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Thoughts Meander Like a Restless Wind Inside a Letter Box

Monday, August 08, 2011

My husband is a wonderful man with several jobs around here. He is the main garbage dealer-wither. He does the bulk of the laundry (I do most of the putting away). He does much of the post-meal cleanup (I do most of the prep). He does a lot of the yard work (I deal with the car). It is, we feel, a pretty equal partnership.

He has two jobs, though, that are pretty much just his: bat removal and killing the big bugs.

Now, bat removal, fortunately, doesn't happen too often. I tend to scream like an extra in a cheap horror flick and hide under whatever is available to hide under. Last time, it was the desk where I am sitting right now, so I got to be up close and intimate with the constellation of dropped (milk-free) Cheerios that are all over the immediate floor area.

Then there is the ritual slaughter of the really big bugs.

This morning, I was going downstairs, minding my own business, you know, thinking about getting a water refill and selecting a particular flavor stick. You know, the great mysteries of life that we all ponder at about 9:30 AM.

When, on the window sill just above the window seat (this house is over 100 years old so we have wacky nooks all over the place), I see --

the thing.

It is HUGE.

Okay, not huge.

But it is close to an inch long.

Black as midnight, with antlers, er, antennae. A beetle.

Now, it shouldn't really matter, right? It is neither a termite nor is it a roach. And it's nowhere near where I normally hang out. For it to get here, into the computer room, would probably involve a few beetle generations, assuming it could (a) find a mate (b) raise the children to continue the quest to find the computer room and (c) pack enough food and beetle sweaters for the journey (that area gets kinda chilly in the winter).

I am safe, right?

Oh, no.

Now, Mister J has already gone to work.

It's just me and the beetle, and the constellation of Cheerios which are still underneath this desk.

Perhaps the beetle wants the Cheerios? Perhaps the constellation is a subject of their songs and stories, their myths and legends?


I hit it with the newspaper, of course. And I scoop it onto the tray that I am taking downstairs. I get the tray to the kitchen sink.

And -- eek! It moves!

Now I get the neon hunter orange flyswatter that we keep for just such occasions and I tip the tray so as to get it to land on a placed paper towel and then I give it what-for.

Take that, you jespah-worshipping, Cheerio-coveting, window seat-squatting minion of Satan!

Normally I would provide a burial at sea, but the paper towel precludes that. Therefore, a standard burial is provided, straight into the dark blue waste can in the kitchen which fortunately has a heavy enough lid that it would take an army of beetles -- even huge mutant black Satanic ones -- to lift.

I sigh and survey my dominion. I get my water refill (orange flavor stick, for those of you keeping track at home). And I go back upstairs, secure in the knowledge that being a Sparkie has truly helped me to gain confidence and overcome my fears.

But I still ain't touchin' no bats.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

IFDEEVARUNS2 8/15/2011 9:59AM

    You'd love our Texas roaches!

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ANONYGIRL 8/10/2011 12:05PM

    You would die at my house. D.I.E. I live in deep thick woods and my home is host to all manner of big icky bugs. Spiders that, even after they've shriveled up and died, are as big as the palm of your hand. I never get food eating nasties or roaches or even ants, but I do get 'OMG what is this call the discovery channel this is the first time it has ever been seen, maybe they'll name it after me!' bugs.

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    I'm with Pickie. You need those little bats to eat your bugs. Make friends with your bat I say. People will be very impressed (as they run screaming into the Cheerio keeper.


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CAROLISCIOUS 8/9/2011 8:26AM

    Thanks for the very descriptive story and the good laff! What's a "flavor stick?"

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FIT_TERI 8/8/2011 10:41PM

    LOL!!! I love this. I have told my husband that the ONLY reason I am married to him is for critter removal (we have a cat who occasionally, but rarely, hunts). That and opening those pesky jars. Of course, that isn't actually true.

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LTRUM71 8/8/2011 6:56PM

    Too funny!! I hate big bugs (and little ones for that matter).

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TELERIE 8/8/2011 6:47PM

    I'm SURE you're their goddess, dear! Jai Guru Deva!

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PICKIE98 8/8/2011 6:24PM

    I am so disappointed in you!! Why did you not save that beetle for the next bat that comes swooping down to kill you in your sleep????Bats eat bugs, bugs are your sworn enemies, born to antagonize you, why did you kill the one thing that would distract the bats and veer them away from your face with your mouth hanging open while you sleep? Who knows what crawls in and out of our mouth when we mouth-breathe, asleep?? My DD woke up one night(she is NOT afraid of spiders) to find a big hairy spider(size of a quarter) crawling OUT OF HER MOUTH?!@!!!!!!!
It took me a month to pay for all the mouthwash she used, not to mention bug spray, electric bill from her sleeping with all her bedroom lights on!!!!

