Sunday, February 7, 2016

Value Add....or Auf Weidersehen...

I often think about various things.  I'm a walking, talking dilettante version of an encyclopedia.  I can't tell you how many things I think about.  My mind races most of the time.  It's kind of cool.  I get a lot of stuff done when I'm busy.  It's also kind of annoying at other times.  My mind literally needs to have multiple things going on at the same time in order to focus.  Music is usually my favorite background noise to keep that part of my mind that likes to take off running so that my focused mind gets, well, focused.  Over the years I have met people similar, but I've always been a bit of the odd duck.  That oddity has on more than one occasion been the target practice bullseye for some of the more shallow people on the planet.    

For one, I can usually listen to two conversations at the same time and absorb all of both conversations.  I can even participate in one while listening to another.  I've had people swear up and down this is not possible, and yet, in meetings taking notes of both conversations has often proved that I missed little to nothing from either conversation.  So it tends to annoy me when someone says that I don't listen.  I often heard what they said, but what they said had no value add to my life.  An aunt used to lecture me about who I was, more over who she thought I was, and what I should be doing.  I always tried to ignore her, but that annoying gift of being able to absorb and understand two things going on around me at once, meant that I was catching all of the hockey game and all of the belittling things she was saying to me.  While it bothered me when I was younger that she often thought of me as her own personal "whipping post" during family gatherings, as I got older I just ignored it.  And by ignore, yes, it still registered, but I chalked it up as words that were not value add to my life.  If it made her feel better, so much the better for her, and who cared?  

So over the years, I've developed that same "who cares" what someone is trying to tell me that they know who or what I am when they don't even know who they are themselves.  Recently, I met a pretty blatant racist.  He didn't think he was.  He parlayed himself to be a fancy, true Southern gentleman.  The first time I met him he made my skin crawl.  Immediately I knew he would not be that great of a person, although it took me some time to figure out what was "wrong" with him.  At first, I thought it was maybe that he didn't actually like independent women.  No, after some observation, it was apparent that if this had been his problem in the past, God had given him daughters to rectify that shallow mindset.  More observation showed a man that was way too gregarious when dealing with minorities, particularly when any form of an audience was around.  But, that wasn't what tipped his hand; it was the putting me down and insulting me when there was no audience, no witnesses coupled with overly buttered up, sweet as molasses act when there was an audience.  Honestly, when he put me down, at first, I did a lot of self exploration.  I realized after three or four days of self analysis that this guy had no idea who I was whatsoever.  He had put forth zero effort to actually understand who I was other than a stereotype that he had in his head from the moment he laid eyes on me.  Every one of the conversations that he and I had ever had were already predisposed to his opinion that I was not "good enough".  I couldn't figure it out.  Until there was this really sweet black gentleman that he was equally ridiculously gregarious with.  It hit me kind of hard and then I saw how he acted all the time.  The gregarious with people he didn't like, the normal with the people he did.  Basically, this jerk had made up his mind about me from the time he had laid eyes on me--I was obviously mixed with something and didn't fit his version of the world.  Therefore, I was less and since he didn't want to look like the asshole he was, well is, to others, he was very overly nice--as I stated, gregarious--in front of people.  Yet, a complete insulting rude jerk when there was no audience.  Of course, once I realized that, his opinion of me and anything or anyone else became utterly worthless.  It was non-value add.  He had no idea who he was talking about, not just because he was an ass--some asses will take time to know people regardless--but simply because he was a bigoted racist fossil who had failed to grow with the times.  

Unlike this educated asshat, I have a friend who is a high school dropout, the epitome stereotype of redneck who can be so overly honest and blunt that some people fail to see the diamond in the rough.  Yet, I've never known her to ever be a racist or even make snap assumptions and have the audacity to assume they are fact.  Unlike the educated, self proclaimed "Southern gentleman", she is his exact opposite in every single way--female, high school drop out, not from a "proper family", but also unlike him, with a heart of gold, without a drop of judgmental prejudices to skew her initial opinion of anyone, and certainly not so phony as to become so totally gregarious around people she doesn't like to hide it.  If she doesn't like you, she's not trying to hide it, but she's not trying to be sneaky while insulting you either.  Just a straight up, good hearted person with no prejudice to skew her from liking or disliking anyone.  Obviously, I think the world of her.  But also unlike him, she's not worried about what others think of her or what she thinks.  She doesn't hide her thoughts.  If they are inappropriate, oh well, that's who she is unlike that asshat who knew his opinions were inappropriate to the point he played himself off as super gregarious when dealing with people he knew his true opinion would be inappropriate.  Of course, with her no one has to worry about being "good enough".  We are all equal in her eyes. 

Obviously I respect her more than I respect him or my one aunt.  That aunt did me a great big favor at a very young age.  I learned that other people's opinions are just that--based on their own follies and their own desires, experiences, always on who they are, but not necessarily based on who you are.  Honestly there are very few people that I don't like.  That's not to say that I like everyone, but there are just very few people that I bother with the concept "to not like".  If I don't like you and I am willing to state it, there is a guarantee that I have a solid reason that others would find understandable--if I even would bother to explain it to them.  I'm not very fond of the asshat aforementioned.  Can I say I don't like him?  No, actually I can say I feel sorry for him.  How sad is it to still be living his life in the 1950s, 60s and 70s version of the South?  It's pathetic that at his age he hasn't grown passed those ignorant racist things that control his behavior.  How many truly wonderful people has he missed out on simply because he lacks the depth to grow passed racist stereotypes?  Not that it matters to me.  He's like one of those blips on a radar screen that disappears into the Bermuda Triangle.  

