Taking a break

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?

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Can't write, birb is in the way

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I’m not that great, I just get more sleep than you…

(…usually.)

Snapchat-7197282584254630953Barbed 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.

RSVP Etiquette in the Age of Facebook

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)!

this is your party host

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.

blab on the entire event page for all to see that you have something more important to do NO

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.

send private message letting host know you still love them even though you couldn't go YESRSVP 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.

Unintended Insults

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.

this is your friend trying to host a party SAD

“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.

i knew that I don't live under a rock

A Conspiracy…?

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!

 

 

CAT SHOW!!!! (It happened in SD)

Last Saturday I went to the annual San Diego Cat Fanciers show in Del Mar. And. There were cats. Cats. CATS CATS CATS.

san-diego-cat-show-dumpster.jpg

 

Okay, so.

Imagine there is a Comic-Con. But instead of comics and re-sellers of cheap products from China, there are CATS! (And re-sellers of cheap products from China!) Just… rows and rows of cats. They live (temporarily!) in little cat tents with clear vinyl windows or sometimes cages. There are two judge’s tables where old men grope cats and determine what color ribbons to give them. And the cats (being cats) then play with the ribbons through the bars of their cages.

I really can’t describe how stimulating and exciting and overwhelming a room full of cats can be. Imagine you think something is going to be pretty good. There will be more than a dozen of your friends there and then your perfect, amazing, lovely roommate will bring all the supplies to make everyone a picnic lunch of PB&J. So you get there and then WHAM just…cats in your face. And everyone has to split off because there are so many cats. And when you eat your sandwich and your pudding and your chips and your string cheese, you want to cry a little because your friend is passing you an “old-timey glitter cat sticker.” You are 26 and this is how you spend your Saturday.

Question: What is Feline Agility?

Its [sic] like dog agility only done in cat’s unique style

sandiegocat.org

On the official website (which was designed and written by a cat) you don’t really get the full impression of what happens in the agility ring. By “cat’s unique style” they mean a human person tricks the cat into maybe going on top of some little steps or through a hoop by waving a feather toy enticingly. I have compiled a helpful gif:

cat-show-del-mar-san-diego-agility-ring.gif

This is one of the more exciting cat agility moments I witnessed (and sped up, too). Mostly, an agility cat wanders around sniffing the obstacles and the trainer yells their name a lot. This one was “Godzilla.”

Also, I thought I would be really clever and show up in my space cat dress (that I stole from my ex-girlfriend because it is mine, duh). That is, a cat riding a pony, in space, on a dress (with gold sleeves).

Screen Shot 2016-01-26 at 6.08.31 PM

I am used to standing out in a crowd (because I’m weird, not because I’m hot, but thank you for assuming I am that conceited (I probably am)). It turns out, however, that the kind of people who like cat fanciers shows also like space cats and I saw a lot of leggings with both cats and space (and neon colors wooo good idea!). And also there were a lot of Taylor Swift cat ear headbands for sale and also I saw a bald old man wearing them and so basically…

CAT SHOW IS = AWESOME YES (YOU KNOW IT)

Screen Shot 2016-01-26 at 6.15.35 PM

MEOW MEOW MEOW MEOW MEOW

(Ask Sami) Blanking on Bowie Blues

Am I the only one who has no interest in David Bowie’s passing away?

Normal Heights

Short answer: I don’t know.

In the rows and piles of my father’s records, sometime in high school, I found Bowie. Maybe because of the many space references (and I was an alien princess), I instantly and always loved his music. I loved him among other rockstars, some dead. some living. I had no context, knew the music only by the words on the cover and its image. To this day, I prefer to listen to albums (and hand-picked playlists: the modern mixtape) over “discover new” or “radio” algorithms.

I did not share my peers’ fluency in the lives of their music favorites — the factoids of band member names, origins, relationships, birthdays. I have no mind for trivia, and cared to memorize only the lyrics by playing albums on repeat. I imagined I could discover traces of the artists in the order they arranged their songs, and listened for an arc of plot, a climax, a theme. To this day, I barely grasp the names of all the members of my favorite band — such a feat is not in my programming. It’s not how I enjoy music.

So, within this context (and being an alien with a poor grasp on reality), I assumed David Bowie was already dead. I mean, Kurt Cobain was dead and his band was my first rock favorite (circa 7th-9th grade). I think I discovered Bowie was still alive not sooner than three years ago. He has already been a Lazarus. Losing him again feels not piercing, but familiar.

There’s also my disinterest in celebrity culture. I enjoy the artwork, the content, the entertainment created by these cultural paragons — but they are not my friends. I’ve never spoken to them. I don’t want to simulate familiarity by learning about their breakups, their pet interests, their lineage. I’m interested in their stories insofar as they relate to their art, and no more.

So, while I understand a desire to be part of a greater narrative — to follow closely specific exalted beings and share emotional paths with strangers, acquaintances, the whole fucking world — my participation is hesitant. I can (and do) cry over tragedies, but he died of a terminal illness surrounded by loved ones at age 69. I don’t begrudge those that held him closer to their hearts a right to their own grief, but sometimes I feel like I don’t get it. I think that’s okay.

I see Bowie’s passing as a time for his significance to resurface in the common conversation. (I love this.) I re-listened to all of Station to Station and Ziggy Stardust and the tracks Space Oddity, Heroes, and Rebel Rebel (which my friend John sang to me on my birthday last month on a karaoke night at Redwing). I’ve enjoyed this occasion to revisit Bowie. I can celebrate, reflect, but I haven’t shed a tear. And I think that’s okay.

You appear to be even further removed than I am.

That’s probably okay.


 

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