I recently had a birthday, which is something I really like. I know a lot of people my age who get all droopy about their birthdays. “Oh, I’m so old”, they say, which is completely moronic. Eighty is old. Forty or fifty or even sixty is not.
Mostly I just feel like saying, “Hey, moron, you’re not dead.” I know some really great people who didn’t make it this far. And I’m sure they would’ve given anything to still be here. So it’s good to appreciate, with everything you have, that you still get to be here. I see every day that I am still alive as a cause of celebration, but especially on the annual remembrance that I got to come into this life at all. That is a reason to party, not to whine.
Okay, so that’s rant #1. What is the real rant here is about those fucking email birthday greetings.
I like homemade cards best. Even the most crappily slopped-together homemade card is my favorite kind to get. I understand we can’t always get it together to be even minimally creative, and some people feel that they are not “artistic” enough to pull this off. So I understand that most people want something that looks nice and finished.
What I don’t understand is when people decided they are too busy or lazy to go to the goddamn store and buy a goddamn card. Instead of homemade or store-bought cards of yore, every year in the last five years I am greeted by a plethora of hideous animated email cards, each more vomity than the last.
For the life of me, I can’t understand what the appeal of these things are other than the aforementioned time/lazy constraint. The animation is rudimentary, the music as cheesy as possible, and the saccharin content would kill the healthiest lab rat.
This year I got a particularly hideous batch. Apparently, when uncreative folks who make this junk want to up the cute or comic level, they make all the characters into anthropomorphized Holstein cows. They are always Holstein; apparently Guernseys or Jerseys are NOT FUNNY.
Then these cows sing and dance and this is supposed to make you chuckle or sigh or something or other, but frankly they just make me gag.
Apparently no one who sends these cards have ever been charged by a cow. If you hike frequently in the East Bay Regional Parks, you may often encounter herds of cows who are quite feral, and you may have been charged as I have been. Three times. One when I tried to take a photo of an adolescent bull, another for now real reason, and another when I got too close to some cow’s calf. The first time, the baby bull just stopped after a short jog. The second time, we managed to duck behind some trees. The third time, we were actually trying to avoid the calf, but somehow the mother got it into her head that we were approaching the calf. We were in a big, expansive open field. From behind us we heard the thundering of hooves and had that “OH SHIT” feeling. Now, you cannot outrun a cow. You can NOT. I turned around, ran towards waving my arms and screaming. She stopped and turned around. This approach tends to work with herbivores, I think. Well, it did that time. Here’s a Cow Survival Guide you can refer to.
So, I have a lot of respect for cows, too much so to enjoy them being reduced to the status of minstrels of kitsch.
Now every year I have politely watched the entire disaster that is each of these cards, because of some speck of guilt in myself that I should try to appreciate the thought behind the tastelessness. And what if there is something extra-”special” at the end of the animation that I miss, and then they ask me how I like the card, and I’m outed as not having watched it?
It finally occurred to me that this guilt-fantasy scenario is NEVER going to happen, because if these people were going to actually speak to me, they would have called me on my birthday rather than emailing me the card. So I have been wasting considerable time, to say nothing of the trauma, viewing these “cards”.
Therefore, it is time for another Nerger Declaration:
I hereby declare that I will no longer open or view any future email greetings. Ever. Again.
Witnesseth my hand and signature,
In another mind games of freakiness, last night I was in the middle of a non-lucid dream when I said out loud, “You know, I don’t even really exist. I’m just a construct of my own mind.” What happened next is I basically faded away until I was nothing. My body just vanished and then my thoughts and then it was just… blank. Well, almost because there was still enough of me left to say, “Oh shit! Who cares if I’m a construct!” and then I faded back into “existence”.
Now, remember, I didn’t know I was dreaming so this was freakier than it sounds. I thought I had really almost annihilated myself through my thoughts. Yikes.
You may think this song has nothing to do with this post, but you’re wrong.
Yep, that’s right. I said it.
This communication tool seemed so wonderful when it first appeared in my world. I could communicate with people far away almost instantaneously. Although not as personal as a phone call, it had the great advantage of being free when long-distance phone charges were expensive. It seemed like magic.
Then I started using it to communicate with people locally as a means to reach others when I couldn’t speak to them by phone or I just didn’t want to speak on the phone because I was at work. In fact, it was a great way to goof off at work. I’d be at my desk typing away so I seemed appropriately occupied but in fact was hella slacking.
Then coworkers started emailing me when I was in the room with them. At first, this made me very angry. Why don’t they just talk to me? I wouldn’t write them back. I would walk over to them and answer them verbally. Sometimes they would be so close to me that I would just turn around and answer them. I thought they were being ridiculous. But then, somehow, I started doing it too. I would think, oh, I don’t want to interrupt them with this trivial thing. I’ll just send them a virtual post-it note.
The next phase, which is the current one, took this idea to the level of ridiculousness. Instead of calling up local friends to make plans, I would send an email. The idea was also that I didn’t want to bother them plus I could do it at work or home or anywhere, really. But that’s when things started to bog down.
