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“Sarcasm: intellect on the offensive”

-Author Unknown

100_0270Sarcasm is probably my favorite type of humor.  I tell people, “if there are two ways to interpret something I said, just assume I’m being sarcastic.”  It’s true.  I have a dry humor, and because I have thick skin, I sometimes forget that others don’t.  I know that sometimes things I’ve said have inadvertently hurt people’s feelings.  Since I’m a therapist in my day job, I have to be especially careful not to be too “me” sometimes.

Recently I had a conversation with a woman from Puerto Rico, and we got on the subject of sarcasm.  Now, she speaks perfect English, so this is a cultural, rather than a language thing.  She commented, “I don’t get sarcasm.  I’ve tried to do it sometimes, and I just end up being mean.”  I also recently had someone tell me, “People who are being sarcastic are hiding something.”

It wouldn’t have been appropriate for me to laugh in the latter instance, so I’m lucky I have experience with keeping a poker face.  But it made me start to think about the implications of sarcasm.  There are times when I think that my sarcasm is so obvious that I might as well be flashing a blink sign.  *sarcasm*  blink  *sarcasm*  blink  But then whoever I’m talking to doesn’t get it, and I wonder if I’m being unclear.  Maybe it’s not that simple.  Maybe some people just don’t “hear” what I’m saying.

I often think about “style” in writing, and how a distinctive voice is one of the things I most enjoy about certain authors.  Different authors use language differently.  But I suppose that we all have styles of speech too; I just don’t normally give those much thought.  In speech, I pause a lot.  I frequently misuse words and lose my train of thought.  (I tell people that my train of thought derails.)  I say “uh huh” and “hmm” a lot.  But my writing style is rather different.  “Real” dialog in writing really isn’t much like real dialog at all, and writing is different than talking.

As to the person who said that people who are being sarcastic are hiding something… I can’t speak for everyone, but I most often tell the truth.  And when I’m being sarcastic, it’s usually because I’m telling the truth.  But because the truth comes in sarcasm, no one notices.  How is it my fault that others don’t pay attention?

What do you think?  Are you pro-sarcasm or anti-sarcasm?

 

“Creativity is the ability to introduce order into the randomness of nature.”
-Eric Hoffer

Is nature random? Or is it just that we don’t understand the order?

I like the idea that creativity is the ability to introduce order into randomness, to see things in a way that others don’t.  That’s one of the reasons I like taking pictures, even if the same photo has been taken 999 times before.  It’s my picture, and seen through my eyes, which makes it different and unique.

I love random things.  I love conversations that seem random, jumping from topic to topic.  I have a game I play with a friend, where we email one another random words.  There’s no rhyme or reason, no theme, just a series of random words.  Because, why not?

I love all sorts of random things.

Some random facts about me:

1.  I consider myself “geek lite.”  I love science fiction and fantasy, as long as it doesn’t get too much into the actual science or world creation.  I’m good at suspending disbelief.  You don’t have to prove it to me.  As long as it makes sense in the context of the world, we’re good.

2.  I’m really bad at deleting my voicemail and emails.  What if I need them someday?

3.  I actually like the taste of water.

4.  Everything is better with flowers and rainbows.  Pretty colors!

5.  When I don’t wear my glasses, I often get asked “Is that your real eye color?”

6.  Penn & Teller are my favorite comedians/ magicians.

7.  I used to tell people I wanted to be a serial killer when I grew up.

8.  I love pedicures but am indifferent toward manicures.

9.  I love sour foods.

10.  My favorite authors are Dean Koontz, Nora Roberts, Jane Austen, Louisa May Alcott, and JK Rowling.  (I could go on.  And on.  And probably on.)

“Expose yourself to as much randomness as possible.”
-Ben Casnocha

Have a random day today.

Photo credit: RJS Photography

Photo credit: RJS Photography

Once upon a time, I preferred “cheap.”  I preferred cheap clothing, cheap shoes, cheap baking utensils (one notable exception being my beloved KitchenAid mixer).  I think it was mostly me being penny-wise and pound-foolish.  I don’t know when it finally occurred to me that being cheap was expensive, wasteful, and just plain irritating.

It’s expensive because even though I can go to Wal-mart and buy 487 tank tops for $1.50, they only last through one or two washings before they’re so misshapen that the Munchkins couldn’t wear them.  But, paying a few dollars more, and I have tank tops that have lasted me through 4 or 5 summers now.  The material has held up, they’ve held their shape.  In the long run, cheaper.

I hate waste and trash.  I try to reduce-reuse-recycle whenever I can.  But cheap things tend to wear out faster than the more expensive.  Cheap things end up in the landfill, creating more waste.  We have a Dyson vacuum we paid over $500 for about 12 years ago.  We still have that vacuum.  Sure, we’ve had to do a few repairs, but the vacuum is built to be repaired when something’s broken.  I only have to throw out a part of the vacuum rather than the whole thing.

