Holy Shit

Posted in Uncategorized on April 18, 2014 by Cass

I’m obsessed with a radio show called Cabin Pressure. It’s written by John Finnemore and broadcast on BBC Radio 4 Extra. It’s hilarious and the perfect pick-me-up for anyone who’s having a bad day. The last episode of the entire series was recorded on February 24 in London, which, in itself, is pretty devastating. It’s about a small charter jet line called MJN Air run by Carolyn Knapp-Shappey (Stephanie Cole), and her son, the plane’s steward, Arthur Shappey (John Finnemore), piloted by  Captain Martin Crieff (Benedict Cumberbatch), and First Officer Douglas Richardson (Roger Allam), and it chronicles their mishaps and adventures in their plane, Gertie. If you haven’t listened to it, you definitely should.

The show, for me, has been much more than just a funny radio show I listen to to have a few laughs. It’s been huge in helping me get over (or through) my depression. I don’t have many things in my life that instantly make me feel better about everything and can lift my mood at the drop of a hat. But Cabin Pressure can. In many ways, it’s saved my life. Let me be clear, I’ve never been suicidal. But there have been far too many days that I’ve woken up and just thought, “What’s the point?” and struggled to get myself out of bed, let alone do anything productive. I tried loads of things to make myself feel better about life. I tried new hobbies, tried to form new habits, changed my diet, so on and so forth, but nothing worked. Then I started listening to Cabin Pressure, and, for whatever reason, things looked so much brighter. I wasn’t thinking things were pointless anymore, I had no problem getting out of bed in the mornings, and I was getting so much done in a day. My mood changed, my habits changed, my hobbies changed, and I once again found interest and excitement in old hobbies that had become boring and mundane once my depression escalated. Perhaps it’s Arthur’s obliviously cheery nature, Douglas’ sarcasm, or Martin’s innocent belief in his own ambitions that make every day worth it. I don’t know, but, whatever it is, it’s awesome. I haven’t felt this good in years. And because of all of this, I’ve become attached to these characters, and I can identify with each one in one way or another. I feel like I know them, that they’re real people that I’ve met and gotten to know in my life. And that’s why I’m in tears right now. Not because the show’s ending (though it does make me sad), but because of a video I was just tricked into watching. Guys, it made my stomach turn. 

I was on Pinterest looking at Cabin Pressure stuff and saw a video that said, “Not The Best Of News (Cabin Pressure) if you like Cabin Pressure do yourself a favor and press play.” I thought, “Oh, this must be something about the end of the show, maybe an interview with John Finnemore or a spoiler of some sort.” So I pressed play. What ensued was more devastating than I could have imagined.

It was a minute-long video of someone’s imagined ending to Gertie and her crew. It was not a spoiler or an interview or anything else that I would have been able to handle without exploding into hysterical sobs. It starts out with snippets from real newscasts saying, “Crews are searching off the coast of Brazil…no one’s heard from…it’s not looking too promising…” with scenes on a beach, little kids running around, an airplane flying over the water. There’s one little boy running around and we have a voice-over from Captain Crieff saying that he’d wanted to be an airline pilot since he was six, and before that, he wanted to be an airplane. Then we see Captain Crieff underwater looking panicked. We hear then the alarm beeping and Mr. Sergeant (character from another episode where they were going to an S.E.P. course) saying, “There you are in your little plane somewhere above the North Atlantic when, all the sudden, oh dearie me, beep, beep, beep, two engine failures.” Then Martin and Douglas yelling, a snippet from the episode, “St. Petersburg,” when they’d experienced a bird strike and their engine failed. This voice-over mixed with the music is particularly panicky, and it’s here that I lose my shit big time. You hear Douglas’ calm voice saying, “Martin, do you want me to land it?” and Martin replies, bravely, “No, I’ll do it.”

“Okay,” says Douglas.

AND THEN THEY CRASH INTO THE OCEAN AND FUCK WHY WOULD SOMEONE DO THAT TO ME? I can’t stop crying and things just completely suck right now and UGH. My stomach is still turning. WHY.

If you’re brave enough, here’s the link to the video. Proceed with caution. AND SEEING BENEDICT CRY IS ENOUGH TO MAKE ME WANT TO DRINK BLEACH.

Help!

Posted in Uncategorized on January 25, 2014 by Cass

All my life, my mother worked very hard to teach my sister and me to work for everything we have.  In essence, don’t expect hand-outs.  Don’t expect people to hand you everything you want.  Don’t expect to be waited on hand and foot.  If you want something, earn it, work for it, do your best to attain this thing on your own.  I suppose every parent tries to teach this to their children.  Where some are successful, others are not, but I don’t blame the parents (not all the time, anyway.)  This is a very basic value, moral, what have you.  It should be human instinct, but it’s not.  More and more often, I see kids, and some adults, expecting things to be handed to them, and putting forth no effort to work for things, and then throwing a tantrum when they don’t get it.  It’s always someone else’s fault.

It took me nearly twenty-three years to grasp this concept.  Growing up, I was a very entitled child.  I expected things to be handed to be, I hated that there were expectations placed upon me that I had to live up to, I hated that anything was expected of me, period.  I wanted to just do what I wanted to do, have what I wanted to have, all on my time and terms.  If I wanted that new Barbie Doll, I expected my parents to buy it for me immediately, without questions of cost or reason.  If I wanted to lie on the sofa all day watching movies, neglecting my chores and responsibilities, I expected everyone else to be perfectly okay with that and leave me alone.  And I always got irrationally angry when they didn’t do what I expected them to do.

As an adult, I continued to struggle with it.  I had allowed myself to be okay with doing nothing and expecting everything in return.  I allowed this to become my way, my routine.  As time progressed, and heavier expectations were placed upon me, I started doing a little work–a little cleaning, a few small chores, meeting (and sometimes exceeding) expectations every once in a while.  To put it simply, I was lazy as all get out.  Lazy and entitled.  But I overlooked this, ignored it completely, in fact, by focusing on all the “good” I was doing.  I wasn’t a “bad” kid.  I never did drugs, never got in trouble with the law, never went to parties and got drunk underage.  Never “majorly” disappointed my parents.  I tried to redirect my parents to focus on this when they were scolding me for something minor I didn’t do.  “Well, at least I’m not out partying, getting high or getting arrested!”

I feel I have since come a long way from that kid I once was.  Am I still lazy?  Yes, it’s a daily battle.  I constantly have to push myself into taking care of my responsibilities and living up to expectations.  It’s so much easier just to sit on the sofa for sixteen hours, watching movies, than it is to get up and clean the house or run errands.  And, there are days when I do just that, and am perfectly content.  But, I can honestly (and gladly) say that those days are few and far between.  I clean for at least a half hour every day, and make sure the day’s responsibilities are taken care of before I glue myself to the sofa or my bed.  I’ve gotten myself into a routine of sorts that I do my damndest to stick to.  It’s partly because I finally recognize that I can’t just let responsibilities and priorities fall to the wayside in favor of what I want to do, and partly because I got so sick of being reprimanded for not taking care of things.  I weighed the consequences against the benefits and, shockingly, the benefits won.  Finally.

But, now, I find myself having a difficult time in another related area.  I am absolutely loathe to accept even the smallest bit of offered help, and I often have trouble asking for help in any regard.  When my sister still lived with me, the house would be in a constant state of disaster.  Anytime I’d clean, the house would be destroyed just hours later.  It was a never-ending cycle.  I got so tired of cleaning that I just stopped.  It was pointless.  I’d no sooner have one mess cleaned up than there were five more made.  It was frustrating and infuriating, so I stopped trying completely.  When my sister left last winter, I was determined to get the house in order, but soon realized that, on my own, it would take weeks, maybe months.  I felt so overwhelmed.  And soon, discouraged.  And soon after that, completely unmotivated.  This clashed with my desire to have a clean house, so, I had to swallow my pride and call in reinforcements.  I put a call in to my mother and asked if she would help me.  She said she’d help, and came over, and we got to work.  It took us an entire Sunday just to clean the kitchen.

I digress.

I don’t know if I’m the only one who experiences difficulty in asking for or accepting help.  I always feel so guilty about it.  My brain tells me, “No, you’re a grown-ass woman.  You should be able to do this yourself.  You should have your shit figured out enough by now that you shouldn’t need to ask for help.”  And it’s true.  I am twenty-three years old, I should be able to do it myself.  I should have my shit figured out enough by now.  And, I suppose, in a lot of areas, I do.  Granted, I’m still learning, still adjusting, but I’m doing okay.  I get so damned uncomfortable when I need help.  I want to die a little anytime anyone asks me to do go out to eat and I say that I can’t, and then they offer to cover me.  I appreciate their generosity and kindness, but, ugh, I feel so awful when people spend money on me like that.  Even the offer is enough to make me want to disappear.  

