Tuesday, January 7, 2014


  This is where I live now.

Sometimes it's cold and rainy.

But even then, it's very beautiful.

  And sometimes, if you're lucky, there are giants on the beach.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Why Modern Young Women Should be Happy with Verbally Abusive Partners

This wonderful advice courtesy of John Rosemond, who I'm pretty sure is on crack. The rage I felt when reading it may have raised my blood pressure to a normal level for the first time in months.

But before I get into personal slurs, read the little gem of advice Rosemond gave to a troubled mother in his advice column. It ran in several papers, including the Shelby Star. I could only find it online at the Charlotte Observer's website here . They ran a more sanitized, socially-acceptable version. This is the fuller one that ran in the Shelby Star.

Q. Our 19-year-old daughter is dating a 19-year-old boy, who, in general, we like. He's not a partier, he doesn't smoke or drink; he's serious about his education; and he has a rational career plan mapped out. Our daughter is also a responsible, level-headed girl. The problem is that the boyfriend's response to almost anything my daughter says is a put-down, a dismissal of her accomplishments or mocking. She says his father does the same thing to him, his brother and their mother; so to him it's "normal." Our daughter is an upbeat confident person by nature, but I know a constant stream of negativity will eventually wear down even the most self-assured person. I have tried calling him out on this in a humorous way, to no effect. My husband is restraining himself from giving this kid a poke in the nose! Suggestions?

I suggest you obtain a copy of the Feb. 19-20 (weekend) edition of The Wall Street Journal and read "Where Have All the Good Men Gone?" by Kay Hymowitz. Or go out and get her book "Manning Up: How the Rise of Women Has Turned Men Into Boys," from which the WSJ article is excerpted. Hymowitz's basic premise is that whereas adolescence for males and females was, not so long ago, between 13 and 18, that's no longer the case.

Today's girls are growing into women and accepting adult responsibilities much faster and more effectively than today's boys, for whom adolescence now extends through their 20s or even 30s.

Your daughter's boyfriend is an exception to the rule, obviously. He's not into partying, playing video- and online games, proving that he can drink more beer than his friends and still remain conscious, and dressing in oversized, ill-fitting clothes that make him look like a six-foot toddler. From your description, he's a find! Do everything you can to keep him!

So he has one annoying habit. OK. Can we all overlook this? Please? For your daughter's sake? I mean, the likelihood of her finding another boy her age who has a coherent plan for the future (as opposed to "I plan on winning 'American Idol' and then replacing Jon Bon Jovi as lead singer of Bon Jovi"--don't laugh--I've heard pretty much the equivalent more than once) is slim.

This talent for sarcasm is most likely the influence of the "family" sit-coms his generation has consumed, in which the constant stream of put-downs is supposed to be funny (unfortunately, to many Americans, it is). His attempts at bad humor are probably symptomatic of a certain amount of social insecurity. I would forgive him for that. He's simply got some growing up to do. That's forgivable, isn't it?

I encourage you to let your daughter deal with this in her own way, in her own time. Growing up for this young man means letting go of this annoying habit. Growing up for your daughter means helping him learn the value of letting go of this annoying habit.

In short, stay out of it. And definitely don't poke him in the nose. That's against the law.

Hm, lets delve into this a little bit. The column has so many faults I don't even know where to begin, so I'll try to keep this cognitive.

First complaint: from the mother's scanty description of the boy in question, Rosemond has crafted a glorified model of responsible manhood that is a complete fiction. While it may have been fun for Rosemond to sit at his computer, dreaming up this sharp-dressing video-game abstainer, he should have stayed focused on the problem. I'll strip it down for you: should a nice girl--or any person, nice or not, male or female--be happy with a partner who puts them down?

Rosemond is a psychologist. (Or so he says). As such, I should think he would recognize a pleasant familial history of verbal abuse that Boyfriend is not just going to 'grow out of'. Rosemond goes on to say that the verbal abuse may stem from "social insecurity." Maybe I'm just a little nuts, but to me, someone who berates another because of their own "insecurity" is not a good partner. Such a person is not just a poor romantic partner--they're unfit for most in-depth social interaction. Would a person like that be someone you'd want to be business partners with? Would you want a parent or best friend to make you suffer for their insecurities? Is that okay?

The entire response is completely incoherent. The man opens up with a long, meaningless personal tirade about how most males act like children--inferring that this mature guy is a real keeper--and then ends by excusing the boyfriend's behavior as a weakness of the immaturity Rosemond so despises, the supposed lack of which was his reason for the girl not dumping him in the first place. So...we're back at square one? Is he a winner or not? Is being a child at 19 good, or bad? I'm just not sure what Rosemond really thinks, and I'm not sure he is, either.

The whole first half leads one to wonder if Rosemond read any more than the beginning of the question. Then, just when you're really starting to think he didn't, he pulls in the 'Be glad he's not in ghetto rags; for God's sakes, keep the boy' bit. (Classic Johnny, by the way).

