Friday, 24 May 2013

A Funny Thing About Me

As loyal readers know, I have a system whereby if an issue crops up on three or more occasions (THREE FLASHING RED LIGHTS) in a short space of time, I feel that I have a need to muse on it, and this is how I muse. "Out loud" as it were.

Before I begin, I want to offer a disclaimer, and a disclaimer on a disclaimer. Possibly a disclaimer on a disclaimer on a disclaimer.

We all use our blogs differently and I tend to use this, as I said, to muse out loud. Not so much to talk about personal stuff. Two reasons really: this is a public blog, and I have no desire to discuss personal stuff that will end up on a Google search, and also, well, there isn't really a lot of personal stuff to discuss. Now that makes no sense, hence the explanation, and second disclaimer.

Obviously I do have a "personal life". And it's busy and full. But, out of choice it's very peaceful (to the best of my abilities) and therefore not really exciting enough to share. I suppose that's a matter of POV, and I've had people say I should write my life story. I fail to see why.

Now I like to tell stories, don't get me wrong. Give me an audience and I will perform. But all about me? I don't think so. Sure, I'm talking about my experiences, but there's far more to a story than that (which is why you get fishermen' s tales of course), and I like to entertain. I do. I'll come back to that.

But to just talk about myself? As if I was something to examine? Ye Gods, how boring would that get for you?

No, no, no. I've read 'em. Blogs which are deep studies of the writer's bellybutton. I don't know, maybe other people like to read them, but I don't, so I don't write them. Same reason I don't write poetry (let's not even go there). I love a biography, yes I do, but I like them - different. Russell Brand's "My Booky Wook" was excellent. Stephen Fry's "Moab Is My Washpot". Very different. Very good. No bellybutton views.

Of course, this is assuming the writer has a deep bellybutton to gaze into. I am a very, very uncomplicated person. If you chat to me, in person, for about an hour, you know me. That's all there is folks. I have no surprises for ya.

Have you ever had dinner guests who got a bit tipsy and poured out all of their emotional baggage? God help us. I get confused. Women are supposed to be good at that and I'm not, I'm really not. I get a deer in headlights look. What do I do? Give her a hug? I have no idea. Out of my comfort zone.

Last night my husband was thoughtless, and my daughter has "pregnancy hormones" (I never did, but I'll take her word for it) and he made her cry. Her brothers looked startled. It was just Dad being a man, what the hell brought the tears on? Lots of shuffling of feet.

And what does Mum do? Tells him it was unnecessary and uncouth and walks out the room.

We watched an unexpectedly L-O-N-G DVD (more on that in a moment, it's one of the FLASHING RED LIGHTS, as was my husband's little oops there) and so bedtime came late. Then I was cold and took ages to get to sleep, finally giving in and finding another layer, but it kept going round in my head, why do I react (or not, in fact, as the case may be) the way I do, and could I do better?

Finally this morning I got a telling off, and probably rightly so, for my reply on somebody's FB post, for going off-topic. That was the third one.

So, here's the funny thing about me. I really do have a quirk. I don't see it as a quirk, but obviously it IS because it seems to be a minority thing. I'm not even sure how to describe it, so let's offer the examples, and you'll see what I mean (unless you've dozed off by now).

Exhibit A: Husband doing exactly the opposite of what I'm talking about. Opening his mouth before engaging his brain. What happened was this. Sian, still recuperating from the virus we've had go round here this week, couldn't finish her dinner, so she was going to put her plate on the floor, the signal to the dogs that it's open season on leftovers. Alas, Bowser is such a great clumsy brute that he was in it before it was on the floor, which tossed it in the air and it broke as it landed. Martin reacted in a split-second. I don't recall what he said, but it was loud and in such a tone that Sian burst into tears. Her brother asked her if she was OK. She said "No, I'm pregnant and when people yell at me I cry." I was annoyed at Martin for the hair-trigger reaction, and said "In any case, nobody should be yelling at anybody". It was calm, and in a very neutral tone, but a chilly silence lowered over the room, and then, as noted above, I added my "un" comments and left.

My kids have said many times that they find my calm, quiet but firm statements far more scary than their father's more excitable way of responding to stimuli. I assure you, world, that it's not done intentionally to creep anyone out. This is just who I am. I am analytical rather than reactive. Odd, for an Aries, but there it is. I think it's just the way I was brought up and having no desire to do it any differently. I don't like conflict, so I see no point on trying to put out a fire with gasoline. I seek peace and harmony, and it just comes naturally. I'm not repressing anything, I'm not judging those who boil over fast (although I think they cause themselves more problems that way, see memes about "Letting Go" currently doing the rounds on social media for advice there. State your case and move on folks) this is just me.

Exhibit B: The DVD. I bought Martin a boxed set of a 90s British TV show called Cracker, starring Robbie Coltrane. Coltrane plays a criminal psychologist who works with police. It's described as a crime drama (Wikipedia says it's structured like Columbo, not sure about that) but there is a lot of humour in it, and in one scene last night I laughed so hard, it was the funniest line I've heard in a long, long time. Anyway, we're new to this, and the story we watched last night was, unbeknown to me, 3 episodes. (And also the second story, not quite sure how that happened). Beside the point.

Two things there really. One, Coltrane's character, Fitz, described as an anti-hero. His marriage is falling apart and it's obvious why. But his wife obviously still loves him very much, and, again, it's obvious why. A VERY complicated man. A genius. A very self-destructive person. Caring. Emotionally abusive. Funny. Pain in the arse. Two women crazy about him, but neither of them can bear to be with him for long. Good grief.