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MOTTAMAMALOU 8/8/2011 5:32PM

    emoticon You are too much!

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MADERINERUE 8/8/2011 3:24PM

    Brave, brave Jespah. I had previously ceded Bug Control to my better half, as well, preferring to spend my own time screaming, but after a recent "conquest" of his that resulted in roach (yes, roach) guts all over my kids' bookshelf, well, it's up to me now.

(Me, trying not to hurl) emoticon

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TEMPEST272002 8/8/2011 2:08PM

    Thanks for the laugh. Too funny! Having once been bite by a poisonous spider, my big old hubby now squeals like you do. I get to be the official bug-remover at our house. And no - I don't kill them. I put them gently in my hand and carry them outside. My parents were hippies. Explains a lot.

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DDOORN 8/8/2011 1:51PM

    Cute story...hey, your title, isn't that from an old Simon & Garfunkel song...?


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MS.ELENI 8/8/2011 12:03PM

    emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon
Too funny. My Bill is in charge of mice in back yard. And like you.Any big bugs in house

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THECITYMOUSE 8/8/2011 11:55AM



Dear GAWED how I lurve yew!!!


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BLUEANGELLK 8/8/2011 10:37AM

OMG!!! You are a stitch. You take what could have been an ordinary experience and written it so well that I have tears rolling down my face laughing at the idea of giant beetles worshipping at your feel. Not that you don't deserve it, but really, I found someone who thinks of these crazy things just like me!!! Asan example, just yesterday I asked a woman I know who just donated a kidney to a friend if the doctor had to fill up that newly created space with something. I suggested the fluffy sweet white stuff from inside a Twinkie. Don't you think that would work?? It has a forever shelf life like the rest of the snack

P.s. My desk has the sam cheerio constellations under it. Do you thing we are looking at the sam cheerio universe?

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    Thanks for sharing! I really enjoyed the giggle. emoticon

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Let Yourself Be Free

Monday, August 01, 2011

I keep glancing at the popular/promoted topics -- you know the ones on the right side, when you're on most pages (although not on private Spark pages or the Start page)? And they are one long festival of depression.

* How do I handle going to a restaurant when others are dieting?
* How do I deal with people sabotaging me?
* How do I handle negativity re my choices?
* How do I handle criticism?

I am paraphrasing but this is the general gist.


Let's look at all of these separately, mmmkay?

* How do I handle going to a restaurant when others are dieting?
-- Have you ever gone to a restaurant where not everyone was eating the same thing? If the answer is no, you are either only 3 1/2 years old or are mistaken or have had an interesting time of it. You eat salad, they eat steak. You eat an omelet, they have pancakes. You eat grilled chicken, they have lasagna.

So what! And, BTW, do you remember what you had for dinner the last time you dined out? No fair, don't cheat by looking at food logs. It's a simple question: DO YOU REMEMBER? 'Cause if you don't, THEY don't. It. Does. Not. Matter. BTW, do you remember what THEY ate? No? Then even better.

Order what you like, the way you want it. If someone comments, they comment. Let 'em.

* How do I deal with people sabotaging me?
-- How are they doing this, exactly? Are they filling your coffee cup with teaspoons of sugar instead of Equal? Are they buying the wrong stuff at the grocery? Are they eating ice cream in front of you?

TAKE CONTROL. Become the food shopper, and put the junk back if someone tries to put it into the cart. And talk to your family. Tell them this is important to you. Most people -- if they love you -- don't want to act like jerks and really don't want to harm you. They may not even know. So tell 'em! And if they DO know, and they STILL do it? Call 'em on it, for the act of passive-aggressive hostility that it is.

* How do I handle negativity re my choices?
-- Not everyone is gonna love what you do. When I was 14, I bought a dress with my own money. I had not worn a dress for years, but I liked this one. It had an off-white background and a black graphic floral pattern. I liked it. My mother HATED it. But yanno something? I was wearing it, and not her. And, BTW (if you know "Color me Beautiful"), I am a Spring and she is a Winter. We have never looked good in the same things and have never had even slightly similar tastes in clothes. That's not going to change any time soon.

