Notes from a LiteraryVixen

Snarks and Randoms for Your Enlightenment.

Only the Lonely. March 27, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — theliteraryvixen @ 9:59 pm

Through exposure to to the socially-backward, I have developed a new theory:

Loneliness is a self-perpetuating, vicious cycle.

Allow me to explain. I work with a three guys who do not get much social interaction. Two strive for it, one shies away from it. All three of them seem uncomfortable in their situation, but because of who they are and how they react to things, their situation will never change.

Which makes sense. After all, that is a reason that the edict “The definition of insanity is performing the same task repeatedly, expecting a different result” IS, in fact, an edict.

One person, the most reserved of the three, seems tortured by social interaction. It’s almost as if he’s suffering from a degree of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder from a torturous middle school experience. Because of this uncomfortableness reacting to social stimuli, he pulls away from it completely, turning his head before people can invite him in with a greeting or a smile. Definitely a good way to stay locked in one’s shell.

The second person is absolutely desperate for attention. Any attention he can get. To the point of making hypochondric displays, or talking to his computer monitor in hopes of luring an unsuspecting cubicle neighbor to fall into his erstwhile invitation to converse. In meetings, this tendency displays itself in the need to interject himself into the conversation by simply repeating and reaffirming the statements of the person who just spoke, usually in much lengthier terms. Of course, this desperation and constant attention-seeking just turns people off. The saddest case of the three, really. The thing that he wants most is the very thing he’s chasing away with digilence.

The third, most socially-acceptable person I’m not even sure recognizes his own social dischord. He interacts with people pretty regularly, but monopolizes the conversation, repeats the same jokes over and over, and does not know when the natural end of a conversation has passed. Therefore, he will keep talking and talking, not saying much interesting. So people smile and back away gently, and are careful not to encourage much conversation from that point forward. By desiring to be the MOST social person, the MOST well-liked, he ends up being one to avoid.

Of the three types profiled here, I guess I’d rather be the third, if I had to be one at all: blithely unaware of my own annoying self, perhaps even thinking that I was charming and very well-liked.

And, who knows? Maybe I even AM. I certainly hope not. But we are all subject to our own delusions; victim to the inability to truly view ourselves as other see us; stuck inside our own heads. So, who knows?

On a side note: It is intriguing to me that the three best examples that I have yet encountered are all males. I wonder if that’s a gender-related issue. I think girls learn to sink or swim socially pretty early on, due to the complexity of adolescent girl relationships. Maybe men are hobbled from the start, with the social emphasis being more on blatant competition than compatriatism. Maybe we need to give a big hand to the guys who are able to rise above this at all.

For my own part, I hope to help settle these guys into a normal rhythm of social interaction. Consider it an outreach program for social lepers. It’s good for the subjects, the community at large, and even my OWN soul.

Let’s just hope I have the patience and aptitude to do it.

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Retracting Before Impact. March 21, 2008

Filed under: Dating,Philosophy — theliteraryvixen @ 6:35 pm

This morning, I stopped at a gas station for coffee and cigarettes on my way to work (just for the record: Open Pantry has a lovely Fair Trade Organic blend!). While filling my cup, the radio station over the store loudspeaker caught my attention.

The local teenybopper station was interviewing folks about something exciting or new that they’ve done in the last year (I don’t know why; you would think this would be more appropriate in January, right?). One caller said that he’d “had [his] first hook-up with a chubby girl, and it wasn’t as bad as [he] thought it would be.”

That caught me off guard.

I was almost offended, but just for a fraction of a second. And then I thought “I hope a lot of people heard that.” Because, you know, it’s NOT that bad!

For those of you who don’t know me, who happened on this blog randomly: I am not a skinny girl. Far from it, in fact. But it doesn’t really bother me that much, to be honest with you. The only thing that really embarrasses me about my weight on a regular basis is the perception that people either think that I am or that I should be bothered by it. And, being who I am, that in and of itself bothers me enough that I never want to let people see me thinking about my weight . . . never see me struggle with it.

This is not to say that I would not like to lose weight and be healthier. It’s more of a matter of liking who I am; owning my faults for what they are and living with the consequences of my own actions.

But back to the topic at hand: the radio show and its young-ish male caller.

I was hoping that more people had heard the broadcast because I think that oftentimes “big girls” are overlooked in the love department. That’s news to nobody, right?

