I think you should…

…fuck off with the “You should…” suggestions.

Over the summer, a galpal of mine and I were sitting at a tapas bar in Durham, unencumbered by daily responsibilities of parenting and work, feasting and chattering about life in general.  This particular friendship is new and genuinely treasured because Galpal reminds me very much of Kate (Yes, I realize the gravity of that statement and I’m trying not to make that Galpal’s burden because that’s a fucking nightmare of a standard to live up to).  Also, she is wise, brave and just emerging from a serious life overhaul.  I, on the other hand, find myself feeling positively clueless, largely afraid of my own shadow and in the midst of watching everything I spent my entire adult life working for crumble around me.  2015 has been anything but kind or fair for me and a lot of my friends.  I may even go so far as to say that 2015 has been even more challenging and painful than the year following Kate’s death, which says quite a lot since I essentially shut down in 2011.  The only difference between now and then is that in 2011, I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to shut down.  This year, no such luck.  This year, I had to figure out how to move forward and solve my problems while still managing all that requires management.  Had it not been for Galpal and numerous others (some new faces, some familiar faces), I highly doubt I would have been able to pull it off.  Strong and stubborn as I may be, I’m still very much the person who eyeballs that sofa longingly and fights the urge to crawl beneath it and stay hidden for weeks at a time.  If Milkface didn’t need to get to or from school and if I didn’t have to justify my existence during a re-org, my ass would have been under that sofa with a box of Kleenex and a bottle of benzos.  We all know that to be true.

As we were talking about life, in general, the significant obstacles Galpal has overcome and the hideous list of shit that I have to address, the subject of friendly advice (solicited or not) entered the conversation.  One’s friends and loved ones genuinely mean well.  If you care about someone, it’s painful to watch them struggle.  When you’re emotionally invested in someone, you want to help solve their problems.  Unless, of course, you’re an entirely selfish asshat and then you just let them flounder.  There are those in life who, as I say, like to watch the world burn.  But, the well-intended will always be there for you and that is a genuinely amazing thing.  Whether it’s holding your hand while you’re crying, bringing you bottles of booze, taking you out and giving you a much needed change in scenery, sharing their hard-earned wisdom or just making you laugh, the well-intended are treasures.  I consider myself to be beyond fortunate to have many in my life.  And, of course, because I’m an obsessive perfectionist, I usually feel guilty for not appreciating them enough or acknowledging how much they do for me, how much they mean to me and how much they enrich my life.

The conversation went on and I remember going back to something Galpal said a friend of hers mentioned.  It was a “You should…” statement.  “You should go out and do…”  And there, at the bar, I found myself annoyed.  Annoyed bordering on slightly angry.  “You should…”  What “should” any of us do?  Really.  We’re not talking about a life or death issue.  We’re not talking about managing an illness.  We’re not talking about anything critical in nature.  We’re talking about benign lifestyle choices.  We’re talking about things that could potentially make us happy, right?  But when someone says “You should…” and then follows it up with a suggestion that is more suitable to their personality and their needs, it’s not really a suggestion that is suitable for the person being spoken to.  No, it’s a statement about what makes someone else happy and the assumption is “It makes me happy.  It will make you happy, too.”  Again, a great intent and likely very sincere.  Yet, not remotely applicable.  You can’t tell someone to do something and expect a good outcome if the action doesn’t work for the individual.  I can no more tell someone to write down their feelings if they’re not interested in writing than a rando suggesting that I declutter my house, clean or cook a meal to make myself feel better as I have no interest in doing any of those things.  I also lack the time and the energy.

Giving the “You should…” statements the fair benefit of the doubt, one knows the person saying them means well.  The person genuinely cares.  The person wants to see the other person happy and fulfilled.  “You should…” when it comes to certain lifestyle choices is nothing more than an opinion.  While we value our friends’ input, opinions don’t often solutions make.  Sometimes, the opinion can actually make things worse via making the audience feel badly because if the listener doesn’t follow the “You should…” then there’s a feeling of guilt.  “You should…” brings along a lot of negative implications.

Let’s be honest here, are any of us happy when an order is barked at us?  And isn’t “You should…” an order?  Or…am I that loath to direction that I am interpreting something otherwise innocuous as a command?  Therein lies part of the problem.  Shouldn’t we always speak or write to the level of our audience and consider the interpretation of our message?  If I said “You should consider your message because I think you sound like a fucking asshole when you dole out unsolicited advice.” would you interpret my message as helpful and warm or would you say “Fuck.  I managed to piss off Kang.  Again.  Why is she always so fucking brittle?”