A few years ago, I was kind of dating a guy who lived in another state.  We were planning for him to come up to visit for a weekend.  At the time, I still lived with my mother, and him staying at the house was not an option, and he didn’t have the money to stay in a hotel.  So, my mother suggested I ask some friends if he could stay with them.  I immediately wanted to throw up.  I didn’t have anything to offer them in return, as any kind of payment for their possibly helping us out, for one thing, and I didn’t want them to think I was taking advantage of them or being ungrateful.  I got in touch with a good friend of mine and asked him if there was any way the almost-boyfriend could stay at his house during the weekend.  I was overly apologetic for my audacity to even ask, and fell over myself trying to explain that if he didn’t want to let him stay, he by no means had to.  After ten minutes of my rambling on about it, I think he picked up on the fact that asking for help made me feel awful, and he said, “There’s nothing wrong with asking for help, Cass.”  I’ve tried to make that statement stick with me, and remember it when I have to ask for help, but it does little to calm me down.  I just hate the thought of asking another person to put aside their responsibilities, lives, whatever, in order to help me out.  And what’s worse is when they agree to help.  That puts me in a tizzy.  I immediately think, “What can I do/give/say to express my thanks or reward them or repay them?”  And then I panic when I realize that I have little to offer other than a sincere “Thank you,” and that it might not be satisfactory for them, and then they might hate me and think I’m using them or taking advantage of them or their kindness.  Gah.  It’s so nerve-wracking.

And I will admit, there are some people’s help that I do take for granted.  For example, I know, without a doubt, that my mother, stepfather, grandmother, best friends and their families will always be there to help me when I need it.  And they know that I’m not taking advantage of them or using them.  And I tend to take that for granted.  I hate that I do, though.  I hate that I take them all for granted.  I think it’s the fact of knowing that they will help me if I ask them to.  I know that Andrea would bend over backwards to help me in any way, be it financially, emotionally, or physically, and I can take advantage of that.  I know that if I ask her to help me clean, she will.  She will stop whatever she’s doing and come over to help.  And I appreciate it, but it still makes me feel like shit, because she had to consciously drop whatever she was doing, no matter how important or minute, and come to my aid, and she didn’t have to.  She chose to, because of me.  I don’t want people to feel like they have to, or are indebted to me, or are expected to help me.  Especially when I’m not able to help them as much as they help me.  Andrea has by far done more for me than I have done for her.  Not because I don’t want to help her, but because, a lot of the time, I’m unable to help, and for various reasons.  I’m working, I’m broke, I’m not home, the list goes on and on.  But any time I can help, I jump at the chance to.  The same goes for my mother.  She’s done absolutely everything in her power to help me any and every time I’ve needed it.  But I feel like I can’t do much to help her back.  

I enjoy helping people, and I hate it when I’m not able to.  So why is it so difficult for me to accept help?  Thursday night, after our writing class, a group of people decided to go to the truckstop for dinner, and they invited me.  I declined because I didn’t have the money for it.  Immediately, two people offered to cover me.  While I appreciated the offer, I felt like shit that they would offer.  Tyler said, “It’s what Jesus would do,” but that didn’t make me feel any better.  I struggled with whether or not to accept, because then I would have felt like a jerk for refusing their generosity because I know how I feel when people refuse my help, no matter how graciously.  It hurts.  It’s uncomfortable.  Instinctively, I wanted to politely refuse and thank them for the offer.  But I felt pressured to accept, so I gave in, and Tyler generously bought me dinner.  I thanked him afterwards, and expressed my gratitude not only for dinner, but for also being such a good friend to me.  I told him his kindness, generosity, and friendship did not go unnoticed or unappreciated, and I meant it.  And I got hardly any sleep Thursday night thinking about it.  I felt like shit for allowing him to spend his hard-earned money on me like that.  Sometimes I wonder if I would feel any better about it if I were to put up a huge fight about it.  If I were to insist that they not spend their money on me.   I suppose it might in some circumstances.  But in most, it would probably just aggravate whoever was offering and make them upset with me, which, I think, would be worse.

So, I’m working on allowing myself to ask for and accept help when I need it.  I always strive to show thanks in any way, but I always feel that I fall short there, as well.  How much thanks is enough?  What is considered thanks?  I can’t compute!

Anyone have any good tips for this sort of thing?  Help!

We’re Well Over Due Here

Posted in 100 Things Thing on January 19, 2014 by Cass

For what?  Well, a 100 Things…Thing, of course!  It’s been, like, over a year.  Yeesh.

  1. After high school, I found it near impossible to “follow” TV shows.  I didn’t have a show I would regularly watch for a few years.  And then:
    Goodbye, Free Time.

    Goodbye, Free Time.

     

