris Hilton, her occasional airhead demeanor is likely a persona created to attract an audience. And it looks like it’s working. I’d also argue that there’s also a hint of misogyny to this humor (more on that in a bit). Kim Kardashian isn’t just dumb—she’s a “dumb bitch.”

2. Kim Kardashian is selfish. Spoiled, yes. Selfish is harder to prove. On Twitter, comedians retweet the admittedly shallow things Kim complains about, then counter her with a real world crisis or their personal problems. And yes, Kim’s nails pale in comparison to the number of unemployed individuals in this country, or the violent persecution of gay people in Uganda. But just because she’s tweeting about frivolous issues (which, I might add, we all do) doesn’t mean she has no sense of more pressing problems. How else to explain the clothes she donates to the Dream Foundation, or her trip to Africa in support of Russell Simmons’ Diamond Empowerment Fund? You can find a full list of her charitable contributions here.

3. Kim Kardashian is a slut. This one bothers me the most, because it reflects such an obvious gender disparity. We call Kim Kardashian a slut for the same reason we call Paris Hilton a slut: they both reached new levels of fame through widely publicized sex tapes. But while jokes about Kim and Paris being whores never seem to cease, we willfully forget all the men who have also had sex on camera. The list includes Rob Lowe, Colin Farrell, Eric Dane, and Tommy Lee. (Pam Anderson gained notoriety from her honeymoon tape. Tommy Lee earned a reputation for being well-endowed.) So, yeah, Kim Kardashian had a sex tape, and she profited from it. Good for her.

There are plenty of other easy jokes to be made. You could say Kim has a big ass, because making fun of the way someone’s body fat is proportioned is always hilarious. You could mock her for being Robert Kardashian’s daughter, even though that’s not exactly something she could have avoided. (Full disclosure: I made a Robert Kardashian joke on Twitter this morning. I stand by it, and don’t believe it targets Kim as an easy punchline.) You could make reference to Kim’s apparent penchant for black men, as though that’s some sort of character flaw. Relax, it’s not racist if everyone else is saying it!

I’m not trying to shame anyone: some of my closest friends, all of whom I consider to be exceptionally funny, make these jokes. And I don’t think less of them for it. I just believe that we should all hold ourselves to a higher standard. If you want to mock a celebrity, fine, as long as you’re being creative. Bonus points if you have a legitimate reason to tear him or her down—that is, something not related to gender, race, or sexuality.

You might, for example, ridicule Chris Brown’s insistence that he loves women in light of his violent beating of Rihanna. (Old news? Sure, but it’s still horrifying.) You could lampoon Katy Perry’s role as an ally in the LGBT community when her first major single “I Kissed a Girl” was a queer politics nightmare. Or maybe you just hate their music and think they’re annoying. Nothing wrong with that either. We’re all entitled to our opinions.

What do I think about Kim Kardashian? I think she’s a mostly obnoxious reflection of a celebrity-obsessed culture that values exposure above all else. I don’t feel sorry for her. I don’t think comedians should stop making jokes about her. But give me something new. I’ve told you why I defend Kim Kardashian—now tell me why you hate her.

Crossposted to Huffington Post Culture here.

Making nice

17 Aug

“You’re so nice. You’re not good, you’re not bad, you’re just nice.” – Witch, Into the Woods

I’m a pretty introspective person. Maybe too introspective, which leads to a lot of second-guessing. Two of my favorite questions are, “Am I a nice person?” and “Am I a good person?” These are useless questions, and my speculations are meaningless, but I can’t stop asking them. “Good” and “nice” are relative terms. Besides, does it matter what I think about myself, if “good” and “nice” reflect my interactions with other people? Thinking I’m nice means nothing if everyone else thinks I’m an asshole. The same goes for thinking I’m a jerkface.

Sometimes I do think I’m nice. I genuinely care for people. I try to treat everyone with kindness. But this is what I come back to—is the empathy I feel for others a genuine trait or the result of Jewish guilt? (It doesn’t have to be Jewish, but it is.) When I see someone hurting, I hurt, too, but the unspoken feeling is, “I could have done something to help.” And I want to make that person feel better, because, fuck, I really should have helped them avoid feeling shitty in the first place. Logically, I know I’m not responsible for other people’s pain, but there is definitely some twinge of regret that gets me every time.

Is that where being nice comes from? It doesn’t seem right to me. I want to be a nice person because niceness is an inherent trait, not out of some sense of guilt or obligation. But I also think I’m probably being too hard on myself. We’re selfish creatures by nature. We’d all probably do crappier things if it weren’t for laws and social mores. So if I do nice things because I’d feel guilty otherwise, or because I somehow feel retroactive guilt over another person’s suffering, maybe that’s not such a bad thing. Self-motivated empathy isn’t necessarily any cheaper than a more innate feeling of responsibility toward others.

