Sunday, June 24, 2018

Please go back to drinking beer and scratching yourself....

So...I'm not expecting a lot of readers this time.  I had given up blogging for a while--technically, more than 6 months.   In an intentional, initially non-intentional, experiment, I needed to focus on other things.  I wanted to buy a house and get my personal life "back to where" I was a decade ago.  Like a majority of Americans, the last 10 years has been a strain.  While we all probably were ready to leave 9/11 behind us, we entered an era of financial uncertainty and an economy that was crushing many of us.  This fed a division in this country that egged on old demons like racism and anti-female sentiments.  Right now, we are so divided that most of us have felt like we had to choose sides.  If we didn't like this, we had to be that, even if that was an impossibility.  I'm notoriously middle in everything.  One of my best friends points out I try to assess as many facts as I can get a hold of before ever making a decision. (It took me 3 years to decide what car to buy.) She tells me all the time most people don't do this.  She does I counter-point, but then she points out that if she really wants more facts she calls me.  Ummm.  Okay.  Mentioned this to another couple different close friends, and well, they were all in agreement.  My sister calls me a walking encyclopedia.  I read, listen and absorb--everything, and generally can recall it relatively easily.

My one bestie actually said it's probably a curse in some ways.  Maybe.  It certainly serves me well when it comes to work.  I can remember details about how things are supposed to work, what's required, what's not, what things I need to get done, priorities, et cetera.  But I can visualize anything back like it just happened.  It's not hard for me to recall with a weird precision more things than apparently is "normal".  I can remember coming home to my grandmother watching a new show in the 80s, some woman from Chicago who was just becoming an afternoon favorite with the women who were still housewives, you might know her--Oprah Winfrey.  I sat on the floor next to Grams on the sofa and asked her what she was watching.  She shushed me and said this was important and I needed to watch.  It's really nice to be able to recall that like it happened yesterday and see my grandmother in my mind sitting on her sofa. It gives me comfort while bringing tears to my eyes.  But what was so important I watch was the discussion on one of those subjects that would eventually become one of those polarized subjects where you are either this or that and there can be no compromise.  The subject was abortion.  Nope, we're not going there.

Where we are going?  Well, unfortunately abortion is just one of many subjects that you have to be  this way or that.  The polarization in this country is where we are going.  The far, extreme right, likes to use a term that Nixon coined in the 1970s, "the silent majority".  Ironic, since the far right has never been silent and certainly has never been the majority.  The last time the "far right" was the majority was the original million man march in the 1920s.  World War II changed everything in this country.  That's right.  What we all argue about now?  In some way, everything stems back to WWII and it's aftermath.  I'm not talking about global issues.  I'm talking about the American psyche.  All the things we "argue" about and have become so polarized about all stem to changes we had to make to win the war.  We were changed forever.

WWII proved that race or sex weren't a real factor in abilities.  The racial structure of this country is rapidly changing.  Most of us don't really care about race anymore.  We are almost all mortified when we watch some racist rant and rave like a lunatic in a restaurant, yet all those old tensions that many of us were raised around have been coming to a boil over the last decade.  The original million man march was in the 1920s and was conducted by the infamous Ku Klux Klan.  Most people don't even realize there had been an "original" march, even many of the men who participated in the 1990s version, didn't realize it.  But by the middle of the 2020s, an hundred years later, the majority of Americans will be some shade of olive.  Estimates are a little "darker" than I am.  Are we okay with this?  I don't know, but it sure has become a polar point.  You are either a fan of this or you are racist.  I had a "white", German-Polish in descent, friend, unfriend me and calling me a racist because I didn't like Obama.  I didn't like my increase in taxes that made my life more difficult, and yes, I blamed Obama.  But, seriously my ultra-white stereotype friend that I had been friends with for more than 30 years calling me racist?  It was laughable.  When I pointed that out, she called me a slew of bigot slurs and ended our friendship.  Frankly, she had become so far left she didn't see the irony in her own accusations, but it was tantamount to where we were headed as a country.  If you don't like this, you have to be that.

The pro-choice movement has suffered from the same attacks.  If you are pro-choice, you can't be pro-life.  Again, ironic, since the pro-life movement has openly sanctioned murders of doctors and nurses.  I'm pretty sure that's life too, so it's really kind of a pick and choose what life matters at that point.  But if you are pro-choice, well, you had to hate babies.  This was a meme I saw in the last 10 years.  What? Come on.  Common sense should prevail, right?  Pro-choice simply means you don't think other people's problems are your business.  MYOB.  But suddenly, faced by a former friend who was an extreme Bible thumper, I was bombarded with me sanctioning baby killing.  I wanted to buy her a ticket to Somalia.  There's plenty of already born babies dying there all the time.  She didn't want to hear about those babies.  You were either on her side or you weren't.  Well, I'm all for saving babies, but I think the ones that are already alive might be more important.  There was no in between for her.  I was sanctioning baby killing if I didn't agree with her.  If you don't agree with this, then you have to be that.

As we strolled through the last decade, most people's blinders have become more like full eye patches.  A friend suggested, she's a middle of the road person for the most part, that maybe it's because I've got too many far right leaned friends and acquaintances.  My perception might be skewed.  Okay, so the great experiment:  Get active on far left leaning discussions with the "middle" view, neither right or left, and see what the response was.  OMG.  The same.  Honestly, I think the far left leaning nuts are more volatile and hostile.  But, really, redneck trash has been in bar fights or definitely know people who have been, and therefore, at some point, they know they might be pushing a limit.  The left, for the most part, as Jay-Z puts it, "wouldn't bust a grape in a food fight".  But oh my gosh, can they run their mouths.....People like to say you can't hear if you're talking.  Not true.  We love these old adages, because they are simple one liners that sound like golden nuggets of wisdom.  No, you can't hear if you have closed your mind.  If you have polarized yourself, and yes this is all on each of us, you can't hear what others are saying, because you have reached the point where no matter what someone else says, it has to fit your narrative or it's untrue.  We close ourselves off to "hearing" what we don't want to hear and we can't see the forest for the trees.

Compromise, a friend said recently, has become a thing of the past.  Yet, I have conversations with a lot of my good friends that even when we disagree, we both walk away with something to think about.  The best friend that suggested that I always have more facts, well, she always teaches me something.  When we have differing views, I've learned more about a subject and vice versa, and both of us walk away with more information to digest.  She and I have discussed this polarization at length.  We both agree that it's ruining this country and neither of us have the solution to get out of these polarized ruts.  It's like 2 ditches on the opposite sides of a road.  If you fall into one, there's no way to get out of it, and the road of compromise in between is getting narrower and narrower.

This goes on all the time a friend told me.  It's part of daily life.  Yes, I suppose for some people this is true.  An acquaintance said I needed to make up my mind and get off the fence on a certain issue that was going on between two friends.  First, it's between them.  I'm riding the fence, because really it's none of my business.  Bluntly, it isn't really the acquaintance's business either.  But it got me thinking on all this.  So the second point?  Why in the hell do any of us have to pick a side?  I can think they both are wrong, both are right, anything in between or have no opinion whatsoever.  Finally, everyone that started picking sides?  Well, those aren't really mature adults, are they?  They all started demanding everyone pick sides suddenly, like they were in a bad movie with Lindsey Lohan.  That is what we've digressed to in every subject in this country, and all I can say is I like the middle road.  I'm not here to win a popularity contest, and real adults wouldn't be either.

Years ago, a guy I worked with, "Chance", said when all Americans were engaged in political debates it would be a nightmare.  They wouldn't have a clue what they were talking about the majority of the time, they would digress into high school antics and nothing would get done.  We were better off, he said, if the ignorant portion stayed ignorant watching their NASCAR or basketball, drinking beer and scratching themselves and as far away from politics as possible.  They would turn the whole country into one big joke.  "Chance", I concede.  Twenty-five years later, and the internet, have proven he was right.  People who really are too lazy to know what they are talking about too easily grab one liner memes and run with them.  It was better when people who didn't know what they were talking about didn't pretend to be in the know.  We could talk like he and I did that day and then just agree to disagree until one of us was proven wrong.  I was wrong.  I long for the days where people too lazy to pretend to know just go back to drinking beer and scratching themselves.  Leave the politics to those that actually really care, are the true middle majority, and who are capable of compromise.

