Sunday, January 30, 2011

Drainers Don't Know Jack (or You)

Some of you may know who Christy is by now. Well, Christy and I were chatting a couple months ago (talking on the phone with her is never a problem!) and I was complaining about a few people that I'd gotten roped into long-winded, one-sided conversations with. One woman in particular would talk about something and then move on to another topic, and another, and another, and another, with no segue, no pause, no gap; she'd just move on before I even had a chance to comment on anything. (It was like a blog with no "comment" button.) I'd stay on the phone for hours listening to her talk (i.e. bitch) about her joblessness, her roommate, her home, her car, her computer, her phone, her family - anything and everything, all negative. It was absolutely draining. (Hence Christy's apt term "drainers".)

After several of these monologues, I realized two things: 1) I knew more about her than I ever really wanted to know. And 2) she didn't know anything about me. I can remember having relevant (at least, I thought they were relevant) things I wanted to tell here while she spoke, aspects of my life that were comparable to her's, things that might even help her, but I couldn't get a word in edge-wise. I was telling Christy about this and she commiserated with me about how difficult it is to listen to people like that. And then, casually and quite out of the blue, she said, "Most of the people I talk to couldn't tell me 5 personal things about me." I was like....whoa...

That made me really think. And it didn't take me a day or even a few hours. It hit me hard right away. Does Sally (made-up name) know where I'm from? Does she know what I do for a living? Does she know my last frickin' name? The answer was no, no and no. It made me a little angry, and then the anger turned to resentment. How dare these selfish people insinuate themselves on my life in this way! How presumptuous and self-involved of them to think that all the minutiae of their lives was so important to me that I was willing to give up hours of my day to listen to it. And it's not like they were asking for my advice or wanted feedback. They just wanted to vent. Endlessly. Totally unproductive ranting and rambling. (NOTE: In all fairness, I probably inadvertently led them to believe I was willing to listen endlessly because I did listen endlessly.)

This revelation, if you will, helped me winnow out the "drainers" from the "keepers". Congrats to myself for finally blowing off Sally and her headache-inducing ramblings. She left a few voice mails which I ignored. And then she was just...gone. I don't see her on Facebook anymore and she doesn't call me anymore. I'm absolutely certain her life is no worse without me as her sounding board. My life, however, is a bit more relaxed knowing that she's not going to be calling me anymore.

And then there was this guy who hung out by the mailboxes...

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

The Lost Art - Addendum

You ever notice that when someone says, "Well anyway, to make a long story short...", it's too late?

Monday, January 24, 2011


I wonder if it's some sort of evolutionary thing that you can keep your bladder in check for hours on end, but it becomes almost impossible when you finally get to the bathroom.


I just finished watching Iron Man 2...again. And loved it again. I remember reading a review of it when it was first released in the theater and a critic made a snarky comment about "eye candy". Then I started thinking about all the other movies I enjoy that are replete with "eye candy" and I started wondering why "eye candy" is a bad thing. I mean, everybody likes candy, right?

Friday, January 21, 2011

The Lost Art (or one of them anyway)

I realized many years ago that I have a phobia. I'm pretty sure I got it from my mom, and I'm pretty sure it's here to stay. I'm scared of the phone. Or actually, phone calls. I don't particularly like to make them or receive them. I can count on one hand how many people I don't mind talking to, which is bad since I know a decent amount of people. I hear the phone ring, I get this little knot in my stomach. Not a big one, mind you. Just a little one, like when you realize you forgot to set the DVR for a show you were looking forward to. Kinda makes you anxious but you know you'll get over it. That's how I feel when I hear my phone do its funny little new-fangled-cell-phone ring. So I started to wonder, aside from genetics (Mom): Why does it bug me so much? Why does the phone ringing make me feel like some dude just shouted "Fire!" while I'm tied to a post with a blindfold on?

And it hit me: conversation. Or, rather, the lack thereof. I truly lament the lost Art of Conversation. It sounds silly, I know. I mean, conversation is pretty basic, right? The phone rings, you answer it, you talk, you hang up. Except, more often than not, it doesn't work out that way. Usually the phone rings, I pick it up (after staring at it for a beat or two), I say 'hello', and then someone starts talking. And talking. And talking. And talking. Some of the people that call me must've been pearl divers in their past lives because they don't need to breathe. They manage to talk for hours without taking a breath. I like to say that "they speak without punctuation". You know those annoying Facebook postings where someone writes something without any capital letters, commas or periods? omg!ashleyandmejustwentoutdrinkingandgotsomessedup! That's how these people talk. I end up spending two or three hours nodding (to myself, since they can't see me) and inserting the occasional "ah" or "mm-hmm" or a generic chuckle so they know I'm still there and awake. But I find my mind wandering about 20 minutes into the monologue once I realize it's going to be one of "those calls". I start thinking about random things like updating my grocery list, or about how I've never seen "Gone With the Wind" or "Citizen Kane", or cat hair. Pretty much anything except what they're rambling on about. Why? Because I haven't gotten to say anything!