  2. Benedict Cumberbatch is my Number One.  Has been since I first saw him in Amazing Grace.  If you haven’t seen it, do so.
  3. Adulthood has recently slapped me in the face.  It’s a bitch.
  4. I AM FREAKING OUT FOR THE U.S. PREMIERE OF SERIES 3 OF SHERLOCK TOMORROW NIGHT.  I CANNOT WAIT.  I’VE WAITED TWO YEARS FOR THIS.  UGH.
  5. I can’t go on Tumblr right now because Sherlock Spoilers abound.
  6. My background on my phone is, you guessed it, Benedict Cumberbatch.
  7. I listen to BBC Radio 1 constantly.
  8. I watch BBC America constantly.
  9. My three other favorite shows are Downton Abbey, Dr. Who, and Duck Dynasty.
  10. A friend recently threatened to hold an intervention for me due to my addiction to anything Benedict Cumberbatch.  It’s not going to happen, I won’t let it.
  11. I also love Top Gear.  Yes, a woman who likes a show about cars.  What.
  12. My best friend recently told me that I would make a good mother.  I laughed, and laughed.  And then she gave her reasoning: “Your children would learn very quickly that you’re not gonna put up with their shit and that’d be that.”  The woman has a point.  I wouldn’t put up with their shit.  That’d be that.
  13. I used to want a bunch of kids.  Currently, I’m sitting on the “One or Less” side of the court.  And I’m trying to figure out what landed me there.  I’ve always been good with children, and I’ve always enjoyed children, and always wanted a lot of children.  So what happened that made me suddenly think, “Oh, hell no!” when it comes to my actually having children?  Perhaps it’s because, in my old age, I’ve become less tolerable?  Or more realistic?  I know now that I barely have the patience to handle a guinea pig, let alone numerous tiny humans.  Perhaps I’m at “that stage” in my life that other “adults” speak of, where I’m happy in my “freedom” and “independence.”  Who the hell knows?  As soon as Benedict and I get married, I’m sure I’ll change my mind.  I’d be more than happy to have that man’s babies.
  14. One of my favorite bands is Vampire Weekend.  There.  I said it.
  15. I have no desire to attend music festivals such as Bonnaroo, SXSW, or Coachella.  Nothing about it appeals to me.  And I do not understand what the appeal is, period.  Yes, there’s music.  Yes, it’s a numerous-day concert/party thing.  But it’s expensive, it’s crowded, and UGH.  Probably a hella long line for the bathrooms, too.
  16. I got my first tattoo in May with my mom.  We got matching tattoos.  It’s our family motto.  “As much by strength as by art.”  Yes.
  17. I don’t particularly enjoy having emotions.  I mean, I enjoy being happy and excited and such.  Okay, so I basically enjoy all the “good” emotions.  But I hate crying, and being sad, and being mad, and being depressed, and all that crap.  Ew.
  18. Although I’m fiercely Scots-Irish, I’ve been an Anglophile pretty much my whole life.
  19. I want to go to Disneyland for my honeymoon.  Benedict, pack your Mouse Ears.
  20. I really don’t like poetry.  Especially the rhyming kind.  Or the “free form” or whatever the hell it’s actually called.  I’ve always attached a sort of negative stereotype on poetry.  All I imagine is a bunch of emo teenagers trying to “express their innermost angst”, sitting on a window ledge, scribbling in their black notebooks with their black fingernails and their black hair.  In our writer’s group, there are a few people who write poetry.  And I don’t mind it when they share, and I usually think the poems are very good.  But I have no desire to “try my hand” at it.  If I can get past “roses are red,” it’s not going to be pretty.  I like Shel Silverstein.  And Becket’s haikus.  But that’s pretty much it.
  21. I’m wondering why I decided to make these 100 Things things.  That’s such a long list.  Shit.
  22. I enjoy the work of Simon Cleary as well, in regards to the poetry thing.
  23. I am sometimes of the opinion that I’m too straight-laced in terms of what I like in art and writing.  I’m not abstract or “out there.”  I like simple, traditional art and writing.  Not a Picasso fan.  And sometimes it bothers me, because I wonder what it is that I’m missing that everyone seems to enjoy and appreciate so much.
  24. I want to be on Jeopardy someday.
  25. I also want to be on an episode of Dr. Who and Sherlock someday.
  26. And I want to move to London for at least a year.
  27. I’m currently taking two online courses from Duke and Georgia Tech for freeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee and I’m really enjoying them.  I’m enjoying them so much, in fact, that I went a little crazy and signed up for like six more.
  28. I’m in the middle of teaching myself the Method of Loci.
  29. And I’m training myself (still) to think like Sherlock Holmes.  That whole deduction/inductive/logical reasoning thing is just so fascinating.  I’m getting pretty good, too.  I freaked one girl out at writer’s class because I was instantly able to tell that she was left handed.  Win.
  30. If you haven’t heard of or listened to Deaf Havana, you’re seriously missing out.  Thanks, BBC Radio 1.
  31. I want to learn how to speak Polish.
  32. I took a Muppet Personality Test, and I got Mahna Mahna.  And I laughed.  Because I can sing, “Mahna Mahna” word for word.
  33. One of my good friends is now my mailman, and I’m plotting a way to scare the bejaysus out of him one of these days when he delivers the mail.  I’m open to suggestions.
  34. When Benedict Cumberbatch and I get married, my Bacon Number will be 3.  (Why?  Because Benedict’s Bacon Number is two.  Yes, it is.)
  35. I love the movie The Other Sister.  It’s adorable.  And Juliette Lewis doesn’t have to do much real acting.
  36. That was mean.  I apologize, Juliette.
  37. I’m trying to be more conscious of how I come off to other people.  I’ve been told (numerous times) that I have a constant Bitch Face, and that people mistake my sarcasm for nastiness or seriousness.  And that kind of bothers me.  I’m really a nice person with bitch tendencies, not a bitch with nice tendencies.  I could be wrong.
  38. I enjoy the musical stylings of one Mr. Billy Joel, with the exception of “Piano Man.”  Gawd, I hate that song.
  39. I do not regret leaving the hotel business one bit.
  40. I know how to fold a fitted sheet, and I’m damn proud of it, and more than willing to teach.  Kids, don’t just ball them up.  It’s a lot easier to fold than you think.
  41. This past week, a Stink Bug dive-bombed me from the dining room ceiling.  I screamed like a baby.  Then I trapped him under a candle until he died.  But now I’m afraid to move the candle because I can’t guarantee that he’s dead.  But I don’t want a Stink Bug rotting on my table.  HELP.
  42. My grandmother texts me and it makes me uncomfortable.  I love my grandma, but it’s just weird.  Maybe it’s because she ends every text with, “Love you.”  For example: “Martin’s is hiring.  Love you.”  Or, “My pipes froze and your daddy’s here trying to fix them.  Love you.”  And yes, she still refers to my parents as “Mommy” and “Daddy.”
  43. I’m convinced that my sense of humor alone is what will land me in Hell when I die.
  44. I don’t feel as though I belong to one singular religious denomination.  I was raised Catholic, attended an Evangelical church in my teens, have gone to Protestant, Baptist, and Methodist services, extensively researched Buddhism, Wicca, and Judaism, and walked away with something from all of them.  I have a deep respect for any religion (as long as it’s not completely batshit crazy–lookin’ at you, KKK and Westboro), and think we can all learn something from each denomination in the world.  I love the Buddhist outlook and theology.  I think it’s fascinating.  Those monks know what’s up.
  45. I love science.
  46. I never took Chemistry, and I regret it.
  47. I bombed my freshman year of high school, and from then on taken out of the College Prep courses and was inserted into the Technical Courses, and I really regret that.  My I.Q. tested at PhD/Doctorate levels, so I could have been a brain surgeon, but didn’t care to apply myself enough to get there in high school.  I enjoyed school.  But my priorities were beyond out of whack back then, so I screwed myself over big time.  Hindsight is 20/20, after all.
  48. I know all the monarchs of England from 1066 until now, in order, and can recite them at will.
  49. I do not like arrogance one bit.
  50. I hate Tom Cruise.
  51. I don’t know what political party I actually identify with, so I always say that I don’t identify with one or the other.  I mostly don’t care.  It’s not going to make a difference one way or the other.
  52. I love sleep.  So much.
  53. I go on BuzzFeed daily, and laugh my ass off.
  54. Russia terrifies me.  I find a lot of their history interesting, but, as a whole, that country is scary.
  55. My grandmother’s neighbors are Russian.  Straight from the motherland.  Nice people.  We still call them the Axe Murderers.  The one son is a champion bodybuilder, and, once, during a horrendous snowstorm, literally PUSHED my car into the driveway by himself without me having to so much as tap the gas.
  56. I want to go to the Villisca Axe Murder House in Villisca, Iowa.  I would be scared shitless the entire time.  But I want to go.  If you’ve never heard of it, there’s a house in Villisca where a grisly, and still unsolved mass murder took place in June 1912.  Josiah Moore, his wife, Sarah, their four kids, Herman, Katherine, Boyd, and Paul, and Lena and Ina Stillinger were all found bludgeoned to death by an axe on June 10, 1912.  They had been murdered sometime between midnight and five a.m. by an unknown person.  No one recalled seeing anyone but the Moores and Stillinger girls entering or exiting the house.  The theory is that an unknown man got into the house while they were all at church, and hid in the attic until that night, then crept down when everyone was asleep and killed them all.  To this day, we don’t know who the killer was, what his motive was, or anything.  No leads, even.  The house now offers overnight stays to groups.  I kinda want to do it.  But I can’t even go into my own basement, so that’s pretty much a hard NOPE.  Hell, I can’t even sleep with the door open.
  57. The reason I can’t sleep with the bedroom door open is all thanks to a little movie called Sleepy Hollow.  The one with Johnny Depp, Christina Ricci, and Christopher Walken.  When I first saw it, it, of course, scared the everloving shit out of me.  I lied awake until about 3 a.m. the night we watched it.  Back then, I used to leave my bedroom door open.  But that night, I left the light on, and vowed to stay awake all night so the Headless Horseman couldn’t attack me.  But, I kept imagining that his head would poke around the door.  And it scared the shit out of me.  So I closed the door.
  58. The other reason is that I used to also be terrified of the Grim Reaper, and, sleeping with a night light and the door open, the night light would cast a shadow behind the door that looked like the Grim Reaper’s hooded figure.  Didn’t fly, shut the door.
  59. hate it when people say they have a new work out regime.  UGH.  No, you don’t have a work out regime, you have a work out regimen.  A regime is an authoritarian government.  A regimen is a prescribed course of medical treatment, way of life, or diet for the promotion or restoration of health.  Unless you’ve joined the ranks of the Exercise Kingdom, you have a regimen.  When you say, “work out regime,” I literally envision troops dressed in yoga pants and track suits marching around Tiananmen Square, saluting a Velour-jogging-suit-clad Chairman Mao.  STOP IT.
  60. My head hurts.
  61. I’ve been having some serious strawberry milkshake cravings lately.
  62. I’m tired.
  63. Some days I really hate my job.
  64. As much as I enjoy not working, I hate calling off.  Which is what I just did.  Stomach flu for the win today.  Bastard.
  65. I can swear in about seven different languages.
  66. It is now only 13 hours and 33 minutes until series 3 of Sherlock.
  67. I began this post last night, but then I went to bed, and now I’m finishing it while trying not to throw up for the fifth time this morning.
  68. I’m trying to learn how to take a compliment.  Yes, this is a real thing.  A lot of women will argue with the person who’s trying to offer them a compliment.  “You’re so pretty!” they say.  “No, I’m not!” she answers.  And so on and so forth.  I’ve realized that, while being on the receiving end of the compliment can be uncomfortable, it’s a lot more uncomfortable to be the one giving the compliment and then being argued with or shot down over it.  It’s like a slap in the face.  And it’s pretty infuriating.  I used to worry that if I took compliments graciously, people would think I was stuck up, or agreeing with them.  But that’s not it at all.  If I accept a compliment graciously, it means that I sincerely appreciate and thank the person for thinking well of me.  The other night, one of the girls in group said, “You look very pretty tonight!”  And, while I was stunned, I did appreciate that she took notice, and the time to say something to me.  She wasn’t doing it to be rude or call attention to either one of us, she was simply stating her opinion.  And with her opinion, came a little boost of self-confidence for  me.  So, ladies and gentlemen, when someone offers you a compliment, simply smile and say thank you.  Ignore the insecurity that pops right up, and the urge to say, “No, I’m not.”  It’s rude and won’t do a damn thing for your self-esteem.  Just say thank you.
  69. It’s almost tax time.  I did the math, and I’ll be getting the biggest return this  year that I’ve ever gotten, and I’m pretty pumped about it.  Not because I’m gonna spend it all, but because I’ll actually have money if/when I need it!
  70. My whole schedule has been off these past few days because I covered a shift on Friday instead of going to my normal house to work, and that made three straight days at one house and I am still kinda fuzzy on what day it actually is.
  71. I love iced coffee.
  72. I don’t function well without caffeine.  For real.  I never understood why adults drink so much coffee when I was little.  Now I do.  It’s not really a habit or an addiction (yes, it is) for me, it’s more “If I don’t have any coffee, my ass is not leaving this sofa.”  I get so much more done with a pot of coffee than without.  Energy abounds!  Sorta.  There are still things I will put off, even with two pots of coffee in me.  The only downside: less sleep on occasion.  One cup of coffee will last me all day.  If I drink coffee any later than about one in the afternoon, I’m wired until about 2 a.m.
  73. I got a Keurig, and I love it.  It’s a hand-me-down from my uncle’s girlfriend, but it works, and it’s fabulous.  Especially since I’ve lived the last year of my life without a coffee pot and had to rely on instant coffee (vomit) or iced coffee from Dunkin Donuts, which I was not always able to buy.
  74. I still worry that people think I’m an idiot.
  75. I don’t think I’m all that smart.  A lot of the time it feels like all the information I have stored in my head is largely useless.  Who cares who the English monarchs were for the last thousand years?  How’s that going to apply in your day-to-day life?  But then I remember that, at some point, that information was useful, and then I don’t feel so stupid for knowing it.  I have this problem where I constantly compare myself with other people, and when I do it with smart people, I feel like an ignorant oaf.
  76. I really, really suck at math.  Calculators are one of the greatest inventions ever.
  77. I do not have to recite “Holla Back Girl” when I want to spell bananas.
  78. I do have to recite the alphabet if I want to find out what letter comes after another if I’m alphabetizing something.
  79. I have big dreams, matched by big fears, but little ambition.
  80. Psychology fascinates me.
  81. I should be at work by now.  Jeez, I hate calling off.  A whole day’s pay, gone.  Not to mention that shame you feel when actually calling off.  Like you can feel your supervisor’s glare through the phone.  And I always worry that they’ll think I’m lying when I say that I’m sick.  I don’t call off unless it’s absolutely, 100%, completely necessary and unavoidable.  Trust me, if I could go to work and be productive and useful while puking my guts out, I would.  But I know I’d spend the majority of the day in the bathroom, being unproductive and useless.  Not to mention my consumer might get sick, as well, and then things would be a complete mess, and the supervisors would be even more upset.  Ugh.  Sometimes I wish I had an infallible immune system.
  82. Buffalo buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo is a grammatically correct sentence.  It translates to Buffalo (as in Buffalo, NY) buffalo (bison) buffalo (trick) Buffalo (NY) buffalo (bison.)  You can go up to 11 “buffalo” and still have a grammatically correct sentence.  And that is neat-o.
  83. I keep the thermostat in my home set on 59, and the temperature usually hovers right around 65, and yet, when I’m downstairs, I am absolutely freezing.  And when I go to bed, I usually don’t have to sleep with the covers on because it gets so warm up there.  (Heat rises, I know.)  I just want to know what I can handle a 65 degree day outside, but not inside.
  84. I am of the opinion that 65 degrees in warm air and 65 degrees in cold air are two completely different things.  You have a heater blowing 65 degree hot air, and an air conditioner blowing 65 degrees cold air, you can’t tell me it feels the same coming out of each unit.
  85. I wish I was fluent in more languages.
  86. I hate heights.  Hate them.  I don’t even like ferris wheels.  Or being on top of a four-foot flower bed.
  87. I’m also afraid of flying.  Makes it a little difficult to get across the pond.
  88. I went to NYC in April and had a blast.  But my legs hurt so bad at the end of the day.  We walked damn near the whole of Fifth Avenue.  We started in Battery Park, took the Subway to Time Square, and then walked from there to Central Park, took a cab to Ellen’s Stardust Diner, found out there was a 45-minute wait time, and walked from there to Emmet O’Lunney’s Irish Pub, then from O’Lunney’s to our pick-up spot on 47th and 8th.  We walked probably close to twenty miles that day, with all the sight seeing and stuff we did.  By midday, my calves started cramping up (Charlie Horse-style) and my hips and inner thighs hurt, along with my feet (which I later found out was because my foot was actually bleeding).  We could all hardly lift our legs high enough to get back onto the bus.  That was a pain unlike any I’d ever felt before.  When I got home, I had a hell of a time trying to climb the steps to go to bed, and the next morning it took me a good ten minutes to get back out of bed.  I spent the next day sitting in my chair in one position because my legs were damn near too weak to move.  But, while in NYC, I spent only $40.  Granted, that was all I took with me because I couldn’t afford to take more, but, hey, it’s an accomplishment.  Though the first time I went to NYC as a tourist, I didn’t spend any money.
  89. I’d like to go back to NYC, but only to visit.  I don’t think I’d enjoy living there.  I used to want to live there, after my first tourist experience.  I fantasized about getting married in St. Patrick’s Cathedral, and then taking a carriage ride through Central Park with my new husband.  But now, the idea isn’t as appealing.  NYC is loud and crowded and expensive and it’s just not for me.
  90. I’ve always thought it would be fun to sleep in a jumpy castle or on a trampoline.
  91. I don’t really like camping in tents.  I enjoy the luxury of a camper or cabin.  But the thought of not being able to shower or use a real restroom is not appealing to me at all.
  92. I enjoy researching my family’s history.  This past year, my mother and I did a little digging, and we’re convinced one of our great-grandmothers, Julia Hughes, who came from Ireland, was on the run or in hiding from the mob or something.  There is absolutely no information on her whatsoever, where there’s abundant information on almost everyone else.  We have no birth records, no death records, nothing.  All we know is that she was married to Joseph, and who her kids were.  We have estimated birth and death dates (1862-1951), but no concrete information.  I think our aunt knows where she’s buried, but is not entirely certain.  We’ve received help in looking for information from one of my mother’s friends who is very invested in this kind of thing, but even she couldn’t find anything on her.  So, we’re convinced she was hiding from something or someone.  The mob, the government, an old ex-husband, something.  I’m considering using her for a book, because she has a “clean” slate, so I can make up anything about her and why she was supposedly hiding.  Who knows?
  93. Through researching my family history, I discovered that I’m also part German.  Not sure how I feel about that.
  94. We had ancestors with some funny names.  From my grandfather’s side: Limson, Margath, Turney, Philipena Wilhemina, Hester, Hedwig, Maud, Fleda, Fedel, and my grandfather’s mother, Olevia.  Oh-LEE-vee-uh.  It’s pretty.  From my grandmother’s side: Homer, Wiley, Friend (yes, FRIEND), Coleman, Elmer, Alvadore, Benjamin Franklin, George Washington (we were apparently very patriotic at this point), Audia, Lois Louise, Neyomia, Toy (as in a thing kids play with), Loal, Almeda, Tamzon, Dewie (a woman), and my grandmother’s mother, Lavada.  La-VAY-duh.  Also pretty.  I think they called her Vada.
  95. I also found out I’m not the only Cassandra in the family.  Cassandra Ellen Greer was my fifth great-grandmother.  She was married to John Lancaster, and had a son, George Washington Lancaster.  I’m not the only Cassandra!  But I can’t say I was named after an ancestor, either, ’cause Mom had no idea she existed before this year.
  96. My family traces back to Ireland, Scotland, Germany, and England.  So for, anyway.
  97. I would love to research further and find out if we’re descended from any royal line, too.  Or see how closely (or far…ly?) we’re related to the English royal family.  I think it’d be awesome to find out that, at one point, one of our ancestors was King of Scotland or some shit like that.  Yeah, that’d be cool.
  98. I did some digging on my dad’s side of the family, but didn’t find anything too interesting.  It doesn’t help that I know next to nothing about his side.  I know that my grandmother’s grandmother was a “full-blooded Native American,” according to my grandma.  I know there was a Sara Evans on that side, and her middle name was Cordelia.  I know my grandma had six siblings, and she’s the only one still living.  I don’t know anything about my grandfather’s side, because he died when my dad was two.  I didn’t get very far on that side.
  99. I still haven’t taken down my Christmas tree.  And it’s well after the Epiphany.
  100. I’ve finished this list, and now I’m bored.

