20
Mar
17

Getting to Knooow Me, Getting to Know More or Less Aboooout Me…

****

I’m taking the baton/hint from The Indecisive Eejit.  You may find her answers HERE.

If you truly follow my blog and don’t just add me to the card collection collecting dust in your digital box of favorite things to grab your attention for a second, you may know some of this, already.  Either way, this is one of many TV-type interview moments with yours truly.  No question is answered with a lie.  But, some answers are omitted for the given reason(s).

1. Who are you named after?

An uncle who was rumored to be an alcoholic, if you can believe it.  [In part, because of this info being passed to me at a young age, I told myself I’d avoid alcohol.  More on this, later.]  My family has the lousy habit of reusing names in abundance.  We definitely are not the sort to name kids Apple or North.

 
2. Do you like your handwriting?

I did when I was still in school and teachers would compliment my handwriting.  But, once I entered the working world and began suffering new anxieties on top of the old ones, my handwriting went the way it started way back in my early years, when I would scratch out letters to complete homework. I used to joke and enjoy jokes about people who “chicken scratch.”  But, as with other things I joke about, I seem to later be given a slap to the face.  [So, now I am more careful what jokes I enjoy.]  I still pride myself for not–or wonder why I cannot–signing my name in a way some people do which looks more like a squiggle than any actual letters.

 
3. What is your favorite lunch meat?

It varies with time, as do other answers to this sort of question.  Presently, I’d say roasted or smoked chicken with some accent of seasoning like dried tomatoes or barbecue sauce.  A few years ago, it was honey ham.

 
4. Longest relationship?

Depending upon how you define a “relationship,” I could answer this a number of ways.  I have not had any ideal or romantic relationships that would qualify–in my mind–for THAT sort.  But, I’ve been close with a female friend for about 9 years and was semi-romantic with one gal for about 3 years though our time together was rather limited.  [Long-distance relationships suck.]

 
5. Do you still have your tonsils?

Yep.

 
6. Would you bungee jump?

Nope.  I’d rather skydive, to be honest.

 
7. Do you untie your shoes when you take them off?

Usually, no, unless they are taller hiking boots.  And, even then, I have a trick for getting them off without undoing a knot.  I have become quite the casual traveler and like to slip in and out of situations, including my clothes.  So, any way I can make dressing/undressing quicker, I usually find and stick with one, at least, until the thought process changes (as it occasionally does).

 
8. Favorite ice cream?

Just about anything with chocolate flavoring.  Chocolate, Heavenly Hash, Fudge Brownie, Chocolate Chip Mint…all good options.  And, which I go with often depends upon what I’ve eaten recently.  If I have had a heavy meal, the lighter choice (plain Chocolate) is best.  If I had a snack and am out and about, a heavier flavor with stuff in it usually tides me over nicely until I can get something more substantial to eat.  But, I can’t eat ice cream without some form of other food in my stomach.  No dessert before substance/staple.

 
9. What is the first thing you notice about people?

It’s hard to say specifically as my socially-anxious mind tends to rapid-fire thoughts and/or glances at a variety of details in a short amount of time without fully grasping the details.  [Meaning, I may glance at a nose but not register the shape in my mind, simply because my mind wants to register but is also hesitant to stare.]  But, I usually say hair as I favor people with a healthy head of hair (even if mine is not so).

 
10. Football or baseball?

Play or watch?  I watch both, occasionally.  I favor watching American football but am not the sort of fan to quote names and/or stats.  I wish attending football games was more affordable and easier.  I have attended one football game and several baseball games, so far.  And, I cannot deny the electricity one gets when seated in a baseball stadium, preferably in a section that is not too crowded (as the noise can be deafening/painful).  You never known when that free baseball might fly your way.  It’s a safer way to gamble and still feel alive.  Best if you have a buddy to share a soft pretzel or some cheesy nachos.  [I would not go to a game alone unless I was meeting someone there.]

 
11. What color pants are you wearing?

Gray.

 
12. Last thing you ate?

Cereal.

 
13. If you were a crayon what color would you be?

Probably a shade close to forest green or a dark gray.  I feel close to the forest and tend to be a gray person, one who doesn’t answer or do much of anything in a definite way.  I have convictions but am malleable.  I can bend like some trees.  But, if the wrong sort of forces try to bend me, I can be come rigid and volatile.

 
14. Favorite smell?

Fun fact.  I can’t remember the last thing I smelled.  I seem to have a case of “anosmia.”

 
15. Who was the last person you spoke to on the phone?

Hmm.  I am struggling to remember.  But, I’d say one of my sisters.

 
16. Hair color?

That’s confidential.  But, if you use some brain cells, you might figure it out.

 
17. Eye color?

See 16.

 
18. Favorite foods to eat?

Favorite hot food/entree?  Pizza, hands down, because it is not limited to one form.  It can be made any number of ways with a variety of toppings.  I have written a number of pieces on this matter elsewhere, if you can even find them.  Spaghetti with tomato sauce (and maybe a few meatballs) is a good first date/comfort food.  But, I also favor a good cheeseburger, the occasional fried calamari, eggplant marinara and gyros.  Favorite fruit?  I’m partial to red apples that are moderately sweet and firm/crisp, mangoes and bananas (particularly when combined with peanut butter in a sandwich).  Asian pear/apples are occasionally good, too.  Favorite cold sandwich?  It’s been a mix of tuna with mustard, mayo and pickle bits for some time.

 
19. Scary movies or happy endings?

Happy endings.  I can stomach some scary movies but only do so to either please someone or to satisfy a(n) curiosity/interest in something.  [IE I saw the first two Resident Evil movies in hopes of getting a live-action retelling of the video games.  That was not exactly what I saw, though.]  A few years back, I watched an anime in which the female lead cried when she won a fight.  For some reason, since that day, I’ve been shuddering and shedding tears when something well depicted or written crosses my path.  Blending all of this into my work, I like to craft stories that inject little bits of fear and humor before resulting in a happy ending that inspires people to heave a sigh of relief and smile.  I also am not fond of endings/goodbyes; so I tend to leave The End a bit uncertain.

