From the monthly archives:

July 2012

Why We Blog

July 29, 2012

in random

He was a lonely ghost uttering a truth that nobody would ever hear. But so long as he uttered it, in some obscure way the continuity was not broken. It was not by making yourself heard but by staying sane that you carried on the human heritage.   George Orwell, 1984

 

Every once in a while, I have to pause and ask myself, “Why bother doing this? Why blog?” IF I am honest when I say, “I don’t really care if anybody reads these words,” why is keeping a journal not enough for me?

For starters, I have never succeeded in keeping a journal. I must have accumulated dozens of journals with scribbles only on the first few pages: my handwriting progressively became sloppier, and the word counts less, until … blank. Blank. Blank.

So am I really that narcissistic, as I like to accuse myself of – getting it out of the way before anybody else points this out.

This recurring self-reflexive questioning was put to an end when I came across this Time article, “Like to Brag on Facebook or Twitter? That’s Because Self-Disclosure Is like Eating and Sex, Says Study“. The title itself is self-explanatory.

Intriguingly, the researchers noted a distinction between types of self-disclosure: introspection, or privately thinking about oneself, compared with having the opportunity to share those thoughts with another human being. Again, as expected, while introspection was itself sufficient to light up brain regions associated with reward, the effects were “magnified” when participants believed their thoughts would be communicated to someone else.

 

In this other article, “Why We Talk About Ourselves: The Brain Likes It“, it was spelled out even more explicitly. Here is the paragraph that I have committed to memory as rebuttal against my imaginary accusers:

We love talking about ourselves, we really do — that’s what a group of Harvard neuroscientists found while testing the theory that we’re big on self-disclosure, anyway. In fact, say the scientists, we love self-disclosure so much because it tickles our core value centers in much the same way as “primary rewards” like food and sex.

The researchers noted that people particularly enjoyed self-disclosure if they knew other people were listening. When people were given a choice to share their responses with others or to keep them private, they gave up 25% of their potential earnings in order to broadcast the personal info. “[The] effects were magnified by knowledge that one’s thoughts would be communicated to another person, suggesting that individuals find opportunities to disclose their own thoughts to others to be especially rewarding,” says the study.

 

There you have it.

It is in our psychological make-up, part of the evolutionary outcome. How can you fight that?  In fact, more people should be doing this –

Blogging. It is good for the soul.

And since it is 100% fat free and at no risk of contracting STD, it is good for the body too.

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Lucky

July 25, 2012

in therapy in session

Before she started telling you the story, she would have said, before anything else, “This journal entry has a happy ending.”

The red light on her phone was blinking. Somehow she’d missed a phone call when she knew that nobody would be calling her. Not on her cell anyway. Her husband was out of the country, her children only TXT now, and her mother would only call the landline (because she’d never bothered to give her her cellphone number) and always when it was way past bedtime (because figuring out time zone difference becomes a lot harder once day light savings time change is (not) taken into account)

The unfamiliar number shown had the local area code. With smart phones nowadays our relationship is discreetly judged by whether you show up as a name (from Contacts) or as a mere phone number. The persistent blinking red light indicated that the person had left a voice mail. She was annoyed. Really. Who in this day still leaves voice mails? She dreads checking her voicemails on the very few occasions when some un-indoctrinated people leave them. The problem is they never ever come out clear. Press 1 to repeat the message. Press 1 to repeat. Press 1. Often she ends up pressing 7, reasoning that if the message is important enough, the person will surely call back.

It was a call from some doctor’s office but she could not make out which. She did not think twice when she missed another call from the same number later that day. The call showed up as a mere number and therefore automatically deprioritized. Funny how stupid her logics sound in hindsight.

She jumped when her phone suddenly rang in the midst of the somber silence as she and her children huddled in front of the television, watching the retelling of the horror in Aurora, CO, unfold.

Hello. You need to go in for a follow-up. It’s probably nothing. But we just want to make sure. They noticed something… that looked… calcification…

She held her breath and blinked. She’d forgot about the mammogram the day before.

The doctor wants you to schedule an appointment with the hospital right away and she will fax the order in. Call me right back and let me know the time.

She knew that the doctor’s office was concerned when they waited to hear from her. She went back to sit in front of the television at first as if she had just received a phone call from a telemarketer. The chaos on the screen made her comment out loud how fragile life is.

Oh.

She remembered the call and what it could possibly mean. She wanted to cry.

What if? No… It can’t be, right? No way this is happening to me. Maybe I should be freaking out now? She asked herself. Let’s see how good I really am at compartmentalizing.

She shook her head violently. Stop thinking about it! There is nothing you can do about it except waiting until Monday morning.

