Sunday, August 22, 2010

If I Could I Would Ask Her, "Are Your Eyes Ok?"

Or:  Why We Love It When Emma Thompson Cries
(The silent montage)


Even Queen Latifah is going, "What the fuck, Emma?"

The Good News:
I wanted to reassure myself that Emma Thompson is not, in fact, horribly depressed.   I then found this picture.   So, she's not in dire need of anti-depressants.

But, rather in need of a good barber. 

On a side note, I am convinced her character in Stranger Than Fiction is gay.  Call it call it gaydar gone wild, call it stereotyping because she's playing a depressed writer with short hair (me), but I wouldn't be surprised if it was part of the character's identity, only it was never directly said.  Like Dumbledore, really.

No, but seriously, it's a desperate hope on some level that she's slightly queer deep down in her heterosexual bones (this is turning into an unhealthy blog way too quickly...). 

...But COME ON.

You know, I had hopes that I would try to take this seriously and really talk about her technique or what she's done to help women in the entertainment industry or just her fantastic ability to be funny.

Instead, I wrote about how she cries a lot and that I think she's a gay wizard.  

Luckily, I don't think I'm in danger of her finding out about my poor sense of journalism.  I did, however, send her a fan letter.  And I do believe the words "obsession" "with" "sense and sensibility" "watched" and "five times" were used.  



Thursday, August 12, 2010

Bad TXT Message Poetry - Thumb-Typing A New Genre For the Literary Ages

Poem 1:

is like
is like

Poem 2:

As even as this number,
So is your name,
And your favorite

Poem 3:

Home is good.
Home is gone.
Home is good.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

I mean maybe if someone read this then I wouldn't have to say it out loud: Part 2

Bad Behavioral Patterns At Their Best

For Part 1, click here.

Where Does Passive Aggression Come From?

While some Linguistics Fundamentalist peeps might disagree (they might also disagree with my use of the word 'peeps' as opposed to 'peoples'), I do believe that the way in which we communicate--not even the words, or the language in which we are speaking--but what meanings are sewn into the words and the phrases you've used since you were a child, inherently create the communication-scope we live within for the rest of our lives.

And then, of course, you have to take into account that each language has limitations and variability in it's ability to communicate given the different vocabulary, culture, and beliefs backing them.  At last count, English has roughly 50,000 words in use (if you don't count the words that have twenty different meanings).  That means we have a cap on what words we can use.  And then, you have other exterior limitations:  what words your family/friends use day to day, the idioms that have sentimental value, the latest fad vocabulary and what social cues are appropriate for each interaction, and ultimately, you.

You. And Only You.

When thinking about communication, you have to take into account that every individual's brain is different and thus, every individual experiences information differently.  This is probably the most frightening thing for anyone who takes comfort in the idea that there are others just like you out there.  Aka, you might have thought "I know this person will laugh their asses off when they see this!" and then upon viewing it they go, "I don't get it." And then your world shatters a bit, doesn't it?  You thought you had the perfect replica of your brain at your fingertips only to be suddenly shocked back into the reality of having an individual brain:  You really are alone in your thoughts.

But, that's not necessarily a bad thing.

And here is where I believe lies the Root of Passive Aggression:  self-protection and respect.

What Am I, An Animal?

We praise ourselves as being separate from the animal world specifically because we got a big honkin' lobe or two that let us think a mile a minute.   And even how much of that brain we use is up for debate:

So, this is how I break it down:  Way back when, it became clear that if you piss off your fellow Homo Erectus (the scientific name for the animal we are all descended from--with that kind of a name I feel the scientists are trying to tell you Everyone is Gay) you might get a club upside the head.  And no one wants to die.  At least, not right off the bat.*


Instinctual Rule No. 1 of Survival:  Don't Die.

Instinctual Rule No. 2 of Survival:  Pursue methods of living that prevent premature death.

Instinctual Rule No. 3 of Survival:  Communicate and Manipulate in a way that prevents premature death, even if what is now a note left on the fridge was originally an extra piece of mutton** on the rock slab inside the cave to assuage fellow club-holders.

And I honestly believe that passive-aggression, is a watered down, centuries upon centuries-old method of communication that has occurred around the world simultaneously in all cultures to protect oneself from being machete-ed at the camp fire.

Even still, horrific events happen all over.  People can be incredibly scary.  Why else are the most frightening monsters/aliens/creatures in horror films frighteningly smart in their violence (like human beings)?  I mean, really, it's no wonder we have some freakin' terrible methods of avoiding conflict when you consider all those youtube comments that make you want to throw up because it's a video of Sesame Street for Christs' Sake and how in the frilly hell did you relate that to the Obama Regime being a conspiracy dictatorship that is out to kill everyone when the world will end in 2012 if not 2024 if not in 2036 because one day the world has to end and you're going to be there in some reincarnated form going "I told you so!" you insane, why-were-you-allowed-access-to-a-computer moron?

See.  That's healthy anger.  And breathe.

(I need a hug.)

*Get it?  It's a pun.  "Club" and "Right off the bat."  Get it?  You do get it, right?

