Category: Rants and Such


I’m having a musical meltdown at work.  Not a fun, jazz-hands and highly choreographed spontaneous dance number style musical meltdown, but the plain old boring kind where I can’t find anything to listen to that doesn’t make me want to stab pencils into my ears.  Or Sharpie fine point permanent markers, which is what I actually write with.

The crux of the problem is that there is only a limited amount of music deemed “work appropriate” for our office/cheery gift store.  Apparently our core demographic of middle aged women (who aren’t my mother) have no appreciation for the musical stylings of Rob Zombie!  Or any sort of rock n roll from the 1950s to the 1970s, which is funny to me because most of them probably listened to it growing up or maybe even had to rebel against their parents to buy a Mick Jagger crotch shot (aka Sticky Fingers).  At what point did anything stronger than Norah Jones become unpalatable?  Then again, maybe these same women spent the 60s listening to Mitch Miller and Pat Boone and abhorring those over-sexed moptops. 

Anyway, as I said there aren’t many options for work music.  We have satellite radio, which contains bazillions of stations; unfortunately, only a few of them are safe for our customers’ ears.  Our owner likes Coffee House, which features such soft rock codswallop as John Mayer and horrific instrumental renditions of formerly good rock songs and even instrumentals of already acoustic songs by the likes of Simon & Garfunkel (I prefer Garfunkel & Oates).  It should go without saying that this station makes me want to employ the stabby Sharpie.  Boss Lady also approves of the Sinatra station, and I originally thought this would be an excellent alternative to stabbing myself, as I love Ole Blue Eyes, but it turns out the Sinatra station plays far less Frank than it does weepy Broadway ballads and an unholy amount of South Pacific.  (“Happy Talk” makes me want to cry.  Irony?) 

This leaves me with “40s on 4,” a pretty good mix of swing, big band, and delightfully dated propaganda songs (of which “Hot Time in the Town of Berlin” is my favorite, containing as it does the line “we’re going to change that ‘heil’ to ‘give me some skin!’”).  Now, I like the Andrews Sisters as much as the next gal, and I can’t hear “Papa Loves Mambo” without doing a little dance, but there’s only so much one can hear of a single genre of music without craving some variety.  Also, despite seemingly having 10 years worth of music to choose from, the 40s station plays a rotation of the same songs day in and day out, and when you listen for 8 straight hours at a time, it starts to grate on the nerves.

Come on, I reminded myself, you have bazillions of stations!  Surely there must be something else you can listen to!  So this week I’ve been working my way through the likeliest contenders.  The Loft, despite being described as “contemporary eclectic” played an obscene amount of reggae (and I can only go Bob Marley deep into reggae) on Tuesday, then did nothing but talk talk talk on Tuesday.  The first song I heard on The Bridge was by Fleetwood Mac, instant disqualification.  Radio Margaritaville?  We can probably skip that one.  Love Songs?  Gag.  Escape?  Break out the Sharpies!  So guess what I’m still listening to?  The 40s on 4!  Oh well.  Truer lyrics were never written than “There Ain’t Nobody Here But Us Chickens.”  

T

Yeah, Reality Bites

As one could easily discern from previous rants on this page, I’m trying to figure out what to do with my life.  Elders are supposed to ooze wisdom, so I’ve been asking various people in different fields what they recommend.  So far this has garnered useless “advice” like follow your heart and it’ll all work itself out.  Much as it annoys me, I expected that kind of answer.  I was prepared with retorts like, “But what if your heart doesn’t know what it wants?  What it you don’t have dreams to believe in the power of?”  I was not, however, prepared to respond to the following advice, which will most likely go down in the annals of T history as some of the most useless and vaguely insulting advice ever received: “Why don’t you just get married?”

Seriously?  Why don’t I just get married?  Well, for starters, that’s not a career.  But, the advice-giver argued, if I had someone supporting me, I could pursue all the things I’ve dismissed as being impractical careers, like writing and ghost hunting.  I believe this is roughly how the conversation went:

Me: “So he can leave me for someone younger and prettier once he gets sick of me?”

