“It could be worse…” or I could feel better by punching you.

A couple of Sundays ago, Limbo discussed the idea of the “it could be worse” argument.  Now, I wasn’t there, because as you all know, I got my bachelor’s in Sleep and Sleeping In – the whole ‘history/English’ thing was a façade – but it got me thinking, as it always does when I think about this particular topic.

No beating around the bush: I hate this phrase.  Sometimes it’s good to put things in perspective, such as “god, I really miss having satellite,” followed up with, “but at least we still have a house, so I guess we can do without having other TV channels than the local ones” (thoughts I’ve had before).  That’s a different argument, and not the “oh it could be worse” argument which, for me, is another way of saying “Your feelings are invalid.  Feel sad?  No, you’re just a jerk.”

I actually know people who, if someone complains about having to work a double shift, or having too many projects, or just having a bad day, will say stuff like, “Well, it could be worse – you could be starving in the middle of Africa,” or, god, this one recently – “At least you still have a home unlike those people in Haiti,” after the huge earthquake that hit a few years ago.

Wow.  Way to make me feel like I can’t ever be sad again.

Being sad, having off-days, or just plain ol’ complaining is part of being human.  If we don’t cry or rant or bitch about whatever’s going on in our lives that’s irritating us or stressing us out, we’d explode.  Comparing my situation to someone who doesn’t have water in Africa or child slaves in Singapore or whatever, is just a way to try and make me feel guilty for – god forbid – having a hard time.

I can tell you firsthand, I – and likely few others – have ever said, “Wow, you’re right.  I’m not buried under rubble in a third-world country, so I’m not sad anymore!  Thanks, that really opened my eyes!”  I just don’t understand the point of “it could be worse.”  Yes, it could, and…?  That doesn’t mean what I’m sad about or frustrated with or just complaining about is less valid.

I’ll never say, “Oh, you’re right, I could be starving in Africa, that makes me feel so selfish about missing my dead father!”  It just doesn’t work like that.  I refuse to feel selfish or like I’ve got first-world syndrome over complaining about things, and honestly, that argument reeks of attempting to do just that.

Does that mean I care less about what’s going on in other parts of the world?  No, absolutely not.  I think what’s happening in the Sudan and Darfur and in sweatshops in Asia and the mess in the Middle East is awful.  I’ve cried at news stories of those before.  But if you say something like, “It could be worse – you could be starving in Haiti because of the earthquake,” you’re just being a condescending, uppity asshole.  So you can bring the fact that children are being sold into slavery as I’m complaining about my roof leaking: CONGRATS!  You’ve earned the “irrelevant to all things” award.

Sometimes even the “at least my house isn’t foreclosed” thought (that is, the lesser version of “at least you’re not starving in Africa” version of “it could be worse”) seems kind of like an attempt to make me feel guiltier about complaining about not having TV anymore.  I’m used to having ‘x’, so when I don’t have ‘x’, it makes me feel crappy.

I’m aware there are people out there who have it worse than me – they have abusive fathers, or fathers who have never been in their lives, or they’ve been abandoned, or whatever – but that doesn’t make me miss my father any less.  That doesn’t make it immediately better for me and make me any less sad.  I was used to having my father around, now I don’t, and I refuse to feel bad for being sad about that.  My mother’s car got wrecked the other night and may have to be totaled.  Guess what, that sucks.  Yes, we still have a car, yes, we were lucky to even have a car, but guess what: it doesn’t make it suck less.

That’s just one example, and if my thoughts aren’t very clear right now/if this post seems disjointed or repetitive, I’m still having slight withdrawals from medication I’m going off of, and I just played intense video games.  But the point is: people are allowed to complain, or speak their mind(s) about how they feel like something in their life is worth being bummed about – don’t be an ass and say, “It could be worse.”  Yes, it could be worse.  So could your day if I punched you.  And???  I think it’s within my rights to complain about feeling offended at a rude customer, or having seizures, or my deceased father.  That’s not to say if used in the “well look at it this way, you had eighteen years to make great memories with your father,” or “it’s good you never had seizures while driving, though,” – a.k.a., an attempt to help a person actually feel better or to not get so incredibly overwhelmed by negative feelings, is bad.  Sometimes we need people like you to help us through bad times.  But there’s a difference between that and what I’ve described.

That “argument” doesn’t make how I feel any less valid – and it sure as hell doesn’t for anyone else, either.  Yes, keep things in perspective, but don’t feel like your feelings are less valid just because someone’s gotta be That Guy and compare your situation to starving nations in Africa.

To anyone who pulls that “it could be worse” thing on everyone – don’t be a dick.  Let people feel what they’re going to feel.  If they want things in perspective, that’s a different thing entirely, but when you say stuff like that (could be worse/starving in Africa/earthquake in Haiti), you make quick judgements on a person’s life.  You’re just being a jerk, and really, no one likes that.