And cheap is plain irritating because I don’t like to shop.  So the more I buy cheap stuff, the more I have to shop.  The caveat to this is when I buy vintage or second-hand things, they can be less expensive sometimes, but just as good quality-wise.  I try to buy local or American-made when it’s feasible.  It might be more expensive, but I look at it as an investment into the environment and into the future.

“Quality questions create a quality life. Successful people ask better questions, and as a result, they get better answers.”
-Anthony Robbins

100_0029One of the things I love most about sci-fi books and movies are the predictions about science and cultural changes in the world, and how often they’re wrong.  We’re only one year away from 2015, and we still don’t have the flying cars or skateboards that Back the the Future II promised me.

JD Robb’s In Death Novels are set starting in 2058, and in this version of the future, most of the food is vegetarian, with soy based meat substitutes, as they explain that real meat is expensive, and most cannot afford it.  I like this version of the future, and wouldn’t be surprised if it comes to pass for both economic and environmental reasons.  I should still be around to see it.

One of my all time favorite movies is Terminator II.  But August 29, 1997 came and went, and nothing bad happened.  The movie was great when it came out, because even if I didn’t believe anything bad would happen then, I still wondered, what if?  The Running Man, set in 2017, is obviously a product of the 80s.  The culture and styles of the 80s seep into that movie, making the idea that it’s set 3 years from today laughable.

Even if most books and movies get it wrong, it’s still fun to imagine what the future might hold.  I wonder how different it’s going to be from anything I imagine.

“If you learn one thing from having lived through decades of changing views, it is that all predictions are necessarily false.”
-M. H. Abrams

 

“The great thing about getting older is that you don’t lose all the other ages you’ve been.”
-Madeleine L’Engle

DSC_44A lot of people get upset about getting older, but I’ve never been one of them.  Probably that’s partly because I don’t feel my age.  I know how old I am because I can do math, but I feel like I’m still in my 20s, like I have plenty of time to do everything, and that the whole world is still waiting for me.  I don’t think that’s a bad thing.  It just means I haven’t lost my sense of wonder and possiblity.

You couldn’t pay me to go back to my teenage years.  Sure, it would be nice to get rid of all the adult responsibilities again, but being stuck in a hormone-ridden body, driven by emotion?  No thanks; I’ll pass.  High school and college weren’t great.  It wasn’t until I got into the working world that I really felt like I came into my own.  I love writing and reading Young Adult fiction, but that doesn’t mean that I want to live there.

One thing that really bothers me about books like Twilight is that Edward is over 100 years old mentally, and he’s into a 17 year old girl?  Is it not disgusting because he looks 17?  I know I’m overthinking this, but I’m not the only one this occurred to, right?

“I can’t predict how reading habits will change. But I will say that the greatest loss is the paper archive – no more a great stack of manuscripts, letters, and notebooks from a writer’s life, but only a tiny pile of disks, little plastic cookies where once were calligraphic marvels.”
-Paul Theroux

A few of my favorite upcycled journals from Etsy.

A few of my favorite upcycled journals from Etsy.

I confess: I have a bit of a notebook addiction.  I love notebooks, with all those clean pages waiting for me.  An empty notebook has endless possibilities; it seems to symbolize everything I love about writing.

I used to use cheap notebooks and try to keep different notebooks for different things, but I found that I’d forget what was what and I’d jot things down while I was out and about, then forget to put it in the notebook used for that purpose.  Now I try to use just one at a time.  Well, a notebook and a journal, though the notebook turns into a journal at times.

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve stopped viewing nicer notebooks as an indulgence.  I may not be making tons of money writing, but that doesn’t make me less of a writer.   And for a writer, a notebook is a tool.  Tools should fit the job being done.  A carpenter wouldn’t use a shabby hammer, bought for cheapness.  He’d probably use a hammer that was well-constructed, that fit his hand, and was made from sturdy materials.  Once I started looking at it that way, I started buying notebooks I actually enjoy.

I love new notebooks, but I also love all things vintage.  Etsy is my personal candy store, and I love searching for upcycled notebooks, make from all kinds of “trash.”  I try not to go on and look at notebooks because I can buy them the way other women buy shoes.  I gave a friend a upcycled notebook once, and she didn’t “get it.”  I later learned that she does not like used things and it would never occur to her to buy from a thrift store.  My husband says he finds them “distracting.”  Personally, I think they have character and help my creativity.

I tried using the “notes” section on my iPhone for this, but it just wasn’t the same.  I don’t feel as creative typing notes into a smartphone as I do using a good pen and writing down my thoughts.  I can doodle.  I can draw lines and arrows, things that don’t work on an iPhone or iPad.  When I sit down to formally write, I definitely prefer a computer.  But for notes, I’ll stick with a notebook.

“Insights don’t usually arrive at my desk, but go into notebooks when I’m on the move. Or half-asleep.”
-Hilary Mantel

 

“The way you get meaning into your life is to devote yourself to loving others, devote yourself to your community around you, and devote yourself to creating something that gives you purpose and meaning.”
-Mitch Albom

Pennsylvania; Photo Credit: Doree Weller

Pennsylvania; Photo Credit: Doree Weller

I’m a big believer in the idea that we, as human beings, need meaning to thrive.  We can survive without it, sure.  But we can’t thrive without the belief in something bigger than ourselves.

