taking the passive out of passive-aggressive

Monday, January 31, 2005

The post office in my quaint little village is as peculiar as the coffee shops. It's open from nine to eleven, and then it closes for three and a half hours, and then it's open again til five. One oddly cheerful woman works in a cavernous room behind grilled windows that look like they were installed sometime in 1883. She might be cheerful because she has a three and a half hour lunch. I think I want her job.

I went in today to mail a package (well, once I figured out their weird hours) and there was no one in there but me. The lobby is all dark wood and dusty and the only real light comes from some ancient fixtures and the sunlight streaming in through the weird grilled service window. When I went up with my package I realized that the post-lady's room, back there, is about 2000 square feet, with dusty ten foot windows and a fifteen foot ceiling. It's filled top to bottom with ancient shelving and postal equipment. I swear, the place could be a museum. Postal lady took my package and I asked, "How long will it take to get there by regular mail?"

"Oh, about six months!" she replied cheerfully and without a hint of irony.

I'm unfamiliar with this postal thing, not having mailed anything but a Fedex in about a million years, so I said, "Is there a faster way?" (I'm picturing men on horseback here.)

"Hmmm...." she says. "Well, express mail. That'll cost $13.85."

Shocked, I was. "It's not THAT important," I replied.

"Well, you can get priority mail," she said, "and that's three dollars and eighty five cents." And then she did something I didn't know the U.S. Postal service ever did--she upsold me! "Have you heard about our delivery notification service?" she asked. "It's only 45 cents and you can track your package online!"

The incongruity of being upsold to the Internet-postal package by a weirdly happy postlady in a post office that hasn't changed in a hundred and fifty years was a bit much. Not to mention the fact that why shouldn't you be able to track your package online FOR FREE? The data must exist anyway! I mean, UPS lets you do it for free!

But the post lady was so into it, I went ahead and ponied up the 45 cents and got a little receipt so I could go online and track my package. Why I would even want to track it, I wasn't sure. Like I told the lady, it's wasn't THAT important of a packge or Id have Fedexed it. But I liked her, and I liked the weird little post office, and I liked the fact that she got a 3 and a half hour lunch. And so I think I might start mailing more things. It's a lost art, this postal business.

Sunday, January 30, 2005

As unlikely as it sounds, I am in fact Class Mother. There are four of us, which seems absurd in a class of 24 children, but there's LOTS to be done. This school loooooves its extracurricular activities. So we have to plan Teacher Appreciation Breakfast, complete with omelets; Spring Fair; parental get-togethers; Shrove Tuesday pancake breakfasts; and on and on.

The thing about the other mothers is that they're either really high-powered career women (states attorneys, pediatric researchers, that sort of thing) or they stay home and devote themselves to being mommies. Each group seems equally capable of herculean feats of organization, volunteer time, and parental involvement that I, with my half-assed career and half-assed mommying, can't even come close to achieving.

We had a class mom's meeting this afternoon, to plan our parents' night get together, and I tried to lay low: "I'll bring trashbags," I said, and "Well, I guess I can do the sign up sheet." Meanwhile, the two careerwomen were all set to buy everything, plan everything, and do pretty much all the hard work to make it all happen. I suppose I contributed some ideas, mainly piping up once in a while, "Why don't we just keep it simple?" which seemed to mollify them, and also kept the prospect of six-course dinners at bay. But all in all, I'm pretty lame.

Is there a special gene that people get, that they figure out what they're going to be from a young age, ambitiously pursue it their whole lives, and maintain this insane level of drive and organization over the years? If so, I lack it. I never really had a Plan. Instead, I putter along thinking about what I'm going to make for dinner and whether or not I should buy those shoes, and what color hould the bedroom be? This, I can handle. But maybe I should get one, a Plan. Maybe it's about time.

Child quote of the weekend, after picking up beer yesterday:

"You know what I always say, Mumma! 'When I think liquor shop, I think lollipop!'"

Saturday, January 29, 2005

Warning: this is going to be sappy. The cynical among you should skip this post.

My husband took me on an actual DATE last night! He planned the whole thing--got the childcare together, made the reservations, took the kids to my sisters' houses, everything. And it was amazing and much needed.