“a thing that doesn’t change with time is a memory of younger days…”

I woke up at an extremely unusual time for me today–12–and haven’t been back to sleep.  I played Pokémon, won me a gym badge, and then got online and, as per usual, went straight to tumblr to catch up to today’s picture spams.  Then, as per usual during a day I’m home, I started thinking.

“It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live,” Albus Dumbledore so wisely said once.  Well, I have been dwelling on dreams for a while now, I don’t think to the point of forgetting to live, but definitely dwelling.  Creepy dreams of my dad alive once again with me knowing he would die again, dreams of him hugging me, dreams of my grandmother, and as is the norm with me, weird dreams that don’t make an ounce of sense.  But what about dwelling on memories?  Couldn’t that be worse than dwelling on dreams?

Lately, I’ve been increasingly more nostalgic.  I remember the good things, not the infuriatingly frustrating things about a person (my dad included).  Isn’t that the way it always is?  Remember the good times, shut out the bad things, the things that made you want to get away and to separate yourself and the growing apart…or, if it’s a death, the good things they did, the funny moments, the wonderful qualities, but hardly the temper while working on a car, the burning of meat because of falling asleep while barbecuing 99% of the time, the griping because we turned off a NASCAR race while the subject was asleep on the couch and not watching it anyway.  I’ve done well in not sanctifying my father, I think.  Mom and I laugh sometimes about his irrational moods and the double standard he set while griping at us for taking a long time to get ready, but by the time we were ready, he wasn’t ready.  We laugh about them, but more importantly, we acknowledge them.

With you, I’ve been harsher to myself.  I think, with disgust, often about my unrealistic expectations and my histrionic and melodramatic tendencies and find a kind of kinship in Asuka Langley Soryu from Evangelion, who really kind of is a braver version of my fourteen-year-old self…well, without the piloting an Eva kinda thing.  Actually, she’s kind of like me all throughout high school.  The point is, I can hardly see positive things about myself, and that sucks.  I’d like to think I’m a better person than I paint myself to be in my memories, but I don’t know, because I only know what I think I was, and god, ever since I was 11, I never could really distinguish the depression and the anger I felt from how I should act.  And work, if nothing else, has taught me that No Matter What, you must act stoic and cheerful and be A Great Cashier by separating how you feel from how you act.  But I don’t think being dishonest with someone who’s much closer than a customer is the way to go.  So how do I balance these unrealistic expectations with how I act upon them?  I still don’t know.

I take after my dad in a lot of ways.  I get easily pissed off if I’m working on fixing something, though it usually ends in tears for me rather than bitching at someone (such as when I tried to put childproof lever things on our kitchen cabinets and ended up just sitting in the floor and crying because I felt like a failure — over childproof locks, how stupid is that??).  But, unlike me who cries at everything from commercials to not putting on locks, I only saw my dad cry once, at his sister’s memorial service/funeral.  I’m like a more crying version of my mother in this way.  I feel so many things and I don’t know how to handle them so I just stuff them away until one day I have a breakdown and then things are fine again after that, rinse, repeat.

But I’ve been having a hard time with memories lately.  I don’t know how I went off on a tangent like that, but it does relate, so I suppose it’s not much of a tangent (however, this sentence is).  Anyway, I’ve been nostalgic for a time that I’m sure is much more golden in my head than it was at the time.  But I know that with some things, with most things, it’s not.  It was wonderful just the way I’m remembering it.  And I miss that.

I wonder if you ever think of me, of us.  Lately, I do.

The flow of time is always cruel…
Its speed seems different for each person but no one can change it…
A thing that doesn’t change with time is a memory of younger days…
-Sheik, Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time

the blog of a college graduate

Well, it’s been a week and three days since I walked across the stage without tripping at Montevallo’s Flowerhill Lawn and…

I don’t really feel much different.

The weekend cabin was wonderful, then we came back home and it’s…kind of just been like another summer here at the Tidmore residence.  I’m not sure when it’ll kick in, maybe the closer to school it gets?  Maybe when I check out more library books and realize I don’t have to be done with them by late August?  I don’t know, but I’m waiting.

Of course, I know I’m done with school until -dun dun dunnn- grad school, but it’s just not at the forefront of my mind yet.  It was definitely weird not driving back to Brooke Hall on Sunday night, though, there’s that.

I really don’t want to go back to work.  It’s just a work thing — I love not having to be somewhere at any certain time.  I love days like today when I can just sleep late, and then sit in bed reading or playing Pokémon.  I like the freedom of being able to do that, but also being able to, say, walk somewhere or go to the library and just hang out and read or go to Starbucks and write.  I hate morning shifts because I have to wake up early and I’m tired the rest of the day after leaving.  I hate night shifts because that’s my prime time to be awake and I have to spend it being nice to people I just don’t care that much about.

