Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Badphairy Gets Her Snuggle On

I think I’m figuring out why Bay Areans categorically refuse to engage in outside endeavors during the rainy months. If one doesn’t take advantage of the only inclement weather we get, how is one sure one will get the requisite amount of snuggling each person needs?

Eight months out of the year, it’s relentlessly sunny, tempting us with all the pleasures of the Great Outdoors. There are big trees, mountains, ocean, lakes, volcanoes, all the views one could want.

I’ve noticed that when I spend a gorgeous day indoors, I am afflicted with a peculiarly big-city-ish sort of anxiety. “I know there was something celebratory going on today I could have attended, had I looked hard enough, or at all.”

I didn’t feel that way in MN, often. There were the particular seasonal feast days, May Day, solstice/equinox, and the obligatory “your people were once Lutherans, so we’ll just get together and eat and not talk about religion for the day, okay” days. Those usually involved a lot of beer once the driving to and fro parts were over. But in general, there were lots of weekends when there was nothing to do but hole up in your house and hope no one you knew fell off a roof, slid off a highway, or electrocuted themselves playing golf.

However, MN has one thing NorCal pretty much doesn’t, which is weather year-round. There are plenty of stormy days during the summer which make it requisite to hole up in the house with your sweetie while you both try to convince the other person that you have no idea how to reset the breakers, should that become necessary.

I have to state at this point, that I was finally certain I was no longer afraid of A: the dark, and B: flashbacks of old Stephen King novels, when I managed to descend into the World’s Creepiest Basement (my duplex in downtown Mpls) without a flashlight, to reset my breakers. When I returned upstairs without being eaten by vampires, werewolves, or industrial laundry machines, I knew the dark held very little fear for me anymore. This would be a cute story had it happened when I was twelve. Sadly, I was twenty-six.

Growing up in a climate with reason for sayings like “Make hay while the sun shines” exerts a powerful pull even when one now lives in a climate that’s sunny 85% of the time. I think that’s why when the three rainy months come, the people around here utter sighs of relief. Finally, a reason to burn plastic-wrapped $12 bundles of wood from 7-11, haul out the thermal underwear, and collapse in an exhausted heap.

“Winter” no matter what yours looks like serves a purpose. It allows the land to rest. In the Midwest, the land is resting from the onslaught of herd animals, farm machinery, and the weather. In California, the land is trying to get a rest from the constant human/vehicle traffic. It’s not just the land, arguably the animals and humans that live here are all trying to get some rest and escape traffic…by going somewhere. Which seems a tad backwards, now that I think about it. If everybody stayed home, there’d be no traffic, and everyone would end up resting. Hmmm…

What? There are several men dressed in dark suits outside who wish to speak to me outside? They’re driving a limo with an Exxon hood ornament? Err, no thanks. Tell them I gave at the office.

In any case, when the rain fails to stop by April 1st, I notice the uber-Californians are starting to get edgy. The thought of all those twee, blaze orange, overpriced, spandex, yoga/biking outfits going to waste begins to light a spark behind their $500 sunglasses. By the time the rain finally does peter out, they will be afire with the desire for ever more dawn yoga, evening rollerblading with Critical Mass, and possibly Pilates at lunch. It’s our version of the Circle of Life, minus the messy entrails and such.

For now, it’s raining, and I’m off to get my snuggle on in case it’s sunny tomorrow. Cheers.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Slick Stalkings

Y’ever let somebody else’s judgment supersede your own, and then just kick yourself for it, because you knew? I’ve been doin’ that for weeks now, and paid for it. A person I know has been getting squirrellier every damn day, and I didn’t like where I thought it was going.

I behaved as though I believed the hype, and didn’t argue my case more strenuously. That’s the part I am really having a problem with. I was hearing “X could never use violence” and failing to retort “Even though X punched a wall, recently, proving that X knew very well how the process worked?”

While statutes vary, most define stalking as a course of conduct that places a person in fear for their safety.

We like to forget we are mammals. We like to believe we “can’t” do things because, in most situations we choose not to. Unfortunately, the bad-enough situations crop up too often for such self-delusion. Not everyone needs a plane crash in the Andes to spark the idea of eating someone else in the not-so-good way.

We are all capable of violence. We are all capable of violence. We are all capable of violence. Sing it with me, in harmony. Believe it. Now, and only now might the work begin. You, in the back, sing, or I’ll bean you with an icepack (Now we see the violence inherent in the system )!

Stalking behavior patterns closely mirror those common in many domestic violence cases.

I ignored the increasing phone calls, explained away the lack of resolution of the menacing voicemails, told myself that whatever happened, would be verbal.

But I know that even the crunchy hippie dude who gave me my watsu could, conceivably, perpetrate violence given the correct stimuli. What gives insight into character is what violence, used against and in the service of whom, and with what control?

When I went to the workshop on NonViolent Communication (and trust me, there’s enough irony there to build an aircraft carrier) I noted that the construction “I need you to do x…” was labeled a strategy (to get a need met). The need is elsewhere, unspoken. I wonder what the need was, there.

I can’t imagine what need could underlie, “I have a need to punch you in the eye.” Hey, that’s the beginning of a good ol’ country song. Now I gotta work in my momma, and trains, and my dog. Actually, I can think of several need constructions that could encompass that action, but since I’m slightly partisan on this issue, they all come out sounding like “I have a need to be a gigantic assmunch, I have a need to be divorced, and/or I have a need to be in jail.” More on that last, later.

Oh well, we live and learn. I learned I’m not violence-prone, and that people who say they’re not, often are.

Speaking of which. Just as a general rule, I subscribe to “whatever people tell you they’re specifically not, they probably are.” People who say, “I don’t play games” probably have a trophy case full of the heads of previous gamers. I believe what people do, not what they say. I have recently been taken solidly to task for having this belief. I ask but this question, “Who should I believe, you or my own (swollen) eyes?”

Some preacher guy once asked that we judge a person by the content of their character. I have several judgments about the character of a certain someone, and will be paying a bit more attention to my judgments of character in the future.