Friday, April 27, 2012


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"To tear flesh"

I try to read daily and I try, daily, to read something that I label broadly "spiritual" although what I usually mean by that is something to make me think about my life and how I impact others. 

While pursuing that mental / spiritual exercise last week, I read a little blurb about sarcasm.  The blurb was discussing about how sarcasm is a tool in our arsenal to protect ourselves emotionally.  I believe the word "repugnant" was used to describe the use of it, and we, the readers, were encouraged to eliminate sarcasm from our lives.

Noble pursuit, and not the first time I've read something that has caused me to think about my own use of sarcasm.  Sarcasm has been my friend for most of my life.  I'd like to think that I didn't use it to keep *people* at a distance, but instead to keep me at a distance from situations that were uncomfortable.  To make light of things in my life that were not as wonderful as I might want them to be.  Instead of directly complaining or addressing the situations - usually because I was or felt powerless to change them - instead I made "light" of them (or so I have believed) to distance their importance to me.

Y'know the situation.  When you tell someone else - not the person responsible - how much you LOVE it when someone forgets to pick you up after school.  How GREAT it is when your parents fight.  How you've ALWAYS wanted to take six buses and walk three miles to get to your favorite place (like home?). 

Sarcasm was my friend.  As a kid, I was powerless to change the situations.  So, I would *say* the words that suggested I was "happy" about them.  Maybe to convince myself.  But cerrtainly as a coping mechanism to distance me from them. 

With the lens of an adult, I am unsure just how bad my adolescence really was.  At the time, there seemed to be a lot of challenges.  At the time, I was a bit of a melodramatic teenager.  It was my job as teenager.  In the bigger picture of life, I had a roof over my head, food on the table, and clothes on my back.  As an adult, I have learned to appreciate these simple blessings.  Although, even now, I hope for more in my life than just these basics.

I'd like to think that I don't use sarcasm as a tool against others.  But I do not know.  It is impossible for me to step back far enough to know how I use it, because once I get to that place, I think more before actually using it.  Which, I guess, is a good thing.

But this last week, I have been thinking more strongly than before about the use of sarcasm as a result of what I read in this blurb.  And I think, once you read this, you, too, will think twice before you next choose to wield sarcasm as a "tool".  The passage said that sarcasm comes from the Greek word which means "to tear flesh". 

For the most part, I would have said that my use of sarcasm is harmless.  Or mostly harmless.  But when can the tearing of flesh ever be harmless?  Even the tiniest paper cut can really hurt and sting. 

How differently would we communicate with each other if we could see the literal wounds we inflict when we speak?  How much gentler, kinder, and more thoughtful would we be?  If we could see the way we make others bleed, how could we continue to act in that manner? 

I think we have a responsibility to think about our communications with each other and think more clearly about how what we say might affect others.  That by our words, we might "tear flesh". 

We may say that sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me, but we all know that this is something we tell ourselves and that words do hurt.  So take care when you speak to others and be gentle with each other. 

The dance...

The beginnings of a new relationship are a dance.  One steps forward, and the other steps back.  The other steps forward, and the partner steps back.  Back and forth in concert with each other.

Sounds lovely and fluid and well choreographed. 

And maybe, sometimes, it is. 

It's really been a number of years since I've really done the dance.  And while I love to LITERALLY dance a lot, this dance I don't have a lot of experience with doing.

I have been, for the most part, a serial monogamist.  Going from one long-term relationship to the next, and each one increasing in length, suggesting that MAYBE I learned something from the one before. 

Frankly, I don't think it's that I learned anything, as much as I think that the more mature we get, the more realistic we enter into a relationship, the better chance of success it has. 


Remember those first dances in junior high? Uncertain whether a boy (or a girl) was going to ask you to dance.  And then if you did dance, wondering what it meant?  Would he (or she) try to kiss you?  And if they did, would that mean you're going out?  And didn't it always seem more significant and serious if the dance they asked you for was a *slow* dance?  Where do the hands go?  Again, what does it mean?