And it’s not a PSP thing at all — it’s a work thing.  No matter where I would work, it would be the same.  It’s just the principle of having to be somewhere that I don’t want to deal with yet.  A few engagements a week — a doctor appointment here and there, fine; lunch with Mom, totally fine — but not a -groan- work schedule.  It’s nice being free, and being lazy.

But that’s not how the real world works.  People need someone to ring up their 82 Fancy Feast cans and throw them in bags that don’t cooperate 90% of the time.

But can my graduation money last me through the year until grad school?  Please?  That’d be lovely.

Well, it won’t, so I’ll have to work.  What can ya do?  I’m way too poor to fight the man, so at least the beginning of my year off will have been spent well: sleeping late, playing Pokémon, reading, living the way I like to live.

And maybe things will sink in soon.  We’ll see.

I’m just a twenty-something now.

language (some of which is not appropriate for young audiences here)

I said my first curse word when I was riding home from gymnastics with my mother, somewhere around the age of six or so.  We passed a strange-looking car on our street just over the big hill and I observed that it looked “goofy-ass” or “silly-ass” or something like that.  I don’t remember exactly, but I know that it was “ass.”

A few years later, maybe when I was eight or nine, I had an “argument” in school with a boy over if the word “fuck” was a cuss word or not.  I was on the side of “no” because I thought it was just another variant of “freak” as in “stupid freaking boys.”  I asked my mom on the way home if “fuck” was a bad word and I remember her swerving out of shock — not into danger or anything, but just enough to where I started immediately apologizing, afraid I was in trouble.

In third grade, my teacher told me “dang” was too much like “damn” and that I should go with “darn.”

And ever since all this happened, and I grew older and started cussing more around my mother (because she can cuss like a sailor, which is where I get it from), but knew not to in front of my dad and grandmother (although I began to around my dad when I was about sixteen, and he didn’t seem to care, I guess because I was old enough/had seen enough movies with cussing in them, whatever), I began wondering why cussing is such a big deal in society.

To me, cussing is just a way of emphasizing something.  For example, if I say, “it really fucking bothered me that that customer acted the way she did,” it’s a way of saying “it really bothered me, so much to the point that I felt the need to use this word to emphasize just how much it bothered me.”  But I don’t get the whole stigma behind them — used certain ways, of course I do, but I don’t see why it should deeply offend someone if I say something “really fucking bothered me.”

As South Park proved in episode 501, “It Hits the Fan,” using a cuss word, say, 200 times, as in the episode, the word begins to lose its meaning.  I don’t think cuss words should lose their meanings, because then you couldn’t emphasize things or whatever, but I think some of the stigma shouldn’t exist.  It’s language, it’s powerful, and why take away someone’s comfort in using such powerful language?

That having been said, if me cussing makes you uncomfortable, tell me and I won’t do it around you.  Seriously, I do just fine around customers and people I know don’t like it, so it’s not a problem.

And I certainly don’t think young children should be allowed to cuss (my parents really discouraged it until I was really old enough to understand) because I think they need to understand the implications and ramifications of such words in society.

But please don’t lecture me on using such “dirty language.”  Words are words, and they all have their own value.

time for an update, I suppose

I can’t believe I haven’t written since January 4, but in a way, I can.  So far 2011’s been pretty uneventful, and honestly, I’ve had enough happen in the last three years that I think that’s okay.

This semester I’m taking three English classes: Renaissance and Modern Drama, American Short Story and Medieval Literature (my favorite by far); the rest of my 19 hours are elective classes: Ballroom Dance (yes!), Manual Communication (a.k.a Sign Language), Intro to Theatre and World Religions.  I have to admit it’s really strange not having any classes in Jeter this semester, no history classes for the first time in my now-four years here at Montevallo.  It’s kind of sad, but oh well.  It’s hard to believe that in a little more than three months, I’ll be done with my undergraduate career.

When did I grow up?

Other than school, I’ve been intermittently playing video games, reading, and I’m pleased to say that writing has become more of a habit of mine again (obviously except for here).  I’ve gotten a creative streak back (figures, since I’m taking 19 hours this semester – sob) and it’s nice.  I was beginning to lose hope.

And I’ve been crocheting, working hard to finish a baby blanket that should’ve been finished months ago.  Distractions, distractions.

Well, I suppose that’s it.  I haven’t seen any life-changing movies lately, not since Tangled on New Year’s Day.  I cried three times.  Oh, and I found out the bump on my head isn’t cancer.  That was nice.

I’ll try to update more, I promise.