Sunday, December 21, 2014

Christmas: Kids vs. Adults

1. When I was a kid, I spent hours building snow forts and having snowball fights with other kids in my neighborhood.

2. Now that I'm an adult, I spend hours standing in line and shopping for Christmas gifts, while steering clear of the other adults who are apparently willing to FIGHT TO THE DEATH for the newest electronic gadget or the last Elsa doll. Lest you think I'm exaggerating, I've seen many adults get into screaming matches or bare their teeth at each other, with wild looks in their eyes, as they race to get to the merchandise first. (I mean, really? Frozen was just a movie. I know it's easy for me to say since I don't have children and don't have to deal with them if I don't get them the presents that they want. I know that their kids might be disappointed if they don't get the Frozen toys they wanted, but maybe it's time that people should just "let it go." Sorry. I couldn't resist.)

3. When I was a kid, I sang along to the theme songs of TV movies like How the Grinch Stole Christmas and Frosty the Snowman.

4. Now that I'm an adult, I roll my eyes and change the channel when those same TV movies preempt the episode of CSI or Law and Order: SVU that I wanted to watch.

5. When I was a kid, we ate homemade Christmas cookies that other kids brought for the rest of the class to share.

6. Now that I'm an adult, I can't bake anything without burning it, so I buy Christmas cookies that vendors claim is just as good as homemade cookies in order to rationalize charging too much money for them.

7. When I was a kid, I hated the Christmas Day outfits that my mother made me wear, because they were usually uncomfortable, itchy, or clothes that she liked, not clothes that I liked.

8. Now that I'm an adult, I pay for and pick out my own Christmas Day outfits, which is why my mother will usually look at them and say, "Oh. Is that what you're wearing today?"

9. When I was a kid, I could hardly wait until Christmas morning, so that I could open my presents.

10. Now that I'm an adult, I can hardly wait until Christmas break is over, so that I can go back to work.

What about you? Was Christmas more fun for you when you were a kid, or is it more fun for you now that you're an adult?

Monday, December 15, 2014

All I Want for Christmas

1. Is for my parents to stop insisting that only they know where I should work and live and to recognize the fact that I have the right to decide where I will work and live, because as a thirty-three-year-old adult, I no longer need their permission to do anything anymore. (But on the other hand, if I keep waiting for them to recognize that fact, not only will I wait forever, it'll be like I'm still waiting for their permission.)

2. Is for my neighbors to stop waking me up at 2 A.M. with "WHOOOO!! Who needs sleep when we can PAR-TAY? HAHAHAHA!", to which I shriek from my window, "When the zombie apocalypse happens, I'm going to send the zombies after YOU!"

3. Is to receive at least one offer letter by the end of this school year from a good college with students who will be willing to put their cell phones down long enough to learn how to read, appreciate, and write about fine literature.

4. Is for my parents to stop telling me that I'm an old maid and a spinster (and yes, they have called me both) because I'm in my thirties, unmarried, and childless, and for them to stop acting as if that's a crime and a tragedy.

5. Is to successfully defend my dissertation this spring and also be able to resist the temptation to yell at all the other grad students, "I am finally free of ALL of you! YAAAAYYYY!!!" and to also resist the temptation to set off firecrackers and dance across campus after saying that.

6. Is to FINALLY complete my Ph.D. this spring and find one teaching job with a salary that pays enough to cover all my expenses and leaves me with some money left over to put in a savings account, so that I never have to work two or three jobs again.

7. Is to be able to walk into any store or cafe without wanting to scream, "ENOUGH with the Christmas carols! Isn't it bad enough that we all have to deal with long lines, crowded stores, and customers who will elbow us in the face to get the last product being featured in the holiday sale?"

8. Is to meet a nice guy by next Christmas who actually makes an effort to show me that he cares about me, not another guy who just isn't that into me and takes several hours to text back "k".

9. Is to eat Christmas cookies without cursing myself on the treadmill afterwards.

10. Is for all the people who are alone, poor, or hungry on Christmas to find the help that they need from kind friends or generous strangers, not like the heartless monster I saw recently who yelled at a homeless man who was standing on a street corner and begging for spare change. She told him to "get a job" and that he should be ashamed of himself. I stepped between that bitch (pardon my language) and that homeless man, glared at that woman (who apparently is the spawn of Satan), and gave that guy some money while telling him to ignore jerks like that. (The heartless monster, by the way, said nothing more after I stepped in. Apparently she has the nerve to berate a homeless person but not someone whose economic status is not that much different from hers. As I stated on Twitter, I hope that people like her get a giant box of karma for Christmas.) I wished I could have done more to help him.

