When it’s time to write my biography

I was listening to Marketplace News on my local public radio on the way home tonight, and I heard an interview with Nick Bilton about his new book, Hatching Twitter:  A True Store of Money, Power, Friendship and Betrayal.

Screen Shot 2013-11-05 at 6.58.17 PM

It was an interesting interview and it made me want to read the book.  Apparently, the creation and building of Twitter had been nothing less than chaotic (I mean, check out the subtitle).

The interviewer asked Bilton if he got full cooperation from the principal characters while writing the book, and Bilton made a comment that really got my attention.  He said that he went back and reviewed the four Twitter founders’ Facebook status updates, their Tweets, their posts to Flickr and to YouTube, and in many instances these didn’t match their memories.  He used their social media posts to help verify, clarify and, I would assume, prompt recall of events.

Ok, so I may late coming to this realization, but we are daily contributing to our biographies via social media.   With pictures.  And videos.  And often snarky one-liners.

Ignore that I am stupid and late to this game.  But I don’t think that my contributions to social media have been good enough to use in my biography (to any future biography writers out there).  I have always been cognizant of the “rules” of social media, the rules according to me.

  • Rule 1.  Assume that everything that you post could end up being seen by anyone in the world
  • Rule 2.  Assume that you can’t make everyone happy, but you shouldn’t try to piss everyone off
  • Rule 3.  Follow the advice of your mother–don’t talk politics or religion in someone else’s house
  • Rule 4.  Your mother has already seen you nude as a child, and she doesn’t want to see you that way as an adult (refer back to Rule 1)
  • Rule 5.  If you can’t say something nice about someone, don’t say anything at all.  (I don’t always follow this rule.)

When you follow these rules, your social media contributions are pretty bland.  And I’m pretty private, as well.

I think that I’m going to have to SPICE UP MY TWEETING!  Bam.  It’s on.  Cause I want it to be a good story.

(Should also have a good story….but that’s beside the point on social media, right?  It’s just about telling a good story, right?)

This should have a title, but I can’t think of one.

Matt and I visited the Homestead resort in Hot Springs, Va, this past week.  It is a fancy-schmancy place.  We, however, had a Groupon — we’re not fancy-schmancy, just fancy wannabes.

This is what you see when you drive over the hill into the resort:

Pretty cool.

Matt checked us in.  When he came back to the car, he informed me, “I saw Hoit and Toit in the lobby.”

The Homestead was a very nice place to stay.  The history is amazing.  The resort was built around natural hot mineral springs that many Presidents and other notables have used for the last 300 years.  This was one of the reasons we wanted to go.  Until Fancy Wannabe #2 (me) realized 90 miles from home that she forgot her bathing suit.  The f-bomb was used extensively.

Hoit and Toit lowered their noses long enough to not bump into us in the halls.  Actually, I think a lot of people there were fellow Groupon-ers.  We did see one older couple in the joint that either had money or had a lot of debt.  I only assume that because the woman had much, much, mucho dollars invested in plastic surgery on her face.  As we passed them in the lobby, Matt and I both noticed how her skin was so tight that her eyes were barely open.

Matt:  Cristy, what was that?

me:  That was a lot of botox and plastic surgery.

Matt:  Well, it’s messed up, right?  A bad job?

me:  No, she meant to look like that.  In some circles, that looks good.

Matt:  Those circles are crazy.

I saw this cartoon on Pinterest last night and it made me laugh out loud because it reminded me of what we saw.

On another note, I stumbled across this YouTube video and I love it.  This little girl has got the right idea.  Play with others, but make it your own.  And wear tap shoes.  Always wear tap shoes.

I see evil people. Do they see me?

I saw this TEDTalk several months ago, but the message in it has been rattling around in my head since then.

Kathryn Schulz is a “wrong-ologist”, at least that is what I am calling her even if the rest of the world isn’t calling her that.  She gave this TEDTalk a couple of years ago about how we humans hate finding out we are wrong and the lengths we go to in order to avoid it.

If you have 18 minutes, watch it!

