Friday, February 24, 2006

Disclaimers and "Just Being Honest"

Have you ever noticed that whenever someone utters the words "No offense, but..." or "Nothing against you, but..." the most rude, tactless, arrogant, offensive, hurtful things follow? Why do people think that the weak, and often insincere, statement that their words aren't intended to hurt makes this behavior acceptable? And why, oh why, is it always followed with the excuse "I'm just trying to be honest"?

I have a student in one of my classes who does this repeatedly. Makes me nuts, because I have an immediate, emotional reaction to her words, even though I know they are intended to be manipulative - giving her the illusion of power and control. I've severed ties with (former) friends because of this kind of behavior. Hate it. Hate it.

And yet... I've been guilty of the same behavior. Of course, that was in HIGH SCHOOL, when I was fantastically unhappy and pretty much oozing that misery wherever I went. So, I've been thinking about why people act this way - why they shield their abusive talk behind the words "just being honest". For me, I think it was a reaction to all the things that were never talked about in my house growing up (like my father's alcoholism and denial about it), and my reaction to the way my mother handled it (very passive-agressive). Being brutally honest was a way to distance myself from that mess - I wasn't going to pretend things weren't what they were. I wasn't going to say one thing when I meant another.

And so, knowing this about myself, I wonder what's going on with people who couch their harsh comments with pillows of "No offense, but" and "Nothing against, you personally". What pain are they in to stab other people with tactless barbs? What relief do they get from seeing their listener flush with embarrassment and/or defensiveness? I don't know. With friends or acquaintances, I can either probe for details, or run for the hills. With students... I'm stuck. The ones who say stuff like this are usually the ones who aren't interested in conversing outside of class oriented information. I can't get rid of them - often they're among the brighter students in the class - so I don't necessarily want to get rid of them. But.


Heading out tomorrow morning for a long weekend in New York state at Jay's dad's "cabin". "Cabin" because the so-called cabin is at least twice as big as our apartment. Next week is winter break, so I won't be in the office late next week. Yay!

Thursday, February 23, 2006

It's contagious

My students are giving me ADD. That's Attention Deficit Disorder, for the acronymically challenged. I used to be able to work on one thing until it was finished, and then move onto the next thing until that was finished, and so on. Now? Notsomuch.

Let's see... my current projects in progress....

1. Book on tape (currently - The Blue Nowhere by Jeffery Deaver), to be listened to at the gym while on the boring cardio machines so I don't have to listen to the grunting of students/staff/faculty in the tiny campus gym, or to the questionable musical selections that the work study student puts on.

2. Nonfiction book - Salt: A World History read before bed to make me want to be sleeping, and also as an interesting research into how economies are formed. (Good for realistic fantasy worldbuilding)

3. Fiction book - been doing a little researchy type fiction reading - other epic fantasy novels and whathaveyou. Just finished A Game of Thrones and have started The Black Jewels trilogy.

4. Turtleneck Shrug, my most recently started knitting project. I'm using Cascade 220 in the color "Provence". So far, I've got one sleeve done. Started this on Tuesday, expect to have it done by Sunday.

5. Felted bag - no pattern, just used some of the techniques from Folk Bags and Felted Knits to piece it together. This still needs to have buttons attached, but it only finished drying out this morning. It's made in Lamb's Pride Bulky in the colors "limeade" and "brite blue". I cringe at the spelling, but love the color anyway. Someday I will get my act together and post pictures.

6. Cozy wrap using Cherry Tree Hill in blues and greens. I started this at the beginning of the month. Have about 18 inches done. Finished length should be about 65 inches. No idea when it will be finished.

7. Shamefully abandoned projects - long, skinny, sport weight baby alpaca scarf for me. The yarn makes me sneeze. I started it in October, have picked it up a few times since then, and am about 2/3 of the way through. Will finish it some day. Probably. Also, 1 sock. I will probably never make the second sock. I should just tear out the first one and do something else with the yarn. Someday.

8. Add in a sprinkling of working on my own writing, completing critiques for other people, and that pesky thing called "a job", and it's small wonder that I don't really notice my lack of a social life most of the time. And why I sometimes don't update the blog for days and days at a time...

Anyway... it is getting dark and I am still at work. So not what I intended for this evening.

(OH - and that package finally did make its appearance to K2. I will have to ask her to take pictures and send them to me, because I forgot to photograph them before sending them...)

