Category Archives: Life

Shredding

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Everyone has annoyances. Things that drive them up a wall. I present the following for your consideration.

  • When people say crap like “I killed abs at the gym today” or “I shredded some pecs today.”

Dammit people. I’m proud of you for having more willpower and masochism than I. I don’t even mind that you are proud of yourself for dragging your butt to the gym and working out because I sure didn’t today and probably won’t. You earned a bit of brag time. You did not earn the right to make up phrases that make no contextual sense. Unless your workout began with running from your life from a freakin’ werewolf who briefly caught you across the chest with razor sharp claws, tearing apart skin and muscle and ended with you snapping his wolfy neck with your bare hands, you didn’t kill anything. Nothing was shredded. Those words don’t have anything to do with the activity in which you just partook. Yes, I know. Slang. I use it too. But in this instance I’m wholly and unabashedly applying a double standard. You sound like a moron. Stop it. Stop it right now.

Work out, burn, shape, condition, train...all acceptable descriptions of what's going on here. If he's killing something its because of roid rage.

Work out, burn, shape, condition, train…all acceptable descriptions of what’s going on here.

  • When people feel that the amount of experience they have is always relevant in a conversation.

Especially when trying to solve a problem. Don’t get me wrong, experience counts for a lot and I respect those people who have been in the industry for any decent duration of time. I go to them for advice and consider many of them mentors. But the minute you feel the need to remind folks “Well, I’ve been here for 14 years…” it invalidates any argument you have made, will make or could have made.   To me this signifies you feel you are losing the debate and are throwing the adult version of a temper tantrum. It happens constantly in the writing world. Struggling with a plot line and someone chimes in their gem of “Well in my seventeen years of writing, I’ve never seen that work out.” If you truly have  garnered significant experience in a field, career or problem that needs solving, it is because you paid attention in the last x number of years and you apply those lessons learned to actually solving the bloody problem! Now tell me that this person tried this same thing and failed because of x and y and z and you have my rapt attention. On that note, doesn’t matter if a person has been around twenty-five years or two months; a good idea, well thought-out and applicable, is still a good idea.

  • Crinkling chip bags.

Oh, I hate that sound. Back in 2010, these nearly made my head implode.  You’d think I’d be skinnier for my extreme aversion to the tinny, plastic-y squeal of rustling chip bags. Nope. I dump my discs of potato goodness into a plastic container for freshness and easy access.

  • Stupid grammar rules.

Let’s get one thing straight. Most grammar rules are fantastic. It’s unifies the effort to communicate with each other, creating smooth and fluid structures under which we understand each other and express ideas and opinions. But there are some grammar rules that are just stupid. This particular struggle makes my career of choice just a little more irksome from time to time. As a writer, I know what the rules are. I think they are stupid. But I have to follow them.   For instance, split infinitives. Who the hell came up with that? Why does it matter at all if I say “To boldly go” or “To go boldly”? It doesn’t. It doesn’t matter at all. The exact same idea has been communicated with no mix-up as to intent. Someone is going boldly. It’s the rule of monkeys at this point and has been a long-standing debate. And why can’t you start a sentence with a conjunction or end a sentence with a preposition?  Seriously, its a weird position I’ve put myself in.

On an slightly related note, commas confuse me. I don’t consider commas a subsection of stupid grammar rules. Just know that figuring out where these dumb things go manages to flip my brain out.     ,

These are not real problems. No one will die as a consequence for any of these things. (Well maybe for the chip bag thing should that Sun Chips bag ever be revived…) They are just annoyances, things that make me go just a little twitchy. That’s all.

Pickles, Revisited

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After a post on Facebook by a friend struggling with opening a pickle jar reminded me of this post, I decided to repost it. It was a good memory in a weird way. This was originally posted on 12-14-2010.)

I had a mild psychotic episode tonight.  Over a jar of pickles. Nothing is more frustrating than a jar of pickles.  No, really.  I love pickles. They are tasty, green and a decently healthy snack if you ignore the sodium.  I like things that are green. I hate the jar pickles come in. I can open juice bottles and beers and peanut butter jars and even those god-forsaken juice pouches you have to stab the little straw into.  But pickle jars annoy the hell out of me.

I mean really, the things are soaked in a brine that is more salt than liquid.  In a pinch it can be used as embalming fluid. You can leave a jar of pickles in the fridge for over a year and the damn things are still edible.  How fresh do they need to stay that the lids need to be clamped on quite so tightly?

I was actually doing fine with struggling against it. I had already used the knife-tapping trick and was about to bang the edge of the lid on the counter when the errant thought occurred to me.  A single errant thought that sent me into a rampage.

“Chris would be handy right-about now.” Chris being Christian, my ex-husband.

