The Pervasive Boob Tube

I’m warning you now . . . today’s post is going to be a bit of a rant.  And it’s about the love/hate relationship that I have with TV.

I grew up in the 70s, right around the time that TV started to get really “good,” with lots of fun and educational programming to choose from.  I learned Spanish and sign language from Sesame Street.  The Electric Company’s Easy Reader helped instill in me a love for reading (thanks, Mr. Freeman!).  And to this day, I still sing several of the Schoolhouse Rock songs at the most random times.

We also had amazing cartoons; from the three-hour Bugs Bunny/Road Runner marathons on Saturday mornings, to all the Hanna-Barbera shows where mysteries got solved by those “meddlesome kids.”  And throughout the late 70s and early 80s there was some great pabulum to be seen in the form of prime-time viewing (though now, so many of the shows I loved back then seem dated . . . and not in a good way).

And being of the “latchkey kid” generation, the TV got turned on as soon as I got home from school.  I would try to turn it off to do my chores, but that usually wound up happening 30 minutes before my mother was due home from work.  Sometimes I scrambled fast enough that I was able to get the cleaning done in one commercial break.

I still enjoy watching TV . . . to a certain extent.  In fact, right now there are more shows that I enjoy watching than at any other time that I can recall.  Some of that is due to the sheer number of channels available, but some of it is due to the better writing that has come out of Hollywood lately.

No, my complaint with regards to the boob tube is that it’s begun to infect every single corner of our lives.

People have been watching shows on their cell phones for the last few years now . . . which strikes me as weird, since we used to complain about the tiny size of the available screens back in the 70s.  I just can’t make peace with watching something on a screen 4 times smaller than I had when I was little.

But even worse is that TVs are now cropping up in restaurants, grocery stores and who KNOWS where else!  I can understand the concept of having TVs at a sports bar . . . because that’s why people go to a sports bar . . . to watch their team’s event.  But why does it need to be in other restaurants?  There are a couple diners here in Alameda that have multiple TVs playing any time I go in there.  And Craig just told me about a recent experience at a Burger King, where there were TVs in there playing 2- and 3-minute clips of various shows . . . followed by several minutes of commercials.

And THAT’S what I hate the most about this new trend . . . the advertising!  It’s bad enough that there are more commercial breaks in TV shows now than before.  But–if the Burger King incident is any indication–pretty soon it’ll be 5-10 minutes of TV show surrounded by 20 minutes of commercials.  That trend started to irk me when it infiltrated my sacred movie theaters over a decade ago.  Though, that one I’m willing to put up with so that I can be sure to get my favorite seats when I see a film . . . but I do tend to focus on something else if I can.

But I don’t know that I’ll be okay with the trend of restaurants playing TVs all the time.  I’m actually considering a boycott of restaurants that have said distraction in multiple areas of their establishment.  Craig pointed out that I don’t need an even narrower group of places I can eat (due to my dietary restrictions), but I might be willing to make that sacrifice.  It really irks me to have to vie for someone’s attention when I’m dining out with them (and I don’t care who you are, you’re bound to get distracted by the boob tube . . . it’s designed that way).  It just seems rude and unnecessary to “have” to be connected to the idiot box all the damn time!  Talk to the people you’re dining with, for crissakes!

And, even if I’m dining by myself, I’d much rather have peace and quiet so I can read my book or magazine and not have my attention keep getting pulled away by whatever is being said on the television.

In writing about this now, I realize that I’ve actually started strategically seating myself to where I’m the one in sight of the TV . . . because I know I won’t be as distracted as the other person might (or, at least I think that’s true . . . who knows?).  I hate realizing that I feel the need to think that far ahead about that sort of thing, because that puts me on the defensive already.

So, while I’m okay with TV being a distraction in the home, I don’t need or want said distraction to follow me when I’m going out for a nice meal.  Heck, even a mediocre meal (no offense, BK), deserves more attention than having a TV on in the background provides.

The Sins of the Parents

When I was researching the phrase “The sins of the father are the sins of the sons” for this blog, I found two possible origins: the Bible, or William Shakespeare (depending on whether or not you believe in either).  Regardless of where it stemmed from, I’ve never liked the phrase.  When I first heard it, I interpreted it to mean that whatever “wrongs” a parent does, the child will have to pay for.  And later in life, I found that it could also mean the habits and idiosyncrasies of a parent will likely pass down to the child.  Neither interpretation is happy: with the former, the offspring would have to “pay” for their parents’ choices . . . and with the latter the offspring doesn’t have the free will to be his/her own person.