My Two Cents

Posted in Community, Discussions, Opinion, Your Opinion on December 19, 2013 by Cass

The controversy of the day: Phil Robertson’s comments on his beliefs regarding homosexuality, and subsequently being placed on indefinite suspension from A&E’s hit reality show, Duck Dynasty.

What’s Up: The patriarch of the Robertson family, of Duck Dynasty fame, was interviewed by GQ magazine.  In this interview, he stated his feelings about homosexuality.  He said, “It seems like, to me, a vagina–as a man–would be more desirable than a man’s anus, that’s just me.  I’m just thinking: there’s more there!  She’s got more to offer.  I mean, come on, dudes!  You know what I’m saying?  But hey, it’s sin: it’s not logical, my man.  It’s just not logical.  Start with homosexual behavior and just morph out from there.  Bestiality, sleeping around with this woman and that woman and that woman and those men.  Don’t be deceived.  Neither the adulterers, the idolaters, the male prostitutes, the homosexual offenders, the greedy, the drunkards, the slanderers, the swindlers–they won’t inherit the kingdom of God.  Don’t deceive yourself.  It’s not right.”

This offended, insulted, and pissed off a whole lot of people.  And it’s easy to understand why.  Because of this statement, Phil has now been placed on suspension from future filming until further notice.  When that suspension is up, nobody knows.  The rest of the Robertson family are currently in negotiations with the A&E network to see what might be done about all of this.

Being a fan of Duck Dynasty, I was rather shocked when I heard of all of this.  I watched the show because it was mindless entertainment for me.  I generally don’t get into TV shows; I’m more of a movie person.  I haven’t watched a show consistently since I was in high school.  I discovered Duck Dynasty roughly a year ago, and I found the humor to be enjoyable most of all.  And I found the premise of the show to be refreshing.  This was a family who was dedicated to their work, their faith, and their family, and made no bones about it.  They weren’t immature twenty- or thirty-somethings running around getting drunk and laid every night, famous for just being famous.  These people centered their lives around something other than image and reputation–and that was something I could respect.  

I learned of Phil’s comments early this morning, and I was floored; not by what he expressed, but by how he expressed it.  His crudeness was what struck me.  He was very blatant about this.  I’m fine with people expressing their disagreement regarding homosexuality, be it faith-based or otherwise.  The fact that Phil Robertson and his family are opposed to homosexuality does not bother me so much.  While I believe opposition to homosexuality is an outdated belief, it still does not bother me that there are those who still oppose it.  What bothers me is when they degrade, insult, and dehumanize others.  But that’s not the point here.  It’s not that Phil Robertson does not agree with homosexuality, it’s the fact that he was so unrefined in his expression.  He went rather in-depth about it.  I respect the fact that he was stating his beliefs, but I think his language was a little rough.  Of course, there was no profanity used, but his choice of words did rub me the wrong way.  Had he used different vocabulary, I’m betting that he probably wouldn’t have been placed on suspension.

