Dirty Thirty, Dirty Thirty

You all recall I’ll be turning the big three-OH in less than six months; on April 15th to be precise.  Thirty is a huge deal to me, although it remains to be seen exactly why.

For years I had a huge and overtly unrealistic list of things I wanted to do by the time I turned thirty, of which not one thing on the list was completed.  Not a one.  So for my 100th blog post, I went ahead and recreated my list with some things I thought were a little more realistic.  To review, that list in short was:

1) Finish 40 books for the calendar year 2011 and get a good start on 40 for 2012

2) Go on a date with Wolf Blitzer

3) Prove to myself once and for all that I am going to stop letting what other people say influence me so much

4) Buy a plane ticket to take a trip home in 2012

5) Take a road trip to northern California to visit the John Steinbeck museum

6) Eat sushi

In hindsight, though, faithful blog followers, short of #2 inspiring me to Photoshop a picture of myself with Wolf Blitzer, that list was pretty lame.  There were no typical-Heather crazy times on there.  There was nothing too terribly difficult or lofty.  (I mean, seriously … eat sushi?)  In the end, I think I was just trying to cop out so that I could hit thirty and say that I had actually done the things I wanted to do before turning thirty.  Well, I’m still months out and have accomplished almost all of those things already.  I’ve almost finished my forty books for the calendar year and have stacked up my pile for next year.  I had happy times in Photoshop Land with Wolf.  Recently I decided to ignore the majority of the comments made by a group of writers I previously allowed influence my writing to the last period, thus proving to myself that I actually can overcome uninhibited influence of others.  I ate sushi (albeit just a taste) and I have planned a trip to the Steinbeck museum as well as booked my trip home (in fact, that very trip is happening a few weeks before the dirty thirty hits).

So it’s time for a revision.  Here’s my new list of things to do before I turn thirty on April 15th … this time, please tell me if it’s lame:

Meet an author that actually inspires me

I’m not talking about the people that write that glitter puke crap like Twilight or Harry Potter; I’m talking about a real author.  Someone that has made me cry when I read their poetics, or that has given me the hope and courage to move forward with my own writing.  In graduate school, I always wished I had been in a situation to had the opportunity to meet the likes of Bertrand Russell or Plato; Nietzsche, Sartre, or Simone de Beauvoir.  Now that I spend hours and hours a day reading, I salivate at what it would have been like to meet some of the American greats – many of whom I missed by only a few decades.  So goal #1 is to meet an author alive today that actually inspires me.

Finish my manuscript, once and for all

A few months ago, I finished the manuscript of my first book only to turn myself around a few weeks later and start the entire thing over from pieces of the original.  Since then, I have thrown away more writing than I have ever thrown away – in all of my years writing professionally as well as academically.  I have learned so much about myself during this time, mainly that I have self-confidence issues when it comes to my writing, that I let myself get caught up in what others want rather than what I know is good, quality writing, and that I lack the focus to stay on track sometimes.  So you see, in meeting this goal by dirty thirty I will have done a lot of other personal growth in the process.

Go for a full week without dropping the f bomb

… or the s bomb, the d bomb, the GD bomb … you get the point.  I swear a lot.  I know, I know, faithful blog followers – perhaps I’m being too hard on myself.  But seriously, I curse worse than some of the sailors I know.  I am sure I can go for a day or two without dropping any of the bombs mentioned above, but a whole week?  That is quite a challenge.  This isn’t to say that after the week is over I will swear less, just that it would be nice (I’m sure) for the people around me to not have to hear my potty mouth for a week.

Finally get up the courage to delete dysfunctional family from Facebook

We all have at least a couple dysfunctional family members – many of us have more than a few.  The difference between you and me, though, is that I can admit that they are dysfunctional and I also know that no line of blood, nor obligations of “contributing to my existence,” require me to associate with them when they’re that messed up.  The first step to mentally freeing myself from the psychological discord that accompanies every family holiday?  Deleting those psychos from my Facebook friends list.  I’ve hemmed and hawed over this one for months, it’s time to give them the ax.

