Wasn’t Funny Then and It’s Still Not Funny

Every once in a while, people tell me I need to lighten up and get a sense of humor. I use to believe that, but the truth often is the person who says that is also the perpetrator of a joke that absolutely was not funny. A couple of months ago, someone I thought was a friend of mine made some hurtful jokes about me to me.

My friend Tamika‘s post on confrontation addresses how some bigger problems could have been averted if they were confronted sooner instead of later. I am on the other side of this issue since I’m not fond of confrontation (unpleasant business) and if I did confront someone right away, I wouldn’t be very nice. In this situation, I wanted to tell my friend to shut the fuck up or to go fuck himself when he was making those jokes. However, easier said than done.

We were doing one of those large turnout annual walk-runs that go to a good cause when this friend decided to make incessant jokes about my wieght. Several times on the route, he pointed to a group of bears and said I should join up with them. If that wasn’t enough, he went up to a mutual friend’s five year old son of a  and tried to get him to say that I was “curvaceous.” His mother was shocked and asked my friend what he was trying to do with her son. Fortunately for him, she didn’t bitch him out (which some parents would).

I know I would not have accomplished anything by going off on him, especially in front of someone and her children. I did say a few times that I wanted to kill him, but this came off more as a frustrated attempt to make a joke of dealing with it. Easier said than done, I could have told him to stop his jokes and that they weren’t funny. Instead, I waited to calm down so that I could peacefully confont him.

I chose to address the issue a week later when he called me on the phone. Despite calmly bringing up the issue, he was offended that I waited this long and then he lost his temper. He then tried to bring up an issue with me and went on about it until the conversation was over. By the time I hung up, I decided I didn’t want to talk to him at all.

I didn’t want to go through the hypocrisy of pretending all is OK, so I just avoided a whole group of people just so I I wouldn’t have to say hello and act chummy with him. I could have met them in the social context without acknowledging him but it took too much energy to do so. I wound up losing out because I avoided people who had nothing to do with my issues with him.

Sorry about the vagueness of the post. It would be easier to be more specific. Recently, I decided to stop avoiding the social context (which is more than social), and decided to make nice with the friend. He invited me out to coffee and the whole conversation was small talk, skirting the issues that drove us apart in the first place. Towards the end, I told him I thought I’d never talk to him again. When I detected this could have turned into a repeat of the phone conversation a month and half before, I thanked him for extending the olive branch. With that said and done, I’m not sure if I could ever hang out with him like we use to. I don’t want to be in a situation where he thinks he can be comfortable enough to insult me again.

I’m wearing my headphones so I don’t have to talk to you…

Yesterday, I was at Twiggs in University Heights to unwind after a day of teaching, around 6’ish pm,  when I saw some people with clipboards hanging around outside by the entrance. I didn’t know what they were up, nor did I find ever find out. I just didn’t care to find out. They may have even been working for some cause I’m for, but the strategic ambush posture didn’t go very well with me.

As I did my Internetting and sipped my coffee, I thought of my exit strategy. I imagined being rude, I contemplated simply running past them, and I thought of running towards the street corner and crossing the street. I just did not want to engage in conversation with them at all, as they would have kept talking so I would buy whatever they wanted to sell, whether it was making a contribution to their cause or consider their product. It reminded me of when I was recently in Washington DC walking around in Chinatown, only to be accosted by someone from Greenpeace. I didn’t mind the initial conversation, but I did not want to get roped into making a donation right there on the spot. I simply made an excuse that I had to meet some friends to get away from her, but the woman wasn’t too happy that I got out of her grip.

I settled on wearing my headphones and listening to my iPod. However, they weren’t deterred as two of them tried to rush me when I was a few feet out the door. I then put my hand up in the classic “talk to the hand” gesture and moved on. I called Twiggs afterwards to voice a complaint about the clipboard people.

A part of me felt rude for quickly dismissing them like that. However, I resent that they placed themselves in a position where they had a captive audience.

The outdoor solicitor problem got so bad at the Trader Joe‘s in Hillcrest/Uptown area that they put up a sign telling customers that they were not obligated to talk to these street hawkers. It’s pretty bad when we need institutional blessings to say “No.”

Nom de plume/nom de guerre

I’ve recently become very uncomfortable about being easy to find on Google. That is, if you entered my first and last names, you’d find all kinds of things: dead websites, Twitter, Facebook and Myspace profiles, and the Blogger blog. From there, every other result is hit or miss, but there’s enough out there on me if anyone wants to cyber-stalk me.

OK, cyber-stalk is too strong of a term and it’s self-flattery for me. The only “cyber-stalkers” I know of are a few friends who told me about using their “Google Dirty Fingers” and someone who had some romantic interest in me and used the Blogger incarnation of my blog to feel close to me. Relatively harmless.

Then there are those kind of people I’m not at ease with seeing any of my online manifestations: bosses, students, some colleagues, HR analysts/specialists/coordinators/any other over-elevating term for functionaries who play on the Internet when they should be doing work. Any of these parties could easily take offense to what I post and use something I’ve written against me.

One solution I could have used early on was anonymity. Of course, there’s no guarantee here, as the Phantom Professor lost her job at a certain school over her observations of students and colleagues a few years ago. This and many other work-related blog stories are enough to chill anyone off of blogging anything interesting at all.

If I knew about these issues, then why did I even put my real name on the previous incarnation of ShindoTV and other Internet things that would show up in the Google search? I wanted to get my name out there as far as my writing was concerned. Glory hound, as Chris would put it.

In this present version, I don’t have my real name listed. I simply post as Shindo. I’ve been considering de-naming some of my online stuff. I just wonder how long it will take for a lot of my real name to disappear from Google’s search results.

However, Shindo doesn’t completely anonymize me at all. One could easily tune in by chance, read my entries, and infer it’s me. Plus, the link is set on my re-direct page on my old blog and it’s on my Facebook profile and other web profiles. I still want people to come here. I also want to make interesting content.

If I have to exercise self-censorship in some areas, that is not the death of creativity. Gripes and venting are tempting because they create posts that are interesting in the short term. Everyone tunes in because drama is interesting, but then they go on with their lives and will move on to the next shiny thing. The flip-side of drama is that it gets old fast. As for people who frustrate me, I have to consider that they are not worth my airtime. Lots of other things are worth my attention, such as things that actually interest me and generating original content. If I find the sources of frustration too irresistible, then there’s the medium of fiction. For that, the “small penis rule” comes in handy. In other words, use a detail that would be too embarrassing for “the muse” to admit.

I don’t think I even have to go that far. Lack of imagination has never been my problem. Plus, I have plenty to post, especially as I plan to launch one of my creative projects in September. I don’t plan to stop anytime soon.

On a personal note…

I got the news from my cousin Lynn on Sunday night that my Aunt Dorothy died. She was the wife of my Uncle John (my father’s uncle, actually, as he’s one of my paternal grandmother’s brothers). I’ve known her since I was about four or five years old, shortly after we arrived in the U.S. from Japan.

I spent the good part of this afternoon visiting my Uncle John, who lives in northern San Diego. Several of Aunt Dorothy’s daughters, one grand daughter and husband, and great grand children were at his house to keep him company and deal with all the lovely things that must be taken care of when someone leaves this world: funeral arrangements, obituaries, and the hospice coming to collect their equipment.

There’s a lot I could say right now, but I’m not in a scribbly mood right now. The funeral’s on Friday, and I’ll no doubt see some relatives I haven’t seen in a long time.