**I'm so excited to managed to find a use for the word "mutton" today.

I mean maybe if someone read this then I wouldn't have to say it out loud: Part 1

Bad Behavioral Patterns At Their Best
For Part 2 click here

Something has occurred to me.  Passive Aggression is not something I invented.  I am not the creator of the perfectly round-about-route to communication.  Neither is my mother or my father (although they're pretty damn good at it).  Neither are their parents, or their parents' parents.  In fact, I don't think any individual is primarily responsible for starting this old trend.

However, you have to admit--when you're in the heat of those quietly-angry moments, you feel as though you are the One And Only who puts all the work into everything and why doesn't anyone ever notice it, given how much work it was in the first place because you always put your all into everything you do (as opposed to some other people) and here you are yet again cleaning up their mess and obviously it's them not you because you're the one who's pulling your weight and is doing a good job and only an idiot would not take notice and god you've thought this thought so many times before that Resentful has become your new middle name.

Am I right Fellow Passive-Aggressors?  Am I right or are you just sitting their glaring at your computer screen, contemplating leaving an anonymous message that starts, "I'm sure you didn't mean to say it the way you did but, ...."

Before you do, I give you this.

Just saying, it might end up on this website.  How's that for aggressive-aggression?

Honestly, this blog is not intended to attack Passive Aggression.  In fact, having a long history of being a passive-aggression person--and currently trying to quit--I am more interested in the history behind it all.
Where did it start? Why did it start?  What are the basic impulses of a standard passive aggressive personality?  Can those personalities change?

And finally, the most important question (in my opinion):

Is Passive Aggression always a bad idea?

Well, the instinct is to say "yes."  Yes, it is always a bad idea to leave that note on the fridge door because honestly, the first thought any roommate is going to have upon seeing it is, "Oh, what the fuck now?"

And yet, I grew up in a household in which all four of us left notes (and still do) whenever one of us leaves the house, so that the rest could schedule our days a bit easier around when 1/4 of the household, and thus an integral part of the fundamental functioning and maintenance of the house, is out.  I'm still not sure whether it's a good idea to be so stuck on leaving notes every. time. you. leave.  However, I fully recognize that in the moment, it's quite helpful and yes, considerate, to be informative rather than just walking out without a word on your life, especially after years of adhering to that standard of communication.  But, if it's considerate is that then really Passive Aggression?  So, here's our first battle.*

Consideration v. Passive Aggression.

The line has to be drawn somewhere, and yet, like most things human, the line is dependent on the individual and the individual's intent.  If they are leaving a note because it hints "You Should Keep Me Informed Where You Are Because That Way I Feel In Control And Less Stressed In The Short-term," then we have a problem.  If it's because you wish to have dinner with that person but have to run out on a last minute dog-walk and you can't call them because they're law-abiding drivers who don't talk and drive, then you are within your right to go that extra bit of care and compassion for your fellow easily-confused human being.  Besides, sometimes notes can be witty--and I tend to like humor more than no note at all.

At least, that's the rubric I'm working with right now.

How to Combat Bad Communication.

I don't recommend books often, but this one is pretty spot on.  Especially the story of his mother getting her appendix out just because she wanted a new purse from her parents like the one her sister got after she had her appendix out, only to loose it to a nurse who mistakenly thought the girl was giving it to her and not just saying in a half-drugged state "Look at my new purse."  Ouch.

The thing is, when I first started thinking about this personality tendency I had, it was around five years ago.  Just entering UC Berkeley, and being thrown into the world of a vibrant group of young, somewhat-intelligent people, I was convinced that A). I had this flaw worse than anyone else and B).  It was the root at all my problems in forming healthy relationships with other human beings.

Now, while I find it kind of laughable how quick someone who has problems in seeing the world outside of their problems to jump to assuming they've got the problem the hardest, I have to admit that it was a hard turn around and I'm still learning.  And by learning, of course, I mean, I'm still re-programming the mental steps I used to take almost unconsciously that would then spit out the same over-anxious responses and compulsive resentment.

And these steps can be as simple as switching from:

"Hey, do you want to pick that up?"


"Hey, I want you pick that up.  Can you?"

The second part of this step is learning how to say the above in a tone that suggests you won't be horribly offended if the querent says, "No" and mean it.  Which means, you have to take the hardest step of all and let go of those urges to control.

This doesn't mean that the person can just get away with not doing their part in your household.  In fact, if the person doesn't pick up their shit, I suggest throwing it at their head each time they don't so they get the picture that it's your floor and you don't want it there--provided of course that the item in question isn't a TV.

I just get the feeling that if humans were more direct, we'd garner more respect from our each other and save our actual anger and resentment for situations that DO matter to us (like war, racism, homophobia, sexism, people who dress their dogs up, etc.).

But, these steps to a better-communicative world can be as complicated as blocking out all the urges to fulfill a tried-and-ultimately-not-true-but-familiar! method of communication with someone you've loved and had in your life since birth.

How do you combat the urges that psychologically have been ingrained in you since before you learned how to walk?

*The word choice "battle" was used specifically for its more-aggressive nature as part of my Passive-Aggression Recovery Program.