Gemmy, You’re My Bro!

Scrubs and Psych two of my favorite shows right now.

Both shows feature extremely close friendships between two male protagonists, often dabbling in behavior that seems to defy acceptable dude-code(1)(2) .  While the relationship between J.D. and Turk is certainly entertaining, though, it’s the complimentary relationship between Shawn and Gus that really amuses me.

Shawn is clever and funny, but often short-sighted (oh the irony) and narcissistic.  Gus is the responsible one, and can be stuffy at times, except for any time he sees a good-looking woman, at which point he becomes some goofball rico suave.   But he’s still my favorite. As my hubby says, Gus is one dapper motherfucker, and for some reason, I laugh every time he says “You know that’s right.”  Plus, while extremely impressive,and even enviable, Shawn’s skills of observation would often be useless without Gus’s ability to give them context with his store of practical and book knowledge.  They are peas in a pod.  Bros.

At any rate you may imagine my amusement (and secret pride) when my husband teasingly compared these bromances to my and my best friend’s behavior when we are together.  My best friend and I have “been together” since we were in fourth grade (that’s 23 years, give or take,) we’ve been through a lot, we went to school together, we got high together (we subsequently got in trouble together.)  We’ve had ups and downs, been separated by people and miles, and there is nothing we wouldn’t do for one another.

So without further ado, why my and I bestie have a chick bromance :

We tell each other the harsh truth and don’t take it personally.

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 We can disagree and even “argue…” and then we’re over it.  No drama, no grudges.

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 We’re both married but not much has changed…

BroM257cffdce208890We’re at home in one another’s homes…

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And we probably know one another better than our own spouses.

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We’re not afraid to be stupid together.

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 We respect and even compliment one another’s differences.

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 We’ve always got each other’s back.

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And we know we’ll be friends until we’re old and gray.

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No Disrespect But…To Be Honest…

A lot of people like to think they know other people, that they’re adept at detecting deception and above being fooled.  I always cringe when people recite that drivel about how people’s eyes move “up and to the right” for the truth and “down and to the left” for a lie, or whatever they say it is.  I remember very clearly when I was in college, one of my psychology professors telling the class that this was patently false.  Directionality of gaze was not so much the issue; rather a person averting their gaze in general, or being unable to look someone else in the eyes, could signify deception.

Then again, it could signify a lot of things; distraction, feelings of inadequacy or shyness, feelings of guilt (unrelated to lying.)  Plus, anyone who’s ever been done dirty by a spouse or best friend could probably tell you it’s completely possible for a person to look you square in the eyes and lie to your face.

Of course, I’m digressing, as usual.  The point is, a lot of the so-called clues to detecting when someone is lying to you, seem, in my opinion, vague and unable to be extrapolated to the majority of people with enough accuracy to be conclusive.  That may read like a mouthful, but all I really mean is that these “tells” don’t occur with enough consistency or reliability to be useful in most situations.  There are too many variables, and unless you are the type of person who likes to take chances with your relationships, you don’t want to accuse someone you care about of lying unless you’re damn sure.

Perfect example;  I’ve seen it mentioned before that people who qualify their statements with remarks like “To tell you the truth,” “Frankly,” and “To be honest,” are actually unconsciously cuing you to the fact that they are about to lie to you.

Am I the only person, then, that regularly uses those expressions…and then proceeds to do exactly that– tell the truth?  I can’t speak for everyone, but when I use that phrase, it usually means that what I’m about to tell you will either seem A) surprising/unexpected coming from me, or B) that what I am about to say is going to be the truth, but perhaps an unpleasant truth.  