What's the point of this blog?  Well, I know so many of my friends, all of us already in our 40s--some moving into their 50s--and they are still sweating what other people think of them.  I have to admit I feel far less fettered than they do--or at least in that sense I do.  I don't care what someone thinks of me that has no value add in my life, and while it's a little mean sounding, if someone has no value add in your life, why would you?  Of course, if someone has no value add in your life, a normal person cuts them out of their life.  My aunt was always tuned out and eventually was completely cut out of my life because she simply couldn't show the respect that she demanded.  If someone consistently proves that not only are they not value add, but they are value detrimental, it's time to consider severing or at least minimizing ties to them.  Sometimes we are forced to be around people that have no value add to our lives--work, family, etc.  We have to be able to tell ourselves what their opinion is worth.  Usually zilch.  But if you are lucky enough to find people who are honest with you and provide value to your life--to improving yourself, to being the best that you can be, to your growth as a human being running in this human race--well, hold on to those people.  They are as priceless as you are.  

And you thought you were having a bad night...

Ok, so I've gotten completely bored with politics, but I promised a funny blog.  So here goes.

So there have been times in my life that I just can't help to point out the very, very obvious.  Some people are dense, and by dense I mean, well, let me explain.  So in spite of swearing off internet dating ever, and I mean ever, again.  It does make for interesting reading.  This time though I refused to put pictures up.  No reason to put up any pictures.  If I want to get hit on because of the way I look, I can go to a bar.  So, amazingly, without pictures, this has yielded very little interest.  However, I'm not getting the stupid emails like "hey baby, you're hot" or "you remind me of my refrigerator because you've been running through my mind all night"....Gasp....

No, but I did manage to meet one guy.  Seemed nice enough online.  Nice looking guy online.  Now, let's clarify for everyone, because I've been picking up new readers.  I'm an uber goober geek, who happened to be raised like a fashionista.  So the uber goober geek is a bit of a nervous nelly when meeting people.  Not that I can't talk with just about anyone, but dating is kind of a pain in the *ss.  I'm fine in my comfort zones, much like anyone else, but meeting someone new for a drink or two is a bit nerve racking.  So I get there on time, and he gets there a bit after.  He's actually better looking in person than in his pics.  Sits down next to me and we order a couple of beers.  We start talking and it's a little cold in the bar.  My arms are crossed but my legs were crossed towards him and he commented on how tense I seemed because I had my arms crossed.  I explained that I was cold and that the arms crossed didn't actually have anything to do with my nerves.  As I start to relax, I'm talking and I'm pretty high energy.  He starts telling me over and over and over and over and over and over....and over and over to calm down.  I'm not really not uncalm.  I'm a little uncomfortable, but now, well, I'm becoming more uncomfortable.  I tend to babble when I'm uncomfortable and he's still telling me to calm down.  But now it's on the borderline of condescending.  Trying to make conversation, we talk about family and I tell him that people call my brother in law "asshole"--that it's his nickname.  He explains that he doesn't call anyone something like that until he knows them.  Ok, I guess he missed the nickname part, but that seems pretty nice, right?

Ok, so far, not so funny.  Then a really good friend of mine calls and then texts.  I sent her a text back that I would call her back in a bit and she responded with "OK".  Out of this guy's mouth, and I joke not, "Tell that bitch to quit texting and calling.  Call her back if you have to and tell her you're busy."  WOW.  Just wow.  So that not calling people names until he knows them only must apply to men?  I didn't ask.  The hell you say!?!?  No, really, I didn't waste my breath.  Of course, those of you that know me, once I get a bit pissed, I'm done talking.  I didn't bother with a second beer, and thank God my friend Angela tried to call as it gave me a way out of having dinner with him.

I know I never lie, and I technically didn't lie to the guy.  I did have 3 friends having birthday parties last night and I was genuinely planning on hitting at least of two of them.  So I explained that I didn't plan on dinner because of those birthday parties and I bailed faster than the Road Runner saying "meep, meep".  Of course, by the time I got home, I didn't feel like going anywhere.  It kind of made me not want to be around anyone.  Now, I'm backlogged on birthday drinks to at least one of my friends.  Ok, so it wasn't that funny of a blog.  Ah, well, better luck next time.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

The Positive Reasoning to Vote for Each of the Current Candidates...Seriously.

Well, Iowa has spoken and kicked off the primaries, as usual.  Unlike usual there were no exact winners in either party.  So there's definitely a couple of names standing out in the Republican party, and the Democrats are split half and half, literally for once.  So first, this blog is why you would want to vote for the more predominant candidates.  Let's face it.  There's always a reason to vote for any one of them, then there are the reasons that you decide not to cast your vote in their direction.  So this blog is about what would be good about each candidate--and by good I mean mass appeal.  I know a friend who strictly votes for pro-lifers, and I know a bunch of women that almost always vote against the more anti-choicers.  I'm not going into any of those things.  I'm going to say why vote for someone based on mass issues that most Americans are feeling really need to be addressed, although they aren't sure how.

So, first the Democrats, because there are only two.  We'll start with the slim leader from the Iowa caucuses.  

Why vote for Hillary Clinton?  The Iowa caucuses gave her 49.9%.  Well, the main thing is that Bill Clinton was successful at maintaining a really decent economy.  Of course, that really isn't her record, but I think most of us assume that electing one is like electing the other.  She's a woman.  A lot of people would like to see a woman President.  That's it.  Unfortunately, the rest of research I did doesn't suggest any other positives.  Moving on.

Why vote for Bernie Sanders?  He was a very successful Mayor in the 1980s.  Of course, the economy was in a fantastic state in the late 80s, so that wasn't as hard as being successful in this day and age.  He is very pro-equality.  He's for women's rights and minorities rights--which nowadays should actually be called equal pay and equal opportunity.  Of course, a lot of the inequity is some of our own fault and no President will be able to wave a magic wand to make it better.  He genuinely cares about the environment, education, and he's being very honest about raising taxes.  He wants a socialist society and that may appeal to some but most socialist Europeans pay over half of their earnings in taxes, so this may not be so appealing.  Of course, he has some wonderful ideas, like free public universities, and that all costs money.  Moving on.

