Author Archives: bjmortie

Why Bugs Are Creepy

This is just speculation based on my own experiences.

1. They come out of nowhere! Seriously, where do they come from? How do they get in? Do they come in the door? The window? What? And why do I not notice them until I am about to step on them? Or sometimes they suddenly appear on the wall or the ceiling. And have you noticed how much creepier they are when they’re inside the house instead of outside where they belong? I have. Especially when I don’t see them coming. So, the surprise factor is definitely creepy.

2. They’re little (comparatively). Some bugs are HUGE – for a bug. But they all are smaller than people, and even smaller than most animals. This is creepy because you can lose sight of them. They might go inside your shoe without you noticing. They might even crawl on YOU when you’re not looking! And they might even get tangled up in your hair or something – then it’s REALLY hard to get rid of them. This is why girls scream sometimes when bugs are around. It’s not because they might hurt us (unless it’s the hurting kind); it’s because WE might hurt THEM. I, for one, do not want a dead or injured bug stuck in my hair. I also do not want a live bug anywhere on me or on my stuff. Creepy.

3. They are ugly.  Okay, there are some bugs that, to some people, may approach cuteness (such as woodlice or jumping spiders).  However, even they lose a lot of their “cuteness” in certain (read: many) situations.  For other bugs, ugly is just the only word for them.  I’m not discounting their potential usefulness.  There are many bugs that I put up with (e.g. house centipedes, some spiders) because they do things like eat worse bugs.  And others are good for the environment; I just don’t like them in my house.  They are ugly.  And creepy.

4.  They get into things.  Like food.  Or my kitchen floor.  Ew.  I won’t even bother listing the worst culprits.

5.  They… creep.  Sneaky little buggers.  And sometimes, such as with silverfish, it’s hard to tell even what direction they’re going to go next.  Silverfish are especially creepy because sometimes you can’t even see that they have legs.  They just look like little streaks of mercury moving around.

So, now I have clearly illustrated why bugs creep us out.  There may be more reasons that I didn’t think of, but that only makes my point stronger.  I commend those people who enjoy the creepiness of bugs.  They can have all the bugs they want.  They can even have the next bug I see in my house.  I don’t want it.  They’re creepy.

Celebrities

This is such a fascinating topic to me – not so much the celebrities themselves, but the effect they have on the rest of us.  First of all, I am endlessly annoyed by the ridiculous amount of attention they get.
It doesn’t annoy me so much if the attention is for the work they’re doing – whether their acting work, or philanthropic efforts, or some other project they have. But the vast majority of the articles I see have headlines about their clothes, or their relationships, or some rumor about their cat’s social schedule.
I don’t CARE how great or not great they look in a swim suit. I don’t CARE what they supposedly said to… whoever… about their supposed boyfriend’s ex-girlfriend’s cousin. I don’t CARE that they dyed their hair red this year when the dark brown color last year looked so much better on them. I don’t even care where they send their kids to school or to summer camp. And I especially don’t care where they went shopping last week or what they bought. But the vast majority of the stories and articles about them seem to be focused on these very things. And there are a large amount of stories and articles about celebrities and the clothes they wear or where they went on vacation.
There is SO much more information in the world! There is SO much more I want to learn about, hear about, read about.
But what really irks me is how often I get drawn in to the celebrity stuff. Grr! Why?! Why does this happen?! What is this strange power of learning random, useless, information about people I don’t know?!
I make a conscious effort to leave the celebrity articles alone and focus on things that really interest me. And I still get drawn in sometimes. I don’t know what else to say about it, except that it frustrates me each and every time.
Does this happen to anyone else around here, or did I just reveal too much about myself?

What I Deal With at Work

One of my job duties is leading a guitar class for several of the music therapists in my area.  We learn new songs, work on skills (guitar skills), share music, and pretty much practice all things guitar.  Today, after working on Barre chords for awhile, I decided to give the class’s fingers a break and work on some melodic playing.  I didn’t sense any excitement about “Take Me Out to the Ball Game,” “Working on the Railroad,” or “This Land is Your Land,” so I suggested working on a walking bass line for the twelve bar blues. 

I heard the word “torture” from one girl several times during the class.  I’m not sure whether she was referring to the walking bass line or to the bit with the Barre chords.  In any case, be warned:  Apparently, I can inflict some pain.

But I wanted to relate what we were learning to music therapy.  So, I mentioned some situations in which it might be useful to play a walking bass line – as a time fill while waiting for the client to do something or while giving instructions, as relaxation music, as “break” music to invite the client to return to the session when ready, etc. 