Anyway, I’m definitely not disputing that there are often physiological and physical signs present when a person is lying.  However, I think these signs need to be taken in context.  The fact that lie detector tests are not considered reliable or accurate enough to be used in court should be at least some indication that many of these signs of deception are not consistent enough between subjects to be 100% reliable.  I would guess that some indicators are also more accurate than others.  For instance, involuntary reactions like pupil dilation and micro-expressions would likely be a more reliable indicator of deception than a turn of phrase, such as “To tell the truth,” the use of which is subjective depending on the speaker.  (For instance, perhaps that phrase was used frequently throughout the speaker’s childhood by his mother, and thus is a learned mannerism and has no bearing on deception.)

I’m sure there are people out there like Dr. Cal Lightman in Lie to Me* (I think they’re called poker players)and I have great admiration for people with that skill set.  But I doubt there are many of us regular Joes that can do what Cal does.  I’d wager that individually, how effective each of us is as a human lie detector will depend, in one part, on how much we know our subject, and in another part, how observant and aware we are of other people in general.

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Tangential to that topic, I’ve heard it said that people who preface their opinions with “No offense intended,” “No disrespect,” or some similar sentiment, are in fact, about to insult you.

This is another blanket statement with which I disagree.  It may be true that a lot of people use this phrase as a passive aggressive way to take a jab at someone, but–and again, I’ll only speak for myself here– when I say “No disrespect,” it is often when I know my opinion is directly contradictory to the other persons’s, or when there seems to be no way to stand behind my point without seeming combative.  It’s been my experience that some people become almost automatically defensive and even hostile when confronted with an opinion that is very different from their own.  Some people take it as a personal affront.  If you don’t believe me, scroll through your Facebook wall.  I’m sure you’ll eventually find at least one ridiculously hostile argument over politics, religion, sports, or something even less significant.

Anyway, as usual, I’ve sort of taken a short post and gotten way too analytical about it.  Thanks for bearing with me and my rambling.

And if  you don’t like it, No disrespect, But to be Honest...fuck you.  (Just kidding…sort of.)

Update (aka: What Sh*t is Going Down this Friday) (*updated)

The academic portion of my studies in dog training with the Animal Behavior College has nine stages.  Some of them are longer than others, and after each stage, I take an open book test.  I can study online any time, but I requested hard copies of the material.  It’s no extra charge and not only is it easier for me to study that way, with less note-taking, but I’ll also have the materials at hand for any future reference.  But my books haven’t come yet, and I didn’t want to waste time, as my first Stage Exam was due only a week after the projected date of the books’ arrival (April 19th,) so I started studying online.

This was about a week and a half ago.

Today, I got the grade for my Stage 3 exam!  Yes, I have completed three stages (or chapters, as I like to think of them,) and taken three exams.  I’ve gotten 94%, 97%, and 95% respectively.  The second stage exam was on learning theory.  Permit me to brag a moment… Wait! I don’t need your permission; this is my blog!  Anyway, my academic “handler” told me that he was pleasantly surprised by my score, as many students have trouble with that chapter.  I told him I’m sure my background in psychology helped, as this was kind of like a refresher.

Pavlov's Dog (photo: howstuffworks.com)

Pavlov’s Dog
(photo: howstuffworks.com)

Anyway, I’m really pleased with my progress, and have been checking the mail everyday on the off-chance my books come early (I received an email that they had been shipped, so it’s not out of the realm of possibility.)  I’d like to have them before starting Stage 4; I don’t want to take notes by hand anymore.  All I need is my trusty highlighter!

On another note, today is pizza day!  On Fridays, hubby and I often have a friend over and order either pizza or Japanese from Yamato.  I just found out Little Caesar’s still has/just got back their square, deep dish pizza.  And considering that I’ve sort of fallen off the strict calorie watching wagon (well, I was only ever hitching a ride on that bad boy to begin with,) I decided I needed to really torch some calories today.   Four pieces of that pizza will cost me about 1350 calories…  And let’s be real; I can easily eat four pieces.   Also, it’s ridiculous how excited I get over the prospect of yummy food.