So the Republicans.

First up, why vote for Ted Cruz?  He has represented the State of Texas quite well.  He did actually ensure that a murderer was executed after a double homicide in Houston.  He has voted in 89% of the votes during his terms as a Senator from Texas.  So he does his job.  He is a consistent in his support of the conservative interpretation of the 2nd Amendment.  I know that might not be what everyone wants...But it means that overall, he will likely have a consistent conservative interpretation of Constitution as a whole.  That's about it.  He's been very moderate on immigration and will likely be willing to compromise for the best of the country.  Of course, that is to be expected since technically he may not be able to run since he was not actually born in the USA or on USA land, and if the Democrats challenge after he wins the nomination, he may not even make it to the November election, effectively screwing the Republican party royally.

Why vote for Donald Trump?  He has a big mouth.  He's a bully.  He talks a really good game.  He's completely outside of the political system with zero political experience.  Depending on whether you look fondly on these things, those are his positives.  He makes a lot of claims and unfortunately after a little research all the things he says don't actually meet his background.  I don't want to go into all these claims and how quickly he ends up in quicksand with a little research because I stated earlier this would be their positives, so we'll have to move on.

Why vote for Marco Rubio?  He has a significant amount of national security experience from being one of the Senators that was selected for the associated committee in the Senate.  This is very important to have someone that genuinely understands the security issues of the country.  Our current President definitely was clueless and that hurt our nation.  He is a moderate Republican.  Like I said, mass appeal.  So far, the only moderate out of the Democrats and Republicans mentioned thus far is Rubio.  He wants to rekindle the American Dream.  His parents lived the American Dream--as immigrants that worked hard and now have a son in the Senate running for President.  It doesn't get more real than that and it puts him in a unique position to know what does and doesn't help that Dream.  Of course, he's fairly young and has a family and everyone knows the job of President ages the hell out of anyone we elect.

Why vote for Ben Carson?  He's smart--like super smart.  He's outside of the political system.  Of course, given that the current President was both of those things coming in, that might not be the best combination to have again.  That's really it.  He contradicts himself quite a bit, which has been easy enough to find and he doesn't seem to have any real substantive plans or stances on some of the more important political issues.  He's another amateur, and that may or may not appeal to you.   Moving on.
Why vote for Rand Paul?  OK, I have no idea.  He's always defined himself as a Libertarian, which actually is technically it's own party--just not a winning one.  Now all of the sudden he's a Republican.  I'm not sure how he got an Iowa delegate in the caucuses.  Someone must have missed that he wasn't actually a Republican.  But just can't say anything positive about someone pretending to be a Republican.  Moving on.

Why vote for Carly Fiorina?  She's a woman.  She's a successful business woman.  She's smart.  She's another political outsider.  She has experience, real experience, with foreign commerce.  Of course, there's a lot of stuff online, fact checker sites, that say that she blows a lot of smoke.  She, Carson and Trump all seem to have this issue.  Moving on.

Why vote for John Kasich?  Not sure.  His reputation is that he's a jerk and for belittling people that work for, with and around him.  Bigger jerk than anyone else running.  Even trump's Trump.  Sorry, but no positives here.  Confused how he got a single delegate in the Iowa caucuses.  Moving on.

Why vote for Chris Christie?  Well, unlike Kasich, even though he has a reputation for temper tantrums--they are no worse than Bill Clinton's.  So positive in comparison to several of his competition.  He is a no nonsense politician who is also known to work bi-partisan.  His overall reputation is that he is honest and straight forward.  He has a lot of experience in national security issues because New Jersey actually is one of the main states that had to address those issues because of a large influx of tourists and foreign visitors.  He's also known for being very affable and being a "town hall" type that tends to make everyone comfortable around him.  Of course, his financial record isn't that good, but all of the immediate surrounding states are not having a lot of growth.  The economy sucks still overall.  NY, NJ, PA, the Northeast in general has not seen the growth.  But it's something to think about.  Next up,

Why vote for Rick Santorum?  Well, for someone who has identified himself as very, very pro-life, which typically means that they tend to follow the ultra to ultra ultra conservative point of view across the board, he is very non-committal and/or supportive of some more liberal ideas.  He believes in voting rights to be restored to people who have served time and completed their sentences.  He's a bit of ultra conservative crossed with ultra liberal--which overall could make him a moderate.  It really would depend on how many things that you agree or disagree with his opinions.

That's it folks.  I tried to state the positives although each needed a little clarification that might slide a little negative.  Next blog, the negatives...hopefully the clarifications will slide a little to the positive.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

"If it gives you strength to believe that, then believe whatever you want."

Is anyone else sick and tired of people that are "my way or the highway"?  It's black or white.  It's yes or no.  Up or down.  Right or wrong.  Of course, that last one is almost always they are right and you are wrong anymore.  People, men and women, have started to just be "mean girls" to anyone different, anyone that has a different opinion or just for their own entertainment--probably thanks to all those shitty reality shows.  Okay, that is just my opinion about the reality shows, but there are plenty of articles about how nasty people can be online to people they don't know.  It even has a name:  Online disinhibition effect.  Yes, that's for real.  Feel free to look it up if you don't believe me.  