I would send an email asking someone to get together, and suggest a time frame such as “next week”. After a time lag of a few hours to a few days, they were say that a certain day was good for them. I would respond something like Thursday didn’t work for me, how about Monday? After another time lag, they would say, no, Monday doesn’t work, how about the following week? This would go on ad infinitum until I was ready to bang my head on the wall.
This process has been going on in my life for several years and I really can’t do it any more. It would take five minutes on the phone to do a process that can literally take weeks via email. In addition to the frustrating tedium of trying to make plans, there’s the fact that I started feeling completely disconnected from everyone. Talking on the phone is a form of socializing; emailing, and texting as well, is not. It’s just communicating. Why did it become weird or disruptive to phone someone? If they’re busy they just won’t answer.
Me, I’ve decided to embrace interruptions. A concurrent and equally bad evolution is that during the last couple of years I’ve begun very activity and goal oriented in my personal life. I’m working on this or that project, I want to get this or that thing done, or I’m in the middle of a conversation with K, and who the hell is calling me? I wouldn’t answer the phone. It seemed invasive.
Well, no more of that. What am I doing that is so important that I don’t want to be interrupted for a conversation? How long is that conversation going to last anyway — 10 minutes? It’s nigh on insanity.
I’ll admit, for some people — let’s call them “relatives” — I prefer the safety of email to getting sucked into an exchange on the phone that leaves me feeling kind of fucked up. And for that, I will continue to embrace email. For the rest of you, if you know me personally, expect a phone call next time you email me for plans. And when the phone rings, answer it. Answer it!
It’s been about four years since I bought my 1992 Geo Metro Convertible. The top, which we bought new right after we bought the car, has started to fade. There’s a dent in the side. We don’t polish it as much as we used to. And still, the other day, two people commented on this car within an hour. People just love them some Geo. Let’s face it: even when it’s a little banged up looking, it still has a level of cuteness that puts other supposedly cute cars to shame.
In addition, it’s an incredibly reliable car. I’ve own Geos for 15 years now, and I have never had any major problems nor had the car suddenly fail on me. It starts up and goes, end of story. And it gets great gas mileage.
When I bought this awesome piece of machinery four years ago, I thought it’d last a few years and by then there’d be electric cars. I was right about the electric cars, but they are just too damn expensive for me. So I will continue to enjoy my Geo for years to come.
I’m not alone in my affection for this car. Read this post “The Geo Metro is The GREATEST CAR EVER BUILT“.
You know you’re jealous.
Have you ever noticed how happy people look when they run for the bus and catch it? I myself feel absolutely elated when this happens. I’ve come up with a few ideas why.
- In a few seconds I’ve re-established that I can still run pretty fast when I want to. Every time I do this it’s remarkable to me since running for the bus is about the *only* time I run, so apparently there’s no “use it or lose it” when it comes to sprinting.
- It makes me feel ageless. Sure, one day if I live to be old I won’t be able to run for the bus, but for now I can transcend time and take public transit.
- Of course, there is an adrenaline rush.
- Catching a departing bus is one of the few events is my life that I can be rewarded for being bit reckless.
- Also, for a moment I have control over my environment. You think your leaving without me bus? Ha ha! I’ve got you!
Clearly, other passengers who run for the bus must feel similar feelings, or else why would they always smile when they make it?
This blog, 1000 awesome things, list some other thoughts on this topic.
So, if any of my two readers care to share their ideas on why running for the bus rules so much, please do so.
In the past week, I was involved with two incidents of significance. One was that I severely sprained my foot. Another was that some no-good thief stole my 81-year-old mom’s wallet. These incidents have no obvious relation, but I saw an amazing similarity in people’s responses to them.
When I sprained my foot, I was jumping down from an acrobatic move and somehow missed the ball of my foot and instead landed on the side. There was a loud, disturbing crunching sound so I assumed it could be broken. After about 15 minutes of trying to assess what was going on, it seemed I’d better go to the dreaded emergency room.
I was in class with K and W, and being coached by S. Immediately everyone felt guilty and try to take the blame for what had happened. K kept trying to talk through what we had done to figure out where things had gone wrong. S said he had not been paying close enough attention to my energy level (or lack thereof). But I said repeatedly, and truly believe, it wasn’t anyone’s fault. It was just an accident.
When my Mom’s wallet was stolen, we were having dinner in a restaurant with K and HWC. There was a weird guy sitting at the table behind my Mom. I thought he was mentally ill as he was pretending to talk into a cell phone and kept looking over at me. Then HWC went to the bathroom and K and I looked away, and the guy and my Mom’s wallet was gone. We didn’t know my Mom had her purse on the ground; the guy had just reached in a grabbed it.
Immediately everyone started blaming themselves for this mishap. Everyone felt they had blown it and the crime was their fault. Including me. My Mom wouldn’t stop calling herself “stupid” and “idiot” for hours until I made her take a deep breath and repeat after me “It wasn’t my fault. I am not to blame.” Everyone took their turn saying how they had failed, including HWC who somehow failed just because he went to the bathroom.