But some things have come up in my life recently that tell me the second meaning is probably more true than I wanted to believe . . .

In doing the research on Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD), I learned that quite often children from parents with NPD can develop NPD traits as well.  This happens because those children grow up feeling neglected and insecure and those two things often transform into narcissism.  It’s a vicious cycle that began with some ancestor several generations back and keeps moving forward until someone breaks the cycle.

Ever since this discovery, I’ve been on the lookout for narcissistic behavior in myself and have been trying to change my reactions to people or circumstances accordingly.  But I’ve recently discovered that I exhibit one of my mother’s behaviors more than I was aware of . . . jumping to the wrong (often bad) conclusions.  This happens especially in conjunction with trying to be in contact with certain people, namely my brother and Athena (my step-daughter).  Both of them tend to be not as responsive as I would like.  If I text or call one of them, I might not hear back from them for hours or even a day or two.  This then feeds into an insecurity that maybe I’ve done or said something recently that upset them and they’re “punishing” me for it.

This sort of a reaction is bad on a couple of counts.  First, it implies that these people have nothing better to do than wait around for a call or text from me.  Second, it’s my ego inserting itself saying that I’m somehow important enough to said person that they would take time out of their day to be so bothered by some random thing I might say or do that they would deliberately ignore me.

My own life is incredibly busy right now and I don’t have time to speak with my own friends as often as I would like to.  So, I’m probably not as communicative as they might like right now either.  But hopefully they don’t jump to a conclusion that I’m upset with them.  And I need to remind myself of the same thing with regards to other people who don’t get back to me right away.

Another trait from my mother that I apparently (unfortunately) picked up is correcting people’s thoughts or words.  This one bothers me the most right now, because I used to HATE when she did it to me when I was younger . . .

Often, when I would say a word that my mother didn’t like, she would “correct” the word when she responded to me.  For instance, if I talked about how “weird” it was that someone didn’t like mushrooms, she would correct me and say “It’s certainly ‘different.'”  She did this because she thought the word “weird” meant “bad.”  To me, it was simply another way to say “different,” but because it made her uncomfortable, she wouldn’t say the word.  She has lots of euphemisms that she did this with, and each time she did it, I felt like I was getting a subtle message that the words I used were “wrong,” or “bad,” or that there was something wrong with me for using them.

Well unfortunately I’ve apparently started that myself (grrr).  In trying to better my life, I follow things like The Secret that talk about how your outlook on things will change your perception.  It’s like the proverbial glass . . . some people see it as half-full, while others see it as half-empty.  And the thought is that those who see the positive in a situation will continue to see positive things in their lives.

Anyway, Craig will sometimes say things that sound more like a negative spin than a positive one, and I’ve apparently started correcting him to put a positive spin on it.  He recently brought it to my attention and–knowing how badly it made me feel when my mom did it to me–I apologized profusely to him.  Analyzing myself, I understand that I was doing so because I want to make sure I continue to see things in a positive light, but it doesn’t excuse my behavior.  He’s not wrong for phrasing things the way he does, and I need to stop doing things that make him feel like he is wrong (inadvertent though they might be).

I suppose seeing these things in myself can help me to understand my own mother’s behavior a little better, and not be so mad about it, but right now I’m still in the “I can’t believe I’m turning into my mother” phase of acceptance.

Experience Overload

When I was a little girl, I used to want to be a nurse, a teacher, a mother, and a couple other things I can’t remember now.  My mom told me that I could be any one of those, but I said I wanted to be all of them.  That’s when she told me that acting is a place where I could be all of those things and more.  I was hooked.  From that point on, I wanted to be an actress.

In my 20s, I realized that part of the reason I wanted to act was so that I could be anyone, and anywhere OTHER than who and where I was.  But over the last few years, I’ve realized another reason is because I have this innate desire to experience everything.  While I consider myself to be very empathetic, hearing someone’s story about their experience (good or bad) is just not the same as living through said experience yourself.

