Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Shut yo mouth.

One of the blogs I check in with occasionally is by a Christian environmentalist whose life choices provide the best answer to any self-described religious person who refuses to see the point of low-impact living. Basically, if you believe in a creator who has given you stewardship over the earth, you should be the most radical environmentalist out there, and if you try to justify any other way of living, you really don't have a leg to stand on. I know, tell that to all the right-wing Christians with oil interests (or whatever).

Anyway, the point is that I admire this woman's environmental choices and that's why I read her blog--to see examples of low-impact living in action. I tend to skim or skip the churchy stuff, for many reasons I probably don't need to detail here, since you know me (sort of. I can get into this more another time, maybe). Today's churchy stuff was, however, timely, as I have been thinking more and more about the ways in which my words and/or actions fall short and/or hurt people. Welcome, therefore, to the only blog entry in which I will ever quote the Bible (probably), from James 3:
For we all stumble in many ways. If someone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect individual, able to control the entire body as well. And if we put bits into the mouths of horses to get them to obey us, then we guide their entire bodies. Look at ships too: Though they are so large and driven by harsh winds, they are steered by a tiny rudder wherever the pilot’s inclination directs. So too the tongue is a small part of the body, yet it has great pretensions. Think how small a flame sets a huge forest ablaze. And the tongue is a fire! The tongue represents the world of wrongdoing among the parts of our bodies.
There are a few personality issues I have struggled with my whole life. Big number one is seeming cold or aloof, which has a lot more to do with not being immediately at ease in new situations than with any basic deficit in my affections. With some people I am able to skip over the aloof stage because they bring out my more extroverted side, and with other people, getting past that is a process that usually involves some moment in which they realize I am actually a softie and not scary at all. But I can be intimidating and in some cases, I will admit, I kind of relish that, which isn't cool. It's one thing to be strong and self-possessed and quite another to maintain a lofty distance between yourself and the people around you. It's something I don't think I do at all in my teaching life, and I don't know if that's because the roles are more clear-cut there, or because teaching is what I really feel comfortable doing. It allows me to go ahead and be an expert, to have the upper hand by definition, while also being encouraging and supportive and friendly and getting to know people on their own terms. Hm. Something else to think about.

And the whole idea of choosing words carefully, or mastering your own mouth, is something that I've carried with me for many years. I used to be exponentially more sarcastic and cutting than I am now, and as I have gotten older I've mellowed out (at least in that respect). The words and the wit are still there; I just try not to use them to make people feel stupid, knowing as I do that self-aggrandizement via verbal superiority basically just makes me an asshole. If I have to talk about something difficult with someone, I think very hard, in advance, about what I'm going to say in order to be clear and honest. But who is good at this in the heat of the moment? Not many people, I would wager, and not I.

Damn, you know who else can't govern his mouth? This cat. If he's not biting my legs to get attention, he's meowing his head off because he's too lazy to jump his own furry ass into my lap. He wants me to pick him up. Again.

Anyway. I may never be a natural about putting people at ease, or radiating goodwill (though I am a genius about shopping there), or just letting things drop when my hackles are up, or not getting my stupid hackles up in the first place. But I do think it's important to try. I have lots of big personality and life stuff on my mind these days, like for example about how long it has taken me to grow up, but that's for another post.

In other news, I have parlayed my sometime office job into an actual job, so 30 hours of my work week is now far more structured, as is 75% of my income. Trust me, this can only be a good thing.


  1. Good post. I'd like to read that blog by the Christian environmentalist, and I think we could have an interesting discussion, if you're interested.

    I also want to say that when I finally realized that you are indeed a big softie, I wanted to hug you LOTS. In fact, I believe I will when I see you Saturday night. Yay!

  2. If, in fact, my tongue is fire then I should probably stop licking so many things - except asses. That shit must feel real good (pun intended).

  3. I love this post, and I hear what you're screaming. But you put me at ease every time you refer to your readers as bitches. So do it more often. Or just email me from time to time to call me your bitch. Whichever you prefer.

  4. "I may never be a natural about putting people at ease, or radiating goodwill (though I am a genius about shopping there)" HA! Love it!

    I also love your new rules!

  5. Gentle bitches, I have updated this post to include links. I dunno why I didn't just do it in the first place, but Tricia, now you can read both of the blogs this person writes (she may have more--these are the two I know).

  6. Thanks for the post, and for the links. She sounds right on.

  7. You are reading my mind Ms. Maven. And my heart, a little bit. I find it hard to believe you're aloof with your extroverted stylish ways and honest blogging - but maybe it's easier to write it out than talk it out? I think so.
    Yours, aloofly without meaning to be,

  8. Kayemess: It's ALWAYS easier to write it out, don't you think? And honestly, blogging (only semi-anonymously, even!) has been a big part of my personal friggin growth. There is something so nice about owning your shit in public. Hoarding your anxieties in private gives them way more power than they should have.

    About the aloof thing: like you, I never mean to be, unless I'm riding the bus and don't want people to talk to me. Otherwise, it's just some frustrating inability to be gregarious and welcoming even when I know EXACTLY what I should say or do. Part of me is shy, I guess.

  9. Hope all the big personality and life stuff is good--something tells me it is.

  10. Two things:

    First I have never before seen the word 'hackles' in print let alone twice in one sentence. I don't even know what it means but I will in a minute. I plan on adding it to my vocabulary.

    Second, as a bona fide Libra I am master of my mouth (I'll wait while you all snicker, you sick, sick bastards). Let me tell you, it's not all it's cracked up to be. If only there was a happy medium.

    P.S. Praise Jebus.

  11. Hackle: A tuft of cock feathers trimming an artificial fishing fly

    Ha ha, a tuft of cock feathers. Excellent! Not only is it a funny word but it has so many inappropriate uses, too.