Then I mentioned how I had learned & practiced this bass line during very similar situations, such as while waiting for a client to return from the bathroom, so that the client would be aware that music therapy was still happening and be invited back to the session.  Only I worded it something like this – “… and I practiced this a lot while my client was in the bathroom.”  I thought this was a completely harmless statement.  But it got this response from the class wise guy:

“Were you in the bathroom WITH the client?”

“Uh, no.  Why would I do that?”

So, even though it was COMPLETELY apparent what I had really meant, the wise guy still proceeded to name the walking bass line “Brittney’s Bathroom Blues.”  Sigh.  The things I put up with…

Image

Here is a picture of a guitar I no longer own. But I really like this picture because of the whole light-shadow/reflection effect that’s going on. Plus, it’s a guitar, so it’s cool by default.

 

 

Life in Indy

I’ve been so busy since I moved here! It’s a wonderful feeling. I like having lots to do. I’ve been working more hours, which my paycheck and I both love. And I really like my job. I liked it before, too, but I like it even more now. And I never realized how much I would like living in the city. I am within walking distance of the grocery store, the library, the gym, a clothing store, a dollar store, a pharmacy, and even my dentist. And I’m only a 15-minute (or so) drive from church, the art museum, and several other places I like.
I had a couple of friends down here already, but I’ve already met more people. I occasionally meet with a group to “jam” to old-time folk and blues music. And I’ve even met some like-minded people at church. I’ve started to study Spanish again, I’ve been reading a lot, I always have writing projects to work on, and I have even more projects and adventures planned for the future.
So, I just wanted to report that I am very happy here in Indianapolis. I’m having a great time.

Judgment

I really like this definition of judgment I got from dictionary.com:  “the ability to judge, make a decision, or form an opinion objectively, authoritatively, and wisely, especially in matters affecting action; good sense; discretion.”  Judgment is actually pretty necessary to get on in life.  It’s how we decide if a place, situation, or person is safe.  It’s how we decide which course we want to take.  It’s how we decide whether or not we like an experience or want to repeat it or not.  There are a lot of good and necessary reasons to judge.  Not every person is going to make a good friend or relationship partner for us.  This requires judgment.

When you can see how a person, event, experience, etc., is affecting your own life, you may judge it best to include, exclude, or change whatever it is that’s affecting your life.  There are times when a person is not safe to be around.  There are times when a relationship might have a toxic effect on one or both parties.  For this discussion, we’re going to set these fairly rare occasions aside in their own category and focus on more typical interactions.

You see:  judgement, real judgment, sound judgment, requires information.  As my professor, Dean Madsen, once said, “Never pass judgment until you have a chance to develop understanding.”  I would say that a hasty judgment is not really a judgment at all, but simply jumping to conclusions.

But “judgment” is nowadays usually associated with a negative attitude or action.  Basically, when someone judges (hastily), they’re assuming that they know all about someone based only on a first impression.  Sometimes it’s based on a first glance.  Sometimes it’s based on someone else’s first impression.  Sometimes it’s based on the person’s mood upon first meeting or on a single attribute such as height, weight, skin color or gender.  Sometimes it’s not even based on that person at all but on someone else who shares one of that person’s attributes.

This is the type of judgment to avoid.  I really don’t know what else I can say about it.  Don’t do it.

But it’s not always easy.  Sometimes it’s very, very easy to slip into “judgment mode” automatically.  I’ve found myself assuming things about people based on, say, the way they talk or how much eye contact they make.  I think it’s a natural thing to do because we sometimes need to judge situations (for safety, for instance) very quickly.  So, once we’ve judged that a person and/or situation is safe, we can simply LET GO of “judgment mode.”  Then we can start looking for who that person really is instead of how we think they are.

It’s amazing what you can find out.

It’s amazing what kinds of relationships can be formed.

And it’s amazing to find out how great (and amazing) some people are.

The Phrase Game

One of my favorite games is to take an old or well-known saying and imagine somebody saying it out of context. Take, for example, “I shudder to think,” as demonstrated in the following fictional conversations:

Jimmy: Do you want to play basketball or ping pong?

Bobby: Oh, I shudder to think.

Jimmy: Okay… Whatever you need to do. But don’t take too long, because I really want to play something.

Or:

Carla: What are you doing? I just asked if you knew how to get to the museum.

Janice: Well, I shudder to think.

Carla: Oh, is THAT why you always do that? I wondered…

Oh, the things that go through my head when I’m driving. Always a party up there.