 
20. Last movie you watched?

I just saw Logan the other day.  It did a nice job of explaining how science had doomed Wolverine to an inevitable death, even though he had an innate healing ability that extended his life.  It was also very violent and gory, and the use of vulgar language was excessive and questionable (though typical of some social circles).  I was expecting a little surprise at the end but was disappointed.  Even though the movie stars a little Latino girl, I would not recommend bringing kids to the film (which I think is rated R, anyway).  And, I worry about the kids in the movie growing up a little messed up in the head.  But, that’s showbiz.  Right?

 
21. Favorite holiday?

I’d have to pick Valentine’s Day even if many grumble about it being one of those “commercial” holidays…and even though I have yet to have the romantic or sexual sort some people enjoy.  I like the symbolism and like generating images of love/passion/affection.  I don’t subscribe to the requirements of gifts or any particular treatment of anyone.  I do things my own way.  I’d pick Halloween if people didn’t use it to play scary monsters and worse things.  I like Halloween without the blood and frights.  I’d love more classy costume parties (without the stereotypical snooty, wealthy attendance of movie/TV fame) and am intrigued by the concept of Carnival as it is known in some historical European stories.  I like the sounds, lights and general warm feelings of Christmas but could do without the rush and demand for presents as some seem to entertain.  Holiday shopping is insane and unnecessary.  But, the SPIRIT of many holidays is something that stokes the fire of contentment in this life, just as the Olympics are intended, in a way, to bring nations together in harmony (when they aren’t pitching some product or flashing a corporate logo/sponsor).

 
22. Beer or wine?

If I had to choose, I’d go with wine.  But, I am not a big alcoholic drinker.

 
23. Night owl or early bird?

I consider myself an early bird by nature (including astrological).  I typically like to get up early and get going in a hurry (rather than preen and fuss).  I do NOT like to lounge in bed unless I am having a rare lazy day.  I could not spend all day in my pajamas, even if I was filling my day with fun and games.  Nor can I spend a day solely indoors unless I am doing something creative that just can’t be put down.  But, I’ve been known to stay up late and do some crazy things…  [Who needs alcohol when inhibitions take a sharp dip after midnight?]

 
24. Favorite day of the week?

I dunno how to exactly answer this one.  I don’t have a particular day I favor above all others.  If I could, I’d give a reason for each.  I have no reason to presently favor any day from Monday to Thursday, though I occasionally did, depending upon the job I had (because some jobs bring certain rewards on those days).  Friday is typically a good day because, for some, it’s the end of the work/school week, preceding what should be a rejuvenating weekend.  Saturday used to be a favorite for its bounty of morning cartoons.  [Now, any day is a cartoon day, provided you have the right “service package.”]  Sunday has become a day to catch my breath before another work week; it used to be a definite church day, before work and other matters got in the way.  Now, it’s more of a uniquely meditative, spiritual day occasionally pestered by a bout with anxiety.

———

Phew.  And, as usual, when I complete one of these things, I am inspired to craft a list of my own questions for people to answer.  [Even if not enough people care to answer them.]  So, be on the lookout for that.  And, if you care to continue this or that list of questions with your own answers, it might be a good idea to link your post to this or the first one.

28
Feb
17

My Response to “An Ace in a Hole” (Dear Abby)

*****

You can find my response to this and other letters on the designated page. But, while you’re here, have a read.

Ace is a… Well, let’s be clear about this. Ace doesn’t exactly say if they are a boy/man or girl/woman. So, the mere fact that Abby decides to address the person as a young woman may be in error. While some details might suggest Ace is female, it is not certain from my perspective.

Ace is struggling with an “asexual” identity. He/She is being pestered by friend and family alike to do what is “normal,” including sex and having kids while Ace shows no interest. As with others who feel abnormal or exceptionally unique, he/she is distraught and seeking a means of maintaining friendship with those who bother him/her.

I myself never questioned my sexuality other than how I appear to others (which has been a source of concern and annoying conflict). I have been labeled and scrutinized most of my life and had to accept some battles as defeats or stalemates, which ultimately weakened or even tore ties to certain people. Thus, I will speak from experience.

————-

Ace, you might help me out by making your gender clear. What I have to say might slip into applying to one gender or another. But, I will do by best to keep this asexual.

One quick question: Why do you call yourself “an ace in a hole?” The term “ace in the hole” is defined as an advantage waiting to be revealed. I’d say being openly asexual while enduring punishment from those closest to you does not match that definition.

[If you have no interest in my personal experience/opinion outside the realm of advice geared specifically to your problem, you can skip the following portion and start with the separate question.]

———–

While a mother pushing the idea of marrying a gay man at you tells Abby you are a woman turned off by sexual intercourse, I am wondering if your mother didn’t have another motive, if you are an asexual man, and she thought a gay man would eventually awaken the gay manhood in you or make you comfortable with someone who didn’t look at sex the same way heterosexual couples do. I could be way off base here. But, hopefully, you can see how/why I’d make such a statement.

Some might bring up the matter of having children. Well, would you really be more likely to have children as an asexual woman with a gay man than with a straight one? No. You’d likely adopt or be in a situation like James Corden who is apparently married to a heterosexual woman AND gay (or bisexual) with kids.

At an early age, I was “informed” having children was “normal” and to be expected. And, as early as maybe twelve, I thought about having two kids of m own. But, once I learned about sexual intercourse and all that came with it, over many years and from meeting many people, I kinda lost interest in bringing kids into this world. [I’m not ruling kids out completely; but they seem unlikely in my future. Still, I might help others with their kids and consider that my “parenting time.”]