What about you? What's on your Christmas wish list?

Monday, December 8, 2014

When Revenge Is Bitter, Not Sweet

One of the worst dates I ever went on was with a very good-looking personal trainer. We went out for dinner, and we'd barely been talking for a more than few minutes before he said, "I just remembered that I have to be somewhere else tonight." He claimed that he had to go to some other event at a club that same night, but he didn't ask me to go with him. The date ended about an hour later, at 8 P.M. on a Friday night. I've had coffee dates that lasted longer than that.

After I watched him take off like the Road Runner, leaving a cloud of dust behind, I realized that I'd had the date that is every dater's nightmare: the kind where you show up and your date immediately decides, "No. NEVER going to happen." And you're left to fall face-first into a tub of ice cream.

When I was in junior high, I went to a school dance and asked a boy that I had a crush on to dance with me. He said no, and when people later asked why he'd turned me down, he said something derogatory about me (though not to my face). He went to a different high school, but he resurfaced a couple years later when he started dating my best friend.

He tried to destroy my friendship with my best friend, because he convinced her that the only reason I hated him was because he'd rejected me at that junior high dance. What neither of them was willing to believe was that I hated him because he was manipulative, deceitful, and a snob. He was rude to me and to my other friends, who also disliked him.

I recently read an article about a girl who got revenge against a a guy who used to be mean to her in junior high. Apparently she was kind of "awkward-looking" in junior high, and he and his friends used to bully her. Years later, they reconnected on Facebook, and she had become more attractive, so he asked her out.

Her idea of "revenge" against her former bully was to agree to go on a date with him, but she later stood him up. He waited for her at the restaurant where they agreed to meet, but she got a waitress to give him this note:

The girl, Louisa Manning, wrote this:

"Hey, so sorry I can't join you tonight. Remember year 8, when I was fat and you made fun of my weight? No? I do - I spent the following three years eating less than an apple a day so I've decided to skip dinner. Remember the monobrow you mocked? The hairy legs you were disgusted by?

Remember how every day for three years you and your friends called me Manbeast? No, perhaps you don't or you wouldn't have seen how I look eight years after and deemed me f**** enough to treat me like a human being. I thought I'd send you this as a reminder. Next time you think of me, picture that girl in this photo because that's the one who stood you up."

Her note made me think of those two jerks in particular who rejected me. I haven't seen either of those creeps in years, but I admit that if I ever did see them again, I'd feel a sense of satisfaction at making them see what big tools they both were. Of course, in that fantasy, I'd look a lot like Sofia Vergara (aka Gloria on Modern Family) and they'd both be kicking themselves for being mean to me. I don't harbor any romantic feelings for either of them, of course, but it'd still be nice to get back at them.

But unlike every person who was ever mean to me, Louisa Manning's former bully apologized to her. He wrote her a note saying that he wasn't the same person that he used to be and that he was sorry for how he treated her in the past.

On the one hand, I can understand this girl's desire for revenge. I remember very well what it was like to be bullied. I was bullied from first grade until I graduated from high school. As we all know, kids can be very cruel, especially if another kid is "different" in any way. And when you're a teenager in particular, all you want to do is fit in, and it's very painful if some people are determined to prevent you from ever doing that.

But on the other hand, I think what Louisa did to that guy was also cruel, thoughtless, and humiliating. She should have just been up front with him when he first asked her out. Instead she led him on and got his hopes up, only to crush them in the end. In my opinion, the former victim became a bully herself, and I don't think that's right.

Do I have any choice words for the people who used to bully me, like the classmates who spread the false rumor that I was a lesbian because I never dated in high school? Yes, I DO have some choice words for them, most of which are four-letter words. Do I wish I could reenact a scene from any Jackie Chan movie if I got the chance to confront one of the boys or girls who used to knock books out of my hands, throw balls at my face in gym class, call me names, and make fun of my hair, clothes, and shoes?  I would like to fight them Jackie Chan-style, so that they would cower in fear and never hurt anyone ever again. 