New Image, courtesy of the AlienRedQueen

New Image, courtesy of the AlienRedQueen

See, you replace the dog food with…well, food food.  And that little dog there represents me– you can tell because of the eyeliner I added and the bad-ass doggie tattoo (there wasn’t enough room to put “Mom” on it.)

Now I’m just killing time, trying to kill calories, and keeping my kid happy until pizza time.

So, anyway, that’s my Friday in a nutshell.  How’s yours?

Update on the Update:  MY BOOKS ARE HERE!  Thank you, UPS man!

My goody box! Two head collars and a halter, as well as treat samples and a free Kong!  See my sexy polo shirt?

My goody box! Two head collars and a halter, as well as treat samples and a free Kong! See my sexy polo shirt?

DP: Helpless? I Don’t Think So!

The DP Challenge for today is sort of ironic:

Helplessness: that dull, sick feeling of not being the one at the reins. When did you last feel like that –- and what did you do about it?

It’s irony is two-fold in that I have felt sort of helpless about my life for a while.  Please understand, I am not unhappy with my life.  I have a wonderful, hard-working, good-looking hubby and a beautiful, intelligent, and sweet two year old girl.  I wouldn’t trade them for anything…  and yet, other aspects of my life have been suffering for a while, for many reasons.

I’d say the root of this is probably the unpleasant shock that came when I graduated from college in 2005 with a double degree… and could not get a job.   Getting a job was like getting credit in a way.  If you don’t have credit, you can’t get credit.  Similarly, there are so many people in the job market today that even in specialized positions, employers feel they have a wide sea of eager fish to choose from.  We eagerly await their return calls, while they have their choice of prospect after prospect in a revolving door of interviews.  Also, they want education.  They want that little piece of paper that says you went to school for at least for years and your education is specialized in this or that.  But…

They also want job experience.  I worked my way full time and went to school part-time, and I worked part time and to school full-time, and I’m sure variations of the two.  But my job was at a mortgage company– read: not my desired career field.  So when exactly, after working in the day and then going off to school in the evening, or visa versa, was I supposed to have time to intern for job experience.  I had my own apartment, no roommates, bills to pay.

Also, turns out my majors were not well thought out.  Turns out, to get a decent job in Psychology, you pretty much need a Master’s degree, and to work in a specialized field in Criminal Justice, it’s usually advised that you walk a beat.

Maybe my counselor in the Student Aid office should have mentioned some of this stuff when she was suggesting I declare a double major.  Just saying.

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Maybe you should have planned better and got a job in your career field, you may say.

To which I would answer either 1) How, with no education?  or

2) Hindsight is 20/20.  Should I continue to pay for making ill-informed or uninformed choices forever?

But alas, I digress…  The point is, suffice it to say, I only had a general idea of what I might want to do.  It’s moot now anyway, because I don’t think I could stomach the job I initially dreamed of having, a criminal profiling job.  I’ve become too sensitive.

And despite having a fulfilling home life, my “career” has fallen by the wayside.

I also have long had aspirations of writing novels as well, but have never been able to complete a novel length manuscript (see my post on writer’s block.)

I have also long wanted to work with animals.

I have a lot of interests and a little experience with a lot of things.  In other words, I know a little about a lot.

Do you see my problem here?  My goals are many and thus I have not given 100% to any of them.  There’s also the money problem.  I haven’t held another full time, career type position since my three and a half year stint at the mortgage company.  Not for lack of trying.  Just a no-go.  So we don’t really have extra money now, even for me to invest in myself.  Similarly, hubby has some ideas of his own he  may or may not decide to pursue.

Well, this brings me to the second reason the DP Challenge for today is sort of ironic.  I have been entertaining the idea for a while that I would love to work either in animal control or with police and service dogs.

Yesterday, I found out my sister is going to school to work with dogs.  I talked to her on the phone today and she offered to send the info about her program.  I am excited, but I am already thinking of all the reasons this won’t work out for me.

I won’t have the money for the program; I won’t have the time; There’s no one to watch the baby if I have to go to classes while hubby is at work; Will hubby be upset if I want to go to school and he still hasn’t gotten to?