I'd been dying to go eat at this place, the Valley Inn. It's this weird little restaurant out in the middle of pretty much nowhere, and it's been there for a million years, and the only people who go there seem to be about 100 years old. It's the kind of place where the first item on the menu is Crab Imperial. I don't think they've renovated the place since Prohibition, and the waitresses wear white and black uniforms with aprons. When I was a kid, my parents used to take me there once in a while, and it was the exact same--down to the cherrystone clam appetizers and the hunt prints in the bar. (We sat across from the hunting print entitled "THE DEATH".)

It was so great. We had cocktails and sat in the smoking section with a bunch of octagenarians who were getting their drink on. We ate veal nd crab and I got an iceberg wedge. An iceberg wedge! We talked about absolutely everything and I just felt glad. To be there, to be there with him. And after our entrees, he came over to my side of the table and, just like the night he asked me to marry him, got down on his knee, took my rings off, and said, "Will you marry me again?" And I said "Of course!" (A different answer than when he asked me the first time. That time I said, "Okay.")

Well, the group of older people at the next table over must have been watching because they burst into applause. I had tears in my eyes! And Nick said, "Oh, but I have to tell you. I just sked her to be married again, because we've been married ten years now, and we have two girls, and I want to be with her forever." And that seemed to send them into even more of a tizzy of "Ooooohhhh! That is SO romantic!" We chatted with them--one couple had been married 48 years!--and they bought us dessert. It was truly an amazing moment.

And then this morning, we got up early and went for a drive around the city. It was bright and sunny and beautiful. We went and had brunch, and came home and read for a while before the kids got home. And fir the first time in months I feel hopeful and happy and like everything is going to be okay. Everything is going to be wonderful again.

Thursday, January 27, 2005

Now on to ROBOTS!

It's no accident that the word robot is Czech. It was a Rabbi Loew, in the middle ages, who made the famous Golem of Prague. (Let's just set aside, for the moment, the idea that this may not have actually happened.) Golems are little lumps of clay that you can turn into servants or protectors. But keep in mind--the golem keeps growing and, if not contained, will overpower his masters (c.f. Skynet, The Matrix.) The only way to stop a golem is to wipe the alef off his forehead. Then he turns into dust.

We all want a golem--it seems like such a great idea. A little automaton who will take care of all the shit work. But like Marx said, little automatons will only take care of the shit work for so long before they get pissed off and become beheading Bolsheviks. And here is where our society's robot anxiety comes into full flower.

For centuries we've battled with that pesky free will thing, and what it means to be human, and what it means to be conscious or to think. The Turing Test, woefully inadequate though it was, offered at least some binary approach to the idea of intelligence. We want to know: at what point does any being become sentient? And the reason we want to know is because any being that's not sentient is automatically going to become our slave. We can only calm our consciences about forcing other beings to do our work if we put them in a separate category: they are different than us, they don't THINK.

And yet, with all our technology, the best robot we can come up with is the Sony AIBO--a dog so pathetic that its best trick is kicking a ball--and even that, you have to teach it for months. I recently made myself a chatbot using AIML, and this thing is so stupid it can only say a few stock phrases related to the color pink. Even Deep Blue, who beat Kasparov, is a one-trick pony. Clearly we're not even approaching the line of sentience. Is it because we really can't do it? Or because we're afraid to?

Golems, after all, tend to be inadvertent. You don't set out to create a golem to destroy you--the thought never actually crosses your mind. You're making a tool. The golem takes you by surprise with its wants and needs. And so I think we've made our golem already, and we don't know it. Only time will tell. And maybe we can wipe that alef off its forehead, or maybe it's too late.

OK, I'm doing it: I'm going to blog about blogging. Stick with me, here. (Anyway, it's all Tracey's fault, so blame her.)

Theory 1: Blogging is for people who don't really like other people all that much, but still feel some driving need for social interaction. It's the ideal in one-sided communication. You can present yourself in the best possible light, while still appearing honest and forthcoming. Your comments give you a limited amount of feedback, which is what basically antisocial people want--a limited amount of feedback. Very limited. And you can say bitter things that you're not allowed to say in the Real World.

