I love a good bait-and-switch, especially when I’m the target. Especially when I feel appreciated for being me and not just my willingness to write a check.
I’m always surprised when movie characters are surprised that an artist sees them as walking billfolds, but I’m even more surprised at how surprised I am that it can happen to me.
It’s like that moment in every thriller where someone tiptoes into a pitch-black basement to see what’s making that mysterious noise. The urge to scream “Don’t be an idiot!” is overwhelming, and the result is predictable.
I’m supportive of artists trying to monetize a craft, but if I’m lured to spend money on Project #1 because I’m so wanted as part of the process, then I’m rejected from Project #1 and redirected to Project #2 because it needs more money, at some point my instinct is going to say, “If you go into that basement again, you deserve an unpleasant encounter with a chainsaw.”
So thanks in advance for any further spending artistic opportunities, but:
When I go too long without something to outrage me, I break out into hives. So I’ve added “lack of anger” to amoxicillin on my list of known allergies at the doctor’s office.
This condition is called “IED,” or intermittent explosive disorder, which I officially have because I found the term online. “IED” also stands for improvised explosive device, which means I’m fun-loving in an extemporaneous way, and people enjoy my company because they never know what’s going to happen.
It’s also great for Paul because I help keep his life on track by way of constructive nagging. Like the other day as he headed to work, and I thought he was late for his weekly meeting. I tried to resist the urge to say something about it, but I did anyway because my disorder forced me too.
He grunted something unintelligible, which I assume was “I’m so grateful for your concern. Without your supervision, I couldn’t even tie my shoes.”
After he left, I remembered that he teleconferences in the car until he can be at the meeting in person. I texted an apology even though I didn’t need to because I have a disease.
I was happy and not worried again, which was really upsetting. Then I read the newspaper. I feel better now.
I’m feeling thankful for some lessons I’ve learned, and it’s only right that I express my gratitude.
I’m grateful to my in-laws for helping me understand that their concept of “family” is similar to what I learned as a child. The rollicking adventures of verbal abuse, taking advantage of others for a profit, and a pervasive sense of enraged entitlement give me a comforting sense of consistency. What a warm feeling.
I’ve especially enjoyed the holidays during the last couple of decades because that’s when my mother-in-law’s affectionate verbal punishments ramp up. It’s such a joy to be a punching bag, and when I pop back up like one of those inflatable clowns in a playroom, there she is like a champ, ready to pop me another one. Kapow! What fun.
I’m also grateful that my brothers-in-law have pointed out that I’m a greedy jerk for being upset that they didn’t pay the money they owe us, as they scampered off with a fat payday at our expense. They were correct to tell me, “You’re all about the money, Cindy.” What wisdom.
I’ve learned great lessons from my in-laws, especially about my own shortcomings. And even though I don’t speak to most of my biological family, it feels like I never left the hornets’ nest. What a cozy feeling of hearth and home.
I’ve wanted to learn a second language for years—besides cursing, which I’ve yet to master, so I keep practicing.
But I just realized I do speak another language, and I understand when others use it. It’s ghosting with clicks. I’m going to call it “Ghostickit.”
When I recently had no idea what to say in an uncomfortable electronic confrontation, I asked Paul for advice. Big mistake. I prefer being straightforward, and he’d rather confront Ebola than interpersonal tension.
Predicto-Paul said, “Just ignore the message.” Click. Offline. Ghosted.
This person had the courage nerve to question why she was being ignored, and despite savoring the sensation of being an asshole, I decided to be candid. I feel better, but I still feel like a jerk, so it’s a win-win, I guess.
But this shit happens to me too. Like with the justifiably overpriced hair salon I used to enjoy.
One day the receptionist, who previously appeared sane, had a monster meltdown at my expense for me. It was the fun kind of moment where you can see yourself being interviewed by a local news crew. “She always seemed so quiet. I never would have imagined she could shoot up an entire lobby full of customers. Good for her that she’s finally expressing herself.” Or something like that.
When I told my stylist—let’s call her Avoidy Girl (AG for short) because she’s great at addressing issues—she was unsurprised and offered a heartfelt shrug, which made me feel special and appreciated.
