maarmie's musings

Monday, July 31, 2006

Tennis girl

I don't like to watch sports, but I'll play most any of them. My favorite sport - besides synchronized swimming, of course - is tennis.

In high school, I took a tennis class to fulfill my physical fitness requirement. A fast runner, hard server and backhand fiend, I won most games. After one victorious round, I attempted a jump over the net. My toe caught the top of the net, and I fell to the other side face and elbows first pretty much ruining my win.

Before my dad switched to golf, mandatory considering he's a banker, his sport of choice was tennis. Sometimes, I'd accompany him to the nearest city courts and watch him practice with a ball machine. One time, I played against him. Of course, I was no match against his expertise gained by playing weekly games against other full-grown men. But those trips inspired a deeper love of the game, and I started biking to the very same courts nearly every weekend to practice against the long, sturdy backboard - all the while longing to have enough money to rent a ball machine that would further bolster my game. That day never came. Because I had to work to make money, all my spare time was taken and I had no more time for tennis.

This coming Saturday, my skill level will be tested so I can join a Professional Women's Tennis League through the City of Tallahassee Parks and Recreation department. Tomorrow, I will mail $15 to the city to join its tennis association, a requirement to play on any of its leagues. Once my skill level is assessed (I am likely a beginner or advanced beginner), I will be matched with others of the same skill level for 15 matches played throughout the fall and early winter. I will also be taking concurrent tennis lessons through the city to improve my game and raise my skill level for other leagues.

I went out to the city's main courts Saturday afternoon. It was a pleasant drive to just beyond the city limits on a wooded canopy road. The facility is huge and contains a weight room, showers and about 30 courts, one-fourth of which are clay. A tennis player's version of heaven, to be sure.

I can't wait to get out on the court and unsheathe one of my racquets. I'll be making new friends while exercising in the fresh air. What could be a better way to spend my Saturday mornings?

Friday, July 28, 2006

Narcissists, narcissists, everywhere narcissists

I know any readers I have left are probably tired of hearing about my problems with other people, my loss of friends, my hard feelings, my anger. I'm tired of it, too. So this will be my last post about my issues with people I know or knew. I'm hoping, in this post, to purge all that crap so I can move on, make new (and, hopefully, better) friends and stop wallowing in my huge, huge trough of self pity in the face of having lost about two-thirds of my "friends" seemingly all at once.

Doing this, though, will require a thoroughness on my part here today, and, probably, several sessions with my therapist devoted solely to this subject.

Here goes...

Is it them, or is it me? Is it a combination of the two? Do I not cut people enough slack? Am I too sensitive? Am I too direct? Competitive? Aggressive? Are jerks drawn to me as my therapist says? Am I drawn to jerks? I certainly don't enjoy the fruits of their labor. Am I a masochist?

The several biggest things I fail to understand are:

1) People who treat others as if they were disposable

2) Some people expect you to treat them like gold but want to wipe their feet on you in return - and expect to still be buddies

3) When you let people know you are mad at them and why, some people turn it around and get mad at you for being mad at them for what they did to you. They don't want to discuss what they did, they just want to discuss why they are now mad at you for bringing up the fact that you are mad at them

4) Many people have a HUGE problem apologizing to anyone for anything and refuse to do so

I'm going to illustrate my point using Jeremy as an example since we have recently agreed to never talk to each other again at his suggestion. Some of you may remember that I stayed with Jeremy for a weekend in Minneapolis in June and wrote about the weekend in my blog when I got back. Jeremy was a complete stranger to me except for several unsettling phone conversations and a slew of e-mails before my visit. You would think we would have both been on our best behavior considering the uncomfortable circumstances. I was. He most definitely wasn't. Or, if he was, he's a really huge asshole.

I didn't write about all the fucked up things he said and did while I was there in my posts about the visit, but these things involved yelling at me, cursing at me, threatening to leave me stranded somewhere, griping endlessly about our museum experience (even after I paid for him to get into the museum since I knew he didn't necessarily want to go), repeatedly embarrassing me in front of his family and basically leaving me walking on eggshells by the time I left because I was scared I'd do something to anger him - again. Why did he always have such a problem with me?

I took photographs of him. I took him to a museum. I played a few games on a slot machine while he was in the bathroom at the casino. I talked to a homeless person. I wanted to dance to the music of a blues band playing in downtown Minneapolis.

Wow. I'm a monster.

In the face of what I saw as his brutishness, I remained nice. After all, I was staying in his home. I should have been more prepared for what he had to offer, though, especially after the first conversation we had in person that involved him ranting on and on about not giving a fuck what anyone thinks of him and that he's always right, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. Anyway, after leaving there, my anger began to surface. He had been a jerk. More than a jerk. He had been abusive. Instead of confronting him directly, I wrote a few negative things on my blog about my experience there. I attempted to comment to some of his posts in ways that were negative towards him. Finally, I apologized for how I handled my anger.

In turn, he said that he would be more than happy to discuss things in private but that he wasn't going to make things public. I responded by beginning an e-conversation about why I was upset in an effort to finally come up with some kind of resolution. He responded to what I thought would be a beginning with an ending by saying that we just didn't "get" each other and that it would be best to "cut our ties" and go our separate ways.

That's how eager he was to discuss things, I guess. I replied, "Sounds good." Who wants THAT for a friend?

I tell you all this as an example of my frustration but there are many more. The way Jeremy acted was just par for the course as far as my friends have been concerned. I chalk it up to ignorance. I chalk it up to personality disorder. I chalk it up to control issues. I chalk it up to immaturity. I chalk it up to selfishness. But is it more? Does it have to do with me - something about me that pushes people's buttons? I've seen how people I have a problem with treat others. I can tell you it's not the same as the way they treated me. That leads me to think it's something about me, in particular. Or maybe it's something about the other people that prompts better treatment? Maybe they are nicer? More tolerant? More pliable? More compliant and complimentary? After all, my therapist says I attract narcissists.

I have known this for a long time and have read every book and Internet site about narcissists that I can get my eyes on - including the leading Web site dedicated to malignant self-love by Sam Vaknin, Ph.D. This hasn't protected me from the next narcissist and the next, however, as no two narcissists are equal, and it takes a while to figure out who is a narcissist and who isn't. Also, I have, at various times, convinced myself that I am an inverted narcissist, someone who likely grew up with narcissistic parents who doesn't feel complete or alive unless he or she is actively involved in relationships with narcissists. This thought is too scary to hold on to, so I have a tendency to let it go. And if it ever WAS true, that I only feel alive or comfortable in a relationship with a narcissist, it's not true anymore. So how do I reform my signals to let narcissists know their ways are no longer welcome here?

