If you haven’t figured out by my lack of posts, I haven’t had the energy to expend on even a weekly blog post. Going through some life changes now, so I’m giving myself permission to take a break from public-facing writing! (Privately I have actually been writing fiction, which is perplexing, like unexpectedly finding yourself dating your sister’s best friend but really enjoying it.) It’s summer; party on my friends! May I recommend digging through my archives to catch up on old posts whenever you miss me?
Barbed thorns wire together my shoulder blades. My comprehension is fading; I’m losing track of what people are saying. I’m losing track of more than that. If it’s not on my calendar, it doesn’t exist. (It’s 8:15pm and I just remembered what day it is.) I feel ponderous like a snail.
A friend in middle school once described her typical night to me. She’d watch television until dinner, eat, finish her homework by 10pm, and then stay up until 2am on the internet. I counted the hours backwards from a 7am wake-up time. That wasn’t enough.
“How much sleep do you get?” she asked.
“8 or 9 hours. Sometimes 10.”
“No wonder you’re so pleasant,” she said, “you get more sleep than everyone else.”
Before this conversation, I didn’t think myself particularly pleasant. My inner monologue was a near-continuous stream of how incomprehensible I found human behavior to be. That was my arrogance. My irritations, however, stayed inward, and I guess I was more easygoing than my peers. I began to notice my pleasantness more and more: the way in which I was able to take disappointments in stride and challenges with a smile.
Lately, I’ve rediscovered this apparent advantage — but in reverse. Stress pins me in place, and, as if distracted by the loud thwacks of a staple gun, I can’t hear my surroundings as well as I usually expect. I wonder at my past hubris. I made so many judgements because I compared others to myself and the reserve of strength I once occupied. Now, a lot of that strength is gone.
I think of the many times I felt irritated because acquaintances seemed to impose themselves on me. Or the times that I criticized people for not being very aware. Now, I feel like the messy one. I’m supposed to be responsible for my own emotions, but they’re all I can think about, can talk about. I do my best to present my bad news to my friends in a “take it or leave it” way, but other times I am just leaking and desperate. Wow, was I ever a badass, or am I just generally ahead of the game because of those 8 or 9 (or sometimes 10) nightly hours?
The obvious lesson seems to be a call for more compassion. I think that’s right, but I don’t think my previous emphasis self-reliance is wrong either. Maybe my self-reliance includes a few well-placed vents to close friends. They’re part of who I am, after all.
I just hope that when I’m out of the chaos valley and back on top of a joy mountain, I don’t glare down my nose at people who are clearly just fucking up because they’re in crisis, themselves.
I just hope I can give myself a little more of that prescribed compassion.
I don’t mean to so hard on you, I just usually get more sleep than this.
I guess last Saturday was bleak because I spent it devouring the rest of Nurse Jackie, sipping on a gin & juice with my mind on my money and my money on my mind. Now, I’m nowhere near broke, but what I am is emotionally spent. Socially taxed. Creatively kaput.
You know what’s cute? People think I make money off this blog. (It’s very flattering, and) I’m sort of silly for not making that a reality until now! It’s always been my ideal career to just get paid for thinking thoughts and because people like me. So, make my dreams come true? Hey, pay me.
I now have a donate link! I appreciate the support SO, SO MUCH if you are able to contribute <3 <3
Anyway, speaking of money… My current fantasy is to stop telling programmers what to do (that is my Real Job) and instead open a pet shop with my Pa. I mean, it will never be as exciting as the Free Zoo but perhaps it could be more conveniently located? Trendier? San Diego pet shops (F’Zoo excluded) sort of run the range of What If Whole Foods Ran a Pet $tore? to Holy Fuck This is Just A Closet Full of Dog Toys. Neither of these extremes really meet my needs, so I either go to Pet Kingdom or convince my roommate to go there on her way home from jewelry class to pick up a mouse for snakesnake.
Consider this my first exploratory effort. What’s lacking from your pet shop experiences? Do you actually like going to the pet stores? Who else is grossed out by PetCo? Send me a picture of your cat? Are there any animals in here?