There was a dance to the dance. 


In both circumstances, the question is, do they like me?  And do they like me the way that I like them?  That's the dance.  How do you express that you like someone?  There's the timing, the intensity of expression, the manner of expression.  An ask to a dance.  A touch of the knee.  A hug.  A kiss.  Oh, and then there's the words: "I like you".  But that's too simple.  "I want you."  "I love you"  "I love spending time with you."

There are so many potential steps to take in this dance. 


People liked "The Rules" - for those who liked the Rules - for the same reason I like country line dancing.  I like line dancing because I don't have to think about what the next step is, I'm not free-forming it and worrying that I look like an idiot to others.  Once I feel comfortable with the basic steps, there is room to add my own flair and style, but simply competently following the steps is enough to make me look good.  Or at least okay.  And I don't have to think too much or wonder too much about what others might be thinking of me.

The Rules were designed to take that awkwardness out of the situation.  A lot of simple if, thens.  If he asks you out after Wednesday night, say "no".  Let him contact you x number of times before you respond, etc.

I'm not a Rules girl.  By a long shot.  But in a world of women with low self-esteem who jump on anything that sorta moves in their direction, showing some restraint, and culling the herd by waiting until a real interest is shown makes some sense. 

It is easy to get something in your head, and pursue it so strongly you don't pay attention to what is really happening.

When building a fire, in real life, there is often a time where blowing on the fire can help it grow.  But you have to pay attention to the intensity of the air and where it is applied so that you don't overpower the tender flame and blow it out.  The Rules are designed to keep one from blowing too hard and extinguishing the flame that might actually be there.


The dance can be fun.  That's what I keep telling myself. 

Twenty Two Days

Blogging is NOT an easy business.  I follow several bloggers and now I have even greater sympathy when they discuss the efforts they make to ensure that they create time in their schedules to blog.  I appreciate, even more, when I receive entries two days in a row from them (I get e-mails for many of my favorite blogs, you can, too, by hitting one of those options off to the side here on this blog!)

I'd love to blame it all on tulip-girl.  I'd love to tell you that we'd embarked upon a wild tumultuous passionate affair, and frankly, I've been too busy with her to write here. 

Nope.  But thanks for the good wishes, because I know that's what my four regular readers from the Ukraine have been thinking. 

I'd love to blame it on winning the Mega Millions lottery and embarking upon a whirlwind charitable world tour.  Because, of course, that's what I would do if I won Mega Millions - I'd travel the world being charitable to others.  Isn't that at the top of your list? To give it away to others?  That's what I thought.

Nope.  But thanks for the good wishes, because I know that's what my four regular readers from the Ukraine have been thinking. 

I can blame it on ADD, and on life, and on you (why not? Oh, yeah, because if I start blaming things on you, you might stop reading...).

First, there was Holy Week.  Being involved in my church meant I actually attended all four services leading up to and including Easter Sunday.  That wiped me out.  For weeks.  Actually, seriously. 

Then there is the ADD-thing.  Habits and structure are a big part of getting things done (if you get things done) with ADD.  So I got out of the habit of writing during the tail end of Holy Week and in the weeks recovering. 

You probably thought I forgot all about this.  I hadn't. 

And, well, actually, tulip-girl has played a part of it, too.  No, we have not embarked upon a wild tumultuous passionate affair.  Yet.  But we have been spending time together and getting to know each other more.  We haven't even kissed.  Yet.  But the signs of interest continue to accrue.  A touch here, a touch there.  Some of my friends say it is just a matter of time. 

Well, then, time will tell. And, as I keep returning to, resistance is futile. 

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Likes and Hearsay

Law schools annually try to teach a somewhat simple concept that becomes convoluted to poor little law students:  Hearsay.  Which is defined by the Federal Rules of Evidence as:  "statement, other than one made by the declarant while testifying at the trial or hearing, offered in evidence to prove the truth of the matter asserted."

