Random WTFs including why Pinterest is the devil

Couple things.

Someone wound up on my blog because they searched the entire internet for “images of men in england wearing speedos whoeing two inches…”

The ellipsis was included in the search terms in my dashboard, but I couldn’t find out what it represents. I can only assume it means the search was still more detailed than it appeared.

I literally have no idea why they landed here after searching that. I have never written anything about men in England. I don’t think I’ve ever written anything about Speedos, mostly because I’d like to pretend they’re not real. I don’t know what “whoeing” is. And “two inches”… I don’t even want to think about what that could mean, corresponding to the Speedos.  Usually people land here because they Google plastic surgery and I wrote ah post about that that seems to have been SEO optimized while I wasn’t looking.

(Click here and watch til about :55 seconds in to find out where I got my tendency to say ah instead of “a.”)

Also: got a 95% on the first official research paper I’ve written in nigh on 15 years. An arbitrary 95%, wherein no specific reason for subtracted points was noted. Fine. I don’t care. Ninety-five percent on the first research paper I’ve written in nigh on 15 years. I will take that. I will take it and I will like it. Because grad school.

But here’s the main reason I’m posting right now. I’m posting right now to ask all the mothers of young children to stop consulting Pinterest for stuff. You people are going to drive yourselves insane.

Shiny New Niece turned one a few weeks ago, and Youngest Neph turned four last week. They have the same mother: Sister 2. And she loves theme parties.

You see where this is going.

I can’t post the pictures of the stuff she did because the person who searched for men in England wearing Speedos and whoeing two inches would probably be able to figure out who she is if I did that… but suffice it to say she lost her damn mind.

I will say this. I will say Google “Pinterest Octonaut party” and you will get just a vague idea of the madness involved in this two-hour birthday party for a four-year-old.

I’m talking about marshmallows covered in just-the-right-shade-of-blue frosting, their bottoms rolled meticulously in graham cracker crumbs intended to look like sand, with tiny pearl candies to look like bubbles stuck strategically about, and little Pepperidge Farm Goldfish crackers stuck to the sides.

I’m talking about a not-insignificant amount of the dwindling supply of helium packed into balloons of varying blue shades, covering the ceiling to make it look like the attendees were under water.

I’m talking about Rice Krispie treats rolled in Gummi Worms and masquerading as sushi.

I want you to know that I actually Googled images of those things, found them, inserted the pictures into my blog post and then deleted them, because I don’t want to drive traffic to Pinterest to encourage this kind of insanity.

Today on Facebook I saw a Pinterest picture of little Teddy Grahams, cut just so, appearing to drive cars made from bite-sized candy bars with mini M&Ms stuck to their sides as wheels.

You guys.

Stop trying to impress the other moms.

Look—I get it. It’s fun. It’s a challenge. It makes you feel like you can really do something when you attempt something like this and it turns out well and everyone marvels at it. But mostly, you’re making people wonder how you have so much free time to do this kind of crap for the sake of a four-year-old’s birthday party. 

What happened to cone-shaped cardboard hats with pinchy rubber bands under the chin and some boxed cake mix?

Why are you doing this to yourselves?

As is well documented here, I am not a mom. I suppose I arguably have never loved another human being with such ferocity that I felt the need to put this much effort into something that was going to last two hours and get destroyed or thrown away. I appreciate the art of well-crafted meals as much as anybody, and I love to entertain. But they’re kids. They really don’t need all this stuff.

Do you?

Really?

Who is it for, really? Why stress yourself out? Isn’t there enough to worry about without pulling your hair out over algae-inspired guacamole?

Your mothers and aunts, by the way, resent this stuff. They think you spend too much money and too much time making them look bad for the parties they threw for you when you were a kid.

Give yourself a break. Give Pinterest a break. Give all the other moms a break.

Failing all of that, give me a break and don’t post the pictures of your attempts at wee children’s party favors on social media.

Unless they look like this.

pinterest fail

 

 

 

 

The Lost Art of Being An Ass. Or Maybe Not Lost. Because History.

Of all the ways to try to insult people, of all the ways to convey displeasure, of all the ways to express anger, I have the biggest issue with one simple gesture.

The Finger.

I actually looked it up, and Wikipedia (Online Knower Of All Facts) says it is “roughly equivalent in meaning to ‘fuck off’, ‘fuck you’, ‘shove it up your ass’, ‘up yours’ or ‘go fuck yourself.’ It is performed by showing the back of a closed fist that has only the middle finger extended upwards, though in some locales the thumb is also extended.”

I had no idea about the third and fourth definitions, which now has me questioning my previous definitions of those phrases and the antecedent for “it.” But I rather enjoyed the academic approach to the gesture’s implications and mechanics.

Whatever its intention, I find it to be, frankly, the least intelligent,  least creative way possible to share one’s unhappiness with another person’s behavior.

I’ve always had a beef with the finger. I can honestly say I have not once in my life used it in anger, irritation or frustration. In fact, rarely have I even used it ironically. I don’t know that I’ve ever been able to express exactly why I refuse to use it, but this morning, on my way to work, I think it finally gelled:

The only people who ever flip someone the bird are the people who are in the wrong.

I was proceeding in an orderly fashion in a westerly direction on a main road in my city when a woman decided she would neglect entirely the laws of traffic and attempt—nay, complete—a right turn from her southerly orientation across several lanes of westerly-traveling traffic so that she might arrive in the lane of her choosing at the time of her choosing. (The lane of her choosing was the second-to-left on a four-lane road.) In order to do this, you’ll perhaps not be surprised to learn that she wound up perpendicular to the westerly flow across 2+ lanes for a period of time, blocking said lanes from proceeding in their orderly fashion.

I laid on the horn.

Admittedly, I find that to be an irritating behavior, as well.

