Monday, January 23, 2017

Monday morning things

* My allergies seem unusually bad this morning. I wonder if the strong wind we had yesterday kicked some things up because I wasn't outside or in any other moldy/pollen-y place very much yesterday. That said, nasal symptoms (which is what I am having) are more tolerable than itchy hives, which seem to have reduced a little.

* I started reading Hillbilly Elegy the other night. (I'm not quite 100 pages in). Oddly, it's not as depressing or as angry-making as I feared; Vance presents it enough as a sociological picture that there feels like there's a little distance. Or at least, to me it feels that way. He does talk about his family a lot and I can't imagine any of the living members (if there are any) being very happy about it. (Then again, one younger relative he talks about isn't referenced much, other than his expressing dismay about the old hometown that "drugs have come in and no one wants to work.")

One thing I am realizing from this book is how culturally different different regions of/groups in the US are. I grew up only a couple hundred miles from where Vance and his family lived and yet my life might as well have been in a different country. Granted, my father came from possibly a slightly-more-patrician family background (but then again, HIS father seemed to job-hop a lot - writing, being a newspaperman, selling pianos, and finally running a small resort - and there may be some in there I haven't heard about). My mom's family was, I guess you'd say, working-class: her father was an accountant for a number of lumber camps and her mother did work out of the house some; she was a cafeteria "lunchroom lady." And yet, that "working class" seems different from what Vance describes - for one thing, my mom's extended family seemed more generally supportive. They were more active in the church they belonged to and served as a source of support there (and also got support from there when needed). And there didn't seem to be the same sharp "man's work" and "woman's work" divides, where men felt dishonored if a woman did a "man's task," even if the alternative was that task not getting done. (My grandfather was NOT handy, but my grandmother was - so she did the repairs around the house).

The other thing that strikes me about Vance's family (and he may be stretching it in extending it to many other people in that area, I don't know) is the tendency to casual violence - his grandmother threw a vase (and hit) his grandfather. One of the men in his family beat a guy within an inch of his life because the man jokingly (and indirectly) insulted the guy's mother. And I admit, that kind of thing - the hair-trigger anger followed by a tendency to violence - is one thing I don't understand and that frightens me. It takes a LOT to make me angry enough to even say something to a person. Oh, I get irritated out on the highway when someone pulls a jerk move, or I get frustrated in the grocery store if people seem to be moving slower than I would like. But I also tell myself I'm out in public and I have to suck it up. (Or, if I get irritated with a person, I remind myself I do stuff that irritates other people). I've said before I can't imagine harming another person except in self-defense and I think that's pretty much true. (I'm not even entirely sure I could do SERIOUS harm in self-defense).

Vance refers to it as an "honor culture," and yeah, I can kind of see that - maybe, when you don't have much, you guard what you see as honor pretty tightly. And yet, like all humans, there are breaks in the logic of how it works (Vance gives the example of the fact that a woman's brothers will thrash any suitor who might treat her with less than respect, but once she marries that suitor, he becomes like their brother too, and is welcome to go carousing with them and perhaps even "run around" on his wife. In some ways it's a fairly misogynistic culture....)

And the whole "honor culture" thing strikes me. I cling tightly to what shreds of dignity I may possess (I do not like, and will not, make myself look ridiculous in front of a class simply to try to "spark student interest" or some other stupid reason that's given for going in to the entertainment-culture mentality of adults/the educated/professors/scientists/whatever really being clueless boobs) and I cringe and mentally throw daggers at anyone who tries to take it from me - but I would never do anything more than laugh weakly and make a mental note to avoid that person in the future if they did it to me.

I've not gotten far into the book yet, as I said, but already Vance is talking about the fact that there's a combination going on here - part of the problems people face tend to be external (loss of jobs in the area) but some may be internal (some individuals are unwilling to work at certain jobs, also, it seems that some people don't want to show up on time/regularly for work). (That second may be a difference between my mom's "people" and Vance's - I had a lot of relatives working a lot of weird jobs but saying "Hey, it's work, it brings in pay, and it could lead to something better")

I don't know that there are any solutions but it may explain some of the dynamics in some parts of the country.

It also makes me wonder how many other subcultures are out there I have no idea about, because I tend to assume people are people and don't always consider the importance of different traditions or thought patterns.

* I'm picking away at both the sleeve on Hagrid, and on a pair of socks ("Hermione's Everyday Socks," another run of these, in a yarn that is pale neutral colors).

I also want to get back to working on quilts a little; I need to get back to the one in the frame and finish the ongoing top. (I did a little cleaning in my sewing room yesterday; I need to do more).

* Apparently the new issue on health making the rounds (at least in local news) is bruxism (tooth grinding, especially while asleep).

They blame stress. But then they talk about a bunch of behavior modifications - no caffeine, no alcohol, no gum-chewing, wear a mouthguard.

Well, I went to the last of those - and it does seem to help me but I can't help but think, when there are so many stress-related conditions out there, maybe, I don't know, something needs to be done about the root cause instead of going "Oh, just exercise more" (When, dear people, when? Time stress is part of it) or "cut these things out of your diet." I don't know.

The coverage I've seen does have a bit of a "blame the patient" slant - "You consume too much caffeine! You don't cope with stress effectively!" and that annoys me because it does seem life has got more stressful for lots of people in the last 10 years or so and there seems to be no kind of cultural idea of dialing back or whatever.

(I have issues with the "blame the patient" mentality. Some of us are doing our dang level best to be healthy, and it's frustrating to hear our best isn't "enough.")

* I can't remember if I referred to Aggretsuko (NB: autoplay video) on  here or not. She is a new Sanrio character (Sanrio are the ones who do Hello Kitty). Though Aggretsuko is maybe more "Hell Kitty" than Hello Kitty - she is a cute red panda who works at a stultifying desk job with foolish co-workers, so she has a lot of repressed rage. Which comes out by her doing heavy-metal karaoke. (Super Cute Kawaii featured her today.)

I confess, I kind of love the concept. Partly because it is a little off-the-wall (cute creatures becoming angry is kind of funny) but also because I think there is something relatable about her - most of us work at jobs that have certain frustrations, many of us have that one co-worker who is either always dumping their work on us, or wanting to interrupt and show us pictures of some relative we don't care about. And yeah, as I said above - I tend to swallow more anger than is probably good for me (though I do tend to be slow to anger, and usually my response is more to rub my forehead wearily).

(In a way, the world of Aggretsuko mirrors that of Zootopia a bit. And Aggretsuko herself reminds me slightly of Nicole Watterson when she gets ragey - though that's usually over some foolish thing her husband does, or her kids acting entitled)

1 comment:

Lynn said...

It seems to me like every family has its own little sub-culture. Even in the same area of the country there are huge differences between one family and another regarding what is considered "normal" behavior.