Sunday, January 28, 2018

New Year's Blog...

Okay, granted the new year's blog is a bit late coming this year.  It wasn't that I didn't keep my goal last year.  I did, but it's about how that goal expanded early on in the year also.  I wasn't sure how to express that, and honestly, I was wondering what I wanted to state as goals for 2018.  I suppose I could have separated them, but truth is I might still be digesting the impact of the 2017 goal.  Maybe I'm just going to be extending the goal, but finally I decided that isn't actually a good approach.  New goals keep us moving forward.  Some goals might take more than a year to accomplish, but the goal should be to get started and create a new mindset, what some might refer to as a habit.

Towards the end of 2016, I had promised that I would quit dating anyone that I didn't really have any interest in.  This became a promise for the new year.  No more guys that had serious red flags.  I had developed a habit of dating someone that was somehow not ever going to be long term--some just by something minor, others by glaring issues.  How I developed the habit was because I had always put my boys needs first.  Anything that potentially was going to interfere with me being able to care for them always got put to the side.  I had a month to myself in the summer, and it was usually when I actually started "dating" someone.  After a year, year and an half, I was out.  It was somewhat amusing, because I started to realize I was doing this even now with the boys being full grown men.  It had practically become part of me at the subconscious level.  Last year I read a book on the more recent subconscious studies and findings, and in retrospect, I had been doing the same thing over and over when it came to dating.  I thought because I never dated anyone that was similar to anyone else, different jobs, different educations, different backgrounds, et cetera, that I was avoiding a "type".  In fact, my "type" had become two main things:  Different from anyone else I had ever dated and had a glaring reason to be dumped eventually.  I even stayed in relationships that had zero tangible reason to even launch, just because the timeline had become part of my subconscious.

For most people, this sounds like it should be pretty easy.  But the truth is that the conscious mind has little to do with what we do.  There used to be a scientific belief that most people use less than 5% of their minds, and that even geniuses like Albert Einstein used only 10% give or take.  We now know, true but not true.  Our minds are actually using a lot more but not the way we would like to think.  We are consciously only using 5 to 10%.  The rest is all subconscious.  That makes sense though.  How often do you think about your heart rate, your blood flow, taking breaths?  We don't give any of this a second thought, but we don't because our minds, subconsciously, are actually giving it all continuous thought.  But more recently they have found the idea that we create habitual patterns that become so subconscious that our conscious is not even making those decisions.  It seems obvious if your pattern is dating a physical stereotype.  However, mental stereotypes are far more powerful.  My mental stereotype was intentionally avoiding any real relationships.  I used to joke "I have my stupid conversations with my friends."  So I tended to date guys that I felt would add to my intellectual growth.  I really had to consciously pick apart what was actually similar, and deciding consciously to stop it.  Sounds easy, but it's really difficult.  Try chewing a stick of gum.  Do you chew with your mouth open, closed or a mix?  Now try to chew differently and start watching the television.  At the first commercial break you will notice you've started chewing the way you always do.  It's a habit.  (I chose this example because it works for everyone that stops paying attention to chewing intentionally different.)  Now imagine this override is in everything we do--including dating.

The funny thing is I already said this was a success story.  I have successfully stopped doing this nonsense.  I believe that most of us can break most bad habits in 3 months.  I'll admit this has been more of a year long endeavor.  Most bad habits, like chewing your food with your mouth open, we can break relatively quickly.  But once I realized that I was able to break this habit, then I realized it wasn't just dating where I was allowing toxic people into my life.  There are friends that you meet and within 3 to 6 months you know they are always going to be friends, but with others you get that nagging feeling that even though consciously they seem to be a great friend that you'll never be able to trust them.  There's an irony here, because most people can only pick out lies less than 60% of the time.  The more you are around "good" liars, the harder it becomes for you to discern truth from lies.  It's also proven now that most people lie daily.  It's debatable though, because you lie when you tell someone you're having a good day when it's not that great.  So I look at these statistics as iffy.   A lie is relative.  It should be okay to tell a busybody it's none of their business, but a busybody will call you an asshole behind your back for being honest.  For many of us, it's just easier to not say anything or tell a white lie.  So earlier last year, one of these lying types, well, she hit my limit, but I was still maintaining being her friend, although I had realized that she was a user.  You know the types.  They manipulate people to do what they want and they do tend to be smarter than the average bear, so some people might not even realize they are being manipulated.  How do you deal with people that you know are no longer any value add to your life?

Certainly a manipulative person, male or female, has no value to your life.  These aren't "good" people because by nature manipulative people are about themselves.  You are always secondary to what they want, what they believe they need, and you will never be their real priority.  It will always be about what they can get out of you if they do something for you.  Arguably, this may be at a subconscious level for them too, but from a conscious level, how much of you are you willing to give up for much less or even nothing in return?  When this particular person attempted to get me to change my vacation to accommodate her, it was the final straw.  She was supposed to come along on my dime.  But thanks to her, I realized I was keeping people in my life that were not value add either.  Subconsciously, I was trying to accommodate her manipulations even though I knew she did it, because I was doing the same thing with so-called friends.  I would try to give them the benefit of the doubt, not with a timeline, but until they had really taken advantage way passed the acceptable level.  All of the sudden, I looked around at the friends I had.  Some were value add and some were not.  There was no value add having a manipulative person in my life.  She had been in an abusive relationship, so perhaps there was reasoning that she was doing this consciously and subconsciously.  However, what am I willing to have in my life? Subconsciously, I may be keeping these people, but it was time to consciously start living my life free of their nonsense.  We all have enough issues of our own without adding others issues.

Now, I'm not advocating leaving proven friendships that have been value add.  We do all have our own issues, but manipulative, users, backstabbers, et cetera?  I see posts from a few friends on social media quite regularly about being screwed over again by yet another so-called friend.  It's not that we cannot make friends with new people.  It's that we should drop the people that are not proving to be value add to our lives.  The people who are value add, well, they make up what helps us understand ourselves better.  Our honest friends in their hardships help us be better people by allowing us to develop sympathy, empathy, and compassion.  Being value add isn't about what we get from the friendships but what we exchange.  As one of my best friends said to me the other day, "you make me think and a better person."  She makes me think and a better person too.  And that is what is real friendship.  Subconsciously we might not always pick the best quality of people to be acquainted with, but truly value add friendships make us better people consciously.

So, I said at the beginning, breaking that bad habit of choosing consistently "wrong" dating relationships was a successful effort that eventually evolved into extracting myself from "wrong" friendships.  But then I also eluded that somethings might need to be extended, but not really being necessary.  As someone once told me, "it's easier to fall in with the wrong people than the right ones."  I don't think this is true, but it is something that we have to consciously evaluate whether we are around the right people or the wrong.  Plus, right or wrong is relative, but most certainly if you're on social media wondering why you don't have the right person in your life, why you have all these backstabbers as friends, it probably time to evaluate what you choose to have in your life.  It's still your choices, albeit subconscious, but still on you.  It's on me, and although it was just a goal for 2017, it's a constant life choice, every day, every week, every year.  Building a good subconscious habit is only the start, but it's the good foundation that was the goal, the habit of choosing better.

So what about 2018?  Maintain the 2017 foundation on being better to myself and surrounding myself with friends that have value add and that I provide value add to their lives.   I'm really quite content.  I'd say I'll read more, but I already read quite a bit.  Maybe next blog...