She looked over at me and I put my hands up on either side of my body, at shoulder level, palms up, and said aloud, “What are you doing?”

And she gave me the finger.

No. No, no, no. No. Sorry. You. Are. WRONG. You are in the wrong here. You do NOT get to do that. I don’t care that your gloves are cute. No.

After she had gotten to where she wanted to go at her will and against that of the rest of us, and after I had made it onto the expressway for which I was aiming, I kept contemplating that thought. And I realized… Hey, you know what? Every time anybody flips anybody else off, it’s because the flipper is the ass and the flippee is pointing that out. Ipso facto: all flippers are wrong, and usually selfish.

Think  about it: if you’re a finger-flipper, what makes you do it? Do you do it when you know you’ve done the right thing and someone is mistreating you for it? Probably not. You probably do it when someone shows you you’ve done or said or maybe just thought something wrong, and you don’t feel like addressing your conscience and correcting the matter. The finger is not the gesture of a martyr. It is the gesture of an ass. It is the witless expression of one too lazy to find a more creative, intelligent approach, or of one too self-absorbed to admit fault and simply wave in a gesture of apology.

Sorry. I like you and all, but still.

And since we are a community of writers, my dear frogs bliends froggers blienders bloends blog friends, I feel sure that we are a community with better ways of expressing ourselves. Or… you know… controlling ourselves.

Turns out, the finger dates back to The Proverbial Day in Ancient Greece and Rome. I had no idea humankind has been so afraid to use their words for so long. And the Greeks and Romans had some damned fine words—words from which our present-day language emerged. The finger was meant to symbolize the penis, with the fingers on either side representing the testicles (which makes one wonder what the extended thumb referenced above was all about, and which also confirms that one is always larger than the other, as implied by the two fingers to one side, one finger to the other orientation). Apparently it was also used as an implication that a man submitted to anal penetration.

I’m guessing the recipient of the gesture might have found that an offensive implication.

*Eye roll*

So, if or when tempted to use the gesture, keep that in mind.

But really, folks. Even if you do feel entitled to make this move, isn’t there some other, more creative, less over-used, more intelligent way you could find to make your feelings clear? It may seem odd, but I might actually prefer someone to actually say “Fuck you” aloud. At least then they’re using words. I realize that my preferences are diametrically opposite the flipper’s cares,  but most people don’t want others to find them imbecilic—particularly people who frequently use this gesture. So maybe try not to look imbecilic.

There are better ways to be an ass. Is what I’m saying. If all else fails, go with this movie clip’s method.

 

I have enough adorable kid photos to fill a recycling bin.

When did Christmas cards become all about photos of people’s kids?

This is really two different things, in my mind. One is that so few people even send Christmas cards anymore. I know they’re a pain in the ass. Every year I think, “Oh, I can write Christmas cards while I wait for the laundry/cookies/dinner/this show on TV,” and every year I get halfway through and think, “Why the hell does it take so long to write some Christmas cards?!” But it’s tradition, and I think it’s lovely to actually spring for the $0.46 (and whatever the breakdown cost is for the card and envelope) to let someone know I’m thinking of them during this season.

As of right now, I have received 15 cards. That’s it. How sad is that? Granted, a lot of my friends and family are last-minute types, so maybe I’ll get a few more in the coming days, but I’m going to bet that I top off at 25, outside. Which means that half the people I send cards to don’t return the greeting. (I’m pretty sure that half the cards I’ve received only came because they got mine first.)

I haven’t even gotten a card from my parents yet.

Of the 15 cards I’ve received, eight are collages of kids. The only cards that came with art and not snapshots of precious children are the ones that came from people who don’t have children.

Here’s the irony: 20 years ago, these photo cards would have been grand. You know why? Because it would actually have been a year since I’ve seen some of these kids. I wouldn’t have been force-fed photos semi-weekly on social media since the day they were born. I have actually seen these kids grow up. Which means I have no need for photos of them in my mailbox.

Except my nephews and my niece. I’ll take those.

It’s not that I don’t like children; regular readers know that I do. It’s just that I don’t like narcissism. (And I have noted before the irony of disliking narcissism while being a blogger.) And I thought, for a while, that it was an affordability issue, but then I looked it up and it turns out… these cards are way more expensive than the photo-less ones I buy at a store. Way more!

I realize that many of you who are reading this right now might be photo-card-senders. Please understand that I don’t dislike the people who send them. I love them; that’s why I get cards from them, and why they get cards from me. But I guess I’m kind of old-fashioned in addition to being childless. I guess that means I don’t get it. When I was a kid, parents didn’t brag that much about their children. When my parents were kids, parents mostly thought their children were horrible burdens and gaping mouths clamoring to be fed.

It was a simpler time.

My cousin, who is single and childless (and 41 and has never moved out of her parents’ house, but I digress) also sent a photo collage card… but it was a collage of places she traveled to this year. She’s always been a little all about Eve, but once I got past that, I couldn’t help but like the idea. “In your face, Parents of Adorable Offspring. Did you get to go anywhere besides the grocery store this year? Nope.”

So, though I love all the kids who are peering happily at me from the meager string of cards I’ve collected, I’d like to ask that people do two things next Christmas:
1. Send an actual card
2. Try to make it about something other than themselves and their kids

Feel free to tell me I’m an asshole in the comments section.

Like Taking Wine From A Baby’s Mama

I’m still getting used (I just tried to spell that “youst.” True story.) to the holiday festiveness of my new job. Today was the office Christmas party, complete with a baked goods contest and a white elephant gift exchange. Yes, a Christmas party. There was food that didn’t come out of a vending machine and by “party” I don’t mean merely “group of people working at the same time and eating simultaneously,” which is what “office party” meant in my old career.