I am also troubled by Rosemond's lack of perspective. Like an angsty middle-schooler deprived of a first crush, Rosemond is absolutely sure that there are NO OTHER ELIGIBLE MEN AVAILABLE. EVER. It is OVER. It's like the making of an unparalleled Taylor Swift song.

I don't know what kind of young males Rosemond is fraternizing with that convince him so thoroughly of the complete absence of half-way respectable American men, but I know that whatever undesirable crowd Rosemond chooses to surround himself with are not a realistic example. If I actually thought that mature, nice guys were so rare I should immediately hitch myself to the next borderline-abusive Joe Blow I meet with a half-way reasonable plan for his future, as Rosemond seems to advise, such a state would spell extinction for humanity in the long run anyway, completely negating any burning need to find a mate in the near future.

But I think perhaps it goes beyond a disrespect for young men, which Rosemond clearly manifests in this column. I think it also reflects a blatant lack of regard for women.

I mean honestly, 19? That girl is clearly pushing her sell-by date. The whole attitude of the piece infers that she should just be grateful that she has a guy interested in her at all. After all, if she doesn't marry someone who has a fulfilling career and can support her, what will she do? Obviously burdening her parents with her presence and/or hoarding cats till the end of her blighted days is the only other outcome. Clearly she needs to just buck up--what's a little verbal abuse now and then? Her mother says she's "confident", so she could probably use a little putting-down anyway. Right, John?

It's a glorious example of watered-down chauvinism. Rosemond never entertains the idea that the woman in question has any future apart from snaring a socially acceptable, successful male; and while she must depend on this happening to ensure a happy future, it is also put on her to fix the boyfriend's little personality flaws--"Growing up for your daughter means helping him learn the value of letting go of this annoying habit".

See, not only is it her job to correct his immaturity, but her own entry into adult society is dependent upon her ability to meekly perfect and glorify her partner!

Despite the intensity with which Rosemond feels she should snap up this winner, I disagree. I'm probably too bathed in sitcoms and swooning femininity to think really clearly, but it seems to me that even if I were rolling in wealth earned by my responsible, career-implementing husband; being constantly verbally degraded would negate all that financial security, and make my spouse's so-called maturity seem rather weak. In other words, I think any person would have the audacity to be a little unhappy in such a situation. Unless being made to feel like a failure is your thing, in which case I guess you would be happy.

All that aside, we have other little Rosemond quirks to discuss. While I think his little anti-mainstream-culture tirade is adorable in an "Oh, look at me, I'm a cranky old-timer" kind of way, I really don't believe that's exactly the reaction Rosemond was going for. Which makes it a pitiful, space-wasting aside in his usual manner of blithering bitterness at modern society.

And yes: John Rosemond has once again used some unsuspecting parent's concern as a springboard for his goal to convince every literate American that sitcoms are the devil. (Especially The Cosby Show. That evil, evil, evil program has contributed greatly to the decay of families everywhere. Read all about it).

Also, while Rosemond may think his outdated references to 70s-90s pop culture is somehow more understandable or cute, it just makes him seem even more like a slightly acerbic old man confusing his decades. (Bon Jovi? Really? I know no 19-year-old in the last 20 years has told him he wants to replace Jon Bon Jovi. Which also raises dementia concerns, but we don't need to get into that now).

Also, I feel called to point out that poking someone in the nose is not against the law. Not literally. An assault charge is a not wildly unrealistic end to such an action, but just because something is punishable by law doesn't mean it's illegal. (Yeah. I'm nitpicking now).

To get back to the matter at hand: (Rosemond's culturally void tirades are making me go on tirades. Aw. Isn't that sweet?) I would think a more responsible psychologist--or heck, just plain old advice columnist--would come at it from a different angle. Maybe the young woman's parents should encourage her to have a well mapped career plan, and carry on with life.

Even if her boyfriend didn't have a penchant for trash talk, he still wouldn't be able to live her life for her. Only she can create a secure future for herself, and I think that's where the focus should lie.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Why Owning a Cat is a Really Scary Thing*

Owning a cat can sometimes be a terrifying experience. You never know when they're going to suddenly flip, turning from aloof creatures that keep to themselves, to violently affectionate territorial little monsters, seemingly willing to annihilate any other animal vying for your affection.

My cat Hobbie has lately taken it upon himself to scare the living daylights out of me at least once a month. Ignoring the fact that he is disabled, is fixed and therefore should have little no testosterone production going on in his little emasculated kitty body, he has for quite a while now insisted on fighting bigger males on a semi-regular basis. However, that is no longer enough. Oh no. Now he has to get all schizo on me too.

Hobbie doesn't like other people. He hates men. For instance, although our neighbors have fed Hobbie for years, he still conducts himself exactly like a feral cat if they attempt to get near him. He only likes me. He also tolerates my family, but that's only because we all live together. Babies and children disgust him. So do visitors. Whenever he has to be near any of the aforementioned sort of people he'll fix me with this irate stare like, I do this for you, you unworthy creature. Just remember that.

But recently, that all changed.

