The Devil Isn’t the Problem

It’s hard to ignore a red flag such as giant bat wings

-I found this in my drafts folder. I don’t know where I was going with it but it’s kind of awesome. Enjoy-

Here’s the thing that pisses me off.

Jeez, I’ll amend that.

Here’s one of the myriad things that piss me off.

It seems that we as people are expected to weather everything with courage, grace, control with manners or we face the wrath of everyone around us for over-reacting or reacting badly regardless of the crimes against us.

Recently, I was reminded of a group of friends with whom I’m still in contact but not so often, and some more or less than others. There hasn’t been a real break of this 30+ year friendship but a definite distance as such, but I have felt, and possibly been decidedly so from some, abandoned by. Because of circumstances at the time resulting from a) my unawareness of and therefore inability to navigate my soul-crushing, untreatable, incurable hormonal problem that has ruined my life and b) the closest people in my life conspiring behind my back with no consideration for my feelings and then c) was told to “suck it up”, I “am overreacting” and “if I weren’t such a bitch in the first place…”

It’s that last part that gets to me. I can take accountability for a lot of the things I did carelessly, deliberately hurtfully, callously. I cannot take responsibility for having reactions to things that are reactionary.

The most hypocritical thing a person can do is be upset over another person reacting to that person upsetting them. Got it?

Let’s quiz. Who is the worst human in this scenario?

Random human I: I slept with your wife.

Random Human II: Omg! F**$%&% Y*$!, you mother f&*%*%!!!! You ruined my life!

Random Human I: You are abusing me verbally. I refuse to allow this kind of treatment in my holier-than-thou life despite my ruining your family.

Random Humans 3-100+: Yeah, Human II is scary and violent. Stay away from that jerk. Shun him!


If you chose Random Humans 3-100, you are correct.


“But, wait! There’s no way anyone would act that way,” says appalled reader. “Human I cheated with Human II’s wife! No one would be on Human I’s side!”

But I can tell you 99% of humans side against the person with the louder voice.

Institute of Mo, Bullshit expert

Humans are social animals who strive to be part of the herd regardless of how much they say they don’t.

Granted I’ve known a lot of shady people but it has never been the conventionally shady people who have picked my wallet while twisting the knife in my back. No, that privilege has always been reserved for those who had really no excuse and should’ve had my best interest at heart.

Yet, those closest to me with cramped, knife-twisting fingers, I’ve been able to forgive.

Cuz, fuck, if we haven’t all made mistakes. We deserve the punishments we’ve gotten and can forgive the oversights of others because of it. I think there’s some kind of prayer like that.

I don’t care whatever crazy shit you believe, hearing Darth Vader read anything is awesome! Almost makes me a believer.

But, again, I’m only a Christian as long as I’m listening to Mr. Vader actually read the Bible, otherwise, nada.

Anywho, I believe in the sentiment of the Lord’s prayer as much as I believe in the solid foundation of the Golden rule; another oft-quoted-yet-never-followed basic decency. In summary, forgive people for their general misdeeds because you’ve made them, too. And with that, treat them as you would like to be treated.

Good, basic standards for not being a hypocritical dick. You’d think, anyway.

Don’t worry, Freud is also flailing his dead arms in frustration.

Shut up, I’m not done yet.

I’m not going to blame every single thing I’ve done on my crippling, life-threatening, horrific, life-ruining hormonal condition that has gone undiagnosed, misdosed and disregarded for 37 years for everything I’ve done because sometimes I am a fucking asshole. No bones about it. Sometimes, I am a heartless, cruel motherfucker. But not nearly as often as you think.

Which brings me back to Random Humans 3-100+ and a shit-ton of mixed metaphors.

It’s been my experience that humans, in their social ways, would rather throw a squeaky wheel under the bus in order to smooth their collective fur.

There is only every cult, Nazi youth, or horrendous mob-mentality and war example throughout ancient and modern history and current events to prove my point. People would rather hear what they want to hear, continue how they’d prefer to continue, rather than stand up.