Interestingly enough, today I stumbled upon the Institute for Psychoanalysis & Psychotherapy of New Jersey's Web site , which has this to say about narcissists and their inability to apologize:


The Inability to Apologize

Ever since the pioneering work of Klein (e.g., 1937), analysts have been interested in the process of reparation, with both internal and external objects. In a loving relationship perceived as temporarily damaged by one party's hunger or aggression, the (actual or fantasied) injuring party ordinarily seeks to restore the loving tone of the relationship. In adults, the usual vehicle is the apology.

What intrigues us about the reparation process when a narcissistic defense is operating is that what is repaired is not the damage to the relationship, but the subject's illusion of perfection. Narcissistically impelled people may be at least temporarily incapable of genuine expressions of remorse, because inherent in an apology is the admission that one is not needless and faultless. In characterological narcissism, this defect is sometimes embraced as a virtue, as in Woody Hayes's boast that he never apologized to anybody, or in the peculiar belief of Erich Segal's heroine that "Love is never having to say you're sorry." In less gross manifestations of narcissism, the avoidance of apology is much more subtle, much less visible to those who might legitimately expect some expression of sincere contrition. What a narcissistically defended person seems to do instead of apologizing is to attempt a repair of the grandiose self in the guise of making reparation with the object. We have identified several different ways that narcissistically motivated people tend to substitute some other kind of interpersonal transaction for an apology. For the party on the receiving end of such a transaction, it also becomes a problem to restore intimacy, since it is difficult to forgive in the absence of the other person's genuine remorse.

1. Undoing

When a narcissistically defended woman has inflicted some emotional injury upon her husband, instead of apologizing, she is likely to go out of her way later to be especially solicitous of him (initiating sex, making a special dinner, etc.). A father who has unfeelingly criticized a child may similarly avoid admitting his insensitivity but instead offer some attractive treat subsequent to his transgression. The object of the undoing can be expected to remain hurt, in the absence of an emotional expression of regret, and will suffer a natural reaction to the undoing that will lie somewhere between cold rejection and grudging acquiescence. If neither party can articulate the difference between making real emotional reparation to the object and engaging in the defense of undoing, they will both be further estranged by these operations. The undoing party will feel affronted and resentful that his or her ministrations are not appreciated, while the injured person may suffer attacks of self-criticism for an inability to forgive, forget, and warm up to the partner. Both people wind up lonelier than they were previously.

2. Appealing to Good Intentions

People who are engaged in defending their internal grandiosity may become adept at giving ostensible apologies that really amount to self-justifications. Narcissistically driven people do not seem to understand that saying one is sorry represents an expression of empathy with the injured party irrespective of whether the hurt was intentional or avoidable. The woman who is kept waiting and worrying when her husband is late coming home will feel immediately forgiving if he expresses genuine sorrow that she has suffered on his account. In narcissistically defensive states, however, people seem to go by the general rule that such expressions of sympathy and regret are called for only if they were "at fault" in some way. Thus, the tardy husband meets his wife's anxious greeting with, "It wasn't my fault; there was a traffic jam," communicating not remorse but resentment of her distress and rejection of its validity.

The organizing, overriding issue for people with narcissistic preoccupations is the preservation of their internal sense of self-cohesiveness or self-approval, not the quality of their relations with other people. As a result, when they feel their imperfections have been exposed, the pressing question for them is the repair of their inner self-concept, not the mending of the feelings of those in their external world (cf. Stolorow's [1979b] definitions of narcissism). They are consequently likely, in a state of defensiveness about exposed faults, to protest that they meant to do the right thing, as if the purity of their inner state is the pertinent issue - to others as well as to themselves.

One of our patients described how her close friend had failed to send her a wedding present. When she admitted her disappointment, the friend replied, "Gee, I meant to get you something - I even had a gift in mind, and I don't know why I didn't get to it." This was offered as if it were an exonerating explanation; interestingly, the woman never did buy a gift, even (or perhaps especially) in light of the explicit expression of its significance to her friend. This seemingly odd perseverance in a breach of etiquette might be explained by the observation that the rectification of an error is an admission that an error has in fact occurred. If one displaces the issue to the area of intention an error has in fact occurred. If one displaces the issue to the area of intention, an error has not occurred, since one's intentions were faultless.

3. Explaining

A related substitute for apologizing is the practice of explaining. Unless the listener is particularly sensitive, an explanation can sound remarkably like an apology. In fact, a relationship between two people is apt to go on a considerable length of time before the party on the receiving end of explanations begins to feel a bothersome absence of genuine contrition in the other. The advantage of the explanation to the person protecting a grandiose self is that it avoids both asking for something (forgiveness) and admitting to a sphere of personal responsibility that includes the risk of inevitable shortcoming. Hence, the illusion of personal needlessness and guiltlessness is maintained. "I would have visited you in the hospital but my schedule got really crazy," or "I must've forgotten your birthday because it came right on the heels of my vacation this year," or "Your dog just ran in front of my car and I couldn't stop fast enough" are the kinds of apology-substitutes that may appear to connote remorse, but actually stop short of expressing sorrow and making emotional reparation.

A special case of the explanation sans apology is that of the person who has become adroit in offering his or her psychodynamics as explanatory, exculpating principles behind behavior that is remiss. "Maybe I was acting out my envy," or "I wonder if I did that because I'm going through an anniversary reaction to my sister's death," or "I must have been feeling unconsciously hostile toward you because you remind me of my father" are the kinds of nonapologies typically offered by the psychoanalytically sophisticated when protecting a grandiose self-concept. Evidence that a genuine apology has not been made can be found in the state of mind of the recipient of such commentaries: explanations without apology produce either pained confusion, or understanding without warmth. Because the explainer is defending his or her action to an internal critic who expects perfection, the listener often ends up, because of being the target of a projective-identification process, feeling inarticulately critical.

