Monthly Archives: January 2014

Pinterest: the same rant all over again

Once more with feeling:  I love Pinterest but there is a raft of BS spreading like VD.

“You Can Heal Paper Cuts Immediately With Chopsticks!!!”

“Drink Tons of Apple Juice Before Going to Bed – the Chemical Compounds in the Juice Cause Vivid and Awesome Dreams!!!”

“Soak a Cotton Ball in Vinegar to Make a Bruise Disappear!!!”

“If You Go to the Zoo, Wear the Same Colors as the Employees — the Animals Will Come Up to you Immediately!!!”

— Every random pseudo-holistic health and beauty promotion ends with “I’ve been doing this a week now, my teeth are whiter and no longer sensitive, any body puffiness I had is gone and I’ve lost two pounds this week and this is the only change I’ve made. My hair had become shiny and no longer frizzy, even my nails have smoothed out, I can really recommend this for everybody!!!”

Everything is a quick fix, cheap, with ingredients found around the house, and it eliminates all the minor irritations in life — whether you knew you had them or not.  Or cared.

Are these the people who click on the “One Weird Trick” ads that never die?

And again, exploring the poster’s other repins inevitably reveals boards for country romance, sugary desserts, and inspirational quotes from the Scripture.  Ladies, if you read books besides the Bible, or observed the world around you, you would know that immediate healing does not occur outside the grotto at Lourdes, that almost all animals have vision (especially color vision) different from humans, and drinking tons of anything before bed will give you very vivid dreams of waterfalls, running faucets, tinkling streams, and cheerleaders shouting, “GIVE ME A ‘P’!” — but not because you have interfered with your acetylcholine receptors.

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AFFRONT: the gripe so large it deserved its own post.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again:  if I ever got knuckle tattoos, which is less likely than winning the lottery I don’t play, they would read C-A-P-S   L-O-C-K.

My winner of all things irksome right now:  POMPOUS INDIGNATION AND HORRIFIED MORAL AFFRONT.

This one is special to me because three of my exes specialized in it.  But overexposure to it permanently altered my immune system and lowered my tolerance for it.  In the ex-husband, it manifested as I AM SHOCKED AND APPALLED THAT YOU WOULD EVEN THINK SUCH A THING.  Picture him drawing himself up to his full 74 inches in height, eyes widening, chin receding into his neck as he recoiled in horror, no different from a proper matron in a Victorian drawing room.  In the long-term boyfriend it took the tone of YOU HAVE ASSAULTED MY UPRIGHT MORALS AND OFFENDED ME DEEPLY, MADAME!  This ass was a 66 inch tall pile of jutting jaw and flared nostrils, ready to challenge someone to a duel on the spot.  In the deeply manipulative sometime girlfriend it was closer to WELL!  I NEVER!, and while she always tuned it to the audience, the root was deeply self-entitled narcissism of the DAR / Scarlett O’Hara variety.

Folks who display this attitude are prone to calling out others but rarely check their own bullshit.

There’s another kind I know too well but would never date:  the inane ingenue.  With them I try to be compassionate, because the sincere ones have a rigid standard for their own behavior and either grew up without compassion or never learned that human frailty is not the end of the world.  But it’s hard, since after a lengthy high-toned rant about the moral failures of others, the sincere ones tend to boo-hoo about how everyone is so cruel and hypocritical.  No, honey, you have that exactly backward:  you are expecting generosity from people who have received only judgment from you.  You’ll be fine once you learn to cut yourself some slack and extend the same courtesy to others.  But the one who dishes out harshness and expects worshipful respect if not candy coated adoration (HOW DID WE NOT SEE THAT YOU WERE RIGHT ALL ALONG? PLEASE FORGIVE US FOR NOT RECOGNIZING YOUR MORAL SUPERIORITY EARLIER!  PROMISE YOU’LL BE MY MORAL GUIDE FOREVER) is the sort of ass who gets abandoned by even close friends until the next step in growing up occurs.