That night, at the tapas bar, I decided I detested the “You should…” sentiment.  A few days later, I texted Galpal and said “I’m striking that from my language.  I feel that strongly about this.  I’m no longer going to say ‘You should…’ to anyone.”  For the most part, I have been successful.  Sometimes, I’ll trot it out in a snarktatstic sense.  Sometimes, I catch myself about to say it and then have to stop, correct myself and think of a more meaningful way to frame advice.  Other times, I have finally embraced the most difficult thing of all – keeping one’s mouth shut and just listening to your friends and offering comfort.  Because, if I have learned anything from this fucktastic shitstain of a year, it’s that I know very little about life and that in spite of your hardest work/efforts, your master plans and your intentions; you’re going to be diverted from your path.  And, oddly enough, those diversions aren’t necessarily the worst thing that could happen, either.  Sure, they’re fraught with pain and fear, but they’re also opportunities to learn, grow and challenge yourself.  You never end up on the losing end if you’re gaining something.  Knowledge is something so…there you be.

So, in summary, “You should…” statements fucking suck.  They’re arrogant.  They imply that the person making the statement knows what is best for you and that isn’t always the case, especially in life’s grey areas.  And, to reference a conversation from this morning with Blitz, it’s high time we all “stop defining stuff for other people and not worry about fitting in anyone else’s fucking box.”  Sometimes, things aren’t going to make fucking sense.  Sometimes, the people you love are going to struggle and there isn’t going to be the magical potion that will make them immediately peaceful and happy.  Sometimes, you’re going to have to watch them sort it out on their own and stand by them as they do.  There will be times when we can’t solve problems for other people (unless the problem is solely financial and one of us has a fuckton of money they can part with).  Most of the time, what makes you happy isn’t going to necessarily satisfy someone else entirely or, dare I say, at all.

No more “You should…” anything.  Unless, of course, it’s “You should stop making these statements.”

Naming names…

…or not.

“I will not name the shooter.  I will not give him credit for this horrific act of cowardice.”  John Hanlin, Douglas County Sheriff

And many other peanuts.

There’s a new way to deflect any discussion about gun control after yet another mass shooting.  Rather than actually engage in thoughtful discussion about gun control and, I don’t know, do something about it for once, we’re going to offer up our prayers and tears and recognize those who have fallen, support the families of the victims and deny martyrdom to the criminal who committed the crime.  The mentally ill, white man who shot up this week’s target of choice, a community college in Oregon, shall remain nameless.  So sayeth the sheriff (who did not get shot and certainly not by me who is fundamentally against firearm ownership) and basically everyone else who wants to feel better about themselves but doesn’t want to do much more about the social cancer killing 380 people so far this year and injuring over 1,000.

Nope.  We’re not naming names.

Nope.  We’re not going to change.

Nope.  There is no problem here.

None.  At all.

Except there is.

And we should likely do something about it.

As of today, we have ticked 275 boxes off our calendars.  As of today, there have been 294 mass shootings in the United States.  Is this acceptable?  Can we really sit around and feel comfortable with our ability, as a society, to responsibly manage firearms?

Now, I know those pro-gun types are going to thump their chests and drag out the whole Second Amendment argument.  Very well.  You just won’t ever feel safe in your own homes without your well-regulated militia, will you?  Do you mind if I ask you a very serious question, then?  When is the last time your well-regulated militia assembled to discuss battle strategy?  Are your learning materials coming from Annapolis or West Point?  Who is the General?  Do you have a secret handshake or get to wear a hat like Fred Flintstone’s Loyal Order of the Water Buffalo?  Going bowling with your buddies while secretly wishing you were hanging with The Dude and Donny doesn’t count, either.  I really want to know about your well-regulated militia.  Please leave feedback in the comments below for my edification.  Thank you.

As for the individualists out there looking for an argument – you are not an island.  You are not entirely self-sufficient.  When you drive on the road you built entirely by yourself, live entirely off the grid, rely on no one, then you can moan about your individualistic rights to owning a gun.  Until then, shut your foodholes and accept the fact that you are, indeed, not the sun and Earth does not orbit around you.  You, individualist, may actually have to do something selfless for once in your life.  I know, here’s a hanky.  It’s tough out there for a pimp.  But really, I can empathize.  Shit, I can sympathize.  I used to smoke like a motherfucking chimney and when I had to start huddling under an umbrella in the rain because you didn’t like that my second hand smoke could kill you, I wasn’t upset with you, personally.  I recognized that I had a very dangerous hobby/habit that I needed to surrender.  And I did.  And I’m better for it.  You will be, too.  Trust.

To speak to the naming of the names, the next time there is a mass shooting (because there will be a next time), I think, instead of acting pious and saying “I’m not going to allow the shooter a moment’s glory or let him be a martyr.  Noooooo sirreee, Bob!”  I think we should start naming donors to the NRA.  I think we should start naming the lobbyists.  I think we should start naming the Congressfolk on the take.  If we’re not going to name the perpetrator, let’s name the accomplices, instead.  Maybe, once everyone realizes the blood is on their hands too, they will take a long, hard look in the mirror, man up, put down their inane instruments of death and finally accept the fact that their little toys are dangerously stupid and offer little value to the greater good.

