Social Media trolling or screaming obscenities from the safety of a fortress…


So, as many of the ramblings posted here have done before, this one takes inspiration from my experiences as well as conversations that crop up between friends. This particular one stems from a couple of different conversations, but the most recent went something like this:

Friend:  Yeah, I think people screwing with my plans is about the second or third most rage-inducing thing in life.
Me:  I sorta had gave up the rage factor on people messing with my plans about the time Saddam Hussein decided to vacation in Kuwait.
Friend:  Never give up your rage, without it, what ever would we do in traffic?
Me:  Same @#$% people do on social media, rage impotence from behind the shield of anonymity provided by computers and tinted windows?
Friend:  No, that’s for amateurs. The pros roll down their windows and make sure the intended target’s attention is well and truly garnered first.
Me:  Funny how so many get super brave and enormous social media balls fueling insults and threats and other bad manners. Yet, in person… they talk behind backs and generally smile and nod when confronted.
Friend:  It’s been a while since anyone threatened me on the social medias <sigh>.

From there we considered our mutual bent towards an unusual nature that is willing to embrace erudite vocabulary, intermittent swearing, and colorful metaphors without the benefit of shielding or anonymity. The friend’s observation is that most individuals are generally afraid of one or two things are likely outcomes in those situations: 1) actual conflict and 2) how it will make them look. For me, I tend to pick my battles. What I’ve discovered is that most of the battles in the virtual world aren’t worth my energy to have a truly emotional reaction. On the other hand, the traffic shyte… I still let rip with the best. It’s cathartic, and as long as my phone is on mute, I’ll remain employed and on good terms with my mother.

So, contrary to the behaviors of others, I’m least likely to stir the pot in the social media arena. I tend to avoid the hyperbolic and generally take a wide berth from flame wars and general trollery. Very unlike my behavior in person where my filters seem to be perennially blocked, and I’m likely to just let fly with whatever snark is lurking between my ears. The outcome is frequently unfortunate given any situation where observation will lead to less than complimentary commentary. The results are that my internal dialog choses to make itself externally present… fatigue often weighs into the balance towards a more likely chance of this occurrence. I haven’t decided if it is my general disapprobation of the cowardice inherent in that anonymity and safety of the keyboard diatribe and polite silence or if it is just a basic lack of self-preservation on my part. Given my father’s commentary on my usual modus operandi as “snatching defeat from the jaws of victory,” I’m going with the latter. Whatever the underlying cause, I would be the child at the side of the road pointing and saying “But he’s naked!” Honesty is not always the best policy. I’m learning, and it helps that frequently the overriding indolence will prevent my announcements as much as any prudence. It just simply isn’t worth my time or energy for the most part.

What IS it about humanity that they grow very large gonads when they feel they have the protection of invisibility or invulnerability? And why is it when these same types are confronted with their own flavor of incivility that they tend to run crying to whatever level of protector they can find pleading bullying and crying “FOUL”. Seriously, I’m astounded at the amount of nasty, hurtful, and semi-libelous (it is technically in print) bullpucky people fling at each other on the book of faces or twits. I cannot imagine most of said asshats having the actual (rather than virtual) cahones to say the same to someone’s face.

In the same way, I’ve actually observed people in traffic and on interstates having verbal and nonverbal seizures in response to our fellow travelers on the road. It’s times like these that make me rather wish for installed loudspeaker systems so that the targets of their ire can truly appreciate the creativity (or lack thereof). I would also like to install little electronic scoreboards so that we might give appropriate feedback. “Excellent use of extemporaneous verbiage. I give it a 8.7. Had to deduct points for lack of feasibility.”

What is completely dissimilar about the two different venues of diatribe is that most of our fellow journeymen (and women) on the road are unlikely to be aware or suffer any of the slings and arrows we spew forth in their general direction. Except in the most spiritual of ways, that verbal badinage of ill will hovers in a cloud around our own head and, for the parents in my readership, is occasionally reflected back from the mouths of babes who have overheard. The targets drive blissfully on in ignorance and probably dangerous levels of driving incompetence. On the other hand, the witting or unwitting target of hateful vocabulary flung upon the interwebs of social media and commentary are readily visible. Whether they know from whence the attack arises or not, that person is generally able to read, peruse, and commit to memory every ugly subject and predicate. Additionally, the verbal abuse flung from a car window is momentary, passing, and passes by as the car and the moment. That stuff on the webpage or text screen can be preserved for evah!