Of course, not everyone is earnest and naive.  For most I think it’s just an idealized self-image, an exalted and tender amour propre.  I would say my ex-husband’s case was most self-damaging.  Even though he was the nicest guy of the three, his view of the world was skewed by his protective cloud of huffing and puffing, maladaptive defenses against his shame at failure.  Don’t torture yourself, amigo — just try harder.  You’ll need to protect yourself less when you are confident that you have done everything you could do, and have not conned yourself into thinking it was your best work when you simply quit after getting tired, chickening out, or losing your nerve.  You never got support and encouragement growing up and your batteries get drained fast.  Sometimes the critics are right, and listening to them can help you — especially if the topic is too painful for you to consider.   Wherever you are, I hope you are being honest with yourself and doing better in life.

The long-term boyfriend was very different.  He had two layers:  the first was conscious cover for his chronic cheating (“your suspicion hurts me and implies that YOU are the one who is cheating since you are trying to deflect the focus from yourself; I will now proceed to make this all about you.”)  The second layer was his core self, which had lofty, deeply felt values at odds with his own actions, but a perception of himself based on the values rather than the deeds.  Being publicly called on those actions was deeply upsetting to his core self, and he avoided that pain by blaming his girlfriends or distracting himself with a new side piece — anything to feel good about himself.  He was completely toxic to females as a young man but he got his act together through work with a professional friend.  I’m glad for him and relieved for women at large and generally hopeful for us all.  If he can improve himself, miracles are possible.  Good on ‘im.

As for the sometime girlfriend, who knows?  Any display of emotion on her part might have been to manipulate others or as normal-person camouflage (see The Mask of Sanity by Cleckley) or something else, but it was always purposeful.  Her affront was sometimes the only thing about her that seemed honest, but again — who knows?  You can’t trust a liar.  She was mercurial and calculating and damaging to anyone close to her — but she was also always witty, funny, passionate, and game for the ballroom or the pool room.  I miss her company and our extemporaneous sister act.  But she is (by self admission) the person least likely to change herself or accept the criticism of others.  In her terms, “who listens to the lowing of cattle?”

The problems begin when you despise the cattle for being what they are, but expect their adoration anyway.  It wouldn’t hurt to see yourself as others see you, *especially* even when the image is unflattering.  It’s the only way you find out that your dress is tucked into the back of your pantyhose.  If you don’t accept criticism from your friends, your adversaries are the only ones you can trust.

Postscript to a Prelude

Okay, more of the irksome.  Sometimes venting your spleen generates more spleen, but better out than in.

NAIL POLISH.  All my best colors are horrible as polish, varying in opacity and drying unsmoothly.  All the clear coat in the world can’t help.  And when I do manage a perfect laydown, the chipping begins.  But the colors that looked rich in the store and happen to turn weird on my hands (or make my hands look green, liverish, corpsey, or the color of a defective medical appliance) flow on cleanly, set perfectly, and last forever.  Hateful.

HUFFINGTON POST.  They changed their comments policy and people can’t use anonymous handles anymore.  They say I can be grandfathered in, having commented to solid acclaim and no complaints for many years, but they still require me (like everyone) to log in with Facebook to make comments.  I know this is something most people do without qualm or reservation, but it irks the bejaysus outta me and I balk no matter who asks it.

SLATE.  They also changed their commenting format, twice now, to make it “prettier” or some such — but it’s harder to skim comments, impossible to track one’s own comments (and any replies) and more difficult to read at a glance when everything is broken up.  Look, folks — I’m a longtime reader of Vanity Fair and the New Yorker.  I love VF, but it is awful for a variety of reasons, and one of them is opening all their stories at the front of the mag and continuing them at the end.  That “please turn to page 183” business is lame and you know it.  The New Yorker is great for a lot of reasons, and one of them is that they don’t do that.  Fiction, essays, whatever — it all stays together in one continuous, contiguous mass.  Easier to read, easier to tear out and file or mail or pass along.  Slate could take a lesson.

JOURNALISM (OR “JOURNALISM”):  look, I don’t expect news-for-profit to be without a slant.  But the open bias, the publishing of PR flack from politicians and corporations — it’s not journalism.  Passing press releases as news is a lie.  It’s nothing new, but it’s worse than ever.  Where does one go for current events that are meaningfully explained and thoughtfully contextualized?

