Quelle Surprise!

bugs bunny maroon

 

You must stick to your convictions, but be ready to abandon your assumptions.” ~ Denis Waitley 

“The worst mistake of first contact, made throughout history by individuals on both sides of every new encounter, has been the unfortunate habit of making assumptions.” ~ David Brin 

Imagine my surprise today when I checked my comments and found the following delightful missive from Alex:

Wow..you are a little moronic I must admit. Who on Earth would use someone as shallow and absurdly small-minded as Kim Kardashian, who is famous for doing not much of anything similar to Paris Hilton, as a role model? I certainly would not want my children looking up to someone like her. Since when is she the standard of real? She has had plastic surgery to obtain what many voluptuous women are blessed with (i.e butt, lips, breasts, even had a nose job!) She is NOT the standard of real, but I do respect her for not being rail thin. I would never look up to her for anything outside of what she is–an attention/media whore. That is what she lives for. Famous for being promiscuous and creating sex tapes “mysteriously” released on the internet. I’ll look up to someone who aspires to be something more than what she unfortunately is.

It seems that Alex was taking umbrage at my post on beauty, “Beauty is not in the face . . .) (https://poietes.wordpress.com/2009/02/04/beauty-is-not-…-kahlil-gibran/) in which I discussed the issue of people being held up as role models for girls and women and how these supposed role models do not have attainable bodies without a personal trainer or air brushing. In this post I also discuss how most women have a warped sense of their body images because of what is thrown in our faces day after day. Personally,  I really liked the post, and I received good feedback from regular readers. I should also point out that the woman whose image I placed at the top of my post was Sophia Loren, an iconic beauty simply because she does not look like everyone else.

However, this is not the first time that someone has dropped in on my blog randomly and completely missed the point of a post. I just received an overly long treatise on politics in Iran in response to my recent post on the demonstrations. I do love to get comments, even completely irrelevant ones such as the one above. It let’s me know that people are reading, even if they are reading selectively.

This was my response to Alex:

I have never said that Kim Kardashian is a role model. I said that she could be a role model “as far as how she carries herself.” If you read more closely, what I was commenting on was the fact that she is attractive without being rail thin. Other than that, I know nothing about the woman.

If you were a regular reader of my blog, you would know that my heroes are more in the line of Socrates, Einstein, Virginia Woolf, and countless other philosophers and writers. I have never viewed celebrities or celeb-wanna bes as role models. Nor have I ever pointed my children in that direction.

As for your labeling of me as moronic, perhaps you should read more than one entry on a blog before casting aspersions.

“No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” ~ Eleanor Roosevelt

I do find it fascinating, though, when people who are obviously not regular readers decide to be a wee bit caustic. Do I know Alex? I don’t believe so. Have I ever heard from her (assuming gender since the name Alex can be male or female) before? Not that I recall. Do we have an ongoing dialogue? No. So how is it then that Alex can call me a moron? This puzzles me.

Marvin the MartianLet me be clear here. I do banter back and forth with my friends. They have on occasion called me everything from a bitch to a dork to a dweeb, and perhaps a few other things in between. I have never taken offense because this type of name-calling is done in jest with no ill intent, and admittedly, I can be bitchy, and a dork, an a dweeb. Those individuals in my life who are close enough to me to say these things also love me unconditionally for who I am and would not hesitate to be there for me if I needed them. And as I have mentioned before, bantering is one of the things that I do best—the give and take, the witticisms, the seeming disagreements over small things—but always without malice.

I will freely admit that I like to quibble. Accepting everything at face value seems to be just a tad too compliant. Questioning and carping keep life interesting and have often led to long, intense conversations. I like intense. I appreciate a keen wit. I derive great pleasure out of the give and take of an easy banter. In fact, one of my daughter’s first polysyllabic words was sarcastic, as in “Mom, you’re being sarcastic again, aren’t you?”

But that’s not to say that my personality has not led some people to draw conclusions about me that were untrue. That’s probably because my temperament is an acquired taste, and very often, my tendency towards being a curmudgeon can be offputting, even though more often than not, my vaunting comes from insecurity.

“Regret is insight that comes a day too late.” ~ Author Unknown

I do remember one time in which I made a callous remark out of the hearing of someone to a friend of mine. I turned to my friend Amy and said, “God is she ugly.” Amy just looked at me in stunned silence, and then she said, very calmly, “Who are you to judge the way that someone looks?”

I will forever be grateful to Amy for saying this to me because she was absolutely correct. I had no right to judge this other person, who happened to be very sweet and kind. Amy’s comment to me made me feel like the shallow person that I was at that moment. But ever since that day a long time ago, I have watched what I say about people, especially people who I do not know.

Granted, in the heat of a political debate, I can be absolutely caustic, casting my own aspersions about Bill O’Reilly or Rush Limbaugh, and I do not apologize for that. Individuals such as these men go for the jugular of people with whom they disagree time and again, and I find it abhorrent. I do not claim to be an innocent who has never had a harsh word for anyone. I know that I can be vicious in an argument, but not without deep regret afterwards.