The Four Hour Reading Pledge

By Arvind Jain originally posted to Flickr as "Match on TV"

According to a Nielsen study, Americans spend an average of four hours a day watching television.  I first thought that sounded like an awful lot, until I realized how much the television is on in my own household.  I generally watch the news in the morning if my youngest one is not watching The Jungle Book for the millionth time.  During my lunch hour I usually catch the news again, and in the evening my wife likes to watch The Biggest Loser or American Idol, and we both like PBS and some of the crime dramas.  It seems every time we are home, our television is on.  I can imagine it’s the same in every American household.  Pretty soon four hours does not sound like so much.

But it is a lot.  It is a lot of time that is wasted.  Time that could be better utilized.  Time that could be spent with your family.  Time reading perhaps.  I’ve got nothing against television.  Like I said, we do a lot of television watching in our household.  I just think it’s time for me to expand my brain and fill it with something useful.  Reading stimulates the brain, it’s an active thing.  It requires thinking.  Watching television does not really require much thought, and it really does depend upon the program you are watching whether or not it stimulates your brain.

I propose the following, a Four Hour Reading Pledge.  Instead of turning on the box with moving pictures, perhaps we should spend those four hours on reading instead?  Who is with me?  Let’s try this and see.

Word of the Day: nerds and geeks and dorks, oh my….

There are a lot of nerd-geek-dork pages on the internet. Examples can be found here, here, and at this page, where the differences between the three are illustrated with a venn diagram. These three terms are often used interchangeably, and quite erroneously, by the ignorant populars and other stupids who are just too cool use Wikipedia. Therefore, as someone who has never been cool and easily fits into all three categories (depending on the situation), I thought I’d try my hand at explaining the differences between the three.

As a service to all the cools, of course.

At the top of the hierarchy is the nerd. A nerd usually possesses a particular aptitude for engineering, science, or computer-related stuff. For example, a computer-type nerd knows everything about computers and can tell you what every single part of a computer does. He or she can build you a computer from the bottom up without looking at any instructions. Nerds can solve any engineering-related problem. Additionally, nerds are often highly educated and have remarkable memories. They have skills that are highly desirable, marketable, and bankable. Thus, many nerds are rich.

Somewhere in between the dork and nerd is the geek. One thing to keep in mind is that nerds can also be geeks, but not all geeks can be nerds. While a geek might possess an encyclopedic knowledge of Star Trek, as well as an extensive collection of Star Wars action figures, he’s usually unemployed and spends most of his time playing World of Warcraft and alphabetizing his collection of Dragonlance novels. His own knowledge is too obscure to be of any practical value, so when his computer crashes he has to seek out help from a nerd.

Finally, at the bottom of the pile are the pure dorks. A dork is someone who does not possess any skills whatsoever. He’s into stuff that even geeks would consider a bit too geeky. A typical dork might collect lunch boxes. He is so socially awkward that the only friends he has are other dorks. Napoleon Dynamite is often cited as an example of the typical dork, but I would argue that his sweet dance moves move him up into the geek category.  Maybe even all the way up to nerd.

Until next time.

We are now on Twitter! Follow us or doom on you!

Punch me in the face, Tweeter!!!

Kang World is now on Twitter so you better follow us!  Not only do we have excellent bloggers, but we keep it fresh, like a lake-caught trout.  BTW, the graphic above was stolen borrowed from Elementary Writing’s blog, a fine writing resource.  Word, bitches!

New Rules: Using French in everyday conversation

Since we are a cultured lot here on Project Mayhem we like to use French words occasionally in everyday conversation.  Not only does it demonstrate that we appreciate the finer things in life, like wine, culture and cheese, but it impresses the hell out of the natives and soothes our bruised egos.  Here is an approved list of Project Mayhem French:

  • OUI – even if you’ve never taken high school French, you know that oui means “Yes.”
  • NON – same thing here except it’s the opposite of oui, and that means “No.”
  • MON DIEU – “my God!” as used in this sentence, “Mon Dieu, this TPS report is kicking my ass!”
  • N’EST-CE PAS? – means “isn’t it so,” or “right,” as in “You’re a real jerk, n’est-ce pas?”
  • MERDE – “shit.” Great word to use when you are getting exasperated.  “Merde! I just stubbed my foot on this stupid armoire!”
  • C’EST LA VIE – “such is life.”  As in, “My best friend ran off with my wife, my truck, and my fucking dog.  C’est la vie!”
  • AU NATUREL – “undressed” or in “the natural state.”  Bob:  “Hey, that new intern, I wouldn’t mind seeing her au naturel, non?”  Marge: “You’re a real jerk, n’est-ce pas?”
  • QUELLE HORREUR – “what a horrible thing,” or “how awful!”  Seen in Paris, “Quelle horreur!  Is that American putting ketchup on my quiche?”