Committing Triage, Part I

Music note: I told a musical friend that I liked Trent Reznor and Lords of Acid and asked for his recommendations.  After commenting that I liked “electrofuckpervsleaze”, which, I had never heard before but immediately dubbed perfect, he suggested VNV Nation.  Illusion was the first vid to pop up on YouTube, and I was hooked from the first gorgeous note.  I listened to it a dozen times (or two), and I knew I had to put it in this entry.  Now that I have moved past my Illusion obsession, I am listening to the other songs.  Beloved, the second vid, is a wonderful song, too.  The third vid (and yes, I am putting them in the entry as I hear them) is Arena, and I fucking love this song (as Ronan, the lead singer exclaims as he’s singing it).  H/t to Ned R. for his spot-on suggestion.  He’s better than Pandora!  Fun fact:  I am really digging every other song on the list he gave me (and yes, I am listening to it in order because that’s how I roll).  Now, on with the actual entry.

We all have flaws.  Some of us have more than others, but no one is completely free from them.  If someone claims s/he has no flaws, s/he is in denial–or utterly boring, or both.  I am one of those people with many, many, many flaws.  I am very aware of them, and I have railed against them over the years.  As I noted earlier, the fact that I’m aware of my flaws actually adds insult to injury because I can’t change them at the snap of my fingers, so what good does it do to know I have them?  It just makes me more frustrated and self-critical.  I can list roughly 125 flaws off the top of my head, and because it seems so daunting to work on all of them, I don’t work on any.  Which, is one of my flaws, come to think of it (all or nothing thinking).  However, in the last half year or so, I started to realize that all flaws are not created equal.

WTF does that mean, Minna?, I hear you asking.  And, even if I don’t, I’m going to pretend I do so I can go on with this entry.

Back in the day, I would list all my faults and get overwhelmed by how flawed I was.  I would plan how to change all these bad habits/traits/etc., and then get exactly nowhere.  The problem is, well, many-fold, as usual.  One, some of the things I thought were flaws were things in actuality that I only wanted to change because I thought I should want to change them.  For example:

I prefer my own company to the company of others.  I like my own space, and I never had the urge to live with someone.  In fact, when I’ve had roommates/housemates, I’ve chafed.  So, the idea of cohabitating with a romantic interest made my blood run cold.  Our society pushes the living-together thing to the point of mania.  For years, I thought there was something wrong with me because I had no desire to live with someone–especially since I was a woman.  It’s only recently that I have started to see that hey, there’s nothing wrong with not wanting to live with someone or wanting duplexes.  I can theoretically be in a loving relationship with someone and not have to put up with listening to his/her music on a daily basis or work on his/her schedule.  Relationships are about compromise, yes, but not wanting to be part of a unit is not necessarily an indication of dysfunction, either.

Then, of course the fact that I didn’t want children caused much concern in my youth.  And some people (yes, Mom, I’m looking at you) continued harping on it until just recently.  Now, when I made the decision, I didn’t think it was such a big deal.  I mean, it didn’t hurt, anyone, so what did it matter, right?  I quickly learned that my private decision not to have kids was fodder for debate, derision, anger, and condescension.  I had one friend inform me with certainty that of the three of us (three friends), I would be the first to have children.  She wouldn’t hear any dissent to the contrary until I brought up the race issue (she’s black and hates people telling her she should do something or like something because she’s black) and got pissed off, but I’m sure she was still convinced I would have kids.  Funny note, both she and the other friend (Kiki) have children, but I do not.

The only time I even considered having kids was once during a particularly intense period of mother-guilt over my childless state.  I thought, “I should have them to make my mom happy.”  Fortunately, I overcame that bit of insanity and never thought about it again.  I have never wanted children, and I have never doubted my decision not to have them.  But, because of what other people said, I started to think there was something wrong with me because I didn’t want them.  I read several books on childfree women back in the nineties, and most of them were focused on women who couldn’t have kids or who chose not to have kids for painful reasons rather than because they didn’t actually want them.  I didn’t know many people who didn’t want children, especially not women, so I stopped talking about it for the most part.  Now, I know several women who don’t have them, don’t want them, and are happy about it.

Then there are the flaws I have that I think I should want to change–like being a slob.  I am a complete slob.  There is a point when even I have to clean, but it takes a lot to get me to that point.  And, I know it says bad things about my character that I am a slob, so I should really change that.  But, honestly?  Just between you and me, I don’t care.  I really don’t.  I would like to, but I don’t, so it gets moved to the back of my faults to change list.

Then, there are flaws such as waiting until the last minute to finish something.  Part of the problem is that I’m smart enough to be able to pull off this shit, and I rarely get punished for it.  In the old days, I used to freak out about procrastinating (which kinda ruins the procrastination), but over the years, I’ve realized that I will get shit done, so why get too worked up over it?  I recognize that it would be better if I got things done earlier, but let’s face it, that’s not gonna happen.  And, my way of doing things actually works.  As I told my mom, give me a true deadline (when you really want it done by not the last possible moment deadline), and I’ll meet it.  I will work to the end of the deadline, but I will meet it.  So, while I recognize that my procrastinating tendencies is a flaw, I am not particularly motivated to do anything about it.