When her mind immediately, out of habit, presented silver linings to the worst case scenario, “I can finally quit my job!” I am such a fucking idiot, she chastised herself, ashamed and worried that if her friends who had fought and survived knew this was her first thought, they’d be offended by how she’s trivializing the whole thing. It’s not a fucking excuse! This is no child’s play. For some people, this is real. Too many people actually.

She shook her head violently. Stop thinking about it! There is nothing you can do about it.

She did not tell anybody about the phone call. In fact, by Monday, she herself had forgot about the follow-up appointment and almost missed it. She woke up late on Monday morning because for three nights she stayed up channel surfing. She cried through Brideshead Revisited.

At the hospital, the technician made her stay for the result. Just in case he needs to see something more, she said.

When she pulled her book out from the purse, she felt guilty for not feeling anything. Maybe I should cry, she wondered, what’s the proper behavior at a moment like this? When the radiologist walked into the gowned waiting room and called her husband’s name, she was startled by how scholarly he looked. Almost bookish. Like a professor. He blurted out even before their hands parted, “Everything looks fine,” and smiled. “I didn’t want you to walk down the hallway wondering.”

The humid air rushed into her lung when she pushed open the heavy door to the garage. Her breath suddenly caught in her throat. She fled into the car and shut the door before the violent tears came.

You are such an idiot, she murmured.

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Alas nowadays it seems that the eye of the beholder is an one-eye monster, (ok, NOT that one-eye monster), with its narrow, single-minded vision towards “What sells”, deciding what men want, and therefore dictating what women want (because we all want to become what men want, and yes, the assumption/implicit acceptance of heterosexual hegemony is with us. We cannot deny it)

The eye of the beholder is also imbued with the ruthless power of PhotoShop…

Behold this:

 

I don’t even…

Ugh.

 

Every once in a while someone would say something extremely stupid (MORE stupid than what is deemed as “the way the world works”, I should add), and it would rile us up. We’d rally around the targeted, start a movement, hug each other, decide that we should support one another because we are all in this together.

The latest is the brouhaha over a pro-anorexia (I paused when I saw the term “Pro-anorexia”. Anorexia is a life style choice now?!) blog’s scathing, mean-spirited attack on Kate Upton. As a result, the Internet (aka the world) came together showering Ms. Upton with encouragement and support, and by extension, the entire super model community. It’s been getting so much attention that finally when you type in “kate” in Google Search, the first suggested search term is not Kate Middleton. (Speaking of HRH, the news media is now obsessed with her being too thin, even too thin to have a baby. Thought you may appreciate the Schizophrenia here).

 

I was going to end on a cynical, pessimistic note per my MO, waiting for this particular cycle to end and we all go back to our merry old ways. Everything’s the same. Always. But this time around there seems to be something different in the air… A group of teens started petitions, staged protests and mock runway shows outside the offices of popular teen magazines, Seventeen and Teen Vogue. Since telling their peers to simply not read the garbage is not an option, these awesome young feminists started a movement to demand that these magazines stop The PhotoShopping Epidemic. (Of course, initially, both magazines staunchly denied the practice of altering the photographs.)  They confronted the modern-day taste makers publicly and asked them to “stop altering natural bodies and faces so that real girls can be the new standard of beauty.”

Just say no to Photoshop.

How hard could it be, Madison Avenue?

Perhaps it is time (and I know we’ve said this many times in the past, but we need to repeat it over and over because people are forgetful) that we take the gaze back. Forget about the stupid beholder.

You be the judge. You.

 

ETA: This is the reason why I write less and less here – I can never finish what I start. As I was brushing my hair this morning – it is a new thing for me nowadays now that I have “long” hair, it hit me that what I said as a conclusion above was kind of bullshit. Beauty exists because there is someone else other than ourselves that would be seeing us, no? If I truly, honestly do not care about the gaze, then the concept of beauty has no meaning. It is the “if a tree falls in the forest and nobody hears it” thing, isn’t it?

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Keep on Fighting

July 7, 2012 therapy in session

Motherhood in the beginning is sickeningly isolating, especially if La Leche League gets their hold on your conscience. Your partner may be super duper awesome and really do the concept of 50/50 co-parenting justice. BUT. When you are up at night alone (because someone has to get up to go to work so you can […]

23 comments

Hello Sweetie. I need to get a grip on reality.

July 6, 2012 therapy in session

Seeing how I have been on a midlife crisis overdrive… Yes, I think I may as well come out and admit it to myself. I have been going through some sort of personal crisis ever since I started this blog in 2008. Some sort of late-onset-puberty/rebellious stage sans hyper-libido. *sigh* For someone who’s 120% sincere […]

11 comments