Anyway, love you my readers. Less disjointed blog posts coming soon when I’m not being such a weird lil’ stress ball. LIFE IS HARD THO. I CAN’T EVEN TALK ABOUT IT ON MY PUBLIC BLOG THO.
Before I begin… This metaphor might be too lighthearted for a serious subject matter. It is my privilege* to be able to talk “lightly” of cultural appropriation. I intend to leverage my privilege (for justice, I hope!) in this instance; I have the emotional energy to write on this subject without deep personal distress and I can offer a blog post that is easy enough to read and a might be place to get the conversation started with newbies, etc.
Still, since I’m always thinking about partying and I also “sometimes” think about important social issues, I thought to myself: Cultural Appropriation Is Like Crashing A Party…!
Maybe this makes sense to me because of the almost holy respect I have for crashing parties the right way. It is an honor to be a stranger at someone else’s party (and an honor I certainly don’t want to fuck up by being an asshole). Some party crashers choose the “nothing to lose” mentality and swoop on all the drinks and food with no consideration for their hosts, and to them I say, you are ungrateful and terrible. Let’s pretend we don’t want to be ungrateful and terrible, and move on to being appreciative and thoughtful…
How do you know you are crashing a party? Easy, you were not invited. How do you know you’re crashing a culture? Same answer. Is it always bad to crash parties? No, there’s some situations where it’s acceptable, or even welcome. Is it always bad to borrow from other cultures? Refer to previous.
Imagine I’ve crashed a party. My senses are heightened. I observe the local party customs. Do people freely reach into the cooler, or do they ask around before opening a beer that might not be theirs? Where are cigarettes smoked? Who’s allowed to change the music? Since I’m not invited, what extra etiquette precautions must I take to demonstrate I am willing to be a respectful and easygoing guest?
Sometimes party etiquette is not about what you don’t do, but how you do participate. If I’m the only one not dancing, I might be making the dancers feel vulnerable, judged. Being a respectful party crasher means trying to defer to the way others do the party thing. You must find the appropriate spot on the spectrum between hot mess and party pooper. You can’t be the only drunken disaster, because you’re stepping all over someone else’s party (and being oppressive), but you also can’t be a total wallflower in a room full of rockstars because you’re going to come across as lazy or stifling or a cop or worse.
And you know what you do when you really don’t fit in at a party you’re crashing and you might be making others uncomfortable? You leave.
Here’s where I’m reaching, but I think cultural appropriation suffers from the same inappropriate levels of participation. People will put on a war bonnet (or a “feather headdress”) because they think it looks cool, but they won’t bother to learn about the meaning of the bonnet (low participation = disrespectful). Or, in the other direction, you might be invited to partake in a customary food, but then you go too far and put on all the makeup and try to lead the sermon (overbearing participation = oppressive).
I think borrowing from other cultures primarily begs one to ask, “Am I invited?” Or, more deeply, “In what ways am I invited (or not)?”
If you choose to ignore your lack of invitation, then how far are you willing to crash? To what consequences? Now, if the cultural item is religious, to what extent am I willing to apply my personal ideology that nothing is sacred? If I’m rebelling against an institution? What if my actions hurt someone’s feelings? What if I don’t know what the fuck I’m talking about? Is it really that important to me to wear a white keffiyeh with a black fishnet pattern, or could I choose a more neutral gray one because I really have no personal connection to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict?
So, at the end of the day, I would ask my friends and others to remember that they might be culture crashers. Being actively aware that you’re crashing a party you weren’t invited to is the first step to being a better guest.
*As a white person & as a person comprised mostly of cultures that tend to do the appropriating rather than be appropriated from, I acknowledge my privilege and my lack of personal insight. My heritage is a bit Swedish, for example, of the Viking variety. Vikings pillaged and stole (and raped) so much that they are actually known for it. That’s pretty shitty, and it’s shitty that assumption tends to raise a hand to the mouth to stifle a yawn rather than red flags or even a single eyebrow.
I do subscribe to some aspects of “gay culture,” so I guess I have felt some stings of appropriation in that regard (Macklemore = pls stop). It’s an intersectional issue, for sure.
From the Desk of Miss Sammanners.