And when I say “everything,” I truly mean EVERYTHING.  There’s a part of me that’s curious to know what it FEELS like to be shot, or to run a marathon, or give birth.  Now, I likely won’t do any of those things, because all of them sound VERY painful to my logical brain (as well as for various other reasons), but the curiosity is still there.

The problem with wanting to experience so many things is that, when you actually HAVE had tons of experiences, it’s hard to know what to tell people about yourself, and when to share this information.  I mean, some things come up naturally in conversation, but I’ve known people for years that are shocked when then learn some aspect of my life 2, 5, or even 10 years into the relationship.

And it’s not like I’m going to introduce myself to someone by saying “Hi, I’m Alyx.  I’ve been sexually abused by my father, my mother was an alcoholic, I’ve worked at Disney World (as well as at least 20 other companies), been in a cult, know all the words to at least 1,000 songs, have been bungee jumping, flown in a bi-plane, traveled to more than 10 countries and speak enough of 5 different languages to get by in said countries.”  Not only would that be just the tip of the iceberg that is my life, it would be very weird and a little off-putting to the other person.  For one, that’s a HUGE information dump to get in a 5-minute introduction.  For another, if you were to hear about all of those experiences from one person, you might not believe them.  Some of it might sound like bragging, while other things might be so “out there” to you, that you couldn’t imagine anyone actually doing them.

That’s why it takes so long to really get to know someone.  By the time you meet them, they’ve likely had at least 20 years’ worth of experiences to share, as have you.  But that’s one of the reasons I’d rather hang out with someone in a one on one setting, so I can take the time to get to know them.  Hear what makes them happy, sad, excited.  That’s something you can’t do in a crowded bar, or party.

It’s also hard to know what experience to bring up when I’m meeting a new group of people (in a class, or large auditorium-filled seminar) and have been instructed to share just one thing about myself to the group.  Such an open-ended question will have me searching for quite a while through my memory’s data bank in order to come up with the “appropriate” choice.

Still, I wouldn’t trade all of my experiences for anything.  I’d much rather have the experience than have other people know about it.

But, if you do meet someone, and s/he tells you that s/he’s had a bunch of experiences . . . give him/her the benefit of the doubt, would ya?  ;o)

Shedding a Little “Light”

Every now and then I’m struck by just how many different jobs are out there.  Jobs that many people probably don’t think about, because the product is just always there.  Some of my previous ponderings have been over the plastic ends on shoelaces (called aglets or aiglets), the handles on coffins, and even those cup holders at Starbucks.  All of these things are necessary and we’d be lost without them, but we usually end up taking them for granted, especially if we’re not the ones who work on these items.

Some of these odd jobs might now be automated, but at some point, someone, somewhere had to actually design the products, and someone else had to make them and/or attach them to whatever product they’re a part of.

There’s a great show called How It’s Made that shows things like this.  It airs on The Science Channel (sometimes several episodes back to back), talks about anything from potato chips to caviar to snowboards and even big construction machines.  There are some things that I don’t particularly find interesting, but by and large, I LOVE this show.

Anyway, lately I’ve been pondering automobile tail lights.  It’s a weird thing to be thinking about, I know, but when I’m in traffic at night, and they’re sitting there in front of me, it’s hard not to see the unique designs they’re coming up with now and wonder “Who thought of that design and why?”

I know that interesting car features have been a big thing for years.  Back in the 50s many cars had fins, others a porthole in the rear window, but I’d never really noticed the tail lights to see if they, too, were unique among automotive companies.

So come with me and take a look at the (oftentimes) interesting world of car tail lights . . .

First we’ll start off with the more “regular” looking tail lights.  These have been on 90% of the cars out there for several decades now.  There might be a few tweaks here and there, but mostly they’ve been sturdy, functional, and somewhat boring:

plain-tail-lights-group

Next, we’ve got a few cooler-looking ones.  These car manufacturer’s apparently decided to blend the tail lights into the new, sleeker lines of the car.  To make them a part of the car’s design, rather than an afterthought:

cooler-tail-lights

And then there are the REALLY cool, trippy kinds of tail lights that mesmerize you a little bit:

trippy-tail-lights

In fact, it’s the eyeball-looking lights (above) that caused me to want to write this blog.  Those things are so cool, but still freak me out a little bit . . . like the car is looking at me sideways (which I’m sure is what the manufacturers were going for).