Friday, December 22, 2017

Shoot for the Stars - 2017 Holiday Blog

This time of year I try to do a couple different "staple" blogs--one is related to the "holiday' season and the other is a New Year's goals.  For the holiday blog, I wait for some inspiration and it's usually directly related to the holidays.  This year my inspiration started with a rainy morning and ended with a friend talking about her son.  What did the two have in common?  Two young men--one trying to better himself by walking to work in the rain to pay for school and another who's mother wants him to go to a tech school or college.  But that's not what both of them had in common.  Similar stories, but the punchline to both were the same.  Others are telling them that they can't, shouldn't, that school isn't important, and the worst of the worst, the one's father is telling him that his life is good enough for the son.  I mean really, "the good enough for me, good enough for you"?  So this blog isn't for all you idiots that tell other people to fail, because you yourself are incapable or are just too lazy to become what you were meant to be.  This blog is for those two young men and everyone that is in a similar situation, whether male or female.  For all of you that dream of going to school to be a police officer or a doctor or a dental hygienist or whatever requires you to put a little or even a lot into yourself, into your education and takes more effort than working an hourly job and struggling to pay your bills for the majority of your life.

First and foremost, if you dream it, you can achieve it.  Sure, there's only one President of the United States and plenty of kids think they might want to be President and never do become President, even if they go to an Ivy League school.  But no one that has an Ivy League education is starving to death unless they choose to.  I won't lie to you.  With education, all dreams aren't achievable, but without one, no dreams are achievable.  We're not talking about social dreams.  Perhaps, you dream of getting married and having children.  This portion of the dreams in your life are available no matter what your professional dreams are.  But what is it you want to achieve for yourself?  No one should tell you what you want to achieve in life.  There's only one person that will have to live with your decisions--good or bad, and that's you.  Your dreams can either be inspiration or just wishful thinking that you eventually look back on with regret and have to reconcile with.  You make decisions that can help you achieve your dreams or you can give up.  There's nothing wrong with your dream being to work hourly on a plant floor for the rest of your life.  I have plenty of friends that this has been more than enough for them and they have been content.  But if you are someone who dreams of something different, you will never be happy making decisions that keep you from trying.  You will eventually resent the people who held you back, but in a weird twist, you will actually resent the people who have achieved in some cases.

Why would you resent those that did what you wanted to do?  It's human nature.  Deep down you give up a piece of who you are when you don't try to achieve your dreams.  I had a good friend who married right out of high school.  She was going to go to college.  She was going to go to Paris, NYC, and she wanted to design clothes for the runways of major fashion shows.  Okay, yes, sure that all sounds a bit unrealistic in real life.  She might have ended up being an art teacher, or while in college she might have been inspired to go into architecture since she was actually fascinated by art--all art including drawings, paintings, architecture.  She might have started college and in some wonderful strange twist became an art restorer.  Yes, it's a real job that major museums and even the Vatican have.  A whole job just centered around restoring and preserving some of the most beautiful creations of some of the most talented people in history.  How do I know about this particular job?  Well, someone she met, not even sure how she knew the lady, was one of these and she hated her.  In my friend's mind, this woman had somehow taken her dreams.  Of course, that was idiotic, but the resentment was real.

So she got married, got pregnant shortly after which ended her plans of college, and eventually had a couple of kids and the fairy tale that started with a beautiful wedding...ended with a divorce and her struggling to find a job just to help her make ends meet.  But what made very little sense to me at the time was how angry she was at her ex because she hadn't gone to college.  This had been her decision afterall, right?  But it hadn't.  Perhaps if her fairy tale had the ending we grow up thinking of, she wouldn't have cared right?  But it's a 50/50 shot that a marriage will work, and right out of high school it actually has less than a 2% chance of making it.  If you get married right out of high school (or before), you have a 98% plus chance of divorce.  The odds are not in your favor.  So in her case, they were in that 98%; it didn't work.  What I eventually realized is that it really wasn't her decision to give up her dreams.  She had thought she had to give them up, and in her mind, it was all his fault.  Was it really his fault?  No.  She had made a series of decisions that landed her where she was at.  Now, perhaps many of those decisions were pushed by others, even her ex, in a direction different than what she really wanted.  But ultimately, the decision was hers.  And no matter what, these decisions that others might be pushing you into are yours.  You won't have anyone to blame but yourself.  Giving up your dreams because mom or dad or whoever is telling you to, no.  They might have bullied you, but in the long run, it was always your decision.

Of course, how would I know?  I lived most of my life by the time I was 16 being told what I was going to do and having little impact on changing any of it.  I was regularly told what I was capable of and even having a fairly regular input belittling me compared to another family member.  I understand being told what you are capable of and what you should be doing from both the positive and negative aspects.  In truth, there's not a single one of us that aren't told by someone growing up what we can or cannot achieve.  Some parents actually push and push to the point one might want to walk away and go their own direction.  Others might constantly be told they aren't smart enough.  When you look around you, know that everyone has someone telling them what they can or cannot achieve and even what might appear like positive reinforcement might not be.  You haven't got the ability to compare your circumstances to theirs.  Don't focus on how much "better" or "supportive" another person's circumstances might be.  You might be starting behind the proverbial curve ball, or you might be starting well ahead.  But when all is said and done, it's still your your energy, your efforts and your decisions that will allow you to achieve and make your dreams into your reality.

Perhaps you know exactly what you think you want to be.  Perhaps you only have an idea of what.  But if either of those suggest you need a college education, then no matter what they say, you need to think about you.  It's okay to not "know", and it's perfectly okay to figure it out first.  Not everyone can afford to go to college for a couple of years just to "figure it out", and that's okay too.  Maybe you need to save some money first, because you are starting behind that "curve ball" due to financial limitations.  Again, don't let someone tell you that money or you not being exactly sure keep your dreams at bay.  Another thing some people will tell you is they don't use any of their high school education or classes and they do just fine.  So one thing you need to keep in mind is that the degree is the background knowledge needed to do your dream job.  You've heard someone say, "Another day of not using algebra".  Well, if you go grocery shopping, live on a budget and have to decide how much you can spend on what, well, here's a just a fact.  They all are using algebra every single day.  The fact they don't recognize it as algebra, because what little they absorbed of what they learned is how successful they are at balancing their budget.  They need it and they don't even know they are using it.

Let's say you can't decide two or four years.  If you decide to go to a two year school and get an associate's degree, you'll have less "fluffy" classes.  Most of the classwork will be directly related to what you want to do.  We as a society need machinists, robotics technicians, dental hygenists, bookkeepers, etc.  But you'll still have "fluffy" classes.  The extra English is so that you will sound more polished when dealing with people that have higher educations.  The extra math coursework will almost always be applicable to coursework associated with your chosen discipline.  The truly "fluffy" classes like art history electives you'll manage to completely avoid.  Of course, let's say you want a bachelor's.  Those extra extra "fluffy" classes are to make you even more well rounded.  Give you more of the world, a bigger picture, so that you can go beyond just fixing problems but see beyond to critical thinking and how to come up with solutions to problems.  No degree above associate's actually is all of what the job is.  It's going to be the building blocks to go into a career.  At the bachelor's level and higher, you will get what you effort you put in.  I know some people with bachelor's degrees that may as well have nothing but a high school diploma.  I had a boss once with a bachelor's in marketing and an MBA.  You would think she wouldn't understand when I explained engineering projects to her.  She understood the basics enough to understand project goals.  I understood finances enough to add the things that she was actually concerned about.  On the other hand, I had another boss with an engineering degree who couldn't engineer his way out of a paper bag with a pair of scissors.  She had walked away with a better education from the same university as him.  How?  Effort in equals the knowledge you get out of it, regardless of which degree or major you choose.

Most importantly, remember all these people usually telling you don't "need" this or "need" that really have no idea what you will need or what you won't need.  I cannot even tell you what you will or won't need.  I was great at statistics.  I'm an engineer.  These seem completely unrelated.  Unless you end up as a root cause analysis engineer or quality engineer.  Then statistics will be a way of life regularly if not daily.  Sometimes it's just a quick calculation in my head, but sometimes it's a long drawn out DOE (design of experiment) that is very detailed and requires a lot of knowledge and applying that knowledge.  I didn't know I would "need" it eventually.  I thought it was just a required "fluffy" class.  Turns out I was wrong.  I didn't even know what I was going to need, so you might not know what you will "need" yet.  Therefore, be realistic when people tell you that you don't "need" something.  You can't know for sure, so they definitely don't know.