I wore the dress anyway. So what to do if someone criticizes your salad, e. g. "Oh, just one lil bite of pasta/birthday cake/chips/whatever won't hurt you!" "Ugh, I hate salad, how can you eat THAT???" Heh, no, get thee behind me, Satan. Eat your salad anyway.

* How do I handle criticism?
-- The same way you do in any other aspect of your life. Do your best not to take it personally and, instead, try to learn from it. A lot of people mean well, but they don't know shinola about weight loss. Do what you do with any boring drone -- pretend to listen, nod and smile politely. Offer an occasional "mm hmm" or whatever acknowledging noncommital sound you prefer.

And then go ahead and do what you need to do for yourself anyway.


Free yourself from the tyranny of thinking that you need to kowtow to others' expectations.

Live your life, not the one that others expect or think is somehow better for you. They are only projecting their own insecurities onto you.

Be Teflon, and they will fly right off.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

NVDONNA 8/6/2011 2:05AM

    We all need to take responsibility for our actions. No one can make us do what we do not want to do. It is all up to us to make our own decisions and stick to our own plan. If we don't it's our own decision and making excuses is not owning up to the fact that we were just not being in control.

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HAPPYWRITER7 8/3/2011 6:46AM

    Here Here!
You were hitting the heads on nails all over the place! It's so nice to see a blog like this. It's such a welcomed change.

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TELERIE 8/3/2011 5:08AM

    Oh my! I love your blogs! How I've missed them!! MUAH!

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SWEETZMIX 8/2/2011 12:23PM

    Great advice. It's all about taking control. I feel that way today. I need to take control!

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DDOORN 8/2/2011 8:49AM

    Get behind the wheel and take charge of your decisions and choices...! Simple, yet at times challenging steps to take!


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CAROLISCIOUS 8/1/2011 9:21PM

    Great blog JES. Human nature sure drags us down the "woe is me road." I hope you added your thoughts to those folks asking the questions.

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CAMILLEMANS 8/1/2011 3:21PM

    Your message has deeply impacted and moved me. I am actually shedding a tear with the honesty of the message and the dry humor it was delivered with. You have stated things in quite a wonderful perspective. Thank you.

emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon

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FIT_TERI 8/1/2011 12:10PM


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MS.ELENI 8/1/2011 12:07PM

    You gave me a lot to think about. This may be your best blog ever. Thanks for sharing.You are just so smart. Maybe it will rub off on some of us. emoticon

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TEMPEST272002 8/1/2011 11:48AM

    Great blog! I often wonder at all the negativity. It's really a matter of perspective. When people go on a diet, it's all about deprivation. Me, I'm making healthy choices to have a bigger life. No deprivation here.

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DMPRIDER 8/1/2011 10:36AM

    Good advice, good strategies, as always!

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MARCHMAID 8/1/2011 10:28AM

    I second the "run your own race" notion!

Well said!

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    Phew. Say it sistah!

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LAB-LOVER 8/1/2011 8:46AM

    To quote one of our SpBuddies: "Fa La Stinkin' LA!"

Or as they say in the running world "run your own race!"

Two thumbs up!

emoticon emoticon

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If You Arrive and Don't See Me

Monday, July 25, 2011

I have thinking about budgets a LOT lately.

There's a pretty obvious reason. Unemployment is now gone. So we have to, quite literally, watch our pennies. We turn off fans and lights after each other. We sit together if we turn on the a/c (fortunately, the heat finally broke, so we can keep the a/c off -- and most of the fans as well -- and save more $$). And, of course, there's also the food budget. No more presliced mushrooms. I slice them now, and we save a buck. We eat more beans (they're good for ya! Just don't stand downwind of my home, mmmkay?) than chicken. Our salads are not piled quite so high. We use coupons. We look for generic alternatives. The once weekly dinner out is down to once every other week. It may end up being once per month but right now this scarcest bit of luxury is something we are holding onto.

I suspect that, at some point, this will translate into some losing (not this week, but TOM is looming). If nothing else, it should translate into some more cooking creativity. We are finding all sorts of interesting leftovers in the freezer, and they are finding their ways into our meals.

So -- anyway -- I wanted to talk about calorie budgets, and making good food choices. So many of us are overweight because of junk food, bad, greasy cakes, stale company meeting cookies, day-old doughnuts and the like. I suspect that few of us are, truly, carrying around extra poundage because we got too much Kobe beef or truffle oil or pheasant. And food need not be expensive to be good, of course. I am not saying that we didn't overindulge on things that tasted really good, or that were even good for us -- we just overdid it. Repeatedly.