Paying attention to the tail lights (while I’ve been working on this blog) has helped to curb my road rage a bit, because I can focus on the different designs in front of me, rather than the slow person in front of me.  But it’s not so distracting that my attention is diverted from what’s happening on the road.

How about you?  Have you ever wondered how they made that, or who came up with that idea?  If so, I’d love to hear about it.

An Unlikely Soldier

I’m just gonna come right out and say it . . . This election SUCKS!

Not only because our new dictator-in-chief is a reality show buffoon, whose petty, xenophobic, misogynist, and homophobic tweets have incited people to crawl out from under whatever rock they’ve been hiding and be just as vulgar.  Nor is it because it seems he’s trying to undo all the good, progressive growth our country has gone through over the last 50+ years, and turn us into a fascist oligarchy.

Those things are horrible, true.  But what bothers me more about this election is to learn just how many people in this country seem to WANT the fascist oligarchy, or hate on any group of people who aren’t Aryan straight men.

And what I hate even MORE than that is that I can’t seem to accept the “other side’s” point of view on this one.

I’ve tried most of my life to be someone who lives by the edict of “To each his/her own.”  I don’t expect all of us to see eye to eye on every issue, but I believe we each have the right to our respective opinions.  I truly used to think I was like that.  But I’m so incredibly scared of what might happen over the next 4-8 years (God, PLEASE let it only last for 4!), that I have no desire to even listen to what the “other side” has to say.

And I tried.  I really did.  There was an article I saw online where a female reporter decided to sit down and talk with a Trump supporter who lived in her neighborhood.  Apparently what I saw was her second conversation with the guy, and they were sitting down openly discussing their opposing views and also responding to various comments in his Twitter feed.

I totally applaud her ability to be able to sit down and have the discussion with him, because, yes, we DESPERATELY need to have open conversations with each other, to try to understand where the other is coming from (because, maybe the “other side” is only afraid of people, because they don’t understand them).  But, unfortunately I got maybe five minutes into the video, and then had to shut it off.  I am so adamantly against this incoming administration and everything they stand for, that I found myself unwilling to listen to this man’s side of things.  He seemed so angry and (in my opinion) ill-informed about what went down, that I had to shut the video off before I began screaming at the screen.

So I find myself in much the same position I’m accusing the “other side” of being in: angry, resentful and unyielding in my beliefs about what is “right.”  I’ve said for some time that the only thing I’m bigoted about is a bigot . . . and here it is, staring me in the face.

But thankfully, there are millions of people who aren’t on the “other side.”  I was SO happy and proud to see all the people out there who marched last weekend in protest of Trump and the crap he’s trying to do.  It’s heartening to see just how many people are out there in favor of the things I support.  It gives me hope that all might not yet be lost.

But there is still a fear inside of me that we might be headed toward another Hitler-like regime.  What with Trump already forbidding certain news agencies to his hearings, and changing the government websites, it feels like the dictatorship is gearing up.  Which makes me think that a revolution isn’t far behind.

And that comes to what scares me the most . . . if a revolution is imminent, then I feel that I must do my part to keep entire groups of people safe from such atrocities as were thrust upon Jewish people in Germany, or even Asian people here in America.  NOBODY should be put on some sort of “registry” just because they follow a non-Christian religion.  Nor should anyone be forced to “convert” to a “more acceptable” lifestyle.  Just the thought of either of those things coming to fruition pisses me the fuck off!  So I feel like I need to join the fight.

Deep down I’m terrified of being jailed or killed over this, but I also feel that I’d be an absolute coward to not stand up and fight for something I truly believe in.  I have too many gay/black/trans/Muslim/etc. friends whose livelihoods appear to be on tenterhooks as of January 20th to just sit idly by and not do something.  I wouldn’t be able to look myself in the mirror ever again, if I sat on my hands.

I never wanted to be a fighter.  I even refused to go into the military (even though I needed the money for college) because I just don’t agree with using excessive force to get what you want.  I had always prided myself on letting people have their own opinions.  But this election has been divisive, and in my mind this new administration is very dangerous.  I have to stand up for what I believe in.  So if it means I need to go out and fight . . . then fight I will.

Vive la revolution!