No discomfort intended, but I am surprised you have ANY supportive friends (unless the friendships are very “cool” and “casual,” not people you spend extensive time with outside of work and/or have heavily personal talks with, for example). Being as you are cannot be common in your area. Can it? If your supportive circle consists of other asexual individuals, well, aren’t you lucky. I’m more likely to believe the people you know are quite comfortable discussing and seeking sexual intercourse while just patting you on the back as they bite their tongues in your presence (if they are that respectful).

From as far back as the age of five, I can recall kids being quite mean to me. I’ve had my share of bullies picking on me for everything from the shape of my head to how I walk or dress. I could have curled up in a closet and decided years later I was gay because I couldn’t connect with girls the way other boys did. But, that’s just not me. I knew early on I liked girls; I just didn’t know how to convey my feelings without embarrassment or social conflict. And, as I learned about sexual intercourse, I was turned off, much like you. The new knowledge only made socializing more difficult.

There was one girl in particular I befriended for whom I had strong feelings. And, as these feelings became apparent to our peers, we were harassed until we–or she–made a decision to separate. It was painful to lose touch with her. Meanwhile, a few of the hecklers were having their first sexual experiences with foreign exchange students; and I don’t recall them being harassed for attempting this.

There was also one boy who I’d call asexual because he never expressed any interest in a boy or girl other than as an ally or enemy. Everything seemed to be about war with him. You were either his “right-hand man” or on a list of people he had no problem talking about wiping off the planet (though he never followed through with his threats). I thought he was a Nazi leader. It was hard for even me to understand how he could be so robotic and, in his own way, juvenile.

In my late teens, I was viewed by some of my peers as the equivalent of a “gay priest.” I was, like you, repulsed by the realities of sexual intercourse, especially the common practice of “casual sex” (including “oral” which I refuse to try or accept others doing). I was also serious about respecting religion which seemed to be a foreign concept to my peers though we were attending a Catholic school. [Had I not been given such a steady diet of religion growing up, I might have had no qualms about casual sex.]

I could admit to liking or even lusting for a girl. But, the truth came out under pressure and, usually, with unpleasant results. I consistently hoped I’d have a quiet moment alone with whoever interested me so I could express my feelings without heckling or judgment and cope with the rejection I might yet receive if the feelings were not mutual. I was a passer of notes who had little to no luck doing so. My unique mindset made me an outcast. And, a few bold souls pressured me to try things with which I was not only uncomfortable but also opposed.

On occasion, the suggestions/dares were made in jest, just to see how badly I’d make a fool of myself following orders. Suffice to say, high school put a big dent in my ability to socialize. I went from a “plus one” (in terms of social aptitude, on a scale of 1 to 10) to somewhere in the negative digits. I might as well have been dead. That would have made everything easier. But, in my heart, I still longed for companionship and hid those strong sexual feelings most of my peers had and discussed freely.

Ultimately, I had to accept being an outcast and cutting ties with people who seemed unable to respect my choices. [And, though I didn’t always see it at that age, I was not the most respectful of choices made by my peers, either. If I didn’t like something they did, I’d complain when they were in my company. But, I didn’t nag, tease or challenge anyone. I just bluntly said, “I don’t like ___.” Or, “___ are stupid.” And, often enough, I’d give reasons no one really wanted to hear. I thought I was being social and honest, having an opinion.]

————

How do you maintain contact with these people who are becoming increasingly bothersome/suffocating?

Right off the top of my head, I’d say you don’t (maintain contact). You set yourself apart from them and regroup. Why continue to stand in their line of fire and take that “abuse?”

Give yourself a place and time to shake their pressured intentions from your mind (and soul) like a plane shaking the fire from one of its engines. Maybe there’s a coffee shop or fast food restaurant/cafe you can visit to unwind and entertain yourself with some tabletop hobby (IE reading, crossword puzzles or doodling). And, if they continue to seek you out and push their views, you give them one last warning before cutting ties completely. If they ignore your warning, there’s your answer; they are not going to change.

It may hurt to lose a friend or warm relationship with a parent, but crap happens. If your mother won’t accept you as a person and family member because you don’t get married and/or have kids, you tell her she has only so much time to change her way of thinking because you are going to be who you choose to be until that changes, if it changes, which will not happen because of her pressuring you.

Abby says this is an opportunity to educate. Well, who says you have to be the spokesperson for “asexual America” and go on talk shows to start a movement for supporting people like you? If that sounds good to you, go for it. If not, defend yourself. At the very least, you tell these nags that you will consider other options when and if your feelings change. And, if that’s not enough to shut them up, again, set boundaries, make ultimatums and follow through. Accept the fact that you may not always have the best of relations with your parents and/or that one person you call a friend.

But, let’s do our best to be polite about these matters. Right? Because it wouldn’t be “prudent” to lose our tempers. No. It would just be natural. If you value yourself and what you believe/feel, you do what is necessary and may not be able to sort out–at the time–what is excessively hostile. Still, there are things we can say and/or do via impulse that might be worse than necessary. And, we should avoid doing more harm than good.

28
Feb
17

My Response to “Bored Life in Wisconsin” (Dear Abby)

*****
You can find my response to this and other letters on the designated page. But, while you’re here, have a read.

Bored Life is a fifteen year-old teenager suffering from a mix of social anxiety and depression. It’s uncertain if this person is a boy or girl. But, they are clearly at a crossroad in life, lacking friendship and comfortable chats with peers, questioning acceptance of their chosen hobbies, wanting desperately to improve their situation. [I didn’t know kids (or “young adults”) still play Dungeons and Dragons.]

