22 February 2009

Friend is a four-letter word

I have a confession to make - I feel like a pathetic loser making friendship requests on Facebook. “Golly gee, will you please be my friend? If it’s okay with you,” is what it feels like. I’ve never made friends easily and I guess clicking on “add as friend” just feels too desperate – instead of trying to get to know someone personally, I’m asking outright, will you be my friend? So I have sort of an unwritten personal policy about making friendship requests. If it’s someone I used to know, I won’t send them a request. They know my name. If they want to be my friend, they can find me. Let them be the pathetic, groveling idiot for a change. I’ve played that part to death.

Rule aside, I must admit I find it curious that I get friend requests from people who had no interest in being my friend before. If they didn’t want my friendship eight years ago, why want it now? Have the rules changed and being short and chubby and neurotic is “cool” now? And how do they expect me to respond? I admit, I was rather wretched in high school, but I’m not such a sad sack now that I’ll be friends with anyone who clicks on my name. I haven’t forgotten the nasty things that were said and done and I don’t reckon I ever will.

I expect that many of them are simply curious as to what I’ve been up to all this time. I’ll admit to a bit of that myself. On more than one occasion I’ve looked up people I used to know to see how their lives have turned out, although my motives are less than pure. Usually I just want to see if their lives have turned out horribly as I’d hoped they would because they were such horrible people and I don’t think they deserve success or happiness. They deserve to be miserable, just like I was – just like they made me. They’ve been Dorian Grays too long and it’s time their outward lives reflected what nasty little people they are inside.

But Jill, you might say – in which case I’d tell you not to interrupt while I’m ranting – But Jill, you might say, don’t you think that maybe some of them feel badly about how they treated you and they really would like to be your friend (even though as it’s Facebook, “friendship” is a subjective term on account of I can be “friends” with one of thirty Josh Grobans out there, or with something abstract like a TV show for example)?

Well, you rude little cutter-inner, if that were the case, they could at least send me a message to that effect. Otherwise I’m forced to assume that the only reason they sent me a friend request is because they want to make sure I know they’re getting married (to a man more than a decade older who has the same name as her absentee father; I don’t need Freud to help me with that one) or they’ve graduated college (pity I differentiate and discriminate between education and intelligence, and know for a fact that they cheated in high school and therefore likely did so in college as well) or are doing exciting and wonderful things with their lives (in the words of George Costanza, “well good for the tuna”). Or as is the case with many people, they just want as many friends as they can get as a pathetic measure of their personal popularity. I'm sorry, but I don't think anyone is really good friends with seven hundred people, spoilsport that I am.

Another disturbing Facebook friend trend came to my attention a few weeks ago. I was helping my mother with her Facebook account (she only updates her status when I harass her about it). I had a look at her list of friends and saw that more than half of them are people within the same age range as her four adult children (between 25 and 31, if it matters). This naturally reminded me of one of my biggest problems as an adolescent: People in my peer group invariably liked my mother more than they liked me. In church, they would stop to talk to her and ignore me. They LOVED my mom. If I had a dollar for every time I was told, “I just love your mom,” I could have paid for my second semester of college myself instead of borrowing from my parents (I paid for my first, rather expensive semester with my own savings, thankyouverymuch).

I had the same problem with the younger of my two brothers. He attended my high school graduation, and immediately afterward, the two of us were surrounded by my fellow graduates – all of whom wanted to talk to Chris. I decided then and there that I would never attend a reunion – I’ll send Chris instead. I’m sure my classmates would rather see him than me, anyway. He was a senior when I was a freshman so everyone my age idolized him – he was sort of the Head Jerk in school at that time and I think it would have done him a world of good if someone would have just slapped him hard at about age fifteen (hi, Chris!).

Do I sound bitter? Well, I’m bitter. And you know what else? I’m clicking on “ignore” on most of my friend requests until people actually grow up a little and observe the social niceties. A little note goes a long way.

And incidentally, former classmates, so too will I go a long way. Just as soon as I get a job and move out of my mother’s house and get my BA and become a minor celebrity. Then maybe I’ll have my people respond to your requests. After all, that’s what “friends” are for.

