The Blame Game Fallacy

black and white chess pieces

In the Blame Game, no one wins. Logically we know this, yet we still play. Why? I have a theory—it’s due to delusions of grandeur. We create the game because we can’t stand the thought of failure and because our self-image has been built on baseless expectation. Could racism be the manifestation of expectations we haven’t or can’t meet? Possibly.

I’ve noticed that no matter what happens, someone else is to blame. It’s like the creed of an abuser to his/her victim: “If you didn’t make me so angry, I wouldn’t have to beat you.”

We’ve become a society of don’t blame me blame them. If we are unhappy, it’s because someone makes us unhappy. If we are angry, it’s because of someone else. It’s true that someone can make a decision that negatively affects us—it’s also true that it’s our own fault if we stay angry.

It seems the only time we take full responsibility for our actions is when they’re linked to success. With accomplishment, we take total ownership, no matter how small, no matter if it wasn’t earned entirely on our own. We do it for the fallacy of expectation.

Expectations are lies we tell ourselves. These ideas can come from anywhere—maybe they’re bestowed on us from infancy. Perhaps it derives from the culture we live in, or possibly we simply made them up. We have talked ourselves into believing that we are somehow deserving of this thing or that and work hard at trying to prove that lie.

We surround ourselves with the same kind of liars and point the finger at people with a different lie. We’re scared, not of other races, other cultures, or belief systems we are terrified of our lie being exposed. It isn’t hate that motivates. It’s fear. Hate is only fear intensified.

Why do we do this? Because we don’t take responsibility for any action that counters our inflated sense of self. We refuse to look at what we’re doing to make ourselves fail. We don’t accept our inadequacies in the first place. So, we add a component of something or someone else into the mix and decide it’s that element that makes us flop.

Once a scapegoat is found, we can cast a distraction away from ourselves. For the rest of our lives, we spin more lies to cover any cracks in our emotionally unstable facades. It’s a sad life. It’s a hard life, too making it impossible to trust anything, or believe in anything not directly connected to our delusion.

I don’t know if this theory is correct, and I know there are many, many facets to bias’ and racism, but I think it’s something to consider. It would be incredible if the biggest threat to society were simply high expectation combined with low self-esteem because that is workable and because that is fixable!

 

 

 

Scrambled Eggs and the Barbie Brigade

 

 

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“2. The Time Barbie Did Werk-out Gear”. Photo image from https://getleashedmag.com

Today Zoey and I got off to a late start on our walk to Daybreak Lake. It was around 8:00 in the morning and nice out, the 90-100 degree weather expected this week was a mild 71. The sun was up accompanying a light breeze.

As we moved along our regular route, we noticed more people than usual. Men ran by pushing toddlers in specialty jogging strollers. Women came in droves, two-by-two as if ticket holders to board an infamous Arc.

Two such women came down the street. I heard them before I saw them, chatting loudly and incessantly. Daybreak mothers are a peculiar breed; Perfection, perfection, perfection. They don uniforms of oversized sunglasses, skintight running gear, sports bras, and designer tank tops everywhere. They do so in full hair and makeup, too. They are toned, tight, and augmented, the crème of the crème of the Barbie set and I long to be one of them.

The two women, one a brunette, the other a blond, moved together side by side, ponytails synchronized, left, right, left, right with a single stroller between them, towards my little black dog and me.

I half smiled, and half nodded to them, suddenly feeling underdressed, and under accessorized and luckily went ignored. Zoey and I crossed the crosswalk, and the women and baby followed us to the lake.

Ducks lined the edges of the shoreline sunbathing. Zoey snubbed the birds, and the feeling was mutual. We stopped so Zoey could round up her pee-mail, and the two women maneuvered closer to the birds.

Brunette Barbie continued talking about someone apparently the two didn’t like. Blond Barbie stopped the stroller and produced a small Tupperware container and peeled back a baby blue lid.

“Duckies want eggs?” she called to the fowl. Several ducks craned their necks towards her.

Without holding the container low or bending down so the birds could investigate the offering, she turned to the blond toddler.

“See, even the ducks won’t eat your breakfast.” With that, she turned the contents upside down and dumped them out. She replaced the lid and slipped the container into a bag. Taking hold of the stroller, she backed out of the area, Brunette Barbie falling in step, never seeming to take a breath or notice what her counterpart had done. The two women continued to a playground a head.

