One-item lists

On September 17, 2012 by Eden M. Kennedy

After I made my big declaration about how Facebook is stealing our souls, I then spent the next two days posting things and chatting on Facebook like nothing had happened. I believe I can find a balance between this and that, but at the same time I’m concerned with the self-sabotaging psychology that kicks in, for example, when as soon as I decide to stop eating sugar, I make a big pan of brownies. I don’t even tell myself not to spend money anymore or this will happen:

[via dh]

If that isn’t the best video I’ve seen all summer I’ll eat my grandmother’s vintage cat’s eye glasses. After watching it about six times Saturday night Jackson was all, “Are there any thrift stores around here?” Oh, my son. The golden days of thrifting in Santa Barbara are behind us now, but there still exists a magical town ruled by bikers and street people called . . . Ventura. So Sunday we drove down to the Goodwill in Ventura and bought Jackson a pair of red plaid pajama pants, a green and white striped hooded sweatshirt from the women’s rack, a couple of white t-shirts, and we rescued a Build-a-Bear rabbit with floppy ears for .99 that doesn’t appear to have lice, fleas, or bed bugs. I bought a pair of ballooning, high-waisted purple wool lady pants that are going to look pretty awesome somehow once I wrap my mind around what to wear on top. If I could find a cropped brown rabbit’s fur jacket . . . I wouldn’t buy it, but you hear what I’m saying.

Another crush, with free association:

1. Alan Arkin: because of how sexy he is when he’s disgusted

Phrase from a comment on an old post that has stayed with me for years:

1. “Away-game pooping situation.”

So along with opening back up to the Internet, I’m also trying to be more approachable in real life. I guess I’m an introvert, but I like being around people who are more open than me because they help me connect to that part of myself that doesn’t see closeness as a threat. (I once had someone who knows about these things tell me that two lives ago I died by being drowned; as in, someone either held me down or pulled me down or I don’t know what, but he was all, “Do you have trouble when people get too close? Because that would explain it.” Holy shit, how do I get over that?)

Certainly the thing about working with the public is that every new patron is an opportunity to practice small, non-life-threatening connections. Most people seem to want that, which means at the start of every shift I unpack all of my extrasensory satellite dishes to figure out how best to make that happen. Some people, however, want a larger amount of connection, more connection than I am capable of (or paid to) provide as a public servant. Emotional vampires, in my experience, come off as super-extra friendly at first. Their requests start off normal, but somewhere along the line they try to lure you into the enchanted forest of weirdly-specific things most people don’t normally ask others to do for them. “Will you text this 16-line e.e. cummings poem to my friend in Las Vegas?” happened recently, as well as “Will you read the descriptions of forty different children’s books to me, both over the phone and in person the next day?” and  “Will you build a web site for me in WordPress?”

And I think, what is up with you? What is it? Just tell me. Is it that you get off on me touching your stuff? You’re lonely and want me to keep you company? You disagree with the concept of outsourced tech support so you’d rather take advantage of my limited skills?

There’s a great part of “Words of Advice” by William S. Burroughs that applies:

“If, after having been exposed to someone’s presence, you feel as if you’ve lost a quart of plasma, avoid that presence. You need it like you need pernicious anemia. We don’t like to hear the word “vampire” around here; we’re trying to improve our public image. Building a kindly, avuncular, benevolent image; “interdependence” is the keyword — “enlightened interdependence.” Life in all its rich variety, take a little, leave a little. However, by the inexorable logistics of the vampiric process they always take more than they leave — and why, indeed, should they take any?”

I went into yoga the morning after a particularly lengthy exchange with one of these people and halfway through my practice I was all, “This is crazy, I’m too tired to do any more.” And then after sitting there for a minute I realized that my body was strong enough to continue, the problem was that some other, ineffable part of me just didn’t have the strength to go on. Once I had that realization, the exhaustion lifted and I kept going, but man. Feeling like you lost a quart of plasma. That’s a real thing.

Don’t put your finger up your butt to help yourself poop or you’ll never be able to stop.

Henry Alford’s wonderful essay about his brief stint as a runway model:

“It occurred to me that my lifelong slouchy posture is, in a complicated and wrong way, connected to my hatred of bragging. Somehow in my mind I’ve learned to equate slouching with modesty.”

He then improves his runway walk by imagining he’s a former Lufthansa flight attendant who likes vegan baked goods, vintage motorcycles, and Sofia Coppola when she wears aqua in airports. Henry Alford is now my spirit animal.



22 Responses to “One-item lists”

  • Oh, man. I could read that “finger-up-the-butt” thread for hours. And probably will. Also, I’m an introvert who avoids most contact with people, but when I do go out in public, the crazies are drawn to me like flies. Maybe it’s an “opposites attract” phenomenon.

  • emotional vampire!
    That’s the phrase I’m looking for!