If we are on a calorie budget, it makes sense to choose the best foods, right? To spend our caloric "money" wisely, and carefully decide where and how to spend it. Why purchase junk that won't be sustaining? Why not work to get the best that you can, within your limited means?

And that got me to thinking, which is always dangerous.

The idea of choosing the best foods reminded me of someone I knew a good 25 years ago.

I worked with a gal, a secretary, who was up to her eyeballs (and beyond) in debt. She made, probably, about $11k/year (I knew this because she told me; this was Delaware and apartments were $150/month for nice ones) but was in debt to the tune of about $50k.

Yes, more than she made in 4 1/2 YEARS.

And what was she buying?

It wasn't medical care or a house. It wasn't even a car. It was ... stretch pants. And blousy tops. I bet she had one for every day of the season, let alone week. She bought and ate fast food (yes, this was a large gal), and I recall overhearing her tell one of her pals, "I got a new credit card offer in the mail; the limit was $5,000 so I got it and once I got the card I went out and spent that sucker right up."

And I am thinking, huh?

You are destroying your future and essentially creating indentured servitude for yourself, probably for the remainder of your life, for Wendy's hamburgers and cheap stretchy pants from KMart which will not last beyond five washings. ARE YOU OUTTA YOUR FREAKIN' MIND?????

And becoming overweight, at least for me (and possibly for you), was not a festival of eating amazing foods, but just too much of them. I was not gorging myself on caviar and lobster and chateaubriand and truffles.

Nope. I did it on Taco Bell, stale old potato chips and low quality vanilla ice cream -- and a lot of it was foods that were not even marginally delicious, let alone super-delicious (and of course, as you are well aware, it need not be expensive in order to be super-delicious).

Essentially, I put myself into indentured servitude with my weight, and I sold myself out for cheap, much like the gal with the rainbow assortment of stretchy pants and no retirement fund.

The freedom is to eat the super-delicious (or at least rather delicious) foods, in moderation, LOVE them and stay out of indentured servitude.

Sparklies of the world, unite! You have nothing to lose but your calorically-induced chains!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

DOGMOMMA2THREE 8/1/2011 1:57PM

    Our mutual friend Tempest272002 suggested I read this blog and am I ever glad I did. I'm thinking we are in similiar financial situations. Right now I have unemployment but my husband isn't working and his unemployment has run out too. We are lucky we have saved for retirement in the years that we could and are debating dipping into those now to see us through.

I've got several relatives like your friend from years ago and you know what? They are still acting the same way with the simple knowledge that "oh well, we'll go on welfare". Drives me nuts. Welfare is there for people who truly need and deserve it...not because you spent money you didn't have on the the latest stretch pants! Ha!

Thanks for making me see that food is like a financial budget too. We love to eat out and have to cut it back...err...out for awhile. Luckily we still have a freezer full of stuff I could be cooking up to see us through.

I think you are mentally a lot richer than you think you are! Once again, thanks for the great blog!

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    Wow Awesome perspective. How easy it is to look at what someone else's doing and think, "are you INSANE?" yet I do the same thing in another way. Nobody ever said it better than Shakespeare, "Oh what fools these mortals be!"

Thank you for giving me something to think about. You are so, so right -- years of the indentured servitude of not being happy in my own skin and not being able to do all the things I really love and enjoy because of my weight has not been worth the fleeting pleasures of fast food and junk food that does not even taste amazing.

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CAROLISCIOUS 7/26/2011 9:50PM

    I can't help but wonder where your former spendalishus co-worker is now...that's very scary. Yet I'm willing to "spend" my weekend calories all at once by eating out...or by nibbling without care on some stupid snack like cheddar goldfish.

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KAYWEB555 7/26/2011 8:26PM

    Good Blog, Thanks for sharing your thoughts ! Gives all of us something to think about! food stamps only go so far, so I started a veggie garden with the help of a friends back yard ! we have tomatoes , peppers, lettuce raspberries, strawberries, beans! It sure will starte soon helping out with the stretch of the buck.

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ANONYGIRL 7/26/2011 8:23PM

    I eat a lot better now than I did when I was gaining. I got fat on good-tasting food, home baked and made from scratch, but devoid of nutritional value and heavy on carbs. And I told myself I ate healthy because I cooked it all from whole food. Right.

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AMBER281 7/26/2011 5:38PM

    I love this blog. Thank you so much for sharing!!!