The scene was both confusing and unsettling. Was Blond Barbie glad that neither the child nor the birds would eat the eggs? Would she have been unhappy if the ducks ate what the baby wouldn’t? Also, which is worse, taking a toddler to see the ducks only to reprimand him for skipping breakfast or feeding birds eggs? Maybe there’s something to be said for not being part of Barbie World after all.

Am I Saying Too Much?

IMG_3996They say talk is cheap but does talking too much make me cheaper? For the past two weeks, I’ve been writing things that are deeply personal but haven’t posted them out of fear I’m saying too much. I wonder, have I spent hours and hours delving into subjects better left on a Psychiatrist’s couch?
I often see the world as my canvas and use my words and emotions as my paintbrush. I take an instance, internalize it, make connections, and then spit it back out on paper. I do it by using resources such as family and friends. However, are there things I shouldn’t write?
Should I post the letter I wrote to a Judge on behalf of a deceased friend? Should I express my relief when I learned the term gaslighting and that I wasn’t going crazy, I’ve been a victim of it? What about my experience helping my parents with their house that has grown too large and too much for upkeep? Or my feelings about my parents getting older? Because they involve others, do I have the right to write it?
I wrestle with concepts like, is it my story if it has happened to someone else? Does the event belong to me if there are others who experienced it too? When I write about my loved ones, and it isn’t in the best light, how will that make them feel? Also, how do I feel about it?
I’m constantly concerned about outing people through the things I write or tapping too deeply into those dark places to reveal something about myself. Just because I can, should I?
It can be said that anything written is a practice in perception by the person holding the pen. It can also be said that not everything should be a “dear diary” moment.

 

Foreign Objects

IMG_4060Most of my subjects revolve around walks I take with my pet Chiweenie, Zoey, around Oquirrh Lake, aka Daybreak Lake, and this post is no different. I am always surprised when I go to the lake, and although my route is largely the same, the scenery often baffles me.

Two weeks ago, I came across a turtle. I believe it is a pet shop turtle, one of two I’ve seen residing at the lake, with yellow stripes across its dark green shell and measuring eight inches in diameter. I saw this turtle as well as its much larger companion, sitting on two semi-submerged rocks. Each one had its neck stretched out in front and mouths wide open soaking up the sun. The turtle was off the path in the tall grasses. It was moving its two front arms forwards and back, digging down into the mud and I wondered if it was laying eggs?

A week later I bumped into a friend who pointed out a man riding his bicycle with a bright green parrot on his back. I have seen the man several times before, with his long strands of silver hair slicked back and his bird perched on his shoulder blade. A birdcage is mounted on the man’s handlebars and is covered with a hand towel. The first notice of the man is his voice. He talks in low, soft tones, answering questions that haven’t been asked. I haven’t heard his Parrot speak, but have witnessed it bouncing its head in agreement. I’ve even talked to the man before, he is nice and seems to find having full conversations with his pet as natural as riding a bike with a bird on his shoulder. Someday I’ll have courage enough to ask him if I can take his picture!

The first notice of the man is his voice. He talks in low, soft tones, answering questions that haven’t been asked. I haven’t heard his Parrot speak, but have witnessed it bouncing its head in agreement. I’ve even talked to the man before, he is nice and seems to find having full conversations with his pet as natural as riding a bike with a bird on his shoulder. Someday I’ll have courage enough to ask him if I can take his picture!

Last week, I had almost finished my route, seeing nothing unusual when something caught my attention—something was moving outside of the sidewalk. I pulled my dog over to get a better look and saw a tiny brown Lobster. A Lobster! In Utah?

A passerby noticed me studying something and came over to see what it was. She said the Daybreakers call them Crawfish and apparently they are new to the area. Crawdads, Crayfish, and Crawfish are all names for these freshwater crustaceans, and they’re known as great bait for fish like Bass and Trout in which Daybreak stocks varieties of. However, I’m unsure if small brown lobsters have also been thrown into the stocking mix.

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Because I have seen turtles, as well as fancy looking ducks with bouffant feathery crowns (very unlike the wild ones that flock here), I’ve concluded that the Crawfish was also a pet store buy and now inhabits the lake. It bothers me that this beautiful area is the dumping ground for unwanted pets. I think the most bizarre thing about my experience is having to remind people that when going on a walk around Daybreak Lake be sure to take your pet home with you—even if it means it hitching a ride on your back as you bike home!

