To pin or not to pin…

Pinterest.

It’s kind of a BFD lately, but I’m not really feeling it.

I’ve already got Twitter and, reluctantly, Facebook. Those take up enough of my free time. Unless I want social media to take over my entire existence, I’ve got to put a time limit on my involvement.

In my precious social media time, Pinterest does not reign supreme. Not that my friends haven’t tried. I’ve gotten more than one invite to join, but I’ve got a laundry list of reasons to stay away.

  1. I wear my hair two ways – down (straight) and in a pony tail. Every once in a while, I jazz things up with bobby pins and braids. I’ve seen the hairstyles people are pinning and honestly, they do nothing but make me feel inadequate. I know myself well enough to realize that I can pin as many pretty updos as I want – it’s not going to happen.
  2. Lots of people pin pictures of pretty beaches and ideal vacation spots. I don’t need to look at their vacation dreamspots – I’ve got my own vacation pics to look at. My desktop background is usually a picture from India or Scotland, reminding me of places I’ve really been. I don’t need to get bitter about unrealistic beach vacations I’ll never take.
  3. I don’t garden.
  4. The beautiful home decor pins drive home the all-too-real fact that I have no disposable income.

Like all social media trends, I might cave someday, but for now, I don’t think Pinterest is for me.

Finding faith in unorthodox places

I’ve always struggled with my faith. After growing up in a household with parents on opposite ends of the religious spectrum, I went to a Lutheran college – further muddling my faith identity. A journey through India was just the icing on the messed up confusion-cake that is my belief system.

Lately, I feel like I’ve been failing my way through adulthood. Career dissatisfaction and loneliness replaced my awesome college experience. If there was ever a time for religion, this is it, right?

So in my depression, have I turned to God? Or a different idol – Allah, Vishnu…Zeus? Of course not.

Instead, I have turned to Tom Wolfe and Weeds to help me through my trials and tribulations, and I can’t help but wonder what that means about me as a person.

Tom Wolfe’s writing holds a similar allure as religious texts. I find inspiration in the freedom of the Merry Pranksters in The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test. I learn lessons from their mishaps. And there are certain passages I read whenever I need motivation.

Weeds, my other favorite diversion, definitely isn’t inspiring any superior morality, but it stands as a reminder of my past. Not because I was a single-parent drug trafficker, but because I first watched the show with special people in my life. Those memories are totally uplifting and have helped me work through the past few months.

I know that my dependence on Tom Wolfe and Nancy Botwin probably offends people who have deep faith in an establish religion, but for now, this is my solution. And until I can get my life together and perhaps get a real grasp on my faith, I’m going to keep relying on my substitutes.

Snark doesn’t belong here…

By now, it’s not breaking news that Whitney Houston has died.

The night of her death, Twitter blew up – at first with skeptics questioning the validity of the reports due to numerous celebrities being prematurely killed by Tweets. And then with shock, sadness, sympathy and in some cases mockery.

I may be one to ridicule, but mocking the dead flies right past snark into heartlessness, and heartless, I am not.

Now is the time for remembrance. In honor of Whitney Houston’s life and incredible contributions to music, here are my favorite memories.

It’s Not Right, But It’s Okay: this song never failed to ease my fears no matter what situation I’d gotten myself into. And on more than one occasion, I could be found rolling my eyes at girls doing karaoke to I’m Every Woman (cliché much?), only to sing at the top of my lungs during the chorus.

Well, that was easy. I managed those good memories with absolutely no disapproval.

Instead of speculating that Whitney’s drug use was the result of her hidden lesbianism, cult affiliations or alien babies, let’s just remember those awesome moments.

To the bloggers, TV personalities and radio hosts who were callous enough to meet Houston’s death with the “oh, that drugged out mess died?” attitude, I can’t imagine you would want your faults and misguided choices to rise from the grave and into the attention of the national media.

No matter what harm Whitney Houston may have caused herself, we certainly have no place to judge her choices. And snark for the sake of condemning the dead is far worse than anything Whitney Houston every did.

Hear me out: smoking – slightly less crazy?

Think about what relaxes you.

Some of you like golf. (I’m sorry you have no friends.)

And some of you enjoy yoga.

When yogis find themselves stressing about global warming or a delayed quinoa shipment to the local co-op, they take a moment to meditate and focus on their body and breath. Controlling the breath gives the body extra oxygen, resulting in a beautiful, soothing post-yoga bliss.

Stress? Forgotten.

Now some of you are thinking, “screw yoga, when I’m stressed, I channel my inner Don Draper and light up a Lucky Strike.

Stress-smokers don’t have time to learn the correct pranayama breath. Stress-smokers only have time to aggressively suck down that sweet, sweet cigarette and contemplate how they can squash their problems with unmitigated violence (or something like that).