AG (advice-giver): “Stop being so negative.”

Me: “I don’t want to depend on someone else for my livelihood.  That’s not practical.  And it’s not a career!”

AG: “But think how much happier you’d be with someone to take care of you!”

Me: “It’s not the 1950s!”

It especially disturbed me that this advice was coming from a successful business woman who’d made a name for herself through hard work, dedication and, let’s be honest, a healthy dose of following her dreams.  Aren’t successful women supposed to encourage the next generation to take up the mantle of feminism and glass ceiling-shattering and equal pay for equal work, etc etc?  I guess she didn’t get that memo.    

I could dismiss this as an isolated incident, except variations on this same “find a man and you’ll be happy” scheme seem to be following me around.  This came to my attention last night while viewing the uninteresting film Post Grad.  The main character played by Rory…er, Alexis Bledel finishes college with honors and expects her degree to immediately open doors for her.  Instead, she discovers that hundreds of other eager young applicants are vying for every dream job, and life won’t be nearly as easy as she predicted.  (Duh.)  What disappointed me about this movie, aside from the fact that it wasn’t very good excepting the presence of the wonderful Jane Lynch, was that our heroine finds happiness not in another field, or by going to grad school or taking on a lower-paying job, but by falling in love with her guitar playing best friend (if you didn’t see this coming within the first few minutes of the film, I feel no guilt at spoiling the plot for you). 

I couldn’t help but compare this film unfavorably to my favorite post graduation story, Reality Bites.  But then I realized that as much as I love Reality Bites, the ending is basically the same: honor student Winona Ryder realizes she’s in love with her guitar playing best friend.  Rather than landing a great job or internship, she lands Ethan Hawke (not too shabby, though).  End of story. 

Perhaps the point these films are trying to make is not that finding a cute guy is the key to happiness, but that a career isn’t the answer, either.  Perhaps the point is to surround yourself with people you love and discover what makes you happy, and once you do that, the career stuff will sort itself out. 

So I guess we’re back to following your dreams.  Sigh.

T

It’s lonely being an atheist.  It’s really a believer’s world.  Just saying the word “atheist” puts people on edge.  Believe me, I know.  The reaction I receive the most, though it’s entirely illogical, is “do you worship the devil?”  Well see, the devil is a Biblical character, the evil counterweight to the goodness of God.  You can’t very well believe in the devil (let alone worship it) and not also believe in God.  So no, can’t say I do worship the devil.  Being an atheist doesn’t mean I champion evil and destructive forces in the universe; it simply means I don’t believe in God.  I can’t.  I genuinely admire people born with strong faith.  With the exception of extremists who like to use the Bible to justify all sorts of terrible things, most people who believe in God take great comfort in it.  I would love to have some force in my life to cling to in times of distress or uncertainty; the idea that some benevolent force is interested in my well being is truly lovely.  But the problem is, I just don’t believe it.  I tried for most of my youth to reconcile what I heard in church and confirmation classes with what I really felt, but it couldn’t be done.  I want to believe, but I don’t.  So where does that leave me?

A pet peeve of mine is being told I’m going to hell for not believing in God (gee, why would that bother me?).  I’ve developed a couple of responses to this that no one’s been able to refute yet:

1.  If you believe that God created everything on earth, then when I was made, God apparently left out the faith component.  Why would I be punished for something completely beyond my control and maybe even predetermined for me by God?

2.  So even if I live my life as best as I can, trying to always do the right thing and not harm anyone, I’ll still burn in hell with deeply awful people like Hitler just because I don’t get anything out of going to church?  How does that make sense?

Really, if a person could choose to live in a world with an all-loving, all-knowing creator rather than an empty, vaguely meaningless existence, who would choose to be an atheist?  Just as the Christians and Muslims I know (I don’t know any Jews or I’d include them, too) didn’t choose to believe in God, I didn’t choose not to.  So take it easy on us atheists.  We’re in the minority, we don’t have a cool best friend like Jesus looking out for us, and this is the final stop on our journey.