Now, for those of us healthy enough to realize that people flinging nasty at each other behind the mask of technology really should not make lasting impact on our self-esteem or psyches, it is possible to ignore…unfollow… block… and move on. But the old thing about sticks and stones isn’t entirely true. Our bodies tend to heal a good deal more quickly than our egos when words scar and threats scare. Lives have been ruined over what seems to be silly online commentary. Freedom of speech (or typing) is not freedom from consequences.

Personally, I do not think that censorship is the answer. I think common sense (which is not so very common) is a better solution. If you wouldn’t say it where someone could actually face or possibly reach you, then don’t say it. If you don’t want it recorded for posterity and possibly flung back in your face like a monkey defending territory, don’t put it on the internet. Seems pretty simple to me; which means that it will be ignored the whole way ‘round, my best guess. So, back to the end of that conversation at the beginning… it pretty much dissolved into the much more important topic of a team name. What do y’all think? Should we be the Slaughter Monkeys or Rioting Llamas? Decisions… decisions…

A little Springtime Nostalgia…


It happens… if you don’t like the reminiscences and voyage into the sappy, softened memory-thing, scroll on by. I’m sure you will find something more to your taste. However, I’m going to spend just a moment traveling in my own past.

This morning (it is Easter), I visited a house of Christian worship. This is something that doesn’t happen over frequently with me as an adult. However, it was a rather common occurrence of my youth. It always manages to trigger memory overloads as I see familiar faces, and, whether I want to be or not, am recognized by those same faces. As the years have gone by, there are fewer of the faces I find familiar… and fewer still who recognize me. It’s bitter sweet for me because I love fading into the back and observing without inciting riots or high pitched noises. However, it is a very lonely feeling when you realize that many of those who would recognize you are gone, and those who are still there do not recognize you due to the changes (and age) that makes you… well, unrecognizable.

It is no wonder that my mind drifts on these occasions to points in my life where (and when), like the familiar watering hole in Boston, everybody knew my name… often the full one… and proclaimed it regularly at full volume because of something or other I had done. I remember Easter Sundays of years past when after all the prerequisite ecumenical festivities, my family would gather at my great-grandmother’s home to show off our new Easter finery (which was ditched in favor of jeans and t-shirts as soon as proper oohs and ahs were performed). Afterwards, there was copious amounts of food, fun, more food, egg hunting, additional helpings of food, laughing and practical jokes…passing out from food… you get the picture.

When I talk about these family gatherings, I am not speaking of a mere constellation or a few close relatives, I’m talking about nearly hundred individuals including the children, grandchildren, and great grand children of the woman for whom I was named. Many, many dozen eggs would be boiled and dyed to accommodate the traditional family egg hunts. There were rules… to which no one really paid attention. People played dirty. The only unbreakable regulations were for the “littles.” There were always eggs “hidden” in such a way that they were clearly visible and reachable by those under the age of 10 and the height of 3 feet. Adults, teens, and adolescents who were older and taller were forbidden these finds.

Everything else… fair game. There were years that acquiring some of the deviously hidden ova meant risking life and limb. Definitely extra points for courage and sometimes a strong stomach were given. Participants ranged in age from toddler to nonagenarian. The hiding was done in teams (there were several dozen eggs, remember). The teams generally consisted of the trickier members of the clan, and their favorite trick was to hide in plain site. Sometimes, however, they were so good at this, even the hiders could not find them afterwards… leading to some interesting occurrences in the warmer months of the year.

One of my favorite memories of my great grandmother’s home was the violet carpet. There was a patch of ground that was literally so covered with the small purple flowers that you could not step without stepping on several. In my young, imaginative mind, that one area became a magical place where the fae held sway and the courts of elven royalty hosted feasts and balls.


As an adult, I know that many people work hard to eradicate the broad-leaved interlopers that mar their golfing green-like yards. I know it’s a weed. I really do, but when I found a similarly enchanted patch of ground behind my own house, I could not bring myself to rid the yard of the hundreds of tiny purple and white faces that sprang up each year. At least each time I see them, I can revisit, however briefly a time when I wasn’t rushing around, overwhelmed with obligation, or irritable from trying to be realistic and responsible all the time. For just a moment, I can look at the violet carpet and believe in magic.


Random hair incidents…

I woke up this morning and looked like a crested crane. That is truly the only way to describe it. It didn’t have the fauxhawk majesty of a cockatoo, and yet it appeared to fan out around my head like I had inadvertently attempted to plug flatware into the nearest available power outlet. Whoever came up with the trend of “bedhead” has obviously never encountered my own follicles or their delight in creating what I might call… um… a “fright wig” out of the stuff on the top of my head.