4. Recriminating

We have noticed the tendency for narcissistically vulnerable people to engage in a kind of ritual self-castigation in the wake of an undeniable or unrationalizable failing toward someone. This is a process even more elusive than explaining, and harder to distinguish from true apologizing. This recrimination is expressed to witnesses and objects of the transgression with the implicit invitation that the transgressor should be reassured that despite the lapse, he or she is really fine (i.e., perfect or perfectable), after all. In the case of a person with a narcissistic character disorder, recrimination is probably as close as he or she ever comes to apologizing, and is doubtless believed to constitute sorrow and reparation.

Self-castigating statements, mild ones such as "I can't understand why I did that!" and severe ones such as "I must be a terrible person," appear to manifest remorse, and may on that basis elicit sympathy and a wish to relieve the offender's apparent guilt and pain. A close look at the transaction, however, reveals that the subject is suffering self-condemnation mainly for a lack of perfection, and that the injured object has been switched into the position of comforting the person who inflicted the hurt. The party who is legitimately entitled to an apology goes without it, while the transgressor achieves reinforcement for a pathological belief about the self.

We have found that a good way to discriminate between narcissistic recrimination and object-related remorse is to ask the allegedly regretful person whether, under identical circumstances, he or she would do the same thing again. A truly repentant sinner will unhesitatingly and believably say no, while a person protecting the grandiose self will tend to launch into a series of hedges, rationalizations, or less than credible denials.

5. Deflecting Blame

The readiness of narcissistically vulnerable people to convey criticism is equaled only by their resistance to assimilating it. Frequently, they seem to have mastered the art of deflecting blame. As an example of this dynamic, let us consider the familiar situation of supervising a narcissistically preoccupied trainee in psychotherapy. If narcissistic patients are hard to treat (as is their reputation), narcissistic supervisees seem even harder to supervise. Except in certain phases of idealization of the supervisor, they react to honest feedback about their shortcomings and limits not just with defensiveness - a natural and universal response - but with a particular kind of defense: the effort to share their "badness" with the supervisor.

When the mentor has failed to support the grandiose self of a narcissistically impelled student, he or she can count on paying for it. A response to the effect of "I'll confess that I acted that out, but I think you have your part in this, too," is typical. And the supervisee is often right, or has a piece of the truth at least, but in such cases, the content of the criticism of the supervisor is usually not the point. The process boils down to: "I feel mortified that you saw a limitation in me because I aspire to perfection. You probably aspire to perfection, too, or should, so I'll point out that you haven't yet reached it, either." The supervisee thus perpetuates the false premise that perfect self-sufficiency is a legitimate goal. It seems not to occur to a narcissistically motivated person that comfort with imperfection might be both the supervisor's attitude toward his or her own work, and the attitude the supervisor wishes to instill in the trainee.

Several years ago, one of us worked with a brilliant, attractive, talented, and quite grandiose analyst-in-training. For about a year, the atmosphere of the supervision was delightful, as both parties engaged in what amounted to a folie a deux of mutual idealization. The supervisor, out of her own narcissistic pathology, joined this man believing that reported problems with previous supervisors derived from his having been insufficiently appreciated by, or even having been felt as threatening to, these therapists. Then he sought her collusion in overreporting his hours of control analysis to the institute. (He believed that he had had so much equivalent training that his background fulfilled the "spirit" if not the letter of the training provisions, and that the particulars of the program requirements were needlessly stringent.) She refused. He abruptly devalued her, as he had his previous instructors, but since it was in his interest to maintain the relationship until he had passed a Case Presentation requirement, he stayed in supervision. When she tried to make ego-alien his narcissistic entitlement, he accused her of acting out all kinds of unpleasant dynamics, including having contributed to his expectation of special favors by her prior warmth and support, which he now labeled seductive and transferential. He was, of course, right to a considerable extent, as narcissistically defensive people, with their hypervigilant sensitivity to others, often are.

He somehow structured the psychological situation as follows: "If you deny your part in the dynamic, you are self-deluded and therefore not worth listening to; if you admit it, you and I can lament your shortcomings together, construe my actions as responsive to your mistakes, and avoid looking at my own problems." It is very difficult to turn this bind into a learning situation for the trainee. We have seen examples of narcissistically preoccupied analysts-in-training who, by structuring their experience of supervision this way, develop a set of quite prescient beliefs about each of their teachers' dynamics, with no observable growth in their comprehension of their own.


I am intimately aware of all of these ways of NONapologizing as I've been on the receiving end of them my entire life. I could give so many examples of times friends or family members have offered these kinds of NONapologies. This paper is illuminating.

So, apparently, I'm a bigger piece of this whole puzzle than is outwardly apparent. My therapist says she thinks I'm perfectly nice and that I attract people who try to take advantage of that. But if I'm so "nice," how come I turn into a beast hungry for revenge when someone wrongs me? My therapist said I am acting in response to others' actions, as if that makes it OK. Why don't I, instead, just smile in the face of meanness and walk away? Why am I always looking for explanations, answers, apologies, promises? Why do I have a hard time just giving up on people? And why do I expect something better from someone who has shown me how he or she has been willing to treat me over and over and over?

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Adventures in journalism

The largest employer in Grady County - the Roddenbery plant - was closing and leaving thousands of people in the already-depressed area jobless. Of course, there needed to be a story about it. We knew it would be a tough nut to crack. Companies don't have to tell anyone anything. Of course, the story ended up in MY lap.

My first course of action was to call the plant in hopes of speaking to the plant manager. In usual fashion, he refused comment and directed me, instead, to corporate headquarters in I-don't-remember-where. I called corporate headquarters. Again, no comment. Drat! I only had six hours max to get the story and write it.

This had happened once before. Years and years before this challenge, I was met with a similar one at a different newspaper. A plant was laying off lots of employees. The business editor wanted a story. I wasn't even a reporter at the time. I was a news assistant who had only been allowed to write fluff before. All the reporters were busy. It was up to me. Only that time, I had only a couple of hours to get all the information I could.

That time, the spokesperson at the plant refused comment. I went on the Internet and in the newspaper database to get general information about the company. Then, I attempted a bit of trickery.

I drove way, way out in the country to the business site with a fellow news assistant (I didn't have a car then. I was just out of college and poor). We parked in the business parking lot and were quickly met with resistance. A couple of managers appeared in no time as we were attempting to interview a bunch of workers milling around in the parking lot. We were told to leave. My next idea was to stand across the street with signs urging exiting employees to talk with us. Someone in a van leaving the parking lot saw us and motioned to the next dirt road, presumably to talk. We walked down there. No van. By the time we got back to our spot across from the parking lot, all the employees were gone.