The Eyes Have It

 

IMG_5237When I was thirty-seven-years-old, I was told I could no longer wear contact lenses. Not since the eighth grade had I slipped on a pair of eyeglasses during regular work or school hours, and I found myself at nearly forty, staring in the mirror, with the fuzzy-haired, white-pocked pimple-faced adolescent I remembered staring right back. Although many, many people can wear glasses and look fantastic doing it, I am not one of them.

 

I tried changing my mindset. I bought a pair of bejeweled Versace’s, thinking, these aren’t regular eyeglasses, these are Versace’s! But still, across every reflecting surface looking back at me was the girl with bad skin, the one who wouldn’t grow into her front teeth until she was at least twenty.

With a mixture of desperation and conviction, I knew that something else could be done. I started looking into LASIK eye surgery. The price, in general, wasn’t too bad—though my husband had hoped I would want to keep the money and save for a breast augmentation instead. When I said, “Nope, I’m getting my eyes done,” after the initial let down, I swear I heard him humming Danny Boy somewhere in the basement, Brian was on board.

I visited every conceivable eye facility possible, even a sketchy one in the Holiday area that could have been the back of a Semi-truck, which convinced me to aim a bit higher—someplace without the guarantee of partial blindness and perpetual pink-eye afterward.

I went to Hoopes Vision in Draper. It was a beautiful place, all glass and lunar lighting, plush couches, and sparkling chandeliers. I was given an eye exam and had my eyes dilated for the third time in two days, and was led to a consolation room to wait. A man in a white lab coat and receding hairline strode into the room like he owned the place, which he actually did. He was Dr. Phillip C. Hoopes, Sr. the head honcho of Hoopes Vision.

He hadn’t even sat down when I asked him about a discount. He withdrew his outstretch hand, threw his pen across the room, and yelled, “You want a discount? You’ll get discounted surgery!” and then he stomped out. I sat for a while, scared, feeling very, very confused and guilty that I had even asked about a deal.

Soon, a second man entered, also in a lab coat, only he didn’t walk in like he owned the place, more like he simply worked there—which was the case. He asked me what happened. I gave him the play-by-play and apologized. He sighed then said, “Yeah, Dr. Hoopes Sr. does that.”

The man went over what all the others had told me, that because of thin corneas, I wasn’t a good candidate for LASIK and should consider PRK instead. PRK stands for Photorefractive Keratectomy in which the cornea is actually scrapped off completely, and a new one grows back in its place. It’s the preferred surgery for Fighter Pilots—who am I to argue with Top Gun?

When I was told that it would, in fact, be Dr. Hoopes Sr. who would do my procedure, I decided to take my cheap eyes someplace else. I went to the Eye Institute of Utah, who didn’t offer the same glittering pizzazz but did offer me a student discount first thing! Nice! By the way, I should note that Hoopes Vision does offer discounts, now.

Anyway, on the day of the surgery, I arrived early in the morning. I was given a green apple Jolly Rancher and washed it down with a Valium. In the middle of the surgical room, I laid back on a recliner. Each of my eyes was given eye drops, and both the top and bottom lids were taped wide open. While one eye was being worked on, the other was tucked under what looked to be the scoop part of a black plastic spoon.

I sat, staring at the ceiling as a small gardening hoe-like tool the size of a toothpick then glided over the surface of my eye cutting hoe-like slices as it went.

The procedure was quick—I still had the sour apple as well as the Valium bitter aftertaste on my tongue when it was over. I was fitted with protective lenses to keep air from my exposed nerve endings, plus a set of light-blocking goggles and was sent home.

“It’ll feel like sand is in your eyes,” I was told before and after the surgery. I hadn’t realized what that meant at the time:

See, when sand blows into your eyes, it stings. Tears well up until that piece of broken-down granite is either dissolved or flooded out. But, what happens if tears aren’t produced, your eyes are glued open, and your face is then dragged side to side, forward and back across a sandy beach? Horrible, horrible, eyes-scooped-out-by-a-melon-baller-then-dosed-with-lemon-juice-knuckles-gouged-on-a-cheese-grater type of pain!