Don't be afraid to be you, follow your dreams, turn your dreams into reality by setting goals, going to school and achieving those goals.  This is how your dreams will become your reality.  No one should try to take those away from you.  But dreams aren't tangible until you've done all the work to bring them to fruition, right?  The person standing in your way telling you to accept failure before you even get started is definitely tangible.  But no matter how tangible they are, they aren't going to be paying your bills are they?  They aren't going to be living your life.  You will be.  You should live your life; achieve the dreams you want to.  Are you going to use all the tools, everything you ever learned in high school, in a two year college or four year university?  No.  You aren't, but you won't know what you're going to use until you get into a career.  Most people with a high school education have a job.  They work hourly.  They do the same thing over and over.  Most people with a two year degree are very skilled and have skills that others do not have.  Their jobs can be very challenging and rewarding, not just financially but in the sense of accomplishment.  The four year degrees open up more challenges, more rewards, and yes generally more financially.  Like everything, you will get what you put in.  Don't not put in effort because someone else tells you no.  Put in the effort as you choose and you can achieve those things that you dream of.  This Christmas, or whatever holiday you might celebrate, remember you can achieve.  Shoot for the stars and you will be thrilled even if you only hit the moon.   

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Catfishing much?

So catfishing is a relatively newer term that mainly refers to lying about oneself online to "lure" others into relationships.  Mainly these lies are those that you see in online dating profiles, but also on Facebook, Twitter or other social media platforms.  I have one friend on my FB that has literally hundreds of men that she has never met and probably never will.  I don't see the appeal at all.  I know everyone on my FB, even if I don't know them in person.  I might know them through work or something else.  But complete strangers?  No, I find this a bit odd.  Sure I've been online dating, and they estimate that 90%, seriously 90% of all profiles are basically lies in online dating.  In fact, MTV even has made a show about this called, you probably can guess, "Catfish".  I watched a couple episodes and in some cases, I started to feel sorry for some of the "catfish".  I mean some of them are so afraid of rejection they are just trying to make a connection.  You can tell they know it's wrong, but they didn't exactly mean for it to get as far as it did.  Others are just trying to pretend to be someone else--either because they want to be who they want to be but feel like they can't be in real life or because they don't want to be who they want to be but there's no way they're going to be who they actually want to be.  So I was going to focus on the dating aspect, but then as I started to do some background research, holy crap Batman!  Do you realize 60% of people lie regularly?  Doesn't matter whether they are single, married, "good" or "bad" people, whatever.  In fact, the average adult lies 2 to 3 times a day.  In fact, when completing a comparison of truth versus online social accounts, 75% of the people are lying.  Wow.  Just wow.  And that's not just the millennials.  Nope.  While the millennials may be verbally lying more, that average is based on the entire population.  We all know the younger some people are, the more insecure, the more inexperienced, the more likely to lie.  But what this all tells us?  People lie.

So, what about the truth?  There are 18% of people who have no lies on their social media.  Now, they didn't quantify "lie".  I have a sister who is closer than blood to me, but not actually blood related.  The fact I call her my sister might be considered a "lie" by some, but others might not.  If you've had a great family, then calling anyone other than blood might seem misleading.  On the other hand, anyone that has gotten married is now family with their spouse and most certainly not blood--unless total inbred trash.  We won't go there.  Other than that I picked apart my own social media.  I don't really have anything else that's a "lie" on there.  So depending upon that family definition, which I personally don't call a "lie", I basically would be the 18% or perhaps the group between 18-25% that is still being honest on their profiles.  Of course, again, highly dependent upon your definition of "truth".  Many of us view "truth" as full disclosure.  I don't think some things are anyone's business, so I sure as hell won't put it out on the internet.  Most of us have various layers to ourselves, and many of us won't put the deepest layers of ourselves out there in person, so it stands to reason that a lot of us don't put much more than the outer layers online.  That's not really a lie to me.  It may not be the whole truth, but it's still truth.  The only other place I see a lot of "lying" is in pictures.  People often have much older pictures of themselves.  Not really a lie.  Not really the whole truth either.  A lot of people take the most flattering picture of themselves for use online.  While using filters and other photo adjustments has become common place, arguably those "touched up" photos aren't honest.  So arguably, 18% at that point might easily be those that you find no discrepancies.  The article that had this percentage didn't specify what level of "truth" was used.

Of course, no matter what then 82% of people mislead others online, but how many people are "catfishing" in person?  I mean come on.  During the research for this blog, it became painfully obvious that the reason there is a show about "catfishing" is lying has become so common place that people are seeking out how to discern fact from bullshit.  A simple Google search had all kinds of articles from legitimate news sources to legitimate science pages to social media style blogs and discussions--even a couple websites dedicated to helping us learn how to discern a liar.  In fact, one scientific study conducted with 13,000 participants, found that most people are only able to pick out lies 56% of the time.  It identified less than 0.02% of the people out of the study that could regularly pick out the lies.  It even gave them a name "wizards"--31 out of 13K.  No kidding.  Definitely "wizards".  Of the 31 "wizards" it was unclear what the common factor was.  They came from different walks of life, different education levels and different parts of the country.  One profession was more common--attorneys--albeit it did not specify what type of law or even how many of the 31 were lawyers.  Certainly, one thing the study pointed out is that practice seemed to improve the ability.  While there was no improved ability in law enforcement to the overall populace, one group of law enforcement did score significantly better than the average score.  Secret Service personnel seemed to have a much better ability in picking out lies.  Of course, the study hypothesized this difference is because they have to be better at reading non-verbal cues since that is a large percentage of protecting some of the people they protect in crowds. 

In an effort to understand the "biggest liars", there has long been links to "childhood trauma" .  On one side is a link to the "human lie detector".  The above study though would seem to negate that possible link.   Of the 31 "wizards", the percentage that suffered early trauma was equal to the average percentage of the overall populace that experiences early trauma.  Considering the size of the sample for this study, it would stand to reason that most likely "childhood trauma" is not linked to being able to tell lies from truth.   However, "childhood trauma" is directly related consistently with the opposite.  In studies dating back as early as the 1930s, severe childhood traumas have been linked to sociopathic disorders.  Sociopaths are people who have no remorse for their own "wrong-doing".  Over the last century, studies consistently support that some childhood traumas can be linked to various sociopathic issues.  While sociopaths and narcissists have similar issues, sociopaths are more disturbing in the fact they realize that their behavior isn't considered the norm or appropriate and develop ways to manipulate and lie to others consistent with hiding their own self serving behaviors. While it is still unclear what these are because there doesn't seem to be a straight path from childhood trauma to sociopathic liar, there are certain categories of "childhood trauma" that are more likely to produce a sociopath.  In fact, 81% of sociopaths report severe childhood trauma linked to severe physical and/or sexual abuse.  Of course, it's hard to know how true this is, because part of the pathology of sociopaths is that they create lies to cover their own lack of sympathy and empathy.  The only thing that has become apparent is that not all severely abused children become sociopaths (thus unclear all the factors that go into making a sociopath).  No studies can explain why some do and others don't.  There is some evidence that the younger a child at the time is the more likely they can overcome it while pre-teen and teenagers are more likely to develop lying to a fine art form.  Honestly, it's more likely from observations over the years that it is dependent on so many factors that while we can generalize the responses, a certain percentage will be sociopaths while another percentage will be "normal" and yet another will be shrieking violets.  Pick one.  Just know that trauma has the potential to create liars. 