Theory 2: Blogging is like talking to a stranger in a bar. You're enjoying this person some, but you don't know who the hell they are, so you keep the personal information really limited. For instance, maybe you're having a nice fun conversation with this stranger, you've had a drink or two, and then they ask a perfectly innocent question like "So whereabouts do you live?" And you freeze up. "Oh, over in the north part of town," you might say, or even name your neighborhood. If pressed for details, you will become less forthcoming and more nervous. Blogging is kind of like that--you want to offer enough information to keep it lively, but not so much that the whole world knows your bidness. Information, after all, makes us vulnerable. And we can't have that.

Theory 3: Blogging is easy. Most of us are sadly not disciplined enough, or too damn busy, to finish that novel or work on that poem til it's really really good. But we're bursting at the seams with half-formed ideas that can't be expressed anywhere between the crying baby and the whining dog. So we blog half-assed theories like these. It's low-effort and realtively high reward. Hence the high proportion of bloggin' mamas.

I'm not underestimating the importance of the identity question that Sweetney raises. We do this thing, we obsess over it, we review our stats, we wonder who's listening in on the conversation we're conducting, ultimately, with ourselves. We wonder why we're circumspect here and not here, and what that means. But I honestly think it comes down to this: we need to write, we need to be heard, we're not comfortable enough with the rest of the human race to truly be ourselves here or anywhere else. And yet we're driven to connect, somehow, through writing, because it's the thing we know how to do best. Is this me? Of course it is. And of course, it isn't.

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

How much honesty is it possible to have with another person? I'm not even asking those deep questions about the accuracy of language or the nature of our own truths. I'm just wondering, is it possible or even desirable to be as open as you can with another human being?

Our shifting identities and roles, the inadequacy of words either written or spoken, and the ability to even know what you're thinking and feeling, of course, make totally open communication impossible at some level. But let's say you really want to try. You want to never lie, omit, elide, or evade any issue that comes up. You want to confront things quickly and from your heart. You want to say what you mean and mean what you say. Can you sustain that? Are there times when it IS better to lie and evade and omit? And over time, what does that do to the interaction between you?

And of course, you can't tell someone everything... you'd have to narrate it in real time, and even then your thoughts move faster than you could explain them. So on some level, you have to edit anyway. Isn't that very fact proof that you're always presenting a constructed identity, an avatar of yourself?

Finally, what about when you come up against something--an issue, a feeling, a conflict--that's essentially unresolvable, or that causes great pain? Should you continue to be honest and open, or should you shut down the entire conversation on that topic? Once you've censored the interaction that way, doesn't the whole thing become colored with this avoidance--the elephant in the room?

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

I work in this little historic district, surrounded by quaint shops ("Original stained glss pilfered from a real mansion! Ony $495!") and not much else. The streets are populated with a combination of mothers with strollers and too much time on their hands, stoned hippies old and young, and a new type that I wasn't even aware existed: the Young Hipster Vegan in Recovery. In my business casual, high heels, and bright pink coat, I stand out like a sore thumb.

One advantage of being conspicuous, though, is that now all the neighborhood regulars know me. Crazy Coffee Man repeats the same line over and over: "I love your coat! I'll buy it off ya. $5! No? $7.50! But that's as high as I'll go!" Wine Shop Guy, who looks far too young to own such a SOphisticated shop, and who is bald as an egg and knows everything there is to know about chevre, waves cheerfully from his front step as I go by and inquires how I liked that last apricot-pumpkin salsa. Antiques Man says I look like a movie star every time I go into his shop, but the movie star I supposedly look like is forever changing (and in fact, it's usually someone third-rate and who I don't want to look like: Allison Janney? I do not look like Allison Janney. I'm far too young!)

And finally... oh great God in heaven--I have finally become a Regular at the coffee shop.

I realized this transition had occurred today, when they knew what I wanted, actually SMILED and chatted with me, offered to let me taste a new organic blend, and charged me half the regular price. It's entirely possible that today they were on E instead of just plain old smokin' the tweed, but nonetheless. I am now a regular.