Unfortunately, the white elephant exchange made me slightly violent, which may have spoiled the festivities a bit for me.

I didn’t participate in the gift exchange because I
         A) forgot about it; and
         2) didn’t go buy something for it.
So I got to watch, which was perfectly fine because I had already totally beasted a game of holiday-themed Taboo in which my VP, who had apparently never heard of nor played the game before, had totally bombed. She’s very competitive, so she was kind of pissed about it. Then she said something about hating angels because they’re dead babies. Which made me reevaluate my entire concept of what angels are. And made me plot to decorate her office with angels.

It was kind of a weird party.

Anyway, there were some pretty nice gifts in this exchange, including a bottle of sangria, a bottle of limoncello, a bottle of Bailey’s and a bottle of merlot. And I was sitting next to a coworker who is exactly no days away from her due date to deliver a child that she, quite frankly, looks terribly uncomfortable lugging around internally at this point. Friday she thought she was going to have him because he was breech and the docs decided to try to move him, but since that comes with a risk of elevated fetal stress, they also planned to induce her if there was a problem. She had gotten all psyched up to deliver, one way or another, and then she got to the doc and found out he’d flipped to head-down position and now she just has to wait him out. 

The woman needs a drink. Is what I’m saying.

So it was pretty great when she scored the bottle of sangria in the gift exchange.

But then Marty, having been relieved of his original gift and stuck with a stuffed school mascot, came over and took the wine away from the pregnant lady.

I did not make that up.

Marty is kind of an ass on a regular day, so if anybody was going to do this, it was going to be him. He’s affable enough, but he’s a blowhard and he is also, by virtue of a weird inter-divisional galactic hiccup, my client. For the most part we do just fine with each other, but it’s crap like this that makes me realize what a spazz he really is. 

When he triumphantly swiped the sangria from Ellen and replaced it with the stuffed school mascot he didn’t want, the entire room groaned as if to say, “Wow. You just did that.”

The game continued, with my artsy friend Dwight enamored with his Circle of Wetlands Creatures Holding Flippers Around a Candle candle holder (he walks to work and we had decided he should light the candle and then walk slowly home in the dark with it as though it were some sort of hippie-nature-commune-of-one parade for peace) and my boss struggling to open a package (the entire room watched him for what seemed like an endless three full minutes as he battled a curling ribbon without success). Something like seven people later, I was still stewing about Marty’s low move. Work Husband Rob and I schemed. Non-participants ourselves, maybe we could get someone to collude with us so Ellen could get her bottle back.

 “Psst. Donna,” I whispered across the table. “Donna! Donna!” 

Donna turned.

“When it’s your turn, are you willing to play along and take Ellen’s mascot so she can go get her sangria back from Marty?”

Donna winked. “Sure.”

Hehehehe.

Like thirty-two rounds later, it was Donna’s turn. “Gimme your mascot,” she said to Ellen with a smile.

“Go get your wine, girl!” I said.

Interestingly, though Ellen has had some trouble walking lately, she did not have any problem wobbling the length of the large conference room to get that sangria back from Marty, to the hoots and applause of the rest of the room’s occupants.

But two rounds later, another coworker (one who is not an ass), took the sangria.

You guys. What the hell?

These were childless men taking the sangria from the pregnant woman, by the way. Because of course.

So Ellen went trolling and found the bottle of merlot, which she swiped from the new guy who just started in the web department two days ago. And everyone applauded, including, by the way, the new guy who just started in the web department two days ago. 

Content with her merlot, Ellen situated herself in her chair again in whatever position was possibly less-than-miserable.

Two rounds later, we came to the end of the game… the part where the person who picked the first gift gets last dibs. Well, guess who had picked the first gift.

You got it. Marty. Marty, who, after several rounds of vindictive communal swiping in retaliation for his dick move with the sangria, found himself saddled with a bag full of stupid gag gifts.

“I swear to God,” I said to Ellen and Rob, “if he comes over here looking for that wine, I’m smacking his hand.”

The rat bastard came back and took Ellen’s merlot.

I smacked his hand and it had no effect.

You would think that, the first time you swipe a bottle of wine from a dilating woman, you’d learn to read the room. The faces of all persons gathered for Festivus reflected the same thought: “Really asshole? Really? Twice, you’re going to do that?”

You know what, Marty? Noted. Noted.

I looked at Rob across the table, rolled my eyes and said, “It’s really a wonder that he’s still single at the age of 46.”

But there was salvation at hand—as there always is on Christmas. Remember my friend Dwight, with the woodland creatures candle holder? He won the award for Best Baked Good in the blind taste test. Said award was a bottle of pink bubbly, which seemingly would suit him really well, except for the fact that Dwight has a deteriorating spine and is on medications so hard-core that he may be in violation of a few laws. Which means he can’t drink or he’ll die.

So he gave his bottle of bubbly to Ellen.

SCORE! Take THAT, Marty!

Naturally, I had a meeting with Marty right after the festivities were over. I was so seriously annoyed with him for being a douche rocket that I could barely speak. (I am apparently a little too invested in this matter.) But then as the meeting really got rolling, I started putting out a few ideas and he loved them. After a while, he told me I was on a roll.

“You know what?” he said. “Here. You win this for your ideas.”

And he handed me the bottle of merlot he had stolen from Ellen.

I played it cool. I didn’t want him to know what I was going to do with it. I acted like I didn’t really want it. I left it on the table between us, half-sure that he would take it at the end of the meeting. But wouldn’t you know… he picked it up off the table and handed it to me again. “This is yours,” he said.

And I walked that bottle of wine right over to Ellen.

Girlfriend went home with the merlot and the pink bubbly.

Hurry up, baby boy. Mama needs a cocktail.