But the part about all of this that bothers me the most is the fact that the network made a conscious decision to essentially fire Phil for his statement.  When the A&E network signed the contract with the Robertson family, they knew that these were Godly people. living life the way they believed God would want them to live.  They had to have known that these were Christians they were entering into a partnership with, so, they had to have known that the Robertsons’ faith would be showcased during their show.  And they had to have been okay with putting a devout Christian family on the air during prime time, and they had to have been okay with letting the Robertsons express their faith at any time–hence the episodes ending with a prayer (although I did read that the network censored some of that, too–forbidding Jesus’ name to be used).  So, in knowing that the Robertsons were Christians, and being okay with showcasing the “positives” of the Christian lifestyle and beliefs, they should have been prepared for being okay with some of the more controversial aspects of showcasing the Christian lifestyle and beliefs.  And, dare I say, they should have been a mite prepared for the potential of controversy, in more professional and forgiving ways than indefinite suspension; essentially penalizing a man for speaking his mind on a completely separate platform.  Phil Robertson did not express these beliefs during an episode of Duck Dynasty.  He expressed them in an interview with a completely unrelated men’s magazine.  I was under the impression that we had a constitutional right to freedom of speech, and that no man could be punished for exercising his right, no matter how much someone else disagreed.  And I’m still rather unclear about why exactly he was suspended.  What did he do that warranted suspension?  Was it his language?  Or was it the fact that he expressed his personal beliefs, which the A&E network does not agree with?  And, I might be wrong here, but, generally, in a contract, doesn’t it say that “the views and opinions depicted in this show/movie/interview are not necessarily the views and opinions of the network”?  Isn’t that the disclaimer that accompanies any potentially controversial media?  But, even then, I don’t see how it could possibly apply to an interview with a completely different firm.  

It seems to me that the A&E network as a whole is trying to disassociate themselves with the negative reactions that will stem from Phil’s interview.  They’re afraid that his beliefs will reflect poorly on their entire network and hurt their ratings.  I don’t think A&E has openly expressed their opinion on homosexuality or anything of the like, so, obviously, they’re trying to remain neutral, and I can’t fault them for that.  But the fact that they’re penalizing someone for something that they refuse to have a stance on just doesn’t seem right.  If this is their way of trying to remain neutral, it’s not working.  This isn’t neutrality–it’s cowardice.  And Phil didn’t voice his beliefs in an attempt to hurt A&E’s reputation.  It wasn’t out of spite.  It wasn’t out of hatred.  It was a statement made from his own, personal faith, which the network has agreed to display for the world to see.  It’s unfair to accept one part of his faith that they deem acceptable and non-controversial, and reject another part that’s unacceptable and controversial.  As long as it doesn’t hurt their ratings, they don’t care.  But as soon as an “unacceptable” aspect of that faith is made public, they don’t want anything to do with it anymore.  If you’re going to be tolerant of the good, you have to be tolerant of the bad.

I do not agree with the suspension of Phil Robertson.  I do not agree with penalizing a man for exercising his rights to freedom of speech and freedom of religion.  He is putting his position to good use: he’s using his reputation and “fame” to spread the Word of God, instead of using it to further his own ambitions like so many reality stars do these days.  He’s not (generally) rude, demeaning, or abrasive when he does so.  This time, he was.  But not so much so that he has to be removed.  There have been people far richer, far more famous than him who have used far, far worse language, and they were not punished at all.  A slap on the wrist at most.  But never were they removed completely.

Personally, I do hope A&E’s ratings plummet.  I hope they feel the repercussions of this unnecessary act.  And I hope, in the future, they learn from this and realize that they can’t take another person’s life, faith, and well-being into their own hands for the sake of their own comfort.   I hope they realize the error of their ways and reinstate Phil Robertson to his rightful place.

I side with the Robertson family on this one.  Phil did nothing but express his personal beliefs, in the hopes that he might be able to lead another to the light.  He spoke from a place of faith, and spoke about something he felt strongly about and believed in.  And I find nothing wrong with that.

I’ve Gone On An Adventure!

Posted in Community, For The Writers, Relationships, Work on November 25, 2013 by Cass

Yes, dear readers, it’s true.  I’ve gone on a scary, exciting adventure.  It began in August, sort of.  I discovered that a friend of mine had a passion for writing about as deep as my own.  We had been discussing our work for the past few months, and he’d expressed a desire to begin a writer’s group–something that I’d wanted to do, as well.  Being known for planning and not executing, I, of course, never did anything other than fantasize about it.  But when my friend brought it up in conversation, we agreed to go ahead with it.  Give it a shot, see what happened.  He found a venue for us to hold our meetings (or at least the first one, if it didn’t take off) and we sent out invitations.  The night before our open house, we stayed up until 2 a.m. putting the finishing touches on our plans.  The next night, I went to our meeting early, and admittedly was not anticipating a large turn out.  I didn’t think anyone would show, at least no more than maybe five people besides Tyler and myself.  Albeit, I was shocked when we had almost twenty people our first night.  Twenty people who shared the same passion as us, twenty people who wanted nothing more than to write, and possibly make a career out of it.  Twenty people who wanted to learn from us.  The two-hour meeting was a success.  Everyone willingly participated in the discussions and exercises, and they all filled out and returned the surveys we’d given out for feedback.  And every survey was positive.  No one had anything negative to say about it, no one disliked our idea.  And since that first night, we’ve had a concrete group who’ve shown up as often as they could, almost every week.  We haven’t had the same twenty people that showed up on the first night, but life is busy and sometimes does not allow for weekly attendance.  Nonetheless, we have at least ten people attend every week.

And it’s a diverse group.  Tyler and I are two single twenty-somethings, with full-time jobs, and loads of other commitments.  Our group members range from high school aged kids (15-18) to twenty-something to age 30 and over.  And their passion is equal to ours.  And I can’t tell you how awesome that is.

I admittedly don’t hold a lot of hope for the next generation of America.  Those aged 18 and under just don’t seem like they’re interested in anything other than their social lives and how cool they seem on Facebook and Tumblr.  They’re glued to their laptops, phones, and iPads, and have a total disregard for anyone other than themselves.  But this group, with the five teenagers, have opened my eyes a little bit.  I now know that not every single “kid” is concerned with only social media and image.  These five kids are awesome.  They’re open, and passionate, and funny, and kind, and creative.  They don’t care too much about Facebook or Tumblr or Justin Beiber.  They don’t care if a passion for writing makes them “uncool.”  They do what they love, and to hell with everyone else.  They’re involved in a number of clubs at school, they’re in the band, they’re involved in extra-curriculars outside of school (one of them takes karate), one of them recently got her first job.  They’re honest, dedicated individuals, and I respect the crap out of them.  They make an effort to show up, every week, and fully participate in our little group.  They’ve shared some of their work, and it’s really, really good.  They write with a passion matched only by the greats like Hemingway, Tolkein, Lewis.  They have these elaborate worlds inside of their heads and want so badly to translate them on paper, but need a little help and a whole lot of encouragement to do so.

I’ve taken a serious shining to one of the girls, Althea.  She came to the first meeting at the request of her friends.  She was incredibly hesitant to come.  She was nervous, like, on the brink of an anxiety attack, because she had no idea what to expect.  I know because that was the first thing she wrote about and shared with us at the first meeting.  She’s this tiny little thing with jet-black hair cut short, eyelashes for miles, and the sweetest smile you’ve ever seen.  She’s so quiet and timid.  It took her almost a month before she could look any of us in the eye while speaking to us.  During the first or second meeting, she told us of this idea she had for a story.  She had created this incredibly complex world in her head of this fantastic story, but didn’t know the story that should go along with this universe.  And after she spoke, she stared at the floor, embarrassed.  A few weeks later, she sat by me during the meeting, and I struck up a conversation with her.  She spoke softly, didn’t make much eye contact, and didn’t speak unless spoken to.  Toward the end of the meeting, I asked her if she’d be able to stay a few minutes late.  When the meeting was over, I told her that I was interested in working with her on her story, on the universe she’d created, and I was very interested to hear what she had to say.  She has such a unique voice and perspective on the world, I was dying to know more.  I told her that, if she was comfortable with it, I’d like to meet up with her sometime during the week and work on her idea.  She seemed very apprehensive.  I made it clear that I didn’t want her to feel pressured by me, and if she said no, that was more than okay.  It was her idea, it was up to her what to do with it, and if she didn’t want my help, that was perfectly understandable and acceptable.  She kept mumbling her answers, which were clouded with insecurity.  I said, “If you’re not comfortable with it, that’s all right.  I’m just very interested in what you’ve got to say.”

She said, “Sorry, I just get nervous when I talk to people,” with her eyes downcast.

She accepted my offer a few minutes later.

The next week at our meeting, I was floored by her.  The quiet, timid little girl was replaced by an enthusiastic, boisterous young woman, talking animatedly about her favorite book and joining in the discussions with more than just one-word interjections.  She took off like a shot.  A completely different person was at that meeting than the ones before.  And I felt a swell of pride as she gushed about her favorite story.

We had four new people show up to our last meeting, which was a very nice surprise, as we had accepted that the group we had was the group we were going to get.  But one of our members brought her fiance and his best man along, and then we had two new high school girls show up because they had been told about it by their English teacher.  I’m perpetually surprised by the fact that news of our little group has spread almost half an hour out of town.  People are really enjoying our group, and recommending us to their friends.  We are gaining notoriety.  And that’s pretty awesome.