I truly believe most people are cowards. I think they’d rather shut your mouth than listen to your truth. Because you’re loud and Wheel is on.

I know, every single person who’s aged through year 20 has repeated this same rant all the way back to the ass-whooping Aristotle got from Plato because of the same annoyed whoopin’ Plato got from Socrates.

It doesn’t make the cause any less true. We rant about it because nothing changes. Because 99% of us would rather watch Wheel.

I had a point. If anyone can figure that out, let me know.

Thanks.

-NTZ

The Only Lesson

Kids, this blog isn’t and shouldn’t be about life lessons or rants. Though I’m guilty of writing both (lately all the time but it’ll get better.)

It’s about awkward. Funny, ridiculous awkward.

And I’m sure that’s what we all could use right now.

Yeah, you wish. I’d have to go outside to do something cringe-worthy to come up with something awkward. Doing something embarrassing in private isn’t embarrassing and awkward is, you know, life.

Because if you were able to see how I’m sitting right now, that would be embarrassing. (If you think I’m taking a pic of it, that would be stupid.)

Not going to happen.

Being distanced and quite enjoying it until the dreams and tics started, I’ve been granted the opportunity to revisit every single thought I’ve ever had ever, over and over again. Yay me!

I’ll spare you the minute details because there isn’t room on even the massively creepy unknown amount of hidden Google servers to hold the OCD thought-roller coasters I’ve been enjoying.

And enjoy them I have.

It’s like getting 3 free months of e-tickets to Disneyland but the only ride open is that rickety no-name roller coaster they built before liability suits were a thing. With the requirement that you ride it continuously until you throw up.

I did glean one thing from all the Wheeeee! I’ve been celebrating that I think is useful. It’s a lesson and a warning. One that is counter to how people my age (as in you’re old enough to get the e-ticket reference) have been raised with but couldn’t be more important than now. Because it’s never too late to unlearn stupid.

It’s this…

Wake up. This is important.

Be aware of bad people.

Yeah, I know. It’s hardly the most earth-shattering realization in the world.

I’ll make the concession that it’s also not my original idea. Props to the guy that came up with it.

We, as in most of us, have been raised in the false, erroneous, naive, set-up-to-fail ideal that we should give people the “benefit of the doubt”.

Don’t.

Don’t ever do that again.

Monsters are real. They don’t have bad days, they cause bad days. Don’t forgive that insulting rant just because “work has been crazy.” Don’t look back if someone uses your life or body as fodder for their internal ugliness.

They are bad people. They deserve to be as far away from you as possible. Don’t make excuses, just bail.

The first time.

Now, back to the awkward fun.

-NTZ

“Service”

At my side job today, I was pretending as much as I possibly could at the whole customer “service” thing. I wasn’t successful even a little.

I wasn’t outright calling people stupid but I came pretty close. Anyone who has worked in any customer service position knows what I’m talking about. Some days you can’t even fake it.

I’ve always held the belief that most people just want to be heard. Not even necessarily listened to, just heard. People need to speak their frustrations out loud and have someone say, “yes, that is frustrating. I understand.” Regardless of the fact that we don’t understand and most likely couldn’t care less. Most people feel better having said their piece. They can dispose of their frustrations by spewing it out there and leave for others to clean up.

Look, I said I believe in that philosophical idea. I didn’t say I practice it. After many too many hours of listening to bullshit, I couldn’t care less how heard anyone felt. By then, the tissue-thin facade I barely put on, in the guise of professionalism, falls off usually around hour 6 of an 8-hour shift.

Today, it was the middle-aged brats trying to get more of something they were already lucky to get considering how busy we were. They weren’t busy so it didn’t affect them. It didn’t affect them, so it didn’t exist. As usual.