I didn’t sleep. Any hint of light was like a shard of glass carving into my ocular cavity and painkillers were as helpful as taking Tic-Tacs for a hysterectomy.

At two o’clock in the morning after going three days without sleep, Brian took me back to the Eye Institute where the on-call doctor, a Reese Whitherspoon doppelganger who was mad we woke her, met us. She checked each eye and discovered my protective lenses were too small and were acting like a vice on my eyeballs. She switched out the lenses. Immediately, the puncturing pain subsided, and I went home. I slept.

Overall, I don’t regret having PRK. Five years later I still have nearly 20/20 vision, and as an added bonus my husband Brian got a joke out of it. When asked why I had eye surgery he chimes in saying, “she wanted to make her eyes bigger” and laughs.

 

 

 

 

Doorbell Ditched

This morning, leaving with Zoey for her after breakfast walk, we went through the front door, which we haven’t done for over a month. Usually, after driving my son to football summer camp, I park at the lake and Zoey, and I walk it. Today, however, the camp was canceled, and we left through the front door.

The sun was out, the birds were flying, and lawn sprinklers had turned off and dropped back into their holding positions in the grass. As I turned toward the door lock, I noticed a smudge of red across my illuminated doorbell. I leaned in to examine it.

I could see the scarlet raised sections of a fingerprint and the middle that was thinned due to the pressure put on it as someone pressed down. What is that? Paint? Blood?!

A list of who could have left the print came to mind.

My daughter had gone—she was my first thought as she is an amazing painter. Perhaps it was her painted pointer finger impression? My husband rarely uses the front door and is meticulous and would know whether or not he had red smudges on his fingers—he would have used his elbow if he didn’t have his house keys on him.

That left my son, my son who leaves greasy prints on every surface of my house. My son who is tall enough that when he touches the stairwell with orange Cheetos-dusted digits, I have to pull out my stepladder to rub them out. My son, who at that moment, basking in the canceled practice, was sound asleep. So I left, deciding to deal with it when I got back.

As I strolled along the path leading to DayBreak, it occurred to me that our house hasn’t received its regular volume of carpet cleaning, solar paneling, and ant killing salespeople. We haven’t put out a No Soliciting sign. On most sales attempts I simply don’t answer the door during working hours. Besides, Zoey goes crazy at the chiming of a visitor, it’s enough to put off an unwanted sales pitch—but maybe we’ve inadvertently come up with another dissuasion; red paint or plasma.

Zoey and I finished our walk, and I remembered the crimson mark once more. As we entered the house, my son was awake, and I asked him about it.

“Oh yeah. Remember that fundraiser for Scout Camp?”

I did. The scout group went around the neighborhood trading cash for painting house numbers on street curbs.

“It’s from that,” he said. “I couldn’t get it off.”

I had to use an Exacto knife to chip the red paint off the doorbell—Zoey wailed each time I pushed too hard and sounded the alarm that someone had arrived. But now that I’ve restored the doorbell have I also restored the return of window washers and weed killer-killers? Have I opened up my porch to the endless pestering of passerby’s, now that there’s no mark that Jackson Pollock or Ted Bundy live at my home address? Yeah, probably. Hmm…maybe I should open up a can of paint or a vein?

Zoey Speaks Spanish

zoeparascope         My New Pad

This morning I sit in an Adirondack chair on my new patio. My coffee mug stating, ‘Witches Practice Safe Hex’ is on the armrest. Steam lifts from the rim and blows away. Silver haze rings the Wasatch Mountains in the east, separating the serrated peaks from its base. The sun is rising and throws shadows of my pen across the page. Birds chirp. Traffic hums on a nearby highway. A machine in the distance is gnawing on metal, and geese honk a hello, bodies sagging, wings pumping, as they struggle to fly north.

I rest in the middle of a paver stone patio my husband and I have worked on over the last two weekends. We’ve tamed the once dirt hill with cement squares patterned like a Van Gogh eddy from his Starry Night. The stones are a mixture of purples and sand tones surrounded by seven pots ready to be filled with green beans, carrots, cherry tomatoes, and fresh basil. Of the pots, four white line the front of the piazza and the three lining the back are blue, resembling teal packages from Tiffany’s.