New Year, New Me

As I’ve stated before, I’m not usually one for making New Year’s resolutions.  I generally feel that, if you’re not willing/ready to make the change at any time of the year, chances are you won’t succeed at it just because a new year has begun.  Maybe that’s just a defeatist attitude that I’ve used to keep me from attempting to make any large changes each year, but it’s not like I’m ever graded on my human-ness by whether or not I participate in this social activity, so I haven’t cared to look at it any deeper.

This coming year, however, I have decided to make some changes.  I don’t know that I’d call them “resolutions” per se, but these modifications are things I feel are necessary to my emotional and physical well-being, if I hope to enjoy a healthy long life.

The first is to be MUCH more diligent in changing my eating habits.  I’ve known I had Hashimoto’s for nearly two years now, but I’ve been pretty lax about making sure that I avoid gluten at ALL costs.  Sometimes it’s because I don’t want to cause too much of a fuss, but it’s mostly because I don’t pay that close attention to ingredients when I eat out, so I’m sure there are times when gluten still gets into my system.

Also, the more I speak to my functional medicine doctor, the more I learn that there are other foods I should be cutting down on, or cutting out of my diet entirely.  I’ve been fighting it like a five-year old throwing a tantrum and being mad at my body for being this sensitive, but I’ve finally started to accept that I need to put on my big-girl panties and stop letting my ID control me.  Mine isn’t a life-threatening disease (yet), but I know that I can feel better than I do right now . . . and I WANT that.

The next shift will likely happen as a result of eating better for my body . . . lose weight.  Both Craig and I need to lose quite a few pounds, but we’ve let our reasons and excuses keep us from doing just that.  Well, Craig’s been encountering more and more health problems due to his weight and our not-so-great eating habits, and neither of us wants him to have to be on medications for the rest of his life, so this is one change that we’re gonna work on together.  YAY!  The fact that I want to go to Hawaii for my 50th birthday is a HUGE incentive.  We both want to go hang gliding, walking on volcanoes, and even ziplining . . . And we’d probably have a better time doing those if we were down to healthier weights.  We’ve got until 2020 to get there.

The other switch that I’m going to make is to stop playing so many video games.  I started using them as a little break/de-stressor from the daily grind, but it’s now become more than that.  They’ve come to take up a good hour or two of my days . . . which is time that I could put to MUCH better use with editing my current audiobook or auditioning for new voice over gigs.  Or even taking new photos or editing old ones.  I have two amazing careers that I really want to get off the ground, and playing video games is taking up too much of what little free time I currently have (since I have a day job as well).

These are three really good switches that I’m going to be making in my life.  So, why am I waiting until the new year to make them?  Probably the same reason so many other people don’t make the changes right away . . . I don’t wanna!  lol  While that’s meant to be funny, it’s also quite true.  My ID is definitely sensing the danger of not being in control for much longer.  It’s one of those consequences of not disciplining oneself enough as you’re growing up . . . you spend 40+ years doing/eating whatever you want, whenever you want to and not thinking of the possible repercussions (because you don’t notice any for the first 20+ years of your life).  That’s a LOT of years of bad habits to try to overcome.  So I guess I’m giving myself a couple more weeks of “freedom” before I make the necessary changes.

The funny thing is that deep down inside, I WANT to make these changes.  I know, inherently, that all of these changes will make for a MUCH happier, healthier Alyx.  And I so desperately want to be happier and healthier.

So, maybe these last couple weeks of 2016 are really a chance to let the deeper part of me work on convincing my ID that these changes are a GOOD thing.  Probably not, but I’ve only got two more weeks to make excuses.  ;o)

Giving Thanks 2016

I wasn’t sure if I was going to write a Giving Thanks blog this year or not.  What with emotional landmines I’ve been uncovering, the charged political environment, and the fact that 2016 has been taking so many good entertainers from us, I didn’t know if I’d be able to come up with much.