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MARCHMAID 7/26/2011 11:02AM

    Well turned phrases here. ; ) I'm going to carry the image around with me for a while. Actually, I HAVE put on my weight by eating too high on the hog mostly. Too much of too many good things over the years. It's only recently that I realized and have acted on that understanding. For me it's been about my husband's love of companionship while eating. Really. I cook for him and eat even when I'm not hungry to be "sociable." Then I ate out of boredom and fatigue. No more of that sort of servitude for me!

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    I do love the way you think. What the heck is Kobe beef by the way. Oh I could Google it but I just know there is a story behind this.

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WOLFKITTY 7/26/2011 2:03AM

    This is awesome! :)

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TEMPEST272002 7/25/2011 2:29PM

    Great blog! I'm right on top of our budget & I make sure we live within our means. Sometimes that means we live very simply. So this is a great analogy for me.

We almost never eat out at restaurants, but I've become a great cook. Most of what we eat is better tasting than restaurant food anyhow & a fraction of the cost. Instead of going out to eat, what about date night with hubby at a cooking class? Could be fun!

What you said about selling out for crap food - that hit home & will stick with me. Thanks!

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CANNOTFATHOM 7/25/2011 1:47PM

    Great blog! You are right junk food can be cheaper, but I buy the better quality foods by what's on sale and utilizing our farmer's market.


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BLUEANGELLK 7/25/2011 1:10PM

    Being an indentured slave to food really got me thinking. Even now as I am trying to eat more healthfully, I find myself staying home and by myself more. I am trying to stay away from the temptations of fast food and large meals out, but what I am doing is further making me a slave to food. It is just slavery to healthier foods now. I need to be able to live my life AND make smart choices about food, not wait until I get thin before I live my life again. Thanks for the thoughts!

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NORAB52GOOD 7/25/2011 11:46AM

    Thinking is indeed a dangerous pastime. emoticon Your idea of indentured servitude is an interesting one. I often consider calories in terms of how much something 'costs' or if I can 'afford' it or indeed if a particular food is 'worth it'. It helps focus my mind and make things more logical instead of emotional. And if I am going to limit what I eat, I am damn sure going to enjoy what I do eat! emoticon

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DMPRIDER 7/25/2011 10:25AM

    Thanks JES, this is a really good way to look at things as we track calories and try to stay "on budget" and in range.

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1CRAZYDOG 7/25/2011 10:15AM

    Terriffic blog!!! To me there is NOTHING that tastes as good as being healthy feels!!!!

And boy, there were so many, many things that I make NOW that are as described, a "poor man's meal", but we had not idea! All we knew was it tasted good and it was surprisingly healthy! Keep those recipes as a treasure! They are!!!!!

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SWEETZMIX 7/25/2011 10:05AM

    You know this made me think when I was younger my mom used to make white rice and fried eggs. Supposedly a lot of Puerto Rican families ate this as a regular meal, but my mom would make it when money got tight. And you know what, we loved it lol We knew nothing about it being the poor mans meal for her to make. Some of the best meals are made when money is tight, you become more creative and put more effort into the meal.

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BYEPOUNDS 7/25/2011 9:47AM

    When things were really tight when i was a single mom, we made peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and went on o picnic, instead of the fast food place. To this day my kids comment how they loved the picnic, I didn't share with them that things were tight then, and I'm surprised that what they wanted was my time. Thanks for your article, it made me think of the past in a different light. Best to you!

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Ask not for Shelter or for Charity

Monday, July 18, 2011

This is my 5K finisher song. I try to be hitting the end somewhere during this song. I like it and, because I am more of a lyrics than a music gal, the lyrics have some meaning to me.

I was originally going to post this for the blog entry where I hit goal. Well, that ain't happenin' any time soon and I like the song so, why not? That rule was self-imposed, anyway. It does not mean I am leaving, etc. Don't worry, lil Sparklies.

I ran my 20th 5K on Saturday and it was meh. It was hot as blazes so times were not good for either Mr. J or me. Sobeit. No biggie. But a few other things are happening at the same time, which got me in the mood for this song and, in particular, for the lyric that is this week's blog title.

Unemployment is gone or nearly gone. Communications from the Commonwealth are confusing. Am I done? Done in a week? Done in a month? I have no idea, not really, and it's impossible to get through to a live humanoid. Because Massachusetts hit less than 8% unemployment for 3 months in a row, the big Federal extension was cut. Well, less than 8% should be a source of celebration, yes? It still means that a good three-quarters of a million people are outta work in my state alone.

