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The richest girl in town.

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Thinking. [Tuesday, Jan. 29th, 2008|12:43 am]
The richest girl in town.
Today was a horrendous day, but I'm trying not to dwell on the fifteen flavors of fail.

Instead I'm sitting here working while sipping a glass of vodka infused with vanilla and lemon just for me by kampachi after eating a nice serving of homemade veggie curry dropped off by whittles.

There have been a few things floating through my head in the last few weeks, some spawned of their own volition, others inspired by conversations with friends. I'm not necessarily prepared to write all my thoughts on them, though I wouldn't mind more conversations about them. But first I'd like to just get them down so that I can remember and revisit them as the thinking continues.

I'm thinking about forgiveness, and what it means, and what purpose it serves for all parties.

I'm thinking of passive-aggressive behavior as one of the more unfortunate symptoms of a certain kind of white middle-class culture in which the expression of any emotion, and especially "bad" ones, is generally viewed as negative.

I'm thinking of how challenging it is for me to sit with uncomfortable feelings sometimes instead of intellectualizing them away and why.

I'm thinking about how class and work interfere with our ability to process things healthily instead of stuffing bad feelings away.

I'm thinking about how much our birthplaces, our geography, influence how we relate to other people.

I'm thinking about how many people I know who have a hard time really believing in their own greatness and worth, and what we can do about it.

I'm thinking about how to move past grudges and resentments.

I'm thinking of how difficult it is for me to acknowledge to myself, much less anyone else, when I'm feeling insecure or vulnerable and that I need to get better at it.

There are other things I'm thinking of, too, but right now I need to finish this section of the training manual and get to sleep.
linkReply

Comments:
[User Picture]From: lenny_wick
2008-01-29 11:12 am (UTC)
I am sorry.

And:
“When nothing seems to help, I go look at a stonecutter hammering away at his rock perhaps a hundred times without as much as a crack showing in it. Yet at the hundred and first blow it will split in two, and I know it was not that blow that did it, but all that had gone before.” — Jacob Riis
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[User Picture]From: fightingwords
2008-01-29 06:41 pm (UTC)
That's such a great quotation. Thank you.
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[User Picture]From: rag_and_bone
2008-01-29 02:01 pm (UTC)
so much to think. so few people actually do it. i admire you for it.
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[User Picture]From: fightingwords
2008-01-29 06:40 pm (UTC)
Thanks. I think people think about these things quite often, actually. It's actually acting on that, changing behavior, that is the hard part for me.
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[User Picture]From: whittles
2008-01-29 04:07 pm (UTC)
Man, I am so proud to know you.
I'm sorry today was such shite.
I think you're doing a damn fine job these days.
I'm happy to let you lean on my faith in your greatness.
Anytime, baby. Anytime.
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[User Picture]From: fightingwords
2008-01-29 06:39 pm (UTC)
Aww.

Thank you.

I'm doing okay--trying to walk the line between immersing myself in the various emotions that come up and rationalizing them away and not turning them over and inspecting them.

Today my landlord called to talk me out of getting rid of Java. I love her.
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[User Picture]From: elusis
2008-01-29 09:23 pm (UTC)
Wait, what???
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[User Picture]From: elusis
2008-01-29 09:28 pm (UTC)
Aw, babe. My daily catchup on LJ yesterday somehow managed to miss that one.

I am so sorry the suck has piled on your head right now.

What's your weekend like? I may be putting myself in a bit of Writing Exile.
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[User Picture]From: whittles
2008-01-30 01:27 am (UTC)
I love your landlady.
So very much.
And as much as she's a stupid mutt, I love java too.

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[User Picture]From: whittles
2008-01-30 04:30 am (UTC)
also also, the passive aggressive communication thing is definitely something I was raised with and fight against. I think I've come a long way in some categories of my life and still have miles to go elsewhere.
And lord knows it came from my mom's side.
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From: sanikleen
2008-01-29 04:57 pm (UTC)
"Today was a horrendous day, but I'm trying not to dwell on the fifteen flavors of fail."