Oh, I hear what you all are saying. What does it matter first thing in the morning? It’s not like your coffee is going to judge you (you just don’t know, do you). However, when one is facing the chock-a-block calendar o’ fun and the early morning gym is the only option you have, having Phyllis Diller’s Homely Friendmaker hairdo is not helpful. See… I heard you again. What does it matter? You are going to the gym. Well, that is entirely accurate, and I’m not one of those perfectly-groomed-going-to-work-out sorts with their fashionably matched Lycra, makeup, and hair-ties. However, I don’t want to traumatize any of the other patrons or staff. I’m telling you, the hair is terrifying. My mirror screamed.

S’ok, you would think this is easily remedied. Stick your head under a faucet and wet the stuff down. Oh… no… for whatever reason, my hair defies all attempts to tame. Water, gel, mousse, pomades… my hair just laughs. I’ve seen industrial adhesive types of hairspray whimper and cower away from my hair. The only thing that will occasionally remedy the situation is a rather long shower and shampoo. This is not always the option first thing in the morning, nor is it something I want to do before the gym just so I can do it all over again after the sweating.

Regardless, I cannot imagine why anyone would actually choose to style their hair in this fashion. Yet, I see it all the time; products to make your hair look like you have “bedhead.” So, apparently there are actually people out there in the world that deliberately work to make their hair look like how it allegedly appears when they get out of bed. Baffling.

While we are on the hair subject, I’m going to probably push it a bit to far and discuss other hair. I will try not to get too graphic, but what is it about hair on the human body that wants to grow where it shouldn’t and not grow where it should. I listen to friends of both genders complain about thinning hair and degrees of receding hairlines that eventually decided to just retreat in a full-out rout looking more like a reverse Mohawk than any other description. While I have not had the experience of losing all my hair, I have had some of the thinning occur due to various issues… including age. I’ve never quite felt it was fair that as we get older, most of us thicken in body and thin in hair.

And yet… we still grow hair. For those of you out there who have reached that age of wandering hair, you know what I’m talking about. Ears, nostrils, eyebrows… They all start sprouting like someone hit them with Miracle Grow. Not that people should be ashamed of what seems to be a natural occurrence, but serious nostril spiders should definitely be tamed back a bit.

In my own case, it is the eyebrows. I can’t fathom why they decide to wander. I’ll have them all groomed and in place with the appropriate curve and balance and, for me, just a hint of snarky arch. Then… BOOM! There it is… that little hair that seems to have gotten lost entirely from the group and is now trying its best to be an eyelash. Seriously?!? Where are you going little one? Get the hell back up there where you belong! No? Fine. I’m sorry for your shortened life. 

Now, I’ve told you that I was not going to delve into the overly graphic. I won’t, but just a brief word about the -scaping thing. Whether it is man or woman, keep it neat. It is my personal opinion that hair down there is appropriate and more importantly a secondary sexual characteristic of an adult. In other words, I think it is a little creepy to shave it bare. To each their own, but I just don’t think we should groom to look like pre-pubescents.

That being said, though, take a moment to groom. If the jungle is taking over and presenting to the world outside your bathing costume, it’s time for a trim. As for our guys out there… (again, sorry for dipping into the graphic) if your partner needs a machete and a native guide to find the twig and berries, it might be time to prune the shrubbery.

Ok, whew! I’m glad we’ve dealt with that. Back to safer subjects. Let’s talk extremities and the pits. Yeah. So, I know it is very un-liberated of me, but I’m not an au naturel gal myself. Again, to each their own, but I just really do not think that the arm pits are places to grow luxuriant locks. It’s a hygiene thing for me. Again, call me old fashioned or societally submissive, but an attractive woman in a fashionable sleeveless ensemble raising an arm to reveal BUSH!!!!! is not attractive. If you feel that is discriminating, fine… it’s distracting as hell! It disturbs the line of the attire. There. Also, the gorilla look is a little bit overwhelming as well. Now, to firmly put me in double standard mode, I don’t like the whole bare body thing on dudes. The guys who wax everything and are baby smooth all over… not a turn-on. I think it goes back to a couple of paragraphs ago for me. I like guys who have passed puberty. So, I’m ok with those secondary sex characteristics, like chest hair, hairy legs and arms, and the facial fuzz… within certain limits. For instance, I don’t want to sleep with Chewbacca. I don’t need a pelted guy, and back hair is just a little bit off-putting. It’s cool, though. They make procedures for that, and I think it’s only fair that occasionally guys have to experience a little of the discomfort we girls have been putting up with for years in the name of beauty.