T

Is That All There Is?

I have no idea what I want to do with my life.  Actually that’s not true.  I know what I want to do: I want to go to concerts, read as many books as possible, watch at least one movie every day, have dinner with friends…  You get the idea.  But as for what I want to “do with my life” in the career sense, I’m at a loss.  The best I can come up with is a governess for a mysterious, attractively broody gentleman who lives in a crumbling estate on the moors, but those positions are so hard to come by!  Also, I’m not crazy about kids.  Or living in time periods without air conditioning. 

So assuming that becoming Jane Eyre is not a viable career path, I’m left with few options that genuinely appeal to me.  Maybe the problem is that I expect my career to appeal to me.  Millions of people go to work everyday for the sole purpose of obtaining a paycheck, and there’s nothing wrong with that.  It’s just that when I try to peek ahead through the shadowy gauze veiling my future, the thought of spending several decades just getting by Monday-Friday so I can attend the occasional concert or go out with my friends on the weekend makes me want to throw up.  There’s got to be more to life than that, right?  And if there isn’t, then why did I spend gobs of money obtaining a degree and why oh why in Lincoln’s name am I even considering going back for an advanced degree?!  Would a Master’s guarantee me more interesting job options than I have now, or would I still be suffering from the same malaise only with the added burden of an even bigger student loan debt?   

I have a nauseating suspicion that this is it as far as the satisfaction of life goes, so I might as well start getting used to it.  At least until Mr. Rochester accepts my application.

T

Shortcuts

Generally, there are none.  Shortcuts, that is.  At least not when it comes to being healthy, which is something I have very grudgingly come to accept over the last few years.  Perhaps it’s due to this hard-won acceptance that I’m so irked by unhealthy products masquerading as good for you essentials.  Vitamin Water, for instance.  Call me old fashioned, but I just don’t think a liquid calling itself water ought to contain 125 calories per bottle and an entire paragraph of ingredients; in fact, anything longer than the word “water” is too many ingredients! 

I can’t tell you how many women I see wearing those new toning sneakers while sucking down whipped cream and chocolate shavings topped drinks.  I guess toning shoes are better than nothing, but do they really think those FitFlops are going to cancel out the tablespoons of sugar they’re ingesting?  The only thing that’s going to do that is exercise, but exercising is a pain in the ass, so it’s no wonder all of these seemingly effortless weight loss inventions have glutted the market.  Why get all gross and sweaty doing cardio when you can just strap a vibrating device to your stomach while you watch TV?  There’s a part of me that really wants to believe those shortcuts actually work, but then I come back to reality: if it’s too easy, it’s not going to work. 

Recently, someone recommended I check out the book Women, Food and God.  Having read this book, the lady said she now understood that she was gaining weight because she was binge eating to fill a spiritual and emotional space in her life.  Now, I haven’t read this book, so I’m hoping the author’s explanation isn’t that ridiculous and simplified, because I hate it when people break complex psychological principals behind serious, legitimate disorders down into motivations for everyday behavior.  Someone who occasionally indulges in a little too much dessert and feels guilty about it later is simply not in the same boat as a person with an actual eating disorder.  To suggest otherwise is to lessen the awful, life consuming impact disorders have on people’s lives.  It’s like someone claiming they’re OCD because they like to organize their closet by color.

Anyway, books like Women, Food and God (or, more accurately, the interpretations of the people who read them) serve to remove personal responsibility from the equation.  Perhaps you’ve been gaining weight not because you’re hungry for God but because you’re drinking 800 extra calories a day in your supposedly healthy beverages and the only workout your track pants get is walking to your deck chair.  No, that can’t be it!  This attitude annoys me because I know so many people who religiously watch their caloric intake and work hard to burn off extra pounds but still can’t achieve their goals.  Or people for whom medical conditions prevent them from the kind of vigorous exercise necessary for weight loss.  They’ve earned the right to complain about it, unlike people who jump on each successive fitness craze looking for easy answers.