Decent or Douchey. Totally Your Call.

I feel like the world needs a lesson in being decent vs. being douchey. Maybe it’s because Rudolph is inexplicably on TV before Thanksgiving and I’ve always thought Santa was douchey in that show, but mostly it’s probably because of the following story.

I get home tonight and of course there is a series of parking fails on the block resulting in several half-spaces and none full, so I circle around and start to head into the alley to park behind my house. I get a car-length in and there are two guys in my headlights with a two-wheeled trailer – not a huge thing, probably five, six feet long. It’s blocking the alley. So I stop, thinking the guys will move it – perhaps to the half-pad that’s to my right.

They appear to chat a bit, and then they look at me and kind of shrug. And I shake my head and gesture in the universal sign for Move That. The one guy walks through his gate (I’ve never met this guy), holds it to let the other guy in, and they both walk into the back “yard” (which is walled in with cement block, so I can’t see them).

So I wait, because I figure they’re strategizing or something, because obviously they’re not going to be that dickish. But one minute turns to three and then to four and I finally accept that they’ve actually gone into the house.

Really? That’s how you’re going to play this? I mean okay…

I debate approaches because clearly these guys are douchebags, but since at least one of them is apparently my neighbor, I decide to kill them with kindness. I turn off the motor, leave the lights on, get out of the car in the alley in the freezing rain and walk through the still-open fence to knock on the back door. (There are windows in the door and no curtains, so they really can’t ignore me or anything.) They have popped open some beers—how nice!—but they come to the door. I’m smiling.

“Oh, hey,” the one guy says.

“Hi.”

“You need to get down the alley?”

“Yeah…” (smiling)

“Oh, really?” he says flatly.

“Yeah, that’s why I’m sitting there.” (Smiling. Possibly a tiny bit passive-aggressive but I’ve kind of earned that, haven’t I?)

“Oh, really?”

Seriously, dude? Are you stoned? Is that what’s happening?

“Yeah…”

“Oh, okay.”

“Um, so…”

“You want me to move that thing?”

“Yeah. Oh! It IS yours, right?” I mean of course it’s yours, but for right now let’s pretend I’m not making safe assumptions and I’ll be generous enough to let you own up.

“Yeah. Well I mean it’s his but…”

“Oh, hi, yeah, that’s actually mine, but…” says the other guy.

“Hi. Yeah…” (I think I’m still smiling, but there are amorphous blobs of ice-rain landing on my head, so I’m not 100% sure.)

“You need to get, like, what, all the way down?” the one guy wants to know.

“No, um… like halfway down.” (Smiling and fully aware that he wants to challenge why I didn’t just drive down the block behind us instead of the alley between us and it… yet not willing to tell him exactly where I live in case he decides that my requirement that he be decent warrants a tire-slashing party later tonight. His house is clean and he doesn’t seem to have criminal tendencies—he’s just a regular douchebag—but you never know.)

“Oh, okay. Can you back out and we’ll move it?”

“Um… well I’ll back out as far as I can, but… I can’t see into the street and I don’t want to back into the street, so…” Which is why I didn’t already back out, but you guys are A) douchey; and 2) kind of bad at context clues.

“Oh, yeah, okay, well…”

“Oh, actually, if you can just back up a little bit we can roll it into that half-pad right there,” says the other guy, who’s apparently the brains of this particular operation.

“Great!” If only someone had thought of this before, when you were both looking at me and I was making the universal gesture for Move That and then you WALKED AWAY AND LEFT ME THERE.

So they both come back out, into the freezing rain, and I back up and they easily move the thing into the half-pad. And I gesture at them to go ahead and walk back inside out of the rain before I drive by, but they wave me through. So I roll down my window and thank them and wish them a happy Thanksgiving and then silently plot to set their house on fire.

Moral of the story: if you have a choice between being a decent human being and being douchey… don’t be douchey. It makes people want to set your house on fire. (Hashtag DBD)

But honestly, why feel the need to be jerks in situations where you are clearly in the wrong? Not only were you blocking me from getting through the alley to my parking pad, but you were also illegally blocking the alley itself. Why stubbornly insist on doing something that could land you in hot water with the fuzz? If they drive by and see your contraption blocking the path of hypothetical emergency response, you’re going to get cited for it. And it would be a shame if, say, your house was on fire, and the emergency personnel couldn’t access the burning area.

I mean I’m just trying to help you out, here.

Hopefully the upshot of this mild neighborly battle of wills is that these guys feel kind of guilty for being dickish to the nice lady who was all dressed up and had to climb out of her car in the alley in the freezing rain because they were dickish for really no reason at all except laziness and an apparent forgetfulness of having had mothers who would be disappointed in them right now. This is why I’m always telling Gaybor Steve not to go all sassy on people right from jump. If you get bitchy at step one, you make the other guy feel justified in his initial behavior, and you’re at the added disadvantage of having nowhere to go from there. If you start out with civility and a smile, you get to be the bigger person and you have wiggle room for possibly escalating behavior.

Also? #DBD.

 

Anti-Social Network

I can’t decide if Facebook is particularly annoying today or if I hate all people in general.

Which is the kind of thing I’d rather like to post as a status, but I can’t. For obvious reasons.

Seriously, though:
1. (disappointment emoticon followed by FB explanation that we’re looking at a disappointment emoticon, which, to me, indicates Facebook’s failure to design sufficiently emotive emoticons) “What an unbelievable day at work. Not appropriate for Facebook discussion but I just had to vent for a minute.”

^Okay, you know what? This is not a valid status update.^

Also? You just got that job. Stop complaining about it.

2. A. Night. With. NOTHING. Feeling so happy. 

That last part was actually spelled out. No emoticon with accompanying emoticon explanation. Also no interesting content whatsoever. Nor am I interested when this person tells me what she’s doing on all the other nights.