However, a recent work conversation with a highly-enlightened Montana put that stereotypical stress-smoker in a new light.

The breathing action of smoking – inhale deeply, hold slightly, exhale slowly – mirrors the pranayama technique. So really, those smokers are using the same relaxation methods as yogis, just with the extras that come with cigarettes (tar, risk of cancer, dashing attitude of Draper).

That connection, my friends, was something I had never considered. And as someone who understands the bliss proper breathing can create, I totally get it. Smoking should definitely relieve stress because it involves focus on the breath.

Well now. That’s quite an unconventional take.

This still doesn’t explain the whole smoking-while-drunk thing because who is stressed and drunk? Drunk people have two problems: long bathroom lines and expensive bar tabs.

Bottom line: maybe smokers and yogis got it right?

Golfers, however, are still tools.

The money divide

No matter where you fall on the financial spectrum, conversations about money are bound to end with frustration.

I made the mistake of walking into a conversational land mine at work recently when I fell into discussion over money with a coworker.

This coworker and I could not be further apart in terms of finances. I grew up comfortable, by West River SD standards. It hasn’t always been easy for my parents, but they always ensured that I was taken care of. And I couldn’t have wanted anything more. Coworker, however, grew up in one of America’s wealthiest suburbs, a grandson of industry. He certainly was taken care of by his parents, but in a way that my family could never imagine.

Knowing that, it’s not surprising that our discussion of finances rarely result in agreement.

Although Coworker doesn’t live in his wealthy suburb now, he hasn’t truly left behind the vestiges of his childhood as he would like to believe. Living in Montana may be a personal choice, but his economic advantages followed. Yesterday, he told me that he appreciates what he has now – away from the family influence – more. He “understands” money better because he grew up in a different way.

I don’t disagree – he does understand money in a vastly different way than I do. But I’m not sure that it would be correct to say he’s more appreciative than I am.

Giving up every summer since I was 14 to save money for school and working obscene hours during college just to pay for one study abroad trip gave me a pretty deep appreciation for money. I understand money – the power it gives people, the feeling of ‘less than’ when others flaunt it at you.

Coworker and I will remain at odds on the financial front forever as far as I can tell. We may be in total agreement about the awesomeness of Ben Folds, but as long as Coworker buys glasses of scotch that could cover my car payment, the money divide won’t resolve.

Lock and load

Before I moved to Montana, I’d been there twice.

Once, when I was twelve. It snowed in July, and we went to a wedding. There were no speed limits. Overall, it wasn’t a bad trip.

The second time, I was twenty-two. It snowed in late April, and I went to my first job adult job interview. I got the job, so I’d consider that trip a success as well.

Those two trips, however, left me with a pretty steep learning curve as I began my life as an official Montana resident.

And one major miss on my part was the lesson on gun ownership.

These people love to shoot things. Living, inanimate, already dead – they honestly don’t care. It seems like everyone has a gun and the necessary permits to shoot any furry creature they come across.

The most terrifying part? These folks don’t have to go through the stress of hiking over to Gary’s Gun Shop to pick up a rifle – they can get one free with their satellite TV subscription.

Real planet.

At the Hamilton RadioShack, you get a .380-caliber handgun or a 20-gauge shotgun for free with each new installation of dish network.

That is some backwards, Deadwood shit right there.

Silver lining: although I may be terrified of every individual I meet, at least I can rest assured that most of my new gun-toting friends will have HBO.

The art of saying no

In college, I had a serious problem with overscheduling. I volunteered for every committee, I edited papers for all of my friends (and some frenemies), and I always picked up work shifts when someone needed a night off – even if I was inconveniencing myself.

My inability to say ‘no’ caused mayhem in my life. Tied to my planner, I spent my college years constantly afraid of disappointing people.

Looking back, I realize I was too concerned with the approval of others. I certainly wouldn’t have spent nights editing 60-page thesis drafts for friends before even starting my own homework if I had just learned to say no.

Since graduation, however, I’ve lost my devotion to ‘yes.’ There’s a certain self-preservation that takes place during life post college when you realize saying no, while perhaps causing disappointment to someone, somewhere, will be better for your mental well-being.

While that’s definitely eased my professional stress, I still find myself accommodating friendships with an unending stream of yes’s.

I’m seeing myself on the wrong end of a couple one-sided friendships, but instead of using my newfound ‘no,’ I let these people take from me without giving friendship in return.

Even though I realize what’s happening, saying no in a female friendship is entirely different than saying no to a coworker. Girls are raised to be good – and good girls are sweet and nice to their friends, no matter what.

Until the self-preservation that kicked in at work maneuvers into my personal life, I’m left with nothing to do but ponder the complexity of my own gender and our inability to just say no.