E-BOOKS & DIGITAL MUSIC.  They are saving the environment, allowing life in smaller homes, and protecting collections from mechanical damage.  Entire libraries can be made available to schools in poverty and shipped to third world countries for the cost of a button; for this I love them.  So convenient it hurts.  But one of the ways I get to know people is by seeing what they read on the bus and checking out their bookshelves and music collections at home.  The way I have been historically most likely to receive musical cross pollination is by borrowing a friend’s music and then trampling the world to get to my local independent music store (or borrowing a book and trampling the world to buy a copy from my local independent book store).  Everything is Amazon, everything is iTunes, and everyone’s collections are none of my business.  Sad for me.

SOCIAL MEDIA.  Not for me, mind you; for me, it’s a lifesaver.  I’m in the prime of life and I’ve lived in various states and my family is scattered.  Social media allows connection with friends dear enough to miss but not dear enough to call or write.  Other folks complain about oversharing the trivial, but not me — I love it.  It makes me feel in touch with my far-flung crew.  Dinner pics from I Love Sushi in San Jose, Juan’s in Phoenix, The Owl in ABQ, Aunt Martha’s in Springfield, and the Vista Linda in Somers, Montana — it’s as if we’re having dinner together.  But the friendship came first.  For young people, social media is a place to make connections much more than to nurture them.  It’s a place to expose yourself (sometimes literally) — to be brave, hopefully to be known.  But the high connectivity can mean low intimacy, and loneliness or lack of community.  Not to mention poor socialization.  I know it’s easy to worry about kids and they usually do just fine, but still.

Prelude to a Prelude

Grad school:  completed.  Too much to say.  Careers and current events and curiosities will have to wait for another day, and they deserve a prelude of their own.  Right now, I am suffering PMS and perimenopause, another separate topic, but one related to this post’s irks and irritations (not including insomnia and a period that is irregular for the first time in my life).  This is just an incomplete list of the raft of things acting like a cheese grater on my nerves lately, some of them due to hormone transitions and Passages and ch-ch-ch-changes, if it’s not wrong to mix Gail Sheehy with David Bowie.  In no particular order:

BUFFALO HOT WINGS.  I love them when they’re good but they almost always suck.  First, a “drummette” isn’t a wing.  Second, if the meat is even slightly undercooked, my throat swells shut.  Third, soggy skin makes me want to have a frickin’ tantrum.  Fourth, the proper garnish is celery and carrot sticks, and that does not mean rusty celery and dried out so-called “baby” carrot knobs.  Fifth, blue cheese is normal and ranch is an option, but if you include that nasty eggy mayo in either, my throat swells shut per my second point.  Sixth and last and I cannot stress this enough: it is not a Buffalo wing if it does not come in a sauce that is a vinegar-based chili mixed with butter, such as Frank’s.  If you are ordering wings with sauces such as lemon pepper, BBQ, or Greek herbs, they are not Buffalo and they are not hot.  They are just wings.

TERMINOLOGY.  Eight million discussions of ideas on FB, particularly, have deteriorated before my very eyes in the past few weeks.  Today’s topic was meritocracy.  People get going on rants easily enough, but each person goes down his or her own rabbit hole and calls everyone else wrong.  It’s maddening.  Defining meritocracy (for example) is not the same as endorsing it.  Approving the idea is not approving the poor application of the idea.   Loathing the idea is not to presume there is something better — perhaps it’s something awful with no superior alternative.  It’s really a clash of imagined scenarios (best case, worst case, most common case, etc.,) the clash of realism and idealism, the clash of the just versus the kind.  And it always boils down to “I like it” or “I don’t like it”, for personal reasons — as most things do.

MY TESTIMONY MAY BE ANECDOTAL TO YOU BUT IT’S EVIDENCE TO ME.  What are you going to believe if statistics don’t support your body of experiences?  Some numbers on a page, which may or may not be correct or complete, or your own life?  The less first-hand knowledge people have, the more they seem to rely on statistics — when it comes to making other people do what they want.

