In Which Two Geekly Extremes Are Considered

1 March 2003

My goodness. That's certainly something to think about from a diplomat of twenty years. (I have to say it took me a minute, reading it first thing in the morning, to figure out what administration we were under 20 years ago. Ah yes. The notoriously hippie liberal commie pinko Reagan years. So no, this is probably not a partisan political maneuver. Yay! I like it when things are not partisan political maneuvers.) (I must admit that I also secretly like it when things are partisan political maneuvers for "parties"/groupings I don't know about. But that more in a novelistic sense than a real-life-political one.)

(I must also admit that I originally typed "partisan political removers" and then thought, "Hey, now, that's an idea.")

It is March! Woooooo! That is to say, it is not February! WOOOOOOO! I showed David my Aunt Mary's very punny calendar yesterday (the picture for March is "The Starry Mite" by Vincent Van Gogh -- it's perhaps best you shouldn't ask), and then when I put it back up on the wall, I put it up as March several hours early. Mostly that was laziness due to a nail that keeps sliding into the wall. Partly it was a hint. And, indeed, the day did go decently better after that, and I got some good reassurance that I should relax a bit more about this book, and I got some other interesting e-mail that I will save for when I can tell you other stuff. Again with the riddle wrapped in the etc. Sorry.

Oh, and I got another rejection. Woo! Still kind of a weak month, though -- but again, at least it's over. There was a nice editor who e-mailed and said he'd get back to me on my stories soon, and then didn't, but I am telling myself this is because I sent him more than one and they are charming and winning and delightful and thus they are confusing him as to which one to buy. Either that or he has a cold or something. Editorial reality, after all.

Being a little more relaxed about DBM made the work on it a little better -- possibly a little faster, even. We'll see how today goes. I've been attempting to keep relaxing activities in mind for the weekend so that I don't just fall into the pattern of "what should I do next? I know, work!" Not that there's anything wrong with work, mind you.

The longer we have these two chairs, the more I want a coffee table we saw at Ikea that is black (well, sort of -- the top is glass) and would go with them. And the more I think in terms of recovering the Good Couch and what on earth we're going to find for fabric for that. I have no idea where to shop for upholstery fabric. But I also have no idea how to upholster a couch. This is one of the many problems for which the solution is still, "Ask Mom."

It's a better solution than "throw lots of money at it" or "take a wild guess," so I'm pretty pleased with it, on the whole.

On an entirely different note, I find myself wanting to smack other women upside the head again. Public service announcement, ladies: the ability to signal is not passed out with our ovaries. If you want to be able to send signals, join the Coast Guard. If you want to communicate with members of the opposite sex, talk. It is not the duty of members of the opposite sex to interpret your cryptic moues.

This came up because I was talking to one of you-all, and he had been in a social gathering situation. One of his friends had later had one of her friends (whom Journal Reader Man didn't know) tell her that she was smiling to signal Journal Reader Man that she wanted him to come over and talk to him. Like many men, Journal Reader Man was conditioned to believe that he was at fault, upon receiving this information. Another, more socially suave guy, he reasoned, would have picked up on the signal, talked to the girl, etc.

Wrong. He was not at fault. Someone else might have gone and talked to the girl -- in which case, the girl would have gotten lucky, luckier than she deserved. The appropriate way to signal that she wanted to talk to Journal Reader Man would have been, "Hi. My name is _____." Or, "So how do you know [mutual host]?" Or, "This is really great [food or beverage] [mutual host] has got, have you tried it?" Or in a public place, "What are you reading?" or "Are you from around here?" or anything else like that. That's how a grown-up handles it when she wants to talk to someone: she does it. I can understand it if she's too shy, but then she doesn't get to blame him for it. Maybe he is also too shy. Maybe it didn't occur to him to want to talk to her. Maybe her smile was so subtle that he thought she was just being pleasant. (Perish the thought, being pleasant.) This signaling thing is just a way for women to try to pass the emotional risk on to men -- and then if things don't go well, the women can claim they weren't signaling at all. It sucks. Cut it out.

It reminds me of high school, honestly. Get over high school, for your own sanity and everyone else's. (Especially mine.) Even if you're still in high school, get over it as fast as you possibly can.

No, but specifically, it reminds me of a time in high school when I was riding in the car with my friend Jaworski and her mom, and Jaworski's Mom was holding forth on the evils of paying for your own dates. (Jaworski's Mom had ?four? daughters, no sons; she was divorced.) "Your company is a privilege," she said, "and these boys should be willing to pay the costs associated with enjoying that privilege." I said, "Their moms probably think their company is a privilege, too." We were at a stop sign. Jaworski's Mom turned around and looked at me quizzically, then laughed and patted me on the hand. "I'm sure they do, honey," she said, "but they're wrong."

This is not a way to run a society, people.

It's funny that this came up, though, because I had just identified one problem of geekboy socialization, and that's the inability to take data and assess a screw-up. A lot of geekboys never learn to look at a situation and see what tactless, thoughtless thing they said -- they just see the girl smacking them down verbally and conclude, "She hates me for no reason." If it happens enough times, they conclude, "Women just hate me for no reason." They don't step back and assess their statements to see if anything in them might be offensive. They just leap to the conclusion that they are irrationally hated. I think this is for two reasons -- one, because they secretly believed it anyway, possibly based on some incidents in the third grade or some movies from the '80s, and two, because they don't yet know the principle that things that are clearly and obviously true are not necessarily things you can say to women.

But I didn't think about their complement: geekboys who assume that they must be in the wrong for whatever irrational reason. "I screwed up again" and "I'm no good with women" replace "She hates me for no reason" and "Women just hate me."

How productive on both sides. But I'm pretty sure that it's more of an ingrained attitude than a decision about productivity, so I'm not really sure how to fix it except by repeating "you're not always in the wrong" to one group and "maybe you should look at this again" to the other.

The thing that Timprov pointed out to me is that a lot of people who interact with computers fall into one of these two categories. "They just hate me. They crash for no reason." Or else "I screwed it up again. I can never get this computer stuff right." Can we try for a little balance here, people? Maybe?

The sad thing is, some computers really are relentlessly buggy, and some people really do hate others on a whim, and some people miss things they might have caught both in interpersonal and computer interactions, so I can't just say, no, it's not like that. Because occasionally it is.

Ah well. I finished Crazy Time before David stopped by, so I sent it home with him. I'm now reading Simon Schama's Patriots and Liberators: Revolution in the Netherlands 1780-1813, because I couldn't find his French Revolution book at the library. (Wendy and Daniel had recommended it.) It's a little bit dense to begin with, because the introduction is historiographical: why don't we see more books on this topic, how have previous studies viewed/handled the material, etc. And since I haven't done much (any) reading in Dutch history, it didn't occur to me as odd that I hadn't run into a book on this topic before, nor did I feel that previous volumes were lacking. It's good to know where he's coming from with it, though, and I'm interested in where it goes, because I don't know anything about this.

I'm craving pizza. I'd settle for almost any kind, really. We have a Totino's in the freezer. I could do that. I could homemake one. I could do Round Table or a take-and-bake from Papa Murphy's or a Zachary's, even though usually I classify those as different kinds of food. (Frozen, homemade, delivery/take-and-bake, and Chicago-style. All different. New York-style is also different, but I don't know where we'd get that here. Oh, and yuppie is a different thing again, if the crust has honey anything in it or the sauce isn't red.)

Okay, I've babbled enough for one morning. Time for more Dutch revolutions.

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