I go back and forth on this. And it’s one of those things I obsess over that seems normal to me, because I have no sense of how often other people think about it.

But this is all abstract. Let’s look at an example. Offering a friend a ride is a nice thing to do. And why do we offer our friends rides? Because we are concerned about them, or because we are concerned about how they’ll feel if we don’t, or because we have nothing else to do and it feels like a dick move not to. For me, it is some combination of the three—a care for others mingled with anxiety over others’ perception of me, and a vague sense of, “That’s just what you do.” It’s not about congratulating myself on a job well done so much as the need to be validated and appreciated by others. I think that’s normal. I think it’s also somehow selfish.

Sometimes I think I’m nice, but I don’t often think I’m good—in part, because the dichotomy of “good” and “bad” is so silly. But also because, in my mind, goodness does necessitate a constant and genuine desire to make the world a better place. People who are truly good, if they do exist, were born that way. And while I’ve offered friends rides (see above!), I’ve never volunteered at a refugee camp in Africa, or participated in a clean-up effort after a natural disaster, or cooked meals for the homeless.

To be clear, I don’t think that not doing these things makes me a bad person either. I think it makes me average. Niceness aside, when it comes to “good” and “bad,” I’d say most people fall somewhere in the middle. Which is not to say we do bad things—I’ve never shot a man in Reno, to watch him die or for any other reason—but I don’t do a whole lot of good things either. I’m neutral. I’m nice, mostly, but I’m neutral.

Why is it so important for me to keep asking? I wish I could answer that. And for the record, I don’t think questioning my niceness or goodness makes me any better of a person! (Ugh, it might actually make me worse.) It’s just something I think about, a lot, when by my own admission, it doesn’t really matter. This is quite possibly just the way that humans work—we are flawed, and we try to be better, and that itself is a good thing. There are no superheroes, or to borrow from Tony Kushner, there are no angels in America. Sometimes I just focus on that, because it’s a comforting thought. It’s, you know, nice.

My vampire boyfriend

15 Aug

I hate Twilight for a lot of reasons—first and foremost that it teaches young girls to feel ashamed of their burgeoning sexuality. But Twilight also made vampires lame, and while that’s not as serious an offense, it’s not one I take lightly either. I’ve always loved vampires, even from an age when I couldn’t possibly appreciate the consequences of eternal life. I spent my high school years watching Buffy and Angel, and wondering why I never got to kiss anyone with fangs.

Now I feel ashamed of my vampiric urges. It’s not only Twilight‘s fault, but damned if it doesn’t feel that way. Tween vampire romance is hot right now, and that ruins things for the rest of us. Even more adult entertainment like True Blood has turned steamy vampire-on-human action into fluffy cuddleporn. (Yeah, there’s still fucking, but oh, God, the pillow talk.) But rather than accept defeat and give up my dreams of vampire romance, I’m going to reclaim the concept. When I say I want a vampire boyfriend, I don’t mean Edward Cullen or Stefan Salvatore or even Eric Northman. They suck. If that’s what vampires are like, I’ll stick to humans and maybe the occasional warlock.

But I’d like to believe the right vampire is out there, somewhere.

My vampire boyfriend will be a nice guy. He won’t drink human blood, ever, except possibly a little bit of mine, consensually. (I’m not 100 percent sure about this. We’ll cross that bridge when we come to it.) Part of the sexual appeal of vampires is that they’re dangerous, but I’d rather not be in any actual danger. And even if my vampire boyfriend is mildly threatening—not to me, but by virtue of the fact that he’s a vampire—I don’t want him to be a dick about it. Like, yeah, you’re a powerful bloodthirsty being: doesn’t mean you have to be an asshole. There’s nothing cute about bad manners. And to that end, if I do decide he can have some of my blood, he damn well better ask first.

My vampire boyfriend will respect me. He will not be a misogynist tool who thinks all women in the immediate vicinity need protecting, and he won’t look down on me because I’m a human. (A fragile, skittish human, to be precise.) He’s going to have to accept that while he has certain strengths mere mortals may be lacking, it’s obnoxious to lord those other over people. Plus, we all have different skill sets. Maybe he can tear off an enemy’s head with ease. No big—I know all the state capitals. (This isn’t true, but you get the idea.) Relationships are about balance: I want a boyfriend, not a bodyguard. Well, I want both. They just shouldn’t be one and the same.