My main role in all of this is to be the “Grammar Nazi,” as Tyler so lovingly put it.  I do lessons about grammar and vocabulary and cultivating style.  I’m more of the strict teacher.  Tyler does more fun exercises and activities.  I’m more structured, while he’s more fly-by-the-seat-of-his-pants.  I’ve got every lesson planned out for the next six months.  He comes up with his lessons the night before.  

I took the time to ask our members what they were interested in learning from me at our last meeting.  The responses were varied, and kind of vague.  But I’m interested in teaching them what they want to know.  A few of our members have college degrees.  One of them has a master’s degree in comparative literature.  Another has a degree in history.  Sometimes I feel like I have nothing to teach them, because they surely know more than I do.  But then I remember that I’m not just teaching them, they’re teaching me as well.  I don’t, by any means, consider myself an expert on writing.  Not by any stretch of the imagination do I think that my knowledge is superior to theirs.  And it’s very humbling to know that these educated people are willing to attend these meetings to learn something from little old me.  They’re interested in hearing what I have to say, to take what I have to offer.  They trust me and my knowledge enough to pay attention when I speak, and take something away from each lesson I teach.  It’s a little mind-boggling.  But still very humbling.  Our one member, a forty- or fifty-something-year-old man asked me at our last meeting, “You got any more words for us?  I really liked that.”  At our second meeting, I assembled a four-page vocabulary list for them.  We went over the list, pronunciations, meanings, uses, for all the words.  I jokingly told them I wanted them to memorize it by our next meeting and recite it all back to me.  This gentlemen was so involved in this list.  Every few minutes he’d ask a question about one of the words.  And apparently he really enjoyed it, because he wanted more lessons on vocab.  “I want another list!  I like using those big words on people that don’t know them!”

I’m very humbled and grateful.  This group is a definite blessing.  Without it, I’d still be sitting at home, staring at my laptop, wondering what exactly to do with myself, my writing, and my time, and wishing I was doing more.  It’s a very liberating, satisfying feeling, imparting your knowledge to willing students.  And it’s awesome to learn from them, as well.  They’re a diverse group of people, and their ideas are as unique as their personalities.  I’ve already begun to consider them as another family that I’m a part of, and that’s a pretty good feeling.

It was a scary start, but it has blossomed into a rewarding journey.  And I’m so very thankful for it all. 

I’m A Hermit, I’ll Admit It

Posted in Autobiography on November 24, 2013 by Cass

I like my alone time.  I crave my alone time.  I plan my alone time days in advance.  Due to a hectic work schedule and extracurricular demands, I seldom get alone time anymore.  Even when I’m alone, I don’t get alone time.  I live alone, and still, I’m never in total solitude.  My alone time is interrupted by the buzzing or ringing of my cell phone. This usually doesn’t bother me.  But lately, it has been.

I have a friend who has no respect for anyone else’s time.  This friend, who I’ll call Mary, does not consider anyone else’s wants or needs when she wants or needs something.  And it’s driving me crazy.

Mary is a twenty-something-year-old mother of two, who cohabitates with her baby daddy, Rick.  Rick has a full-time job about an hour away from home, which leaves Mary at home with their two small children (ages 16 months and 3 months) throughout the day.  Mary apparently gets cabin fever in the worst way, and depends on her friends to cure (or at least temporarily relieve) it for her.  She calls upon me at least once a week for this.  The only problem is, as I mentioned earlier, Mary pays no attention to anyone else’s time when she wants something.  See, Mary thinks the only time she can and should leave the house is after her children have gone to bed.  I usually get a text or phone call around 10 p.m. on any given day from her, demanding to hang out for a while.  This does not jive with my schedule.  I have a full-time job which requires me to be up early and at work early in the mornings.  I can not physically afford to go out at ten o’clock the night before work.  I don’t like to, I don’t need to, I don’t want to.  I know that if I don’t get a certain amount of sleep at night, then I’m all but worthless on the following day.  In my line of work, I need to be useful and coherent at all times.  I can’t be tired and sluggish and sleepy all day.  If I am, I am in serious jeopardy of losing my job.  When I receive a text from Mary late at night wanting to hang out, I’m usually already in bed.  And that’s what I’ll tell her.  “I’m in bed.  I have work in the morning.  I can’t hang out tonight, sorry.”

This response doesn’t work.

“Can’t you hang out for an hour?” she’ll ask.

“No, I’m sorry.  I have to be up for work in the morning,” I’ll reply, knowing full well that one of Mary’s “hours” will last at least three.

“Please?  I’ll make it worth your while ;)”  She resorts to playful joking in an attempt to lure me out of bed.

“I can’t, I’m sorry.  But I’m free tomorrow night if you want to hang then.”  I offer an alternate solution, and usually I’ll give her my schedule for the next week or so, so that she can coordinate and see when best works for her.

This does not work.

“Rick’s vacation starts tomorrow, so I won’t be able to then.  Nobody wants to hang out with me anymore.”  No matter how many other days I’m free, if it’s not “right now,” she doesn’t want it.  She will not compromise to save her life.  This is infuriating.  I give her hundreds of other opportunities to hang out with me (when she’s the one begging me to hang with her) and she always turns them down.  

Mary has no concept of what adult life is.  You must be thinking, “Well, she has two kids.  She has to know what adult life is like.”  But she doesn’t.  She doesn’t understand what life is like for the rest of the world, who don’t have things handed to them by their baby daddy and parents.  I’m not saying Mary is a spoiled little rich girl, but she is a spoiled little girl.  When she was pregnant with her first child, she quit her job about six or seven months into her pregnancy.  After she gave birth, Rick’s income allowed for her to be a stay-at-home mother.  When the baby was about three months old, she began working again.  She was a little difficult for management to work with, because her scheduling was sporadic.  She would only work on certain days, and heavily relied on Rick’s schedule to determine when she could work.  She also relied on her and Rick’s parents to watch the baby; she did not turn to anyone else for babysitting.  And if none of them could watch the baby, she “couldn’t” work.  Therefore, she did not know what days she would be available until the absolute last minute.  When the baby was six months old, she found out she was about a month or two pregnant with her second child.  She quit her job soon after, and stayed home again.  Her youngest is about three months old now, and she just went back to work a few weeks ago.  The problem with all of this is that she demands to be catered to.  She expects her employers to work around Rick’s, her parents’, and his parents’ schedules.  If Rick is working and she can find someone to watch the kids, she can work.  If Rick is working and none of the grandparents can watch the kids, she can’t work.  If Rick isn’t working, she can’t work.  If she didn’t pay attention to the schedule and finds out she has to work on a day she thought she was off, she expects her employer to give her the day off anyway because it’s “too last-minute to find a babysitter.”  She very rarely has to put any effort into anything because she expects everyone else to do it for her, and throws a fit until she gets her way.

Mary’s never experienced real “adult life,” even before having children.  After she graduated high school, she went to college for a short time (as in, like, a week or two) then dropped out.  An old romance was rekindled, and she married him.  The marriage ended in divorce not even a year later.  She moved back to town, and got a job.  Not long after that, she was reunited with her very first boyfriend, Rick, and the two have been together ever since.  A few months after they got together, she was pregnant.  She and Rick moved in together, renting a home from Rick’s parents.  They stayed there for maybe four months before moving into the home her parents had just moved out of, and rented it from them.  For the better part of her “adult” life, she has relied on the incomes of those around her to get by.  While she was pregnant and not working, she used Rick’s income for everything.  Bills, rent, and shopping; both grocery and “fun.”  And they eat out like crazy.  I still don’t understand how all their bills are paid with the amount of money she’s spending.  It’s a wonder Rick can fill up his gas tank to get to work.  I digress.

When Mary’s pregnant, she withdraws from her social life.  None of us will hear from her for the duration of her pregnancy.  Anytime we text her to invite her out or offer to come over and see her, there’s always an excuse as to why she or we can’t.  In short, we don’t see or hear from her when she’s pregnant.  After the baby is born, she comes back out of her shell and resumes her “normal” life.  She begins calling and texting us, asking us to come over or hang out.  But at very inconvenient times for us.  And then takes it personally.  This is the most aggravating thing to me concerning Mary.  It’s hypocritical of her, in my opinion.  And infuriating to me and our other friends.  She has no consideration for anyone else’s time.  She takes it very personally when we say we can’t hang out at ten at night.  She thinks when we say, “I have to work in the morning,” that we mean, “I don’t want to hang out.”  She thinks that we should answer her when she texts at midnight wanting to hang out, and, when we don’t, she thinks that means, “I’m avoiding you,” and doesn’t consider for a minute that we’re not answering because we’re sleeping.  Our group of friends is very loyal to one another.  We’re not the sort to blow people off or avoid them.  And we don’t decline an invitation to spend time together unless we have a legitimate reason to, like work, or being out of town, or having something else that we have to do.  To her, those are all just excuses to not have to spend time with her.  And that couldn’t be further from the truth.  We’re all very close.  We know each other’s secrets.  We spend as much time together as possible, within reason.  We’re women, and we all like to have time to ourselves.  But Mary just doesn’t seem to understand the concept of “alone time.”