What I saw in him was an extreme. Nothing different per se, but a complex human in extremis. Fascinating. Wouldn't want to live with him, don't think I could even put up with him for an evening, but what an incredible person to watch. Why are such awful people so appealing?

On the other hand the two "baddies" in the story were both clinically insane, but in different ways. Also compellingly interesting, at an intellectual level, but completely unappealing. Scary. But necessary, obviously, for such a story.

So, there we were sitting watching their psychopathic behaviour, and I was paying close attention to the plot, while Martin reacted. "What a pair of sick bastards!". What went through my mind there was, why did he feel the need to say that? And out loud? I mean - it's obvious they are sick bastards.

Please understand, I am not criticizing him. Nor am I surprised. I've known the man long enough. That's how he is, he vents. And he's not alone. In fact I assume the writers want you to have that reaction.

Did he say a word about Fitz? No. Fitz is too ordinary a bloke. Extreme, yes, but just a bloke. Fitz is not a nutter. Nutters have to be commented on, apparently. Bear with me here.

Exhibit C: A friend posted an FB post about a news item. It was clearly an unjustified act. One of many. I see them all the time. Sometimes, if they are posted on a group with a lot of members there might be 100 comments underneath, all saying the same thing. I don't bother adding anything. Somebody has already echoed my thoughts. It's not that I'm not bothered by the injustice - you've seen my rants here sometimes - I feel it.

So this morning, I skipped saying anything about the post topic, and responded to a comment further down the thread. Probably should have minded my own business there too, but I felt I had a DIFFERENT angle to offer, not something that had already been said. Isn't that what group discussion is about?

Melanie, you think too much. And too quickly. But there it is.

Having been chided, gently, for going off-topic, I apologized and offered my agreement that the issue was unjustified. The other issue I'll address separately (it also a very interesting one) but graciously NOT on that thread, having been asked. Good manners, etc.

So those are the three. Can you see the connection? Because I can. It's my quirk, my attitude, my way of doing things that is different. Not wrong, and not right necessarily, either, but different.

Why have I chosen to suddenly go diving straight into my own navel and analyze myself, in public, over THIS?

I'll tell you. There is some idea out there that there really is a right or a wrong way to react. This goes, in part, back to blogs I've written recently about ideas of what is normal, and also to that whole concept of "should".

If, and I think it's so, that the majority of people react openly, vocally, etc, even if it's repetitive, or unnecessary, then that is going to be considered normal, at least within limits. And I'll tell you this, everyone has their limits. Oh yes. Every single person can be heard to accuse another of over-reacting. That pot calls that kettle black so often it takes my breath away. And because I don't react the same way, I tend to be seen with my mouth open when it happens. When I hear the words "calm down" coming from a person who is known to explode at small things. Blink blink. I hear it constantly, on and offline. Among the famous and the unknown. The young and old. All genders. All cultures. I hear people SHOUT at others to calm down.

And all of this is "OK" because that's people.

But if you do stay calm, it's different. If you do wait until a person has finished speaking before you chime in, you're an anomaly. If you give a situation time to sink in before deciding what to say or do, you're unsettling. If you check to see if your opinion has been covered before commenting, you're even possibly thought of as not caring.

Sometimes you know, I pretend. It's the thinker's equivalent of faking orgasm (something I don't do, and don't approve of, since you ask). Sometimes I gasp, or tut, or say "WOW" when really, my mind is still in "collecting data" mode. We are taught to do this, because knee-jerk emotional reactions are considered normal, and even applauded.

I'm not a robot. I can get annoyed, I can get excited, I can be shocked, horrified, and disgusted, but apparently not as readily as I'm SUPPOSED to. The automatic philosopher inside me is far, far more likely to ask further questions. And as I've said on more than one occasion to those of you who've known me a while, I will frequently forget to sympathize when it's expected, because I'm fully occupied with thinking up a solution to a problem.

Some say it's lateral thinking. Some just think I'm cold.

Some people appreciate it, which is great, but it's obviously a problem, just the same, if I am unintentionally offending people by spending more time thinking than going "OHMIGOD!".

I am aware that what we have here is neither a fault or an asset but just a personality quirk that could help or harm depending on use, and therefore by its very nature (analysis) I will make the effort to choose wisely, and try to concentrate on its positive aspects.

In the meantime, do you think you lot could calm the fuck down please?


  1. If you do wait until a person has finished speaking before you chime in, you're an anomaly.
    You may also lose the opportunity to comment on a point before the tirade moves on.
    Yours faithfully, Doormat.

    1. And there we go to the other extreme. There's a nice balance in there somewhere:)

    2. I don't believe there is a balance Melanie. Everything relies on the interpretation of others when commenting. You have to know the audience. It is simply not possible to know how the brain of another may work so you have to choose; if the subject is important and needs another perspective? You offer one. It may be appreciated and accepted or you may get it back, upside your head, in no uncertain terms. Either way, just as everyone else has a choice to voice their opinion, so do you. It is my experience that the concept of freedom of speech/opinion is relative to the situation and individuals involved in a discussion; something I try to remember but am not always successful :(

    3. I can't argue with any of that.

      My kids don't agree with what I wrote. They say my "calmness" comes across not as peaceful, but as "final". A very loud sort of quiet. It's true I am a master of "the look". I don't even know I'm doing it. This is what I love about aging, you know, the incredible cosmic power.