Of course, nowadays, it's almost become the "popular" thing to be the drama and trauma.  Look at how ridiculously popular reality television has become.  We know most of these people are liars.  We even get to watch it as it plays itself out.  Lying has become the norm.  As the old adage goes, "if you can't tell the truth about yourself, you can't tell it about others."  People, 82% of people lie regularly.  A couple times a day.  Think about the last lie you told.  Now, let's quantify that.  Not an omission of truth.  A flat out lie.  Was it a white lie?  A lie to your boss or co-worker why you were late?  Because of traffic instead of sex with your new girlfriend.  A lie to your friend why you didn't feel like meeting her out?  You were busy instead of saying you didn't feel like taking a shower.  Or was it something pretty heinous?  Like telling your husband that you didn't answer his call because you were calling VISA while in reality you were having sex with his brother.  I mean you know.  Massive lie.  It seems that we allow for certain lies.  I can't stand lies, but even I tell "white" ones.  What exactly is a "white" lie.  One that has absolutely "zero" harm or covering up harm.  It's no one's business if you're single and you've started dating someone new that you were running late because you wanted to spend 5 more minutes with the person than you really had.  I used to tell people it was none of their business.  Lots of people don't like this answer even when the truth is it's none of their business.  Eventually, I got to the point that if I didn't want to tell them I wouldn't outright lie, but I'd try to tell the truth while omitting the truth that I felt wasn't their business.  Where were you?  I was watching a movie.  I left out that I was a theater seeing a movie because this particular friend eats popcorn with her mouth open.  Plus she doesn't like action flicks and she'll talk through the movie.  And I know if I had told her I was at a theater, the only way she wasn't going to want to know who with (no one) and why I didn't ask her to come along would be if I left out a detail.  She assumed I was watching a movie at home, and dropped the inquiry from there.  Was it a lie?  No.  But it wasn't totally true either. 

The problem is that so many people lie about almost everything anymore it's nauseating.  I have a buddy who is a pretty smart guy.  The thing I find most annoying about him is that he pretends to be an utter dumbass.  I enjoy talking with him, but since most of the people that know him think of him as an idiot most of my friends don't really get why I bother to talk to him at all.  It all seems to be part of his act.  He likes to think of himself as a player for the most part, and it draws in the nature of many women to "help".  I think it's laughable.  But he lives in this "persona" in front of most of the people that he knows.  At what point is the persona "real" or "fake"?  Not really my problem.  He's not really harming anyone but himself.  I'm sure a couple of people would argue he "hurts" some of the women he's used with this act, and that's a perfectly valid argument.  I have to admit that I find the act nauseating, so most of the time I don't interact with him other than superficially.  I'm not going to pretend to be in favor of his deceptions, but unless I'm directly impacted I try to stay out of it.  One thing most of us all learn is that someone who wants to believe the lies will defend the liar. 

Of course, a good friend of mine once told me "even a liar doesn't want to be with a liar".  We knew two people that lie more than a thousands rugs on a floor.  Yet, when the guy found out the chick was this massive liar, he somehow seemed bewildered and pissed that the woman he was with was a bigger liar than he dreamt of being.  Ironic, right?  Of course, on the other side of the coin, often people that are honest have a hard time because it's almost become where lies are accepted as truths and truth is automatically ignored as lies.  I am very factual.  Facts and honesty should go hand in hand, but many of us are starting to realize that honesty has almost become a relative aspect.  Honesty is supposed to be presenting the truth, but with so many lying, truth has become less facts and more opinion.  Honest opinions aren't even important anymore.  A lie has started to sound more appetizing.  Still "a lie will hurt over and over while the truth will only hurt once".  The lie needs to be compounded with more lies to help prop it up, so there is the fact that lie upon lie upon lie will hurt over and over.  But there is also the point that a lie may not hurt in the moment it was told, but eventually all truths come out.  The lie will hurt then as will the truth, and on top of that the deception.  Is it worth it? 

I've been told that I'm overly honest.  Well, I've already admitted that I am, but I am not.  I don't always tell the whole truth.  It's not deceit, but it's not full disclosure.  However, I deal in facts and facts are truth.  My opinion of the facts or truth are not always as forgiving, but I try to always deal with the facts first and my thoughts on them second.  What the "wizards" in that study all have in common, a high intellect (regardless of education) and a strong desire and motivation to get it "right".  I'm honest and factual for those reasons.  I desire to have it "right".  What most of these studies might be missing is that most people don't want it "right".  Don't get me wrong; they aren't wanting it full of lies either.  But the desire to have it the way they would like it to be rather than the way it actually is...well, this seems to make sense why so many people lie about even little things.  It's like filters on pictures to make oneself look "prettier" and "younger" than someone actually is.  It's a lie.  A little white lie depending on how much of the filter is used and how much deception is actually intended by the filter.  People are okay with the lies and can only detect them 56% of the time because they basically want to be lied to.  I mean think about how many people meet someone online and still send money to basically some complete stranger after only talking to them online for a short time.  Even though everyone knows there are these scam artists out there lying and telling them exactly what they want to hear, there are still people that believe it.  Is it really because they are that gullible?  Yes and no.  They really want to believe the lies rather than face the facts, the truth.  Most people have a hard time being honest with themselves in some way.  Although I have very few things that I don't like to think about, even I would prefer in those few things to a prettier picture than the difficult unpleasantness of the facts and truth.  So I can empathize why some of us want so desperately to believe others' lies. 

Yet, in believing others' lies it's not just us that are the ones being "catfished" but many of us become the "catfish" also.  I'm happy with who I am, so I don't have to "lie" about who I am to anyone--but more importantly I don't lie to myself.  I know my limitations and although I would love to tell you that I work on those imperfections every day, that would be a lie.  I don't and honestly I don't think my imperfections are necessarily bad compared to someone who lies about who they are to others and in most of those cases to themselves.  Are you going to be able to pick them out?  No.  I have become pretty good over the years at picking them out, but you have to actually give them enough time for you to figure out who is and who isn't lying.  And, no matter how hard psychologists try to tie liars to some type of trauma or defect, the truth is that if 90% of us lie almost daily it has absolutely nothing to do with trauma.  There are a slew of reasons each of us do, and yes, sociopaths do it because they literally are trying to deceive others as do con artists.  But "catfishing" is a way of life for them.  And whatever excuse they have for being deceptive doesn't give the rest of us a pass to be equally heinous.  But all those filters that we try to smoke screen ourselves into being who others want us to be, well, that is the problem isn't it?  None of us can pretend to be something we are not forever.  It's a lot of work, lies upon lies upon more lies.  Just typing it is exhausting me.  Adolf Hitler said "if you tell a big enough lie often enough, it will be believed".  Of course, while he ruled for more than a decade, we know the destruction his lies created.  All lies eventually are overcome by the truth, as history tells us over and over.  We all reap what we sow, and no lie should be worth being considered a bottom feeder. 

Sunday, December 10, 2017

exactly where I am supposed to be...

There's a lot to say about moving forward, even though I always thought leaving where I've lived the longest in my life was a good idea.  It might have been.  When my sister's mother died, I was living back where her mother and my mother were from.  No matter what decision I have made based on facts and plans, I've always added my heart into the final decision.  That feeling that you get in base of your mind or your heart or tummy, whatever, that tells you this is the right decision or the wrong decision.  While certain things haven't worked as I have planned, why I have gotten used to having back up plans to back up plans, eventually hindsight being 20-20 I have always discovered why I am where I am at.  To be honest, after I moved away for a promotion, I always got this nagging feeling like I was supposed to be back here.  Eventually that nag turned into a large whine that never seemed to shut off.  So I started to run through the logical reasons to move back.  The people that were always there for my boys and me were my sister and her family.  There's a lot to be said about family, especially the family you choose.  While I have a lot of very close friends all over the country and even a couple that are living ex-pat, the majority of my good, close and even best friends are here.  My youngest while less than happy with the idea; logically, it improved his odds of getting into a better university.  But anyone that truly knows me knows that I'm pretty private (ironic when you consider my blog) and in truth I have a habit of wanting to try new things.  This isn't exactly the ideal location for that, but in all honesty, everywhere I have lived isn't exactly the ideal location for new adventures.  So why in the heck am I back here?