Including me, and since November of '09.

It is not that I don't look, apply, go on interviews, network and otherwise try.

It's that the economy stinks on ice, 8% or no. I suspect that the less than 8% figure is a chimera. It probably reflects people who completely dropped off the grid, who hit the absolute end of their benefits and are now, doing what, exactly? Defaulting on their mortgages? Handing out "Spare Change" newspapers at South Station? Leaving the state? Knocking over liquor stores?

Regardless of what is really happening with my benefits, my husband and I are on severe austerity. We know that, even if I have $$ coming in until mid to late August, we should still do some serious belt-tightening. We had been going out to dinner once per week. That is now gone. He had been buying both breakfast and lunch out almost every day of the week. Now he's eating breakfast at home and trying to bring sandwiches. I quit the gym (my last day I've paid up to is August 15th). We won't sign up for any more 5Ks this year (although we have already paid for another 3. We will definitely go to those). Lights are off unless we are in a room. Fans are mostly taking the place of air conditioning. We are trying to think of other areas where we can cut back.

I cannot imagine what my retirement will look like. Actually, I can. It will be a void, because it will not exist. I will be either managing an online community or doing data analysis when I am 97 (if I should live so long) when I suddenly keel over. That is assuming, of course, that I get work then.

I am not writing this for a pity party (really, I'm not). It's more as a meditation on self-reliance. And this does fit in with health, believe it or not.

There are a lot of things that we can do on our own which will help us lose weight and keep it off. We track, we measure, we purchase the right foods, etc. We report on these things (sometimes). Reporting on them does not cause the weight loss. It's the doing of those things that does, yes?

But sometimes -- and maybe even a lot of the time -- what we are doing does not have immediate results, or even results that seem directly applicable and can be traced back in a chain of causation. I want to believe that the application for a job I put in today will lead to an interview by Friday, an offer by next week and a brand-spankin' new job by the first of next month. I want to believe that the peanut butter and jelly sandwich I just had for lunch, and the swimming I am going to do later today will lead to a pound or two off next week.

But they might not, or that job might come later, or not at all. That pound lost might be a pound up next week, or down in five weeks, and it's hard to trace it all back and see the connection.

This does not mean that doing the right things is futile.

What it means, instead, is that cause and effect are a more complicated marriage than we probably realize.

And we still need to do the right things -- whatever they are -- for any goals in our lives that are worthwhile, whether they are losing weight, finding a job, running a 5K, saving money or anything else.

And we should help each other along the way. For the title to this blog entry is actually a bit wrong.

Go ahead and ask for shelter. Ask for charity. For we have all been there, or are there, or will be there, and if we don't have each other, then all of that doing of right things is just so much isolation. It's like a boulder we're pushing uphill.

I will help you push your boulder if you help me push mine.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

UNICORN212 7/22/2011 6:04PM

    I hope your job prospects improve soon. Just remember, things could always be worse, so be thankful for what you do have.

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KSGROTHE 7/22/2011 3:26PM

    I would love to help you push your boulder, if only I knew what would help. Somehow, giving emoticon hugs and words of support don't seem like enough. I am unemployed now, too, and trying (probably later than I should have started) to build a network. But my confidence is lacking, and I feel just a bit shy to ask for help.

Anyway, hang in there. It sounds like you're doing all the right things (and setting a very good example for me, by the way!). emoticon

- Karen

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CAROLISCIOUS 7/19/2011 9:28PM

    I am amazed at what emerges from your brain in spite of the adversity you face. This was a beautiful reminder of the importance of keeping at it...regardless. I do hope something opens up for you soon.

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    Whew. You set my head a spinning Sistah. I feel your determination and your courage. Still I want to ask...How can this be happening? It does not add up. We work hard. We do the steps. Is this some kind of altered reality? And that is the piece you don't spell out but I am reading in every line. The stress of this. That is certainly not what "retirement" is supposed to be about. You as usual have given me something to chew on here. Thank you.

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MARCHMAID 7/19/2011 7:30AM

    The response has got to be political in some measure anyway. I see people talking about "them" taking away social security and "them" not fixing the economy. We the voters have to pay more attention to who it is we elect. Look at the mess the voters have created by electing the current House of Representatives! Just the wrong people to actually get the job done. Here in Massachusetts we have a mostly one party system--just as bad in its own way.

