Monthly Archives: January 2012
You know what it is. Sometimes it’s hereditary, sometimes it’s picked up from the environment we’re in. It can be in the air, easily passed along from one person to another. A lot of the time we’re scratching our head wondering where the hell it came from. And it’s not gender specific. Both male and female can be afflicted.
Though there are a few people in the human population who are immune to this, like, say Mother Teresa, most of us are able to steer clear of it, but even the toughest ones can fall prey.
Like me, for example. I contracted a bout of this many years ago after being around someone with a similar affliction. It was short-lived, fortunately, but from that day on, I’ve been diligent about keeping myself free and clear.
What is this Nasty? Pure, undiluted Meanness.
The day it hit me, I had a slap-in-the-face reality check. After some particularly choice words from my ex over the subject of laundry, of all things, I came back at him with a line so vile, so below the belt, both of our jaws dropped. Neither of us could believe that I, one of the nicest people I know (okay, I’m in the top 100 of those I know), could have actually said what I did. It was so out of character, so…so…not me. All I could do was close my mouth and slink away. I couldn’t even say I was sorry. Because I had meant it at the time. That was the part that shocked me – that I was even capable of saying something so hurtful. Since that day I have kept my mind and mouth in check, because the look on my ex’s face will burn forever in my brain.
But what about others who do this on a constant basis? Earlier this week some friends, including “T” from Give Me A Valium With My Latte, and I were talking and the conversation turned to women who were nasty, bitchy, and just plain mean. We’re not talking about comments in the privacy of our own homes or amongst friends, but out-in-public mean – words intending to hurt, words that travel with such high velocity, they embed in others, compelling the receiver to “pay it forward,” or at least shoot it right back at the originator with intent to maim. It has a ripple effect and unless we’re skilled at dodging that bullet (which few of us are), many of us tend to get defensive, ball up our fists, and get ready to throw the insults right back.
That is an example of a short-lived case, sort of like the flu or a cold. As soon as the offending person leaves our orbit, we’re back to our sweet selves.
I see that situation on a daily basis with my boys. Separated, they are angels. Together, I’m packing my bags, ready for a Tijuana run just to avoid their energy. My oldest asked me once, “Mom, why is he so mean?” I wanted to shake him into next week and ask, “What do you expect when you treat him the same way?” But I didn’t. We’d had that same conversation at least one hundred times. There was no need to repeat it. My words obviously weren’t going to be sinking in anytime soon.
Some people, unfortunately, are raised in that nasty kind of environment, so when they step out their front door, they are ready to face the world with a frown and a bad attitude. They are the ones who suffer with chronic meanness. They are the ones who have no intention of entering rehab. They are the ones my friends and I were having a “discussion” about this week.
It’s sad, really. Friends and family are alienated from our lives because of the words they choose to utter. (My big brother and I, for example.) Cultures are separated because of the inability to reach for a positive or grateful thought.
I’ve never understood the concept of being mean to one another, to purposely set out to dig under another’s skin until they bleed. Perhaps it feeds the need to feel superior. I don’t know. Like I said. I don’t get it. “T” and I, along with many of my friends, prefer to live in a “no drama zone,” and I think that’s where I’m going to set up house. Not only is it easier on the body, but just think how much money we’ll save in Botox injections. Sheesh.
The life I give my boys is an outside-of-the-box kind of normal. Our house is lovingly referred to as “The Pit Stop” as we are rarely there and when we are, it’s to sleep and grab a shower and perhaps a few Z’s before we head out the door again. My erratic work and writing hours revolve around the boys’ equally erratic hours, shaped by their activities and sports. And the time that we actually spend at home, we spend together, yet apart. We have vastly different interests and temperments – I’m a hummingbird on speed, my oldest a little faster than a snail, and my youngest, somewhere in between.
I love reading, writing, exercising, yardwork…my boys don’t.
They adore Skyrim and Zelda…I don’t.
My oldest enjoys making decadent desserts. My youngest enjoys eating decadent desserts…I don’t, on either count.
My oldest and I love watching movies…my youngest doesn’t.
My youngest and I love hiking…my oldest doesn’t.
That being said, I’ve tried to reverse things a bit and make it “normal,” but failed miserably every time, ignoring the fact that when I’d tried to do what other mothers and fathers did with their family lives, it felt wrong for me, felt wrong for us.
I’ve pushed the boys on eating habits, on school, teen-tude behavior, and all I got was a big shove back. Not fun for either party involved.
