just call me raegen


Tag: beliefs

Careful the Company You Keep

When my second cousin was about 3, her mother would scare her into sticking close by by shouting, “Bad people! Bad people!” whenever she’d wander off too far.

bad people

Totally unrelated, but has anyone else noticed how gas has gone up 80 cents in the past two months? (Photo credit: brand0con)

Admittedly, the quality of parenting represented by this statement is questionable. Still, I have to admit that, beyond just being frickin’ hilarious, it got the job done; little M always returned to her mother’s side when she heard this.

I hope M will someday know — in less scary ways, of course — how important it is to choose the company you keep wisely, for this is a lesson everybody is truly well served by. Without going into too much detail about the specifics of why this topic is on my mind to protect the parties involved, I was reminded once again recently of the power that the company one keeps can truly wield over a person.

big stick

Oh, yeah — wield that big stick, Billy! (Photo credit: uzi978)

I remember very distinctly the turning point in my relationship with the two people I’m thinking of specifically while writing this blog. One I never liked; we’ll call this person X. Sometimes you just meet people and know right away there’s just going to be a clash. It’s nobody’s fault; your personalities and values may just be too different, and perhaps you sense or experience a lack of respect for what you believe or represent. When that happens and you know your path and this person’s will cross again, pretty much the best you can do is hope for civility — which you may or may not give or receive.

The other — let’s call this person Y — well, that person’s just young. I always felt the — there’s no great way to say this — immaturity of Y’s mentality (exacerbated by the fact that Y always claimed to be very mature for Y’s age). And given how immature I am, that doesn’t speak too highly for Y. Still, I rarely begrudged Y for that mentality because I guess I felt I’d sort of been there, done that, and at one point, I genuinely hoped to help Y avoid some of the burning buildings I saw Y rushing toward.

fire - onlookers

Don’t get sucked in by the light, little moth! (Photo credit: Daveybot)

One October, my relationship with both X and Y took a turn for the worst. It seemed as if Y felt torn, like Anakin Skywalker, between the Jedi and the Dark Side. You can decide which category you’d like me to represent in this equation, but long story short, Y felt — for some reason that will likely never be known to me — that Y had to choose between me and X, and the choice Y made was X.

Hayden Christensen as Anakin Skywalker in Reve...

I regret turning to the Dark Side almost as much as I regret this hairstyle. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Frankly, I wasn’t surprised. Disappointed, yes, but mostly just confused by the whole thing — and the lack of explanation accompanying it. Good thing I had a brain cell or two left (at least at the time) to figure it out for myself.

But here’s the thing: Once I got past the inconsideration of the whole episode and the fact that, in this particular situation, it would not have behooved any of the parties involved to have a conversation about the incident that might’ve cleared the air, I started thinking about the effects Y’s choice would have on Y’s life. Now, I’m not Y’s keeper, and it’s not my responsibility, but still, Y is young, and I suspected that one day — maybe not right away, but at some point down the road — this decision would cost Y something very valuable that Y may not even realize is valuable to Y…yet.

And so it seems it has happened.

I don’t think Y realizes it on a conscious level at this point, but all the negativity, gossiping, and general Debbie-Downering Y has been doing with X ever since I exited the scene (I was the one who always put the kibosh on that shiz) has led Y to make a major life decision that I suspect — based on the waterworks, anxiety, etc., that accompanied the announcement of the major life decision — Y already subconsciously regrets. I believe, with all the conspiring and, again, just straight-up negative jibber-jabber that X and Y were doing, Y lost sight of what really matters to Y as an individual, not just someone who needs to feel like part of the “cool” (if by “cool,” one of course means “alienating others with different views in order to bond”) crowd. Y made a decision not for Y’s own legitimate reasons, but because Y got sucked into the Vortex of Stupid. And I fear Y is going to be finding out very soon — the hard way — just what the price of that is.

This picture from a NASA study on wingtip vort...

It looked good at the time, but… (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Now, don’t get me wrong: I am not blaming X for Y’s life decisions. No matter how naive or immature Y may be, Y must still be accountable for Y’s choices. And Y will undoubtedly learn much from this experience — but what a price to pay — if I’m right about it. Not that I hope I’m right about it. In fact, I hope things somehow do work out for Y. It’s just hard for me to see how that’s going to happen, given what details I know of the circumstance.