Schulz says that one of the big reasons we humans like being right so much and hate being wrong about any given topic/issue/idea is that we are socialized to strive for “rightness.”  Getting the answer right on tests in school, answering questions correctly in class, etc., were rewarded with praise and were treated as indicators of whether one was a “good” kid or a “goof off” kid as we are growing up.  We learn early that being right is good.

And thus, we constantly (albeit sometimes subconsciously) strive to be right, assuring ourselves that our opinions, our ways of doing things, our methods are the “right” way.  Because we are good people, so we must be right.

The internet has certainly increased my knowledge and awareness of how many people do not share my viewpoint on a lot of topics.  I can’t count how many times I have read a news piece on-line which I thought was so straight forward, i.e. man convicted of killing wife after jury heard details of how he was found with bloody knife in hand and confessed, to only read dozens and dozens of comments by other readers that lambasted the jury, criticized the judicial system, vilified the police.  “WTF?”, I think.  “Aren’t they reading what I’m reading?  Can’t they see what I see?”

This, says Schulz, is the big challenge with needing to be right.  People will not agree with me 100% of the time.  People will not think like me 100% of the time.  People will not act like me 100% of the time.

How do I reconcile someone not thinking/acting like I do if I am right most of the time?

She says we compensate by using a set of “Unfortunate Assumptions”.  The first assumption is that if someone doesn’t think like you about a particular topic, then they just must not have all the information that you have.

From TEDTalk video

From TEDTalk video

Yep, that’s me.  Been there, assumed that.

If you share the knowledge you have or make sure that they have the same knowledge you have, and they still don’t think the same way you do, you assume that they just aren’t that smart.

From TEDTalk video

OH BOY, so me.  In fact, my friend, Nikki, says that I need a t-shirt that says “[ … ] is an Idiot” because I have called so many people that.  Guilty, Judge.

If you find out that the person is actually quite smart (that is, NOT an idiot) and that they still don’t think like you, well, there’s only one conclusion to draw.

From TEDTalk video

From TEDTalk video

YES, they are just evil and trying to make me look bad and disagreeing with me for no other reason than to be mean.  They should be destroyed!  Mwah-ha-ha!

When I first watched Schulz’s TEDTalk, I laughed out loud at the part about the “Unfortunate Assumptions” because it described me perfectly.  I could have been the person that she studied to develop it.

But as the months have gone by, I’ve tried to have a more serious response to this.  And that response is to be more careful and thoughtful to someone who doesn’t think/act like me or disagrees with me.  My first reaction cannot be a trip down these three assumptions.  More than likely they are making the same three assumption about me.  (Wonder how fast they are getting to “Evil”?  Oh, wow!  I wonder if they are even getting to “Evil” or have just abandoned it as a case of “Idiocy”?  Crap, that would sting.)

My first reaction should be some questions:  questions to them to understand their point of view and questions to myself to understand how I came to my opinion and how strongly I am attached to it.

I’ve been working on this for several months — and IT IS HARD!  It is hard to stop myself from automatically taking a defensive position on my opinion.  It is hard to question the strength of my belief in my opinion.  It can be hard to admit that I am wrong.  And sometimes (I confess) I still don’t admit it.  (Because my wrongness is occasionally outweighed by my stubbornness.)

But I do enjoy calling fewer people “Idiots” these days.  If I ever called you an Idiot, I apologize.  I’m sure you were calling me one, as well.  No hard feelings.  We cool.

By the way, there is a whole lot more in Kathryn Schulz TEDTalk than these three assumptions, so really, if you get a chance, watch her.

Billy Joel, thanks, dude

I know that there have been dozens (or more) of articles and blogs about how music can evoke memories.  You know, the song that takes you back to the year you got your driver’s license, or back to your senior prom, or the song that was playing when you broke up with a serious girl or boyfriend?  For years I couldn’t listen to Bryan Adam’s Everything I Do (I Do For You) without getting sad.  I am not sure why it had such a powerful effect on me — I assume it had to do with the rough patches my ex-boyfriend and I were going through at the time Robin Hood was released.  Now I can listen to it with no problem.

Joan Jett singing Crimson and Clover takes me to the amusement park at the Pavilion at Myrtle Beach and a ride there, where the song was blasting and I felt as good as I have felt.

Then sometimes a song captures the feelings that you are having right now, rather than bringing back emotions.