And speaking of the facial displays, beards have come into fashion. I’m not sure what precisely influenced this, except the entertainment industry managing to put male leads in various versions of manly facial fuzz. As a young woman, I really never liked the facial hair on men. I liked clean-shaven, smooth faces. However, as I’ve gotten older, my tastes have changed. Now, I see a clean-shaven face, and all I can think is “Is he 12?!?” Nothing wrong with the clean face, but I have become more accustomed to men with mustache and beard. That said, Grizzly Adams or any of the Duck Dynasty crowd need not apply either. There is such a thing as too much beard.

Well… that about covers all I felt the need to say about the follicle struggles and wayward coifs. May your hairs be ever in place and may no random incidents ruffle your day.


On that long and lonesome highway… Tales of the roadwarrior


I’m a traveler… well, I used to be. I loved to go places and do things. I liked to see different worlds and cultures. I liked to experience the new and different. As a good portion of my formative years were spent traveling not necessarily by my own choice, I suppose it was a fortuitous circumstance that my personality and temperament were entirely amicable to the idea of nomadic existence.

That all came to a rather screeching halt when, after entering adulthood, I started trying to make a career and do the responsible thing of paying bills and putting down roots. Little was I to know how the roots actually worked to prevent the traveling that had been so much a part of my life previously. To all things there is a season, I suppose, and in my case, all the adventure was spent by the age of 25. Honestly, I accepted the change in my life. I had “settled” down. Now, my traveling consisted primarily of trips to some ocean side locale within driving distance. Occasionally I would travel to other states for training or work, but for the most part, I was spending all my time traveling to and from work, gym, grocery store… you get the idea.

Something in me was jealous as I observed the travels of friends of my youth. They were still out there having adventures. Some of them were paid for that privilege. They would be jetting off to various locations every other day, it seemed. As they were regaling us of travels and airplane flights and the challenges of finding the necessities of living in remote locations, I was becoming more and more anchored to one place. I had even become a telecommuter. In other words, not only was I failing to travel to distant lands, I wasn’t traveling outside my house.

But… that all changed. Nothing so romantic and extraordinary as jet setting around the globe on international missions, but my work suddenly required me to travel… mostly driving… and filing expense reports… and… why oh why had I looked with envy upon my work-traveled friends?!?

So, as it happens, I am required every quarter to evaluate the performance of my staff… in person. Yep. That means that I have to go to where they are and ride around with them watching them interact with the people in our charge. I’m actually lucky enough to have a good group of people working for me… that are spread all over the state. This makes for some drive time on my part, not including the time riding along with them. It even requires overnight or week long stays away from home. Nothing terribly exotic, but it gets me away from the house, desk chair, and cabin fever.

And thus… I have developed some insights for life on the road, as it were. They are by no means earth-shattering, but they present a collection of advice born of personal observation and experience for traveling whether for business or pleasure.

Car Travel

Rest stops. My first and most vehement advice is from days of yore with ringing tones of adults before car trips in my childhood: “Go potty before we go.” Seriously, go before you go. You never know how convenient, or inconvenient, rest stops can be until you hit that stretch of Nomansland in the hinters that has nothing for miles. While it might be possible in emergencies to drop trow on the said of the road and let nature take its course, it is highly inadvisable to do so where there is little to no cover. Additionally, ladies, it is none to comfortable a situation to bare one’s backside on the highway (though with this in mind, consider having box of tissues or napkins in the vehicle for just such and occasion). There are devices and items created for just such emergent issues. Again, while our male companions may have no particular issue with using them, they may not be so pleasant for those of us with internal plumbing. So, with comfort and dignity in mind, take note of rest stops and other locations that provide the opportunity of biological relief. Also, when you see the signs that say “Rest Area exit 1 mile … Next in 97 miles” go now!

Join a roadside assistance program. Seriously. This can save time and money. If you have a current credit card that offers this as a perk, that works, too. These programs can be life-savers when you have anything from flat tire to “that sound that goes grrrr rrr ggg.”

Invest in a receipt or travel wallet. This is especially important for business travel when the accounts payable folk ask for the receipts on your expense report. You might even go ahead and install an expense report program (like Concur, the bane of my existence) on your phone. It can help you track as you go. I know a lot of people think, “I’ll just stick it in my pocket and deal with it later”, or “I’ll put it in the side pocket of my purse…” along with the receipts from grocery, last year’s vacation, and an old cough drop. Trust me. It’s worth the minimal expense. Get something just for keeping the travel related receipts and other documents. You will thank me later.