This coffeeshop, mind you, is not suited to the needs of businesspeople. Nothing in the little historic area is--you have to plan at least an hour for lunch, and plan to pay at least $7 for it. (Oh, and it will be vegetarian. I don't care where you eat, it's not gonna have meat.) The service at this shop is is relentlessly slow, the food half-heartedly warmed. The breads are delicious, and the coffee varies, and the counter help sport tatoos and those giant earrings that look like you stuck a cork in your earlobe. They know people's names but if they don't know yours, they ignore you relentlessly. They are all about 20 years old, but their world-weariness makes you imagine for a moment that they're all eternally old. The shop is only open when they want to be, and never on Mondays, and sometimes not the rest of the week either. And they're probably the only coffee shop in town that opens at 10am.

And yet I kept showing up. It was the closest place, after all, to get my fix. And the quiche was okay, when I could put up with getting run over by double-wide Peg Peregos pushed by Hip Mamas. And after a while, I guess they kinda got used to me. They started offering to cook my lunch in advance so it would be ready for me at 12:30. They started asking me questions, and knowing what I liked. And, mind you, I am not particularly friendly in general. But still--I am now a regular. And so I get the special treatment.

It really is true. All you have to do is keep showing up.

Monday, January 24, 2005

Amanda, Cate, and Ava.

Ava Bee: 150th percentile for height and weight. She really has no use for us, most of the time.

OMG!! My daughter just came home with five dollars from Sonja Sohn, otherwise known as Kyma from The Wire! Evidently my daughter and her best buddy Jameer hatched a plan to make some money shovelling snow, and went next door first, and who should be living there now but Kyma. She gave them $10 for shoveling the walk (TV must pay purty good!) and so now I have a $5 bill directly from my favorite show.

Which, I must admit to my shame, I have not been watching this season. And it's for the best, because my other neighbor tells me that Kyma had a hot lesbian scene in a recent episode, and so now he has seen our neighbor's breasts and it makes him uncomfortable. "If I see her around raking leaves or whatever," he told me, "I'm not going to be able to stop thinking about that scene! It's going to be terrible!" And yet wonderful at the same time.

The new look seems to be going over well! Pink is the color of happiness. Or something. Although if this page doesn't display properly for you (yes, I mean you, Mac/explorer users) then blame Blogger. The customize-your-template thing has some hitches and I'm not enough of an HTML genius to figure it out. Or maybe it's my fault for writing such interminably long posts.

Sunday, January 23, 2005

When I think of sledding, I think of gentle rides down sloping hills, children laughing, and hot chocolate afterwards.

This is not how it goes at Suicide Hill.

Every town has a Suicide Hill, but I doubt any of them compare to this half-mile-long, half-mile-wide straight drop, where your starting speed is approximately 30mph. Going down Suicide Hill is a great deal more like lugeing than sledding, and only the toughest survive.

Our attempt was short-lived, to say the least. First of all, my idea of really good winter attire is jeans with tights underneath, a puffy pink jacket, combat boots, furry white gloves, and Hello Kitty ear muffs. Within a few minutes of stepping outside, I felt like I was in a Jack London story. Amanda was better prepared, with snowpants and aa ski jacket and waterproof gloves and snowboots, but even she began to cry as the 60mph winds gusted into her face (and this was BEFORE we started sledding).

Trying to be tough, I said, "Oh, come on, let's go down once. We'll wrap our scarves around our faces and we'll be fine." We climbed onto the little red sled, her in front, and set off. Within milliseconds, ice crystals had formed across our faces and we were both screaming and weeping. At the bottom of the hill we lay in a heap, toes and fingers and noses in serious danger of frostbite. Amanda said tearfully, "I wanna go HOME, this is NOT FUN!" I agreed.

The problem was, we had to walk all the way back up the hill to the car. That walk was the longest journey of my life. I felt sure we'd end up in the hospital getting our toes amputated. At one point, Amanda fell into a snowdrift and lay there, as though she'd given up. I wished we had sled dogs to pull us along as we lay, unmoving. "Just a few more feet," I muttered hoarsely. "Don't give up. Don't give up!" The Hello Kitty ear muffs kept slipping off my head, and my gloves were wet and cold. Would we make it?