Just this past week, she kept another of our friends, Julie, up until almost one in the morning with her incessant texting about an irrelevant issue.  Julie works at the local jail, and there had recently been a large drug bust, and Mary wanted as many details as Julie could give her.  When Julie went to bed, she texted Mary and said, “I’m going to bed now, I’ll talk to you in the morning.”  It was as though Mary didn’t even read that text.  She kept texting Julie over and over again, waking her up.  Julie had to be up at four or five in the morning, but Mary wouldn’t relent.  Julie was between a rock and a hard place, because her phone is her alarm, and she couldn’t silence it in an attempt to stop Mary from waking her up; if she had silenced the phone, she would have also silenced her alarm and been late for work.  Finally, she just ignored Mary, and, the next night, she confronted Mary about it.  She said, “You were really upsetting me last night.  I was in bed, asleep, and you kept waking me up.  You knew I had to be up early for work.  I was getting really upset at you.”  To which Mary replied in a joking, light-hearted, nonchalant way, “I just wanted to know about that girl,” and completely ignored the fact that Julie was upset with her.  Mary viewed it as a joke.  And she did not apologize.

I’ve had similar “conversations” with Mary.  At my old job, I worked overnight shifts (11 p.m. to 7 a.m.) on Friday and Saturday, and morning shifts (7 a.m. to 3 p.m.) on Monday and Tuesday.  So, on Sundays, I would stay up for over 24 hours in order to get to sleep at a decent time so that I could be awake on time for work the next morning.  And, every week, regular as clockwork, Mary would text me at eleven on Sunday night, wanting to hang out.  She knew my schedule, but didn’t understand why I couldn’t spare an hour or two for her.  I would get a text that said, “Let’s hang out and go get something to eat!  Right now!”  If I was awake, I would reply, “I can’t, I’m in bed and have to be up at four.  But I’m off Tuesday night if you want to hang then.”

“I can’t Tuesday.  Can I come over for like an hour?”

“No, I’m in bed and have to be up for work in five hours.  I need to get some sleep.  I’ve been up since yesterday.  I’m sorry.”

“Please?  Just an hour?”

At which point I would intentionally begin to ignore her because, otherwise, she’d keep me up for the next two hours.  She’d continue texting, and, after about fifteen minutes of no response and twenty texts later, she’d send, “Okay, I get it,” and try to guilt me into responding or hanging out.  She’d take it personally instead of paying attention to anything I had said.  She refuses to take “no” for an answer and keeps pushing and pushing and pushing until we’re forced to either comply with her demands or just stop talking to her.  But stopping communication seems to be the only way to get the point across to her.  It’s a double-edged sword for us.  We can’t win.  If we keep responding, she thinks we’re just trying to avoid spending time with her because, if we’re still responding, then we can’t be all that busy.  If we stop responding, she thinks we’re ignoring her because we’re being mean and don’t like her anymore.  No matter what we do, she’s going to take it personally and let her feelings be hurt.  There’s no way to tell her no that she will take reasonably.  Any “no” we issue is an obvious sign of avoidance in her eyes.  Doesn’t matter if it’s, “No, I have to work,” or, “No, I’m out of town,” or, “No, I’m at work,” or, “No, I have this, this, this, and this to do, followed by this.”  Any “no” is a bad “no.”  And it’s incredibly infuriating.  She refuses to consider that we have lives outside of hanging out with her.  She acknowledges it, but she does not accept it, especially if it interferes with us spending time with her.  She thinks we should be at her beck and call, and we’re not, and she takes it personally.  In her mind, if we’re not working, then we should be able to go sit at her house for five hours in the den while she sits on her laptop looking at YouTube videos.  We should be able to put all our responsibilities aside just because she’s bored.

But, when it’s the other way around, we’re just supposed to accept it.  If we text her requesting to spend time together, and she can’t, that’s that.  No questions asked.  But the difference is, we don’t take it personally.  If I text her and invite her to do something and she says no, I take it in stride.  She’s a mother, she’s got things to do.  If she says she can’t hang, then she can’t hang, and I don’t think anything of it.  The same goes for Julie and Andrea.  We don’t take it personally when Mary, or anyone else, declines an invitation.  The four of us go out of our ways for each other without a moment’s hesitation. If one of us needs something, three show up at the door with it.  We are more than willing to drop everything when one of us is in need.  There have been many, many times when I’ve canceled or postponed my own plans for my only day off work to go spend time with Mary when she asked me.  There have been many times where I’ve given up doing something I’d planned on in order to spend time with Mary at a moment’s notice.  I’ve dedicated entire days to spending time with her when she called upon me, without ever asking or expecting or receiving the same from her.  And I have no doubt in my mind that she would not do the same for me.

Sounds horrible, right?

But here’s why.

I do not believe that Mary would drop everything at a moment’s notice if I called upon her because she’s too swept up in her own life to be able to legitimately make time for anyone else.  I don’t doubt that she unconditionally loves her children.  I don’t doubt that she’s devoted to Rick.  I don’t doubt that she loves her friends.  But, right now, her biggest priority is herself.  Because she runs her life (children included) on her schedule.  Her children get up when she decides they should (even though they’ve been up countless times through the night for changes and feedings), they eat when she decides (even though an infant needs to be on an at least semi-consistent eating schedule), they play when she decides, and they nap when she decides.  She does things when it’s convenient for her, with no regard to when it’s convenient or necessary for anyone else.  Including when she’s pregnant.  She will ignore us for nearly an entire year, then expects us to jump up and rush over when she wants to hang out.  I’m sorry, but I do not operate that way, and neither do Julie or Andrea.  We have demanding lives.  We do not have the luxury of staying at home all day waiting for an invitation.  We have responsibilities and expectations placed upon us that we have to live up to.  Do we have it any easier or harder than she does?  No.  We’re just more responsible than she is.  We understand that there will be consequences to our actions.  We know that if we forego even two hours of sleep at night, we’ll pay for it all day tomorrow.  We know that if we don’t go to work today, we won’t be able to pay our bills in a week.  We know that if we don’t fulfill our daily responsibilities, the consequences will be severe.  And Julie, Andrea, and myself have only ourselves to rely on.  We don’t have live-in boyfriends who’s paychecks pay the bills.  We don’t have bosses who will make excuses for us and find last-minute coverage for a shift we’ve been scheduled for for a month.  We don’t get to use the excuse of our child being sick to miss a day of work.  We understand that, in order to function and survive in the adult world, we must work our asses off and only rely on ourselves to make sure everything that needs done gets done.  We don’t believe in slacking off just because we don’t feel like doing anything today.  We work first, play later.  We won’t make unnecessary exceptions like staying out (or up) late on a work night, or spending just ten more dollars than usual when we’re on a budget.  No, we go to bed at a certain time at night, we show up to work, we do our jobs, and we plan, meticulously, every single minute of our lives.  Personally, I schedule all of my important errands on my days off.  Doctor’s appointments, personal errands, grocery shopping, et cetera, only happen on my scheduled days off so that nothing interferes with my ability to show up to work, every day, on time, and do my absolute best while I’m there.  If I deviate from my schedule even the tiniest bit, there’s hell to pay.  If I lose an hour of sleep, I’m useless the next day.  If I overspend by ten dollars, my budget is thrown off.  If I miss a part of my routine, I’m done.  As adults, we accept the expectations placed upon us, and strive to meet them.  Mary doesn’t.  She flies by the seat of her pants on a daily basis, and resents when her friends can’t do the same.  She doesn’t understand the basics of being a responsible adult.

I’m constantly battling myself when it comes to Mary.  On one hand, I don’t want to hurt her feelings or have her be upset with me.  On the other, I can’t bring myself to be firm or even the slightest bit bitchy in order to get my point across to her, because I know she will take it very personally.  I’m at a loss.  My only solution thus far is to just ignore her until she sends one final pity-party text, and then delete the text without reading it.  (If the reminder’s not there, it doesn’t make me feel bad.)  I feel bad ignoring her, and I don’t like knowing that her feelings are hurt, but that’s the only way to shut her up, for lack of a better term.  That’s the only way she’ll stop: if you ignore her.  And I don’t like doing that.  I don’t like ignoring my friends, even when they’re aggravating me.  But I can’t find a way to let her know, in no uncertain terms, in a kind way that won’t hurt her feelings, that I just cannot submit to her schedule whenever she wants me to.  I can’t find a way to make her understand that her schedule does not sync up with mine on a day-to-day basis.  I cannot hang out at the drop of a hat anymore.  Plus, I’m not a spontaneous person, anyway, so texting me five minutes before showing up at my door will not get me out of my house or my pajamas.  I’m not a last-minute person.  I do not do last-minute things.  I plan ahead for almost everything I do.  If I need to go grocery shopping, I look at my schedule and see when I can fit it in.  If I need to go to the doctor, I look at my schedule.  If I need to go to the bank, I look at my schedule.  If a friend wants to go to dinner, we look at our schedules.  If I want a “lazy day” spent on the sofa in my pajamas with Dr. Who, I look at my schedule and see when I can fit it in.  I never do anything “in the spur of the moment.”  Texting me at five o’clock and asking me to meet you at five after will not work, I will not show up at five after, if at all.  Because it will not jive with my schedule.  And I schedule constantly.  

I’m not saying that anyone needs an appointment in order to spend time with me, not by any means.  I’m simply saying that I need more than ten minutes’ notice.  Especially if you want me to leave my house.  Nine times out of ten, after I get home from work, I’m not planning to leave home again until I have to go back to work.  And I try to have alone time as much as I can (within reason) because it’s so rare that I can have alone time anymore.