17 February 2009

Blah blah blah

I don't really have anything important to say (do I ever?) but I haven't updated in a few days - 5, actually - and I start to feel guilty for some reason.

You'd think I'd feel more guilty for posting a useless update, but you'd be wrong.

It's not that I don't have anything to say, really. It's that I'm too lazy to say it. It's exhausting being clever all the time. Sometimes I just don't have it in me. I've also got a problem where a topic I really want to write about is still an option on my poll and I feel like I should wait for the poll to end before posting something on that topic. My inner obsessive-compulsive won't let me jump the gun.

I have another problem as well - a topic will seem interesting, and I'll think I have a lot to say about it, so I put it in my poll ... and promptly lose interest. That's happened with about eighty percent of the topics I've come up with. Some I make myself write out anyway. Some I just pretend I never thought of. I'm a big fan of denial.

If you have any ideas for me, any at all (because as you know, dear reader, I live to make you happy) pretty please send them to me at jilleb163 AT gmail DOT com. I'll send you a platypus in return.

12 February 2009

True Ugly

Disclaimer: this isn't the most eloquent rant I've ever pieced together. And there's no point to it. But it was on my mind and - all together now, children - if it's bothering me, it's going to bother you as well.

I’ll admit it – I watch ABC’s “True Beauty.”

I don’t know exactly why. It's not as rewarding an experience as I'd hoped. The fact that it’s executive-produced by both Tyra Banks and Ashton Kutcher – both of whom are known for looking good and acting dumb – should have tipped me off. Somehow I thought it would be fun to watch good-looking people act like jerks. And don’t get me wrong, it really is. But I’m not sure what the real point of the show is in the end.

I’m getting ahead of myself. In case you’ve not heard of it, I should explain that “True Beauty” is a reality show in which beautiful people compete for the chance to win a boatload of cash and a spot in People magazine’s 100 Most Beautiful People issue. But the twist is that the contestants are really being judged on their inner beauty, not their outer beauty, or something like that. The winner of each challenge is determined not by who looked the best but by who was the least unbearably obnoxious.

Here’s the problem: someone’s going to win, and yet they’re all awful people. This is the first time I’ve watched a reality show and not wanted any of the contestants to win. I don’t think any of them deserve to. They’re all phony narcissists. Oh, I suppose Julia (the beauty queen) isn’t all bad. But it’s hard to tell with her what behavior is a result of her pageant training and what’s just her being insincere.

If this show is a search for people with inner beauty, why did they cast good-looking people with no redeeming qualities? I suppose the show is meant to teach viewers about inner beauty, but it should teach by example - good example, not bad. But while the contestants to possess some quantity of outer beauty most of the program seems to showcase their inner ugly. And to what point? Not one ousted contestant has shown the slightest bit of remorse when faced with incriminating footage of their appalling behavior. Some, like Monique, actually seem amused by it, as though they think their petty nastiness Is cute.

What’s more, in the interviews and commentary mixed in with challenge footage, contestants have prattled on about inner beauty, seemingly unaware that their catty behavior on film is a blinding example of the exact opposite. Perhaps they mistakenly believe that inner beauty is achieved through good dental hygiene and regular colonics. They have no real concept of what quote-unquote inner beauty is.

I think that responsibility and accountability are part of inner beauty. Yet there are always excuses for their actions, too – someone was asking for it, or needed to be dressed down. So why is it that the ones who are most convinced of their inner beauty are the ones who, when confronted with anything short of perfection, blame everyone but themselves for whatever doesn’t meet their excruciating standards of personal worthiness?

The show is educational in the sense that it tells the viewer, please don't act like this. But studies have shown that people respond better to good examples rather than bad. Instead of showing me how inconsiderate these people are, how about showing me how a decent, truly beautiful person would act?

I'm asking way too much. I know that. So why do I watch? Because it's on TV. And because I've known outwardly beautiful people who are ugly on the inside, and I like to think that they're stabbed in the back by other beautiful people the way contestants are on the show. It does my heart good. I think that most socially inept people enjoy watching socially adroit people treating each other like crap. It makes for good TV. And personally I like seeing conceited people getting kicked off and told basically, it doesn't matter that you're good looking, because you're a horrible person. And we're throwing your picture in the trash.