Use GPS. Unless you are going Jack Kerouac and you have time and money to spend on petrol, plan a route and use the tools available to follow it. GPS is generally available on most smart phones. Do yourself a favor and look into one of the navigation apps out there rather than the built in jobs in the phone. The built-ins aren’t horrible, but they sometimes get a bit eccentric in their mapping and directing. I personally like Waze. It has been very accurate and works even when the phone seems to have no signal. Additionally, it gives you updates on traffic patterns, road hazards, weather issues, and law enforcement on the road. It will give alternate directions to route around blocks and traffic jams, and above all… it is free! One of my favorite attributes of the application, next to currently having Morgan Freeman’s voice as the navigation prompter. However, you should go with what works for you. There are programs that also provide information like fuel stops, food options, and rest areas… always helpful. Many rental agencies actually include GPS either with the car or as an add on to your agreement. It can be worth the extra fee just to have the option of an external navigation leaving your phone free.

Charging cables. So, we’ve been talking about GPS and phone apps and all that happy jazz. You know what doesn’t work, dead phones or electronics. Having the app or electronic gadget isn’t so helpful if it drains the life from your battery or won’t turn on because you failed to bring an appropriate adapter or cord. Some travel centers actually have sections where you can purchase travel tools and technology. I once found the most amazing little phone charger that would act as a back up battery and charge my phone even without a cord. There are kits with multiple connectors and tools that can come in very handy if you need a little charge for your phone.

Beverages and snacks. While I’m not a huge fan of the whole road picnic, it is always good to carry some water, soda, or caffeinated beverage. Cheaper, too, if you can get them and pack them up rather than having to stop at fast food restaurants or convenience marts. Snacks of the protein and less messy variety are also a good idea. Nuts (for those not allergic), jerky, or protein bars are a good option. If you really want to have snacks or beverages that need to be kept at a cooler temperature, invest in a small cooler for the vehicle.

Safety kit. This is a big one for me. Even if you are in a rental, it is a good idea to have some basic maintenance and safety items. I’m not suggesting you go full on hazmat, but having a reflector triangle, jumper cables, first aid kit, and the like can really come in handy in unexpected circumstances. Also, keep a blanket in the car. No, this is not a suggestion that you save money by sleeping in the car. In colder weather, getting stuck until someone can get you can result in hypothermia if your car is unable to maintain power. So, a blanket is a great idea. Also, if the drive is long and the eyes are heavy, better to take that nap in the back seat than push on to the next watering hole to look for a hotel and end up running off the road.

Hands-free kit. Not only should you never text and drive, even talking on the phone or futzing with the GPS can be distracting and downright dangerous. I strongly suggest for those who do not have Bluetooth enabled vehicle that a hands-free kit and voice activation is a phenomenal idea. Otherwise, pull over before you try to do anything with your phone.

Hygiene. Seriously. Invest in nappy wipes or at least carry tissues, paper towels, something. There is no hazard so great as the coffee spilled in the lap or the soda all over the console. Additionally, for your own health and well-being, it’s a good idea to have some hand sanitizer somewhere in the vehicle. I’m not a huge fan of the stuff personally, but if you do not have the running water or soap to dissuade the flu season hijackers, a little hand sanitizer comes in handy.

Honestly, there are probably a plethora of other handy hints for road-tripping like a pro. If you know of any that I haven’t covered, by all means, comment. In the off chance that someone actually reads this thing, it might be helpful to them.

Air Travel

I’m not really going to spend a huge amount of time or characters on this section. There are a metric @#$%-ton of articles out there about the handy hints and tips for surviving your air travel. So, I will only touch on a few things that I have found handy.

Follow the TSA guidelines. Seriously. They print them. Read them. Follow them. Don’t be an ass or make inappropriate jokes about bombs. Your security check will just go much smoother.

Wear slip-on shoes. In other words, do not wear complicated footwear with laces up to your knees or a blue-billion buckles and clasps that look awesome at a rave but will officially piss off every other passenger waiting for you to come out of your shoes… or put them back on. On another point of order, wear socks… and odor eaters… just for the continued well-being and breathing of others around you.

Keep your paperwork in order. Have all travel documents together and ready. Nothing is worse than getting to customs, immigration, gate, etc. and a passenger digging through their bags saying, “I know I had it somewhere.” Seriously? Like you didn’t know you would need that stuff at this point. You knew it was coming. That is just silly.

Learn to travel light. These days, your wallet will thank you for not racking up large baggage fees. Gone are the days of multiple band boxes and steamer trunks of full wardrobe changes. Plan your itinerary and take only what you need. Not to brag too much, but I am the queen of minimalist packing. I actually flew to Dallas for a 4-day conference that required business attire and some more formal events. I managed to pack everything in one carry-on piece. Most places, even if you forget something, will have certain amenities. Invest in some of the roll bags for packing. It saves space and keeps your clothing from getting too wrinkled. Shoes, again, are the usual culprits for over-packing. They take up a lot of space and generally do not fold or crush. Do yourself a favor and plan your outfits so that you can have one or two pair of shoes at most.