So the other day, a friend posted on Facebook an email she received from a company that was checking if she had left a $5 tip--I didn't really ask how they knew her.  I assume she belongs to some club that they were able to identify her.  Really it wasn't that much more than 20%.  It seemed a little odd.  So I commented and in my comment I used the word "diligence".  Other people commented on the picture.  Honestly, if you comment after I've commented, I'm probably not reading.  I'm assuming that you are commenting to my friend and I've got other things to do.  A woman commented after me, then she posted an additional post about using "big words".  I didn't see it.  Honestly, I had unfollowed the post.  I do that a lot, because I don't want to be dinged and dinged and dinged every time someone comments.  So then she replies to my comment with "misspelled" and furthers on with two more replies to my comment with an insult about how I didn't know how to spell.  I scrutinized my comment to double check--damn, grammar nazi.  There wasn't anything spelled wrong.  So I replied back to her that there wasn't anything misspelled.  She went on trying to tell me I misspelled something and being a bit nasty about it--2 or 3 replies at a time.  I went to look at the thread again.  Maybe I had commented twice or maybe she was replying to the wrong comment.  And there was this comment of hers after mine, followed by another comment, a degrading comment, about using "big words".  The only "big word" used prior to her degrading thought was "diligence".  She was pissed because I hadn't seen her first insult and decided to start in on me by replying to my comment.  I tried to be nice about it and pretend that it might be that she is talking to someone other than me, stating that I often block people who act like assholes.  Oh no, she made it quite clear she was talking to me and yes, she "bets I have a bunch of people blocked".  Now let me clear at this point, I have no idea who this woman is.  So I'm now pissed.  Three insults from this woman and an obvious effort to piss me off specifically.  I basically make peace by ignoring the last of the rude comments and going to bed.  My friend comments basically a "poo poo" comment with "girls be nice" and this crazy b*tch starts back up again.  First by pretending that I started it somehow, and then punchlining it with yet another derogatory comment about me claiming that I must be "going through the change".  I blew a gasket.  I went off on this woman and she was all like some little high school mean girl crap pretending like this mutual friend was the teacher and how innocent she was.  Again, over and over, punchlining everything she said with some snide rude comment directed at me.  My friend didn't actually read any of this bitch's diatribes, but she read one of mine where I went off.  My best bet is that crazy bitch sent her a message about my going off on her poor, poor, innocent act.  I sent my friend a message and she still didn't get it.  I sent her the explanation and blocked the crazy bitch.  I simply don't have time for people like her.  As far as my "friend", well, I did think about it.  I didn't.  We've known each other a long time.  Something like that happens again, with a different one of her friends, then she'll probably be gone.  Birds of a feather and all. 

But what was interesting was the friend swore up and down that the person she knew, this crazy bitch online, was the nicest person if I met her in person.  Of course, she is.  Someone like her knows someone might knock her on her sorry ass if she acted like that in person.  But online?  Well, if she gets a bug up her butt, she's probably doing this quite regularly.  Sometimes on this friend's page or that friend's page.  Who knows how she picks someone out, but nonetheless, much like a psycho narcissist, she goes picking someone she doesn't like by the way they look or the words they choose or just some random crap and bam!  Attack until she gets a response.  It makes her feel good to have her friend that she pulled this crap right in front of defend her--the narcissist needs to have the ego fed much like a leech needs to suck blood.  They have actually started classifying this type of behavior as adult cyber bullying and there is article after article being written on how to defend ourselves from this type of person online.  My way is blocking her.  If she pulled this crap in person, which she's not going to because she's basically a coward, she would run the risk of too many witnesses and the divide not falling in her favor.  Or even better (from my point of view) getting that crazy bitch attitude beaten out of her.  

Now honestly, this woman is not as rare as we would think, although she is the most extreme example.  There are so many of us that would be more amiable to other people's ideas when in person, but are absolutely closed to anyone that disagrees with us online.  I find this utterly annoying having been raised the way I was.  I love a good debate.  I learn a lot from people with different views than I do.  It's how we grow as human beings.  We don't have to agree or change our minds just because someone disagrees with us, but we have moved away from that.  Look at the moron Donald Trump.  His hate and brow beating everyone who opposes his opinions has become an online daily occurrence.  And it's not just his followers that act like this--it has started permeating our culture like a cancer.  We are becoming so used to these grown adult online bullies that often people are sure that we're going to argue over those things that really need us to be willing to at least see a different point of view.  People used to say there are two things we shouldn't talk about if we want to keep the peace--politics and religion.  Yet, now, with the extreme version of Islam and it on the news so regularly, in online media--even social media like Twitter and FB--we cannot help but end up talking about it.  Yet, those people that would not have teetered into the conversation in person in the past, now they will venture there online.  This to me seems awesome.  We are finally to a point that more and more people are becoming aware.  Yet, many of them will suffer from "online disinhibition effect".  Fact is that everyone of us has the potential to suffer from this.  I called that crazy bitch a c*nt.  Not changing my opinion on that but admittedly it went over the top.  

Of course, what do we do to stop it?  Well, here's the thing.  Most people when they share their opinion on social media are literally asking for input on their opinion.  Think about it.  You wouldn't share your opinion on social media, on the internet with everyone that knows you, unless you were wanting to see other opinions.  The funny thing is way too many of us are putting our opinion out there expecting everyone to agree with us.  It's human nature--birds of a feather.  Problem is the average person has over 200 friends on Facebook.  It's a no brainer that there is no way that all of those 200+ people are going to agree with us on everything.  It's never going to happen unless every single one of them is a brainwashed cult member.  So part of the problem is ourselves.  If we put our opinion out there, we are soliciting other people's opinions and we have to tell ourselves that not everyone is going to agree with us.  Next,when we put our opinion out there, try to address the idea, not the person.  Bullies attack the person in hopes of shutting them down or dragging them into the mud with them like that crazy bitch did me.  There was no an iota of value add, no idea at all, in what she was posting.  It was all attack in order to get a response.  I'm not advocating not standing up for ourselves in that case.  By all means, we should defend ourselves when someone's comments or replies have zero value add to the conversation other than to insult.  But debate, healthy debate is not "arguing".  It's a way to learn about other opinions, even if we don't agree.  We don't have to agree.  We also have to tell ourselves we don't have to agree and the persons we are putting our opinions out there to don't have to agree either.  We need to accept that we are just exchanging ideas, much like exchanging cards at the holidays.  