First, no matter where you go in the United States, short of areas that have military bases, the majority of people have grown up there, never been anywhere else except for a week at a time, never really experienced something new.  Even a large majority that have served in the military, most of them go home after a tour or two and never venture away again.  Those of us that are "wanderers" by heart are a very unique and rare breed.  But this area has been in growth mode for over 20 years since BMW built a plant in the Greenville area.  "Transplants" are a large percentage of the population, so similar to larger Southern cities it has become a bit of an oasis.  Asheville NC has become a very diverse artsy area with beautiful scenic mountains and valleys that would impress a lot of Euro tourists.  Greenville itself has been tooted as one of the top 10 cities in the United States to visit for restaurants.  Downtown Greenville offering a lot of diversity in cuisine and talent.  The impact of European and the rest of the United States having so much influence is that one of the best philly cheese steaks I've had is in Easley SC at a place called Inky's.  I have a friend from New York that is set on finding a real slice of NY style pizza, and neither of us have found one yet.  But I have this aching feeling that there is one somewhere.  People typically move down here for a job, but it's a place most people fall in love with.  But of course, there's still something that many of us just don't really get about the area.  That pesky never been anywhere, never done anything.  This is the way it is and this is the way it's always going to be.

Sure, I'm talking about something about the Southern mentality.  There are some things about my Southern friends that I wouldn't change.  They tend to get loyalty better than other parts of the country, and I feel like I'm pretty much experienced enough in almost every area of the country to say this is true.  When I got back here 4 years ago, my best friends and closest friends were right there to welcome me back.  It's hard to explain since I always have friends wherever I have lived that I'm still friends with.  I get reminded of that on Facebook all the time, and I'm not trying to diminish their loyalty to me or vice versa.  But when we talk about people getting it on a larger, societal scale, well, it's just like that.  It is a double edge sword of course.  Some people here think that loyalty to them should mean that you can't be loyal to people they don't like.  It's like high school mentality on crack.  I've always been one of those people who doesn't really care one way or the other if you like me, because I really don't care about anyone I don't like.  If I don't like someone, I simply don't give them a second thought.  But that switch on what I really like in this area is that some people here will spend a lot of time trying to put others down.  Keep them in their place, and they use that wonderful loyalty I'm bragging about to extend their likes and dislikes upon their friends.  Not really different than other places, but at the same time, it can also get out of control.  It gets to the point that you feel like you are dealing with 40, 50, even 60 somethings that never left high school.  Loyalty to your friends should not be dependent on you being accepted by other friends.  At that point, anywhere not just here, that's not friendship.  You should be able, as an adult, to be loyal to two friends that don't like each other without compromising your friendship with either.  Of course, there are plenty of people here that are loyal to who they choose to regardless of other people's inputs, so I'm not here because of that.

A millennial engineer I work is married to a young woman who is from another part of the South, and of course, they love it here, because it's not as "bad" as where she's originally from.  They both are very educated; she has a master's degree in her field.  She gets pissed when some man tries to tell her what her job is.  She knows what her job is.  She's probably overqualified for her job.  And this probably is a reason that both she and I and even others like us are here.  This whole females have their place may have went out the window in most of the USA where women put together bombs, tanks, et cetera in World War II.  But here, women have still been pretty limited until the last 20-25 years.  When I first graduated from college I used to volunteer to speak at middle and high schools in a prevention program to encourage girls to finish high school, maybe go on to college.  Get them out of this get knocked up, have kids, marry, and hopefully be taken care of for the rest of their lives mentality.  A young girl in one class told me that it didn't matter because everything was supposed to be paid for by a man.  This was only 12 years ago.  The drop-out rate for girls at the time was almost 50%.  While it might be all fine and dandy to marry your high school sweetheart, I have a couple friends that did and are still happily married to this day, it's also not very realistic with almost a 50% divorce rate.  Young women need to be able to support themselves.

Of course, it's not just about being able to support yourself.  There's a lot to be said to feeling like you are contributing.  God, assuming you believe in some form of God, didn't make all women dumb baby factories.  In fact, if you go by average scores in elementary and middle/junior high schools, girls typically do better in school, particularly in math and sciences.  If the surrounding society limits these gifted young women to female stereotypes, especially if the most acceptable is baby factory, we limit the entire society.  If they have been born with talent to design buildings, debate and understand legal ramifications, to determine how matter works, or phenomenal with numbers and accounting, what a huge waste for them to be limited by society to baby factory.  We all know this is another double edged sword.  Men are just as capable of being great caregivers, but this stereotype and forced societal norm makes it difficult for some people to see that.  Contribution to society should be based on individual gifts and talents, not what sex you happened to be born as.  And, anyone that has ever been complimented on a job well done knows what I'm talking about.  Imagine never having that opportunity.  Yes, I know it still happens in other regions of the US, but I know it happens here far more than anywhere else since I have had the opportunity to observe other regions.

No one can argue that I don't think of myself as equal to any man.  I shower, get dressed, go to work, just like anyone else does.  But I was raised that way.  I met a wonderful Southern gentleman who probably was raised with a lot of these stereotypes who's daughter is an Army officer.  A young woman who worked very hard to earn an assignment in the military police.  She believes in herself probably a lot in part because of him.  For a woman, speaking from experience, your father figures have the most impact in believing in yourself in spite of old stereotypes and societal pressures.  But honestly, as I sat questioning my God why am I here?  Again?  I mean logically I should've headed for a beach somewhere.  I know my sister, my friends, they are all very logical reasons for me to be here.  I love working in automotive.  I love being an engineer.  This is a great place for it.  But why here and not a beach somewhere or at least close to one?  There are other examples here besides me, so not my "responsibility", right?  I have a friend that was in the Army--she's a phenomenal example of strong woman in a man's field too.  Then, as I'm having this "struggle", a woman asks me if that's a Clemson ring on my hand.  She looks it over and notices the "BS" on the side.  She asks me if I work.  Of course I work.   She asks what my "BS" is in and I tell her mechanical engineering.  "Ohhhh that's a man's job!!"  Ugh.  Not a man's job.  Really God.  That's why I'm here.  Sure.  I know plenty of us scattered in the area, but women in typically male roles in the area is much smaller than in other parts of the country.  I can count my friends and acquaintances that are in stereotypical male roles on my hands.  Very few of us.  Per capita we are not just a small group.  We are almost less than nominal.   So few that we barely make a dent.

Why am I back here?  I always knew I was somehow attached to this area, even before I moved here.  I don't believe in coincidences and if I went through all the coincidences that brought me here in the first place...just wow.  I even feel like leaving was only for my sister's sake.  Her mother's death was very rough on her and I was working less than 30 minutes away from her mother then.  What are the odds?  If everything happens for a reason, and I truly believe everything does, then I got my answer just by asking God the question.  That's not a man's job.  It's a job that I love.  I can't imagine working as anything else.  I think everyone should love their job as much as I love mine.  You spend 1/3 to 1/2 of your life at work.  Everyone should be able to love their job.  More importantly, no one should give up becoming what would make them so happy just because someone tells them that's a "man's" or a "woman's" job.  If a young man wants to be a nurse, he should be able to.  If a young woman wants to be an engineer, that shouldn't be ruled out by old ridiculous stereotypes.  She should have advocates and examples strong enough to pave the way.  It's not ideal.  Trust me.  I know this, but I trust in God and I got the message loud and clear.  I'm exactly where I'm supposed to be.

Saturday, December 2, 2017

The fork on the road that you didn't choose...

