Monday, November 14, 2011

The importance of wireless headphones and couches

I've been listening to a lot of ambient music lately. I went through a period in high school when I was absolutely obsessed with Vangelis. I had all his albums. In retrospect, I think that was a rather strange obsession for a high schooler. And by obsession, I don't mean that I researched him or knew the first thing about him. I just listened to the albums a lot. Of course my obsession began with Chariots of Fire. Okay, I checked on Wikipedia. I by no means had all his albums. I certainly didn't have one called Sex Power. Although maybe it's too bad that I didn't! We can only wonder how different my life might have been if I had such an album at age 16.

Anyway, the ambient station on Pandora is pretty good. It relaxes me. Although in typical Pandora fashion sometimes it goes off on a tangent and plays a song that is just the sound of a dripping faucet.

I listen to music pretty much constantly when I'm home alone. I rarely turn on the TV when Jeff is away and I especially don't now that there is so much available via streaming. I feel guilty about watching TV, even if it's really good TV. Jeff will still channel surf on the weekends sometimes, but I try to quash this behavior. It's a time suck! Why watch half of a movie? It doesn't bother him, apparently. And this is why we have wireless headphones. If you live in an apartment I strongly urge you to invest in a pair of them.

Sometimes I will choose not to watch a new show because of the guilt and also because I feel like I spend too much time watching TV. Invariably I choose not to watch what winds up being everyone's favorite show. I noticed that season 1 of Breaking Bad is on Netflix on demand, but I also really want to start The Invention of Hugo Cabret.

Also, watching a show on the computer feels like it's the worst of both worlds. I'm watching TV AND I'm on the internet. So not just one thing to feel guilty about, but two! I have a lot of guilt about things that aren't worth feeling guilty about, in case you hadn't guessed.

Alright, I've decided to watch the first episode. But I am definitely going to feel very guilty about it.

No, I didn't take it home.
Oh, by the way, I'm sitting on my new couch. I had a futon when Jeff and I moved in together. It was a bit too large for our current living room and plus, those things are not comfortable to sit on at all. So we got rid of if when I inherited two wing chairs. They are very nice wing chairs, but I did not realize how important it is to have a couch. The wing chairs are now safely stored in my in-laws' basement and we have a lovely new couch. I can put my head in Jeff's lap while we watch TV! Cuddling is necessary and good.

For now we have a no eating on the new couch rule. Or at least a no eating anything messy on the new couch rule. Or what is really a no eating anything messy when the other person is around to see you doing it rule.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

The new norm

Isn't it funny how after a while a person adjusts to just about anything?

Just four days ago, I was in tears because it seemed as if the mice had already won. I sat at the kitchen table in the middle of the day while a mouse the size of a toddler crouched behind our stove and rattled the back cover. He did that all day long while a smaller mouse, one the size you are used to seeing, hopped up on the counter beside the stove, and walked around on his hind legs, paws on hips, sticking his tongue out at me. It happened exactly like that.

That was Thursday. By last night, when mice 7 and 8 had seen no reason not to reach for a stale piece of chocolate that for some odd reason smelled of death, I was almost entirely immune to the death chamber that has become the space between our stove and fridge.

Booie ferociously grabs at the mice when we pull them out. I have no idea why she wants to chomp down on a dead mouse, but I guess that's her way of showing how she would handle one. Yeah, okay, Booie, but still, it's snap trap: 8. Booie: 0. Whoever said that cats are good for a) keeping mice from setting up shop in your home because of their feline smell alone and b) that all cats are good at catching mice was a) a liar and b) probably had never owned a cat. Some cats are simply better suited to lying in sunny windows.

So, killing cute little animals has become the norm around here. I'm not saying I like it by any means, but it did become easier and quite fast, too. Fortunately or unfortunately, I had to adjust to that new norm whether I wanted to or not. Sometimes I think it would be easier if more things in life were foisted upon us like that, whether we think we want them or not. Or maybe I just need to get better at doing more self-imposed foisting.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Realization about chivalry vs. manners

I've battled for some time this notion of how manners are supposed to work. This is especially in relation to how men treat women. For example: men should always usher women through doorways first. If a group of people arrives at a bar together and there are only a couple stools, the men should allow the women to decide if they want to sit first. A man should ensure that the woman he's with gets on or off the subway before he does. Etc.

Now, I have lived in New York or New Jersey since I left home to attend college, but I grew up in the semi-south of northern Virginia. My father is from the actual South and is this sort of gentleman described above. (It is no great stretch to put two and two together and see that I got this view of reality from observing my dad.)

Some of this sort of chivalry goes on in the North, but there is a lot of each wo/man for him/herself going on as well. And that always bugged me. On the one hand, I don't want to be bugged by it because I know deep down that there is NO reason for women to be treated differently than men. Why should a woman get on the subway first, right? A man could be just as tired at the end of the day as a woman and we women are perfectly entitled to dress however we want, so we can't say that we deserve the seats because we have to wear high heels. Many of us wear comfy shoes for commuting or comfy shoes all the time. I spend 95% of my work day with my ass parked in a chair. I really don't NEED to sit down for my 22 minute commute.

Most mornings I actually prefer to stand and I have this whole system where I hang back when people are entering the train so that I'm the last one on and can lean against the door. Since most people are rushing to get a seat that probably doesn't exist, it's very easy to hang back. I have been practicing this method for a few months now and not a single man has stood aside and ushered me onto the train first. If he did, I don't know what I'd do! He'd be foiling my plan! 

After reading this article, I had a realization. What struck me especially was this part:

To be sure, strict rules regarding courtesy and deference to others have historically been used as a way to enforce a social order in which women and blacks were considered less than full citizens.

In the Jim Crow era, blacks and whites lived with a code of hyper-politeness as a way to smooth the edges of a harsh racial system and, of course, keep it in place, scholars of Southern culture say.

As those issues faded, proper manners remained an important cultural marker that Southerners have worked to maintain. 

Ah ha! That's what it is! Chivalry of the sort outlined above (the kind where men let women enter the elevator first) really does need to die, assuming we no longer require this code of hyper-politeness to smooth the edges of a system in which women are inferior.

The other kind of chivalry, however, needs to be worked on by everyone, not just those of us in the North. There is no reason not to hold the door for the person walking right behind you. And there is no reason for that person to not say, "thank you!" It doesn't matter if it's a woman holding the door for a man or vice versa. It's just a nice thing to do for a fellow human being.

Phew! I'm so glad that I finally figured out why I had been battling that issue for so long.

(Photo is in honor of Halloween, even if it is a few days late.)