For me, meaning has three parts:  physically, emotionally, and spiritually.

For a lot of people, physical meaning centers on beauty.  I’ve tried to move away from form and focus more on function.  My body is strong, it has good endurance.  I can do the things that I want to, and I try to focus on that.  Part of respecting my body is to feed it mostly healthy food and drink with some treats here and there.  I don’t think there’s anything wrong with focusing on physical beauty, other than it’s transient.  But just because something doesn’t last doesn’t make it less beautiful.  A flower is beautiful, but it won’t stay that way.  It will wilt and die, as all things do.

For me, emotional meaning focuses on a combination of connectedness and aloneness.  I love connecting with those I care about, both family and friends.  I love spending time looking at photos the husband has taken, hiking with my brother, having dinner with my parents, or hearing about my best friend’s day.  I also love that quiet time when I’m alone with my thoughts, either writing or thinking deep thoughts.  :)  I need that creative time in order to feel whole emotionally.

Spiritual meaning for me is about connecting with nature.  There are so many great gifts around me, and I love to appreciate them.  I try to live and let live when it comes to bugs.  I love to get my hands dirty in my garden or hike in the desert.  As a kid, I loved to walk in the woods behind my house and sit with a notebook.  I had a special tree in a small clearing, and I’d take my shoes off and rest my feet in the cool, damp earth.  As I write this, I’m in my yard listening to crickets chirping.

Meaning is different for everyone, and I think you have to look for it.  I think it can change at different times of life.  I know what’s meaningful to me has evolved over time, which I think is great.  Humans are works in progress, and I can’t grow as a person without change.

Desert Botanical Gardens, Phoenix AZ; Photo Credit: Doree Weller

Desert Botanical Gardens, Phoenix AZ; Photo Credit: Doree Weller

Loss is part of life, one of the most difficult parts.  As humans, we resist change, yet grow bored when things stay too long the same.  I didn’t fully appreciate the lush green of Pennsylvania until I moved away.  It was only then that I realized the  green was bright and full of life, and everywhere.  When I first moved to Arizona, the brown and heat seemed so clean and so lovely in a stark, simple way.  I told this to a friend who’s lived here all his life, and he shrugged and said, “I don’t see it that way.  I just want to get away.” Loss reminds us of what we have, strangely enough.  In the days, weeks, and months after my grandfather died, I kept wishing I had called him more often.  Neither of us were particularly chatty, so it probably would have puzzled him if I had called for no reason… but I still wish I had. During the brief time I worked in Hospice, I met a lot of people, and no one ever regretted the things they did so much as they regretted what they didn’t do.  We all get busy with life and assume there’s going to be more time.  More time to do, to love, to laugh, to cry, to see, to know. The fact is: there’s only today.  So enjoy it.  Wring every drop you can from it.  And if tomorrow comes, do it all over again.

“Death is not the greatest loss in life. The greatest loss is what dies inside us while we live.” -Norman Cousins

How I Live Now

by The TV Guy

thI was flipping through the “Popular on Netflix” streaming and came across a movie that at first, I misread the caption. I thought it stated the main character met someone before the second the world war and settled in for a bit of a period piece. Much to my surprise, a bleached blond girl with big bulky ear phones and nose piercing is being ushered through a security checkpoint of a modern European airport.
Soon after her arrival, WWIII starts with a nuclear blast in London and the family she has come to see is separated from each other. The movie becomes a story of survival and getting back to the farm. It makes for an interesting yet sad movie. This is a foreign film, so be prepared for the darkness of the non-American films. There is plenty of pain and death and still there is that part of the movie where you watch and wait hoping that things will get better.

K is for Killing

Phoenix, AZ; Photo credit: Doree Weller

Phoenix, AZ; Photo credit: Doree Weller

“Do all men kill the things they do not love?”
-William Shakespeare

I have a confession that may surprise you… I’m not a killer.

No, really.  When I used to play Legend of Zelda, friends would gleefully cut down the chickens, and I felt guilty about it.  So guilty that I’m still remembering it 20 years (or so) later.  A friend told me that she liked to play the Sims, name them after people she was angry with, then starve them or not let them go to the bathroom until they died.  I thought it sounded like a great idea.  But I couldn’t do it.  Again with the guilt.

I cried when (spoilers) Ruth and Danny died in Lightning by Dean Koontz.  I cried pretty much the whole last book of Harry Potter.

I’ve killed off a few characters of my own, and it’s usually painful.  Depending on how long I’ve spent with that character, I’m in their head.  I know their wants and needs.  I know their secrets.  And then, because the book calls for it, I kill them.

It’s very difficult, even when I remind myself that death is part of the cycle, and that they’re not real.  Though they are to me.  Nevermind.

I used to tell people I wanted to be a serial killer when I grew up.  But maybe I wouldn’t be all that good at it, after all.

“He divines remedies against injuries; he knows how to turn serious accidents to his own advantage; whatever does not kill him makes him stronger.”
-Friedrich Nietzsche

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