Electronics. Don’t be a jerk. You know the rules. If you are absolutely positively going to go into withdrawal without your tablet or whatever, use the airplane mode. That goes for electronic readers, too.

Stay hydrated. The air on planes is remarkably dry. Getting dehydrated can negatively impact you in many levels, including opening up your immune system to nasty bugs. Oh, and immune boosters? Take ’em. You’ll thank me later. If you absolutely, positively MUST travel when you are incubating a cold, do the rest of the world a favor and wear a mask. They can be purchased at most pharmacies.

Like I said, there are a bunch of articles out there that actually cover great tips for traveling, especially by air. So, for the rest of the clan of the road warrior, if you can think of any helpful tips that you’ve found that you have never seen advised out there, please share.

Happy and safe journeys folks!

Stop looking for the cosmic conspiracy…

I’ve been having some of the most interestingly deep and philosophical discussions lately. I apologize if this isn’t really the blog you’ve been looking for… move along… move along, but some of the ponderings that have been pondered have really made me restructure my own approach to some things, and maybe let go of a few not so helpful and somewhat irrational beliefs (thank you Albert Ellis). So, now, I share with all of you. #SorryNotSorry.

One of my own personal pet peeves originates with occurrences throughout my life. It isn’t so much that people were deliberately trying to hurt me. In fact, I know that most people that make the statements I’m about to discuss mean it in the best possible way. The problem is that while it might comfort them to say these things, it can have devastating effects on the person to whom they are said. I am, of course, speaking of the generalized commentary that there is some benevolent overreaching plan that incorporates predestination and general lack of free choice in the outcomes of the universe.

I am absolutely not going to get into a discussion of religion and faith (except in a very marginal sense). However, if this sort of philosophical topic and questioning of grand plan offends, you might want to click away now. At various points in my life, I have had to face disappointment. It just happens. It’s part of living and the odds of general existence. Even the most sure of things occasionally doesn’t come through in the end. The luckiest of people sometimes brick it. That’s just life. There are some who believe that the failures in life are there to make us appreciate the successes. What was it Yogi Berra said “If the world were perfect… it wouldn’t be.” That’s the sort of assumption that states that humans don’t appreciate when they have it good, unless there is something bad to which it can be compared. To go with another quote, and one of my favorites, “What is light, without the darkness?”

I’m not sure if I go with that, but along the same lines are the people who will consistently tell you that the trials, obstacles, and general negative experiences of life are “tests.” For what, I want to know, because seriously…? I saw a meme one time that said “God only gives you what you are strong enough to take…” Um… so, I figure I should be benching Greyhound buses at this point…?  And if my life is going great? What? I’m not worth the effort to test and train? The one that bugs me the most, though is, “God has a different plan for you.” Yeah, I told you it might get marginally religious. I’m not going to get into whether deity exists, what He/She looks like, or if there is some pasta-related being that magically created the world in which we live. Everyone is entitled to their own belief system, and personally I think faith can be a powerful force of good for most people, helping shore them up in times of trouble or encouraging them to be the best version of themselves. Whether you believe there is God, gods, or none of the above is not really my point or my business.

The issue I have is that in the worst possible circumstances and in times of greatest disappointment or horrific trauma, people flip out the “There is a different plan for you…” Um… I don’t particularly care. My plan was just torpedoed like the Lusitania. My heart was broken from disappointment, and someone wants me to believe that there is a consciousness in the universe that deliberately did that because my wishes weren’t in their plans? Perhaps it is just me. There are possibly people who find such statements comforting. However, I am not one of them, and hearing such a thing after significant loss is not really helping the process of grieving.

On the other side is what angers a friend of mine. People who won’t accept credit for their own efforts and who consistently attribute anything good in their life to the gracious boon of a higher power. I get where she is coming from, and I agree to a certain extent. It is one of those things that is very cultural. You can’t accept credit or compliments for fear of appearing as a braggart. So, you have to fob it off as “nothing, really,” or not really anything that you did… You were merely a spectator while some other being did it all and you ate the popcorn? I’m a little more lenient. I think that if you are a person of faith and want to give thanks or credit to your chosen deity for giving you the winning genetic lottery ticket or possibly bringing some helpful influences into your life… all well and good. However, completely disregarding your own effort and will to accomplish a goal seems overdoing the humility thing. I think it is perfectly ok to say, “Hey, I did this! And I’m proud of it!” without all the accompanying false modesty (or maybe real modesty but falsely placed).