Some of you may say that I have already written on this topic, to which I say, thank you dear readers for your precious attention. My previous post, however, may have taken an unfriendly tone in the name of levity. I might go so far as to accuse myself of hypocrisy for decrying rudeness while committing the very same. I thought I might redress the issue with more compassion and decorum (and absolutely no humor)!
The Ideal RSVP
Let me posit the idealized behavior before supporting it with historical context and arguments.
When a friend invites you to a party using not traditional letter-post, but the machine called, “Facebook,” and you are unable to go — stop, careful! Pause before the bold box imploring you to submit your regrets. Do click, “no” to inform the host of your lack of attendance (and your friend can know to labor over one less macaroon). Then, wait until after the event has passed* and send a private message to your host letting them know you much regretted missing their delightful soiree, that you are thinking of them and your friendship, and you would not have neglected their invitation for quite anything, save your prior engagement or sudden emergency.
*In cases for a much planned in advance event, for when you haven’t seen the host in a long time, or for a more intimate gathering where your presence will indubitably missed (as you are quite popular), it might be useful to offer your regrets (in private message, still!) before the event so that your friend can either attempt to convince you to change your mind, or gossip with, I mean inform, the other attendees about the reason for your absence.
Some “Historical” Context
Now, manners are really only a means of fostering the most amount of comfort for the most possible people. They work especially well when they are commonly understood and can be performed like a choreographed dance, and thus we oft memorize them. Our kindly parental units raised us to have the good manners to RSVP, since traditionally, an RSVP is a boon to the host who needs to know how large of an event to expect.
RSVP served another function: reminding a host that their friendship is valued with the supposed invitee. (Also, that the absent attendee still very much exists — don’t forget me!) Now, as shown in the idealized example above, both the qualities of headcount and social acknowledgment can be met without publicly announcing your regrets on the event page.
If this neat solution isn’t enough to persuade you, let me offer the stick rather than the carrot. Manners should not be superseded by common sense. Not to call anyone dense, but failure to heed my advice leads to many a consequence…
Example: “Sorry I can’t make it.”
Beware leaving this seemingly innocent note for the masses to read on the Facebook event page. You of course are modest about your social influence, but your host may become nervous that your absence will dissuade others from attending. Too many similar sentiments in a row, and the event can appear unpopular. Better to not draw attention to the fact that your delightful presence will be missing and only privately inform your host.
“Sorry, I have to take my cat Cynthia to the veterinarian that evening.”
This may be helpful information to include in your private message, as it implies to your friend that you are unfortunately stuck but would otherwise love to go. This amount of detail can backfire, however, when it causes your host to imagine a myriad of other arrangements that would allow for you to both heed your responsibility AND attend their event. It may leave your friend wondering why you didn’t care to expend the effort to imagine the same arrangements.
“Sorry, I’m going to this other party / event!
Forgive me, but I feel this one is quite obviously rude. Someone posting this message implies that they have more important and/or exciting things to do than spend time with the host, and they are doing this where everyone can see it. Does this not seem like a bit of a social snub?
“But this is the same weekend as a much larger event!”
What might someone posting this information hope to achieve? Do they think the host is not well informed enough on social engagements to already know this? Did they not pause to consider that the host already chose the best date possible for the event, and after weighing many factors, decided to accept the drop in attendance that competing with another event may cause? Perhaps the entire event should be rescheduled. Perhaps the host is clueless and daft. Perhaps the host forgot they must magically meet the needs of every attending guest, regardless of the usual scheduling trouble and their own chores.
Finally, perhaps a sort of conspiracy might cause this matter to stay in your mind. Facebook, dear friends, cares not about manners (except when profitable). Their only effort is to increase your interaction with their web domicile in any way, such that you spend more time on the site, such that they can ply you with advertisements. Facebook quite insistently presents you with a box to post your regrets, because eliciting such a response causes a cascade of notifications. The host is notified. People following the event page for updates may be notified. The event page is busier and busier and more enticing. The opportunities multiply to comment, like, love, wow, angry, sad, burp, fart, heave a sigh of existential dread…
Let not thine eye follow the conventional crook, and leap Facebook’s fences by refusing to keep to the box. Send a private message instead, and be free to graze greener pastures (of friendship and compassion). Yay manners!