3. Time for some more work after a lovely evening. :-)

That was a plain old smiley face, no explanation needed. And I know this guy, and I know what “a lovely evening” means, and it’s to do with the guy he may or may not be dating. He wants someone to ask what he did. I’m not doing it. I’m not.

Throw in the usual baiting (today it’s about George Zimmerman and Toronto’s charming mayor); today’s selfies from the same people who posted selfies yesterday; excessive use of exclamation points; some Map My Run shit from a few people who apparently think the rest of FacebookLand gives a flying flaming turd about them going for a run, taking a particular route and running a particular distance in a particular time; an occasional fitness system sales pitch from someone who hasn’t been able to talk about anything but her weight loss since some time in 2011; and a snarky person-to-person-for-everyone-to-see oblique attack on another person with whom they’re no longer friends (but I am) and you have a day on the social network.

And then there are the grammar horrors.

recognize the irony in a blogger deciding that social media “status sharing” is the lowest form of self-serving narcissism, and I realize that I can’t exactly impose my personal Facebook rules (make people laugh or make people think – do not, repeat, do not complain or seek attention – that’s what the blog is for) to everyone on my news feed. I also recognize that the logical reader might, at this point, suggest that I remove myself from Facebook, or remove these particular friends from my list of personal contacts. Well, I can’t remove myself from Facebook because it’s like Communist Russia; you either go along with it or you die a lonely death in cold, cold isolation with nothing but a quarter-loaf of stale bread. And I can’t remove these folks from my list because sometimes they do offer something amusing or useful or interesting and I would feel bad ignoring it. One of them may or may not be my sister. Who may or may not often post things from Map My Run or summaries of funerals she’s been to that day. But often shows me my nephews doing something adorable. Oh, I’m torn.

Wouldn’t it be great if, instead of apparently un-self-explanatory emoticons, Facebook had an algorithm that would allow it to filter stuff you just don’t have the time or emotional energy to see? Maybe you could set it daily. The first time you take a look at the feed each day (if you’re a frequent FBer), you answer a quick series of questions designed to protect you from the people you know and love:

1. What is your mood today?
A. Fine, why?
B. I’m great!
C. Meh.
D. None of your goddamned business, asshole.

And Facebook would note that, if the answer is D, you should not see any posts like this:

FB post 3

 

 

 

(Granted, you might appreciate the comment. But the narcissism of the person who took a screen shot of their own comment would probably cancel that out.)

2. How do you feel about insert today’s political phenomenon?
A. Brilliant!
B. Horrible.
C. So horrible it’s brilliant!
D. I don’t even know what you’re talking about, but I vote.

And Facebook would note that, if the answer is D, you should not see any posts like this:

fb post 2

 

 

 

 

 

3. Which characteristic are you likely to exhibit today?
A. Relatively even tolerance.
B. Hysterical laughter at satire/irony/stuff about horrible things happening to people.
C. Rage.
D. I love Jesus!

And Facebook would note that, if the answer is C, you should not see any posts like this:

fb post 4

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

4. Rate the strength of your opinion on the following statement: A user’s status updates should contain that user’s original thoughts most of the time.
A. Strongly disagree
B. Somewhat disagree
C. Neither agree nor disagree
D. Somewhat agree
E. Strongly Agree

And Facebook would note that, if the answer is D or E, you should not see any posts like this from that guy who always, always posts things like this, like, five times a day, for crying out loud:

FB post 1

 

 

 

 

 

 

5. Of the following people, who will probably piss you off/annoy you the most today?
A. Your mother, who really should not be on Facebook anyway and definitely should stop Liking all these anti-government pages
B. Your ex, who probably shouldn’t be your FB friend but we’re not going to go there right now because clearly you’re still sensitive about it
C. Your boss, who probably shouldn’t be your FB friend but he asked you and what… you were going to say no?
D. Your kid, who, despite the attention you’ve paid to his/her education, still doesn’t seem to understand that “OK” is not spelled with seven Ks
E. That friend who posts totally senseless stuff that nobody ever clicks Like about, but she still hasn’t taken the hint

And Facebook would filter your news feed appropriately.

6. What is most likely to set you off on an uncontrollable tirade today?
A. Poor grammar and/or punctuation
B. Willful ignorance
C. Self-serving pith
D. Public displays of affection
E. Someone else’s total lack of self-awareness
F. Stuff that, I swear to God, doesn’t even make any fucking sense.

And you’d be spared the worst of possible provocation.

BIL 2 once summarized FB etiquette/non-annoyingness like this: Don’t post anything you wouldn’t literally yell in a room full of people numbering the same as the number of FB friends you have.

Sometimes, though, it’s a pretty great way to spread the word about a pretty great thing. Here’s my favorite of the last few days. I’d be more than happy to shout that one from the rooftops.

 

Heaven-Sent, Direct To My Mailbox

Those of you who are lapsed or non-Catholics might not know that this is the time in the liturgical year when the readings at church focus on the Second Coming. I figure that’s what’s prompted the mail I’ve just received from my Crazy Aunt.

Actual mail. She’s that nuts.

For five and a half handwritten, photocopied pages addressed to me by name in fresh ink at the top, she detailed what we should do now that we’re in the End Times. Apparently we should stock up on non-perishables because when Satan comes to try to reclaim the souls of the recently converted, all literal hell will in actual fact break loose. Also we need to find some blessed salt so we can spread it across the thresholds of our doors (don’t open them during the unrest, though) to keep Satan at bay.

If I had known that all it took was some blessed salt, I wouldn’t need to go to confession right now as she urges.

Does it have to be kosher salt?