Abby suggests joining some groups to stimulate social activity. And, that’s sound advice (even I have yet to follow). But, I suspect this teen is resistant to joining (as I was/am). And, that may be why he/she is having such difficulty. I will speak from experience and, hopefully, provide some reassurance. But, considering my ongoing struggles, I can’t promise much. Still, it may shed some light on the paid advisor for future cases.

————–

Bored Life? I’m going to give you more than something or “anything.” Not just advice but also some of my own experience with what you are facing.

Lesson number one. Don’t ever say you’re bored or boring. Because, to the people that matter in your life, you’re not.

As I read your letter, I am checking off all the points that may match not just my teenage years but also my adult life. Repetitive schedule (including the details you gave)? Check. Depressed? Check. Inability to drive? Check. Trouble talking to others–aka social anxiety–double check. Parents that don’t go anywhere/do anything to stimulate your mind…nor, apparently, your bond/relationship with them? [Which may be something we want to discuss, later.] Double check. No friends with whom you can hang out/feel at ease with in person? Double check and an exclamation point!

Right now–and for who knows how long–you don’t have a “crowd.” You don’t have your niche. You’re a rare purple song bird in a forest full of blue and pink ones. You could perch next to a group and give your two cents. But, that would leave your comfort zone. And, once out of that comfort zone, you fear you’ll get hurt. Right? Who or what will protect you when you are completely exposed to the public and responsible for your words/actions.

Let’s tackle those key notes separately.

1) Your comfort zone/crowd.
This is what suits your desires/interests. It’s what you feel most at ease doing. This includes those “boring” activities you indulge, homework and drawing. When you get older, people start associating this with a career and raising children. Those become zones into which people lock themselves and struggle to escape. Some run away, producing single parents and questionable resumes.

Here’s the first ray of light I’d like to shed your way. What may seem boring today could be seen as a sign of dedicated study and achievement, later. And, perhaps, in the future, your work will pay off with attracting the niche crowd you’ve wanted, allowing you to filter out those who are not what they appear. [And, there will be your share of those, as well.]

Surely, you are not the only person in your world who is focused on homework, drawing and video games. Quite likely, there are others who are just about as secluded as you. And, that is why you don’t see each other or pair up. You are in your own corners, feeling similar doubts and concerns. Yet, even though you may have the same interests, there’s also the matter of personality differences.

2) Fear of painful exposure.
When we aren’t naturally adept to or taught at an early age to socialize, it becomes more and more like a stiff joint we haven’t moved in a while. It’s painful and/or difficult to stretch. It feels alien and uncertain, scary, even. What if we make the wrong move and do more harm? Leaving one’s comfort zone, trying new things…these can become painful to imagine. And, who doesn’t want to avoid pain?…except maybe those who preach “No pain, no gain.”

There are those that seem to make life appear easy. Jocks flock with jocks and hide any emotional responses they may have. Glam queens gab with other glam queens, and one is usually prettier than the rest for a reason. But, just because these people hang out and/or play together doesn’t mean they’re good friends. They may be avoiding your discomfort simply by staying busy. When they go home, life may not be as fun as they appear in school. School becomes their escape from solitude, family troubles and responsibility. It’s a different sort of comfort zone that seems high risk to people like you and me. It’s the fast lane while we coast in the slow lane.

3) Responsibility and taking chances.
Even I will admit (though I’m genetically inclined to deny) I have moments when I don’t want to be responsible for what happens. Companies satisfy this fear by posting “disclaimers” and “warnings,” all manners of fine print to ward off punishment should their business fail to satisfy the consumer and/or do greater harm. There may be something in the human genetic matrix that detests responsibility. But, if you know anything about Spider-Man, you likely know what Uncle Ben taught him.

Our great power is being the dominant species of this planet. Our responsibility is how we wield that power. We cannot be entirely careless with our actions. What we say and do impacts others.

Yet, we cannot take NO action or risk, either. If we try nothing, we achieve nothing. [But, don’t be so quick to dismiss what you DO try. Sometimes and some people will think you do nothing when, in fact, you ARE doing something that just isn’t apparent.]

One of the hard lessons of adulthood is taking steps to make progress (or even maintain what already exists) and being responsible for what results. If something goes wrong and it’s genuinely our fault, we need to take what comes with this negative result or defend ourselves if the punishment seems unjust. There will be other times when what occurs is just coincidence or cosmic fate, an “accident” we may not have been able to prevent. And, we need to learn to “roll with the punches;” accept failure or lesser achievement, regroup and try, again.

As I say, I am in a similar rut as you and not adept to making improvements/changes. But, many years after being in your shoes, I’ve gathered various tidbits of insight, therapy and wisdom from various sources. Right now, you’re at the start space on the board game of adulthood. Or, maybe, three steps from the start. I took a bit of a detour along one of those chutes or ladders and am not much closer to the finish line. But, I feel “wiser” for the experience. And, every step outside my comfort zone I am able to make, I get a tiny bit less afraid…even if I sometimes meet with what might be seen as disaster.

If I may, I have a few questions I hope aren’t too bothersome.

1) Who got you interested in Dungeons and Dragons? As I said earlier, I didn’t think anyone (especially your age) still played such games. I thought that was reserved for people from my and older generations.

I myself never played but have studied maps and guides. They were sources of artistic inspiration in my youth. I can remember being about seven or eight when I drew a picture of a warrior fending off “yellow mold” (and “black pudding” in another drawing) with a spear or sword.

2) You’ve NEVER had a crush on anyone? I could see not kissing or dating. But, not even a strong feeling about another person?

I had those feelings as early as four years old. I was given some unpleasant labels in my youth and in my teens which did not help me make friends and made approaching the concept of a romantic relationship almost impossible. I knew I wanted more than friendship with at least one girl. But, neither my parents nor my peers were any help in making my wishes come true. Instead, they made life more difficult and made me curl up in my “corner.”