But I saw a post recently that helped put things back into perspective.  It doesn’t matter which one it was–especially since I’ve seen several different ones over the last few weeks–but here are some to put you in the same state of mind:

happy-thankful

 

 

 

 

 

 

60033-being-thankful

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

being-thankful

 

 

 

 

 

 

So as I sit down to write this blog, I’m looking at the things in my life that I have every reason to be thankful for:

  1.  My family – My husband, Craig, is SUCH a wonderful, supportive man.  I couldn’t ask for a better life companion, and I’m SO grateful that he’s in my life.  My step-daughter, Athena, is also an amazing young woman.  I love watching her grow into herself, and enjoy hearing her insight into a variety of topics.  And I simply adore our two cats, Jasmyn and Bot (short for Purrbot).  These wonderful bundles of fur make my heart swell with love nearly every day, and I couldn’t imagine my life without them.
  2. My job – Yes, I’m back at a day job, but once I got over my bruised ego at not being as successful as quickly as I’d hoped to be, I can see that this new role is much better suited to me.  Plus, it pays well and they’re willing to let me work part-time, so I can have more hours in the day to pursue my preferred interests.  It’s also close to home, so I’m thankful for the short commute.
  3. College – I’m thoroughly enjoying the classes I’ve been taking this Fall semester, and am looking forward to the new ones in the Spring.  Obtaining new skills and meeting new people in these classes will help prepare me better for my chosen careers.
  4. Entertainment – I’ve seen some amazing movies and TV shows this year (I’ve also seen some crap, but the good outweighs the bad in this case).  I’m thrilled to see new voices coming out with snappier writing and better interpersonal relationships.  It helps me to know we’re moving in a good direction.
  5. Sleep – For the few months that I stepped away from a day job, I napped nearly every day and it was AWESOME!  I’m sure I was one of those kids who didn’t like naps after a certain age, but I’ve definitely gotten over that.  Even at my day job now, I try to find a little nook somewhere at least once a week to nap during my lunch hour.  That kind of reset does wonders for my mood, as well as my mental clarity.

There are quite a few more things I could list here, but I’m guessing you, dear reader, will be thankful if I keep this post relatively short.  ;o)

I wish you all a Happy Thanksgiving!  May your holiday be filled with love, laughter, great memories and a wonderful nap.

America’s Reality-Show Election

I know this isn’t my normal day to post my blog, but with the election next week, I felt compelled to write a special one . . .

Four years ago I wrote about my decision to vote for the first time in my life (you can read parts 1 and 2 of that blog here and here).  This year it didn’t occur to me not to vote, but this might be the last year that I do so.

I was right in fearing the floodgates opening up once I started thinking more about politics.  The last several months have been exhausting to me.  With all the social media blurbs about this candidate or that one–not to mention the fact that The Daily Show (a satirical news show on Comedy Central) has talked of practically nothing else–the only way I can avoid hearing about the latest scandal or lawsuit is to put my nose in a book, or get outside (both of which I have done, with great pleasure).

And it wasn’t just the non-stop, in your face coverage that got to me; that happens every election year.  It was also the ridiculous reality-show vibe of the entire thing.

First off, there were . . . what . . . 17 Republican candidates originally (not counting another 5 who had filed the correct paperwork, but were never included on ballots or in debates)?  I’m fairly certain that’s unprecedented.  As the months wore on and the debates happened, they kept dropping like contestants on Survivor, and many of my friends who normally vote Republican said there wasn’t a good option in the bunch (I agreed with them, but I’m not Republican, so that’s not surprising).

Then, there were the issues with corruption in the Democratic National Committee.  I was a HUGE Bernie Sanders supporter, and actually looked forward to the election with the prospect of him in office.  So the voter suppression and other shenanigans that happened around the primaries were disheartening and angering to witness.  And I’d probably be happier about breaking the glass ceiling if our first female Presidential candidate was someone I trusted and liked more than Hillary Clinton . . . like Elizabeth Warren.

And then, looking at all the local and state-wide proposals in my vote-by-mail ballot became a daunting task.  When I saw the size of the booklet explaining the proposals for California, I about fell on the floor.  I wanted to make sure that I understood each issue before voting on it, so I read the unbiased summary and then each “For” and “Against” comment.  And those damned rebuttals!  The ones that weren’t full of fear-tactics were so childish, they boiled down to “Nuh-uh!  You’re the liars!”

The whole process of actually reading the proposals and filling out the ballot took me 3 three days.  Granted, I spent only an hour or so each day, but still, that went on WAY too long!