Regretfully, because I’m a flawed human, I didn’t put them in their place where they would twist in guilt, reevaluate every action they’ve ever taken, atone for every interaction they were responsible for turning badly, and throw themselves on their knees to beg forgiveness. They just whined and demanded special treatment for the amount of money they paid that was exactly the same amount everyone else had paid.

They didn’t even thank me for using all my failing strength on not hurling myself over the counter and strangling, at least, the one smacking her gum, with the white foamy bits in the corners of her lips, and the record-scratching laugh. It was tempting as no jury would convict me. Nope, no thank you. Just a resentful, disappointed walk out the door to resume their stoic woe-is-me; that they’d have to bear this cruel burden on their own like the martyrs they are. You know, just like Jesus.

Bratty like Jesus.

I actually could’ve worked some really shifty magic to get them what they wanted but I didn’t. It was against policy, it could’ve gotten me in trouble, and I didn’t like them. So I went as far as to pretend to look at possibilities, while putting the red five on the black six and those two on the red seven, and told them it was impossible and shot glares at the foamy gum-smacking one.

They left and I didn’t strangle anyone. What I did do was take it out on the next jovial person unfortunate enough to come to me for “support”.

Said gentleman was chatting on and on as I was doing my thing, as quickly as I could just to get him out of my face, when he started in with the questions. Cutting me off to clarify answers I was in the middle of answering, talking about “Judy” and “Samson” or whoever-the-fuck was coming who needed this or that. I don’t know you, pal. At all. Much less who Judy and Samson are. Stop asking me if they’re already here because I don’t know who the fuck any of you are! I’m not even on that screen, I’m clearly trying to extract information from you that is necessary to get you away from me but you won’t stop talking about people I don’t know, and your happiness and excitement is clearly making me feel even shittier.

—Oh, here’s a little tip. If anyone ever starts with, “Quick question,…”, walk away. Don’t grab your things, just go. If you do stay, as they are rolling around to hour 2 in their “quick question”, grab some Alka Seltzer, take a calming walk (don’t worry, you’ll have time,) cancel your plans for the week, and say good bye to your loved ones because someone is going to wish they were dead by the time the “quick question” even rolls around to getting asked.—

Finally, the questioner took a pause long enough for me to understand that it was finally my turn. I just sighed and said, “Yeah, I don’t care.”

He looked at me, looked at my exhausted posture and unflinchingly unamused expression, and broke out in hilarious laughter.

He turned red with sweet, innocent embarrassment. He said, “I’m sorry. I know I can go on, thanks for being so patient. I bet you’re tired of all the chit-chat. What were you saying?”

I cracked a genuine smile for the first time all day, “I guess I am tired. Sorry about that. It’s been a long day. Do you have AAA? I can give you a 10% discount. You know what? Screw it, I’ll just give you an upgrade…on me.” So I did. Day made.

Let this be a lesson, dear readers. Customer service people aren’t automatons. We don’t live and die by your happiness. We don’t give a fuck about your happiness. We care about getting through the day, have our own aches and pains to wade through, and still have to listen to your shit and pretend to care.

We also have the ability to give, or withhold, a lot more than we ever let on. There’s no telling how far we’ll go for you when you remember how human all of us are.

He made my day, I made his, and together we plotted sinister revenge against the gum-smacker and her ilk.

But that part was just for fun.

And Throw In Something Witchy

Charles-mansonbookingphoto

One of my favorite quotes of all time is one by Charles Manson.

“Do what you do, do it well…and throw in something witchy.”

Now, before you get outraged, there’s a reason it’s my favorite and not what you’re probably assuming.

I don’t like it because it’s creepy/scary and makes me all shivery—it doesn’t. I don’t like it because it’s counterculture and I’m some misinformed hippie—I’m certainly not.

I like it because it’s rare to sum up someone’s true ethic—a glimpse inside their true self—from one little quote.