That’s what happened to me today.

The best way to describe how I’ve been feeling lately is like time is passing and I’m missing something.  I think there are several things driving this feeling:

  • I’m having a mid-life plight.  Not a crisis — a plight.  Let’s get that straight.  But I am pondering how I have spent the last 20+ years and if I want to spend the next 20 doing the same thing.
  • My sister and I closed our dad’s estate last week.  I wasn’t expecting it to make me as sad as it did.  And it also made me think about what a person leaves behind when they pass.  The material things are not important — it’s the stories and the memories by which my sister and I feel most blessed.

So, today, when my iPhone music shuffled to Piano Man by Billy Joel, two things happened.  First, a Billy Joel song took me right back to my adolescent and teenage years.  He was one of my favorite singers when I was growing up.  Second, the lyrics of the song hit me in the gut:

It’s nine o’clock on a Saturday
The regular crowd shuffles in
There’s an old man sitting next to me
Making love to his tonic and gin

He says, “Son can you play me a memory
I’m not really sure how it goes
But it’s sad and it’s sweet
And I knew it complete
When I wore a younger man’s clothes”

Oh, Billy, you say the best.   Time is passing, and sometimes the memory is just out of reach.  But I can take comfort in the fact that the memory is sad and sweet and it was mine.  And I’ll have sweet, sad (and happy) memories from this stage of my life, too.

Now, I just have to find the music that will bring me back to now.

Hey, Matt — let’s buy those tickets to shoot zombies with the paintball guns.  And let’s play some rockin’ music while we do it.

Measuring tape and hula hoops

Here are the things that have been on my mind a lot recently:

  1. My job
  2. My future
  3. The government
  4. Random crap

I’m tired of thinking about my job and my future, so let’s talk about the government.

My friend, Paula, and I used to say that we wanted to go into every meeting with a measuring tape and ask all the men to take out their penises and let us measure.  Once we knew who had the biggest one, we could get on with the business at hand.  By measuring, we could skip all the chest pounding, the braggadocio, and the metaphorical circling of each other that would normally take place for the first 20 minutes of the meeting as they worked out who was the “big dog” in the room.  I thought it was an excellent efficiency idea.

I want to do the same thing with our government.  Let’s just measure them and move on.  Yes, John Boehner, yours is huge.  We’re all impressed.  Now, let’s get this government open.  Oh, Harry Reid, how do you find pants that fit?  You surely make all men weep with envy.  Now, let’s start negotiating some deals.  And Mr. President, of course yours is beyond compare.  We all know that the President gets an implant on inauguration day — so you shouldn’t feel threatened at all.  You, above all else, should be helping those less blessed than you find a way to work together.

STOP WORRYING ABOUT HOW BIG YOU ARE AND START THINKING ABOUT THE NATION AND ITS CITIZENS.  Your desire to come out “on top” ensures that many of us feel like “bottom-dwelling people.”

Ok, that’s my rant on government.  What else can you say that we’re not all thinking?

______________________________________________

So, for random crap.  My friend, Kristin, and I ate lunch in Davidson the other day.  It’s a really neat little college town.  I love the creativity of college kids:

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Hula Hoop on, People.  Hula Hoop on.

25 years is making me sick

I wrote the majority of this blog post yesterday.

[9-14-2013]

Today is my 25th high school reunion. And I am terrified.

Circumstances have prevented me from attending any previous reunions, so this will be the first time that I have seen a lot of the people with whom I graduated.

And 25 years is a long time.

A lot years. A lot of changes. Both physically and emotionally.

This morning, what I am feeling is that I have come home again. And it is scary.

When I think about why I am feeling this way, I guess that I am not really that surprised. The people with whom I graduated were some of the most important people in my life from the ages of 5 to 18. Those years helped form the person that I am today, though they aren’t fully responsible for the person that I am today.

During those years, I wanted to fit in, be liked, have friends, be “one of the gang”….all those John Hughes’ 80’s movies clichés (those were the movies of my generation — Pretty in Pink, Breakfast Club, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off). I struggled with all those big-screen emotions, all those insecurities, in my small-town life.

I have discovered that when my 43-year-old self is put back into the midst of my 18-year-old self dynamic, my 18-year-old self insecurities are revived.