Although rules and regulations are set in place, I gave up on trying to “be normal.” And it was freeing, because I didn’t have to pretend anymore. But skipping not too far behind that freedom was its annoying friend – guilt. I thought I had it all figured out when I wrote the Girl Power post, but I still found myself looking at all of my friends, wondering if I was off base. Shouldn’t I be playing board games or something?
I realized that trying to do what is “right”, for me anyway, is a lot like being a kite. Flying freely, yet anchored by the shoulds of the string, I’d feel “normal” and “accepted.”
But when the kite string is released, the more visible my free falling or “different” behavior is. While it’s kind of cool to do the rebel yell thing, there is a moment of ahh…damn…should I really be doing this?
I’ve come to the conclusion certain things aren’t going to happen – it just doesn’t work for us, no matter how hard I try. So one day after sweeping up the pieces of my latest attempts, I sat the boys down and said, “Listen. There is no ‘normal’ here. Our routine is just what happens as the day unfolds. We may not bond over playing catch, but we can bond while we do the Warrior Dash. I may not bake at Christmas time, but I’ll share a box of Oreo cookies with you. I’ll even be there for you if you want a tattoo. You know how completely unorthodox I am…”
My oldest had stopped me and said, “We know, Mom. We like you that way.”
*Happy dance* They know I love them, and that is the glue that keeps us together. But then again, it could have been the Double Stuff Oreo cookies…
Before you read on, remember I came from a place where I was ripe for rebellion and I did things just because I could. My overall nature was nice with some bad-ass honey badger attitude mixed in. For me, rules were merely guidelines and I walked that line of appropriate and inappropriate somewhat sloppily. I still do. I am a hopelessly unorthodox kind of a person. I may not always play by the rules, but I am nice about it. So, that being said….
1. In high school I was a forgery expert. As you all guessed, a definite yes. I was especially proud of the accuracy of my mother’s signature. In fact, I found it extremely helpful for excusing myself from classes. I think when the school finally caught on, my mother came after me with like 20 or 25 notes. Yeah, I paid for those dearly.
2. In the 1980s I made Tijuana runs and snuck bottles of Everclear grain alcohol back across the border. Some of you couldn’t see me doing this, but the answer is yes. I was usually the driver. And, August, for the record, I am lucky to be alive. We almost got ourselves arrested once, but fortunately we were able to take care of the “fine” with el policía there on the street. How nice of him, no? The road trips to TJ pretty much stopped after that.
3. I helped organize a relief effort for Hurricane Katrina survivors in 2005. All of you, except for one (Toria…I’m shocked! Just kidding, cousin) were correct. Yes, I did actually start a fundraising campaign, but my sons saw it through, adding their own twist on the effort. I bought the cookies and candy for them to sell, but they added to it by doing odd jobs and collecting cans. In total, they raised $1000 to send to the Red Cross. The local news station did a story on the boys (I even had the chance to say a few words) and my sons ended up with new mountain bikes donated by a local bike shop.
4. I snuck backstage at a UFO concert back in the 1980s. Yes. The problem was by the time my friend and I maneuvered past security, the backstage party was over and the entourage had moved on. Epic failure.
5. In college I cut my hair within inches of my scalp as a dare from my sorority sisters. No, no, no. But I was part of a sorority – the bitchiest sorority on campus – but I really didn’t like it, being the non-conformist that I am. I just did it because I wanted to see what it was like. I will tell you about the craziest haircut I did have – and there are no pictures to confirm this, so if you tell anyone outside this circle, I’ll deny it – I did have a cut that resembled a *cough* mullet *cough* hairstyle – and I dyed it purple. Okay. There. I said it. But know that it didn’t last that long and I wore a hat until it grew out.
6. I slept in the gutter outside of my college dorm after a particularly wild night. No. But I came really, really close to it. I was within puking distance of my dorm, but I was in such bad shape – you know the world spinning really, really fast kind of bad – that the gutter was incredibly tempting. The frat boy who I was with that night was an ass and wouldn’t take me home. He had left me to find my way back. I managed to get inside, but not in my bed. I ended up on the couch in the common area. I’ve never touched gin again since that night.