My vampire boyfriend will know how to have a good time. None of that brooding shit. I am dating a vampire for the excitement, not because I need someone to out-mope me. (Seriously, though, don’t even try.) I have a pretty broad definition of fun, so going out to a movie is probably sufficient. But he has to sit through it without pouting—unless it’s about animals, in which case we’ll both cry. And if it’s a period piece, he’s not allowed to spend the rest of the night talking about how many historical details they got wrong. (My vampire is at least 300 years old. Crazy, right?) He’s going to laugh, often, especially at my dumb jokes. He’s going to be active on Twitter, where he will resist the temptation to overuse the #vampirepersonproblems hashtag.

My vampire boyfriend will not skulk around, ever. He won’t hide out in my room and watch me sleep, because I snore and I would really rather not subject his heightened vampire senses to that. Yeah, he’s going to have a different sleep schedule, but given that I keep pretty late hours, I’m confident we can make it work. And he’s going to have his own friends. Some of them will be vampires, but maybe he’ll hang out with a few werewolves, too. (So over that completely arbitrary rivalry.) We’ll never be bored waiting for one another to wake up, because we’ll have our own shit going on. Though, on that note, he’s not allowed to be grumpy when he wakes up at night.

My vampire boyfriend will love garlic or he will learn to love garlic. Anything else is a dealbreaker.

And that’s what I want in an undead life partner. Oh, relax, I’m not really deluded enough to believe in vampires or any other supernatural creatures, really. But just because I’m in my mid-twenties doesn’t mean I have to let go of all my youthful fantasies. Besides, I might one day meet a really pale musician, and a lot of the same criteria will apply.

The second coming of Roseanne

11 Aug

I want to be excited about a new blue-collar sitcom starring Roseanne. But as it stands, I’m about as optimistic about her upcoming series as I am about her presidential bid. It’s not that I don’t have faith in Roseanne: on the contrary, I place most if not all of my faith in Roseanne. She is the closest thing I have to a deity. Are you there, Roseanne? It’s me, Louis.

But I’ve been let down by comebacks in the past: Hot in Cleveland was supposed to be the new Golden Girls. Happily Divorced should have filled the void The Nanny left in my heart. Both were, in my mind, tremendous disappointments. And as the saying goes—fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on TV.

To be fair, neither Hot in Cleveland nor Happily Divorced were actual reboots of the quality series I’m referring to. But the association is there, like it or not—and I’d argue that TV Land likes it a whole bunch. The major selling point of these new shows is that they harken back to ’80s and ’90s sitcoms. Those who tune into Hot in Cleveland do so for the actors involved, all of whom made their marks in shows of TV past. For me, it was Betty White: as a lifelong devotee of The Golden Girls, I just wanted to see her on a series again. And Happily Divorced, conceived by and starring Fran Drescher, appealed to my unironic love of The Nanny.

Perhaps it’s my fault for expecting the same kind of series, but when the nostalgia factor is so high, I can’t be expected to ignore the associations. What’s interesting is that nostalgia usually suggests desire for a simpler time. In fact, the older shows I esteem (The Golden Girls and, to a slightly lesser extent, The Nanny) are far more complicated than the current iterations. Hot in Cleveland and Happily Divorced may bill themselves as contemporary projects featuring classic sitcom actors, but they’re actually watered-down versions of their predecessors.

Don’t believe me? Watch a few reruns of The Golden Girls or The Nanny. These are quality shows that still hold up. They are timely, raunchy, and hilarious—I’m far more likely to laugh out loud at either of those than at most current sitcoms. (A few notable exceptions: Parks and Recreation, Louie, Modern Family. I’m confident all of these will hold up 20 years down the line.) Are ’80s series dated? Of course. But the social commentary is so rich, the jokes so biting, that you don’t mind references that are now irrelevant. The Golden Girls in particular covered diverse and controversial topics ranging from immigration and the nuclear arms race to dementia and prescription pill addiction. Not exactly light fare. And both The Golden Girls and The Nanny featured queer characters and subplots before that was a hip thing to do.

Of course, neither series ever hit the heights of Roseanne, which I consider to be the greatest sitcom of all time. (Feel free to argue me on this. Fair warning: I won’t budge.) Roseanne was edgy and endlessly subversive, largely a credit to Roseanne herself. It’s not just the fact that the series featured so many groundbreaking plotlines and TV firsts (remember Roseanne’s same-sex kiss?)—it’s the unapologetic attitude that lasted throughout its run. These were complicated, flawed characters. Their relationships were real. Their problems were larger than what can be solved in 22 minutes. I could go on and on—and perhaps I will in an even longer Roseanne-centric post—but you get the idea. And if you don’t, it’s all on DVD. Watch the series and then we’ll talk.