Saturday, February 18, 2006

A few thoughts

I don't have the patience, attention span, or desire to spend much time at the computer just now, so I'll just say this:

The Vagina Monologues - funny, fabulous, highly memorable.

Jay's reaction to The Vagina Monologues - priceless.

If it's going to be this damn cold, at least we could get some snow, eh? Just sayin.

"Vermonter" seems to be a close synonym to "wildly eccentric". I think I like that about Vermont.

I dreamt about a trip to the yarn store near Burlington. It was a good dream. Yarn... mmmmmm.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Marital Static, or Yes, Electroshock Therapy Does Work

Things have been so dry up here lately that I am constantly getting little shocks during the day. ZAP. Ouch. Dammit. Shock my hand, okay, I can cope. But some parts are just a little more sensitive than others. (Get your minds out of the gutter - it's getting crowded enough with just me here.)

So Jay, an oddly cuddly man considering his utter lack of body fat, loves to just kiss me all the time. (No, I'm not really complaining.) Just a little peck on the lips, just a "you love me, right?" sort of validation, I suppose. Unfortunately, static and little smootches on the lips don't really go all that well together. About 80% of the time, I get a little current discharged into my tender, and usually chapped, lips. ZAP. Ouch. Dammit. It's gotten so bad that the second he leans in, I instinctively lean away. Last night he leaned over and said "Gimme a kish" (because he was already puckered up), and I shuddered and ducked my head. This can't be healthy.

Anyone know a good static buster for the house?

ZAP. Ouch. Dammit.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

As excuses go

So today I was thinking I would finally see how many of my pictures I could load onto my USB drive to bring to work to upload to my new Flickr account. However, as I stood behind my dear, sweet husband at his computer, looking at pictures, he showed me a few from the holidays that I hadn't seen yet.

*looking at a picture of me on xcountry skis in really odd lighting*

Me: Gah. Delete that one, will you. I look deformed.

Jay: Okay, but you kind of are.

Me: Kind of are what?

Jay: Deformed.


Jay: What? Where are you going?

Tuesday, February 07, 2006


My father, hard core Pittsburgher, longtime Steelers fan, won the lottery at his work for the chance to buy two Super Bowl tickets. He and one of his best friends (my godfather) got to go to Detroit to see the game. And the Steelers won.

I'm guessing now would be a good time to ask the man for just about anything... how much better could his mood get, I ask you?

Too bad I can't think of a darn thing...

Thursday, February 02, 2006

A fan by any other name?

I have never really considered myself a "fan" of anything in particular. Fandom, in my mind, has always been linked to mindless adulation, especially the kind that includes lots of squealing or body painting... I always had an extremely hard time writing essays about "what are you a fan of?" or "who is your idol?" or other such nonesense. I think my favorite essay was one I had to write in CCD back in 3rd or 4th grade. The subject was "Is Jesus your hero, why or why not?" I, of course, said I didn't think he was, and went on to give reasons why he wasn't particularly relevant to the things I was interested in. Heh. My poor catechism teacher. I found that essay this past summer while digging through a stash of my old papers in my parents' attic.

Of course, I didn't think the fact that I read every single Trixie Belden book or all of Lois Duncan's work, etc. had anything to do with being a fan. I read them because I liked them, and I liked them because they were good. Fans were people who got all excited about some sports team or tv show, even if the team always lost or the show was stupid. Clearly, I didn't have a very good opinion of fans, so there was no way I could clas myself as a fan of anything. Anyway. I think I'm becoming less jaded as I age. Thank goodness, I know, I know.

Last month, while Jay was off doing something crazy like climbing a mountain in the rain, I rented the movie Serenity - the SF movie by Joss Whedon based off the series Firefly that got cancelled before I had a chance to see it. I. Loved. This. Movie. I'm not even sure I can explain what I loved about it. It just got so many things right - the pacing, the backstory, the characters. I loved it so much that I did something that I have never done before and can't really imagine doing again. I put on the director's commentary and watched the whole thing again. And then I wouldn't let Jay watch it when he got home because I didn't want him to ruin it for me.

But it doesn't end there. I decided that I was clearly missing some pretty good stuff by cutting off TV wholesale. So I signed up for Netflix. (Yes, finally.) And I've got the Firefly tv series in my queue so I can see more. Once the floodgates opened, I found myself queuing up all sorts of TV shows - Band of Brothers, from HBO, South Park from Comedy Central, The Office from the BBC... the list goes on.

So maybe, just a little bit, I might, possibly, sort of, I suppose, understand what the whole "fan" thing is about.