Anyway, it reminds me of this insightful tidbit from a longer piece that is generally attributed to Colin Powell but for which other origins have been claimed: “The simple but true fact of life is that you become like those with whom you closely associate — for the good and the bad. … If you run with wolves, you will learn how to howl. But if you associate with eagles, you will learn how to soar to great heights.”

I myself had to learn the hard way just how costly surrounding myself with the wolves could be. The wrong company leeches into your system like poison; don’t drink that Kool-Aid, man!

Kool-Aid Man

The Kool-Aid Man seems like your friend…but is he? (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In the immortal words of Rushmore, “With friends like (that), who needs friends?”

This brings me to the following poem, which to me represents the natural conclusion to my own trials and tribulations with the wrong crowd: Sometimes it’s best to just be on your own, even if you’re lonely; to wait for worthy company that can help you soar manifest itself in your life instead of settling for less.

“Samurai Song” by Robert Pinsky

When I had no roof I made
Audacity my roof. When I had
No supper my eyes dined.

When I had no eyes I listened.
When I had no ears I thought.
When I had no thought I waited.

When I had no father I made
Care my father. When I had
No mother I embraced order.

When I had no friend I made
Quiet my friend. When I had no
Enemy I opposed my body.

When I had no temple I made
My voice my temple. I have
No priest, my tongue is my choir.

When I have no means fortune
Is my means. When I have
Nothing, death will be my fortune.

Need is my tactic, detachment
Is my strategy. When I had
No lover I courted my sleep.

Five Things You Would Never Say to a Man

I currently work in an office of women. All women. Well, there’s one man, but he’s gay and a temp, so his brief influence upon the office dynamics will be negligible.

Not to be a traitor to my own gender, and not even to complain, but I am not a “girly-girl.” Which to me simply means I’ve questioned and continue to question most of the brainwashing — er, socialization — specific to gender in America (though, of course, we know the problem is global, though it comes in different flavors) and adhere to it mostly just when it is required of me for business purposes (e.g., attending trade shows in women’s business attire, which thankfully includes pantsuit options). And there are times when I feel an ethical dilemma coming on even about that — but hey, at least no one’s asked me to strip for my paycheck… yet.

Author: Duy Le UCLA made stripper pole

I’m highly offended that this stripper pole is being objectified. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I tend not to talk about the things my cohort does. Heck, I tend not to care about the things my cohort does — latest fashion trends, Desperate Housewives, weddings, having kids, yadda, yadda.

Don’t get me wrong: I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with caring about these things. People care about what they care about, and they’re entitled to that. It just so happens I could give a crap about any of it. And sometimes I wish that, like me, people would question why they care about what they do.

10 Things I Hate About You (soundtrack)

“I know you can be overwhelmed, and I know you can be underwhelmed, but can you ever just be whelmed?” (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

But that’s not up to me, so anyway…

There are many things that occur in my workplace that I have the sneaking suspicion would never happen if there was — for lack of a better description — some sort of balance to the force, for better or worse. Sometimes I wonder how different it might be if there were more men — or less “girly-girl” types, at least — in this environment.

Hence the subject of this blog. The fact that I’m even thinking about this, along with the things I’ve witnessed up to this point in my life, have made me realize just how different the standards women are held to are from the standards men are held to — and even scarier, how sometimes it’s women themselves holding (or trying to hold) each other to these. And I’m not saying the standards men are held to are any less oppressive and ridiculous in their own ways, or that men don’t perpetuate them amongst themselves either. I’m just saying…

You’d never say this to a man. (Well, at least not a heterosexual one, which brings up the whole issue of why anyone in their right mind would adopt the behaviors of the oppressed — but that’s another topic for another blog.)

1. “You seem upset. Is it that time of the month?” This is what I consider to be a classic societal blunder. The assumption that the most likely cause for a woman’s anger, sadness, etc., is because of her hormones is one of the biggest insults anyone using this “logic” can levy against a woman. Men may not have blood we can blame their emotions on — and oh, they are emotional just like the rest of us — so I guess in their case, we actually have to use our heads and try to get down to a genuine cause for distress as opposed to some unruly bodily force that allegedly renders an entire population irrational.

Margaret Atwood

Man, if only Margaret Atwood would stop having her period already, I bet she’d make much more sense! (Photo credit: ejmc)

This is not to say hormones don’t affect moods. That’s a scientific fact. But guess what? Men have hormones too — which cycle on a daily basis as well as a monthly one. So if we were going to use logic to blame hormones for mood swings, who logically would be the better choice: men or women?