I'm not in the mood to write much this morning, but I urge everyone to stop thinking of government as "them." Get involved. Learn about the issues from somewhere other than Fox News. Pay attention to the details of the proposals of various candidates. Stop hiring pretty faces and smooth talkers and fanatics to run things!

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FIT_TERI 7/18/2011 9:38PM

    Oh, Jes. You're so right about doing the right thing not being futile. That's often so hard to remember, though. At our core, like children, we want to be rewarded for "doing the right thing".....but sometimes the reward is a long time in coming. I truly hope that you get some good news on the job front soon. I think you've been waiting long enough.

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MS.ELENI 7/18/2011 12:02PM

    I am constantly counting my blessings as We are doing ok. If they take away our SS then we will be hurting.
But it sucks to see so many people having such a hard time. I have always felt that homeless and hungry people should never happen in America but it does. I often wonder how those that in the government and make mind blowing salaries sleep at night.

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ARLENE_MOVES 7/18/2011 9:39AM

    I don't know what to say. You're right about the real unemployment -- gov't massages it, the real is about 18% nationwide - but they tell us the economy is improving. Only the big bankers and otherwise rich people are doing OK. If only the regular people would understand that they are voting against themselves when they vote.

I'm hoping my little bit I donate to my local shelter helps someone - there are so many hurting and all that is wanted is a way to support themselves. This economy does suck and when one thinks about it, the economy your dealing with is really the only one that matters.


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Hundred Billion Bottles, Washed up on the Shore

Monday, July 11, 2011

I have been thinking a lot about messages and communications lately. How we talk past each other. How we disagree ... kinda. How we say one thing but imply another. How being online distorts, changes, transmogrifies and royally screws up the layers, textures and nuances of meaning, and how an emoticon is a poor substitute for how we really feel.

I went to a forums site recently, one that I had not been to before. Like 99% of the planet, I skimmed the Terms of Service when I signed on. Then I went to a welcome area and I told people, I'm new here but have been on forums for over 9 years (it's probably 10 by now, and I've been in forum management for it'll be 9 years next month).

And all was well until I made some wave or another. Which, truth be told, might've been prevented by a much more careful reading of their Terms of Service, going over it, syllable by syllable, much like people go over the Zapruder film frame by frame. The big rule that I violated (and I checked this!), was buried amidst other rules, rules that seemed more important. Essentially what that site had done, as they say in the journalism biz -- they buried the lede. What that means is, the most important piece of the rules (to them) was not spelled out, clearly, bodly, importantly, etc., front and center, first on the list.

Nope. It was down there.

So I suggested, maybe change the order of the rules. Not change the rules. Just, move them around and put your Numero Uno really up there as #1. Or, perhaps, do something to your software, adding a reminder or feature that can really spell this out.

And, I had my head handed to me.

I will not go into specifics (the site has naught to do with diets, exercise, health anyway). It did make me a bit peeved (including when I was told the protocol for going to a new site -- uh, I've been going to new sites for years. I do actually know the drill). This should not bother me, but it does, and it is not because I had my hand slapped (it's been slapped before, and it will be slapped again, I have little doubt), as rather that it seemed that so much of the communication going on was at cross-purposes. Mixed messages were spiked with what certainly looked like anger, then the anger was denied even more vehemently, and around and around we go (and yeah, I offered an apology, was told there was no anger, and then my head was handed back to me again. WTF?).

My husband has heard me complain about this treatment for days, and he finally said: Sever all ties.

And of course he is absolutely, 100% correct about that. And I make an effort to do that but it's the nagging question of: could communications have been better?

Hell yeah.

And that brings me to my point and the actual connection to here on Sparkpeople.

I see people asking all sorts of interesting questions that, essentially, truly just boil down to communications:
* How can I tell my mother-in-law to stop offering me seconds?
* How can I tell my husband he's eating himself to death?
* What can I tell people (some zinger) when they are mean about my weight?

And on and on, ad infinitum, as if we were all back in Junior High.

And I dunno about you, but I was last in Junior High a good 35 (yes, really) years ago. I'm glad to be done with that, and have no desire to return.

Are we all really so bad at communicating, at telling people what we want, that we cannot do it? I can understand a teen being confused, or even a younger adult, perhaps, being befuddled. But at a certain point, shouldn't experience and (somewhat) common sense kick in? I wonder. Are we all so intimidated by others, so afraid of making offense or, whatever, that we cannot (with grace, good humor and KINDNESS) tell each other what we need to?