I’m a self-professed homebody.  I like being home.  No, I love being home.  I love having a day when I have absolutely no commitments, and I love it when I can spend those days doing absolutely nothing, home alone, on the sofa, watching Dr.Who marathons, eating popcorn, ignoring the world.  And I hate it when those days are interrupted by someone expecting me to leave the sofa for their own entertainment.  I am not here to entertain you.  I am not here to bend to your will or jump up at your call.  I don’t expect anyone to do that for me.  What I do expect is for people to respect my time, needs, and wants, the same way I respect theirs.  

I’m not willing to sacrifice a friendship in the name of sleep, but I’m not willing to sacrifice sleep in the name of friendship, either.  It’s an odd, almost hypocritical statement, but it’s where I’m at.  I just don’t know what to do about it.  Advice?  Anyone?  And please don’t make me leave the sofa.  It’s the van Gogh episode of Dr. Who.

The Things That Run Through My Head

Posted in Autobiography, History on October 23, 2013 by Cass

I’ve had a pretty lazy day today.  And right now, the only negative thing about it is the fact that my mind runs rampant on days like this, and it tends to bring up things that piss me off.  Be it an old memory or a new worry, it will always be something that puts me in a bad mood.  Today, it was the memories of being mercilessly bullied in elementary and middle school.

My family moved after the end of my first grade year.  In September, I started at a new school I’ll call St. Prep.  The location was convenient, just down the hill from our house, so I could walk to and from with no problem.  And I was looking forward to making tons of new friends.  I had gone to Catholic school for kindergarten and first grade and had had no problems making friends there, so I figured it would be just as easy at St. Prep.  I was proved so wrong so fast.  While I did get along with mostly everyone, I soon found out that even the ones who I “got along with” were talking shit on me behind my back.  See, St. Prep is a private school which is primarily attended by the children of doctors and lawyers.  I was not the child of a doctor or lawyer.  I was the child of a truck driver and a homemaker/day-care lady (kinda–my mom worked in the day-care program at the school, and also was the preschool assistant.)  I also was a heavy kid, so I immediately had two strikes against me.  The third strike was the fact that I was new.  But mostly it was the fact that I was heavier than everyone else.  They latched onto that fact quicker than a newborn to a nipple.  And they used it to torment me incessantly.  My first nickname from them was Flubber.  They thought it was hilarious.  And when they weren’t busy making fun of me for my weight, they had a plethora of other ways to make me miserable.  They loved excluding me from things.  One of them would invite me to sit with them at lunch, then, when I’d walk up to the table, they’d crowd me out and insist there was nowhere for me to sit, and would proceed to talk about me while I sat alone at another table.  One time, they all took turns spitting on a Reese Cup and then gave it to me to eat.  Once I discovered what they’d done, I’d already taken a bite, and they erupted in laughter.  They made any fat joke they could think of and threw it at me until I went home.  I had books thrown at me, I was spit on, kicked, hit, they threw balls and other toys at me, stole my things because they knew I wouldn’t do anything, accused me of stealing their things, and accused me of things I hadn’t even done, pointed out every mistake I made and used it against me, all for the sake of their entertainment.  They made me absolutely miserable for six years of my life, destroyed any self-confidence I may have ever had, and shoved me into a very deep depression.  It didn’t take long for me to buy into their lies about me, that I was worthless and stupid because I was fat, I didn’t matter, and that I deserved nothing more than to be tormented at all hours of the day.  It was a serious wake up call for me when I started hanging out with people who actually appreciated me and recognized that I was an actual person and not a stupid hunk of fat.  I had no idea what to do, I didn’t know how to act or what to say.  I was literally stunned.  The first time a person my age asked me, “How are you?” I stared at them for five minutes trying to determine if they really wanted to know or if it was just a precursor to more torment.

During high school, I was able to adapt to this new way of life, of being appreciated by my peers, and was able to push the nasty memories of St. Prep’s out of my mind.  I didn’t forget them, but I didn’t dwell on them, and really haven’t since.  I’ve been able to move on, gain back my self-confidence little by little, and have been working my way out of the depression that’s lasted for sixteen years.  A lot of the damage they did was permanent, however.  For example, I still do not feel comfortable walking across a room, no matter how crowded, because I’m still afraid everyone is looking at me, judging me, and making fun of me.  I am still horribly self-conscious about my weight, even though I’m working to lose it, and I still have difficulty trusting anyone’s sincerity, even after they’ve proven themselves trustworthy time and time again.  These are things I think I’m going to have to work on for the rest of my life, thanks to those pathetic assholes.  

But tonight, for whatever reason, I’ve been thinking about it almost nonstop.  Memories of all the shit they did to me just kept coming and coming and coming and wouldn’t stop for anything.  By no means was I sitting here feeling sorry for myself.  No, instead I was sitting here getting more and more pissed off by all of it.  Pissed off at myself for relying on unreliable teachers to put a stop to it, pissed at myself for not putting a stop to it myself, and pissed off that those pretentious bastards thought that it was their God-given right to ruin my life.  But mostly, it was the fact that, after sixteen years, they’re pissed at me for still being upset about it.

You read that right.  They’re pissed at me for being angry at them for making  my life a living hell for eight years.  

Last year, one of them got in contact with me and wanted to know if I wanted to plan and/or attend a ten-year reunion.  Without even thinking about it, I said no.  They all wanted to know why, and I thought about just saying that I plain didn’t want to, but then I thought, “Well, what the hell can they do to me now?” and I told them the real reason.  I wrote back, “Why would I want to plan a party for the people who made my life absolutely unbearable for eight years?  Why would I want to spend any more time with any of you after all the shit you did to me?  I’m not interested in playing nice for the sake of…what?  Your happiness?  Just to appease all of you?  I have no desire to see any of you again.  I have no desire to make nice.  And I certainly have no desire to do anything remotely nice for any of you.  I don’t owe you shit.  I’m not interested in planning or attending this reunion.”

What I got back pissed me off more than anything else in my entire life.

“Get over yourself.  I can’t believe that you’re still not over that.  We were kids, we didn’t mean it.  Grow up and get over it, for Christ’s sakes.”

What in the ever-loving fuck?

Not being able to control my anger, I, of course, responded.

“Are you fucking kidding me?  You don’t get to belittle this.  You don’t get to tell me how I should feel about it.  You don’t get to tell me to ‘get over myself, grow up and get over it.’  You made my life a living hell for eight years.  You fucking tortured me every single day for eight years of my life.  You made me absolutely miserable, to the point where I hated myself.  You made me believe that I was totally worthless, stupid, and a waste of space.  You don’t get to tell me that it was nothing and you didn’t mean it.  You sure as fuck meant it back then.  You destroyed me, you destroyed my life.  So, no, you don’t get to tell me that I’m essentially making something out of nothing.  No fucking way.  I deserve to still be pissed at all of you, I deserve to not ‘get over it,’ I deserve to get to make you realize how fucking horrible of a person you were, and obviously still are.  You all are pathetic, insipid idiots.  Who in the fuck do you think you are, making someone unbearably miserable and then telling them they’re wrong for being upset about it?  Who fucking told you you were allowed to make someone so miserable?  I’m not sorry for being pissed.  I’m not sorry for not coming to your reunion.  I’m not sorry for not wanting to ever see you again.  And I’m not sorry that I’m not over it.  I don’t plan to get over it.  I just plan to forget any of you every existed.  None of you matter to me, just like I didn’t matter to you.  You were perfectly happy to ignore the fact that I was a living, breathing human being with a personality and fucking feelings and instead focus on whether or not Mary* liked you.  You were too worried about what she’d say about you if you were nice to me, and not worried enough about how you made me feel.  Not that I ever expected any of you to consider me or my feelings in the slightest for anything.  So, no, I’m not planning this party, and I’m not coming to this party.  Have fun spending time with some of the worst people on earth.  I hope you’re all happy talking shit about each other behind your backs while you’re ‘reminiscing.’  I know none of you have changed.  And, like I said back in eighth grade when you talked shit about me, ‘If you mattered to me, that might hurt my feelings.  But you don’t.’  I wish you all the shit that you dumped on me, and then some.  Don’t ever fucking contact me again.”

I can confidently say that karma is getting the best of them nowadays.  My greatest tormentor was sent out of state because her family couldn’t put up with her illegal shit, and she ended up doing time in North Carolina.  Another is currently under investigation for fooling around with a few of his students.  Another has been thrown out of her home, is broke, unemployed, and an addict.  My life has turned out exponentially better than all of theirs.  I have a loving, supportive family who would never consider abandoning me, I have a stable job, I’ve never been involved with drugs, and I still have my self-respect in spite of them.  As I’ve said before, I’m not the way I am because of them, I’m the way I am in spite of them.  All they did was show me how truly miserable people can be.  They showed me the kind of people to stay far, far away from.  

Today, if I see one of them in public and they have the balls to approach me, I immediately snub them.  I turn and walk the other way.  Not because I’m afraid, but because I simply don’t have the time, want, or need to put up with anymore of their bullshit.  I know that anything they could possibly want to say to me will be complete and total fake-ass shit.  I’m not interested.  I will happily go on living without them.  I will never talk to any of them again, and I will be content and I won’t have any regrets.  I won’t waste anymore time thinking about them because, frankly, they’re not worth it.