It’s like going into a house of horrors — I think it’s going to be fun, but I’m pretty sure I’m going to get the shit scared out of me.

If I weren’t experiencing this, I would find this extremely interesting. Really, I find it interesting regardless. Do we ever outgrow our adolescent angst? Do those demons, the ones that were most prevalent through those most precious formative years, ever completely let go of our psyche? I am a much different person than the one I was 25 years ago, as I would assume all my classmates are, as well. The ways that I have changed, whether good or bad, have made me more comfortable with who I am than I was even last year. But….throw people who haven’t seen me in 25 years into the equation and BOOM! Terror. I think that I may be having one of those “too much in my head” moments.

So, Thomas Wolfe — you can go home again. And my trip is filling me with anxiety.

Today

[9-15-2013]

I had a lot of fun yesterday and it was really great to see so many people who I hadn’t seen in so many years.

And the greatest thing — I learned that many of us are in the same place in our lives. Questions about careers, family responsibilities, growing older, children, etc. We are all struggling with and celebrating many of the same life events and milestones. And with maturity, with the ability to look beyond myself, I can finally see how we all connect. And how we always did. But as that young, immature 18-year old, barely able to see beyond my own self and own needs, it was harder to see the connection that was there all long.

Perspective is a marvelous thing.

Lending a hand on Labor Day

I worked today on Labor Day.  It was a uncrowded commute, a park-anywhere, infrequent email-kind of day.  And at the end of the work day, I was reminded of why I am glad that I am a laborer and have a paycheck

I pulled into the gas station and put the nozzle into the fuel tank.  I was walking around to the other side of my car to gather my little car trash container to empty it when I heard someone ask me, “Ma’am, do you know where Camden Avenue is?”

I looked to the car parked beside me, and there was a man and a woman in the front seat and a small girl in the back seat.  The man was shirtless and the little girl was very quiet and seemed sad.

“No,” I said, “I don’t know where that is.”

The man continued to describe to me that they were out of gas and had spent the night in their car last night.  He had a job and was expecting to get a paycheck the next day, but didn’t have enough for a hotel room last night or today.  He said that there was a church on Camden Avenue and the people at that church had said that they could provide him with some money if he could get to the church.

I dug around in my purse and found $5 (I never carry cash — it’s a bad habit of mine to be cash-less) and gave it to him.  I mentioned another church just down the street that I felt would surely offer them some help.

He told me over and over again that he hated to ask for money, but he couldn’t bear to spend another night in his car, especially since his wife was also pregnant.  He said that his pride was out the window at the moment.

I found the directions to Camden Avenue on my phone and wrote them down for him.  The whole time that this is happening, I am looking at the sad little eyes of the small girl sitting in the back seat, thinking, “I am so blessed.  I have food.  I have shelter.  I have more than I need.  Thank You, God, for my blessings.”

He said that he was going to ask a few more people for money in order to put some gas in his car, because he was on empty and couldn’t drive any further.  But he thanked me for the $5 and the instructions and I drove away.

A few seconds out of the parking lot, I realized, “DUH!  I could use my debit card to put $10 or $15 of gas in his car!”  So, I turned around to do that.

And met him just pulling out of the gas station…right after he had said that he didn’t have enough gas to go anywhere.

I think, maybe, just maybe, I got scammed.

So, the question is:  Did they deserve my help?

No, probably not.  But if we only helped people who deserved our help, there wouldn’t be a whole lot of helping go on, would there?  I can think of numerous times in the past week alone where people helped me and I didn’t particularly deserve it, either because it was my job to do it in the first place or because I had a bad attitude about a specific issue.

And how do we measure someone’s “deserved-ness”?  Is it due to the Rule of Reciprocity? i.e. if they help me, then I can help them?  If that’s the case, then the first one that helps is taking a chance that the reciprocity is going to kick in at some unknown point in the future.  And if it doesn’t, are there take backs?

Is it based on the moral character of the persons involved?  “He is so nice that I should help him.”  Again, what happens when he isn’t so nice, because at some point, he is going to have a bad day and show his ass.  Or make a comment that I don’t like.  Or not laugh at one of my (hilarious) jokes.  No more help?