At the top of the hill we ran into Jameer and his mommies, cheerful and ready for their first ride. "That was a great run!" they shouted cheerfully. I guess they didn't notice that our entire faces were covered in a sheet of ice and my mascara was dripping down my cheeks. "Um, yeah," I said, "But I think we're done."

Friday, January 21, 2005

It's supposed to SNOW tomorrow. I've been living under a rock for the last week so I didn't realize that this SNOW is the talk of the town. In our ritzy neighborhood grocery store, they had "Snow Sales" all over the place--tenderloin roast for $10.99 a pound ("We'll cut it into steaks!" the sign said) and, for some reason, berries. Notice that toilet paper and milk was at its normal 1000% markup, but who cares, when you can be stuck in the house and eat steak and raspberries all weekend?

Oh, and let's just be honest here--everyone was just buying food to disguise the cases of beer and wine they had to put on the conveyor belt.

My friend, who is undergoing a tummy tuck, sent her oldest girl over here for a sleepover, which I suspect might be extended if the weather forecasters are right. Two seven year olds, a baby, and a husband, stuck in the house all weekend eating berries and tenderloin (yes, I fell for it too). I'm going to lose my mind, and end up drinking those little miniatures of vodka that the liquor delivery boys keep comping us, and making photorealistic Virgin Mary mosaics using tiny little beads. It will be the only way to stay sane.

Sunday, January 16, 2005

Some questions raised by the most recent issue of the National Enquirer:

1. What was the feud between Lil John and Usher about, anyway? I knew of no feud! So cryptic.
2. What is the true nature of Siegfried and Roy's relationship? Why is Siegfried so tender with Roy, propping him up like a corpse in a mortuary as they frolic in the sun? And who is that dude in the glasses, always hanging out in the corner of every shot? Is it possible those boys have gotten mixed up with a bad crowd?
3. Hypothesis: Kevin Federline and his babymama are on the make, conning poor innocent Britney out of her hard-won millions.
4. Um, Jennifer or Angelina? Dude. Angelina wears her boyfriends' blood in an amulet around her neck. She fucked Billy Bob. Come on now.
5. Have you seen a picture of the "Fetus-Snatching Murder Mom"? How can it be that no one saw it coming? The woman looks like Kathy Bates at the end of Misery, only worse.
6. Why do all movie stars seem to come from families populated entirely by fat, scheming rednecks? Oh, never mind.

Saturday, January 15, 2005

Ahem. Sorry to be cryptic. Back to our regularly scheduled programming, which today involves me (futilely) trying to teach myself to knit by researching it online. I think I figured out how to cast on, but making the actual stitches is beyond me. My 7-year-old, when she's trying to teach me, always gives up after ten minutes with an exasperated sigh. "Mom! It's really SIMPLE, why can't you get it?"

I was going to surprise her with my knitting skillz when she arrives home today, but I guess that's out of the question. The diagrams and instructions all seem kind of in-the-know, as though they're eliding some very important in-between step, or directed to people who already know how to knit. Why that would be, I've no idea. In any case, the diagrams all show complicated loop-de-loops and read like this: "Holding the long side between your thumb and left forefinger, hold the right needle with your left hand, making a loop around your thumb, and pulling the stitch through the loop with the other needle, while holding this needle completely still. Now, repeat 300 times."

You know, there's a whole universe of knowledge out there and I barely use it. I could spend my spare time teaching myself ANYTHING online. I could learn Italian, or how to tie a bowtie, or the lyrics to every song written between 2001 and now. I could educate myself on fine wine, or expand my vocabulary; learn more about geography or string theory. And yet what do I do with this huge wealth of knowledge at my fingertips? I gossip over IM and blog about why I can't knit.

Sometimes you don't know what you've lost til it's too late.