We went back to the newsroom where I called the company again and pleaded with the spokesbitch saying I hadn't gotten any information and that my story was due in a half-hour. A last-ditch effort and a tactic I never had to use again. She relented and answered a few of my questions. Enough for a six to eight-incher. That's all I could get.

This time, I was going to have to find a different way.

I drove down to the plant and entered the office, hoping the manager would speak with me if I showed up in person. It's harder to brush someone off if they're standing in front of you, and, over the years, I found it a great tactic to just show up. People tend not to want to disappoint someone who made the effort to be there in person. Well, the manager wouldn't talk. So I left. But I didn't go far.

I started walking around the building looking for another way in. Around the back, there was a chain-link fence surrounding a concrete slab full of picnic tables. I guessed this was where the workers took their breaks. A lone employee was sweeping. I told him who I was and why I was there. He didn't want to talk. I convinced him to talk, though, by reminding him that he was already laid off and had nothing to lose.

He was a very nice guy. He talked with me for a little more than an hour telling me his history at the plant (after 25 years working there, he was only making $9.25 an hour!), details about the severance package and what he was going to be doing next (visiting his son in Tokyo). He even posed for a photo that the photo developers the paper uses LOST before they could get me the negative. My story wasn't huge, but I at least got my worker that time. I finally got my worker.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

I'm a jerk? I'm a jerk!

Before I leave for a professional development class titled "Communicating with Tact and Finesse," (my officemates think this class will do me some good - bah!) I figured I'd play fairsies and come clean about a relationship where the other person felt hurt by me and cut off all communication after ripping me a new one. If I'm going to point fingers at others, I better be willing to point a finger at myself. Right?


There once was a guy named S.S. who had the most magical brain the world had ever seen. S.S. had read and memorized every book ever published and could talk, at length, about any topic in the universe. And I mean ANY topic. History. Current events. Science. Movies. Music. Pop culture. Psychology. Philosophy. Architecture and art. I mean ANY. TOPIC. maarmie was wholly and completely in love with this part of S.S.'s brain. However, S.S. had been so sheltered and so engrossed in books his whole life that he never learned social skills or how to navigate in the real world. S.S. was lost when he wasn't in an academic environment. Because S.S. was so introverted and was truly happy only when he was alone with a book, he became easily frustrated with the world of man which drove him deeper and deeper into the world of books.

One day, S.S. decided he liked maarmie. Why, he decided he more than liked maarmie. He decided that he wanted to be around maarmie as much as he could and began leaving message after message on maarmie's voice mail, each one more insistent than the other that she call him back and come get him (he doesn't have a car - he's a poor doctoral student). maarmie began screening her calls and lying about being busy. The truth was, maarmie wanted to keep S.S.'s friendship, but she didn't want to lead him on, to give him the wrong idea about the direction of the friendship. She also didn't want to spend as much time with him as he wanted to spend with her. But she couldn't bring herself to discuss these things with him. In short, she did him a major disservice.

Here's the worst part: I stood him up. Twice. Once was years ago. We were supposed to have dinner (I'm telling you, he persistently called me and guilted me into making plans with him on a regular basis) and I showed up a half-hour late. He was already gone. Another time, I made loose plans to hang out with him and then never did. I was an asshole. I apologized. Too late.

One Friday, S.S. took it upon himself to plan the whole Saturday out for maarmie. He e-mailed her with the plan. She was to come to his house and get him around 10, take him to the computer store with his computer so he could get it fixed and then they would go to lunch and the movies. Apparently, he didn't think maarmie should have any say in the matter, and, even though she wrote him back immediately saying she had plans for Saturday already (another lie), he called her every hour Saturday more and more desperately asking where she was and to call him. (Keep in mind maarmie had already told him not to call like that anymore.) When maarmie didn't call him that Saturday, he decided the friendship was over. maarmie e-mailed him explaining her side, and he blasted her about all the things she did that hurt him.

I'm sorry I hurt him. I should have been respectful enough to tell him where we stood. One-sided relationships aren't my style no matter which side I'm on.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Why do I do it?!

As many of you are probably aware, I have a tendency to call people out on my blog. In this post, I will examine this practice and try to both explain my actions and figure out exactly what it is I'm trying to accomplish through them.

This tattling of sorts started out as half paragraphs in my formerly-ongoing-but-now-defunct page titled "How to Piss Me Off" where I spewed some venom at a couple of friends, a former co-worker, a former boss, a friend's previous boyfriend, one of my previous boyfriends, a guy I dated for a while and a guy I had wanted to date for many, many years. I also threw some hate the president's way, but, because he's not human, he doesn't count.

Maybe I got tired of updating this post, or maybe I wanted space to write longer missives. Whatever the case, I began dedicating whole posts to a specific incident or person. In any event, my meanness and hostility are hard, if not impossible, to ignore.

One look at my introduction, though, lets my readers know my state of mind as I penned my first post here. The backstory is that this blog was created a little more than five months after I was bullied, mobbed, sexually harassed, then fired from a job that I thought finally had me on some kind of "right track" as far as a career is concerned and a little more than three months after the lawsuit that ended in mediation was over. I was still crying four, five, six times a day even after all these months. My emotions were dulled. I was painfully (and I mean PAINFULLY) depressed. I felt hopeless. Again, like so many times before, I felt like a victim. Only now, I was a victim who was also diagnosed with post traumatic stress disorder. Life had never been - and I imagined never could have been - worse.

Without knowing or caring if anyone was reading, I started this blog under that circumstance. I had intended on using this blog as a kind of anonymous on-line diary to both keep my writing muscles flexed and to vent my pent-up aggressions. Along the way, I have become less and less anonymous and have surprised even myself, sometimes, with the depth of my anger toward men in general, someone I thought liked me but didn't, my stepmother, a former friend and ex-boyfriend, my brother in particular and my whole rotten fucking family in general, and certain people I met or visited on a recent vacation.

Some of the people in question have read my posts about them. Certain others don't know about my blog. The ones who HAVE read negative posts pertaining to them pretty much don't talk to me anymore. That is just as well as I tend not to write about people that way until I'm pretty damn sure I want nothing more to do with them, until they have shown me such disrespect or such little regard that I really don't care if they are offended or not by my words.