But here’s something to ponder:
I think people avoid touching heavier people because they assume that we’re ashamed of your “touching our fat” – you know, like all those skinny girls who claim they have a roll – and because we know that you’re avoiding touching us, we become ahamed of our fat, which reinforces to the skinny crowd the theory that it must be absolutely repulsive.

It very well may just be a vicious circle.

Look, I’m not on here advocating for being a fat chick, and I’m not bemoaning any “fattist” attitudes of the world at large. All I’m saying is – don’t assume I have issues. I’ll show them to you my damn self, thank you.

And, you know, hug your chubby friends or something. You never know – it may bring about a paradigm shift in you both!

 

America’s Unmentionables. March 17, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — theliteraryvixen @ 8:26 pm

On Saturday night, a group of friends and I were chatting about random things, as often happens when libations are involved. One friend brought up the show Sex and the City, mentioning how her fiancé had asked if she and her friends really talked like that about men and sex. She admitted that, no, we really don’t. Another girl, who grew up on the East Coast, said that she could totally relate to that sort of frank sexual conversation, but admitted that the friend who generally did so was “kind of a whore.”

While it is generally acknowledged that we all have some degree of sex life, it’s just not something that most Americans, still, openly discuss. We are quite prudish by European standards, which shocked me at the age of 11, seeing bare breasts openly on display on the covers of magazines in a local Finnish grocery store.

But what precipitated this blog was an incident which brought another of America’s verboten topics into view: money.

I recently had my annual review, which put me into another salary bracket at the mid-size insurance company I currently work for. Because my raise hadn’t been hammered out into dollars yet, and because I wasn’t sure what my current salary RANGE was, I e-mailed HR for the details of my current bracket and the one I would be moving into. Before doing so, though, I tried to see if anyone else had the information – I was embarrassed to be asking this question, although it’s perfectly reasonable for a person to know what her own salary range should be!

I was told by HR that when employees request this sort of information, they generally have a short meeting to discuss it, rather than just hand it over.

Seriously? What’s with the Fort Knox-level security here? I would have just cancelled the forthcoming meeting request in shame, had it not been for a natural sense of indignance springing forth. Why can’t I simply know this information which, by the way, was available on the Intranet for all to see just a few months ago?

It seems to me that here, in the wholesome, values-driven Midwest, talking about sex and money are just perceived as crass. Though both facts of life, each necessary to some degree, to either perpetuate the species or simply to sustain life itself, neither are supposed to be things that we value more than other ideals or social mores. And are therefore off-limits.

We’re all victims to this kind of mentality. Actually, when a guy I was dating spent ten minutes cataloguing his salary raises over the last year, my thoughts were along the lines of “ugh – that is so unattractive.” While not the keening blow to that relationship, we weren’t dating much longer. It was just a sign that he either lacked social skills or valued money too much . . . or that he had no sense of good story-telling. Because, seriously – ten minutes?

But I digress.

Much as Americans think that we’re well beyond the socially-constrictive Victorian era, and light-years beyond the Puritans that first settled this country, are we really just blind to our own cages?

And is limiting conversation about the baser things in life necessarily a bad thing? This I don’t know. But I can say that mixing social conservatism with bureaucracy certainly leads to some head-scratching situations.

 

The Living Daylights. March 11, 2008

Filed under: Randoms — theliteraryvixen @ 3:38 pm

Daylight Saving Time blows.

 

NOTE: Much like Groundhog [singular] Day, the correct usage of Daylight Saving [singular!] Time is NOT pluralized, I’ve come to discover. Who knew?

 

Now, don’t get me wrong. I am not against it in either practice OR principle. It’s a lovely goal to try and conserve energy (ostensibly the goal of the program). And luxuriating in that “extra hour” of sleep in the fall is just LOVELY.

 

So why am I possibly whining about it, then?

 

Because, come on: it’s KIND OF ridiculous.

 

First of all, who the heck RUNS this program? Who decides when we’re turning our clocks forward or back? It’s a federally-mandated program (under the The Uniform Time Act of 1966), even though entire states opt-out of it, like Hawaii and Arizona. But who is on this committee that decided to bump our “spring forward” back?