Here’s a quick list of other flaws I would like to change, but am not particularly motivated to do so.  My sarcastic nature.  Now, I don’t want to completely change it, but softening it a bit seem like it would be a good thing.  I know I can make people uncomfortable with the way I crack wise (indeed, my ex, M, used to admonish me to be nice), and I know that some of my sarcasm is a defense.  But, you know what?  For the most part, I can’t be bothered to change it.

One related to the above is the constant stream of sarcastic quips that run through my mind throughout the day.  Again, nothing really that big, but still something that could be toned down a bit.

My obsessive nature in relation to music.  If I like a song, I can listen to it several times in a row.  I don’t mean three or four–I mean twenty or more.  I know this is not a good thing, but again, its not really imperative that I change it, nor would it really affect me in any concrete way.  Of course, if I ever DID live with someone, that person might wind up killing me for this little habit of mine, but I can cross that bridge when I get to it.

My disdain for most things mainstream.  It’s isolating not to like things that most people love.   I haven’t gotten into any of the popular TV series in the last, um, ever.  I used to say it’s because of cable, but really, these days, that’s a hollow excuse at best.  Actually, it was back in the day as well.  Truth is, I don’t like most TV or movies.  While it doesn’t overly grieve me, it does contribute to the sense of alienation I feel.  A bunch of really cool people were talking about their love for Tarantino movies at Julie’s last party.  They were arguing whether Inglorious Basterds was brilliant or merely solid for Tarantino.  I hadn’t seen it; I had no desire to see it; I felt like an idiot for even thinking about how much I hated Pulp Fiction.  I really wish I could be excited about seeing a movie like Inception, but I am not.  I will probably see it at some point because I feel I should, but I have no desire to see it at all.

My contrarian nature.  If someone said the sky was blue, I would immediately ask if she were sure it wasn’t green.  And, as Choolie can attest to, in Taiji, my response more often than not is, “Fuck Taiji.”  My friends know that if they tell me something I don’t want to hear, I’m going to immediately reject it.  However, as Kiki once pointed out, I will mull it over later and then revise my opinion as necessary.  And, in general, I think questioning conventional wisdom is not a bad thing over all.  But still.  Do I have to question everything?

When I go through a list of my flaws, I realize that many fall under this category–flaws I would like to change, but won’t.  They are, for the most part, flaws that aren’t overtly harmful to me or other people.  I’ve been giving it some thought.  This category is better named, “Things I dislike about myself, but not intensely”.

The next category is, I would like to change this flaw, but it isn’t gonna happen any time soon, so I have to learn to live with it for now.  For example, it takes an extraordinary amount of effort for me to do anything, even something positive like going out with a friend.  Even if I want to do said event, I essentially have to talk myself into the event.  If I am not sure whether I will like a situation or not, I analyze the pros and cons endlessly.  Then, I analyze them some more.  Then, I agonize over what to do.  Then, I think about actually doing something.  Then, I do it.

Every single fucking time.  I hate this about me.  I would dearly love to short-circuit this procedure, but as I said in the comments of the last entry, trying to do that leads to me castigating myself for not being able to cut out any of the steps, which makes me feel even worse about myself than ever.  I was crying about this in a therapy session once because it’s very painful to me.  My therapist agreed it was sad.  Then, she said with lots of compassion, “Minna, this is the way you function for now.  It’s sad, but true.  You will just have to accept that it will take you that long to do something.”

That is so not what I wanted to hear.  I wanted her to say, “Oh, you can change it if you do this, this, and this.”  Worse, I wanted her to fix it for me.  I would say to her, half-jestingly, “Fix it!  It’s your job to fix it, to fix me!”  Of course, I know this isn’t true, but I still wanted her to wave her magic wand and make everything right.  Still, her point was valid.  It is not going to change any time soon, so I am going to have to accept that I am have to jump through all these mental hoops before actually doing something.  I have to factor in that amount of time and just deal with it.  And really, the amount of time I spend bitching at myself for having to jump through the hoops is equally aggravating.  If I can cut out the second part, then it wouldn’t be nearly as time-consuming.  A big if, but I can at least try to excise the castigation from the whole routine.

In a related item, I hate that I can find the negative of any situation, and if I can’t, I will make some up.  Like I’ve said, it’s amusing when my mom does it because I can recognize it for the absurdity it is.  When I do it, though, it makes perfect sense, of course.  Even when someone demolishes my arguments, I still cling to them bitterly as if they were beloved guns.  Oh, wait.  I’m mixing in politics–sorry.  By the way, DFL primary in MN tomorrow.  Go vote, local Dems.