“It was not that she was out of temper, but that the world was not equal to the demands of her fine organism.” ~ George Eliot

Daffy DuckNow that I have some years on me, I have become much more even-tempered, if you can believe that. I try to choose my battles well, and I try not to go for the sweet spot just because I can. I am not always successful.

That being said, I can say with honesty that Alex’s comment did not provoke my ire, nor did it hurt my feelings. Rather, I was more intrigued by how someone who has never met me or conversed with me could make such a pronouncement on my character.

So for the purposes of this post, let us just assume that Alex possesses a deep loathing for Kim Kardashian. Or let us suppose that someone may have made fun of Alex in a bathing suit or some such thing. Or even, let us assume that Alex is a beautiful woman who is self-assured and impatient with supposed celebrity. Any of these could be true, or none of these could be true. I have no way of knowing because I do not know Alex. So it would be rather supercilious of me to assume anything about Alex.

And that, dear readers, is my point exactly.

More later on a more interesting subject. Peace.

The Insidiousness of Guilt

I have already written about my fascination with Catholicism, and one of the aspects of the religion that I have always found terribly unfair to those of us who are non-Catholics is the whole rite of confession and absolution. Now, I don’t claim to know all of the details about this pipeline to god, but from what I can discern, you tell a priest about everything you have done wrong during the past week, ten days, month, year, whatever period of time you are covering; your receive your penance, and then whoosh, you are absolved of your sins, clean slate. Now this seems like a pretty infallible system to me.

I remember reading about the whole system of pardons back in the middle ages in which people could buy their way into heaven, supposedly, until the pardoners were revealed to be less than holy men themselves, which meant that the money spent hadn’t actually bought anyone a seat on the other side of the pearly gates after all, and no one was  guaranteed anything any more than the rest of the peons. Of course, this was just one flim flam in one particular religion, and we know that the world is full of lots of different religions, and I’m not about to go into all of the different methods for gaining access into heaven and who is right and who is wrong, or we’d be here all day, and quite frankly, I find the whole debate too taxing.

Let’s get back to absolution and getting rid of your sins in one fell swoop. What no one bothers to mention is whether or not you get rid of the guilt as well. You see, this is where the Jewish side of me takes over–the whole idea of guilt. Don’t be offended. I am no more Jewish than I am Catholic, but I have an ample sense of guilt that I believe must mean that I was Jewish in one of my previous lives just as my love of the Catholic rituals must mean that I was Catholic in another life, and my deep respect of the Buddha and pantheism probably means that I was a grasshopper in another life . . . you get the picture. Back to guilt. I just don’t think that having someone absolve you of your sins can make the guilt go away. I carry guilt around like a talisman in a velvet bag next to my heart. It is omnipresent.

Some of my best poems have sprung from guilt. I still feel guilty about the Slinky that I stole when I was ten years old (but that’s another story). More importantly, I feel tremendous guilt over the ways in which I am certain that I disappointed my father who died of pancreatic cancer in 2001. I feel guilty that my first marriage ended in divorce simply because I never envisioned divorcing my best friend even though we had grown apart. I feel guilty that I have never gotten my PhD in English because it has always been a lifetime goal of mine. But the real truth of the matter is that I feel guilty right now because I am skirting the whole issue of what guilt really means to me because I’m not sure that I can face it.

You see, I will always carry around this pocket of guilt in my heart no matter how long I live, no matter how much I write about it, because there are some things that simply do not go away. My youngest daughter died as a result of complications from a brain tumor. It was many years ago. But as her mother, I should have been able to save her. That is just the way that it is. That is ingrained in your DNA and programmed into every fiber of your being, no matter what the doctors tell you or logic dictates. When she suckled at my breast, I should have been able to transfer that inviolate shield that protects your young from harm, but it did not work.

And so, for years, I have carried guilt with me like an extra appendage, and I probably always will. And any guilt that anyone else might try to impose upon me for whatever reason will never come close to the guilt that is with me constantly–whether it is my mother, who likes to point out the added poundage around my middle as if my sight is failing and I hadn’t noticed that my body is not what it was when I was 20, or it is someone else close to me who, in a vexing mood may feel a need to state an obvious shortcoming so as to try to fight my ingrained passive/aggressive defense strategies. And now that I am experiencing my own physical limitations, it only makes my self-imposed guilt more pronounced, not less, which, I know, is not logical. I have less tolerance for myself, especially when reliving the past.

Her name was Caitlin, and her short life and excruciating death propelled me to write lines upon lines of verse, most of it bad, but necessary to my healing process. But the ensuing guilt has led me to write and write and write all kinds of things: some of it sarcastic, some of it sad, but all of it cathartic in some way. So while guilt is insidious and it can take over your life, I wouldn’t hand it over in a confessional box because it has made me who I am: melancholy, curmudgeonly, creative, spontaneous, cautious, aggravating, and bitchy. I have never pretended to be anything other than what I am, and I wouldn’t pay a pardoner a penny to be rid of that which makes me who and what I am.