But would I do what Louisa Manning did? NO. In my opinion, she lowered herself to the level of her former bullies, and she became one of them, at least for one night. I think that she should have just moved on with her life, rather than treat that guy the same way that he used to treat her. 

What do you think? Do you think what she did was right, or can you relate to her? (And like I said, I do relate to her on some level, and I won't condemn you, of course, if you agree with her.) What would you do if you had the chance to confront a former bully?

Monday, December 1, 2014

I Wish I Was Samantha

Many female fans of the TV show Sex and the City often identify themselves with at least one of the four main characters: Carrie Bradshaw, Samantha Jones, Charlotte York, and Miranda Hobbes. If I had to pick one of the characters that I identify with the most, I'd say that it was Carrie Bradshaw, even though my legs don't look like hers (but God, I wish they did). I also hate shoe shopping, partly because I think that I am the female incarnation of Bigfoot and always fall down whenever I try to wear heels (and when I fall, I usually grab onto whoever's nearest me and drag them down with me). But Carrie was so neurotic and obsessive about everything, and I can definitely relate to that.

If there is one character I WISH I was like, though, it would definitely be Samantha Jones. I don't envy her one-night stands, partly because all those years of Catholic school made me feel like I should go to Confession or say the rosary after I watch an episode of the show. 

I also don't envy her wardrobe, although she always looked fantastic. But I would never have the nerve to wear such revealing clothing. As far as fashion goes, I am basically the female incarnation of Mr. Rogers (though I definitely don't want anyone to be MY neighbor, because my neighbors have always been magazine-stealing, throw-up-in-the-elevator-and-leave-it-there, hard-partying, loud jerks who apparently never work or sleep), partly because I wear a lot of sweaters. I'm always paranoid that I'm going to show too much skin, especially when I'm teaching, and that I'll end up being one low-cut blouse away from being a character in a bad Lifetime movie (to quote Joseph Conrad, "The horror! The horror!"). 

But I DO envy her confidence. One thing I noticed about Samantha was the way she walked into a room with her head held high, her shoulders back, and a confident smile on her face, as if she didn't care what other people thought of her. I remember one scene where she went to a bar by herself and walked in as if she owned the place. I would never have the nerve to go to a bar on my own. On the rare occasion I do go to a bar to meet a friend or a date, I walk in quietly, my head down, hoping that no one will stare at me because I'm convinced that my hair/outfit/makeup looks wrong.

Samantha was always able to strike up a conversation with any handsome guy in the room. I, on the other hand, am only able to talk comfortably to guys if I have no interest in them whatsoever or if they happen to be making my coffee at Starbucks (but that's only because I'm usually more interested in the coffee). 

She wasn't afraid to stand up for herself to people who judged her, excluded her, or mistreated her. I, on the other hand, write down witty comebacks that I wish I had the courage to say in person and create fictionalized versions of my real-life adversaries for my stories. 

I've always been an introvert, ever since I was a little girl. It's different when I'm teaching. That's the one place where I DO feel confident, because I actually know what I'm doing. But there's still an invisible line between the students and me; when I interact with them, it's obviously not the same as interacting with peers, friends, dates, or people who annoy me so much that I feel like karma is laughing at me every time they pop up. 

Samantha thrived as a publicist and at bars and parties. A life like that would be terrifying to me, because I've always felt uncomfortable at bars AND parties. (Incidentally, I thought I wanted to be a publicist when I was in college, but two internships in public relations made me think otherwise.)

But one good thing about being an introvert is that it made me more observant of other people and my surroundings. Since I'm often too shy to talk to people I don't know or am attracted to, it's made me less likely to get distracted and more likely to remember what I've seen and experienced, so that I can write about it later. I'm not saying that extroverts can't be observant too, because they can. And they can also be good writers, of course.

But for me, being an introvert inspired me to create and write about literary alter egos who were more brave and extroverted than I was. 

I must admit that sometimes, I still wish I could be like Samantha Jones, if only for a little while. (But I would never have broken up with Smith Jerrod, because have you SEEN what he looked like?) 

What about you? Do you identify with any fictional characters in particular?