I don’t like this about myself (finding all the negatives, real or perceived), but I come by it honesty.  I have said that in Kiki’s family, there is no wrong decision.  In my family, there is no right one.  No matter what you do, you’re wrong.  It’s embedded into my DNA, and it would take way too long for me to unravel it.  Therefore, I have to find a way to adapt to it.  Listening to my mom blather on and on about why this, that, or the other thing would go wrong if she did A, B, or C gave me some insight.  After all her bitching and all her shooting down of my suggestions, she still had to make a decision and follow through with it.

Really.  I know that sounds self-evident, but it’s a mini-revelation to me.  I can bitch all I want about a decision and how it’s gonna suck no matter what, but in the end, I have to make a decision.  This hearkens back to something my therapist told me when I was telling her all the things that could go wrong if I moved to SF to get my MA.  She said, “Minna, half of the things you imagine will never happen, and things will happen that you never imagine.   You gotta have faith.”  And, by faith, she meant that I had to make the decision and just deal with it.  Again, simplistic, but again, she was right.  So, I can dither all I want, then make the goddamn decision and deal with it.  So, in this category, it’s about how to minimize the effects of the flaw, not eliminate the flaw itself.

Damn it.  I am running long (surprise surprise), and I’m tired (shocker), and I haven’t even mentioned triage yet (per usual).  I’m gonna wrap this up and post, take a nap, and then see about part two.  I promise the word triage will actually appear in that post.  Though, now it does in this one, too.

9 Responses to Committing Triage, Part I

  1. I think your first paradigm shift needs to be in your vocabulary choices. You have an endless vocabulary, Minna. Use it. Quit falling back on other people’s limited words like “flaws.” It’s beneath you.

    You being lazy? Eh, maybe a flaw, but only if it has detrimental effects on your life. If YOU feel it does, tag that one as something that needs to change.

    But not wanting to live with someone? Being weirdly obssessive over music? (Yes, I tossed in “weirdly,” but just to mess with you because I’m your twin, and I can) Not wanting kids? Those aren’t flaws. Hell, they aren’t even negative. They’re aspects, they’re facets, but not flaws.

    And yes, I do realize you can hand me a line of bullshit about how people look at you funny because you hate Pulp Fiction (god, what a boring piece of shit!) or that there are people who give you crap for not wanting to contribute to the overpopulation of the earth. Thrilling. Ya know what? I take shit too. I take shit for having 3 kids before my 24th birthday. I take shit for homeschooling. I take shit because I am a Jimmy Buffett fan. I take shit for loving the Atlanta Braves. (All y’all can suck it!) I take shit for wanting to move to the islands. I take shit for picking education as a career. I take shit for the fact that I have fucked up tan lines from a knee brace. I take shit for the fact that I have tan lines because it sets a bad example for my kids about skin cancer safety.

    My point is, for every person who can give you shit about X aspect of you, someone else will give you shit if you change that aspect to be the opposite. And a 3rd person if you change it halfway. If you spend your life trying to make your aspects acceptable to everyone, you may as well give up now because it ain’t gonna happen. Move the fuck on and live for yourself. Make the facets of your life and your personality acceptable to YOU. Because at the end of the day, the only person’s peace that matters is your own. At the end of the day, you have to be ok with the person in the mirror; no one else does.

    Love you muchly. Even if you do hate my Braves, bitch.


  2. Kel, I am going to say something I rarely say, so you damn well better enjoy it while it lasts: You are right. No, I’m not repeating that. I will have to change the one category (kids, marriage, etc., but not pop culture because it does bother me) to the category of, “STFU”* or “FOAD”* because I really don’t care about those at all. I will have the Irish Dancer make me a spreadsheet with all the categories of flaws and nonflaws I have. I am sure she will be happy to do it. Being a slob is not in this category nor is being a contrarian, though.

    P.S. Atlanta can suck it.

    *Shut the fuck up
    **Fuck off and die

  3. Dan, welcome to my blog! Always good to see another Juicer around these parts. Thanks for the link! She’s not my cuppa, but I’m always open to new music. Stop back any time.

  4. FWIW, I was never that into the Dresden Dolls; this is the first thing I’ve heard from her that I really liked.

    Thanks much for the welcome. I’ll make this a regular stop, but I tend to lurk more than comment. Maybe I’ll drop the occasional music link if you’re interested (and if I think I have a feel for your tastes) but mostly I keep my blinding insights to myself.

  5. Dan, yeah, Dresden Dolls not on the top of my list. This song is the best of the ones of hers that I listened to. In fact, like you, the only one I really liked (assuming you mean the Do You Swear…). You don’t have to comment if you want to deprive me and my readers of your brilliant wit, but I definitely am curious as to what you think I might like musically so drop away.

    P.S. She mentions a pitchfork in the song. That’s aces in my book.