Granted, there was one kid in my class who seemed the sort you claim to be. He had no interest in girls. Nor was he admittedly gay. I’d call him asexual because he was obsessed with annoying details in everything and never once said anything flattering about a boy/man or girl/woman, never showed any interest. If you asked him about such feelings, he’d pick a verbal fight and insult you.

There may be a strange blessing in this absence of “passion.” You could be spared the trials others face because they cannot control their “lust.” You could avoid the distractions and penalties (unplanned parenthood, for one) and get ahead in other areas of living. Then, down the road, those feelings you’ve been without might surface (at “the right time”). Yet, you are feeling discomfort because this difference makes relating to others less likely.

You make a point of mentioning how having feelings for someone can be a big part of interacting/talking with peers. [Can I just say I have not known any teen your age to even use the word “peers” in a sentence? That strikes me as unusual, too. I’d say “classmates,” “fellow students” or “other kids in my school.” But, peers?]

And, I can relate to that, too. I am pretty sure that’s why I was given the labels I received; I didn’t feel comfortable talking about “banging” that girl/guy or how much I wanted to grab some girl’s breasts. [Nor could I gossip about past relationships I didn’t have.] I felt guys who did this were juvenile. I didn’t necessarily say or think I was better than them–as many would argue against me–but I didn’t want to be like them. I chose a different path and was humiliated for it.

My struggles were amplified by factors I never saw coming. I was outnumbered and overwhelmed. I was at war with family. And, all of that slowed down any progress I could make so badly that I could see everyone else walking away and getting ahead in life. I continue to question my decisions and why I had to fight those battles. Could I have avoided the conflicts somehow? Could I have ignored the “jerks” and focused better on those who mattered? Why did I make the decisions I made?

I seem to recall writing a letter like yours back when I was your age (except I made it clear I had feelings for a number of girls and was distraught for losing contact with at least one). I did not find or receive any response. Hopefully, you’ll find my words and get some good out of them.

28
Feb
17

My Response to “Achiever Mom” (Carolyn Hax)

*****
You can find my response to this and other letters on the designated page. But, while you’re here, have a read.  [You may find a loose end or two as my response kept evolving over a few days.  I finally just decided to post what I had.]

Achiever Mom is concerned about her son who is twelve years old, not exceptional in sports or academics and void of any interest with which she feels able to relate. She mentions her husband as a socially anxious under-achiever and highlights a moment in which her son supposedly chose to forfeit a spelling bee due to a lack of interest in winning/trying. Claiming she grew up grasping at every opportunity she could, this incident made her angry at him for not being more ambitious to achieve greater status.

Carolyn Hax does a decent job of asking Mom to accept her son as he is and let him find his own way. But, Hax seems to be making the assumption the son bailed on the challenge, knowing it would irk his mom, making the son appear more devious than he may be (which could have a negative impact on what the mother does next).

While overall content with the article/response, I felt there were a few details missing, details that might need light shed upon them to better understand and direct the situation at a crucial stage. This case also touches on a personal one, which motivates me to speak out. Thus, the following response is more about my experience and how it may be related to the situation at hand than added advice.

————–

Achiever Mom, you be careful with that boy. I don’t want to scare you, but soon, he will be entering high school, that tumultuous stormy sea between Scylla and Charybdis that tests youth’s metal. He will face temptation, heavier work loads and peer pressure like he has never known. He will be torn between convention and rebellion, between practical and unorthodox. And, if you so much as twist his wrist in an effort to tell him “how it’s done” or fail to teach him how to accept defeat, you could scar him and the connection you have for life.

If you don’t mind reading a novella, I’m content to sit down and discuss this with you for the moment. Getting all of the thoughts out and answers we might benefit from is a tad hard to achieve in half of a newspaper page. Why don’t you make yourself comfortable, take a deep cleansing breath, maybe fix yourself a calming drink and have a go at this.

[FYI, I speak from experience; I was a boy much like your son. I had a father who (without any “inheritance”) boasted military experience (in “peace time”) and a mother who was the self-proclaimed ruler of discipline and organization (as well as the queen of denial). But, I didn’t bail on the spelling bee. I simply fell short and discouraged myself from trying, again, because I had been built up to think I was smarter than I performed and acknowledged for a skill I must not have valued much (until I was older and learned to care more about the full use of words than just spelling them). I made one mistake and didn’t have the nurturing I felt necessary to continue or didn’t see the logic in trying, again. I had no “failure coping skills,” no interest in being less than the best and, to be quite honest, little to no interest in glory from spelling.

There were many other instances in which I had gut instincts to go one way and my parents insisted I go their way. And, in short, because they only accepted doing things my way after it was too late (after I paid the price of going against my gut feeling) or after lengthy protest and stressing out, a rift gradually grew. In just a few years, it grew to the point I lost sight of the childhood love I had for my parents. And, to this day, that love is razor thin; it’s an obligation and an oath, not a comfort or treasure.

I had a hard time talking with my parents about nearly every concern on my mind. And, there were plenty in my early teens. Certain tasks or challenges were deemed too dangerous or unfit for me before I could even attempt them. Where I wanted to try was not always approved. The more often I quit, the less my parents approved of me; and the more I disliked myself. Yet, I could not see any merit in continuing what discouraged and/or hurt me, as well as what seemed “too hard.” I was told I was a good student, but that didn’t seem the case when it came to learning from/with my parents. Confusion does not make a good foundation. And, when later asked by others why I couldn’t do something, I felt too embarrassed to say no one never taught me or that I was afraid to learn. Nor could I easily take what others taught me and apply it at home without my parents objecting strongly.]

Your last little paragraph kind of says it all. You are a tightly wound violin string ready to snap at the kid for a “mocking bow” and potentially never succeeding at anything. You may say it was so, but I don’t know and doubt he was mocking. Nor would I be so harsh to assume he will never succeed at anything; that’s just devastating talk. Get that junk out of your head, doing a weekly sweep if necessary.