Oh, and Billy? Two things. 1) You’re obviously trying to compensate for your latent homosexuality. Give it up already. America won't like you any less - and how could they? They don't like you much now. 2) Calling it a “murse” does not make it better. It just makes you sound like a jackass. Bad enough you carry a murse. But to call it a murse? Sigh. Give it up, little buddy. Have you considered a Jack Bauer-style messenger bag instead?

08 February 2009

Survey says ...

I was in the middle of typing up a beautiful rant about magazines - I just got the March issue of Glamour, despite it being the beginning of February - when my eyes fell on a list I'd written on an envelope.

I like writing on envelopes, particularly the back where the flap is. I always have for some reason. I tend to write important things on the back of envelopes - shopping lists, driving directions, insurance information, deep thoughts about toilet paper, that sort of thing. I frequently forget to remove the envelope's original contents which is why a few days ago I left the house with a bill from Victoria's Secret in my hand - my directions were written on the back of the envelope.

Where was I?

Right. Ranting.

So, the list on the envelope that I'd spotted happened to be the options on Pathetic Blog Poll #3 and the votes for each. Seven people wanted my thoughts on child beauty pageants, by the way, which puts a bit of pressure on me not to disappoint. Or rather, it would if I put any thought into my writing. I in fact put very little thought into what I write, which is why I worry any time someone tells me, "Oh, Jill, I read your blog the other day ..." I'm always afraid they're going to follow that with, "Would you like to go with these nice men in white coats now?" Or "You do realize that the usual way is think, then speak, right? Not speak, then think?"

But if I cared what people thought of my taste and opinions I wouldn't answer the door in my moose pajamas or quote Homer Simpson in the middle of an otherwise intelligent conversation.

Where was I this time?

Right. Pathetic Blog Poll #3. So, it occurred to me that, hey, maybe I ought to consider pontificating on one of the topics I used in my poll. I've used a few already and as I've asked for people's opinions I probably ought to take them into consideration. So my magazine rant is on hold for a while - maybe it'll be on my next Pathetic Blog Poll.

But that's the beauty of this whole thing, isn't it? I can write about whatever I want. I can ignore every topic I've used in a poll and write paeans to the potato if I am so inclined. I can write six or seven rants about the one topic nobody votes for. Because it's my blog! Hahahaha!

I mean, um ... well ... that is ... Oh, come on. I posted a squirrel picture earlier. That's nice, right? If you're not too concerned about the hantavirus or that sort of thing.

I'm sure what I meant to say is, thank you, kind reader, for investing your precious time in my humble little blog. Please take a moment to vote in my poll.

There are a few other things I was going to mention but I can't find the list I made. I think it's on its way to Old Navy with my credit card payment.


I don't have anything useful or humorous to say, but I do have a picture to share.

I found this little guy on Cute Overload and was rendered incoherent.

This happens to me frequently when I see an animal, even a marginally ugly one (I squealed the first time I saw an actual pigeon, despite being seventeen at the time), especially a baby animal. I blame my parents, of course, as I was never allowed any pets as a child. And when something as cute as this chubby little squirrel comes along? I shriek like a howler monkey.

That's also my reaction to a video of the smallest pigs in the world, despite repeated views. And my reaction to sheep and goats and cows and ducks and rodents and especially pigeons and chickens.

I think I was going to make a point about everything but I've been distracted by the cuteness of my little chipmunk buddy.

Just be glad he wasn't a baby chipmunk. I'd be unable to type.

06 February 2009

The sound of music

I think I’ve mentioned it before, but if not, I’ll say it now: I’m in therapy.

But that’s not the point. Anyway, I’ve been going to the same therapist for over three years, and in that time, I’ve noticed something: the music in the waiting room sucks.

On my very first visit, I took a seat in the waiting area and filled out a few papers. It took me longer than it should have, because I was distracted by the music playing: “Rainy Days and Mondays” by Karen Carpenter. I mentioned in a previous rant that I find any song recorded by a Carpenter to be sort of a downer. Well, “Rainy Days and Mondays” makes “Merry Christmas Darling” sound like a lively march.