My aunt, you may recall, sent out checks for a thousand dollars to each of her nieces and nephews last Christmas because it was the money my grandfather had left her and she thought he would have wanted her to do it. I think my mother did get her to understand that, if he had wanted that, he would have left it to his grandchildren instead of her.  Her response was that she was just trying to do the right thing.

Which is true, really. My aunt is an untreated mentally ill person who my social worker sister says would probably be classified as a paranoid schizophrenic with religious preoccupation if she would ever be willing to be diagnosed as anything. But she has a heart full of goodness and love and she just wants everyone to be saved. I don’t begrudge her that. I don’t begrudge anyone that, when it comes from a place of love. And she’s not dangerous; most mentally ill people aren’t. It’s far more likely that she’ll be the person who gets hurt – though she’s pretty paranoid and afraid of a lot of things, so she might never be in a dangerous situation.

One of the things she’s afraid of, apparently, is the Affordable Care Act. more colloquially known as Obamacare.

After the five and a half pages of her letter, she tossed off another paragraph on different paper (no lines) about how the law is against Christianity because it “pushes abortion funding and the implantation of the chip under the skin, which is forbidden in the Bible.”

Where to begin, eh?

Aside from the fact that a lot of things are forbidden in the Bible, like footballs and cheeseburgers, the ACA does not push funding for abortion. It provides members of Congress and their staffers the option, if they choose to be part of the health care exchange rather than private insurance, to pay a premium for insurance in case of abortion. They don’t have to pay into the exchange at all if they don’t buy that particular feature of protection. It’s like a la carte.

It also says nothing about chips.

What we have here, I think, is a bit of confusion on my aunt’s part, because the only CHIP to which the ACA refers is the Children’s Health Insurance Program. And it is not implanted, it is implemented.

Oh.

See, now I definitely don’t believe the thing about the salt on the threshold.

There is one thing, though, that I find to favor my aunt’s way of looking at the world: the 4×6 envelope in which the letter arrived bore no sign of the postal service. The stamps were not cancelled and no meter mark was affixed. There’s no date of mailing. It appears never to have been touched. I’m sure this is a miracle of postal delivery. Deliverance. One of those.

Heaven-sent?

 

 

Serenade, motherfucker. Or: On the Occasion Of Your Wedding

I’m slowly congealing a fantasy about showing up at Jack’s wedding reception and blowing the doors off the place.

Metaphorical doors, since I imagine it will be outside. I don’t know why I imagine that, but I do. He’s not one for showiness, and it’s hard to find an indoor venue that doesn’t fairly smack of showiness, even in tasteful settings. I don’t know exactly what I would do, but I’m pretty sure it would involve a mic drop immediately followed by – in a graceful fit of vengeance I got from my gay-bor Steve the other night when he was telling an interminably long but hilarious story about how he was cock-blocked at every turn one summer by a particular Asian doctor – the single-motion swiping clear of every finger sandwich from the refreshments table on my way out.

It seems I’ve made it to the Passive-Aggressively Bitchy Stage of Loss/Grief.

Do you ever get pissed off at yourself for not being over something that happened, let’s say, four to 18 months ago? Yeah. Me too.

But how bad-ass would that be, for me to show up at wherever this bullshit joke is taking place (poor Gwyneth – no idea) and somehow pull off with class and grace and aplomb a giant Fuck You? “And although there’s pain in my chest, I still wish you the best with a fuck you…”

Cee-Lo Green is a damned poet.

I feel like I would need to channel Audrey Hepburn instead, though. But singing. I just Googled “song about a guy getting what he deserves” to figure out what I could sing at the tasteful reception that could end in a mic drop and the spectacular hoarding of crustless watercress-prosciutto-and-cucumber nibbles. And then I tried “song about guy who cheated getting divorced.” That brought up, I shit you not, 75 country songs. 

I hate country. And I can’t do a mic drop after “Friends In Low Places.” Also I’m now irrationally angry at Tracy Byrd for recording a song called “Revenge of a Middle Aged Woman.” Predictably, it ends with Tracy in the woman’s bed.

Someone send Cee-Lo over to Tracy Byrd’s house.

(Pause for image of miniature Tyrannosaurus Rex trying to throw punches at a doofus in a ten-gallon hat.)

(That’s funny ’cause Cee-Lo has weirdly short arms.)

Then I Googled “song about woman getting revenge,” and either there has never been such a thing or I’m starting to freak Google out, because the screen was blank.

Sara Bareilles has a song called “Sweet As Whole” that I find completely delightful and very singable and even kind of pretty, but it blames Gwyneth a little too much. Still, it would work with my voice.

Jack never heard me sing. In ten years he never once heard me. He had plenty of opportunities, always knew when and where I was doing it, but he never once showed up. Didn’t even ask, usually. One time he offered to pay for my voice lessons because I was stressed out about a vocal problem I was having and about being able to afford the lessons. He said it would mean a lot to him if I let him foot the bill. Which I, of course, refused to allow because no one else should have to spend $200 a month on a voice they never care to hear.

Huh. Not even once.

What do we think of Kelly Clarkson’s “Never Again”?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GVYesEpMr84

Yeah. That’s the one.

The Pot and the Kettle

I do not like my mother.

My mother does not like me.

The two facts landed softly after hard words and deep pain, on a 180-mile drive down a dark highway, silent but for the sound of my tires on the road, leading me back from a family vacation a day earlier than planned, grateful and relieved to be home at 1am.

I think I first sensed my mother’s dislike when I was about 10. I can’t say when she first sensed mine because I can’t pinpoint when it became obvious. I have, and I believe she has, spent a lot of time and emotional energy since then trying to either rectify it, dance around it, pretend it wasn’t there or ignore it.

None of those things have worked, and none of them ever will. That’s clear now.