Begin turning my cell phone off for three hours every day, and stick with it

I feel overly connected.  Everyone can reach me at all times – be it over email, cell phone, Facebook, Twitter, you name it.  It’s frustrating because with such accessibility it seems that people now expect to get a response immediately.  This really hit home for me last week when a woman I met at a conference called me to ask a question about Facebook, then called me three more times and emailed me twice upset because I had not returned her phone call right away.  Effective immediately, my phone is going off from 1:00 pm – 4:00 pm PST.  Let’s see how long it lasts…

Start a new trend like owling, planking, or tebowing, only with some sort of a purpose or message.  You know planking was so stupid and had no message.  Then owling and tebowing – both stupid.  But there’s also something to be said for the impact of an Internet sensation and the potential to actually carry a message.  So I want to start a new Internet trend with a purpose.  Sure, probably five people will participate … but five is better than none.

So, faithful blog followers – do you think I can do it all?


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The Five Types of Interruptors

Time for another Pet Peeve … this one is really high up on my list, I would say about #3.  This Pet Peeve, though, is a real blood pressure buster for me.  It’s nothing compared to the “space between exclamatory sentence and exclamation point”-thing; and gossipers ‘aint got nothing on it either.  What could be so bad, you ask?  People who excessively interrupt.

I’m not referring to people that accidentally walk into a room while you are putting the moves on your girlfriend in hopes that she will finally put out.  I’m also not talking about a person who has to stop a conversation for a bathroom break or to let their wife know they’re going to be home late.  Nope, I’m just talking about people who in the course of conversation cannot stop themselves from cutting in with their own, random bullshit.

In my mind, there are five major types of interruptors.  With the exception of the first, they are all enough to make me need a blood pressure cuff to make sure I’m not about to stroke out; although, each have their own subtle nuances to the craft of being an arrogant asshole.

#1  The occasional, harmless interrupter.  This person doesn’t actually realize that they are interrupting, and if they do they usually stop and apologize for it.  This happens to me once in a while and it’s usually when I have been around people that interrupt a lot – I just get used to feeling like I need to get my word in before someone else talks me out of the room.  While interruptions of all kinds are pretty damn annoying, this one is probably the least abominable.

#2  On the lower end of the annoyance spectrum, there is also the person who just plain interrupts.  This person was very likely raised in a barn, or a family of uneducated and impolite hillbillies, because they really believe it is just an Okay thing to do.  Very likely, there is nothing behind their interruptions except for the fact that they have absolutely no manners or common sense.  I don’t have much to say about these people except for the fact that they need to get some formal training in social etiquette.

#3  The corporate executive who always has to cut you off to take a phone call.  This interruptor may or may not actually be a corporate executive, but they sure as hell think they are.  While I get that sometimes people do have important phone calls to take, nothing is more annoying than getting that “one second” finger held up in your face while a phone call is taken.  Every time this has happened to me, the phone call could have waited, reminding me of how little importance I and our conversation was to the interruptor.  The thing these interruptors can never seem to grasp is that just because you have a cell phone does not mean you always have to answer it.

#4  That asshole who is clearly not paying attention to you and then interrupts you.  This person is horrible on two levels:  first, they are not paying attention to you; second, they then interrupt you.  You can always tell this is happening because prior to interrupting you to talk about their own bull shit, they’ll periodically go “uh huh” .. “yeah,” while looking at something else (like a cell phone or television).  This is particularly frustrating simply because an interruption, alone, says that what you have to say is not important, but to precede that by clearly not paying attention – well, I have to ask why are we talking if I am that uninteresting to you?

#5  The worst of all interrupters is that complete douche that not only interrupts you, but often finishes your sentences and/or pays absolutely no attention to what you have to say the entire time while finishing what you have to say.  This is so goddamned annoying:  when people interrupt me and then finish my sentence for me.  The other day I was talking to someone about our plans in a few weeks and he kept interrupting me and finishing my sentence.  By the end of the fifteen minutes of this back and forth process rife with frustration, our plans were no more set in stone than they had been before the conversation even began – simply because he kept interrupting me and finishing my sentences with the opposite of what I was actually saying.  To this interruptor, it is not only a matter of “why are we talking if I am that uninteresting to you?,” but also a matter of “if you already know the answer, why the fuck did you ask?”