For example, another friend of mine posted a creationism meme.  It stated "If we evolved from monkeys, why are there still monkeys?"  I laughed (in the comment also) that it wasn't actually what the theory of evolution stated.  An immediate comment from another one of his friends was that was Darwin's theory.  I replied back that it wasn't actually what he wrote.  She may have been a little irritated--she's probably become familiar with people that would call her opinion stupid or assume she's uneducated or some other cruelty about her beliefs, but she asked anyway what did it say then and even brought up the hypothesis that some twist a little that we came from fish.  So yes, she absolutely has had this argument online before.  Maybe even in person.  So I explained what Darwin actually wrote, that DNA testing has supported it mostly, but that Darwin was wrong about how closely related we are to apes.  I caught the fish portion of her comment before I finished, so I explained that it was probably hoo-ha with the most common arguments against this.  The scientific arguments would have been too technical and boring and the gist can be gotten from the common arguments against the fish theory.  I'm sure she read it because of the time it took for her comeback, which was simply "I came from Adam and Eve."  Okay.  Do I agree with her?  Honestly, no.  I've read Darwin's book.  It's honestly one of the most boring reads I've ever read, but I'm probably one of very few "evolutionists" that actually have.  So think about what my response was....

"Sure. 6000 years ago. If that gives you strength to believe that, then believe whatever you want. I still believe there is a knight in shining armor for every woman. I might be wrong but it gives me comfort."

My question to those of us that would've told her how "idiotic" or "neolithic" or whatever other derogatory comments I've read when I've entered into similar online discussions, why?  What is the point?  Is it going to change our lives if she believes something that science doesn't back up?  Is the world going to stop turning?  Is hurting her feelings going to change her mind?  On another argument, about enlightening her, again, how is trying to use a logical argument that tries to combine the her belief with the scientific theory going to change our lives?  Do I think it's ludicrous?  Of course I do.  I'm Taoist and basically agree with the Dalai Lama.  If science can prove it doesn't exist the way I thought it did, then I simply stop believing in it.  I believe in reincarnation, like many Buddhists, Hindu, and several of the natural religions.  I'm sure she could argue with me that it is a ridiculous belief and of course I could argue back that at least science can't prove it doesn't exist.  But how would attacking my belief in reincarnation make the world a better place?  

I find it fascinating that some people believe things no matter what.  Group think, brain washing, what?  But, what I find more fascinating?  That faith often gives us the strength to get through the most difficult times.  Maybe God doesn't exist.  My own parents were sure there was/is no God.  Yet, I believe in a God or higher power.  It gives me comfort.  So the fact that her belief in God might also be tied to a belief that I find hokey doesn't change that her faith is what is going to get her through the trying times.  How arrogant are we to try to take that strength away from someone?  Of course, that strength comes from within her--but it also comes from her beliefs, because those are inside her.  

If we could start to view each other like human beings, people that are not all the same, and embrace the idea that when we post something that no way is everyone of our friends going to agree with us, then we could discuss politics without the hate that politicians like Trump try to stoke.  We could take our differences and find a way to make the world better because as I was always told growing up:  "There is no stupid idea.  There is no right answer or wrong answer.  There is only the answer."  The answer for a group is compromise.  The answer for the individual is whatever answer makes them happy without hurting anyone else.   As the adage goes, "no harm, no foul".

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

The Elusive Unicorn: The "Perfect" Relationship

I realized that my last blog was all about getting out of a relationship and recognizing what we don't need in our lives, but then I realized that most of us are actually wondering what we actually should be looking for in a relationship.  I'm certainly not the person to be giving this advice from my own experience.  I've had one relationship that I would classify as "perfect" and obviously if it was that "perfect" it would've lasted.  However, I am one of those lucky people to have observed quite a few of my friends that have those "perfect" relationships.  Unlike in the last blog where I explained that advice from someone who has stuck out a miserable relationship might not be worth much, the advice from people that have those "perfect" relationships is usually very helpful.  If not at finding that "perfect" relationship, at least it is helpful proving that those types of relationships are out there, they are possible, and yes, every single one of us has the chance of finding it.  

So first, let's be clear on what is "perfect".  Perfect is not perfection.  What is perfect is when two people can have that "perfect" relationship together.  Since no two people are exactly alike, neither can any two relationships be exactly alike.  A failed relationship with one person doesn't mean that we can never have a "perfect" relationship with someone else.  But a "perfect" relationship, or at least the potential to be able to identify one when we possibly have found one, means that we really need to know ourselves--both the good and the bad.  No one really is "bad" per se, but we have our faults and we really need to know what our faults are to be comfortable enough to know when they might be interfering with any relationship.  For example, I'm extremely energetic in almost every facet of my life.  That doesn't sound bad from the jump, but it can be.  Extremely negative people can pull that energy out of me and my responses become less and less tempered.  My way of coping at that point is venting.  That's pretty normal for most women--the venting thing.  At a certain point, venting will be done and frustration begins to build.  Once that frustration builds up to a boil, then it can come out.  It's like a volcanic eruption and everything calms.  While in these types of relationships, my energy acts much like an active volcano, teetering from dormant to erupting and back to dormant.  I already know how these relationships end, regardless of how long I'm in them with a negative person.  At a certain point, there's no more eruption; the volcano is extinct.  The relationship has worn out and there's nothing left.  While I know this is how this works with me, I seem to have no sense of negative versus positive partners.  Another fault.  I've wasted a lot of time with negative men.  Another negative about me is that I know way too much stuff.  I'm the epitome of walking encyclopedia and I'm a dilettante.  In layman's terms, I'm great at trivia most of the time, but it's generally stupid useless information other than for interesting conversations.  I know, some people would find this as fascinating and a big positive.  That not knowing the difference between people who eventually find it annoying rather than endearing seems to be another failure of mine.  So in a nutshell, to some people I'm a know-it-all with one hell of a temper.  For that reason the most "perfect" relationship I ever had was with someone who never put me down because I'm a geek and who didn't ever act jealous or insecure or ever put me down.  I'm not usually the jealous type and the only time I have been is when someone has actually given me reason to be.  At that point that whole volcanic thing seems to feed those types that want us to be insecure and it's just a matter of time before there's just no more lava to erupt.    Do I have more faults?  Probably.  I'm a pile person.  I've always got a pile of mail or shoes somewhere.  I like to hang dry almost all of my clothes--they last longer that way.  I get itchy when I'm tired or extremely stressed.  I'm a big kid at heart--I cannot tell you how many people in general think something is wrong with me because I go see kiddie movies, like Minions, at the theater, yet cannot see spending the money on "chick flicks" or most dramas that will look exactly the same on my TV at home as in the theater.  I always have too many shoes and I can cuss like a sailor--probably because I actually was one.  Still, from what I've observed, people that are truly happy and in "perfect" relationships know their own faults.  