Periodically, I am reminded by people that knew me back "when" that I used to be really sweet.  They still think of me as "really sweet".  Just a really nice, big pushover, over accommodating, try to make everyone else happy, all around sweetheart.  Now, that's not to say I didn't have my opinions and would vocalize them once in a while.  But I just was always trying to make everyone else happy, even if it meant at my own expense.  I like to say that I think of myself as equal to a man because of my grandfather.  That much has always been true, but I was also raised to be a true, what some might refer to as "old fashioned" lady.  I was just as much a making of my grandmother as I was his.  I imagine I might have stayed that way if I would've made different decisions in my life.  But sometimes those decisions aren't even really yours to make.  You come to a fork in a road.  You have a left fork or a right fork or you can go off roading, assuming you have a vehicle that allows you to.  Let's say you don't.  So left or right?  Well, that's your choice.  You can go backwards, but in the grand scheme of life, we know that's not truly possible.  So left or right?  Sure you choose one, but the fact you came to that fork?  You may or may not have had any real control getting to that particular fork in the first place.  At some point, all these lefts and rights turned me into an asshole.  I'm just not that sweet anymore.  Now don't get me wrong.  I'm not dishing it out to random people that don't ask for it, so I'm not a T total asshole.  But that sweet little pushover that took a lot of shit from people over the years?  No.  Not anymore.  I've pretty much become an asshole if someone pisses me off.

How did I come to this conclusion?  Well, this is going to seem a bit trivial, but it was a simple little thing that got me to thinking about it.  If my bill was wrong before, even probably in the last 3 years, I usually just paid it.  I didn't care if I was overcharged.  I was in fact so sweet that I would actually point out if I was undercharged, but never bother if I was overcharged.  Yes, I know that sounds ridiculous to some people because I know people who will make sure someone fixes their bill.  And actually pointing out when they're undercharged?  Well, in the grand scheme of things, as one of my friends put it once, "who cares".  She didn't say it as a question.  It was a statement. In fact, she was the one that pointed out I did this years ago.  I didn't change then.  I still muddled through correcting someone if I owed them, but never correcting them if they screwed me.  I don't know when exactly that changed, but I realized the other day that it has.  I made sure my bill was changed when it was wrong.  Who knew I had it in me?

Of course, it's not just that.  Twenty years ago most people were pretty shocked that I threw my ex out.  I mean really.  My best friend was proud of me for not taking his crap, but the funny thing is that I didn't throw him out for me.  I mean sure he was cheating, and I definitely deserved better.  But, I had a conversation with my then mother in law who begged me to make it "right", and in that moment, I thought of being her and having this same conversation down the road with a young woman like me that might be married to one of my sons.  My ex when we had been friends made it clear that he didn't respect his dad because of the way he cheated and treated his mother.  Yet, here I was in her relationship--we were a mirror image of his parents.  I didn't want to be on the other side of that call ever.  I wanted my boys to have a glimpse of a chance of having good marriages, and in that moment, I knew at least one of them would be guaranteed they wouldn't if I remained in that miserable existence.  I'm under no conclusion that I have made sure they will eventually have good marriages either, but I know that some young woman won't be listening to me plead with her to make my mistakes.  I really have no idea where the backbone to do that even came from frankly.  It was "strength" by some of my friends description.  But I can't tell you where it came from.  I wasn't an asshole then.

Some people wonder why I never took any of my relationships seriously since.  Was I an asshole?  Nope.  I just didn't want anyone else to suffer the consequences of my decisions.  My ex, bless his heart, used to call me on my birthday, Thanksgiving (proposal anniversary), New Year's Day (first son's birthday), Valentine's Day (used to be one of my favorite holidays--better than Christmas to me), and Saturday Memorial Day weekend (our anniversary, not the date mind you--that technically was the 23rd).  7 am.  His time.  Bahrain, Shanghai, who knows.  I was Eastern Standard time and it was annoying as hell, but my dumbass would answer the phone because he'd just keep trying if I didn't.   Looking back I should have just unplugged the phone, took it off the hook, something.  I was just too damn nice and he knew it.  Along the same lines, he sued me for 10 years, every year, for my birthday.  Yep, it's all public record.  I never counter-sued.  I let him use the court system to harass the hell out of me, until I hired an attorney who told me she was going to handle it once and for all.  I still didn't counter-sue, mind you.  Nope.  But she handled it.  The judge never even let my ex's attorney start.  He wanted to know why the idiot had served me for my birthday every year for the last 10 years, and he wasn't buying the "coincidence" answer.  Suffice to say, my attorney and the judge were the assholes to him that I needed to be.

Over the years, I've done this routine a lot.  Not just with a restaurant bill.  Not just my ex.  I would give up so to speak.  I had an abusive ex boyfriend.  Abusive enough to put me in the hospital once.  This isn't some unique story.  I know plenty of women that have been in these situations.  One shared her story with me this week.  Broke my heart to listen to what she went through.  She's strong, ornery, can be a real handful.  Rightfully so.  She's been through a lot, and I can empathize.  But when I walked away, I didn't say a word.  I didn't whine that I had been abused.   My closest friends knew, but he'd walk around like a peacock talking crap about me.  I pretended like nothing happened.  I simply moved on and hoped it would go away.  I did this with a myriad of situations.  Always the same approach.  Try to handle it the way my grandmother would.  But, this isn't the world my grandmother grew up in.  Hell, I'm pretty sure it isn't the same world I grew up in.  My grandfather raised me for the real world.  My grandmother raised me to hide behind my grandfather.  Except I didn't have a 6'5" husband to hide behind.  It took me a long time to realize I was hiding without any protection.  It sounds kind of silly, but mentally, internally that's how I processed it all.  I was trying desperately to cling to being that sweet, accommodating, fluffy, fuzzy, warm, wonderful woman my grandmother was.

In the last couple of years, I don't know.  That's changed.  I've only done a handful of mean things in my life.  I'm no saint.  But I just have never been truly mean overall.  Asshole?  Never in a million years...until now.  I mean I don't care if a man doesn't want to date me.  Big whoopie.  Most men don't like the idea of a woman making more money than they do anyway, and for the most part I make damn good money for a man, let alone a woman.  I'm good at my job.  Most men want to be more successful than their women--at least in my age category.  I may have even held myself back a little thinking I was somehow screwing myself out of an opportunity to have "happily ever after" if I got too successful.  You do realize that's just Disney bullshit they feed little girls even today??  It took me 4, yes 4 damn decades to realize that.  (My best friend has been telling me this for 2 decades.  She's laughing as she reads this I promise you.)  An aunt told me years and years ago, what seems like a lifetime ago, that God wasn't going to give me a girl because "the world wasn't ready for a girl raised by" me.  Yup.  I cried and cried and cried over that shit.  Now, I wish I would've cussed her slap happy out.  Should've taken a left turn there instead of the right.  I was a cream puff.  People would hurt my feelings and not give it a second thought.  In hindsight, a monster of my own making.  Make excuses for others bad behavior and you end up being made to look like and more importantly feel like the "bad guy" when it really is them.

Of course, this isn't just applicable to women like me.  Sure I know other women that have done this same thing, and some of them turned into assholes way before I did.  Kudos to them.  But I know plenty of guys working in my field that are big pushovers and have gotten the short end of the stick because they're too nice too.  I had a friend who was so nice to his ex, a cheating whore, that eventually even his kids were treating him like crap like she did.  He didn't get a backbone until one of the snotty brats demanded he buy her a car after she dropped out of college.  Screw her I told him.  It's always so much easier to be the asshole for someone else when you can't do it for yourself.  I was a little surprised he did it.  It just never seemed to be in him to stand up to the whore or the demon spawn she had created.  Good thing he did.  A couple years later in a strange twist of fate, he ended up finding out that particular little hell fire wasn't even his.  He really turned into an asshole then, but who can blame him?  Some people might be born assholes, but I think most of us are made.  The selfish, obnoxious, pieces of shit that take advantage of us over and over, time and time again, and after several of them one right after the other, those sweet people that we were are gone and replaced with assholes. 