When I expressed my fear appreciation to the manager—let’s call her Fluffy because I take her seriously—she took a generous bite out of my ass for being so unkind about a woman whose husband had died two months before. I agreed that it was appalling and inconsiderate of me, not using my telepathic powers to figure out why this woman was losing her religion all over me.
Still, I didn’t want the honor of being Among the Many Dead the next time I wanted a trim, so Fluffy told me, “Come see AG again. We’ll make sure you don’t have to deal with the front desk.” When I questioned how she could manage to make that happen, she said, “No problem. I’m fantastic at my job as long as nothing is going wrong.” Or something like that.
So the next time I was foolish wise enough to go in, there’s Batty Betty, greeting me with a smile as she hid an Uzi behind her (I reasonably suspected). AG rushed to me and apologized for not greeting me first, then said, “Oh, I should have told you I’m at a totally different location once a week. You didn’t even need to come here to have your hair done.”
At this point, despite my gratitude for being charged more for one visit than my weekly grocery bill, I decided to move on. That was a couple years ago, and I’ve calmed down. Mostly.
So I decided that because I don’t go to the salon often, I’d give the outfit another chance—as long as I don’t have to deal with Mercurial Mona and Fair-Weather Fluffy. I figured that’s pretty magnanimous of me, and there would be truckloads of gratitude.
So I contacted AG on social media, and you guessed it. I got ghosted, which is chickenshit but fair. I get it because I speak Ghostickit. So I wished her well—and surprised myself by mostly meaning it. Then I blocked her. Click. Ghosted.
So it turns out I do speak another language, and I certainly understand it. Good for me.
Every time I believe I know what I’m doing with finances, it freaks me out.
That’s usually when I find out I’ve forgotten to pay the electric bill or haven’t checked our bank account in two weeks and now we’re overdrawn by several hundred dollars or, as just happened, miscalculated our IRS tax payments, which caused our anticipated refund to drop by eight hundred dollars.
Even when I get things right, I experience heavy sweating, just waiting for the next fun monetary surprise. I’d like to feel good about the little things I do well, but that feels like total hypocrisy.
What’s it like to experience a sense of confidence that doesn’t lead to a panic attack?
This morning I learned that 250 students at the local college plan to walk out of class tomorrow in political protest. This is scheduled during the time I tutor someone on campus, so I started writing a benevolent e-mail, telling him I understand if he’d prefer not to meet. Maybe he wants to join the protest, or perhaps he’d rather avoid the campus because of the potential for violence?
By the start of the third paragraph, I sat back and said, “Oh, this is my shit.”
So the Watts Riots of 1965. (My first piece of merchandise is going to be an official Windmill Tilter Neck Brace. “Wear at all times. This blog contains herky-jerky segues.”)
The Watts Riots happened just around the corner from us in ’65. For years I thought they were a million miles away, but Google Maps just told me, “Holy crap, Cindy. That maelstrom was happening in the next neighborhood!” *
Considering how close it was, it’s no surprise that my father sat me down and, in a voice filled with gravitas, said, “If you’re anywhere near a riot, run. Even from the cops. I know we keep telling you the police are your friends, but in the chaos, they won’t be able to tell the difference between you and a rioter.”
Good advice, that, except the cops could easily pick me out of a crowd then because I was five years old.
We lived in an area that was so breathtaking in its safety that I used to go door to door, alone, “shopping” for peaches. Everyone stocked up on them just in case I visited. Why the hell would I stroll into a riot zone when there’s no guarantee of free fruit?
For fifty-two years now, I’ve avoided all marches, rallies, and sit-ins. I’m stuck with my fear, but I admire those who speak their mind loudly or silently, publicly, and peacefully.
To all aspiring thugs who want to bring violence and distract from the protesters’ message: Fuck you in advance.
To all peaceful protesters: Be as loud or quiet as you see fit, but please be safe.
This looks like fun, but I’ll just stay at home, eating fruit.
* Yes, I believe Google Maps talks to me. You try sitting alone in a home office, day after day, and maintaining sanity. I dare you.
"I've always found paranoia to be a perfectly defensible position." – Susan Lowenstein, The Prince of Tides by Pat Conroy