So, why do people say these things? Why is it more comforting to think that there is some grand scheme to which we are completely ignorant and just sorta following along hoping we get to be the “good guys” in the story and live happily ever after? Why do we attribute bad things to that same plan rather than just admitting that sometimes bad @#$% just happens. Sometimes it even happens to decent folk, and contrarily sometimes good @#$% happens to people we think really don’t deserve it. Do we get to make that decision, in fact? This person deserves the good @#$% and that one doesn’t? And beyond that, if good people are tested, they should get the bad @#$%. If they get the bad @#$%, why would I want to be good? On the other hand, if the bad @#$% happens to bad people, therefore by that logic, any person having bad @#$% happen must be a bad person. See how that works? Yeah, trying to wrap my brain around that sort of logic is painful.

Though I said that I really wasn’t going to get into the religious aspects (as in organized religion), and I’m not, really; I will actually generalize to say that most modern religions all predict rewards and such after death. There definitely seems to be more of a focus on “Life sucks and that’s cool, because when you die everything will be perfect.” I just don’t know how I feel about that. Combine that with the wide variety of doctrines and instruction manuals that have the different ways to qualify for said rewards… Yeah, that’s how wars start, and I’m just not going there.

I guess my biggest problem with it is the free will thing. If there is a plan, all predetermined, what is the point of any of us behaving ourselves, acting like decent folk, or bothering with things like ethics or morals in general? See my circular logic-spiral-of-death above. It seems a little redundant in fact. If the overseeing mind has already been made up, what is the point of doing good? That being said, I know that a few centuries ago people were burned at the stake for even asking that question.

However, I have to admit my own susceptibility to the mindset of external locus of control. For me, it isn’t the comforting kind that says, “These things are sent to try my faith,” or “That didn’t work out because there is something better in store for me.” That’s not how my brain tends to tick. In my case, it is my feeling of dread and expectation. I cannot accept the good. Maybe it is the years of hearing that good people are tested and that their reward comes after death. Maybe it is that the external locus of control I allow in my weaker moments belongs to Murphy and all his Laws. When things are going too well or a few good things come my way, I start getting nervous. It’s true. I have to remind myself consciously as a woman of science that the universe is not really some sentient malevolent being waiting for me to get complaisant so it can drop a large anvil on my head.


But that is how we’ve been taught to think in this modern world. Expect the worst and take what you get. I actually wrote about this aspect once before (See Monster Spray). It is one of the most insidious things that can happen in the human brain, believing that there is a balance out there and a tally being kept and too much good requires for that balance to be reset by something awful… or vice versa. It keeps us from accepting the fact that sometimes, bad stuff just happens. It can hurt, but we can run from it or learn from it (my absolute most cherished line ever produced for a Disney film). The other side of the nasty little psychological parasite of external locus of control… we don’t truly enjoy the good @#$% because we are too busy waiting for the bad @#$% to be balanced out in the tally books. At some point, we need to realize it isn’t all some big conspiracy. We need to enjoy the good and live the best we can with the bad… maybe learn a bit from both.

Rock the body…

I believe I have spoken of my own fashion despairs in the past. I am an accessory moron, and I will likely never quite grasp the aspects of chic.

I can recall pouring over the various fashion magazines and teen tomes that addressed all the latest when I was actually of an age to start exploring my own personal style. I even followed certain fads and fashion trends back in the day… I will spare you the mental images of me in the 80’s, but suffice to say I tried my hand at a variety of different looks. However, I have to admit that no matter what I did, I can say with some amounts of confidence that it always carried the aspects of someone going to a fancy-dress party rather than any style that I could own as mine.

Through the years, I’ve actually been told that I have the stature and build that can get away with following the trends. Be that as it may, I always feel when I try to embrace the fashions that I see displayed on so many others that I am a set of clothes walking about the world with a dowdy frump of a woman hidden inside. Or worse, the cute outfits on little petite things, and I try them and look like the linebacker from the football team in drag… yeah. It never feels comfortable the way my rattiest jeans and t-shirt do.

All that said… I do have an eye for these things. I see looks and outfits and general styles that appeal to me. I find them looking sharp and smart and wish that I could wear it myself with the same aplomb as the model or my friends and colleagues who manage it so well. I observe the writhing humanity about me on a regular basis and recognize that some of them obviously struggle with this as much or more than I do. I have to admire some of them for the bravery they espouse by merely trying to exhibit the fashions of the day. And then… I am also very certain that there are people who must not possess a mirror, or at least, they’ve never actually gazed upon their own image after dressing. I know, it’s catty and horrid and possibly engaging in the shaming of some type or other… but seriously… let me preach on it.