Don't confuse pieces of shit with assholes either.  Pieces of shit are those loathsome creatures that crap all over other people.  They aren't assholes.  They are in complete shock when someone finally turns into an asshole.  It simply never occurs to them that there will be a negative response eventually to treating people like shit.  If they were assholes, they would know this.  They get away with it with so many people over time they just assume that they are the better, smarter and most deserving of being able to treat others poorly.  In fact, they are always the victims.  Someone else did it to them.  They're always trying to be the "better" person.  But those of us that actually are the better person?  Nope.  We roll over and pretend like it will all work out eventually.  Karma.  God.  Fate.  Something, somewhere, somehow will eventually put these pieces of shit in their place.  Yes, because eventually they will find that person that turned asshole and that particular asshole will have had enough from some other piece or pieces of shit to turn on this one in that moment, that place, that particular event, and bam.  Point out to them they are a piece of shit, because only an asshole would have the backbone to point out that a piece of shit is a piece of shit.

So yes, I've turned into an asshole.  I'll call out a piece of shit.  A spade is a spade is a spade.  I'm still all soft and fuzzy for some people.  I hated listening to the woman I mentioned earlier.  It broke my heart to listen to her story, but it's still a big wound for her.  Life wasn't fair to her, and she's made the best of it.  I admire that in a person and that makes me remember I still am a soft, fuzzy good person, so I listened.  I suggested counseling but she's not ready for it.  So I listened some more until she was done sharing.  Sometimes, you can be an asshole and still be the fuzzy, sweet person.  It's not that the fuzzy, sweet, soft part of you is gone.  It's just you realize that some people don't deserve soft and fuzzy or sweet.  They deserve a good swift kick in the patootie, as Grams would say.  A reality check.  But if being an asshole means not letting anyone take advantage of your good nature anymore, then accept it.  It's not going to change how the pieces of shit act.  It's just going to change how much shit you are willing to put up with.  You may have come to the fork in the road, but it's not always your choice what road you got put on.  Turn left or right, but don't let anyone shit on you.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

"Them" because of people like him....

As a veteran, even when I was military, I was often faced with orders that I didn't necessarily agree with.  I'm not a big fan of the kneeling, which will come to a big surprise to most of the people that know me.  It's not that I am a fan of what they are doing or that I agree with it.  It's that I swore to protect the Constitution.  She states that anyone in this country can peacefully protest.  She provides all the freedom of speech.  And until Jerry Jones and the Cowboys showed solidarity and kneeled prior to the Flag being unfurled, I saw no more peaceful way than taking a knee as if in prayer while the Anthem played.  The Cowboys action was a gesture that should have united people.  It didn't.  It caused even more ruckus.  That's when I realized that it wasn't about a flag or song, but what it was about was way more nefarious.

First, it was disrespecting a flag.  No one really cares in this country.  Walk into a bar while the anthem plays on the TV. No one is standing.  Sure, that might change for a short time, but it will fade.  Human nature.  So people have been disrespecting the flag for eons.  Even the people that are super heroes right now defending the idea that we have to stand.  Let's call it what it is--hypocrisy.

Next, the flag represents veterans and active military.  I thought about it.  Yes, I have had friends that I have lost and the flag was draped over their casket.  It is because it is a sign of our country paying her respect to our service, not the other way around.  The flag is representing our Constitution, our way of life, our Rights and all American citizens, not just the veterans and military members.  In fact, she's a symbol of what we swore to protect in our oath.  The only time the flag is supposed to be laid down even, is upon our caskets or other public service people like police, firefighters, Presidents, Senators, etc.  Those that have entered service to this country are honored by the only exception of how the flag may be laid.  The rest of the time she is supposed to flap freely in the wind.  At no other time should she be draped upon something.  So, even if we stick with this argument that it somehow is disrespecting those of us that served, well, maybe, maybe not.  If it's disrespect to veterans and military, then it's disrespecting Congress, Justices, Presidents....  The same people making these arguments disrespected Obama like it was going out of style.  I didn't like him either, but technically, by this argument, they are disrespecting Reagan, Obama, Trump, Clinton...basically everyone that has ever served this country in any and every capacity.

So I had to think why am I willing to defend their Right to kneel, but not willing to kneel myself.  My country has been really good to me.  I live in what I view as the greatest Nation in the world and I have seen several other countries.  Some of them are beautiful and majestic.  Some of them have some really neat things about them.  But no country is like mine.  She allows you to disagree peacefully.  She allows freedom of speech unlike any other.  She prevents illegal search and seizures and she promises that these Rights are inalienable.  No other country promises as much as ours does, and that's because no other country has our Constitution.  I stand because my country has loved me as much as I have loved her.

Has my country loved them the same as it has loved me?  Has our country loved everyone as equals?  We are human, and it is human nature to try to be better.  Unfortunately for some, being better means holding others down rather than being better themselves.  We don't want to admit that, because most of us genuinely try to not put other people down.  But it really wasn't the majority that were screaming.  Hell, no one ever paid attention until a bunch of twitters.  The pre-season and first couple weeks went by quietly and it was no big deal.  The whole concept had lost its momentum, and to be honest, I would've been perfectly happy with that.  But right now, with all the bullshit, I had to think about it.  Really think about it.  We want to be a fair country, but we're not.  It's just that simple.  So it shouldn't surprise anyone that some people are going to protest somehow.

So, when this all started, it was about police brutality against anyone, and mainly against black men.  But statistically, it is more black men.  They make up less than 1/3 of the population, but make up the mass majority of people in prisons.  That's not because black people are more likely to commit crime.  Anyone that knows anything about population distribution knows this is an impossiblity.  Then, I end up in this conversation with this old guy who graduated high school in 1965.  Years before I was even born.  He thinks he has the lockdown on "right".  He looks white, but he knows all about racism, even though his parents look white too.  Why?  Because he's part Native.  Did he get treated differently?  No.  He didn't.  That was a fallacy he claimed.  And that's when it hit me.  He's the epitome of why all this is happening.

Why?  If people hadn't thought he was white, then he would've been treated differently.  He's only a little younger than my parents were.  My father looked very Native American.  He and my mother were attacked in Pennsylvania while this guy was in high school.  So he's full of crap.  He looked white enough (assuming he's even telling the truth about being part Native) and therefore he was never treated different.  He knows this both consciously and subconsciously.  But he's blowing smoke anyway.  Then he insulted me multiple times and finally when I got mad, he turned it on me.  That's what the game is.  And anyone that has had a conversation with a jerk like this knows exactly what I'm talking about. That's the real root problem.  He's going to say anything to make sure he gets you and I to agree with him.  He's an old racist jerk and he will say or do anything to make we sure that we agree with him, we concede or he goads us into anger.  When I started laughing at him because it was just too pathetic once he whipped out how he was never actually treated any different, he was pissed.  No shit.  Then he wanted to talk nice again.  Bye bye.

But that old dude is exactly why all of us are arguing over this.  Most of us know there's inequality still in this Nation.  Most of us are younger than his ass and wouldn't normally permit him to disrespect another American.  Even if we did, we would turn around and apologize for his piss poor behavior in embarrassment, and he would stew in his juices that we felt it necessary to apologize for him.  He is mad because his racism is no longer valid.  He's just a mad old white dude.  And, he wants GenX and the Millenials to share his point of view.  That's it in a nutshell, and many of us are buying it hook, line and sinker.

Why do I think this?  Well, here was the priceless part.  He admitted that he swore, both he and I swore to protect the Constitution.  Only it didn't apply to "them".  Who's them?  The people kneeling.  Kaepernick.  What about Jerry Jones?  He joined "them".  He lost all respect for him, because he joined "them".  That's right them.  So in his mind, our Constitution applies to him and anyone that agrees with him, but not "them".  And anyone that defends them, well, he's lost all respect for "them".  Well, okay, then.  I swore an Oath to protect the Constitution for all that are here in the USA.  She is the Law of this Land and she applies to anyone here, even if they are not citizens.  The "them" he was referring to?  They are USA citizens, and unlike him, I know that she applies to "them" as much as she applies to him.  But because he was raised that "them" are not afforded those Rights, he wants the rest of us to join him in putting "them" in their place.  At that moment, I felt ashamed.  I stand because I love my country and she has been really good to me.  He reminded me that there are "them" that love her and she hasn't loved them back because of people like him.