I have no doubt that Roseanne could produce another great series, but I am skeptical when it comes to the current state of television. There are a few solid comedies on television, but there are an awful lot of duds, too. Can a new Roseanne show meet my (perhaps unfairly) high expectations, or is it doomed to follow the less-than-stellar paths of Hot in Cleveland and Happily Divorced?

I’m not dismissing it out of hand, but can you blame me for my reservations? I refuse to get my hopes up again, not when so many exceptional comedic voices have been diluted to fit into a climate of weak misogynist humor and dick jokes. While I don’t think Roseanne would stand for that, I’m not sure any network would be willing to fully embrace Roseanne’s vision.

Perhaps FX, which airs Louis C.K.’s outstanding series. The most recent episode of Louie showed us what a sanitized, mainstream version of his show might look like, and the results weren’t pretty. May that be a lesson to anyone who has similar plans for the almighty Roseanne. Amen.

Crossposted to Huffington Post Culture here.

Keep calm and carry on

10 Aug

Well, I thought it was harmless enough.

But sometimes even the most innocuous jokes are taken poorly. As my tweet spread, I became inundated with @-replies that ranged from mild frustration (“poor taste”) to rage and even a couple of death threats. (My first!) Oh, sure, plenty of people seemed to like the joke, too—and I imagine those that retweeted it, for the most part, understood its tone. But for every positive comment I got, there were ten more iterations of “twat,” “wanker,” “cunt,” “kike,” and “knob jockey.” That last one is the most adorable euphemism for gay I’ve ever heard, so by all means, slur away!

I was overwhelmed by the response—and also really surprised. What about my tweet was actually offensive? Yeah, if you take it literally, it’s an indictment of the English people, but why would anyone take umbrage at another country’s prompt clean-up efforts? As I explained in subsequent tweets—which I’m certain few of the furious masses read—it’s more of a joke about American inactivity and ignorance (particularly about the UK). Of course I don’t think that being quaint and proper are universal English characteristics, or that community action is worthy of criticism. I’m frankly astounded anyone could take it otherwise.

I think there are valid reasons to criticize me for writing that. The riots are taking a serious toll on the country, and it is, for some, “too soon” to joke about them. Fine. But to the slew of people who responded, “We’re cleaning up because we care about our community,” I have to ask, are you fucking kidding me? Of course I understand. Of course I sympathize and admire your efforts. I’d argue that the very stereotype I was lampooning, the “quaint and proper” Englishman, comes from a positive quality many British people do possess—that is, the ability to “keep calm and carry on.” This is not a bad thing.

And then there were the responses that compared the riots to September 11th and Hurricane Katrina. I’m not going to touch that, insofar as I’m not a fan of ranking tragedies. I will say that it strikes me as ass-backwards to suggest a rather tame joke is on par with making light of the deaths of thousands. Which is not to say that comedians haven’t made jokes about 9/11 and Katrina—because plenty have, and often. But the type of humor I was employing is, in my mind, a different animal entirely.

At this point, I have to address what many of you may be wondering—is this entire post just a humblebrag? I won’t deny that I enjoyed the attention I got yesterday: no tweet I’ve written has ever spread so far and so fast. That having been said, I don’t relish being called names, or threatened with violence. And I get no satisfaction from offending people. Now, I didn’t lose (much) sleep over yesterday’s outrage, because I stand behind my joke, and even elaborated it to diminish its potential for being misunderstood. Still, I don’t want attention for being a wanker. (Maybe for being a knob jockey. Aw, knob jockey.)

I’ll also admit I got twitchy at the number of tweets calling me ugly. But then I reminded myself that my avatar isn’t exactly flattering, and I am too adorable to be this insecure.

As always, this experience has reminded me about the downside of exposure. The more people you reach, the more people you can piss off. Someone is always going to be offended, whether for reasons rational or not. Someone else is always going to try to tear you down, perhaps just for the hell of it. I have written before about my need to develop a thicker skin, and I think yesterday’s onslaught of negativity was good exposure therapy. It’s not that I’m past taking harsh words to heart—I’m just learning to appreciate them for what they are.

I understand my humor. I know my heart is in the right place. And I know the people who matter don’t think I’m a soulless monster who deserves to have his house burned down. So it’s here that I note my explanation and reflection on the events do not mean I regret anything. I’m doing something that doesn’t come naturally to me—not apologizing.