If you are a friend or family member of me, it is very possible that I am referring to you in this post, simply because so many of you do these things all the time.  To you:  please stop.  There are even a few of you that fall under #s 4 and 5, which begs I ask myself the question:  why the hell am I hanging around you?  I’m not suggesting that we all go out and tell the interruptors of the world that they are stark-raving douche bags – that would be uncouth.  I’m simply suggesting that we all consider whether we are doing one of these five interruptions and mend our ways.

Dining at its Finest

Photo Credit Alice@96.5

Hey you over there!  Yeah, you!  The complete douche in this restaurant, sitting at a table on his cell phone … you!  The guy that is talking so loud I can hear the entire conversation; yeah, you know who you are.  I actually feel like we have known each other for years at this point.  I’m so sorry to hear that the merger at your all-important company fell through, but I’m elated to hear that your wife is pregnant with twins after three years of unsuccessful attempts to cool down those spermies.  Such news must be truly important if it has to occur in such a time, at such a place, and in such a manner as to ruin everyone else’s meal.  Across the restaurant there is another guy sitting on his cell phone too – although he is elderly and appears to not realize that cell phone etiquette does exist.  Is there a “who can talk on their cell phone the loudest” competition going on that I was made unaware of?  Had I known I would have certainly entered it myself by talking for thirty-plus minutes, as loudly and obnoxiously as possible, in this fine establishment, attempting to ruin everyone else’s meals.

Photocredit ChildfreeChic

Oh look!  Your friends came to let their children run wild, screaming and stamping on other people’s feet, while you continue your conversation and just use the loudness of the children as a reason to talk even louder.  And I see they’ve brought their baby as well.  I suppose this means the baby is going to scream and cry the entire time and spit food all over the place.  Maybe (if we’re lucky) its parents will talk about what kind of diaper they changed before coming in; or the mother will accidentally squirt us with her breast milk when she goes to feed the kid as she wolfs down her All-Star Grand Slam breakfast.  I tell you that the last time that happened to me (four months ago at a Souplantation), I just really enjoyed tasting my soup and salad return to my mouth at the realization that a complete stranger had squirted breast milk on my hand.

I think you all get the point by now.  I don’t know what it is, but almost every time I go out to eat I encounter either one or both of the scenarios above (which is frequent … you all know my policy on slaving in the kitchen, not to mention the sheer reality of the fact that a healthy meal, which is also tasty, is cheaper bought in a restaurant with healthy standards, rather than made at home).  Maybe it’s where I’m going, although it seems to happen everywhere.  Perhaps the real problem is that people around the country are realizing that the rising cost of groceries and healthy options at a realistic price doesn’t beat all the “kids eat free”/”happy hour” options there are available now.

Or maybe it’s just that the world is full of people that think they are the center of the world; people that feel that they are entitled to have loud cell phone conversations wherever they want.  People that really think it is acceptable to talk on the phone while having dinner with you, making you wait while they have their conversation that is so much more important than you.  I’ve got one for you, obnoxious cell phone user:  how about you have dinner with the person on the phone instead of me, if the conversation is so much more important?  Maybe the world is full of people that think the cost of their meal includes daycare, or people that think that because they talk about dirty diapers and breast milk all the time, that must mean that everyone wants to talk about dirty diapers and breast milk all the time.

Here’s the deal:  no one wants any of that.  When the majority of people go out to eat, it’s for a relaxing time.  It is not to be bothered by cell phone calls, to be treated like a cell phone call is more important than their company; it is not to babysit your children or be stepped on or disgusted.  It just isn’t any of it.  I challenge you all to consider how your dining experience affects others the next time you go out to eat – maybe you won’t let your kid run around wild, or be so quick to answer that all-important phone call.  9.5 out of 10 calls can wait for twenty minutes until you get the bill, anyway.