…because I just got SCRIVENER! And now I’m obsessed with memorizing all of its features. With any luck, this will take all night, and I won’t even have to do any writing.
Hey, at least I’m not binge-watching Netflix..
This post contains actual solutions instead of fake sad ones! But, if you would prefer to remain lazy, I do have a list of excuses and coping mechanisms for you.
I’ve really only learned two things, but they ended up being important.
- Identify bad habits that are destroying your productivity
- Find a way to motivate yourself to decrease them
Everyone likes to talk about good habits. I thought that, since I lack discipline, I should focus on creating good habits and positivity and fluffy happy thoughts and I will be perfect and amazing. It turns out that is incredibly wrong. 1. I resist saccharine bullshit in all things and 2. Bad discipline = I don’t want to do any *thing* = I don’t want to do good things. “Just write 15 minutes a day!” I told myself. I blocked out time in my calendar, I downloaded habit apps, I rewarded myself with candy.
This should have worked. After all, I’ve had great success with this 7 minute workout app that I have been forcing myself to complete no less than 5 times a week (using Habit Bull to track that). It turns out that discipline is easier when I have a robot voice commanding me to do workout things while my mind is free to think about fun things like cute animals, cute women, or arguing with dudes on the internet. It also turns out that discipline is impossible when you have to sit down for 15 minutes in silence and be artistically impressive.
I was not using my bad discipline to my advantage. I love not doing anything, therefore, I can learn to like not doing bad things! All I have to do is nothing! Yes, there was something bad I was doing & it would be better for me to spend that time doing absolutely nothing at all.
When, after checking your phone or computer for messages, you waste fucking eons of time looking at all of the internet.
Backstory; I am not friends with caffeine. At low doses, I am really uncomfortable; at high doses I cry, slur my words, and pass out on floors. Caffeine does not help my hangovers, by the way. Caffeine turns my hangovers into: “oh my god all of my blood is poison and I can feel all 1.2 gallons of it pulsing through me and why won’t my hands stop shaking??” Anyone who has a coffee with their hangover* is a masochist; hangovers are for sleeping.
Living life without wake-up drugs is difficult, and that’s why I schedule 9 hours of sleep on work nights and I *used to* use my phone to replace coffee. “Watermelon-watermelon-watermelon..” my alarm song** rings, I stare into a bright screen for
15 minutes 30 minutes 1 hour, feel bright and shiny capable of getting up, and do my stuff.
I’ve been using the phone-in-my-face method for about 3 years now. It turns out I have been wrong about life for 3 years. It is better for me to lay in bed and do nothing, rather than introduce my brain to the addictive reward cycle of sweet, empty internet calories first thing in the morning. Invariably, I will continue to snack on internets for the rest of the day and ACHIEVE NOTHING and hate myself and have to use Netflix to cope.
To aide me on my quest to defeat the internet binge, I made an account with Habitica. Gamification totally works for me, as does the level of customization available in this free app/browser tool. I got to watch my little character level up, get cool outfits, and hatch a baby golden fox just cuz I did my chores. For the internet binge, I started by setting a bad habit (I lose points if I do it) for any binges before 6pm. Later on, I increased the damage that habit does to my character, and added a bad habit for internet binges at any time. One exception: internet binges while pooping are totally allowed.
Habitica is also helping me replace the need to poke at my phone. It is a real, physical need! I have to be able to touch my phone periodically through the day, feel its smooth, fancy glass, its weight in my hands… I mean, there’s Neko Atsume, or there’s an extended-reality app that gives me gold coins for vacuuming. Ok, I can do this; I can be a good sami. Just need to complete more tasks to find a few more food items to raise my dragon big enough to ride him…
Wow. Look at how long this blog post is. Method totally works.
*kind of a lie. So, from what I’ve read on the science, if you are addicted to caffeine, a small amount will help you with your hangover by reducing caffeine withdrawal (a symptom worsened by overall hangover suckage). Too much caffeine, however, is bad for any hangover.
**this is a truly fantastic way to wake up and is how I’ve been doing it since Burning Man.