  • My problem is that I’m afraid to let anybody get too near for fear that they’ll be vampires. I don’t even like to take a chance that maybe they’re not. I’m sure I’m missing out on some wonderful relationships, but the bad ones are just SO bad that I’m afraid to chance it!

  • Gasp! I meant to type “too!” TOO near….

  • oh wow. that pooping thread. i just read that for 45min. wow.

  • I am so glad I’m not the only mother who showed that video to my adolescent child. But really, what kind of mothers would be if we didn’t?

  • Ugh…my mother-in-law did that. In her demented stage, she said giving birth to her son (now age 52) “messed her up down there”. She used her finger and gave herself enemas for 52 years. Yeah, that’s what the big vaseline tub in her bathroom was for. It was when she physically could no longer do it herself that we found out. She died of sepsis (naturally her largest obsession/fear) because of it. SHUDDER.

  • “Holy shit, how do I get over that?

    Time machine. And a gun.

  • i used to thrift a lot. almost weekly for a few years. the same $100 in/$100 out, over the course of a year, clothed me. i grew tired of it and succumbed to Target w/ an iced coffee + soy in my hand.

    the emotional vampire thing: i find those vampires clothed in the cloak of “the friendly questioner”. as in “what happened then?”, “why did you make that choice?” , “and how do you feel about that?” , “are you sure you saw THAT on THAT street?” yes, motherfuckers, i am sure. i don’t layer on the bullshit – i’m an honest person (with a strong Don Draper vein underneath). it’s not my job to have to teach or convince. i want to learn how to disengage from that kind of probing before it reaches the point where i’m irritated with myself for suffering those boobs.

  • Yay. You are back. Save the good stuff for us. I bet you can get a like button here.

  • That comment came off as kind of vampire-y…I was striving for symbiotic in offering up my appreciation. You make funny sentences, i go ha ha.

  • Funny, I’ve been thinking about pernicious anemia myself lately. I see it in particular popping up on facebook — the people who post the dramatic one-or-two word things and then everyone is to chime in with offers of unspecified support, queries, whatever. Between that and declarations of opinions offered as facts, where one is just exhausted to think of arguing… facebook is a vampire nest, some days.

    One thing I know is that “No” is a pretty good answer when asked to do something you don’t want to do. No I’m sorry but I can’t. Because it isn’t possible. Because I can’t. It’s nice because you don’t have to actually provide an explanation, and not doing so gives the other person nothing to argue with, so they have to give up and go away. I’ve been practicing it more lately but it never stops being kind of thrilling anyway.

    • The southern version of that is “Ah’m so sorry, I won’t be able to help. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate your askin’ me, though.”

  • When I am not blogging or consulting, I work as the Senior Community Manager for one of the world’s largest online communities. I used to LOVE people. I don’t anymore. ;-) The things I “see” and hear in this community – crazy is not a strong enough word. I swear some personality types really do suck the life out of us! I imagine by the time I am officially done in this role, they will have a padded cell ready for me.

  • This is a bit odd but I vaguely remember reading this quote of Burroughs and relating to it.

    But now I ask myself whether there are specific people who are emotional vampires or whether there are simply vampires/prey combos and one man’s emotional vampire is another man’s…pal?

    My motto is really to never ask anyone for anything ever and this is one of those ‘I work on this in therapy’ things because you’d be surprised how complicated life can get when you can’t ask anyone for anything ever–there’s a lot of asking in daily life and it’s hard to always find a work around. So I guess I can be fairly sure I’m no one’s emotional vampire. But I do act super friendly simply because I’m an introvert and I hate talking to people–so it’s sort of an overcompensating thing.

  • I think I heard Burroughs reading that quote on an album of music. He was old.

    It was an old boyfriend’s album. King Crimson? I have no idea– that’s what came to mind.

    Anyway. Yeah. I think the advice to avoid those people is sound. Unfortunately, most of my family are those people! Eh.

    snozma, you may be on to something. It’s a leavening thought– raises the risk that we’re all vampires in some respect, but reduces the risk that any of us is likely to be 100% emotional vampire.

    Also– stinky poo fingers. How can people live like that year after year?

    • Disposable Heroes Of Hiphoprisy, 1993, the song was “Words of Advice for Young People”.

  • Amazing (as usual your writing/timing) that you wrote this – For the last week I’ve been trying to decide if I’m an introvert or an extravert. I realize that may sound silly. Shouldn’t it be obvious to me? Apparently not. It A.M.A.Z.E.S me how some people get off with the personal requests!? Once upon a time my x caught me lugging our desk top printers out the front door and asked what was I doing with it, I replied “giving it to Sam next door” he asked why and quite simply I summarized “because maybe she’ll go away….” Yes. I give stuff to people to make them go away?! Regarding the finger thing…I had a roommate once who in a drunken stupor asked if I’d ever tried that and then went on about how she did. I’d NEVER heard that before and was sorry she had shared.

  • I came back just to say that I still can’t get over that butt thread. That is all.