What I find shocking and more than a little sad is that 99 percent of the people I have written about didn't mind treating me like shit but then wanted to turn around and get mad at me for writing about it. In other words, these jerks are saying it's OK to do what they did, it's just not OK for me to talk about it. Hm. Sounds about right. Isn't that any abuser's or general dickhead's modus operandi? They do what they do thinking they'll never be ratted out? That they'll never have to face what they've done? That no one else will know? That they'll never be asked to own up to their actions?

Fuck that, and fuck anyone who thinks that way.

I'm sure there are many better ways to handle life's disappointments and harsh realities. Knowing that, I have, in the past, deleted some things I have written in pure anger and haste. And, believe me, I don't write about every little grievance here. More than half the people I know piss me right the hell off at one time or another as I have zero tolerance for extreme foolishness and the fools who practice such foolishness. I know that a mistake is a mistake, though, and can usually be rectified. Hell, even I'M not perfect. But I try to be, and a well-honed sense of guilt and shame and a dollop of sensitivity usually keep me in line or at least apologizing profusely when I've hurt someone I care about. Can you see me way up here on my soapbox?

Some things AREN'T mistakes, though. And some things CAN'T be rectified. Enter maarmie and her keyboard of public shame. I guess that's what this all amounts to: public shaming. Maybe the Chinese have it right! You might think public shaming is wrong or bad. Maybe. Maybe not. Worse than public shaming, though, I think, are assholes, assholes who know that they're assholes but don't care that they're assholes, assholes who don't know who they are or care who they are, assholes who neither want to know themselves nor learn how NOT to be assholes, assholes who won't listen when you tell them what they've done, assholes who don't give a crap about anyone but themselves and assholes who don't care who they slash and burn as long as they get theirs.

To those people I say, "Bring it on." But be prepared to read about it here later. And quit your whining. It's about time you know what it feels like.

I am vigilante. Hear me roar! Meow!

P.S. (5:20 p.m. EST): Do you want to slam me? Tell me how unfair I am? How much of a bad person I am? Go ahead! Leave a comment! Send an e-mail! Unlike some people (ymereJ), I don't reject relevant comments, and I encourage any and all criticisms. If I'm wrong, I'm always the first person who wants to know about it.

Car crash?

The guy who stood me up yesterday left a message on my machine this morning. If his story can be believed, he got a call at 5 a.m. Sunday alerting him to a car accident involving a friend. On the message, he claims to have driven the five-hour drive to Daytona and "wasn't able to break away to call" me to cancel our plans. His apology seemed sincere, and he sounded exhausted on the message. Either he truly WAS on the road all day to care for his friend or he was just up late last night fucking his wife and his wife's best friend.

What ever is a girl to believe?

Sunday, July 23, 2006

I got stood up today

OK. So I'm interested in dating. So I'm out running errands yesterday. So I see this guy working at one of my errand locations, and we strike up a conversation. So he reminded me of a first-term Bill Clinton in voice and looks. So I found him to be really funny and he seemed to know a lot about politics and foreign affairs - qualities that helped me start to move past his southern twang. So we seemed to hit it off. So he said he'd love to have me come up there so we could talk again. So I called there later to give him my number. So he called me when he got off work. So I wasn't there but called him back using the number he left. So it was his cell phone, and he called me back while he was out walking his dog (a golden retriever named Molly). So I learned he was as into NASCAR (strike one) as he was into nature (plus one) and traveling (major plus one). So, except for a couple of red flaggy feelings I got, he seemed nice enough and invited me to lunch today. So he said he'd call this morning. So, at 11:45 when the phone still hadn't rung, I went to the gym. So I got home at 1, and he still hadn't called. So I called his cell phone, and the 44-year-old asshole didn't have the guts to answer. So I left a message that said, "I guess we're not going out to lunch today. It's not nice to stand people up. Bye."

So I'm feeling majorly rejected. So back to square one.

Tooth update

What do you think? It's hard to tell, because the light in the bathroom makes everything look yellow. I bought a second pack of whitening strips yesterday and will be done with this little project in 6.5 days.

After 3 applications:

After 8 applications:

After 15 applications:

After 15 applications (in natural light):

Saturday, July 22, 2006

My philosophy and a shitload of parenthetical information

I bought this lovely little T-shirt at this week. It arrived in the mail Thursday, and I wore it to Bed Bath & Beyond today on a day off to run errands and lounge around reading and browsing the Internet (I looked here and here). I agree with the message printed on the shirt, but I would probably change it slightly to "writing honestly is the best revenge."

I ended up spending more than $200 at BB&B on everything from a mattress pad, a cutting board and a rubber spatula (it's sex night!) to a lint brush, a power strip (impulse purchase), a shower curtain and a vacuum cleaner - a glittery puke-green little Eureka that is bagless and weighs just 12 pounds. It also has this funky round handle and all the attachments I could ever want.

In the 16 months I have lived in this apartment, I haven't owned a vacuum cleaner and have been sweeping the low-pile carpeting with a broom. I vacuumed the second I got home - using the wand attachment to suction the baseboards and the little nook where the floor meets the wall - and ended up with a cannister full of dirt and hair after just 10 minutes. It was nasty. So, so nasty.

The funkiest little vacuum in all the land

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Butter, be gone!

Almost half a lifetime of smoking has left me with black lungs, a damaged heart, less money in my pocket and butter-yellow teeth. Now that I don't smoke anymore, time will fix my heart, lungs and pocketbook. Those whitening strips will hopefully fix my teeth.

I love to kiss, and I'm assuming it's not that appealing to zero in on someone's lips when brownish yellow teeth are poking out between them. Who would want to move their tongue over teeth that look like they haven't been brushed in years or belong in the trap of someone who lives in Europe? I wouldn't know, because a tooth fetish leads me always and only to men who have perfectly straight and perfectly white teeth, the pointier the canines the better.

Anyway, I bought a tooth whitening kit at Target on Saturday. Two half-hour applications a day for seven days. Repeat the entire process a second time, if desired. Touch up every six months. I just finished my 10th application, and I will document my progress here. I don't really have a "before" photo as the first image was captured after three applications. But, since the butter is so thick I have enough to spare for popcorn, this photo will do nicely, anyway.