I am always the quiet one on family vacations. Part of that is because my family is loud. With the nephews and niece, we are 12 people in one house, and no fewer than three are running, shrieking or arguing at any given time except those few precious dark-night hours when even the baby is sleeping. I tend to be an observer; I take things in – I rarely initate. It’s just who I am. For countless summer vacations I have been happy for some time with my book and a spot on the beach or in the house that’s away from the din.

But somehow I am expected to be someone different from year to year, so that there are always questions about what’s bothering me, what’s wrong with me or why I’m anti-social.

Nothing, nothing, and I’m not. Since I was a teenager, this has been my vacation routine. I have lived alone for 14 years, and I am not used to being around 11 other loud, shrieking, arguing, running people for 24 hours a day for a week. I like my space, I like my quiet, and I don’t have anything to say because I’ve been with you for all this time and therefore nothing new has happened in my life of which you are not aware.

I cannot talk for 15 minutes about a pair of shoes. If you ask me a question, my answer will only have so many words. I don’t count them. I just answer. Not everything is fodder for a full conversation.

Was anything bothering me this week? Yes. Two things. One was Jack. I have spent the last ten summers thinking of Jack on the beach. I’m still struggling with it and I’m still hurting and I am reminded of that when I’m sitting on a beach in a tiny town I love, to which I invited him many times, only to have him refuse each time for one reason or another, and then visit it with Gwyneth instead, while hiding the nature of their relationship from me. I had dreamed about him in fitful sleep. I wish it weren’t bothering me, but it was. My family doesn’t know about how my relationship with Jack evolved, devolved or ended because I’m a very private person who doesn’t share her personal life much. My family knows that.

The other thing that was bothering me was my mother. Over the course of the week, the two thoughts that gelled in the car in the end had been pushing their way to my consciousness. I was struggling with them, too. Nobody likes to admit that she doesn’t like her mother, and nobody likes when her mother doesn’t like her. It seems unnatural.

What has finally broken the surface is that it is completely natural – as natural as disliking anyone. The only thing that’s unnatural is trying to force oneself to change the feeling in the absence of a change in the person.

I am me. She is she. What we do not like in each other are things central to who we are. Though we can move to accommodate differences in whatever way is possible, the fundamentals of our selves cannot be changed.

But my quiet and my feelings about my mother had created a tension that erupted at the dinner table Friday night when I jokingly insisted that a young band performer’s four-inch acrylic heels were trashy and my mother told me to put my chin away. The long, slow simmer of the pot’s relationship with the kettle ticked from 210 degrees to 211, and I told her, with an effort at joviality to belie truth, that she had jutted hers first. And she told me, nastily, to shut up. Twice.

I got up from the table to do the dishes and try to control my anger, and a few minutes later, she ordered me to sit down. Still furious, and now resentful of being an adult ordered to a chair for a lecture, I ignored her. When she yelled at me again to sit down, I turned and looked at her but made no move to obey, my mouth firm because anything that could come from it now would be bad.

212.

She stood shrieking obscenities and came at me. My sisters and brothers-in-law scattered from the area with the kids. My mother’s fury made her stronger despite being four inches shorter, and she grabbed me by both shoulders, turned me around and threw me into the chair. Then she leaned over me, finger in my face, still screaming profanities, and threatened to hit me.

It was then that I knew I would not stay the night.

My father stood close-by but made no move to stop the incident, instead coming to tower over me, telling me to obey. I wondered in what way I had behaved as a child who might warrant this treatment and was admittedly not receptive to a conversation when my father mandated it, convening what felt like an intervention because I had been quiet this week.

I think, now, that he was initially motivated by concern until I told them that if they know I’m quiet and I tell them there’s nothing wrong, they need to accept it. He ceded that. Was there something wrong? Yes. I had a broken heart and I don’t like my mother. The former is of no matter here, and the latter might yet be best left unsaid. With both of those truths considered, accept the negation and let it be.

The next twenty minutes picked apart my faults as a person and what my mother called my life’s blessing and curse: “You are smarter than 90% of the people around you and you don’t hide it.”

I also fail at greeting card shopping.

“The last two Mother’s Day cards you sent me were funny.” This was an accusation.

“Are you fucking kidding me right now?!” The only time I swore.

How do I explain that my failure to send mushy greeting cards to my mother is not out of an inability to express warm feelings, but out of a lack of having those feelings for her at all?

“You hate me, don’t you?” she demanded to know. Her chin jutted and her eyes hardened. It was a challenge, a goading – an effort at drawing ire so she could play the victim from here forward.

“If I hated you, would I send you a card at all? Would I think of you? Would I call you? Would I ever talk to you?”

“No.”

“Okay, then.”

My father asked what my mother has always wondered: why he and I can talk for an hour on the phone and she and I cannot. He knows the answer, but always stops at a single reason: we can talk about business and work. I gave the real reason: he and I talk about a lot of other things – including politics – and I cannot talk with my mother about those things. And when I do try to talk with her about work, she doesn’t care. She changes the subject – sometimes when I’m in the middle of a sentence.

She apologized and said she would try to do better. It was a score she kept, so that later in the conversation, she could say she had acquiesced to two things and I to none.

Which wasn’t even true, but is her standard of operation.

When the demand came for an explanation as to why we have always had such a tense relationship, I started with my answer but was interrupted with accusations. And when I calmly tried to point out that something my mother had just said was an example of why I feel she is judgmental, she rolled her eyes, shrugged her shoulders and said, “This is futile.” Then she got up and left the room.

I pointed at the empty chair while my father stared down at the table. “I don’t know how to fix that,” I said quietly.

Minutes later, with my father and me both still at the table, my mother came back to finish the dishes I had started, and told me that if I insisted on leaving that night, I should think about how it would affect the family. This was her way of constructing a narrative to claim that I had been the one to walk out.