New Adventure

I’ve had a slight change of plans. Remember how excited I was to take off around the country, be location independent, go where the winds blew me? Well, I might still do that in the future (I have my whole life, after all), but FIRST, I’m going to move to Indianapolis. The company I currently work for offered me a new position at the main office near Indianapolis. It was a hard decision since I had my heart set on traveling. However, not only will I get more music therapy experience doing this, but I will also be working on computers, getting I.T. experience, and supervising/mentoring other music therapists. That kind of offer was too great to pass up. Besides all that, it is still a new location. And I might end up really liking it there. But there is nothing keeping me there if a year or so goes by and I still feel like moving on. I figure I’ll just make Indy my first stop, stick around if I love it, move on if I don’t. I’M STILL FREE!!

So, I got my new apartment about a week ago, and I’ll move in about three weeks. I’ll be living only about fifteen minutes from the office, but I don’t know how far I’ll be from the other places I’ll be driving to. But I am truly excited about this. It feels perfect. Plus, when I think about leaving to Boston or whatever, I get a panicky feeling instead of excitement like what I used to get. So, that tells me that this is what I’m supposed to be doing. But if I hadn’t made those plans, this opportunity might not have come to me, so it did serve that purpose, at least.

Tolerance (Part 2)

I have rarely been on the receiving end of intolerance, that I know of. When I have, it was more often dismissal that I felt rather than something like hostility. I feel that dismissal (or something like it) is a much more common response than personal attack. But I have lost a couple of friendships.

I do know that I have shown a lack of tolerance at times in the past, but I am changing now. Sometimes people take us by surprise, maybe by something they say, or how they dress, or something else about them. But remember, these are things they DO, not who they are. Some people do struggle with things that are more central to another person’s identity: race, sexual orientation, religion, even level of education or personality features.

Since tolerance doesn’t come naturally to everyone (or, I would venture to say, to anyone), how do we learn this skill and what are some ways we can put it into practice in our daily lives? Glad you asked! Here are few ideas I came up with, for starters:

1. BE POLITE. If you do nothing else, at least speak to the other person as you would to a friend, or (if you don’t know them well) a professional. For example, if it’s a person’s manner of dress that bothers you, pretend that they are dressed professionally behind the counter at a bank, and they are giving you money. Eventually, it won’t matter as much to how other people are dressed (or whatever it is that you struggle with), but this can work until we get there.

2. PRETEND YOU ARE LOOKING INTO A MIRROR. Whatever you’re about to say, is it something that you would like to hear from someone else? Would you like someone else you look at you with that kind of facial expression? Would you like to hear something in that tone of voice? Seeing a “mirror” is a powerful way to remember this.

3. FIND SOMETHING IN COMMON WITH THE OTHER PERSON. This is always a possibility, even if it’s something as simple as a like or dislike such as a certain type of food.

Now, not every situation requiring tolerance is going to be face-to-face conversation. Sometimes it will be conversations with friends, things we say or write, or even just attitudes we have. But let’s treat people with tolerance whether it’s face-to-face, in our own heads, or something in between. If we can start with just these three steps, then we will be on our way.

Tolerance (Part 1)

Tolerance is kind of a tricky word. I much prefer “respect,” “love,” or “honor,” especially since that’s what I would like to receive. But I’m human just like everyone else, and, at times, “tolerance” is about all I can handle with some people.  It’s just a personality thing.

But, seriously, maybe tolerance is kind of like respect. I mean, to me, tolerance MEANS treating someone with respect even if they’re doing something you don’t agree with. AND, if you can express your own views even while still treating the other person with tolerance and respect, that is an even more praiseworthy accomplishment. And, believe me, there are ways. There are ways to share your own opinion without invalidating someone else’s. So many people forget about that part when sharing their opinion but feel entitled to it when listening to yours. That is one change that I’d like to see happen: to be able to give what we expect to receive. It’s so simple, so basic, but SO easy to forget.

Some people are easy to respect: the ones who share our views, the ones who give time and other resources toward a cause, the ones who visibly give respect and love to us and others…

Other people might be harder to respect or tolerate: those who have broken the law, those who have hurt us or someone we know, those who use harsh or insulting communication…

Then there are those that some regard with hostility but most just kind of… dismiss:  those who speak differently, those of a different race, those from a different country, those with certain disabilities, impairments, or medical conditions, those of a different income level… basically, those who are not like us.  This can even include things that are seemingly more trivial, such as lack of confidence, lack of certain social skills, a different sense of humor, hair color, and so forth (who can really list EVERYTHING?).  I believe that for most of us, it’s this latter group that we struggle with the most – those with a slightly (or more) different attitude or lifestyle.