I'm not sure a difference can be noticed here (both photos taken in the bathroom with the light on, no flash), but my teeth are definitely a couple of shades whiter, at least. Anyone wanna make out? Most of my teeth are all natural. I've never even had braces.

After 3 applications:

After 10 applications:

Vox invites

I have two of them. Whoever wants one, leave a comment or send an e-mail and let me know. Be sure to include your e-mail address so I can send along the invite.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

New music

I picked it up for $10 at Target. What a deal. I can't say it's as good as anything Radiohead ever put out, but - hey - it's Thom Yorke. I'd buy a CD of him farting out tunes using his armpits.

Thom Yorke/The Eraser

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Even more proof that I am a competitive asshole


Guys: You know that drunk moron at a bar who wants to impress his woman so he sidles up next to you and challenges you to a game of pool or darts? You know that jerk who loudly proclaims "I can beat any one of you!" and then makes awful "ha HA!" noises and spews "Eat that!" or "Beat that!" with every bullseye or ball knocked into a pocket?

I don't like to admit it, but sometimes I'm that guy.

I'm not trying to impress a woman (or man). I'm trying to impress myself. I'm not trying to say something bad about you. I'm trying to say something good about me - and doing it poorly. I admit it. I'm addicted to competition.

I love tests of math and logic, and I take IQ tests on the internet just for fun. I love completing tasks for a grade and comparing my grade to the grades of others as well as the number of hours we studied. I love playing all sorts of games against friends and strangers, and I keep a backgammon board in my trunk for impromptu sessions. I love racing anything and seeing who will win. When I was a reporter, I didn't have to write the most stories but I had to have the best stories faster and on the front page. When I worked in public relations, I had to have the most media hits on campaigns and come up with the best and brightest ideas. I had to be a better writer, a better thinker and a better schmoozer than all the others.

I'm the one who would cover her test paper so others couldn't cheat. I'm the one who wouldn't allow do-overs.

Faster, more, better, nicer, smarter, cleverer, meaner, stronger, braver, funnier. It's my curse, and I have been known to wear myself out in my quest for perfection.

Story #3 (click here for story #2)

Journalism is one of THE top professions designed to accomodate competitive assholes, and the fact that I was ever a reporter proves, without a doubt, forever and ever and ever, that I am, indeed, a competitive asshole.

That said, as reporters go, I was more competitive and assholish than most. My reporter persona came easily, and I slipped it on at 9 a.m. every day. Persona, you query? What is that? And why ever did you use one? Are you insane? The answers are 1) a role I played in public 2) to shield myself and maneuver through difficult or intense situations and 3) nearly.

I'm not sure how many reporters use personas in the line of duty. I've met a few who do but many who don't. I think it depends on the nature of the job. Mine was necessary considering I was a Yankee (I grew up in Florida and once lived in NY, which, I was told, makes me a Yankee) who was working at a small newspaper in rural South Georgia (where the word "nigger" is bandied about often and using a full voice, no hushed tones or whispering) who bucked social convention by having the audacity to write about things that were ACTUALLY GOING ON and quoting people using words they ACTUALLY SPOKE.

Before I came along, I was told by more than a million people, including fellow reporters, that city council members and other folks in the good old boy network needed only to mutter five sweet words to a reporter to keep their public images intact and to keep embarrassing actions and words away from public scrutiny: "This isn't for the newspaper."

When those in charge saw that I wouldn't be bowing down to them, many hissy fits were thrown by one mayor and a certain city attorney. And that was just in the first month. I knew I'd have to toughen up a bit. Hence, the persona.

My persona evolved over time and was borne out of necessity and extreme hardship. The best way I can describe it is that it was one that combined detachment with a dash of superior smugness and a heapin' helpin' of razor-sharp suspicion. It was my shield against nasty insults, lies and attacks and it gave me a face to wear that masked my own when my heart wanted to break and tears wanted to fall.

I have a million stories I will eventually tell about being a Yankee reporter in Backwards U.S.A. But to suit the title of this post, I will tell a tale involving Gov. Sonny Perdue.

At first, I thought it would be a stupid, routine story. Three companies were coming to Thomasville thanks to some state funds, and the governor was going to be paying a visit to provide the details. Naturally, I wanted to know which companies were coming for my pre-visit story. Unfortunately, no one would tell me. Stonewalled!

City officials wanted to kiss the governor's butt by keeping the info under wraps so HE could announce it during his big visit. That didn't sit well with me, especially since I really really really wanted to break the news first and I really really really REALLY hate it when people won't tell me things. It doesn't make me stop asking. It just makes me start looking for a door or window or tunnel or mountain to go through, over, in or around to find out what I want to know.

Soooo....What started out as a routine story turned into a nasty little game of hide and seek, and I was damn sure it wouldn't be me that came away the loser. Plus, why should that fucking asshole redneck of a governor have all the fun? I ended up wanting to spoil it for him, and I did. It's not much, but it's all the information I could dig up in five hours or less. I can't reveal how I got the info (wink wink), but here is the article - printed the day before Gov. Perdue's visit - that landed me in hot water yet again. Sigh! It's hard being superior.


THOMASVILLE -- Gov. Sonny Perdue will be in Thomasville on Wednesday to talk about how OneGeorgia money will soon benefit the area.

Three companies are either expanding or setting up shop in Thomas County thanks to OneGeorgia money -- funds from the state's tobacco settlement that are helping some parts of Georgia develop economically. It is unclear how much money is being distributed for the three current projects. The governor will provide details at 2 p.m. Wednesday at the Thomasville Cultural Center, 600 E. Washington St.

One of the beneficiaries of the OneGeorgia money is Dillon Candy Company in Boston. The company has outgrown its 12,000-square-foot facility, said Oscar T. Cook Jr., the company's president, and will be moving to a 20,000-square-foot building that currently exists but will be renovated.

"Part of our reason for moving is that we've reached capacity here," he said. "Our sales warrant larger production capacity. We need to get to a new and larger facility."

The new facility will be located on Georgia Highway 84, one-and-a-half miles away from its current South Green Street location. The money will enable the candy manufacturing company to stay in Boston, Cook said, instead of moving to another state.

Additional employees will be hired to match production needs in the future, said Cook, who said the hope is for a 30-percent production increase in a few years.