Or maybe I’m wrong, and I’m wasting my time at the gym.  Perhaps the answer lies in a pew rather than on the treadmill.  But I doubt it.  

T

Blessed Be

I find incessant, forcibly upbeat positivity positively soul crushing.  Everywhere I look, uplifting words are emblazoned: believe, dream, wish, faith!  I am particularly disheartened by “blessed,” generally because it’s used to punish me for having negative feelings.  For instance, this week I’m experiencing the joy of having to cancel my check card because a scatter brained waitress gave it to someone else and the restaurant has no idea where it went.  I found the idea of my account information floating around in unknown hands alarming and worrisome.  “There’s nothing to worry about!” an associate comforted me.  “In the grand scheme of things, it’s insignificant.  You still have your health!  Really, we’re so blessed, we have nothing to complain about.” 

But…it’s my god given right as an American to complain, loud and often, about whatever I want!  Isn’t that what makes this country great?  It’s not that I’m ungrateful for my good health or good fortune in life.  Truly, I thank my lucky stars.  But I don’t see why the misfortune of others should prevent me from finding things in my own life annoying.  Does the fact that someone has cancer suddenly make being stuck in traffic for three hours not frustrating?  Does it make hearing a customer say the shop I preside over is “junky” less insulting? 

I’ve tried in earnest to go the positive route.  I even read an entire book on positive thinking and toiled daily to implement its suggestions.  The end result?  My complaints took on a new and refreshing zeal (example: “These shoes are hurting my feet, but at least my legs aren’t broken!”  Not sure the sarcasm registers in type, but I assure you it was there.).  My life has been a series of battles between my inner Daria and my outer Deepak Chopra.  Daria always wins because moroseness is apparently in my nature, but Chopra does try, mainly because I want people to like me.  Some people do.  And really, if I believe in the power of my dreams and have faith in my blessed friends, it’ll all work out!          

T

What is it with the dorky boy / hot girl hook-up that’s so prevalent in pop culture? More importantly, why does it never work the other way around? Guys might hook up with the “weird” girl (read: inclination toward black nail polish and artistic endeavors) or the girl-from-the-wrong-side-of-the-tracks (with a heart of gold underneath those scanty clothes!), but these girls are invariably still attractive. Or they will be once they remove those offending glasses and ponytails. The closest instance I can think of is Twilight, but that doesn’t even count really, because the protagonist only thinks she’s plain, whereas every boy in sight begs to differ.

So what does this trend mean for humankind? Are women less shallow than men, despite all evidence to the contrary? Perhaps it’s a status thing. People gravitate toward power and money, and for a woman, her appearance is currency. A guy can be awkward and dorky and still get the hot girl so long as he has his own currency—actual currency in this case. Normal people, on the other hand, seem to gravitate toward their equal opposites. All other things being equal, beautiful people mate with beautiful people (something about keeping the blood lines pure) and the rest of us boring schmucks are left to stick together.

But wait! There is a light on the horizon: Awkward, unconventionally attractive Nia Vardalos did get the tall and very nice looking John Corbett in My Big Fat Greek Wedding, a film she wrote. So apparently there’s an important lesson to be learned from all of this: write your own life story, and you get to cast a hot person as your love interest.

T

I Won’t Back Down

Dear fellow concert goer,

It’s awesome that you love Tom Petty as much as we do and want to let him know. Your method of sharing this affection—whistling and screaming “Wooooo!” at the top of your lungs—may leave something to be desired, but hey, you’re excited. We get it. However, being young fogies, we can only take so much. In light of this, we offer a few suggestions to enhance everyone’s concert going enjoyment:

 If “Free Fallin’” gets you so excited you find yourself incapable of not groping your girlfriend’s ass, please get a room. Go to the bathroom, hole up in your car, at the very least sit down in your seats. Don’t make out in the aisle. It’s gross, and it’s a fire hazard.

 People can see you. When it’s a floor show, and everyone’s crammed together jumping around, you’re welcome to dance to your heart’s content. But when it’s assigned seating and you’re still on your feet hosting a one-woman hoedown, that’s just plain embarrassing.