What this quote means, and he himself has admitted to it, is that he didn’t really care why his followers were going to do what they did as long as they did what he said, and did it well. He told them what they wanted to hear to motivate them (aided by a lot of speed and LSD.) He didn’t care about the state of race relations in the U.S. or starting a race war. He just wanted to hurt people as he’d felt he’d been hurt. He wanted to hurt and he wanted to make headlines.

Manson knew that if Tex Watson was to “throw in something witchy” along with the brutal murders,  the press would go crazy for it. And they did.

Manson was right but he’s not a genius. He’s an opportunist. He rode a societal wave that handed him vulnerable people who fulfilled what he was lacking and were fulfilled by him what they lacked. It’s mundane.

Charles Manson wasn’t and isn’t some Svengali. He wasn’t and isn’t some evil, demonic minion of Satan. He’s a man who hated his lot in life; who had a lot of anger towards everyone who got to enjoy a life he never got to enjoy. He is someone who happened to be at a place in geography and time where shoveling out answers to people already grasping for them happened to dovetail sweetly with his one charismatic skill.

Charles Manson was an happenstance-opportunist who got “lucky”. Lucky for him, not lucky for anyone who happened across his path. Lucky because he got what he wanted his whole life: acknowledgement, out of a life of irrelevance.

And that’s what he is, a “lucky”, angry, vengeful, opportunistic little man. And that’s all.

He’s human.

All of this stems from a preview I just saw of an upcoming ABC show “reminiscing” about the “evil” that is Charles Manson. There is no evil here. It’s human nature, whether you deem him devil or angel.

Despite the fact that they are gifting this man with what he’d always wanted, and what drove him to do what he did by revitalizing it…they are also perpetuating a myth about human nature that I find more disturbing.

Again, Charles Manson isn’t a devil. He’s human.

The myth is the push, the need, to deem people who commit terrible acts as evil or crazy or inhuman…the need to see people who commit horrific acts as anyone other than ourselves. I get it. I understand.

But to do that is ignorant, lazy, and cowardly.

Ignorant for not seeing that everyone in every way has influence. One can be a hermit, living in a cave, yet that runoff from their sewage is poisoning the plants, killing the bees that should pollinate the vegetables miles away. Ignorant for hoping that we’re separate entities who hold no responsibility for anyone else’s existence. It is simply not true. Not knowing or acknowledging your influence doesn’t lessen its effect.

Lazy because shame on you to anyone who thinks, “Hey, not in my yard.” And shame on you again.

Cowardly because we need to acknowledge that it IS our responsibility. Not addressing what’s causing and perpetuating whatever is your concern, makes you a coward. To think that you or a group of you can’t make a difference, is cowardly. To stand behind the excuse that, “nothing changes” is cowardly.

(Did you know that writing to your state’s congresspersons about your particular issue sways how they vote about…well, everything? Everyone? Who YOU are to be in this community and your power in it?)

Write your congressperson

It’s all of our responsibility to know what we’re doing for all of our fellow humans. Good, bad, and irritating. Because if we don’t, we get Manson.  He didn’t start off bad. He got his shit handed to him hand-over-fist. It made him bitter, angry, violently vengeful.  He was a kid that grew up in a shit-hole existence; uneducated, unguided, and uncared for.

It’s no excuse but it was all preventable.

I do blame him. But I also blame us.

Giving Manson a special on TV reassuring us that he is different, “evil”, “the devil”, and “powerful” is taking away our responsibility for helping to create the monster out of a boy.

Just because you don’t know anyone on the wrong-side-of-the-tracks doesn’t make you less responsible for the three-strikes law. Ignorance doesn’t validate you for voting in programs that promote incarceration and recidivism instead of rehabilitation. Turning a blind-eye doesn’t excuse your hand in this because you don’t want the icky-ness in your yard.

Charles Manson is an extreme example of what can happen when you’re born into a world that beats you from day one, where anger is your only connection, where violence is your only outlet.

He’s not the devil, he’s a possible outcome.

And it’s all our fault.