Kindness, yeah, that's a good one. Criticism is fine, and when it's leavened with kindness, there's a fighting chance that it will sink in. When it is not ... it is easy to tune it all out, yes?

Good humor, yeah, there's another one. Humor in understanding our shared foibles, as opposed to mean spiritedly laughing at each other. Do we do that? Not outwardly, but there are judgments, even here, yes. Don't deny it, folks. I've heard 'em -- oh, I did it all without drugs (therefore I am superior) or I did it all without plastic surgery (and therefore I am superior) or I never let myself get that big (whatever the magic figure is -- and therefore I am superior).

And grace, too, as we are on the receiving end of it at times. But I don't think there's anything wrong with pushing back when you need to. If a reaction to you is all out of proportion, well, I say feel strong enough to push back and face that reaction, and challenge it.

We are the message.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

MARCHMAID 7/16/2011 7:58AM

    Good thinking here. Lots of people could relate no doubt.

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    Great blog Jes. Well said. Wish I could achieve a kind of dispassionate attitude towards obviously wacky communicators. it is hard not to get sucked in, even when it is obviously pointless to engage. Your words are a good reminder. I am with the DH in theory. But I don't know if I would have the smarts to follow the good advice in real time.

And you have me thinking about what my own middle school level self doubts and questions may be! Oh Nooooo....

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MADERINERUE 7/11/2011 10:26PM

    Hey, Jes. Great blog, as usual. My line of work is all about communication and I've spent the better part of a one-year fellowship learning how to do it better. I still have miles to go, in that regard, before I sleep (my apologies to Robert Frost). The thing I struggle with is not taking every conversation personally. Truthfully, 96% of conversations (including both overt and covert content) are NOT about me. I am working on cultivating a sense of wonder, as in, "Oh, you think I'm a ****ing dirty rotten dumb***? Tell me more about that, because that wasn't the message I was trying to convey."

It's a work in progress. I am still very, very reactive. I stay off of a lot of online forums now because I could feel myself flush and my blood pressure would go up whenever I even thought someone MIGHT be making a personal comment or thinking I was stupid. Better not to subject myself to my own neurosis in that way.

Hugs to you!

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LESS_IS_MO 7/11/2011 7:48PM

    Just finished reading with Sting's last note. (Genius lad, he is)

Ah communication. Fine line to walk with some folks. My motto is usually to ask people for exactly what I want or need, because they just might give it to me. Maybe. And ain't it grand when they do? Push back? I don't do enough of it.

I hope that site experience doesn't have a lingering aftertaste. Keep on walking!

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CAROLISCIOUS 7/11/2011 7:21PM

    I just read your post on the Nuns team. I love how you took that negative experience and turned it into some sound thinking fodder. I find it very hard to say what I think. I'm alsways worried that #1 I'm wrong and I will feel stupid when I get corrected; #2 I will hurt someone's feelings if I don't agree with them, or #3 All of the above.

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ARLENE_MOVES 7/11/2011 7:14PM

    I like this... it make one think. I've had a few incidences here on SP that bothered me because of the bluntness, when I didn't even ask for suggestions, but I've ignored it. I've got more pressing issues!!

Still love that funny flat face on your page. My Buddy says 'HI"

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MS.ELENI 7/11/2011 6:48PM

    Your blogs always give us something to think about.

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KSGROTHE 7/11/2011 6:25PM

    Interesting blog. I think I hold back a lot of what I'm thinking when I'm in online forums for many of the same things you mention here - primarily that misunderstanding, judgment, and sometimes outright teasing can occur. We should all be adults about communication, but it seems like online forums bring out the junior high inner child in many people, probably because they feel mostly anonymous.

As for me, I may be 40 years old, but I spent many years in a marriage where my husband (now X) told me that I wasn't diplomatic enough in my communications, so I feel unsure of myself a lot of times when I'm trying to communicate, both in writing and when speaking. As much as email can be misconstrued due to loss of tone, etc., I tend to prefer communicating by email over talking on the phone. I guess I feel like I really am that bad at communicating.

Anyway, you've made some great points here, and I hope some people take it to heart.

- Karen

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JOPAPGH 7/11/2011 5:33PM

    I really liked this blog. I have found many folks on Spark have got to their breaking point, the point that got them to sign up, because they do have communication issues. Shyness, feeling of inferiority, lack of self worth. It seems basic to many of us, but other here really are looking for help finding their inner voice. I offer what advice I can.

Funny, I created a blog post called "Message in a Bottle", referring to the same song:


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