[That reminds me of a time when my mother thought I was “faking” weakness/illness/injury. I was actually physically, mentally and emotionally hurt; and she thought I was faking. I don’t remember her saying so when I was in the moment. But, hearing her thoughts, decades later, hurt almost as much as they would have had I heard them as that kid. It explains why I felt so abandoned and helpless at the time, left to fend for myself like a baby bird that fell from the nest. Yet, I didn’t do so well fending for myself. Had I been a bird, I probably would have died or been eaten.]

Whether or not you shake your head at my earlier assessment, let me ask you a valid question (or two). How successful are you, really? [That might have shed some light on the situation.] Are you the “breadwinner?” Are you at the peak of your career path? Or, are you “content” with much less than you yourself could have had yet wishing–as many do–for your children to “have a better life” while losing sight of what you experienced?

Understand that some things never change; but others do. Tools that were available when you were his age are not the same now. Opportunities you had then are not necessarily available now. Others you did not have are. Circumstances are slightly different.

———
This next portion is going to sound much like what Carolyn said with a few different words. You might find a few new perspectives. But, you can skip past it, if you prefer.

Instead of focusing on the word “succeed,” right now, put the phrase “stimulate the happiness of others” up over your work space and do everything in your power to guide your son toward what makes him happy (not what makes you happy). In time, I would guess (I mean, what do I know?) this will turn into success once he feels good about what he can do before assuming he can or must be successful.

Teach him a lesson my parents had a hard time–if not failed at–grasping: how to experience failure and deal with it. Don’t teach him to fear failure and fear trying things you feel he isn’t fit or right to do (like laundry, cooking and other household chores), just because he doesn’t do them your way or makes a mess. [Maybe there’s a reason he doesn’t follow directions well; and it doesn’t have to be a “disability” or “attitude problem.”]

The scariest part of the coming years could be letting him do what he chooses and being ready to cushion any blows that come from those decisions, not letting him take over your house and lifestyle but allowing him to mold himself rather than have you pick the shape he takes. If there is competition, let him decide to enter or avoid it. Encourage him to discuss what is happening in his life without framing the moment with past experiences and assumptions/predictions. Then, if you see an opportunity for him to take a chance with good odds, kindly nudge him.

Say something like, “Hey, you’d be good at that. Why don’t you give that a try?” And, leave it at that. Or, provide the tools/supplies without any pressure to use them. [If you must, try a little negotiation. Say you’ll do ____ for him if he does ____ for you (for himself). And, don’t cave if he resists. But, don’t deprive him of necessities, either. Don’t take away his ability to connect with friends, regardless what he has done (and not from what he MIGHT do).] If he turns away from the challenge, don’t fight his decision. [However, if his life takes any scarier turns, if he withdraws so much from interaction, chores and challenges that his life seems in jeopardy, other action will become necessary.]

———

The first line of your letter that jumped out at me was where you mentioned your son being nervous and not wanting to be there. [Actually, the first was his saving grace, his sense of humor. I seem to have survived this long with that little life preserver, myself.] While nerves and refusal may be signs of weakness one could halt by pushing the weakling into the fray of battle, it might also have been an area of achievement he had little interest in pursuing. And, pressure to do something we do not instinctively favor could be unnecessary pressure, like peer pressure. Just because our peers tell us we’re uncool for not doing what they do; that doesn’t mean we can’t choose to do things differently.

Some adults might recall being kids pushed to take up musical instruments but, later, giving up these lessons to take up medical or financial jobs. They might look back and question their parents’ pressure to take interest. [Or, if they are so fortunate, the former kids might integrate those lessons into adult life and be some amazingly, envy-worthy, diverse people.]

[I personally was adept at math because I had a brain apparently gifted at absorbing equations. But, would I pursue math contests? No way. Too boring. I’m a creative spirit. There is no creativity in math, other than creating problems and, later, solutions. I don’t mind problem-solving. But, I guess I have little to no interest into imagining problems in terms of numbers and variables. My mind is more geared toward seeing social, arrangement/composition or regulation problems around me and figuring out solutions.]

One other thing about your letter that sticks in my mind: You briefly mention the husband being socially anxious and an under-achiever who struggles to get jobs. Yet, you love this guy; you married this guy, right? [That may be a tiny weight off my shoulders, an ounce of hope.] But, how much do you love him? And, could it be your marriage is merely another challenging opportunity you took upon yourself? Did you enter this family structure like a school contest, hoping to work your way up the ranks from district to state, mold the members like clay sculptures until they won the blue ribbon at the county fair? In other words, do you love your husband (and your son) for who he is, for being part of your life? Or, do you see them as works in progress you just haven’t been able to fully improve to the best of your ability, yet?

What would you say or have done had your husband not “inherited” any money? Would that have any impact on you marrying him? Was the money or family status a push toward the thought of a stable future/home?

I wonder, how does your husband feel about you (and the kid/s)? Do you have more than one child? That too could be a big factor in this pressure-to-achieve situation. For instance, how does this son get along with his siblings? How “successful” or “driven” are they? Might this son feel pressured to be like them when he is not?

[I knew a few “only childs” and saw how their parents treated them like pet projects, like singular rockets filled with hopes of greater success than any family of six or more could achieve.]

How would the husband feel being labeled an underachiever? Does he accept this like a healthy bowl of bran cereal to stabilize his diet? Is he comfortable not doing as much as some, accepting that some people are tortoises while others are hares? Or, do the words cut a little deep, leave him a little less eager to try?

———
Here comes some more advising verbiage. Again, breeze past it if you’d rather read more unique material.