I like to blame it on mercury.
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[User Picture]From: fightingwords
2008-01-29 06:27 pm (UTC)
Oh, shit--I can haz Mercury in retrograde?
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[User Picture]From: defenestr8r
2008-01-29 05:14 pm (UTC)
i think the passive-aggressive thing is related to the class/work thing, and i would even go so far as to tie them to WASP culture, not all white "culture". my phenotypically white jewish family talk about *everything* - sometimes too much. see my recent post comparing my mom and dad.

also, the work thing may come from this idea of the PROTESTANT work ethic. again with the WASPS.

it's been my (limited) experience that catholics are more open with conversation and emotions as well. but you know, the jews and the catholics have so many similarities.

at least for me, being raised in a non-stuffing-things-away family makes it really hard to deal with the emotional repressing that goes on in WASP families.

and for a totally white pop-culture reference on this topic, there is a great episode of will & grace where they go visit their respective families on thanksgiving (i think).
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[User Picture]From: fightingwords
2008-01-29 06:31 pm (UTC)
Totally--I edited my post. (I'd actually intended to refer to a specific kind of white middle-class culture in the first place but was too tired to edit the original post last night. And I think it is a WASPy thing, though it's bled out of that into other parts of the culture.)

By the way--I realized something about your emails yesterday. Not sure what side you were taking on your birthday--I wasn't even in town. I was on the east coast.

So, now I'm even more bewildered.

Also, I'd love to meet up at Truck one of these nights. What are you doing later? I'm working from home now but could head to the city later. The rest of my week is pretty booked, though, between Just Cause, a reading, and a dinner party.

Will you be at MEAT?
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[User Picture]From: defenestr8r
2008-01-29 06:32 pm (UTC)
LOL. that makes it even better. i have no idea what he was referring to, but we seem to have reached a peace accord.

i am working hard today prepping for tomorrow's lecture. dinner plans later, i think. maybe next week is better?
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[User Picture]From: fightingwords
2008-01-29 06:34 pm (UTC)
Next week for the win!
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[User Picture]From: defenestr8r
2008-01-29 06:41 pm (UTC)
fantastic! monday happy hour?

alternately, georgia and i hit happy hour at the homestead yesterday which was pretty good.

...and also made me think that we should organize a bar crawl of mission bars with naked lady paintings sometime.
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[User Picture]From: fightingwords
2008-01-29 06:45 pm (UTC)
Monday should work--I just realized I'm leaving Tuesday for Creating Change in Detroit. I won't be back until the 10th.

Also, feel free to bring Georgia! I like that lady.
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[User Picture]From: defenestr8r
2008-01-29 06:49 pm (UTC)
awesome!

ok, and if you start to feel too stressed out about leaving, i will NOT be at all offended if you bail :)
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[User Picture]From: rivetpepsquad
2008-01-29 05:31 pm (UTC)
God, that WAS one hell of a day, jeebus lady. Glad to hear about the cocktail and curry: good decompression.

I wouldn't mind being in for more of those conversations if you'd like to keep having them; we could take a post-work walk sometime...

I hear you on the unfortunateness of the P-A behavior that runs through certain white cultures. It's something I have to challenge myself to push through on a daily basis, and that I experience all around me every day in little ways.

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[User Picture]From: fightingwords
2008-01-29 06:32 pm (UTC)
Yes! It was actually our conversation over dinner a couple weeks back that inspired some of this.

I would love an after-work walk, but this week might be tough. However, I think I may try to drag myself to Amber's dance class on Friday. You going?
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[User Picture]From: rivetpepsquad
2008-01-29 06:35 pm (UTC)
O really? Which part? I hadn't counted on it being inspiring, just BETCHING :)

I am trying to hit my Friday hiphop class on a more regular basis (so as to be less White n' Nerdy plz), but you should soooo go: it is fun. I will eventually drop back in to it!

And maybe we can walk next week? Tues?
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[User Picture]From: fightingwords
2008-01-29 06:42 pm (UTC)
Shit, I'm leaving town on Tuesday for a conference. I forgot it was so soon. Crap.
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[User Picture]From: rivetpepsquad
2008-01-29 06:42 pm (UTC)
Whoop!

No worries, love, we'll see each other soon (MEAT!).
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[User Picture]From: tristan_crane
2008-01-29 05:32 pm (UTC)

Word.

I've been thinking a lot about communication and why we have such a hard time disagreeing amicably.

Props to you for holding the space to have all of this going on. It's a lot, and you're right, sitting with the feeling is super almost impossible. Eugh.
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[User Picture]From: fightingwords
2008-01-29 06:36 pm (UTC)

Re: Word.

For me, I think disagreeing amicably is something I'm getting better at, but there are a few caveats attached that I'm not fond of.

It's the being uncomfortable that is work for me. There are some sure-fire ways of making myself feel better that I've relied on in the past, but they're not necessarily helpful, and I know it. I'm trying to identify my various bad habits/coping skills and unlearn them.
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[User Picture]From: tristan_crane
2008-01-29 06:44 pm (UTC)

Re: Word.