It’s chilly, 48 degrees Fahrenheit. But the sun seeps into my face and the coffee I sip rolls down my throat and distributes warmth throughout my body. Zoey, my pet Chiweenie, investigates the new hardscape. Because of the chill, I forced her into a pair of puppy pajamas, a humiliating one piece made of fuzzy plaid. She’s a Californian dog and freezes in the mildest temperature drop. Zoey, her allergy-laden voice sounds like a veteran smoker, barks at a Magpie bold enough to rest on a fence post.

Zoey was part of a city pound exchange from the Los Angeles area. Her behavior suggests she was kept most of the time indoors and was never socialized. She dislikes being outside if not going on a walk. She hates the feel of grass and prefers the sidewalk. Zoey is mean to those who visit our house. She’s aggressive to all other dogs. She goes insane over adult males and hates little kids the most.

However, whenever I walk her, and we pass a Hispanic woman, Zoey’s tail wags, her mouth curves and she starts to prance up to her with a happy shake of her rump. It happens all of the time. In general, no one can get near my dog unless they happen to be a middle-aged Mexican woman. Then Zoey will allow her to pet her on the head and scratch her under the ear. It took me six months before Zoey would let me do that! Zoey’s behavior towards Latin females makes me think that my dog’s original owner must have been a Spanish woman.

We didn’t choose our Chiweenie, Zoey; she chose us—actually she chose my husband, Brian. He and I went to Petsmart to look at the pound puppies up for adoption. It had been six years since our family Chihuahua had suffered a massive heart attack and died in my arms. I hadn’t dared to get another dog. I loved my Benjamin Thomas, and he was irreplaceable. But here I was with my husband, looking at the prospect of a second pet.

I had gone the day before with my daughter, Lorrin, who fell in love with the black Chiweenie with the giraffe neck, showing indifference to people overall. I had hopes of a puppy who seemed happy and liked to snuggle if one at all.

When Brian and I returned to Petsmart the next day, the black Chiweenie was still there. Brian walked over, and the dog stood up on her hind, legs, front paws raised out to him. He leaned over the cage and scooped her up. Zoey had chosen her new home centered on the man who picked her up—it’s ironic because she goes berserk whenever Brian covers his baldhead with a baseball cap. I don’t know if it’s because she hates men in hats or if she simply finds wearing hats inside the house as rude. Either case, we brought Zoey home, and it has been rough ever since.

We knew very little about our new pet. She was house broken. She was probably around four years old. And she was given the name of MIM, which turned out to be the brand of the crate she was transferred to Utah in. Zoey was more comfortable on the end of a leash and was ecstatic when we put a collar and dog tags on her, bowing and prancing, shaking her head so that the tags slamming against each other making a magical chime. We also noticed Zoey didn’t understand us. She’d stare at us trying to grasp what it was we were saying to her.

One day, one of my kids suggested that perhaps English wasn’t the language she understood. That maybe, being from L.A., and more than likely from an apartment, our dog only knew outside tethered to a leash and commands in Spanish. It was an interesting thought. So we tried it. Brian called Zoey and asked, in Spanish, if she had to go outside to go potty. Zoey’s ears lifted. She looked at Brian and then looked at our back door. My husband got excited.

“But what if it’s the inflection in your voice she’s responding to and not what you’re saying?” I asked. So Brian said the words again in English using the same inflection. Zoey stood, ears poised, waiting to understand the command. Then, in a very flat tone, Brian said the word, “Banjo?” Zoey stood and walked to the back door. Apparently, our new puppy spoke Spanish.

It has been over a year and a half living with our crazy mutt. She has gotten used to Utah’s rain and snow, although, she hates both. I don’t have to ask her, in Spanish, if she needs to pee. Instead, she comes and pats my leg when she needs to be let out. She’s an unusual dog. I often wonder who the people were who raised her.

Was it a Hispanic family who taught her commands in Spanish and pierced her left ear for an earring? Did they let her sit on their lap behind the steering wheel and again at the dinner table during meals? How long ago was it before my dog went by the name of Zoey and had to put up with silly P.J.’s and owners who won’t let her sit at the dinner table and who know how to drive a car without her aid? Who knows?

My dog Zoey is a Princess, a foreigner in a land of rules. She’s part of a new family that forces her into sweaters to go for walks around the block. And although I believe she was loved once in L.A., she’s loved once more, in a place that gets cold and wet and with people who don’t speak her native tongue. She is loved and I think she at least understands that.