At twelve, your son is at a crucial time of development, sure. [Heck, every year between birth and whatever number you want to use for labeling adulthood is crucial.] And, you could fortify this by giving him a swift kick into some regimen like boarding school or a “balanced diet,” and trust this will keep his back straight, his shoulders back and his elbows off the table. But, what is more important is a trusted family member fortifying him with experiences, both good and bad.

He needs to be free to try things, learn how to do them both your way and his own way and experience failure to learn from his mistakes. You’ve probably heard similar advice elsewhere. It just might not have stuck with you or found purpose. Well, I’d say the purpose has been found. It’s your son. And, he needs his mother to still catch him when he falls but to let him fall, as well, and learn what comes with failure, including the steps to recovery.

A parent who is driven by only success and grabbing every opportunity might not be relaxed enough to say, “It’s okay if I don’t have any interest in ___. Maybe I’ll give it a try; and, if I don’t like it, that’s fine. I’ll do better at something else.” You might get upset if you take on a crossword puzzle and leave half of it blank. You might cut interests out of your life because you did not excel at them. Or, you might think you have to be good at everything.

———

Which brings me back to the father in the picture. What’s his input with the son? How does he nurture the boy? Is his method annoying to you? If you answer the last question with some form of “yes,” that says plenty. Maybe a lack of desire to compete and excel could be directly or subtly linked to an unhappy union in which two committed lovers–role models for the boy–are anything but encouraging images at the finish line. The boy might not want to complete the race because the prize at the end of the road is not worth his time/energy. [Or, maybe, it’s not you he’s looking at but other families falling apart.]

———
One last push to sound competent and professional. These moments just pour out of me like a leaky boat. It’s the chatty therapist in me.

Get to know your son and his interests. [If at seventeen he still likes the cartoons he watched at five or keeps a stuffed animal on his bed, don’t harp on that being a bad thing.] Let him decide when it’s time to keep or part with something. Don’t assume his decisions or ways are bad ones. Teach your son how to pick himself up and try, again. Don’t insist he must continue or be smarter or more successful than he feels fit/able. Or, live with the possible failure of staying connected with your son; accept that he will likely cut ties with you or resent you if you push too hard or fail to fill in other gaps.

You can’t guarantee success no matter what method you try. You, too, must be able to cope with “failure” and still find happiness, contentment. Otherwise, this life is a miserable one.

———

Phew! And, breathe. [This is just the tip of the emotional iceberg for me.] If you manage to find my lengthy thought process here and wish to continue, feel free to contact me.

14
Feb
17

Heart-to-Heart Conversation Heart Conversations [Comics]

conversationhearts-hearttoheart-chat-comics_alloutofloveme-bedtime_ap-1100700-1j

Possibly my last creative effort for this year’s season of love (and foul moods from the absence or abuse of love).  Enjoy a little fallout between a couple of candy hearts.

13
Feb
17

The Taylor Alison Swiftword Dictionary

A playful use of Taylor, Alison and/or Swift in combination with ordinary words, creating an original vocabulary just for her.  [IE Spendswift instead of spendthrift, + an original definition.]

For your reading pleasure, a taste of Grey Poupon–er, Luigi Boccherini’s string quintet minuet.

*****

thetaswiftworddictionary-shoulderlengthhaircut-lookovershoulder-addedstudiousglasses_ap-banner-1

A

Air Swift, n, her personal airplane transportation

alison et lumiere, n, an outdoor stage performance bursting with colorful, dramatic lighting, music and a slice of local history

alisonance, n, the moment when her voice hits just the right note to ensnare your heart

alisonata, n, a solo performance with or without one instrument in her hands

alisong, n, one track of her voice on a cassette, record or CD

alisongstress, n, the pressure she puts upon herself to be superhuman and generate favorable business

C

chairswift, 1. n, her seat on the board of any business she runs
2. n, a different side of her seen only when she’s off her feet

E

ex-tay specs, n, the sunglasses worn by her former suitors to mask their feelings about her (when confronted/asked after the breakup)

F

forkswift, interj, a word used to vent anger and/or frustration when everything seems to be going wrong, accepting the possibility of even greater punishment (not taboo)

H

hide-n-swift, n, a preferred flirting technique involving discreet movement, a safe hiding place, quick hands and compelling facial expressions
Moving toward the hedge maze, she drew him to her side with a little hide-n-swift.

R

red-letter tay, n, a lasting image of her at her best or worst captured in a frequently reproduced photograph

S

scratch-n-swift, 1. n, a “bedroom technique” that’s for her to know and you to find out
2. n, a rare rap album made by her which does not sell as well as other albums but is still worth a good laugh
3. adj, enticing enough to grab her attention and instill a need for action
The article about her was so scratch-n-swift that she contacted the author immediately.

spendswift, adj, how she shops while avoiding unwanted attention
She was so spendswift that no one even caught a glimpse of her leaving the store.

swiftoff, n, the moment or time when she eagerly wishes to cast off her professional and/or family restraints and be as uninhibited as possible

swift store, n, a shop that specifically sells products she approves and makes part of her daily life
You’ll see her step out of a cab or building, wearing items from a swift store.

swift ticket, 1. n, a piece of thick paper or thin cardboard needed to attend one of her concerts
2. n, a key or token granted to an admirer which gives him or her special access (partial or full) to her life outside the spotlight

swiftwood, n, a souvenir left with or without intent by her, found by a deserving fan/friend

T

tay bag, n, what she loads with the essentials for her day before strapping it over her shoulder

tay bed, n, where she likes to take catnaps

taybreak, n, what she takes when she needs some personal time and/or space

taycake, n, a palm-size treat given to those she likes when the mood strikes; it goes nicely with a cup of hot tay–er, tea

tay camp, n, where she meets with everyone involved in putting on one of her concerts

taycare, n, what she requires after a tiring or stressful day

tay ceremony, n, her idea of the perfect wedding

tay check, 1. n, a personal inspection of her wardrobe, skin condition, hair, etc.
2. n, what she collects after every performance from the stage or theater that hosted her

tay chi, n, a preferred calming technique which prevents her from ever appearing anything other than aloof or charming in public
Note: This does not stop her from appearing crazy/insane, lustful or dangerous on film (IE in music videos).