A. Duda & Sons, Inc., which grows, ships, markets and exports fresh fruits and vegetables and has a presence in Florida, Texas and California, will soon be set up on 13 acres at the former Sunnyland site on Old Cassidy Road thanks, in part, to OneGeorgia funds. Doug Silvis, the local attorney for the company, said it will buy a $4 million facility in August from the Joint Development Authority and set up a food processing plant. Celery will likely be one of the main vegetables processed and packaged there, Silvis said.

"Hopefully, it will open up an additional market for farmers because of the connection (the company) has with goverment food programs and the school food programs," Silvis said. "Hopefully, what people can't use fresh can be processed by the A. Duda Company."

Susan Howard, a spokesperson for A. Duda & Sons Inc., refused comment Monday.

A welding company also is reportedly coming to this area, however details could not be obtained or verified as of press time Monday.

Don Sims, president of the Thomasville/Thomas County Chamber of Commerce, refused comment Monday.

maarmie + Vox = moxie!

I was invited to join Vox, and I started up a blog there today. But I'm not sure I'm going to make the switch. I'm definitely not going to try and maintain two blogs. I think Vox is probably easier to use and offers more options for the technically impaired. We'll see. I'll give it a try.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Feats of strength

I know my life is getting ready to implode when I wake up in the middle of the night lying in a puddle of my own urine. When bad things are happening and a part of me knows it but a more controlling part of me wants to deny it or hasn't caught on yet, I wet the bed. I'm 34 years old, and I still wet the bed at least once a year. Any guys out there really turned on by me yet?

It happened last night. At 2:30 a.m., I woke out of a horrifying little dream involving someone I know - something involving a money-making opportunity she stole from me and used herself and wasn't willing to let me be part of it, lots of fighting, anguish and sadness going on in the dream. I couldn't take it. When I woke up, I was mid-pee. After a trip to the bathroom and a changing of the sheets, I went back to sleep only to suffer more unpleasant dreams.

Something big is happening, but I don't know what yet. Some kind of huge transition. I'm nervous, but I feel OK about it. I feel pretty strong and happy with myself. I am dealing better and better with loss. I seem to be more able to handle shifting circumstances and change. I think I am more able to stand alone now if that's what's required. It sucks being alone, not having anyone to rely on. But it's better to be in that situation than to constantly rely on people who are hurtful or who don't really have my best interests at heart.

I guess now I'll have the chance to rely only on myself and see if I'm as strong as I think I am.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Yes, I'm happy

Ok. I admit it. I'm happy Kenneth Lay is dead. I'm glad the founder and former chairman of Enron was found guilty for his actions. I'm glad he was awaiting sentencing. I'm glad he had a heart attack. And I'm glad he croaked. Because of his death, I'm starting to believe there may be such a thing as karma or...gulp!...god.

Now, what to do about the money...

I don't think his family should get a dime. Some people I know think his wife and kids should get to keep enough to live comfortably, but I think anyone who was married to him had to have known what a monster he was. Maybe his wife knew about the scandal? In any event, if she doesn't work already, I'd like to see her roll up her sleeves and wash some dishes or maybe work as a cashier at a local grocery chain. Make her burn off her sins with hard labor as she watches ALL THAT MONEY go back to the people from whom it was stolen.

His lawyer shouldn't get any of it, either. Any creep who would defend Lay deserves to be...shipped to my island? Oh, you haven't heard all about my island? It's that spot of land surrounded by shark-infested water in the middle of nowhere that's a little bigger than Manhattan and holds all the scumbags who have raped, murdered or molested. I think all the Enron thieves would make it there, too.

On this island, there is a limited supply of food and fresh water (each "inmate" gets some seeds upon arrival), and prisoners get to build their own homes. They get to make their own laws - or not. And there is no escape. Guards in towers with machine guns see to it. There, the psychopaths are able to live how they want and can rape and kill each other and eat each other for sport. No questions asked.

If only I were president...

Monday, July 10, 2006

Film: An Inconvenient Truth

If you can manage to stay awake, An Inconvenient Truth is a movie worth watching.

For one, I had no idea that Al Gore is such an environmentalist. When you don't know anything about a person, you tend to only know and believe the media hype. Those meat-headed journalist types would have you and me and everyone else believe that Gore is a robot and that he goes around claiming to have invented the Internet. Now he's going to singlehandedly fix the global warming issue, too, right? Oh, wait. Some people would have us think there IS no such thing as global warming.

I voted for Nader in 2000, and I'm tired of hearing people say that my vote for Nader was a vote for Bush. In fact, I think I will bloody the face of the next person who tells me that. That's how sick I am of hearing it. OK. I never voted for Gore. I thought he was nothing but a robot who claimed to have invented the Internet. A wooden wacko boy, right? Wrong!

If nothing else, An Inconvenient Truth shows another side of Al Gore, the softer and more passionate side of a man who loves nature and treasures the time he spent on his father's (tobacco) farm growing up. In the movie, Gore talks about what's causing global warming and the effect global warming will have on our planet - all in our lifetime. Within 50 years, if CO2 emissions continue like they are, says Gore, the temperature of the Earth will rise by one or two degrees, the ice caps will keep melting, species native to those areas will die out (polar bears will drown), water surges will flood huge parts of Asia, a majority of Manhattan, lots of Florida, California, several other states. Not only will those areas be underwater, but the dry land left over will be flooded with people who have nowhere else to go. Weather patterns will change. Some areas will face typhoons; others will face drought. In short, we'll all be screwed in one way or another.

Gore doesn't offer any solutions to the global warming crisis, though. I think that's where the film falls short. Why present the problem and the issues that problem will create and not give the solution and steps people can take to fix the problem? That's basic speech etiquette.

Instead, Gore uses fancy graphics and cartoons to outline the dilemma in the global warming speech he gives and has given all over the world. Cut into the speech are segments showing Gore at the North Pole studying the ice cap with researchers, clips of him running other legislators over the coals on environmental issues and footage of Gore on his father's farm.

It was obvious he knew his material well. It seems the wooden puppet had turned into a flesh and blood boy. But it felt like this film was nothing but a campaign tool for 2008. If it is, he's crafty. If he would have requested a manual recount of every ballot in all Florida precincts for the 2000 election, I might even think he's smart.