No sooner had the thought floated across my brain that I had a total melt-down and a small crisis of identity soon followed. If I couldn’t open a jar of pickles by myself, how then would I support my daughter? How could I expect myself to maintain a budget and keep my daughter out of trouble and repair the car? I had spent so long in the company of someone else that I was no longer sure how to function sans that presence, useless as it may have been. I was near tears, fully in the throes of pickle-induced panic; the salty, chartreuse waves of self-doubt that threatened to overcome logic.

But threaten is all they could do. After all I was an independent strong woman.  I am intuitive and ingenious and innovative and all those empowering “in-” words chronically single women employ to make themselves feel better. I have left my life of constant company and the mild comfort in that comes in not being physically alone, even if you are emotionally alone. I left in favor of freedom and overcame great obstacles like touching roach traps in my newly single life.  Little things like opening a pickle jar would not defeat me.

Thirty minutes later, some very distinct curse words I’d not yet had the chance to employ, and a hammer later I sat on my kitchen floor eating a pickle spear.  The southwest corner of my kitchen was dripping with pickle juice  and broken glass, but I had my pickle spear, no husband needed to retrieve.  It’s a small victory.  But an important one.

 

Wow, over two years since a moment with pickles. Lots has changed. I’m happy to report I’ve done fine with the bill-paying and child-rearing.  My life has moved forward in monumental ways. For instance, after learning how to live independently and enjoy my own identity, I’m learning how to do that with another human. But I’m pretty sure I’ll never ask him to open a jar of pickles…

Practice Might Make Perfect

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I suck at practicing. On my own that is. When surrounded by a group or compelled through other means of passive aggressive guilt trips I do just fine. I pay attention, accept critique, and strive to improve. But as for self-motivated, make-yourself-better practice, I really suck.

Nearly a year and a half ago, I was in the then newly-formed worship band at a local church and all the other instruments were covered. Keyboards, drums, a variety of guitars; all had been lovingly brought forth by their owners to contribute. I was vocals. Lead vocals, but still just vocals. This wasn’t odd; plenty of bands, worship or otherwise, have had front(wo)men armed only with a good set of lungs and a pretty voice. It just meant I had to figure out what to do with my awkwardly empty hands. So with no bassist stepping forward to fill the void, I picked bass guitar.

I got my hands on a loaner bass guitar and attacked Google. Yes, Google taught me how to play an instrument. As with all my projects I set upon this one with extreme fervor. A week of mild obsession followed and I had the basics figured out. For the record, beginning bass is not complicated, particularly for the musically inclined.  My fingers were constantly on fire and the moment I found out anyone played any version of guitar I felt the need to show off my newly forming callouses.  Two weeks later I figured it was sink or swim, so I played the bass for the worship set in church. It worked. So I kept going. My fervor for practicing had already begun to fade.

Time marched on, I continued playing weekly at practice and worship service and eventually a kind donation from an anonymous benefactor plus a bit of earnest saving bought me my very own silver Yamaha bass guitar. I play it twice a week, every week, but recently realized I’m not getting any better. I’m maintaining status quo.

I now find myself staring at the bass players anytime I watch a band perform. Their nimble, strong fingers fly across the neck, working those four cursed strings for all they are worth. There are rhythms and walks and beautiful arpeggios that weave underneath the rest of the music. A bit more Googling and I find terms I couldn’t begin to define. Slap-bass, tapping, dual plucking. And chords. Chords are possible on a bass. After watching a few videos and trying a few of the “easier” ones myself I decided that my left hand will need professional attention from those creepy Asian children in Cirque De Soleil to fold that way. Either that or I need finger extension surgery.

When did I go from that awesome chick who taught herself to play bass to that chick who thinks she can play bass? About the time I stopped practicing I suppose. So about a week after the idea popped into my head.

Sure, over time I’ve gotten better. A year and a half of anything and you are bound to show some improvement.  The sounds are more fluid and my hand naturally moves from note to note. It doesn’t really require much in the way of thought anymore. That might be a good thing but I don’t think it is in this case. Music should always require thought. That’s sort of the point. Anything you give your time to, as precious as your time on this Earth is, should always require thought and care and effort.  When it becomes mindless something has gone wrong. Mindless actions lead to boredom and burn-out. It’s the challenge that keeps us coming back to something. The opportunity to conquer, learn, improve drives us to keep doing stuff.

So how do I conquer this? I’ve heard practice makes perfect. Maybe I’ll give that a shot.

Update: Over a year has elapsed since the original posting of this. The gig has since ended and my bass has gone woefully unpracticed and unplayed. Thus it is looking for a new home and a new opportunity to grow the love of music in someone else’s heart.