Search

Bless Your Heart

A recent transfer to the South

I hate the name Michael

Digest of my thoughts at work this week:

Who uses Harrington as a font in a professional email? Especially when they are the Director of Marketing and PR? Did you never have to take any sort of class that taught you anything about fonts?? I understand you’re trying to personalize an otherwise very impersonal form of communication, fonts are not for that. If you want to be personal, use personal language, not awkward, scripty fonts.

I hate the name Michael because I cannot spell it and I hate it.

I don’t understand people who “don’t really care for sandwiches.” It’s a piece of meat, cheese, and some other stuff shoved between two pieces of bread. It’s the most unassuming entree you could have. What’s not to care for? And the sentiment “why would I go to a sandwich shop and buy a sandwich when I can just make it myself?” Well are you going to make it yourself? No you’re certainly not you lazy piece of shit. So get off your damn soapbox and just buy a damn sandwich.


Daily posts may not be the best format for chronicling the random things that cross my mind at work. I like these weekly digests better.

If you want to feel old count your age in months. I am 279 months old. That’s 279 times I’ve flipped a page on calendar and said, “shit the month’s over already.”

Imagine being 1000 months old. Once you turn 83 1/3, you will be 1000 months old. 

Sometimes I’m afraid I’m too cold and unfriendly. Like a robot. Or Foreigner. But I’m not quite cold as ice, I’m not ruthless enough for that. Instead I am as cold as chilled water: very cool at first, but not so bad once you get used to it. Refreshing, even, on a hot day.

Missouri & Me

I have a complicated relationship with Missouri. 

On the one hand, it’s the worst. They don’t call it misery for nothing. I grew up in Illinois, and my whole life Missouri was like the boring little booger to the south; it was a less exciting version of Illinois. The only good part as far as I knew was St. Louis.

Then I went to college in Missouri. 

My dad found Missouri State online because it has a Global Studies major, which I wanted to do at the time. We went and visited, and I liked the university so much I went back and visited again. I didn’t end up as a Global Studies major but I loved the school and it was super cheap so I went anyway. 

During my four years in Missouri, I became well-acquainted with the state. The only good parts of the whole state are Kansas City and St. Louis – and maybe Columbia but I never went there so I wouldn’t know – and the people you meet from each of those cities are conviced they’re the greatest cities on earth. Kansas City and St. Louis are both pretty cool…but they’re still in Missouri. And Missouri is still the worst. Missouri also has a bit of an identity crisis. It’s technically part of the Midwest, but also seems a bit like the South. It’s not really sure what its brand is. I never planned to stay in Missouri, and was a bit relieved when I got to leave. 

On the other hand, Missouri was a very meaningful place for me. I had some of the most important experiences of my life at college, as one does. I met my best friends in Missouri, I dated my first boyfriend in Missouri, I lived in my first house in Missouri, I got my first job in Missouri, I came out of my shell and made more friends and more met people than I ever have in Missouri. I became an adult in Missouri. I owe that state a lot, because without Missouri I wouldn’t have become the person I am today.

Some of my friends are still in Missouri, and they are the only reason I ever go back. And I know once they leave, I will never return there. I went to Missouri a few weeks ago, to go hiking with my friends. As I crossed the state line I thought, “Here I am again, Missouri, you son of a bitch. Just you wait, because pretty soon you won’t be seeing me anymore.” But then I nodded, out of respect, to Missouri. 

I can dislike Missouri because I spent a lot of time there and I know what it’s like. I still have to respect Missouri, though, because it gave me some of the most important people and experiences in my life. I am grateful to Missouri. As long as it doesn’t make me come back to it, I will still hold Missouri in a sort of measured deference, and treat it with the civility I owe it. 

I made up Squibby the Turtle when I was bored at work one day. I took to doodling because I wasn’t supposed to have my phone out and I already read all the interesting magazines in the reception area. I usually like drawing geometric shapes, but that day was I feeling extra creative, and I knew that someone else would see my doodles since I was working in reception. I decided to make up a character, and animals are easier to draw than people. So I drew a turtle. And named him Squibby. Unfortunately I don’t have any original drawings of Squibby, I left the few that I made behind when I left that job.

I wanted Squibby to represent a lot to me. Like a certain time in my life, a way that I was living for a while. I wanted him to encompass the experiences I was having at that time, to sort of signify who I was. “This is Squibby, a character I made up when I was bored at work, and he represents how easy that job was.” Not exactly profound. He was just a doodle I made one time because I was hoping someone else would see him and chuckle. Hopefully someone did and it brightened their day a little. Sometimes things don’t have a lot of meaning or a lot of influence on us, they’re just simple little things that make us smile. And those little instances are just as important, because they can make our lives better, just a small bit at a time.