So once we know our own foibles, it might occur to us "who the hell would want me?"  Well, here's one of the biggest observations of those "perfect" relationships that I have observed.  The other person not only can tolerate all of those annoying faults, but they actually find some of our faults endearing.  Those things that annoy someone who isn't "perfect" for us actually makes someone who is "perfect" for us smile.  This may be very important if any relationship is going to be "perfect".  It's hard for most of us to accept our own failures, "bad" things, foibles, so the need for someone to love us in spite of them is a big factor in our security and confidence.  The "perfect" relationship helps to build our security and confidence because the "perfect" person for us actually can smile and see some positive in what we ourselves perceive as our negatives.  This has to be both ways also.  I've observed plenty of people in miserable relationships because they are willing to overlook the "failures" of their partner, but their partner is not willing to overlook theirs.  Honestly, this could be because the person is far to critical, insecure themselves, or whatever.  Yet, again, there's no way to have a good relationship with someone who puts you down or is constantly trying to put you in your place.  We can force that to work, but we sacrifice ourselves in the effort.  A "perfect" relationship doesn't result in that kind of self sacrifice. 

Such self sacrifice is never warranted or observed in a "perfect" relationship, because "perfect" relationships have mutual respect.  Nothing is ever 50-50.  There's a lot of give and take in any relationship, but there is mutual respect and the overall result is actually 50-50.  We cannot have mutual respect with alcoholics or drug addicts, because the nature of addiction means everyone around the addict is sacrificing something of themselves.  The ability to have mutual respect also calls for both people to have self respect.  If a person doesn't have respect for themselves, it's impossible for them to truly have respect for others.  I've seen plenty of relationships that lack mutual respect and it's almost always because one or both of the parties have no self respect.  Misery loves company, and if someone with no self respect is going to be in a relationship, so much the better if they are in one with another person who has no self respect.  No reason for both of them to be making two additional people miserable.  Mutual respect also makes it easier for each person to make the sacrifices that might be needed to make a relationship work.  I know a friend of mine is married to a former lawyer.  I say former, because his career took them, their family, out of the country for several years.  Another friend was unemployed because of the economy and they had to make sacrifices to make ends meet.  Mutual respect allows two people to weather even what might seem extremely complicated to the rest of us, because a pothole in the road or even a bulging gorge can be discussed and worked through in those "perfect" relationships because the mutual respect creates a deep trust.  

Trust is just a common sense factor for the "perfect" relationship.  Trust is easy for someone who's never had their heart broken, but as we get older, particularly if we have been burned, trust is a high commodity.  Children trust unequivocally, but adults become leery as trust is taken but not given, broken with words or acts, or just because it was really never there in the first place.  Trust is one of those things that can be instant for some of us and for others it can be one of those things that must be earned.  It might be better if both people have the same view--instant or earned, but honestly I've never seen two trustworthy people where that instant/earned minutia seemed to matter.  I can honestly say that trust allows both people to have the freedom to be themselves and still be part of their relationship.  Trust is pretty much the obvious requirement.  If there is none, on either side or both, the relationship is never going to be that "perfect" relationship because the roller coaster ride never stops.  

Finally, a similar mind.  Don't ask me exactly what this means.  I'm going to try to explain.  I'm a geek, well read, yet the best relationship I ever had wasn't with a geek that was well read.  Yet, we could talk for hours and hours in spite of the fact he wasn't much of a talker.  He was when he was with me.  One of my best friends and her husband, one of the all time "perfect" couples, don't actually agree on religion but neither of them pushes the issue.  They are so alike in so many ways and in others they are each other's compliment.  If kids are in a relationship's future, it helps if both people believe in the same type of upbringing.  This can cause a LOT of complications if the two people cannot agree.  But, without kids (aka. already have grown kids), it really doesn't matter.  Every grandparent has the same plan--spoil them rotten and send them home.  There's a meeting of the minds that just meshes.  There have to be some similarities but not always or a lot.  There has to be a love to do things together--spending time together and enjoying it seems to be the most important of this sub-thing I'm calling a similar mind.  Of course, it must be to the right amount of time too.  Some people are inseparable and some need solitary time.  This similar mind needs to meet there too.  I'm learning that I need some solitary time--not sure I always did, but I like to write my blog and work on my novel.  Neither being my job, I need that solitary time just to do those two things that give me a sense of accomplishment.  Someone who smothers me and expects all my time to revolve around them begins to interfere with who I am.  By similar mind, I also mean that you don't have to lose who you are in the process of a relationship.  Nothing "perfect" can come out of losing ourselves.  I think this is often what ruins relationships that start at too young of an age.  Many women, particularly when they are younger, cater themselves to their relationships and eventually, have lost themselves in the process.  Yet, often women who are getting divorced in their 30s and 40s cite that they aren't happy because they couldn't be themselves anymore, when in truth they might never have been themselves in their less than perfect relationships that appeared "perfect" to their partner.  Similar mind really depends on the two people in the relationship.  As I stated earlier, what would not work for person A & B might work for A & C, and that "similar mind", the mindset of the two people matching in those things that each of them find important--whatever those things may be--is paramount to a successful relationship--to that "perfect" relationship.  