CONTROL FREAKS.  Of course I am one.  And I am exceedingly stubborn.  But there is a huge difference between controlling my own self / life / environment and trying to control anyone else’s.  My life lately has a lot of people who are Very Very Disappointed in loved ones who are doing what they want to do rather than what my friends and family would like.  Example:  my mother is relatively young, for my family, but frail.  She relies heavily on one of my sisters and my brother-in-law for chores.  In exchange, they live rent-free on her property while they save for a house.  They both have demanding jobs and Mom also cooks a lot of their meals, takes care of their dogs, and runs interference.  Sister wants to move but feels Mom can’t survive without her.  Mom hates to see the kids go, but says “do what you need to do”.  Sis feels that this is passive aggression on Mom’s part; an attempt to guilt trip her into staying.  It isn’t.  It’s Sister feeling guilty for wanting to leave Mom and resenting it.  But she, as a control freak, is incapable of owning her feelings OR her decision.  Instead of copping to it and acting accordingly, she stays — and grouses — and blames Mom for the whole mess.

(Why won’t you do what I want you to?  Why are you keeping me from doing what I want to do?  — My dear, no one is stopping you.  Wash, rinse, repeat.)

CANDY CRUSH: level 275 is both boring and hateful, but if I don’t beat it, I can’t play new fun ones.  But playing a game I hate, for a purpose, seems like work.  Ugh.

PUSH NOTIFICATIONS SHOULD BE OPTIONAL.

BIG BANG THEORY:  ever since Howard and Bernadette married, things have gone horribly downhill.  The women are shrill jerks, the men are resentful whiners, there is drama where there should be fun, and the jokes are often cruel, nasty, sexist, misogynistic, and what they are not, unfortunately, is funny.  There are no more laughs whatsoever.  It’s a cringefest.  And it breaks my heart.

OTHER BANGS THEORY:  I rocked Bettie bangs for a while during my stay in the Bay Area, and they looked great…until my stylist magically forgot how to do them and gave me Cindy Brady bangs instead.  For the past year I have rocked self-inflicted bangs, and for the past few months I’ve been growing them out.  It seemed best, to allow the new stylist more options to even out the overcorrections and the general mangling.  But hair that is long enough to hang in my eyes but not long enough to put in the knot drives me up a wall and gives me terrible headaches.  My hair-around-the-house has been a style much like Zippy the Pinhead’s.  (Hairbands don’t work thanks to my perfectly cube-shaped head.)  It’s finally getting long enough to stay in the bun, and it occurred to me that I could just end the era of bangs in my life.  Cautious thrill, hopeful imagining, but no.  To borrow Tyra’s phrase, I don’t have forehead, I have fivehead — and instead of a flawless oval mug I have the front of the giant man-sized meat cube that passes for a head.   Wearing bangs in rain county, particularly when those bangs are stick-straight, clingy as lint, and subject to unflattering cowlicks and hairlines, is smart.  But not on this face.  Alas and alackaday.

THE LIST:  too much to do.  And I should be doing it while there is time.  But right now, puttering and not worrying about things, even things I really should worry about, is what I’m doing.  R&R is sometimes necessary, but it still doesn’t get the storage unit organized.

And I can feel a rant about work, licensure, school, experience, and all that jazz coming on, so I had better stop.  (I got a single B and the rest As and still didn’t make the Dean’s List.  Yeah, it makes me pouty.)  And there is a rant about aging, health, and my reservations concerning the “being fat is being healthy” crowd.  (Look, folks:  chubby girls can be lush and glamorous and attractive.  They should love themselves as much as anyone should and like anyone should not feel bad about their fat — it’s not a moral state, for crying out loud.  But I used to be a jock and I don’t like being out of shape and if one more person tries to tell me I have simply been brainwashed by a society that wants me to hate myself so it can sell me things, I will implode.  They tell me OF COURSE it’s healthy to weigh twice what I used to!, that it is not a strain on my joints, that it is not a stress on my internal organs, that fat is not the cause of illness — on and on.  It’s all I can do not to unleash a sternly worded, peer-reviewed-journal-citation-rich reply, along with a lesson in the difference between correlation and causation with regards to the assertion that body fat is unrelated to heart disease, cardiopulmonary disorders, or the family of cancers.  That is the sort of fact-skewing self-serving apologia functional alcoholics use to rationalize their overindulgence — after all, it’s not causing me to miss work, hock my watch, miss a rent payment, or beat my kids, so It’s Just Fine.  Maybe It’s Actually Better For You Even.)

But I digress.