Well, what if we don’t agree with the attitude or lifestyle?  I say that’s great!  Life would be so boring if everyone thought exactly the same way.  I mean, what would we ever talk about?

The main point I’d like to make is that it is OKAY to be different.  And it is OKAY to notice differences in others.  It is even okay to disagree with some of the differences in others (such as attitudes, viewpoints, lifestyles, etc.).  For example, not everyone wants to be a minimalist like me.  Some people even think it’s really strange.  I just laugh because if it wasn’t my lifestyle, I would probably find it a little strange, too.  But what I want to emphasize is that there is at least one thing that we all have in common:  we are all PEOPLE.  That’s right, we are HUMAN.  And don’t ever forget that.

There is a certain level of respect, honor, and love that we all deserve just because of that fact.  So treat that other person as just that:  another person who also sleeps, gets hungry, gets thirsty, wants friends, has likes and dislikes, etc.  Forget for a moment WHAT they are – a Catholic, a gay person, a Jew, an African-American, a bank teller – and see them for the individual that they are.  Yes, what we are does contribute to our identities, but it is not the core.  I see this “forgetting” as kind of a first step to tolerance.  Once we can see another person as just a person and honor them for that, then we can add those other things to the bigger picture until we can truly celebrate WHO that other person is.

“But if we just tolerate everything, we don’t stand for anything!”  No, no, tolerance does not mean agreeing.  We can respectfully disagree.  And the point is to respect the other person AND their opinion even if we don’t agree with their opinion.  It can be hard to do.  But in my next post, I’m going to explore some practical ideas for putting tolerance to use in our real lives.  Comment or otherwise send me a message if there is something you’d like included or just if you have comments or ideas you’d like to share.

I CAN DO HARD THINGS

I went to the library today to drop off a book that was due. While I was there, I figured I would pick up the next book in the series I’ve been reading. Unfortunately, the library I went to didn’t have the next book on the shelf. What to do, what to do?

I ended up coming home with two books I never wanted to read again.

Hear me out. There’s a reason.

The first book is called “Lord of the Flies.” Perhaps you’ve heard of it. It’s on a lot of high school required reading lists. Personally, I didn’t read it in high school, but I did read it a couple of years after I finished college – just to say that I’d read it. I hated it. Loathed it. I only finished it because I am not a quitter. Anymore. Anyway, it was one of the most awful, horrifying stories I’ve ever read (and I have read Dracula), and I was most grateful to be finished with it forever. And then somebody told me recently how they absolutely loved that book because of how overtly symbolic it is. Well, I hadn’t read it with any symbolism in mind. So I’m going to give it another shot. I highly doubt that I will fall in love with it, but perhaps I will hate it less and maybe even appreciate it a little bit. We will see. I’ll let you know.

The second book is called “Pride and Prejudice.” Perhaps you’ve heard of it, as well. I understand it’s immensely popular. Could have fooled me. I hated this one, too. And since I began reading it BEFORE my “I am not a quitter” avowal, well, I sort of threw it across the room before I was halfway done with it. Carefully, since it wasn’t my book. It was a gentle throw. Anyway, I’ve finally decided to give this one another chance. I’ll read it with a more open mind, with a different perspective, and, most of all, with a determination to see it through to the end.

But wait, you say, isn’t all this just torturing yourself? (Those of you who have ever heard me talk about either of these books are definitely asking this right now.)

No, my dear friends, this is growth and enlightenment! (At least, that’s the plan.) I will learn self-discipline! I will find new insights about myself! I will be more open to new things! I will –

But don’t most people just go to the gym or something for that kind of stuff?

Most people, yes. But, you see, I [dramatic pause] am not most people. I am my own person! I will do things my way! I will do things this way!

Plus, I don’t have a gym membership and don’t plan to pay for one anytime soon. I have my own individual method of working out. But that’s another story.

So, wish me luck. I do desire this experience to stretch me and to open my mind and heart a little bit. With “Lord of the Flies,” I want to see and appreciate that symbolism and reflect on what I get to change in my life. With “Pride and Prejudice,” I want to be able to appreciate and accept romance and love in my life and in the lives of those around me. And I know there must be a lot more to the book than what I saw the first time, so I want to see what there is. With both books, I want to be able to look beyond the story on the surface. And I want to find some insights. Since I had such a strong reaction to both of these books, I’m pretty sure I will learn some things about myself by reading them again. And, with it all, this will be an exercise in following through with something that doesn’t appear to be enjoyable. Whether it turns out to be or not, I will follow through and finish both books. There. I’ve said it, and I’m going to do it!