2. “That outfit makes you look fat.” I would be tickled to see someone say this to a man. Actually, I’d just be curious to see the response. I could imagine someone getting clocked for a statement like that to a man. But first off, men are never fat; they’re stocky or have big builds. And admittedly, when women ask other women if an outfit makes them look fat, they’re never fat either; the person questioned will respond something like, “It doesn’t flatter your fill-in-the blank.” But do not be fooled: This is simply the female translation of, “Yes, that outfit makes you look fat.”

And what does that woman in the “unflattering outfit” go and do? Feel bad about herself and change. Now, don’t get me wrong — I’m all in favor of people not wearing styles that don’t fit their body types, which is again why no one should wear skinny jeans ever. But most clothing will look decent on anyone if they’re just bought in the right size — as opposed to, you know, trying to rock two sizes too small. That would make even Kate Moss look fat.

baby clothes

These would definitely make Kate Moss look like a heifer. (Photo credit: carrie-ann-nelson)

3. “I’m so jealous — Bobby’s way hotter than us.” Along the lines of objectifying oneself through clothing and makeup instead of gaining attention and respect through intelligence and hard work, there seems to be this constant comparison of hotness among women. Some of it, of course, is perpetuated by media, society, and men as well. But I’m pretty sure guys don’t sit around secretly begrudging their friends or gossiping about them for being “hotter” than they are, and I’m also pretty sure they don’t think their friends’ success in life has much to do with appearance. And guys, if you do believe your appearance ultimately determines your relationship success, for instance, I have two words for you: Pete Doherty.

Everyone has something to offer, and beauty really is in the eye of the beholder. But I hope for everyone’s sake that the perceived “beauty” of a person will truly be assessed deeper than the layers of one’s skin as our society evolves.

4. “Your wedding planning will exhaust you.” I’m pretty sure — though men, feel free to correct me if I’m wrong — that guys don’t sit around dreaming of their perfect wedding. “It has to be on the beach in Jamaica. I have to wear a white dress, but it has to have pale pink accents, but only around the waist. It has to have a tropical paradise theme. My bridesmaids will be my sisters, my best friend from high school, but definitely not the best friend from college, though she’s invited. I want to have lilies in my bouquet, but they can’t have a fragrance, because I want the fragrance of the roses to be predominant. I want to have an outdoor reception, but I also want hanging lights in case the sky is cloudy so it still feels like there are stars. I have to have filet — no other cut of beef — for the dinner. And I simply won’t be satisfied unless my wedding cake is white, milk, and dark chocolate in descending order.”

Are you feeling queasy yet? Yeah, me too.

Bridezilla will kick your ass and look lovely ...

I said “descending order”! Now you’re going to have to die! (Photo credit: laura47)

I think guys have it right when it comes to this sort of stuff. “Did I find a great girl? Check. Is she at the altar? Check. Am I up there too? Check. Are the people we love here to celebrate with us? Check. OK, I think we’re all good.”

I mean, I get that there’s planning involved to make that come together, but if you’re blathering about all these other inane details on the daily that in the end won’t make a bit of difference if the truly important components aren’t there, then I think you’ve seriously lost sight of the whole point of a wedding in the first place. Just sayin’…

5. “Can you baby-sit my kids this weekend?” We don’t expect men to be willing or — dare I say it? — entirely capable of being able to handle the responsibility of caring for children — especially if said children aren’t their own — alone. It’s the stuff that many cheesy movie plots are made of. But on top of this, we expect that men will already have far more important and “manlier” things to take care of on the weekend, since their responsibilities take precedence over all. Neither, of course, is true.

I don’t blame those men who don’t want this responsibility for not wanting it, though. I don’t want it either — and no, that’s not a comment on my abilities or lack of “maternal instinct.” I just have other things I’d like to devote my time to, thank you very much.

Books behind the bed

Ahh… that’s more like it! (Photo credit: zimpenfish)

But there is the issue of trusting men with certain tasks too — especially considering all the rightful attention being given to child sexual abuse. This is not to say women don’t ever abuse children, but according to this study, “more than 90% of the perpetrators of sexual offenses against minors were male.” In light of highly publicized and despicable offenses like Jerry Sandusky’s, it should be overwhelmingly clear that there is a need for some sort of societal shift that would make this behavior so unacceptable that someone even thinking about perpetrating such crimes would kill themselves before inflicting such abuse upon children.

Stay tuned for five more things you would never say to a man, which I’ll post next week.