As I have said, I spent a good deal of time in my teens and adolescence trying out the latest trends. What all that playing about with fashion taught me was that just because something is the latest thing doesn’t mean that it is meant for my body. For instance, pleated jeans and tapered legs were all the rage at one time, but I assure you… NO ONE LOOKS GOOD IN THEM. That diamond shape that is created by the “mom jean” and little skinny ankle cuffs is not flattering to any body. And don’t get me started on skinny jeans… Additionally, while I do not think that you have to always “act your age” as they say, and people can stay young by acting young… there are limits, people. There is such a thing as dignity, and no matter what they say and how physically fit you are, no one should be wearing a micro-mini in their 40’s. In fact, I would say that to be perceived as an elegant and sophisticated individual, the whole miniskirt phenomena should probably have left the wardrobe before the 30’s were in the rearview. There are exceptions and leniency for certain people who really do have the “rockin’ body,” but the problem becomes that the skin of our knees gives away our age and is not so very attractive no matter how well we try to maintain otherwise, and it sadly has not a thing to do with weight or fitness.

There is also, for me, the leggings argument. I’m going to say this once. LEGGINGS ARE NOT PANTS. Oh, I’ve seen the video of the gal who says “Well, they aren’t a shirt… or a hat…” Yeah, I get what you are saying. They go on the lower half of the body. That doesn’t make them pants. It just does not, anymore than my panties, tights, socks, or support stockings are. Just because you wear them on your legs and lower bits does not mean that they should be your external wear and exhibited to the general public. No one wants to see cameltoe or every dimple of cellulite in the hindquarters. And guys, unless you are with the Bolshoi or Met company… I do not want to be able to tell your religion by looking at your crotch. Invest in some support and wear some pants. Have a little common sense and modesty. Leggings are great for wearing under long sweaters and tunics and sometimes skirts (though, seriously watch that! The 80’s were not that flattering, remember). Running tights, bicycle shorts, yoga pants, and other sport bottoms are fine… at the gym or on the track or in the yoga studio. They really are not that attractive worn out in public.

There are people in the world that seem to look amazing in anything they throw on their body. It’s still not advisable to go to a black tie event or even a nice restaurant wearing stretch pants with an oversized sweater or your latest phenomenally expensive workout clothing purchase to a job interview (See TNC: Dress for Success). It just isn’t on. Have some respect for the occasions, the workplace, and most importantly yourself.

I do not care what shape you are in… or are not in for that matter. Just because Vogue exhibits models that occasionally look like they have just been rescued from the camps at Auschwitz does not mean that everyone should aspire to a body mass index closely approximating emaciation. Additionally, as foreign as the concept is to many of us… and definitely to myself… there are people who are embarrassed by the fact that they feel too skinny and just can’t gain weight. It happens people.

A lot of high fashion designers (I’m talking the haute couture stuff that would never be realistic anywhere but a runway) tend to sculpt their creations around forms that tend to resemble clothes hangers… the wire kind. It is just easier to make fabrics drape and show off the form of the costume rather than the form of a normal, and varied, human form. Which brings me back to where I was going originally. We all see things in advertisements and billboards, red carpet events televised and entertainment media. We like them. We wish we could emulate them, but most of the time, we are looking at people who have entirely different body types than the ones we currently possess (or are likely to possess at any given time). It’s the nature of the species to admire ideals and aspire to emulate, while often lacking the natural foundation approximating the type. It’s fine, honestly. Beauty and attractiveness and health actually occur in many different forms.

It is entirely possible to be stylish, smart, and fabulous without exactly replicating the fashion of a different body type. It merely requires throwing out the trendy expectations and evaluating what actually flatters your own shape. There are too many out there who are bound, bent, and determined to wear a look that does nothing but accentuate the negative (think bound and bent some more)… and in the end people notice nothing but the clothing because it is positively screaming, entirely missing the person wearing them. Regardless of what anyone thinks, this is not the attention or assumptions that you should want. There are others who give up on looking stylish because their bodies will never look like that of starlets and supermodels. Those souls tend to hide under clothing that once again, does absolutely nothing to exhibit the amazing qualities of the person wearing them. Clothing is like window treatment. It shouldn’t be the entire focus. It should merely accent and draw the eye to the view.

Sure, it might be easier to choose wardrobe if one has won the genetic lottery, but even if you don’t look like the latest runway angel, that doesn’t mean that you have to relegate yourself to the sackcloth and ashes line. Additionally, while pursuing physical fitness goals is great for health and can help with some wardrobe concerns, it doesn’t solve all problems (ask anyone who lifts or does body building about finding a shirt with long sleeves that doesn’t look like they might turn green and shred the material at any moment). No matter whether you’ve got a rockin’ body or not… Just remember to rock the body you got!