But the worst part of this year’s election, in my opinion, is how Donald Trump’s presence as the Republican nominee has brought out all the racists, misogynists, and the like who have been keeping their mouths shut because the wind was blowing in a different direction.  But now, with all the inflammatory things he says, these ignorant (not stupid, mind you, just ignorant) and closed-minded people feel free to openly slam, bully, or worse whatever race, religion, sexual orientation, or other category of people they feel threatened by.  We’re approximately 150 years out of slavery and about 60 years out of segregation, for goodness sake!  I realize those are relatively short periods of time in the history of the world, but I can’t bear the thought of us reverting back into those days!  Not to mention all of the other great stride’s we’ve made for equality recently.

As much as I don’t care for Hillary, I think she’s a FAR better candidate than Donald.  And, even if he did win (which I highly doubt), it’s not HIM I’m afraid of; it’s the hordes of people who agree with the crap that comes out of his mouth.  I personally believe he says that shit just to get a reaction out of people, but those who support him really do have that kind of mentality.  And they are the people we now have to deal with every single day, regardless of whether he takes the Presidency or not.

So yeah, this might be the last year that I vote.  I understand that thousands of women fought for my right to vote (many of whom died for it), and I’m eternally grateful that they did.  I will never fully understand the hardships they went through, or the sacrifices they made.  But they fought for my right to vote, not the obligation that I do so.  And I don’t feel that I owe it to anyone to be this overwhelmed, frustrated, and frankly disheartened by a process that goes on WAY too long.

And, if Mr. Trump does win this year, I might just be moving to another country.

Speak (Up) for Yourself

It’s time for me to rant again about something that I’ve found irksome for years, but has grown into a full-on annoyance for me lately . . . People not speaking up for themselves.

Let me set a scene for you . . .

I’m walking through the grocery store, and stop in the produce aisle looking to get some green beans (this kind of thing can happen in any aisle, but I’m trying to eat healthier, so there you go).  I get my bag and start sorting through the legumes to weed out any old ones, when I get this sensation that someone’s hovering nearby.  Using my peripheral vision I notice that, sure enough, there’s another shopper standing next to (or behind) me, apparently interested in the same veggies that I’m currently picking through.  Or maybe they want to pick up a yellow squash off of the display right above the green beans.  Doesn’t matter . . . they just want to be in the same general area that I’m in.

All they need to do is say “Excuse me, can I squeeze in there for . . .” and I’d happily move aside to let them get the squash, or rifle through the beans with me.  But no.  More often than not, people will just stand there, as if they’re waiting for you to get some sort of hint and move aside for them on your own, so they don’t have to speak to a stranger.  (I’m sure it’s not nearly as obnoxious as I’m describing right now, but I did warn you it would be a rant.)

I’ve actually witnessed one woman get pissed off and yell at another shopper for not using the eyes in the back of said shopper’s head to realize there was a woman standing behind, wanting something that the shopper was blocking.  I can’t remember the exact words used, but she basically accused the other shopper of taking their “sweet ass” time with no regard for people around.  I finally piped up and said “Well, how was [the shopper] supposed to know you wanted something they’re blocking?”  The lady was, of course, belligerent and told me to “mind my own business,” but I’ve often found that people say things like that when they don’t like being called out on their own crappy behavior, so I ignored her and moved on.

But this behavior can happen anywhere . . . even just walking down the street.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve stopped to take a picture of something and there are people who will try to squirm and squeeze their way around me, rather than say “Excuse me.” or “Can I get by you?”  Now, true, I shouldn’t be blocking the walkway (and I try not to, as that’s another HUGE pet-peeve of mine), but that doesn’t preclude someone stating that I’m in the way of something they need, or someplace they’re trying to be.

This is true in EVERY relationship you have, not just with strangers in the store or on the street.  Relationships are SO much easier when you say to your mate/sibling/co-worker “This is what I need from you,” rather than saying nothing, and then getting cheesed off when they don’t do what you never even told them you need!  Nobody but YOU is responsible for getting your needs/wants met.  Period.

It seems to me that this pervasive form of passive-aggressiveness has flooded our culture lately.  I don’t know if it’s because there are just so many of us now, that practically every place you go is crowded, or if people have become so afraid of strangers, or if we’re just so disconnected that we’ve forgotten how to talk to one another.  Or, maybe it’s some fear that the other person will get pissed off at you for . . . I don’t know . . . existing?