It started with one bizarre night when Hobbie started dancing around the room, staring crookedly up at the ceiling with this unparalleled look of contentment on his face. It was like his kitty monologue was going: Ooh, look! I see stars! Lots of pretty stars! And I'm a cat! And I'm in a house! Wheeeee! I have three legs! (Or something equally discombobulated and disturbing).

He then proceeded to insinuate himself into my presence in every possible way, lavishing me with physical affectation.

Now, I was up insanely late reading about serial killers, and thinking about how bizarre it would be to work a serial killing animal - think Beast of Gevaudan - into fiction. Do you think maybe I was a little creeped out? It was like having Dr. Jekyll insisting on sitting on your lap while showering you with compliments. I just had to wonder if at any moment he was going to turn into a rabid, claw-wielding Mr. Hyde, diving for my jugular vein with gusto.

Because he also kept grinning at me in this insanely frightening way. It was like being locked in a room with the Cheshire Cat. I kept thinking, what are you going to do with those teeth, Hobbie?

I could only assume he was in an unmatched drug haze. Yes, my cat is a total addict. He keeps hanging with the cats next door, and their parents let them do catnip. I'm tired of trying to make him stop. Don't judge me. (And it makes him act mellow and happy and sometimes he'll let me pet him and tell him how wonderful he is while he's on it).

But anywho, as you can tell, catnip doesn't usually make him act like a cheerful, affection-craving maniac.

I fed him in an attempt to satiate whatever primal urge was making him act so bizarre, and then went to bed because Hobbie never gets on my bed. He can't stand to sleep with me. I wiggle too much. It was the one place I could be safe from him.

I awoke the next morning from one of my epic claustrophobia dreams feeling like I was:

a) having a life-threatening asthma attack

b) being suffocated by a Muppet

No, of course it couldn't be one of those things. That would be too normal. Of course it would be my cat, sitting on my chest and looking cunningly into my face. It was kind of the emotional equivalent of waking up to find someone standing next to your bed with an axe: it's disturbing. And it makes you want to get out of bed and find your mommy really fast.

The next chapter in my saga was Thanksgiving. We had LOTS of family for Thanksgiving. (Which was wonderful). We did a similar thing five years ago. During that holiday, we had family members staying at our house for a week. They actually questioned Hobbie's existence. They just didn't see him. Which is normal. He hates guests. Oh, his food disappeared like clockwork, but otherwise there was no real proof of a feline presence in our house. Because Hobbie hates people.

So what does Hobbie do this Thanksgiving? He saunters into the kitchen, in the thick of the dinner-making action, and begins rubbing himself all over the legs of my aunt who just really dislikes cats.

He then proceeded to make friends with my male cousin. Now, this is slightly more understandable. My cats always loved my grandfather, and my uncle, and this makes perfect sense because they were bona fide cat worshipers, and cats know these things. Naturally my cousin has this gene. So there you go.

But Hobbie seemed to have, for the day, lost his ability to discern who likes cats and who doesn't. He also seemed to never tire of attention from others. Usually he has a short attention span for adoration. He just finds it exasperating after five minutes or so. But for some sick reason, he was suddenly acting like a house cat. I'll admit, I was getting a little jealous.

I would say that the turkey had drawn out his inner Ms. Congeniality, but Hobbie doesn't love turkey, and his personality was completely altered. Rather than allowing willing humans to come into his presence and dote on him, he had actually been making friendly advances, shamelessly currying the favor of every heretofore despised human in the house.

And also, he was acting so giddy I was terrified he might have some degenerative brain disease and might spontaneously start running through our home and mauling house-guests.

I swept him away at the first opportunity and locked him in my parent's room with some food. He seemed to have the munchies anyway. I also thought it best to put him away before he embarrassed himself too much. (A gesture I was sure he would appreciate when he came to his senses).

Since then, Hobbie seems to have recovered some of his cold demeanor and natural feline dignity. However, at this very moment he is hovering over me as I write, pupils dilated, tail twitching. If I make eye contact with him, he places a paw on my arm or even tries to crawl into my lap, purring, claws perpetually extended. Normal? I think not.

I'm going to go feed him and retreat under my covers, but not before I say this: whoever has been giving my cat crack, please stop. You don't know what it's like to live with someone on a perpetual trip. It's getting scarier every day.

*Note: Okay, But I'm not really scared of my house pets (On a regular basis. For that long. Or that much). But most importantly, I am so not a cat lady. Just in case you may have been wondering about that.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Vintage Christmas

Wonderful vintage Christmas pictures, all of which make me feel incredibly happy and festive.

The above picture is cute, but I feel obliged to inform everybody that, although this woman seems overtaken by a spirit of possessive joy upon receiving her delightful little vacuum cleaner, I don't think most would find this a spectacular Christmas present. At least I wouldn't.

Buying your child a Schwinn will make him the toast of the neighborhood.

Take note, people. Gun enthusiasts are having their Christmas gift wishes so blatantly ignored they're having to buy presents for themselves. I want you to think really hard: is there anyone in your life who would like a Colt for Christmas? Or Hanukkah...or Kwanzaa...