The Canadian Club











Speaking of bringing the awesome sauce, Russ, thanks for that last post.  So if we can all agree that Facebook is like a high school cafeteria, when do you think senioritis will set in?  Or has it started already?  The thrill of finding all our elementary school friends is over; snowball fights and the like have disappeared; the Great Top 5 Mania of Early ’09 has passed and even Mafia Wars/Farmville/Whatever seem to have quieted down.  So is the experience going to be reinvented again, or has everybody moved over to Twitter — which I still don’t get, even though I have an account and all?  Is there someplace entirely different where the kids are now congregating, which we Olds are only going to find out about as it is on its way to becoming utterly passé?  I know there have been tons of articles about how people are closing down their accounts, but I think we can all agree that the New York Times Magazine isn’t the most reliable source for trend-spotting.  If Facebook is on the wane, though, please tell me that it will revive itself in some way.  Housebound weirdo that I am, I need the company.

You know what hasn’t died down?  The allure of trying to figure out what the hell is wrong with you through internet symptom searches.  How can this possibly be anything but useful and beneficial, I ask you?  Here’s my trouble.  Remember that weird chest-wall muscle pain I had a while back?  Well, I’ve been beset with these vague, crazy-lady symptoms ever since:  muscle aches, skin pain/hypersensitivity (feels like a sunburn but no redness or rash), a couple of low-grade fevers, occasional headaches and, yesterday and today, slight dizziness.

I know.  Victorian neurotic territory, right?  I figure it’s gotta be either stress plus over-work, or just the remnants of some weird but relatively harmless virus.  The fact that the discomfort is mild and so, so vague  (I’m totally able to function) makes me hesitant to go to the doctor.  I mean, that is such a dubious set of complaints.  Who wants to acknowledge to his doctor that he is a loon when he could just stew in internet-saturated bewilderment and then post about it on his blog?

This is why I’ve decided to hold off on making a doctor’s appointment until I come down with hysterical blindness.  I figure I am this close anyway, so why not wait until I can present with the full nutjob monty?  Plus, what can my doctor tell me that I can’t find on the internet?  There are zillions of forums full of people posting about their skin pain and they are all totally sane and helpful and not at all filled with people who are self-diagnosed with every single crazy problem in existence — or not in existence.

Multiple Chemical Sensitivity?  Ooooh, tell me more!*

*[An addendum:  yes, I’m sure someone has this.  I am equally sure that not everyone who thinks he or she has this actually has this.]

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{November 16, 2009}   omg did u hear what he just said

stupidpeople

Russ, I know you’ve got your thing about David Sedaris, but that’s just too bad.  I am not ashamed to say that I love this passage from his story, “See You Again Yesterday.”

Potential boyfriends could not smoke Merit cigarettes, own or wear a pair of cowboy boots, or eat anything labeled either ‘lite’ or ‘heart smart.’ Speech was important, and disqualifying phrases included ‘I can’t find my nipple ring’ and ‘This one here was my first tattoo.’ All street names had to be said in full, meaning no ‘Fifty-ninth and Lex’ and definetly no ‘Mad Ave.’ They couldn’t drink more than I did, couldn’t write poetry in notebooks and read it out loud to an audience of strangers, and couldn’t use the words flick, freebie, cyberspace, progressive, or zeitgeist. They could not consider the human scalp an appropriate palette for self-expression, could not own a rainbow-striped flag, and could not say they had ‘discovered’ any shop or restaurant currently listed in the phone book. Age, race, and weight were unimportant. In terms of mutual interests, I figured we could spend the rest of our lives discussing how much we hated the aforementioned characteristics.

So you know how some words or phrases are either self-negating (e.g., “classy” or “no offense“) or self-betraying — in the sense that no one ever wears a shirt printed with a complaint about “stupid people” who is not, him- or herself, a stupid person?  Obviously, there are millions of little cues that give us insight into whether someone is OK or Not OK.  Cues that, we hope, evolve from the incredibly silly ones we looked for when we were younger (“OMG, he’s wearing Skechers!  Ew!”) into somewhat more important and telling ones (“OMG, he yelled at the waitress/drives a giant SUV/voted for Nader in 2000“).  We’re tuned into this stuff because, at least according to the genius ev-psych people, we had to learn to categorize people into Us and Them way back in the caveman days, or we’d get, like, speared, or whatever.

clanofthecavebear

Of course, some of those traits that we find intolerable boil down to aesthetics (like my ongoing appreciation for David Sedaris, whom you scorn).  Those are the ones that are ultimately forgivable, or even potentially lovable (think of the plot of every single screwball comedy).  Others, though, like the waitress example above, seem to point to actual defects of character and are thus “dealbreakers.”  And yeah, yeah, I recognize that using the word “dealbreaker” probably falls into the “dealbreaker” category.  (I’m, like, so whatever — you could do so much better.)

What I get hung up on, though, to the point of maniacal obsession — and I know you do, too, Russ, since it’s kind of the whole focus of our blog, and, let’s face it, our friendship — are the cues that fall into an ambiguous area, where the line between aesthetic and moral failings start to blur.  You know what I mean.  Excessive discussions of physical fitness, lingerie as Halloween costumes, over-use of “Any-vow-bag” cliches.  I’m sort of ashamed to admit that I love this aspect of Facebook, which is at its core just one big middle school cafeteria.  It’s so hard to resist the invitation to judge other people’s priorities, hobbies, taste and grammar (glass houses, pots and kettles, I get it).  And even as I’m scrutinizing, I know that I’m being scrutinized, and that I’m probably just about as lovely and fascinating now as I was in eighth grade.  As Russ’s Mom once said, “Nobody is his or her best self on Facebook.”  So you and I, Russ, with our fancy social networking and our blogging and all — are we, like, students of the human condition?  Or are we just middle-school brats?  Simply by virtue of our willing participation in the culture of oversharing, are we putting on the “stupid people” T-shirt?



{October 19, 2009}   My body is a temple

Ugh.  I’m staring down the-project-that-I’m-trying-to-finish-and-can’t-finish-oh-dear-lord-when-will-this-be-done.  I’m also all “worked out” and showered and wondering the following:

You and I, Russ, we try to eat right, we try to stay active.  There are some folks who, while perhaps supporting and possibly even engaging in these pursuits, nonetheless take the stance that it’s embarrassing or unseemly to discuss them.  At the other extreme, well, we’ve all seen those Facebook posts.  (You know what I mean.)

So my questions for the day are as follows.  When is it OK, if ever, to discuss the things one does for physical fitness?  Running, bike-riding, (American-style) yoga and the like can plausibly be considered hobbies, but does that make them any less boring to talk about than the number of push-ups you can do?  Are all of these activities equally lame and self-indulgent topics of conversation?  If not, why not?



et cetera