I wonder what is it in our culture that makes good-hearted people act this way? What is it that teaches us to start insulting ourselves when something goes wrong? We clearly think we should always be in control, always be alert, and never make mistakes. It’s an unrealistic expectation, and no good comes from the self-blaming. In reality, it just drains our energy and nothing more.
I wonder how much this happens in other parts in the world. I wonder how much is human nature and how much is culture. There’s this little blurb in Wikipedia, which indicates it’s cultural, but clearly more reading would be needed.
Thankfully, my foot is just sprained and not broken. And thankfully, no one actually harmed my Mom. I’m sure to injure myself again in acrobatic class, it’s something that just happens sooner or latter. None of us will be caught off guard by a similar thief in the future, and the amazing thing is that none of us had had any experience with a similar crime even though we had 267 years of human experience between us when it occurred.
Hopefully we can just move on from misguided shame.
(Based on an arbitrary experience)
The other evening I was helping another developer with with some client training, or should I say, trying to help another developer. The client was ornery and obstinate, make the training a long, painful experience. We spent 2 1/2 hours for what was scheduled to be an hour meeting. My colleague and I were in one room, and the client was in another city, and fortunately we weren’t streaming video because at some point all my colleague could do was shake his head. He could not even speak for about the last 20 minutes.
I was feeling okay about the whole thing until about five minutes after my colleague was rendered mute, the client had the chutzpah to ask, “What do I need this for anyway?” Really? The functionality you paid us to set up, and then stole 150 precious minutes of our lives for, you no longer see the point of it? AAAIIIEEEE noooOOOOOO! Thank god we had started drinking beer after the first hour and a half. Let me tell you, I have never NEVER drank alcohol while working, but it was desperate times. And that beer probably is why I could make it as long as I did.
Somehow we ended the dreaded call, and my colleague offered me drinks and dinner to make up for this fiasco (it was his client, after all). I did not refuse.
I’m sure I’ve written somewhere else on this site about what a spindly lightweight I am when it comes to alcohol consumption. I think I also mentioned in Adventures in Blandyland that I couldn’t drink. I can drink now. Yes, it is a glorious thing to enjoy happy hour on a Friday afternoon, which I now do every week. Because when I drink, even one drink, I quickly think that everything is wonderful. Drinking focuses my attention on the present more than any meditation technique; I don’t worry about consequences because all there is, is NOW.
So, as my colleague J and I vented about the client over some nice vietnamese noodle dish, I got pleasantly soused, and it was during this time he convinced me to play a board game with him and some friends who were stopping by his office for this very purpose.
Here’s where things could have gotten a bit ridiculous. First of all, I hate board games. I see no point in them. If you’re in a room of people, why don’t you just talk for the love of god? Why do you have to do these twiddley pointless actions, with endless trivial rules? I didn’t say all that to J, I just said I tended not to like board games and hadn’t played one in decades.
Secondly, I’m a misanthrope, so the likelihood that I would like his friends was negligible.
Lastly, it was nine fucking o’clock on a weeknight and I am usually in bed by ten, so this meant I’d be staying up late for no damn reason.
Ah, but alcohol solves everything! I gleefully said yes.
J spent a good 20 minutes explaining the rules to the game. It was very complicated. I thought, what the fuck did I get myself into? I’ll never see my bed again. My soft, fluffy bed that I love so much.
His friends showed up, a gal and a guy. The gal was already clearly stoned. Very, very stoned. But if you’re stoned out of your gourd on a weeknight and you’re around 30 years old, that doesn’t mean you’re a drug addict like it probably does if you’re 50. We started to play the game. We joked around and teased each other. I thought, can these people not see how old I am? I am CLEARLY much older than them. Then I remember: some young people don’t give a crap about age. Their youth was much more noticeable to me than my age to them. They really didn’t care. And then I didn’t care. And then I forgot about my goddamn age. The drinking helped. I forgot about my age. For a brief moment in time, I thought I was 30 too.
At some point, the gal started smoking hash. She passed the pipe around. How I wish I liked hash, because I cannot remember I even had an opportunity to smoke it. More amazing to me was that she brought out the pipe with no self-consciousness. It was the most ordinary thing in the world to her, this notable event for me. The lack of self-consciousness permeated these people. They were not weighed down with responsibilities. Nothing was too serious — not their jobs, not their relationships. Their future was still a vast, optimistic playground. I remembered these feelings, and at that moment they didn’t seem that far in the past. These feelings were suddenly intensely familiar.
The game went on for hours, and I did start getting tired, but it would have been very poor form to leave before the end. I stayed on and by the time I got home it was midnight. Like Cinderella, the spell was broken. I was no longer young. I saw my exhausted, wrinkled face in the mirror. I worried about being tired at my job the next day.
Somehow the magic continued: I didn’t feel tired at work the next day. I felt fine.