I know that children are often taught not to be in “the way”–whether it’s your parents, your teachers, or other adults–so maybe this is left over from that kind of mental abuse.  And I’m not exactly sure how to change it, but it definitely NEEDS to change, in my opinion.

It’s not only passive-aggressive, but it’s also an unfair expectation that someone else should know that they’re blocking your way.  I don’t expect ANYBODY to know anything about me, unless I tell them.  We’re all dealing with our own stuff, people.  From jobs, to families, to daily tasks, to emotional baggage . . .  It takes MUCH less energy for me to tell someone what I need/want from them than for them to put all of their stuff aside to try to guess what I need/want from them at any given moment.

And you don’t have to be rude about it.  Honestly, a simple “Excuse me, I need [blank]” takes all of 3 seconds, the other person will likely move aside quickly, and you can be on your merry way.

Unreal Expectations

I used to love romance novels when I was younger.  Fairy tales, too.  Really, anything with a big ol’ Hollywood “And they lived happily ever after” ending.  I just loved the idea of two people meeting and overcoming whatever personality conflicts they had to realize they loved each other.  But as I got older, I realized how potentially damaging those kinds of stories are.  In fact, I just finished reading one and found it so hokey and unrealistic, that it was very hard to finish.

First off, unlike what those kinds of stories would have you believe, very few lasting relationships derive from the hero saving the heroine from whatever catastrophe threw them together in the first place.  After the endorphin from that scenario wears off, most people realize they have nothing in common.  And secondly, making love is NOT the same as being in love.  I now truly despise any movie where the romantic duo have sex and then “realize” they’re in love with each other (I’m looking at you Failure to Launch!).  Real, loving relationships take time, perseverance, and a willingness to be vulnerable to the person you’re partnering with.  You can’t have REAL love unless you’re willing to get real yourself.

One of the other “lies” that heterosexual romance novels perpetuate is that the guy somehow knows exactly how to drive the woman crazy, sexually.  He knows just the right places to touch her in just the right ways; in many cases, even better than she knows how to herself.  And these sex fests always end in a mind-blowing orgasm for her, and oftentimes he climaxes at exactly the same moment she does.  You read too many of those kinds of stories and it can truly distort your expectations of what love and sex is, or should be.

Like with Craig . . . we have what I feel is a truly loving, honest relationship.  I know he loves me, and I think he knows how much I love him.  And our sex life is amazing . . . when we can actually get it in (no pun intended).  But I’ve still got a TON of emotional and sexual baggage that we’re sorting out, some of which was caused by my years of reading these books that are truly nothing more than fantasy.  While reading this recent romance novel, I actually found myself thinking that my marriage was somehow lacking because we weren’t having sex every time we saw each other (like in the book).  I quickly realized there was nothing wrong with Craig and I, and it was shortly thereafter that I started thinking the book hokey and unrealistic.

And it’s just as bad for the “fantasy” books and movies that cater to men.  Porn usually depicts completely unrealistic situations that–if viewed too often–can make someone believe that the hot pizza delivery guy will get laid by every sorority girl when he delivers their pizzas for the pillow fight in their baby doll nighties that ALL college girls have.  *insert eye roll here*  Or what about the girl who is a virgin, but magically likes to do every nasty little sexual thing some sweaty pudgy guy wants to do to her?  *second eye roll*  Then there’s the one about the lesbian lovers who are so turned on by some random guy that they want to have a menage a trois with him.  *violent eye roll that makes my eyes stick that way*

Anyway, these kinds of stories are fine and dandy when they’re treated as the mere fantasies that they are.  But I think there are too many impressionable young men and women who come to view these as real possibilities, which then causes extreme disappointment when they’re faced with the reality of life and love.  I’d like to see more movies and books that discuss a realistic and healthy outlook on love and sex, but sadly, I don’t think they would be as successful.

Maybe if we as a country were more willing to discuss things like that–had better sex education in schools and didn’t consider the topic of sex to be so taboo (as well as discuss emotional health)–we’d be able to raise a new generation of people who didn’t look to their significant other to solve all their problems.

I don’t know, I’m just spouting here.  But I can tell you one thing . . . I won’t be picking up any Harlequin Romances anytime soon.

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