Sunday, February 17, 2019

Negative Self Talk Radio, Minding My Angles, Business Lady

I’m not normally a fan of memoirs, but during my most recent Kindle book sample perusal, I came across journalist Tommy Tomlinson’s memoir, “The Elephant in the Room: One Fat Man’s Quest to Get Smaller in a Growing America. It hooked me right away with its savage honesty, and I found myself really pulling for the author. His is a tough addiction to beat, and there but for the grace of God go I, as my spirit animal is a fat man. Tomlinson is at his best when he writes about his own shame, and I very much empathize. One of my favorite chapters is one in which he talks about USUCK FM, which is what he dubs the “radio station” of negative self-talk that plays in his head constantly. I, too, have a radio station that is on the air in my head 24/7, although it’s not quite as brutal as his, and it has let up on the viciousness a bit over the years. I wouldn’t call it USUCK FM; maybe something more nuanced like, “Everyone’s Going to Abandon U if U Assert Your Needs FM,” or “UNWORTHY FM.” Every now and then I fiddle with the dial to adjust it to a more inspiring station, but it seems to be stuck.   

Speaking of shame, I know that I said I would keep the shooting stuff to the new blog, but I haven’t made a final decision on where to house it yet, so I’m still going to yammer about it here for now. I did better at the range today than I ever have before in terms of aim, but I was getting used to a new pistol with a very heavy trigger pull, and, well, I sort of shot a binder clip to smithereens by accident. Since the clip is what holds the target paper in place, there was no choice but to leave the floor, do the Walk of Shame up to the counter, and ask the guy for another one. He was not amused. He glowered at me and barked, “Watch your angles!” I apologized abjectly and promised to do so. I am pleased to report that I didn’t hit anymore binder clips, my shots were steady and my groups were…if not exactly tight, at least within walking distance of each other. Progress!

I am also pleased to report that despite my personal negative self-talk station, I was able to assert myself in an area that has zero meaningful impact—the afore-mentioned game “Dealer’s Life.” I followed Mr. Typist’s aggressive techniques to the letter, and I’m two million in, baby! I’m beginning to enjoy kicking the grifters out of my store and browbeating my customers into submitting to my will. However, lesson learned: I realize now it wasn’t wise to collude with law enforcement to put a Mafia member who was shaking me down behind bars. Turns out, when they get sprung, they’re pretty mad. Now I have to pay a “tax” to this lowlife or he breaks all of my high-end goods. Being a business lady is hard.

--Kristen McHenry

Sunday, February 10, 2019

They Told Us Snow, Risk Aversion Reversion, Marksman's Daughter

After a series of dire warnings by meteorologists, Seattle got hit with about a foot of snow this weekend. Before you Easterners start scoffing at our snow wimpiness, please understand some fundamentals: Seattle is chock full of hills, we have no snow removal equipment, the snow here is heavy and wet and it freezes stubbornly onto said hilly roads, and we’re banned from using salt due to the environmentalists that pervade our city. Seattle is crippled by this sort of event. Having grown up mainly in Alaska and Upper Michigan, I fully admit that I too, was a Seattle snow-scoffer for a long time. It took me years to get used to the fact that there was no winter out here and that the seasons aren’t really distinct, and it took me even longer to realize why people got so hysterical at the rumored sight of a single, lazy snowflake floating to the ground. It’s because Seattle grinds to a screeching halt the minute that snowflake multiplies and sticks. I’ve now lived here long enough that I am fully inculcated into the Seattle mindset and find myself as equally panicked as everyone else at the forecast of snow. I, who once prided myself on being tough and surviving numerous Upper Michigan winters, am now just another temperate-acclimatized Seattle sissy. Not only that, I also unwittingly participated in a Lord of the Flies-like grocery store run to stock up on supplies about an hour before the snow really hit on Friday. I never want to see the inside of a grocery store again. That was traumatic. There were no potatoes and people were really mean. If a real crisis ever hits, I’ll probably just opt to starve to death.