Let’s Talk About Democracy

 

A quick Google search and this is what you get for democracy:

de·moc·ra·cy
dəˈmäkrəsē/
noun
noun: democracy
  1. a system of government by the whole population or all the eligible members of a state, typically through elected representatives.
    “capitalism and democracy are ascendant in the third world”
    synonyms: representative government, elective government; More

    antonyms: dictatorship
    • a state governed by a democracy.
      plural noun: democracies
      “a multiparty democracy”
    • control of an organization or group by the majority of its members.
      “the intended extension of industrial democracy”
    • the practice or principles of social equality.
      “demands for greater democracy”

 


 

After all the search results about definitions of the word, you get organizations or publications that have democracy in the title. Then you get articles. Is the U.S. still a democracy? Have we turned into an oligarchy? Is democracy still real? Should we still aim for democracy in all parts of the world?

People are throwing around the word democracy and claiming it is failing and falling apart, but as a regime, it doesn’t truly exist. Democracy is supposed to be a regime that is fully responsive to the will of the people, “government by the people” if you will (and you should). The most classic example of democracy, the city-state of Athens in ancient Greece, excluded all citizens from their government except free men. Today, most modern political systems have elements of democracy, monarchy, and oligarchy mixed in. No state is a true, pure democracy, because that kind of system is far too idealist and impractical. Not to mention, in the case of the U.S., our government systems has been intentionally set up to prevent majority rule, or “tyranny of the majority,” and majority rule is a major characteristic of pure democracy (Pretty much comprehensive definition of democracy here).

One of my favorite explanations for the empirical study and practice of “democracy” is polyarchy, a term coined by political scientist Robert Dahl in 1956. Polyarchy has become a a common term and represents a seminal contribution to the field of political science, and it explains exactly why you think our American democracy is “failing.” Polyarchy is similar to democracy, but does not focus on achieving pure democracy itself. Instead polyarchy emphasizes a democratic principle that can be achieved through democratic institutions (See definitions of polyarchy here and here). Polyarchy represents different political groups jockeying for power rather than a model that has a small group of elite individuals running things. The two dimensions of polyarchy are inclusiveness and contestation.

Inclusiveness is measured by the existence of social groups, the ability to join such groups, and the autonomy these groups have from the government (think interest groups and political parties). Contestation is the ablility for more than one of these groups to exist, and their ability to keep the government accountable.

Polyarchy is a little closer to what we practice in the U.S. than democracy is, however as some polyarchy critics point out, there’s still room in polyarchy for political elites to concentrate political power. The pluralistic groups that are supposed keep all the political authority from falling into the hands of government elites can end up having an elite composition themselves. That’s why many democratic principles still exist in the U.S., such as universal suffrage, freedom of the press, constitutionally-elected officials, etc. but it seems like political entities are still running everything. Polyarchy doesn’t fix the problems we have with social justice and human rights, it just safeguards those democratic institutions that bring us closer to the democratic principle.

Because of polyarchy and its characteristics, democracy doesn’t truly exist and it seems like it is crumbling today. With the golden age of social media, it is easier than ever before for average citizens to contribute to the political conversation. When Robert Dahl first talked about democratic institutions that are essential to polyarchy nothing remotely similar to social media existed, but it has become a major force for democratization. The Internet has leveled the playing field when it comes to contributing political ideas and opinions.

But that has not translated into legitimate political power. The person who puts all their thoughts about the election and about foreign policy and healthcare and education on Twitter can add important facts and ideas to the discourse on those topics. But they can’t run for office if they don’t have the support (monetary and otherwise) from a legitimate political group. Even if they don’t run for office, even if they just want their own elected official to listen to their ideas, the official may be less inclined to listen to one un-affiliated person on Twitter.

The real-world practice of political power hasn’t caught up to the rapid democratization seen online. The real world still has major political parties and interest groups, which have more clout than an individual. The real world, for all intents and purposes, is still a polyarchy, and not a democracy. Our democracy is not falling apart, it was never truly here to begin with.

Meet Archibald

This is Archibald, the lizard.

I found him in the West and brought him back with me. He is a good lizard. He was sad to leave his home, but he is a restless lizard, and he wanted adventure. He had never heard of a place called ‘Missouri’ before, but it sounded exciting. He had also never met me before, but I promised him I would take good care of him, and that he was always welcome to stay with me.