But this could be the first step in me “taking the reins back” on my professional life, so to speak.  I also tend to vacillate between being hopeful and being pessimistic about my career situation, and so maybe I need to put a cork in the negativity and, you know… like Nike says, Just do it! Swish!

Tunnel Vision: More on the Predictable Pathology of “Bad Guys”

Bad guys are pretty predictable.  Especially Hollywood bad guys.  I’ve noticed a few banalities commonalities amount these TV and movie baddies, and I wonder how often real-life bad guys fall afoul of their own predictable character flaws.

....his face just pisses me off...

….his face just pisses me off…

Aside from the usual single-minded arrogance which allows them to wreak havoc with other people’s family, money, and lives with little or no assault to their delicate psyches, they always seem genuinely surprised and outraged when one of their friends, family members, or partners becomes casualties of the crimes they are committing.

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You can’t blame him; he’s bat-shit crazy!

If you and your friends are doing something sneaky, underhanded, or downright malicious to someone else, chances are someone in the group will have no qualms about stabbing you in the back, figuratively or literally, if the opportunity arises or it will increase their payday. Similar but not exactly the same is the the naive sort of tunnel vision that bad guys seem to have in regards to their partners in crime.  Maybe in a way it’s a form of arrogance that allows them to overlook the fact that they are all bad guys.  After all, you’re all no better than rabid dogs anyway.

WTF, dude?  That was MY bloody rabbit?

WTF, dude? That was MY bloody rabbit head!

And yet… the bad guys are always charmingly shocked when one of their own turns on them.  I feel like saying to the TV villains, while petting the screen affectionately, Awww, isn’t that cute?  They’re all hurt and surprised.  That’s just so adorable… and stupid.

And I just throw my hands in the air and– (just kidding).   I just kinda smirk in a self-satisfied manner and think, serves you right, muthafucka!

Anyway, this concept is actually one of many common TV tropes.  So…maybe the bad guys need to bone up on their prime time dramas before their next heist or… whatever.

Are You There, God?

When I was fifteen, I told my dad I didn’t want to go to church anymore.  I very calmly explained to him that it wasn’t right for me at that time in my life.  I never wanted to believe just because I was afraid not to, or because I was afraid of death.  (And believe me, I am afraid of death.)  I told him maybe one day– when I was ready– I would come back to the Church.  I tried to explain my well-thought-out reasoning to him maturely…

And then I told him if he tried to make me go, I’d stop coming to his house for visits on weekends.

Needless to say, I didn’t have to go to church anymore.  Maybe he understood…maybe I broke his heart a little.  But since that time I have been searching, in my own way, for the answers.

For some people it’s simple.  Some people were  raised with a faith that they never felt the need or desire to question.

Some people are so immersed in their faith that they literally can not conceive of someone doubting God’s existence; they use rote faith as proof… ie. “How can you look around at this beautiful world and not see God everywhere?”  Sort of  solipsistic, isn’t it?

And then there are those who insist that faith is about believing in the absence of evidence.  In other words, if you want to believe, you just believe.

I am none of these people. I have issues with organized religion.  I’d love to believe there is a God, but I’m not sure I 100% like the Catholic God I was raised with.  Or rather, the representation of him.  Many, many Christians interpret sections of the bible in ways which suit them, latching on to certain ideas, rejecting or ignoring others.  And then there is the question of how literal the bible is to be taken, and then how to interpret the contradicting ideas–

-Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live… but…

-Thou shalt not kill.

Only God is allowed to judge, yet we make judgments on our fellow man all the time, often based on our interpretation of “God’s word.”

Then there is the question of whose God is the “right” God.

Also, I have a very analytic mind.  My majors in school were Psychology and Sociology, so I tend to approach the idea of religion and faith in the context of those disciplines.

But all of that’s academic.  In other words, it’s not the real point of this post.