Do they have to earn it?  I think the guy from today really sold me a story.  He earned the $5 just with his story about sleeping in cars, a pregnant wife (she didn’t look pregnant, but she could have been), a paycheck to be delivered tomorrow, a car almost out of gas.  It was a really good story and very well delivered.

But these examples rely on the actions of others and I would rather base my willingness to help, my willingness to give, on me, on my decisions, on my character.

It makes me think of God.  He helps me, blesses me, saves me not because I deserve it or act in any way to earn it.  Because I don’t.  He does it because He is God and He chooses to.  (I am not claiming to be like God, but I am trying to be more Christ-like.)

So, I’m not mad at myself or at Mr. Slept-in-the-Car-All-Night.  He needed something and maybe the only way he could see to get it was to lie.  And while I may have unknowingly participated in his potential lie (do you like my disclaimers in case the guy ever reads this blog and wants to sue?), I helped my fellow-man.

Happy Labor Day, y’all.

Let’s be lovers, not judgers

I ate dinner with two of my friends the other night and, as always, a good dose of laughter helped to restore a feeling of equilibrium to a work-induced stressful week.

I was talking to my mom later about one of the conversations that my girlfriends and I had at dinner that night:

me: Wendy’s parents were in town a couple of weeks ago. She was telling us that her parents were pretty critical of everyone around. You know, like saying, “Look at that tattooed freak!” and “He looks like a bum.” And “So-and-so is acting stupid.” Wendy said that she said to them, “You two are so critical. You are always judging. You remember those children books about The Stupids?”

Mom: What? The stupids? There were books about stupids?

me: Yes, a family called The Stupids. I don’t remember them. I never read those books. I told Wendy that you wouldn’t have let us read anything like that because we weren’t allowed to use the word “stupid”, but she said, “They were in the library!”

Mom: Well, you still shouldn’t be reading everything in the library.

me: Ok, not the story. Anyway, she was telling her parents, “Remember the books about the Stupids? If we had books named after our family, it would be The Assholes! Cause we’re Assholes! Cause you judge everyone!”

[Laughter]

Mom: And we’d be the “Love Everyone and Get Along With Everyone” Family

me: No, we would be the “Repress All Your Feelings” Family. The Repressors. We would be the “Swallow All Your Emotions” Family. The Swallowers.

[pause]

me: Yeah, the Swallowers doesn’t sound so good, so let’s go back to Repressors.

Regardless of what you call our family, I have noticed a trend in the general population to be very judge-y and unkind. I have a Pinterest account and when I browse, I always see at least a couple of pins that are very “anti-my-fellow-man-I-am-better-than-you” themed pins, like these:

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Screen Shot 2013-08-31 at 7.39.38 PM

I am as guilty as the next person (whom on Wednesday night was my friend Wendy, and we all know that she is an Asshole) to be judgmental, but it really bothers me how casually we fling out insults and criticisms about other people, often (mostly) when we don’t have the slightest idea about what they are really going through. Our immature attempt to make ourselves feel better is by telling ourselves that we are better, but at the expense of someone else.

The ironic and twisted thing about this method of self-soothing is this: Who is using me as their yardstick to make themselves feel better? Who is out there saying, “Well, I know that I blow, but at least I am not as bad as Cristy.” OUCH.

Because I’m sure that happens. (Double ouch, you asshole.)

I am going to make a concerted effort to leaving my yardstick in storage. Can you? If not, I’ll try not to judge.

 

It’s really crowded in this head of mine

I had a super, terrible, bad week.  It was just one of those weeks that kicked me six ways to Sunday.  (I just looked up what that phrase meant, by the way, and it still doesn’t make sense, but it rolls off the tongue well.)  Regardless, there was much crying and gnashing of teeth.

I wanted to do this:

photo-41

This is what I felt I actually accomplished:

Home P2

I feel lucky that I realized my error.

In truth, I am sure that I was more and accomplished more than I actually feel like I did.  My problem is that I get caught up in my own head.   If it is possible to think too much, I do it.  Some thoughts are on a perpetual loop, playing over and over in my head; some thoughts are like boomerangs, they come in, fly around, then leave, and their trajectory is a little wild.  Some thoughts are like flocks of geese — they have their own seasonal pattern and can be counted on to show up on a recurring basis.  And some are like fire crackers — they are just popping off randomly — boom!  Boom, boom!  BOOM!  Boom, boom, boom!  BOOOOOOM!  It’s madness up there.