Archibald, or ‘Chibbie’ as I’ve taken to calling him, really liked Missouri. He missed the warm sun but he liked whatever pleasant things there are to like about Missouri but which happen to escape me right now. He originally planned to see every state in the continental U.S., but he realized without a guide that would be almost impossible. Also I think he grew pretty fond of me and didn’t want to leave me.

So he decided to just live with my permanently, and follow me wherever I go. Chibbie knows that I have a similar sense of adventure to his, and that I won’t stay in the same place for more than a year or so. He figures he’ll just stick with me and he’ll get to see everything he wants to. This way, he won’t have to visit every state by himself, and he always has a place to live.

Chibbie has only been to Missouri and Tennessee so far, and he has liked both of them. He’s pretty excited to see where we go next, and I told him the next time I take a road trip I’d bring him along so he can see even more places. Me and Chibbie are gonna go far, and we’re gonna see everything. We still got our whole lives ahead of us, and as long as we’re together nothing is gonna keep us from moving forward.

Introverts Need People Too

A harrowing realization to make as an introvert is the need for other people. If you’re an introvert, like me, you generally prefer spending time alone or with very few people. Socializing tends to stress you out/sap your energy, and you have to spend time alone to recharge.

I love having my alone time. I like to spend time by myself, doing things that I like to do. However I’ve realized recently that too much alone time can be not very healthy. If you isolate yourself from people to much, you end up spending all your time inside your own head. That’s not always the safest place to spend your time. If you are literally always alone, you will go crazy. Humans need other humans.

I was thinking back to this time last year, when things were really shitty for me. I wanted to be alone all the time, because I was horribly sad, but I knew time alone would be hazardous. So I forced myself to spend time with friends. I saw my best friends frequently, and I tried to hang out with acquaintance-friends more often too. I basically tried to surround myself with people all of the time.

And it really helped. Letting myself fall back on a support network like that was one of the best things I could’ve done at that time. They pulled me from the loneliness and made me feel at home. I truly don’t know how I would have come out on the other side of that if I hadn’t been surrounded by caring people.

More recently, I discovered that spending all of your time alone means that you keep all of your feelings to yourself as well. Keeping all of your emotions bottled up and never sharing them with anyone IS NOT GOOD FOR YOU. That’s in all-caps because I mean it. I bottle up absolutely everything, and every so often I explode from all the pressure and it’s pretty ugly. So I would not recommend bottling.

The last time I exploded, I actually sat down and talked with my parents about it afterward, and told them everything I had been feeling and struggling with. And they listened! And completely understood! AND they made me feel better! Because that’s what people who love and care about you do when your’re struggling: they listen, they empathize, and they comfort.

It’s important to keep loved ones around, because you need them. It’s also important to spend time with them, and talk to them – even if you’re feeling introverted. Friends, family, and just generally other people will make you feel better because humans need other humans to survive. Also, spending time with and talking to your loved ones makes them feel loved, too. You are helping them solve their loneliness just as much as they are solving yours.

I have had a constant, vague sense of loneliness since I was 14, and I never really knew why. I understood I was shy and that’s why I didn’t have many friends, but I never realized that I actively isolate myself from other people. Now that I know this about myself, hopefully I won’t keep doing it and I can start to work on needing people more (needing anything from other people is another topic entirely, which I also have lots of thoughts on).

Anger is a part of life. We’re human, we get angry. It’s okay to feel angry sometimes, but it’s important to handle it properly. You don’t want your anger to get the better of you or someone else. Conversely, it is important to handle an angry person the right way. Specifically, how to handle someone when they are mad or frustrated that something isn’t going right (and not how to handle someone who is mad at you because that is an entirely different topic).

Solution 1) If someone is frustrated about something and throwing a bit of a “tantrum” you should for sure respond with sarcasm and an equal amount of frustration. If they are sort of lashing out for what might be something very trivial, definitely belittle them and make them feel worse about themselves. They deserve it, after all, because they’re annoying you.

Solution 2) Another rock-solid approach is to take their angry personally, and become offended by their frustration even though you know it has nothing to do with you. Tell them that their anger scares you, make them feel like an uncontrollable anger-monster. Because if they are fooled into thinking that their frustration over their malfunctioning laptop deeply hurts and offends you, then maybe they’ll stop.

Best of luck to you when dealing with your angry friends!

 

WordPress.com.

Up ↑