I think of 'agreeing to disagree' as slightly healthier than the insistance on pushing your opinion and point of view on someone else.. and backing that up in passive aggressive ways. Currently I'm dealing with a housemate who spends more time trying to convince us of her position than in actually addressing the issue. I feel you on the dark side of that, however.

I'm working on the being uncomfortable as well. Weirdly, I'm coming out of a long period of *everything* feeling uncomfortable (like, years long..) and so now when something feels icky, it really bothers me more.. and yet because I'm happier I'm in a much better place to deal with it. It's the jump back into sitting with it that's rough. Makes me whiny. ; )

also feel you on the unlearning past coping skills. Drinking it down just doesn't work anymore for me.
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From: oblomova
2008-01-29 06:16 pm (UTC)
Sorry about the shitstorm day. And these things? They are all interesting to think about. I hope you'll write about some of them in greater depth when you fee like it.
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From: oblomova
2008-01-29 06:16 pm (UTC)
Or even when you "feel" like it. Jeebus.
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[User Picture]From: fightingwords
2008-01-29 06:23 pm (UTC)
No-no-no! I like "fee". I'm going to start charging per LJ post!
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[User Picture]From: blaugirl
2008-01-29 09:59 pm (UTC)
"I'm thinking of passive-aggressive behavior as one of the more unfortunate symptoms of a certain kind of white middle-class culture in which the expression of any emotion, and especially "bad" ones, is generally viewed as negative."

This is most definitely a WASPy thing... and it describes my childhood exactly. My mom still struggles with this and doesn't say what is on her mind until all of a sudden she blows up.

Once I figured out how that worked it helped me understand her and get along with her much better. I would like to see her get past this kind of behavior before she gets too much older.
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[User Picture]From: aefre
2008-01-29 11:17 pm (UTC)
Not just middle-class but also upper-class, too. In fact, I would say especially upper-class, as the country club set would probably rather die than tell each other what they really think and feel.

Does this only apply to white folks?
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[User Picture]From: fightingwords
2008-01-29 11:27 pm (UTC)
I'm not sure that it only applies to white folks, but I think it does have a lot to do with class--and in a country where moving up in class for some people of color means assimilation and mimicry, I think it's more common among PoC of means. Some family members of mine definitely come to mind.

I was also thinking of this within the context of some schools of modern psychology that eschew expressions of anger or frustration in lieu of the "calm, rational" approach. In my experience, this ends up looking a lot like condescension and sarcasm and rarely is rational, no matter how well-modulated the tone is.
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[User Picture]From: aefre
2008-01-29 11:29 pm (UTC)
I totally agree! People can be calm, rational...and still perfectly mean.
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[User Picture]From: fightingwords
2008-01-29 11:35 pm (UTC)
Yep, and not surprisingly, I see men do this all the time with women. Conveniently, he's being "rational" and she's just "crazy."
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[User Picture]From: writeli
2008-01-30 12:08 am (UTC)
Does this only apply to white folks?

I think not, though I think the cultural origins of it come from the mimicry of that country club set, with those class aspirations informing behaviors in most other groups - across racial lines - since that social set has been our collective ideal.

I see this in my family and unfortunately myself sometimes, though I try to challenge it in both. I think the passive-aggressive behavior is the brain's way of calling bullshit on the suppression of your true reaction. So when I find myself going that way, I know I've crossed the line between diplomatic silence and repression. Though it bothers me that I don't always acknowledge the line before crossing it.
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[User Picture]From: fightingwords
2008-01-30 12:10 am (UTC)
Yes yes yes. Exactly, on all counts.
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[User Picture]From: writeli
2008-01-30 12:13 am (UTC)

I'm thinking....

...that you're thinking about a lot of important things. I'm very impressed that you're addressing them, particularly because this could be a list of all the things I personally need to work on. I found myself saying "exactly" after each.

If you don't mind, I may use this as a to-do (or to-challenge) list for myself.
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[User Picture]From: liquid_siftings
2008-01-30 01:17 am (UTC)
Not to cherry-pick, but as you know:

I'm thinking about how many people I know who have a hard time really believing in their own greatness and worth, and what we can do about it.

really resonates with me; I think about it all the time. I think that you too suffer from this (at least at times). I wish it could be as easy as telling and showing people the truth of it and having it stick. Alas...

If you come up with any brilliant ideas, let me know.
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[User Picture]From: gashlycrumb
2008-01-30 03:28 am (UTC)
I'm thinking about forgiveness, and what it means, and what purpose it serves for all parties.

Me too.

As for the rest - all things I should be thinking about.
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