 

Secondly, if I could find these mysterious people (shrouded in as much secrecy as the MPAA Ratings board), I would berate them heavily for MESSING with the dates. . . In 2007, they started to make us spring forward three weeks earlier. Which means that we get one week of awakening to sunlight, then [whoosh!] back to waking up in what feels like nighttime.

 

I’m fairly convinced they only did it because they have some sort of arrangement with Starbucks to boost consumption. I know I certainly need a caffeinated boost to get my system through that shock! Why not leave it the first weekend in April, as it has been my entire life, so that we can still wake up to sunlight?

 

Plus, we’re no longer on the same schedule as the European Union. They “spring forward” three weeks from now, in the last weekend of March. Meaning, if you already have to do the calculations between one time zone and another to do business or to connect with family, for three weeks, you need to remember to augment your math until the rest of the world catches up.

 

Also, can we actually say this works? Consider this:

“The argument in favor of saving energy swayed Indiana, where until 2005, only about 16 percent of counties observed Daylight Saving Time. Based on the DOT study, advocates of Indiana DST estimated that the state’s residents would save over $7 million in electricity costs each year. Now that Indiana has made the switch, however, researchers have found the opposite to be the case. Scientists from the University of California, Santa Barbara, compared energy usage over the course of three years in Indiana counties that switched from year-round Standard Time to DST. They found that Indianans actually spent $8.6 million more each year because of Daylight Saving Time, and increased emissions came with a social cost of between $1.6 million and $5.3 million per year. Commentators have theorized that the energy jump is due to the increased prevalence of home air conditioning over the past 40 years, in that more daylight toward the end of a summer’s day means that people are more likely to use their air conditioners when they come home from work.” [Source: webexhibits.org/daylightsaving]

 

Now, Ben Franklin was a pretty smart guy; he thought up a lot of great things (did you know he’s the one responsible?) . . . but this may be an ideal that is either not living up to its potential or is past its time.

 

But maybe you’ll just have to forgive this diatribe. I had to get up REALLY early this morning.

 

Can someone pass the popcorn? March 7, 2008

Filed under: The Arts — theliteraryvixen @ 4:25 pm

It’s the most wonderful time of the year . . . .

[And, no, I don’t mean the Holiday season.]

It’s FILM FEST TIME!

I the Wisconsin Film Festival. It’s four days of independent and/or foreign film, documentaries and happiness. As a bonus, it almost always takes place during the week of my birthday. It’s like the best gift EVER, every single year.

The film schedule was released yesterday, and the box office opens tomorrow. Which means that tonight I will be planning my festival like I’m staging a military coup. Besides one break a day for a good meal, I pretty much spend the first weekend of April every year racing from one venue to another. I have to account time for walking and bathroom breaks (especially because I refuse to use the facilities at the Orpheum – they’re dark, old and scary), but other than that, it’s wall-to-wall films.

I generally see between 12-15 films each year, which is excellent considering that Thursday and Friday films don’t start until after 4:00 p.m. It’s tough to get to more than two films on those days.

This year, I will be bringing my own supply of salt & vinegar popcorn seasoning in my purse; my mom and I fell in love with the stuff at the Orpheum and they no longer carry it! And, since I totally have to get popcorn at least once during the festival, I must therefore carry my own. Luckily, I tracked down a huge supply of it from a local wholesaler for Mom’s birthday last year. She, being a good mom, happily shared the wealth.

Also new this season will be my iPod Shuffle. This will be lovely for standing in long lines and/or waiting for films to begin. I always carry a book, too (Film Festival or not!), but YOU try reading one of those inside a movie house! Even when the lights are ON, you can develop serious eyestrain trying to read in those cavernous spaces. And I will definitely need to reserve my eyesight for greater purposes.

Other essentials (for Film Fest Newbies):

  • Comfortable Shoes. Seriously.
  • Eyedrops. This means YOU, contact lens-wearers!
  • Gum. Why am I the only person who ever has gum these days? Everyone wants it!
  • The Film Fest schedule (for the answer to the question “What are we seeing again?” inevitably asked by the people you drag with you).
  • CASH. You will need coffee, water and snacks. And perhaps cocktails. All require actual currency.
  • A watch (or some other time-telling device).
  • Your tickets.

Remember: plan carefully, don’t walk against any traffic lights, and DON’T FREAKING TALK DURING THE MOVIES and this will be a pleasant festival for all!

Enjoy the Show(s)!