I went to my therapist because I’m depressed. Let me tell you, “Rainy Days and Mondays” didn’t cheer me up any. After a time, I was called back and I met John, and we got down to business. He asked me the usual questions, among them a query about any suicidal tendencies.

“I’m not suicidal,” I told John, “but if I was, that music in the waiting room would have pushed me over the edge.”

He agreed that Karen Carpenter wasn’t the best, cheeriest choice for a therapy waiting room. It changed the next week to a classical music CD – some of the most lachrymose symphonies I’ve ever heard. It was almost as bad as the previous week but at least this time I could appreciate the musicianship of the composers and performers.

That was in October, so it wasn’t long before the classical dreariness gave way to Christmas songs. Those I could tolerate. From there it went to some fairly benign piano music, although more than enough of that was depressing.

Then John and his colleagues moved to their temporary offices farther west on Baseline. An old radio was tucked under a silk plant on a beat-up side table. I was hopeful at first because it seemed to be set to an oldies station. But after hearing “Dust in the Wind” and “In the Year 2525” I found myself thinking longingly of the days of Karen Carpenter.

Then one day someone changed it to 95.5, the Coyote – a local jazz station. Aside from a vague sense of being in an elevator, it was okay. They stuck with it in their new offices, too, and I didn’t think much about it until I realized how many jazz songs are in fact about sex. I should mention that many of the therapists in John’s office specialize in sexual and pornographic addiction. So I found it particularly ironic when I was waiting for my appointment one day, along with three or four men from the LifeStar group, and 95.5 played “Sexual Healing.” I said as much to John, and the next week it was Christian pop music.

I didn’t mind too much since as a general rule, Christian pop is inoffensive and upbeat. But it only lasted a week or two. Then it was some rather frantic-sounding orchestral arrangements (Wagner, I think), and then … silence.

I suppose they’ve given up. I don’t reckon there’s any kind of music that works well in a therapy office, but still, you’d think they’d keep at it until they find the least intrusive variety. Personally, I’d be happy with KSLX. Nothing to motivate a person to get up and do something like a little Led Zeppelin.

I think I’ll suggest it next time. They seem to take my music recommendations seriously. I can use that to my advantage.

See, I’ve learned something in my years of therapy after all.

01 February 2009

Are we done yet? Never!

October 6th (I think it was the sixth) was my three-year anniversary with my therapist.

Three years.

I think it’s safe to say that I’ve made an enormous amount of progress in that time. If you think I’m bitter now, you should have met me three years ago. I was more bitter than Dorothy Zbornak. And I didn’t just have issues. I had … a subscription.

Contrary to what I tell people, therapy is not fun. It’s not easy and most of the time it sucks. It’s hard work. The things I repressed, I repressed for a reason – they’re painful to think about, and even more painful to rehash.

But that’s not my point. My point is that it’s been three years and I still see John every week. There’s no end in sight. Sure, on occasion John will ask me what goals I have, what I want to accomplish from my hour every week. Because I am making progress, and logic dictates that eventually, I’ll work through my problems and not need weekly therapy.

Here’s the problem: in the past three years, I’ve not been living in a bubble. Things continue to happen. And that means that more problems arise.

I was making progress this year. I was doing rather well mid-summer. Then I got dumped. Then I lost my job. Then my dad’s cancer came back, and then he died. Issues galore. For every problem I work through, three more pop up in its place.

I suppose that over the years I’ve learned to deal with my problems better, which means I deal with them more quickly and in a more mentally healthy manner. But the fact remains that problems keep coming, and as long as they do, John’s got job security.

I suppose that a recession is a good time to be a therapist. People realize what utter crap their lives are and seek help. And the longer you’re in therapy, the more problems from your past emerge. No one goes to a therapist for *one* problem. Even if it starts off as one problem, the next thing you know, you’re realizing you had a dysfunctional childhood and that you’re disappointed in your college experience and that you’re been self-medicating with candy … three years pass and you’re still nuts.

But you know that you’re nuts, and so it’s a little easier – which is good, because you’re going to be nuts forever.