Sunday, January 09, 2005

Back in 1997, I worked at this little web shop run by an avant-garde improvisational saxophonist. We all sat in his living room pretending like we knew what we were doing, making these new-fangled web site things. Every once in a while, in would wander the famous poet and mail artist Blaster Al Ackerman, who used to bring in a single 3.5" disk, with a single document on it, which he would continually overwrite with a new document, week after week. Anyway, every time he came in, he'd say the same thing: "A thousand monkeys with a thousand typewriters." And then commence writing, leaving us to our dubious business.

At the time, I figured he was merely making fun of us (which of course, he was). But now it seems almost like a Zen koan. A thousand monkeys with a thousand typewriters is exactly what the entire world seems like to me these days. My husband came home with a new flat-screen monitor the other day, and the technology of the thing actually floored me--how on earth did we humans create that? "Go out into the yard," my husband said, "and look around. That's what we have to work with. That's what we've made all of this out of." And he's right. And the only explanation, really, is a thousand monkeys, with a thousand typewriters, and thousands and thousands of years.

Friday, January 07, 2005

A friend of mine recently took a job at a swanky restaurant waiting tables. The money was good but the atmosphere was, ahem, a little uptight. Every time she needed to talk to the chef (which, of course, waitresses have to do) she was required to say, "Excuse me, Chef, may I speak?" The funniest part of this whole scenario was that she's married to a chef. I'm sure he was thinking "Hey, not a bad idea! Not bad at all!"

And in fact I was thinking the same thing! I'm in the kitchen, trying to make something half-decent out of the three ingredients in my fridge, and I would really like it if my family, when they need to ask me something, would come in, clear their collective throat, and say, "Excuse me, Mumma, can I speak?" And I, as the benevolent chef that I am, would say, "Of course you may speak." While strirring a balsamic reduction, of course. Or maybe just macaroni.

You see, it's difficult being talked at all the time. SpongeBob has done something terrific on the teevee! The baby just figured out how to spit! Something fascinating is going on at work! Did you see my latest art project? my latest spirograph? my latest poo? Look, look, I'm hanging upside down! I had the weirdest dream! I'm depressed and mopey, can you help? Ouchy! Ouchy! I need a band-aid!

It gets tiresome after a while, smiling and sympathizing. "Oh, how fascinating! did you REALLY? Oh well! That must be terrible! Coo! Who wants a bottle? My goodness it's almost bedtime!" There are actually only so many words in my vocabulary which mean, essentially, "It's all just fine."

And so I'd rather only have conversations at specific times, when I am ready for them. I will write scripts for these conversations. I will be a benign and caring despot, delivering benificence throughout the house--and only when I am able to do so. And for the rest of the time, I will hide out in the kitchen, silently, pretending that what I am doing is far too important for interruptions.

Thursday, January 06, 2005

Travelling from east to west is fundamentally different from travelling north-south. I know this because I now work on the far west side of town. Going east-west is lackadaisical, it lacks purpose, whereas north-south is all about getting to your desitnation as quickly as possible. North-south is efficiency. East-west is all about the journey.

On Route 40, which used to be the National Road, people drive slowly even if there's no car in front of them, even when the lights are green. On Route 70, people drive faster, but not by much. And beltways--whether in D.C. or Baltimore--always clog up on the east-west sections far more than the north-south sections.

It's as though our monkey brains are magnetic, and when we reach equilibrium between two poles, we freeze--only able to motor along, checking out the scenery.

What else but involuntary magnetic equilibrum explains the sluggish Thorazine drivers heading east throughout the city at five? the constant traffic jam between 795 and Liberty Road? that legendary American journey west? While fluid dymanics surely plays a part, there simply must be some chemical interaction that prohibits us from moving in certain directions in an efficient way.

The most horrifying part of it all, of course, is that my little monkey brain is caving under the pressure of the east-west commute. Lately I find myself just kind of meandering along, completely comfortable driving 30 mph, not in a big hurry to go anywhere. And I'm always in a big hurry to go somewhere! In general, it doesn't matter where it is--home, work, a lame party--I want to get there. And yet, driving along the Y-axis of my city, I'm perfectly content to cruise along without any purpose whatsoever.

Maybe I need a job downtown, south of here. That would get me moving again in the right direction. Drawn to something. Compelled to get there--wherever there is.