taycough, n, the first sign she is not feeling well

tay cozy, n, a sweater, jacket or robe that provides ample comfort and warmth without lacking style

taycup, n, her preferred beverage vessel

tay day, n, a day spontaneously chosen to deal with and recover from emergencies; during this time, no one is permitted to speak with her unless she requires their assistance

tay dirt, 1. n, what she scrubs off her skin every time she showers or takes a bath
2. n, a plot of soil chosen for mud wrestling

taydream, n, a fantasy about her experienced by one of her many admirers

tay fever, n, a sudden and lingering rush of heat felt by those who are attracted to her

taylback, n, the reserved position she intentionally takes while walking or running a few steps behind a companion, usually in response to snooping cameras or to avoid an oncoming threat

taylblazer or taylor-blazer, n, a unique and eyecatching fashion, cosmetic, hair or otherwise aesthetic statement made by her

taylbored, adj, no longer interested in what you have to offer

taylisman or taliswift, n, presented by her to a deserving fan/friend, this token of appreciation is said to share a bit of the magic she embodies

taylender, n, her preferred technique for ending a relationship, romantic or otherwise

taylgate or taylorgate, n, her most intimate barrier to aspiring lovers

taylight, n, the alluring, almost supernatural light or glow she casts in motion

taylight-saving time, n, the period every night during which she sleeps to replenish her taylight

tay lily, n, a special variety of lily grown just for her; it grows tall, graceful and white–just like her–before shaking off its petals

tayload, n, the sum of favors, presents and/or treats bestowed upon a beloved admirer in a single visit or mail day

tayloft, n, where she keeps her tay bed

taylorberries, n pl, her lush lips when painted red (as she often does)

Taylor Maid, proper n, any person in the service of cleaning up after her concerts and/or personal appearances

taylor-made, 1. adj, crafted by her
2. adj, emotionally or mentally affected by her, usually after spending time in her company
After their last date, her boyfriend was taylor-made, neither able to focus on his work nor socialize with anyone else until the effect expired.
3. adj, locked in her sights, soon to be visited by her
The moment the movie hunk walked by her, he was taylor-made.
4. adj, made seemingly perfect for her
The dress complemented her so well; it was taylor-made.

taylspin, 1. n, a brief relationship which ends with the ex feeling dizzy and unsure about what went wrong
2. n, a story told by her in the form of a song, usually about a relationship, either one that she wishes to have or one that ended quickly and left her suitor feeling dizzy and unsure about what went wrong

Tay-Master-General, proper n, a title she prefers a lover to use when she is feeling exceptionally bossy

Tay of Atonement, proper n, the side of her that walks the long road to forgiveness, struggling to apologize after appearing as the Tay of Judgement

Tay of Judgement, proper n, the side of her that is critical of others

Tay of Pigs, proper n, her nickname when she foregoes any prescribed diet and indulges herself

Tay of Reckoning, proper n, the businesswoman side of her that tackles the financial paperwork which goes with her job, usually on a specific day of reckoning

tay of the land, n, the side of her that is closest to nature, usually when she is resting barefoot on the ground

taypan, n, a breed of snake bred specifically to suit her astrological nature, not to be confused with the Australian taipan; also known as the Taylorus Panpetrus, Petra Pan and Sagittarius Earth Serpent

tay party, n, a relatively quiet gathering of a few close friends known for inside jokes and intimate discussion

taypot, n, a pinnacle of happiness one may instill in her
He went home feeling lucky that night after hitting the taypot.

tay sculpture, n, a favored massage delivered only by the most trusted masseuse or masseur

tay shift, n, a swift and/or sharp change in mood

taystack, n, a pile of books and/or scripts she aspires to read

tayzer or taylor beams, n pl, the invisible heat rays that stem from her slender eyes, capable of hypnotizing, paralyzing and/or crippling those who make eye contact.
Note: The shape of her eyes provide a wide, sweeping range of motion like a quality security camera.

tayzuli, n, the particular pigment and configuration of her blue eyes

trailtaylor, n, a person who lingers on her trail or follows her on tour

W

weightswifter, n, a food, technique, exercise or manmade product that helps maintain her tall, lean appearance
When the man complimented her appearance, she said it was all thanks to her weightswifter.

 

13
Feb
17

Be Swift! The Day of Valentines Is Nigh!–er, Near!

*****

So, Valentine’s Day is just around the corner.  And, many of the good cards have already been plucked from their slots on those multi-layered display stands or shelving units.  But, fear not, there are a few gems left.  And, as a special bonus for the procrastinators, a collection of Taylor Swift notes for love/infatuation, loss/rejection of affection and words of caution to those you wish to protect or keep at a distance.

[Why Taylor Swift?  Well, it just so happens her birthday is Dec. 13th.  So, I thought why not whip these out on Feb. 13th?  I came upon this image of a biker babe who just happened to look a lot like her, too.  And, that’s what motivated me to create these.  Truth be told, whoever designed this biker babe went a little overboard with thinning her waistline.  That rib cage is dangerously depleted.  So, it’s not like I expect or think of Taylor or any woman so thin/emaciated.  I was merely drawn to the face and hair and came up with some clever use of the motorcycle.]

Warm Feelings

Cold Feelings

Cautionary Feelings/Advice

A few I just threw in because song lyrics came to mind when I pondered the image.  One is a Taylor Swift lyric.

And, a couple from a previous collection that fit this one.

**As an added bonus and/or special treat to Taylor (Alison) Swift and her fans, I have cooked up an amusing dictionary which I will be posting soon.  Look for it.**

 




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