To me, conversation is about the exchange of thoughts. Give and take. I ask how you are because I care to listen to you tell me how you are, and you do the same. What I usually get is:

"Hey! How ya doin', Steven?"

"I'm good, Sarah. I went to the–"

"Omigod! You won't beLIEVE the week I've had. There was a swarm of locusts right after we blah, blah, blah-dee-blah, blah..."

It's like white noise. Just this hum of voice-sounding static. I realized that most people care far more about their own comings and goings than mine. And most people don't listen. Because, honestly, they really don't care. They're not bad people, evil people. They just don't care. And, phone-martyr that I am, I sit and listen for hours on end to self-absorbed drivel from a seemingly endless stream of 'friends'. If I could get back all the time I've wasted engaged in tedious, long-winded diatribes about co-workers, traffic, whatever, I'd be a teenager.

Now, lest I sound angry or ungrateful, I'm extremely fortunate to have a few people I truly call friends. Not acquaintances. Not intimate acquaintances. Friends. My friends can talk to me until every word in the English language has been spoken twice. And, in spite of myself and my rantings, I will probably continue to be an ear to whoever feels the need to talk endlessly and has used up all the people that actually give a crap.

But still, y'know, I'm just sayin'...

Tuesday, January 18, 2011


Slow drivers don't matter when they're behind us. Except that they're always in front of us.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Ax Is A Noun

The term "ebonics" was first coined in 1973 as a way of identifying and even celebrating uniquely Black American speech patterns.

What. Were. They. Thinking?

If I might slide my soapbox out for just a sec (and I can since this is my blog), I think ebonics legitimizes poor and/or lazy speech and it needs to go away. Whatever it's initial intent, it does no one any good anymore. Regardless of our current president, the Black American community still struggles with overcoming racial stereotypes and preconceptions. Ebonics lets ignorant people try to sound smart while talking dumb. And that just pisses me off.

Axe is a noun. Ask is a verb. They are not synonymous. They are not interchangeable. Axing a question is not a mispronunciation; it's simply wrong. If I ax you, I'm about to chop or fire you. After reminding me of her Master's Degree in English for the umpteenth time, a neighbor once informed me (during an unfortunate dinner "date") that pronouncing ask as ax wasn't incorrect, it was just a cultural thing depending on what part of the country one was from. To which I replied, whether you're in Manhattan or Dallas, if you tell a prospective employer that you'd like to "ax a question", your interview's over. (I also secretly wondered in what alternate universe Master's Degrees in English were given to people who can barely read or write. Seemed tacky to mention it aloud though...)

So, ask me anything you like. But, please, leave the ax for lumberjacks and lunatics.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Bigots Are Stupid

I was thinking about the word hate the other day and I realized that the only other word I could think of in the English language that was more often overused and misused was love. (Go figure, right?)

I'm as guilty as anyone of regularly misusing hate. It's really easy. "Oh man, I hate that commercial!" "Oh man, I hate this weather." "Oh man, I hate reality shows!" And my favorite, all-encompassing proclamation: "Man, I hate this!" What I forget is that hate is a really strong word. I should keep it in reserve for special occasions, for things I really despise. So I got to thinking, when I say hate, how often do I really mean it? I mean really mean it? What do I actually despise? Well, stupidity. And hate.

I hate stupidity. Not to be confused with ignorance. In my own little personal life-dictionary, I define ignorance as a lack of knowledge but a willingness to learn. But stupidity is a lack of knowledge with no desire to know any better. (Most of the time stupid people don't even know they're stupid.)

Take bigots, for example. Bigots are stupid. Everyone (except them) knows they're stupid. They hate because of something completely arbitrary. People are born black or white or brown or yellow. They're born gay or straight or bi or, sadly, none of the above (I'd hate that). None of which has anything to do with how well they can fire a rifle or flip a burger or balance a spreadsheet. But Barney Bigot will discriminate against them because he's stupid. Sometimes I wonder, when Barney and Betty Bigot go to the movies, say "A Time To Kill", and the racists are the bad guys, do they root for the racists? Do they go, "Huh? I don' geddit. Why is ever'body clappin' fer them colored boys?" Bigots hate so indiscriminately, if they bumped into themselves on the street, they'd probably hate each other. To hate without reason or provocation is stupid. And I hate it.

So, in summation: I hate stupidity. And I hate bigots because they're stupid and spread hate.

Maybe next time we can discuss the word dislike. Way longer list…