I know.  It might not be that helpful or might not seem like it.  But it's pretty much what I've observed in all my friends' relationships that have that all elusive unicorn, the "perfect" relationship.  Honestly, some people are simply never going to have the "perfect" relationship.  A woman who constantly chases other women's men is never going to find her unicorn.  A man who thinks he can buy a woman's love is never going to find his unicorn.  A woman who believes all men are the same (abusive, alcoholics, selfish, etc.) will never find her unicorn.  A man who is always looking for better than he already has will never find his unicorn.  These are just broken people who are destined to be miserable.  But for those of us that are self-aware and have the ability to be a partner, then the elusive unicorn is actually out there.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Feeling trapped is only in our own mind

Over the years, I've observed many of my friends in their relationships.  I've seen happily married, not so happily married, miserable, inequitable, brow beaten, emotionally deprived, physically deprived, worshiped, spoiled, treated with respect, mistreated all around...well, basically, I've observed everything and in various regions of the country and even the world.  It's kind of hard to tell someone they should or shouldn't be in a relationship when no two relationships are exactly alike.  I might tell one of my best friends what I honestly think.  But someone who is a friend or casual acquaintance?  I'll probably be more likely to tell the casual acquaintance than the friend.  The truth is a lot of people don't want to hear the truth from their friends, let alone their best friends.  I even, and God knows a couple of them read my blog, will pull punches with my best friends.  Sometimes, you're not ready to hear the truth, no matter how open minded you are to your friends opinions.  But this isn't about friendship...well, not exactly.  It's about relationships and deciding what is intangible.  

See the problem is that most of us are truly on our own when we are trying to decide on what is or isn't good for us in a relationship.  People always have an opinion, but as the saying goes "everyone has one".  It's actually easier to see what is going on from the outside looking in, always.  The fish never has a clear view of the world outside the fishbowl.  Of course, there's an irony behind that saying too.  Truth is there is never a 100% clear view of what is inside the fishbowl either.  The nature of curved glass doesn't allow for it.  Our minds adjust what we are looking at and focuses on what we see as the fish and ignores the bends caused by the glass.  Honestly, that is exactly the same with anyone's advice on a relationship we may be in.  Their view of our relationships is skewed with their own experiences, both in their lives and with our significant other.  They may have very positive experiences with an abusive spouse and find it difficult to picture the abuse that is going on.  Or they may have a very negative view of the person and it negates any positive that they may see.  Generally, when listening to advice, I try to only listen to those people who are looking at the good and the bad equally.  Of course, for them to be able to do that, they really have to know what actually is going on in the fishbowl.  The only way that happens is if the fish shares the view--in our cases, verbally.  Only our children observe what we actually live through.  So advice is only as good as we can communicate ourselves.  

Of course, nothing speaks louder from someone that we don't know very well than their own experiences in their own relationships.  I know a lady who dated a man who moved in with her when he got thrown out of where he lived.  It was, according to her, supposed to have been a temporary arrangement.  He was lazy, worked only half days, bitched and whined and complained about money while basically never helping with any bills.  She had felt trapped and yet saw no way out.  When she finally was free of him, rather than feeling a sense of loss, she felt a sense of relief.  Her observations were that a lot of men are like this guy--mooching off of women and treating them like crap.  Basic psychology 101:  people that take advantage of someone must keep the person feeling insecure.  That was what he had done to her and her observations of the men that she has perceived as taking advantage of other women are probably fairly accurate.  Except most men are probably not like that.  No one, male or female, is like all others.  Her story was not meant as advice.  It was a story of her experience and nothing resonates louder.  

A good friend of mine has been in a miserable marriage for years.  She would often tell me to get out of this relationship or that relationship.  It's not hard to dish out advice when you've been so brow beaten over years and years to feel that you have the market cornered on advice.  She's not the only friend that I have like this, although I've realized for all her talk, her advice is basically worthless.  She's still in that miserable marriage and it's because she truly does love her husband.  "True love trumps all," Grams used to say.  Yep, awesome, good, bad and downright ugly--it sure does.  But it also means that if that love is that strong, we're going to be willing to put up with a lot more crap than we would normally and some people will put up with so much crap as to make everyone else wonder what the hell is wrong with them.  While her husband can be a very wonderful guy every once in a while, most of the time she lives on pins and needles.  Her advice to me, in pretty much every relationship I have ever had, is run like hell.  But it's so difficult to take her advice seriously...she's still there.  So what's more important in those cases?  Well, their advice is completely opposite of what they are doing, so it's that they are trying to advise based on what they probably know now that they should have done a long time ago.  They just lacked the strength to do it.  