Friday, July 07, 2006

I'm a good American

In honor of July 4, I decided to be patriotic by exercising my rights that have been fought for and won through loss of limb and life. With a group of like-minded activists, I stood in front of the Florida capitol where two of the busiest streets in town intersect and, holding a sign saying "Bush lied, people die" in one hand and a burning sparkler in the other, protested the war in Iraq.

The protest has been ongoing since before the war officially started and is normally a twice-weekly event. Protestors have been hassled a couple of times by the cops - once when a guy was out there acting like an idiot in a GW mask (the cops made him take the mask off) and another time for no reason other than the supposed fact that the protestors weren't allowed to stand on that strip of land. The protestors didn't budge. The cops backed down. They had to. They didn't have a leg to stand on.

Most of the people who drive by our demonstration honk in approval of our stance. But some of the motorists express their disapproval with their middle fingers and verbal cries of "Fuck you!" "We love Bush!" "Pussies!" and, most often, "Get a job, hippies!" Funny. I wasn't aware we were all hippies. And, as far as I know, we all have jobs. One of us is even a lawyer.

It felt good to get back out there Tuesday. I haven't been in a while. I've decided to get back out there, though, and keep being a patriot. After all, dissent is patriotic.

Thursday, July 06, 2006


My friend Michael is sitting in a car somewhere with his dead dog in a box. He's sitting there, in his car somewhere, crying, inconsolable, next to a box containing the body of one of one of his best friends, a dog named Lucky.

Lucky came to my friend via an animal shelter, a place Lucky, a scraggly little long-haired freak, called home after a not-so-lucky life of severe physical abuse. The abuse left Lucky frazzled and suspicious, wary of strangers, terrified of loud noises and swift movements. Lucky took to my friend's wife right away. It took him years to take to Michael and one of their sons. He never took to the other son but loved being the leader of Michael's pack containing four other dogs, all of them much bigger in size than the tiny Lucky who was known to have a furious little bark used to keep the other dogs in line or protect them while they slept.

I am honored to say that Lucky took to me immediately and even once stayed the night at my house without much drama. The last time I saw Lucky was Saturday night at Michael's house. Everywhere I went, there was Lucky. When I sat on one of the barstools, Lucky would stand nearby and lick the bottoms of my feet. When I sat on the couch, he sat next to me. That night, Michael chose Lucky as the fortunate recipient of the leftover pesto, and only Lucky got to go for a walk with us around the big lake near his house. Lucky ran with me around the lake that night, and, for a few moments at least, Lucky knew no fear.

Tuesday night, Michael was at my house. Lucky was roaming country roads after having accidentally been left outside by his son. Lucky walked all night while Michael frantically searched for him. Lucky was hit by a car and was found the next morning in the gutter on the side of the road and taken to an animal hospital. His leg was mangled, but he was otherwise OK, said Michael when he called me Wednesday to let me know what happened. Lucky went into surgery and came out. Then, today, Lucky had a heart attack and died. Now he's in a box, and Michael's a wreck.

I am sad because's Lucky's life wasn't that great. But I am happy that he at least got to spend the last years of it in Michael's home as his wife's favorite friend and as a happy lead member of Michael's pack of lovable beasts.

Everything is gonna burn, We'll all take turns, I'll get mine too

I'm sitting here at work reading the latest issue of The Week. There's this article here about how the biggest problem in this country right now appears to be flag burning and about how rightawaybeforewedoanythingelseinthefuckingworld we need to change the crapstitution to include a ban on it. Well, the article doesn't say that, but it does say that someone actually compared flag burning to spray painting swastikas on the tombstones of Jews. Jews for Jesus H. Christ! How can anyone be so dumb!

If they ban flag burning, it'll just make me wanna do it. I swear to fuck, I'll buy as many damn flags as I can and toast them in my yard. And I'll go to jail where I'll be sodomized by angry lesbians for 20 years and get out eager to submit others to my deep and terrible wrath. It'll get ugly. I swear it. Yes, I know it will.

So, do us all a favor and focus on how we can make this country NOT go to shit instead of attempting to divert the idiot majority's attention with a juicy and emotional but altogether meaningless debate over burning a piece of cloth decorated with red and white stripes and white stars on a blue background. Idiots, all of you!

P.S. Every man, woman, boy and girl who disagrees with my post is required to come to my house right away so I can beat him or her severely about the head, neck and chest.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

On going back on your word

More than a week ago, I told the tale of a not-so-typical trip to the library. I promised the kind librarian who renewed my book even though it was on hold for someone else that I would turn it it the following Monday. I ended up turning it in a week after I said I would - and I never even finished the book or felt bad about going back on my word. In fact, I let people go ahead of me in line at the library when I turned it in (I had other books on hold and needed to get a refund on the book I lost and paid for - I found it!) so I could avoid said kind librarian. Maybe I'm turning into a sociopath. I never would have done this kind of thing in the past. Definitely indicative of antisocial behavior, wouldn't you say? Normally, when I give someone my word, that's my word - that's me. I don't take it lightly. Sadly, you don't find that in people too much anymore. I'm not going to be one of those people. Lord, give me the strength to change my villainous ways!

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Dogs do not make good pets for people with guilt complexes and paranoia

I've been having a great time staying in this beautiful house (decorated in a 60s style - groovy!) and taking long walks and playing with Meeko. One thing I can't take, though, is that dog's intense neediness. If she could sit INSIDE me, I know she'd do it. She's on top of me constantly, and, no matter what kind of treat I give her or how much I scratch her belly, she flashes me a pair of sad, brown eyes. My friends insist that she's manipulating me and that I don't have to give her 24 hours of attention every day. They say that I should play with her when I want to and go about my day when I don't. For some reason, I can't do that. I feel like, if I don't include her, I'm abandoning her. Her sad look isn't helping. I feel claustrophobic. Trapped. Guilty. Neglectful. Even if I just take five seconds to go to the bathroom, she's there, sitting next to the toilet on the floor, watching me and wondering how I could be so cruel to take a few seconds for myself. I feed her, then make my own dinner. By the time I sit down to eat, she's done with her food and sits there staring at me expecting me to give her mine. Then I see that look. That terrorized look when she realizes that I won't be offering her my plate. I know what she's thinking. She'd kill me if she had half a chance. That's why I have to lock her in the closet while I sleep. Keep her away from my throat when I'm unconscious. I see her. That look on her face sometimes. She wants me dead. I just know it.