 Watch the show with your eyes. Crazy concept, I know! Why spend several hours squinting at the show through the screen of your camera when you simply look up and see the concert right in front of you, live?

 Try to remember there are other people around you who would like to hear more than just the greatest hits. Funny how the jumping drunk girls who drown out “American Girl” with their caterwauling suddenly need to have conversations or run in and out of the building as soon as the band busts out “Drivin’ Down to Georgia.”

 For Franklin’s sake, please stop honking in the parking ramp. There’s a lineup. We’re all waiting to get out. Honking and yelling out of your window is not, amazingly, going to make traffic move any faster. Also, the concert is over. Stop wooooo-ing.

This has been a public service announcement. Thank you.

School is, as Alice Cooper once prophesized, out for summer, which means every location I visit is suddenly clogged with hordes of teenagers.  I’m not going to lie to you: I’m a little afraid of teenagers.  I was a little afraid of teenagers when I was a teenager, but then people do say I’m an old soul.  There’s something about those bored, sullen faces that suggests they either know more than I ever will and are silently lording it over me OR that they know nothing at all but really couldn’t give a smurf.  I wanted to refer to their faces as “shiny” and “pimply” but they’ve trumped the preceding generations once again with their Proactiv bottles and Neutrogena skin clearing makeup.  What is the world coming to when teenagers can’t even be relied upon to have embarrassing bouts of socially debilitating acne? 

Have you ever noticed how teenagers are always laughing?  You just know it has something to do with you, and it’s not flattering.  Damn them and their secret languages and rubber bracelets!  They always seem to travel in packs, like hyenas hunting for easy prey.  Heaven forbid you should trip in their vicinity; you might as well just lie there and wait for the ravenous herd to descend.

Lately, I’ve been observing a new, deeply suspicious breed of teenagers who dress conservatively, speak respectfully to their parents, and say please and thank you.  What are they on about?  These kids even bake and craft, taking up the mantle of domestic goddess their mothers shed to embrace the working world.  How can a person possibly compete with this new breed of clear skinned, hard working Pleasantville resident?  I’m not fooled.  I know that underneath those demure cardigans and polite manners lay snarky, blood thirsty tyrants just waiting to get out.   And when they finally escape, there will be no help for the rest of us.

Is it Fall yet? 

T

I have a simple request. A suggestion, really. When you are driving and wish to merge/change lanes/pass me, please use your signal. This is not a complicated thing to do. Honest. In fact, it’s probably one of the easiest things to master when it comes to driving. It’s right up there with buckling your seatbelt and adjusting your mirrors. Why, if it’s so simple, you may ask, don’t more people do it? Good question, grasshopper. The answer is threefold. Laziness, carelessness, stupidity. A dangerous trifecta many American drivers seem to possess, unfortunately.

Since it literally takes only one finger to use your signal, there’s really no excuse for not using it. If this proves too arduous for you, or you’re not confident in your ability to signal, perhaps you should consult your doctor. I’m sure he or she could provide you with the necessary finger exercises so you can practice at home. Until then, stay off the mothersmurfing roads! I’m tired of being nearly killed by assholes in gas guzzling Hummers driving as if they are headed into battle, or by douchebags and douchebaguettes too busy texting to be bothered to watch the road (so sorry to interrupt!), or by ladies who are seemingly incapable of setting their alarms early enough so they have ample time to apply their mascara at home (it only takes a minute!). And while I’m ranting, what is with you assholes that ride my ass even though I’m already speeding, then passing me (without signaling!), and then slowing down? Or how about those fuckwads who when you try to pass them decide to speed up and not let you in, and when you do finally get ahead of them they ride your ass? What the what!?

Folks, your car is not your office, nor is it a salon. Don’t be a Douchey McDoucherson. Pay attention and, please, use your signals. Allow me the courtesy of arriving at my destination alive and in one piece (my car included). Remember this: there’s another thing that can be done with one finger and I exercise it freely when someone cuts me off.

But again, this is just a suggestion…

K