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"I hate eveything"

I try to keep things funny, so even when I'm a Debbie Downer there's an element of comedy to it, but I swear John Steinbeck moved into my head space this week, and he's kind of a joy sucker.

I've got lots of things to be grateful for: a wackadoo cast of characters who are kind enough to call me their friend, wife, mother, daughter, niece, etc. I have two cats and a guinea pig and a house and shoes and coats and food and books and a Dyson vacuum cleaner. So it's mildly embarrassing when I reach the end of my thank-you list and still feel rotten.

Things go wrong sometimes. There's no rhyme or reason. They just fall apart. Is it worthy of saying "well done" when you make it through the day intact? Showered? Dressed?

I pounded the crap out of my computer keyboard all week with these freakishly long fingers of mine, but nothing remotely life-affirming appeared in my word box. There were rants and screw-you manifestos; there were prayers for employment and please-pick-me letters, but nothing I wanted to share with the masses.

My daughter Lily came home from school looking pretty beat down yesterday, and she didn't say much--just that she got yelled at because a kid I told her to be nice to was "shaking his booty" in the coat room and making a scene.

"I wasn't even doing anything," she said in a slightly raised voice. "I was just putting my coat away."

We were doing homework a couple of hours later when she finally hit the wall and burst into tears.

"I'm having the worst day ever," she cried. "My teacher has a cold, and we had a substitute, and I wouldn't have gotten yelled at if my teacher was there."

I wanted to tell her, "people are assholes," but it wasn't what she needed to hear just then.

"You have to speak up for yourself," I told her. "If you don't start now the people in your life will flatten you."

I scratch my head a lot more than I used to. I ask myself, "Is this for real?" a lot more than I should. And it worries me, like maybe I'm out of touch or crazy or wrong or stupid, but people are ridiculous.

We're like cows and rabid badgers, but mostly cows, and cows are scared of rabid badgers, because they're mean and they have rabies. It's not sustainable.

Most of us just want to exist--to laugh, love, eat, and sleep, but the outliers won't stand for it. They want to drag us all down. And they're winning. You can't just talk to people anymore. You have to go through a checklist first:Who's watching? Who's listening? Will this be taken out of context? Will I get sued for this?

It's the root of every real-world problem we can't solve. We're afraid to communicate with one another. We either say nothing or we filter our voices through an army of political-minded robots to reach the same end, which is nothing--hundreds of words to say, "I'm scared."

Take ebola for example. We've never really dealt with in the United States, so it's reasonable that our first responders made mistakes. Their inexperience isn't the problem. It's the fear of liability that allowed the virus to cross state lines. It's the breakdown in communication. 

A nurse saw gaping holes in the containment process, but she couldn't just report them. She had to gather support from the other nurses and consult with a lawyer to make sure her job was safe. 

Our need to assign blame created this environment where silence is rewarded over honesty. We ignore stuff all of the time, because doing something or saying something is too risky. People make mistakes, many of which are preventable with education and better processes. Shouldn't that be the starting point?

Imagine if common sense was the legal standard.


  1. The micromanagement of everything has the potential to ruin everything!!! I used to think the legal standard was "reasonably prudent person".

    On a positive note ....if you had been at work you would not have been there to be there for Lily when she needed you and give her probably the best advice she will ever receive!!!

  2. Hey keep posting such good and meaningful articles.


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