There was no good path to take, but the moment that had sealed my decision to leave had not been mitigated and no forgiveness had been sought. I had been commanded to respect her by virtue of her motherhood and told that I didn’t have to like how I was treated and that I, as the child, do not warrant a similar degree of respect.

On that, we will never agree.

I packed calmly and waited an hour for my sisters and their families to return from the amusement park and ice cream shop so that I could say goodbye and tell them I was sorry if my decision to leave that night hurt them.

My sisters and their husbands told me that they were not hurt, and they understood.

I said goodbye to my parents, with hugs, and I drove three hours home, with a new acceptance of our destination and no idea of where to go from here.

Lesson 2 of the Week: I’m Not Really A Bitch

I know I can be difficult. I spent my entire childhood (through age 18) hearing on a regular that I was stubborn, argumentative, bull-headed, etc.

This mostly came from my Irish father. I have no idea from whence I inherited these traits…

Anyway, I got it, okay, Dad? Yes. I can be a pistol. And therefore, I tend to overcompensate as an adult by being as easy-going as possible. That includes trying to be fair a lot. “Fair” is a big word in my head, and not the way adolescents use it when protesting basically anything they disagree with.

I want people to like me. I want certain people to really like me.

So I found myself in a bit of a pickle mid-week when I got a voicemail from Rick at work.

As you know if you’ve been playing the home version of our game, Rick was the first guy (oh, also last guy) I dated after the Jack Debacle, and therefore I got to practice some of my new rules.

Rule #1: Stop Being Too Fair/Nice

At work Tuesday afternoon, I’d sent Rick an email with the link to an article in the local paper that he needed to see. It held legislative ramifications for work, and that’s his area. He replied to my email saying he had read the article and thanking me for sending it.

Swell.

Wednesday afternoon I returned to my officle from a meeting to find a voicemail from Rick.

“Hey, it’s Rick giving you a call. Give me a buzz back when you get a minute…” and then he tried to say something and stumbled over his words and then finished, “Ugh, gah, sorry – I’m so out of it from being in the hospital. Um… (deliberate pause for effect)… yeah, so give me a ring when you get back. Thanks.”

I wish you could see the face I made, but it was something like this:

Whatever.

Whatever.

So I called him back. He said he had called to thank me again for sending him the link to the article. Come on, dude. You already thanked me via email like 22 hours ago. And you could have just thanked me in the voicemail. I didn’t save your job or help you escape from entrapment in a crevice. It was just a link to a story. No, what he had really called to do was tell me about how he’d been in the hospital for two days. The “thank you” lasted exactly as long as it took you to read it. The story about his hospitalization took like 15 minutes.

And it’s not that I don’t care. I do. I’m truly sorry that he was feeling so awful and that it turns out he’s either got IBS or Crohn’s Disease. I empathized as much as I could while thinking he was being an attention-seeker. I know some other people who have those conditions and it’s pretty miserable when it’s flaring up, and I don’t want that for him. And yes, it also sucks that he has kidney stones and may not be so fortunate as to have them broken up by ultrasound, thereby necessitating the other, far less pleasant procedure. I displayed, I think, an appropriate amount of conversational concern.

But listen, bub. You might be hot. And I might still like you. And if we were actually friends, I would have been very concerned and probably would have come to visit you. But I am holding fast to my policy of not caring about your life beyond our building, precisely because I still like you, and therefore could do without caring too much and getting all wrapped up in yet another game of “Fall For The Emotionally Unavailable One! Yes! Do It!” For the first three weeks after I found out about Jack’s engagement, I found myself looking for excuses to come see you in your office or call you about something, but you know what? I didn’t actually do it. Because even though it would have made me feel better about myself, it would have been manipulative and self-defeating. And I don’t play that.

Anymore.

Also? I don’t tell you anything about my personal life anymore. I don’t seek you out for storytime so I can feel like you still care. So stop it. Your girlfriend was with you, right? I thought so.

See? Difficult. Possibly unfair. Old Me tried not to be that way.

The next day I turned to find him standing near my desk. “Hey!” he said. “Just uh, bringing you two invitations to the grand opening of the new building on Monday…” (he held up and then handed to me two invitations that my division designed, thanks – and why two? This isn’t a gala. It’s a workday event. It’s the least grand opening of anything ever.)

I looked down at my desk calendar and pointed squarely at the blue ink in the Monday box. “Yep. Right there on my calendar,” I said.

“Oh, great! And…uh… also I wanted to tell you that I’m going to send you the link to a live camera we have now of the construction going on over on that side of the grounds,” he said, pointing in the direction of the area. “So if you guys want to write up a story on it or anything…”

I was approximately this expressive:

Then I realized it and remembered to move my eyebrows or something, so I did as I replied, “Oh, uh-huh. Okay, cool.” Why are you here, exactly?

“Great,” he said, rubbing his hands together. “Okay! Thanks!”

“Yep! Thank you!” I replied, consciously trying to insert the exclamation points.

And then he never sent me the email. Which is fine because I’m not writing a story about the camera. And I have a feeling he knows that.

And I felt kind of bad, you know? Like I was unnecessarily dismissive. I mean I really couldn’t figure out why he was standing in my officle that day, but had I been rude?

But then the most amazing thing happened. I told Brad the story, and I told Angie and Joey the story, and I told Sister 2 the story, and I told Mama-Friend the story… and they all said basically the same thing.

“Oh please. Eff him. How pathetic.”

You mean… you mean I’m not a bitch?

I’m not?

OMG I’m not! I’m not a bitch! I’m not difficult! I’m too nice! I worry too much about other people’s feelings and not enough about my own! This is amazing!

Wooooooo!

Wooooooo!

I totally win at Rule #1.