A couple of years ago, my husband and I went through a period of many losses.  Jobs, family members, a miscarriage, our home…  At four and a half months pregnant, hubby and I uprooted and moved 800 miles on three hours’ notice.  We were going through a very financially and emotionally stressing time, my husband’s unemployment at one point being held for three months (three months with NO income and a baby on the way,) and my mother and I were in the worst fight of our lives.  I actually worried the stress would harm my unborn baby.

My best friend, who is pretty much “born again,” only not in the annoying, bible-thumping way, urged me to come to church with her, and to put my trust in God and ask for his help.  So I tried.  I really did.  I prayed, although my praying was stunted because I constantly over-thought everything even AS I prayed.  I would tell God about my day, and then say, “But I guess you already knew all that…”  and then chide myself for presuming to guess what God may or may not know.  (Weird, I know, but I’m Obsessive-Compulsive, so what do you expect?) I found it hard to concentrate, and my mind would wander so I actually started keeping a prayer journal.  I also did go to church with my best friend.  My husband went once or twice, more to support me than out of any feelings of faith.

And the funny thing is…I actually did start to feel a measure of peace.

Fast-forward to after my daughter’s birth.  Like most new mothers probably, I was overwhelmed with emotions, chiefly deep love and deep, deep fear.  Becoming a mom changed me in many ways, some expected, some not…  One key difference is that I became infinitely more sensitive to media reports of violence against children.  Especially violence perpetrated by people the children are supposed to be able trust.  Like their parents.  The number of family annihilators, mothers murdering their infants, and children abused in horrific ways is staggering.  And it was weighing very heavily on my soul.

The point is, at that important juncture of my life, when I should have been the most thankful to God, when I should have looked to God the most for guidance and peace, I could not– can not– reconcile myself with the idea that a “loving god” would allow such horrors to happen to innocent children.  All the “God’s plan, mysterious ways, devil’s influence, sins of humans” platitudes in the world are not enough to make me alright with this.

It has been told to me more than once by people of faith that people in general tend to blame God when something bad happens, but often don’t give Him credit when things go their way.  My question is this; conversely, then, why is it okay to give Him credit for the good, but not look to Him for a damn good reason for the bad (especially something as bad a the murder of a child?)

I know it may sound like I am preaching here, but really I am just trying to sort out my thoughts, and please forgive me if this blog entry is very stream-of-consciousness or seems to ramble.

These are the things I think about when I lay awake in bed at night.

I would love to believe we are not alone in the universe, and when I try to pray at night I can almost feel like I might be talking to someone…  But when I step away from that isolated moment, I feel the sterile and empirical “alone-ness” of the human condition– that all life on this planet is the result of a coincidental series of optimal conditions.  That when we die, we cease to exist.  That there is no judgment for the wicked people who would harm their own babies, aside from that which we mete out here on earth (our “justice” could never be enough for these people, and some escape the law entirely.) That no amount of praying can protect my child.

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I keep telling myself– hoping to myself– that by the time my death approaches, hopefully after a long life filled with love, that I will have found the answers.  That I won’t be afraid anymore.  Now, as any good mother would, I care more for my child’s health, life, and happiness than my own anyway.  So I will continue to seek the answers, however passively, and hope that one day I will be at peace with whatever those answers are.

Maybe there is a God, but He is unlike anything written in the Quran, the Bible, or ancient mythologies.  Maybe he is an observer.  Maybe He is Love, or maybe He is completely ambivalent.  Maybe He is infinitely more complex and inscrutable than we could ever conceive with our piddly human minds.

The only thing I can know for sure is that I have to do the best I can with this life, and the best way I know to combat the fear I feel is to fight it with love.  I’ll make sure those dearest to me know how much I love them.

*This is an intensely personal entry for me.  In some way I can’t define, I am uncomfortable with it, and even now hesitate to click the “publish” button.  Maybe for that reason more than any other, I have to post this entry.