7. While working in the Security Department in college, I was a model employee. No. But I did a good job, actually, and worked with a great group of people. Now, I didn’t set out to be so deviant. I saw opportunity and took it. I worked in the dispatch office…as in documenting the security officers’ activities, as in knowing where they were at all times, as in being able to direct them to different locations on campus, as in having keys to locked doors…
8. I stole a moped. No…and yes. Guilty by association. My boyfriend at the time thought that I needed some wheels of my own so he “found” one, re-painted it, and gave it to me, swearing the guy who used to own it moved to Japan and didn’t want it. I believed him (sort of) and made good use of it. Until, that is, the real owner came back and recognized the moped that I had parked outside the security office. When the police came by to question me, my roommate swooped in, made a huge fuss over me, claiming me to be insane or something, got my boyfriend to deal with the police, and took me home. To this day, I wonder how we got cleared of that one.
9. I used to make cookies and distribute them to residents in retirement homes. Ha! I threw some of you with this one. Despite my ongoing culinary deficiencies, I did actually do this for a time. And for the record, Yatin, I said I made them. I didn’t say they tasted good, though I hope for the senior citizens’ sake, they did. Why did I do this? Well, those people were starved for contact with the outside world, and I tried to just reach out, if only to a few. I didn’t do it for too long, though. I was pregnant with my second son and the visits sometimes took too much energy – emotionally and physically.
10. My college roommates and I had were very thrifty and furnished our apartment with stolen furniture. Okay, Richard, you can stop swinging those handcuffs now. I’ll go quietly. Yes. My roommates and I did swipe a few choice items. Mostly from the men’s dorms, but also around town – plants, cool cocktail glasses, silverware, small tables. This is where #7 came in very handy. By sending security to one end of the campus, my roomies where at the other end. I also had access to the kitchen, which was great because we often had no money to pay for food. I mean what do you expect when we spent every last cent we had on our alcohol and coffee? A few years later, though, in our defense, we returned a lot of the furniture back to the men’s dorms. (Jimmy, the statute of limitations on this one is three years, so I’m good.)
Fond memories, some of them, and there are many more that shall remain in the past. I’m much more reserved these days, hopelessly responsible and considerate, though that Wild Child is still a huge part of me…
Thanks for playing along everyone! So, who is next????
My mind is still abuzz with the editing and book cover design for my soon-to-be-released YA paranormal (the book cover, by the way, is being created by Crystalyn Abercrombie, natural-born artist and expert inker, who should be known the world over - OMG, OMG, OMG – it is fabulous!!!), so for today’s post, I decided to clean out the mental closet – a nice break from the routine.
Following in the footsteps of my fellow bloggers, August McLaughlin, Amber West, Tim O’Brien, Natalie Hartford, and Tameri Etherton, each who have done posts similar to this, I thought it would be fun to do a little Q & A session with you all, at Tameri’s urging, to see if you knew how much of a Goody-Goody I was/am (or not).
Here’s how this works: I’ll list some things that I may or may not have done. Your challenge is to let me know in the comments section which items you think are true or false. In a couple of days, I’ll give you the answers.
This should be interesting. I wonder what impression you have of me, given the previous soul-revealing posts I’ve written.
So, let’s get started:
1. In high school, I was a forgery expert.
2. In the 1980s I made Tijuana runs and snuck bottles of Everclear grain alcohol back across the border.
3. I helped organize a relief effort for Hurricane Katrina survivors in 2005.
4. I snuck backstage at a UFO concert back in the 1980s.
5. In college I cut my hair within inches of my scalp as a dare from my sorority sisters.
6. I slept in the gutter outside of my college dorm after a particularly wild night.
7. While working in the Security Department in college, I was a model employee.
8. I stole a moped.
9. I used to make cookies and distribute them to residents in retirement homes.
10. My college roommates and I had were very thrifty and furnished our apartment with stolen furniture.
There you have it. How well do you think you know me? Educated guesses and stabs in the dark are totally allowed.
I promise to hold myself up to the light of truth, to acknowledge my worthiness, and to know that I am not somehow flawed, but a work in progress.
I promise to go easy on myself on days when my reserves are low and to make it okay to say no.
I promise to praise myself as much as I praise others.
I promise to be grateful for all that I have accomplished and know what I have not yet accomplished is on its way.
I promise to see the woman in the mirror and always find something to be grateful for.
I promise to love without restraint if only for the sole reason that I am capable of doing so.
I promise to trust my inner voice, for I truly do know the best decision to make – the one that works for me.
I promise to use my experiences to my advantage, to learn from them, not berate or minimize them.
I promise not to take myself too seriously, to laugh a bit more, to take a few more risks, and to do things because I want to, not because I should.
I promise not to settle for less than I deserve.
I promise to believe that I can and will accomplish what I intend.
I promise to fix my nail polish if it gets chipped. It might seem trivial, but it’s also the little things that make the big difference in how I feel about myself.