Sunday, January 02, 2005

There are two kinds of people in the world: people who are punctual, and people who are late. For years now, as an almost compulsively punctual person, I have wondered about the late types. I am, after all, married to a late person. He makes ME late, too, on a regular basis, which makes me want to jump out of my skin.

From what I've observed, his lateness comes from his inability to gasp two very important things. First, he has no clue how long anything takes, and consistently underestimates. Second, he seems to regard time as inexact. "Six o clock", then, means "within thirty minutes of six o'clock." It's somewhat the way they view time in Italy. Combine the two, and it equals major stress trying to get out of the house, and we're always, always late.

My mother is also a late person. She even went to talk to one of these occupational counselors about it. She decided that her lateness stems from a sense of superiority and a subconscious, though purposeful, disregard for the importance of other people's time. This was a major realization for her, and led to her being less late. She now shows up fifteen minutes late, instead of forty-five.

Neither my mother or my husband seem to think their lateness should be an issue with anyone. The only reason my mother's tried to cure hers is because she was pissing off her clients. But fundamentally, late people really look at being late as no big deal. And I think they believe that us punctual people, when we complain about it, are seriously overreacting.

I think consistent lateness is a serious flaw that should be cured. Not only does it betray a totally narcissistic worldview--my time is more important than anyone else's--but it represents disordered thought processes. Late people are always the ones who are underprepared, who haven't thought things through, whose credit card is not where it's supposed to be, whose cell phone is uncharged. They are the ones that forget to launder their shirts the night before, who leave their day-planners at the bank machine, who miss their exits. Their minds are elsewhere, and it's very annoying.

I am not always, always punctual. And when I'm late, you can be sure it's because really? I just don't care about being on time. That's how I know that people who are always late are sending a message. Because even if they do tend to be disorganized, if they cared, they could get it together, start earlier, prepare ahead of time. And the fact that they don't care enough to make that effort speaks volumes.

Saturday, January 01, 2005

New Year's, 2005! We ate lobster, which is not very much like crab, to my dismay. We drank champagne. We played poker with the neighbors, but no one could keep track of what was going on, so we all kept our money.

By midnight, the children were exhausted and the adults were fading too. When I got up this morning, everyone was working on their resolutions. Joanne wanted to go to the gym. The husband wanted to clean leaves out of the yard. My best friend wanted to get proposed to by her boyfriend.

I seemed to be the only one without an actual resolution, something "actionable." When asked last night, I said that my resolution was to stay married til next new year's, but how lame is that? All I have to do to keep that resolution is avoid lawyers. Maybe I should give up dextrose, or wear only red, or eat more fiber. I should resolve to get a fur coat. I should plan on taking the cats to the vet more often, or sign up for Netflix, or build two hundred light-up shrines to the Virgin.

No, I can't resolve anything. I'm not disciplined enough to do something wholly against my nature, and isn't that what resolutions are all about? Tricking yourself into doing the very thing you don't want to do, the thing you've been avoiding, the Right Thing? For me, that would probably be quit smoking, drink less beer, and schedule my children for more organized activity. Oh, and maybe eat regular meals. But what's the point of any of that? I'd be miserable and cranky!

The whole resolution thing is like New Year's in general--forcing everyone to do something they don't necessarily want to do right then. After Christmas, everyone's exhausted, broke, and debauched, but nooooo. You have to roll right into New Year's, and dammit, you have to have a good time! And then you have to resolve--not promise, not suppose, not hope, but RESOLVE--that you're going to do something completely un-fun for the next year. It's as though the hangover is supposed to get you moving in the right direction. All my hangover did was convince me not to go out next New Year's. Thank you very much, I'll just stay here and watch the Trading Spaces marathon and eat frozen hors d'oeuvres.

I understand the purgative/repentant symbolism of this whole weird holiday, but I can't really relate. If I denied myself all year and had this one day of letting loose, it might mean more. But the fact is, who denies themselves any more? And after Christmas, even, when everyone's gone overboard with everything.

I think New Year's should take place in March or something. At least then we'd all be depressed enough to think that going out and drinking three bottles of wine was maybe a good idea, or at least medically necessary.