I have mentioned before that I have fought (and won) battles with depression in the past, involving some therapy.  During therapy I learned that some of my depression is caused by this conflagration of thoughts in my head.  I’ve tried lots of exercises to calm my mind, to strive for mindfulness, to concentrate on one thing.  It’s difficult, but it can be done.

That’s one reason why reading is so relaxing to me — I can turn my own thoughts off while I read.  It’s soothing.

Matt and I recently had a conversation that highlighted how differently we approached our surroundings:

me:  I’ve been thinking about finding another lawyer to do our wills.  I need to find someone to take Louie [my dog] if something happens to me.

Matt:  ok

me:  I talked to Mom and she said that she was sure that you would keep him if I died, but I know that you wouldn’t really want to.  And I don’t want you to be burdened and he shouldn’t be a burden to someone.  So I need to find a lawyer.

Matt:  this is what you have been thinking about?  Worrying about dying and what would happen with your dog if you did?  It must be hell being in your head.

me:  it is!  It is hell worrying about all this stuff.  Don’t you worry about stuff like this?

Matt:  no.

me:  well, what do you think about?

Matt:  kayaks.

I love that about Matt.  He helps keep me stable.  It would be awful around here if there were two of us all caught up in our heads.

Now, next week, I’m going to do some Epic Shit.  It’s a promise to myself and all my pesky thoughts.

Mysteries solved

I was driving to work on the interstate this morning when I noticed a bad smell.  A persistent bad smell.  As a girl who grew up in the country, I recognized it as cow manure.  It smelled like cow poop.

One mile passed, then two, but the smell maintained.

My dog, Louie, rides with me everyday.  I drop him off at doggie daycare (no comments, please, I’ve heard them all from Matt) while I go to work.

Louie on the way to work

Louie on the way to work

Thus, my natural first question after the smell persisted was, “Louie, are you farting back there?”  He didn’t reply, but I just didn’t think that it was him.

Then I started thinking that maybe I had stepped in something.  Or had run over a humongous cow patty that was making my car a roving stink bomb.  Or my upper lip was stinking.  Or (worse option of all) I was farting and didn’t even know it.

After about 10 miles of wondering where in the hell the stink was coming from I drove up behind and passed a semi-truck hauling a load of cattle.  I was so happy!  Not only was my bowel system not giving out, a mystery had been solved.

I LOVE when a mystery is solved.  I think that is why I love to watch true crime on TV so much — most of those shows are aired only after the mystery of who-dunit is answered.  I never liked America’s Most Wanted because the final act hadn’t been completed yet.  I like it when the pieces come together.

I always have felt this way.  Some of my favorite books growing up were Nancy Drew and Encyclopedia Brown.  Not knowing the answer makes me antsy and a little bit nervous.  I admit it — I pick up a book and read the first chapter or two, and then I skip to the back and skim the end.  I need to know — Does it have a happy ending?

I have thought to myself on several occasions that I can’t wait to get to Heaven just so that I can get answers to some of life’s biggest mysteries.  Like “Who was on the grassy knoll?”  My list of things that I want to know when I get to Heaven includes:

  1. What happened to the people of the Lost Colony?
  2. What happened to the dinosaurs?
  3. Who was Jack the Ripper?
  4. Is Professional Wrestling real?
  5. Is Politics in Washington real?  Has it ever been?
  6. Are there people on other planets?
  7. Is there a Big Foot and why does he look fuzzy in all his pictures?

I think that would give me some things to talk about for a long time.

***************************************************************

I ate dinner with my friend, Nikki, the other night.  (**hi, Nikki**)  She knows that I have been feeling kinda down recently.  An extended illness, extended rainy weather and extended stress have created some blueness in my mood.  She brought me a card to make me feel better.

photo-39

photo-40

 

I felt better immediately.

And, she signed it with a Post-It, so I can give it to someone else.  That made me feel better, as well, in that I can share the joy.

Nikki–you are the best.