My Grams, God rest her soul, used to say "no woman needs to be under a man's thumb" because that was what her generation "had fought for".  That fight still goes on and on.  My Grams was a strong woman, amazing.  My Granddaddy was the most awesome man ever to me.  But that was years and years after making my Grams, the most awesome woman ever to me, as miserable as miserable could be.  The skeletons in family closets, particularly before women could get divorced and child support, are probably scarier than any horror movie that Rob Zombie can dream up.  A little known fact, at least to most of the people that knew my grandparents, was Grams tried to divorce Granddaddy in the 1950s.  Basically, my Granddaddy was a complete asshat to my Grams.  He was an abusive drunk.  In today's world, my Granddaddy would probably have ended up in jail for domestic violence against both his wife and children.  Grams, unlike many women of her time, did not medicate to cope with his indiscretions, his drunkenness, his cruelty or abuse.  Grams used to say that the women that medicated were far worse off, which was probably true.  The drugs they used back then were highly addictive and often permanently mind altering.  Of course, my grandparents had 5 kids and there was no spousal or child support when most women didn't work or make enough to help support themselves, let alone their children.  My Grams could teach, but a teacher couldn't make enough to support 5 kids.  The judge told my Grams that he would have to take 3 to all of her children, because he would not order any kind of support.  He also was kind enough to point out that as a divorcee, my Grams would not be likely to find a teaching job.  After all, who would want a divorcee teaching their children?  It could permeate society.  So my Grams, this strong, independent, abused woman, relegated herself to the life chosen when my Granddaddy first courted her.  My Granddaddy always seemed to treat my Grams like gold.  Of course, over the years, he got older and eventually more dependent on her to take care of him.  Yet, on his death bed, literally 3 days before he died, he told her she could have her divorce now.  In a moment of triumph, she simply told him that he was going to die and she would live another 10 years to enjoy everything that he "had worked so hard for".  My Granddaddy might have been the most awesome man to me, but years and years of abusive behavior towards my Grams were not able to make him awesome overall.  My Grams only told me this story when she thought I had gotten into a relationship that I was feeling trapped in.  Feeling trapped is no longer a judge telling a woman, or man for that matter, that we are stuck and cannot go anywhere.  Feeling trapped is only our own mind's eye.  

What does this all add up to?  Well, there's no reason for anyone to put up with someone putting them down.  My Granddaddy was verbally abusive more than anything, my friend's husband has been both physically and verbally abusive--yet, verbally was more constant and daily, and the acquaintance was purely abusive--or she doesn't want to share the physical abuse part of it.  Physical abuse is unacceptable and we all know it, whether we are the victims or the perpetrators.  But verbal abuse is damning.  It is one of those things that cannot be seen visibly.  It changes a person--it weakens them, it makes them guarded, it puts them on edge.  It can make the fishbowl a very dark place and no one should have to live in that dark place.  Obviously, there is a strength that someone develops over time--like Grams or the friend I referenced.  Still in reality, no one should have to live that way, be broken down and then have to dig deep to find their own strength.  The truth is that not everyone finds and develops that strength and it should not be necessary.  This applies to men just as much as it does women.  Maybe true love does trump all, but it should never trump someone treating one of us like a lower class human being for whatever pathetic reason they can come up with.  That trap may start of their making but after time we can only blame ourselves if we stay in a relationship like that.  

Sunday, January 3, 2016

You'd be married if you wanted to be...

I woke up this morning remembering that I no longer have my safety net.  Some of my friends know what this was.  It was a little odd that I woke up thinking about it today since it wouldn't have been until next year.  So very few people know that next year I was going to get married--assuming I was still single.  My safety net, as I referred to it, was really never going to happen.  

To be honest, I knew that it would never happen when I made a promise to marry one of my friends.  The first time he asked was at his own birthday party where he dropped on one knee and asked me to marry my horror.  I couldn't run away fast enough.  It wasn't what I wanted.  Fast forward twelve years.  Over a game of pool, we used to bet on pool games--silly little bets; we made a couple of little bets.  Then he asked me again, over a pool game, a tiny little bet, that I would marry him.  He lost.  So instead of another bet, he just asked if we were still single on his 50th birthday would I marry him.  I promised I would.  So he'd be forty-nine this year and I'd probably have to seriously start facing that promise...except my friend passed away a couple years ago from complications resulting from alcoholism. 

Not that it really matters.  I knew it was never going to happen.  He had a lot of health issues when I promised, and somehow, I just always knew that it was not meant to be.  I won't say that I didn't cry and cry when he passed away.  He called me only days before, much like my Daddy had, and I just knew.  But what I also knew, or at least what I'm realizing now, is that I've intentionally surrounded myself with men that I wouldn't actually marry.  

Not that I don't want to be married.  Part of me would love to have what some of my friends have.  I have two friends that are married to each other, and they are the most wonderful couple in the world.  Ok, my opinion, but if you don't have any friends that have that awesome relationship, then it's hard to picture.  I have plenty of friends that have crappy marriages and some are better than others at fooling themselves.  Some are even better at making a miserable marriage bearable.  I know a lot of married couples that are just making the best of a miserable marriage.  Most of them do eventually get divorced, but I'm always amazed at the large percentage that continue to be miserable.  Truth be told I know only half a dozen "happily" married couples.  

Marriage is probably not my cup of tea.  I've spent the duration of my life focused on my boys.  Focused on work.  And I'm an oxymoron.  So many people like to fit others into little boxes, but for many of us, our boxes are more like origami.  I'm definitely an origami.  I used to believe in soulmates.  Mainly because I've observed my half dozen happily married couples with their significant others.  If there is an argument for soulmates, those couples are.  But only half a dozen?  Perhaps if I only had lived in one place my entire life that would be an astronomical number.  But in fact I only know that many because I have moved so much.  I just don't really believe in that one person that "completes" you.  It's one of those fairy tales that we grow up with in movies and novels.  I'm not saying that it doesn't happen.  I'm just saying it's like winning the lottery.  The odds are so stacked against us...OK, maybe the odds are just stacked against me.  I'm not really worried about it anymore.  I just woke up this morning perfectly fine with it.  Marriage was never my forte or I probably would've been married by now.  Like a friend of mine once said of me, "Alex would be married if she wanted to be."

Maybe February 2017 I'll celebrate the marriage that is never going to be.  In the meantime, here's to what was, what never was, and some things are never meant to be.