Part of the difficulty in understanding the definition of hearsay has to come from poor sentence structure.  I am sure that grammarians who enjoy diagramming sentences find it a challenge.

Which should not be surprising given that evidence teachers have been giving exams and exercises of examples for students to determine whether a statement is hearsay or not.  To make matters even more confusing, the same statement could be hearsay, and might not be hearsay.

Basically a statement is hearsay if it is being given to prove the substance of the statement.  See below.

"John testified that George said, 'The pigs are blue'"

That statement might be hearsay or might not.  If John is testifying to provide evidence that the pigs are blue, then it's hearsay and can't be admitted.  Instead, the lawyers should get George on the stand who saw the blue pigs.  John's statement would be excluded.

If John's testimony is designed to prove that George is nuts, then the statement is admissible.  (Although, "nuts" has to be explained and determined by a series of expert witnesses who provide the foundation for what can be determined as "nuts"... but that's a whole other barrel of fun in the law)

Seems simple enough.

I was thinking about the various scenarios of hearsay this morning as I was thinking about "like"ing in Facebook.

So often we hit "like" not because we like the content of the statement - "Jimmy fell on his face and all he managed to break was an eyelash".  I'd like it because it made me laugh, but not because I like that Jimmy fell on his face. 

And that makes things complicated.  So, instead of clicking "like" we'll write convoluted statements like, "This is so wrong to like but man I cracked up!"

Or clarify that it made us laugh by something simple as "lol".

But I have noticed a pattern of friends liking all the comments to their Facebook statuses.  Despite the fact that it's election season, and so I should be suspicious of these things, I do NOT think it is a conspiracy to boost their own popularity (although, clearly, I acknowledge the possibility). 

It's one thing when you've done something great, and then everyone gives you encouragement in response to your status.  Those make sense to "like".  I've seen someone ask for a recommendation, and then seen the status poster like everyone's suggestion (except mine? What's wrong with suggesting cleaning out your toaster while it's still plugged in with a metal knife?).   I assume, sometimes, these are a way of saying "thank you for your suggestion".

And then there are times when I think we get stuck. We have started to like folks that if we don't continue liking everything in sight, we are afraid we might hurt someone. 

But the point is that I recognize that sometimes, when we hit "like" on Facebook, it isn't because we like the "truth of the matter asserted", but simply because we were amused or grateful or felt some other positive feeling and that was our only (lazy?) option to express it. 

Or, really, it is all just a popularity contest...

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

The devil you know? The grass is greener?

I have been spending a lot of time thinking about a new opportunity.  Something potentially exciting, something potentially fun, something potentially wonderful.

But also something potentially complicated, potentially full of drama, and potentially explosive and harmful.

We judge such things against what we already know, or have known.  How much is x like y? 

It is easy to stay stuck in something we already know.  Something we have become comfortable with and know how to handle and what to expect.

It is easy to crave what we once had and once enjoyed, and to get stuck in that, rather than take a chance on something new.  To see if the grass is greener. 

It is tough because sometimes something new reminds us of something old - something we may not have anymore outside our memory, but may want or wish we still had.  Will this something new ever live up to our idealized memories?  Is it fair to compare?

Maybe not.  But we do.  It's the only way we humans can process new information and new things, to compare them and understand them within the experience that we have already had. 

It can make something new bittersweet if we're not careful. 

I think we are supposed to find a way to treasure the past, but embrace the future.  When we get married, the tradition is to wear something old, and something new.  In Girl Scouts, we sing the song "Make new friends, but keep the old.  One is silver and the other gold." 

The cool thing, though, is that over time, those "silver" friends become "gold", so it is worthwhile to take chances, to try something new, because one day, it will be something old which we cherish with fondness and perhaps a slight lonigng, too.  And it may be what we use to compare the next new thing. 

Embrace the opportunity.  Because resistance is futile.