To keep myself amused during my snow-bound weekend, I downloaded a silly, fun and oddly compelling game called “Dealer’s Life”, where one plays the owner of a pawn shop. The entire game revolves around buying and selling questionable items from a sketchy customer base, beating back your sleazy competitor from across the street, and trying to build up enough capital to buy a better store. When Mr. Typist saw what I was doing, he immediately stood behind me and started directing my negotiations: “No way, tell him it’s $505 and that’s you’re final offer. Don’t let him intimidate you.” “You’re not paying anywhere near $200 for that piece of crap.” This went on and on until he finally gave in downloaded the game for himself. Within a day, he had multi-millions in capital and a veritable pawn-shop empire, where I was still struggling along at the around the $20,000 mark, unable to get ahead and expand. I didn’t want to do it, folks, but finally, I had to. I said, “Sweetie? You know I’m a strong and independent woman and all, but--" to which he interrupted, “What can I open for you?” I explained that this time it wasn’t a pickle jar, it was the game. I needed to know his trick. The magical key to his pawnshop success. I wanted a piece of that empire, and I needed him to show me his technique. It turns out, in gaming, as in life, I was being far too risk-averse. He succeeded by taking huge risks, going for the big buys, and aggressively negotiating--all behaviors that make me want to break out into thin layer of sweat when I think of applying them to myself. However, I am going to go back to the game with a renewed, rapacious approach. Perhaps it will bleed over into real life at some point and I’ll stop getting walked on like a used Persian carpet appraised at $7,000.

I have not gotten the shooting blog up and running yet, mainly because I have been weirdly hung up on what to title it, but I will get it going soon. In the meantime, I was heartened to discover this weekend that my dad, with whom I share genetic material, got a marksmanship award in the military! I was so excited about this. I had no idea. This somehow never came up until I got an e-mail from him this week. I’m proud of him, but mostly I am heartened to know that I may not be completely hopeless. I am the daughter of an award-winning marksman! This means that I can possibly one day be a competent shooter. That gives me enough hope keep going. That, and the last week’s hummingbird.

Those of you who grew up in Upper Michigan will get this:

Saturday, February 2, 2019

Post Departure, Retail Redemption, Hummingbird Herald

In case you’re wondering what happened to last week’s briefly-posted missive “Home on the Range,” I took it down, as I’ve decided to start a new blog, separate from this one, specifically to talk about my journey to firearms competence. I didn’t want the subject to begin looming large on this blog, which I prefer to reserve for complaining about petty domestic squabbles and the shabby state of retail. Also, while I make no apologies for my staunch support of the Second Amendment and responsible gun ownership, I understand that other people have different feelings about these things, and I don’t wish to contribute to divisiveness. This space is all about peace and love, man. So I’ll take my thoughts about my burgeoning passion to another venue; safely tucked away in another corner of Blogspot. I plan to get it up and running this week, so if you’re interested in following it, please IM me on Facebook or the Twitters, leave a comment, or zip me an e-mail.  

Speaking of retail, I have some vacation time I have to burn up, so on Monday, I took the day off and Mr. Typist and I motored off to Cabela’s, for which we had numerous gift cards left over from Christmas. I’d never been to a Cabela’s, and my friends, it is a place of glory. I was expecting your typical big box outdoorsy-type mega-store with glaring florescent lights, dirty floors and haphazardly organized inventory, but I found myself walking into a warm, soothing, beautifully designed wonderland full of gadgety goodness, all kinds of high-tech gear, and most delightfully of all, jeans that actually fit! They also had that unicorn known as good-quality cargo pants for women, which I have been seeking for months to no avail. I didn’t want to leave. The whole experience made me want to move to a cabin in some remote outpost in Wyoming and live off the land. I’m not very skilled at the art of survivalism, but I’m sure I'd be fine with enough gear.

I tend to put a fair bit of stock in the hidden meaning of random animal encounters. Let me explain: A few years ago, at least two or three times a week, I started seeing a blue jay in the trees near the building I worked in. This was very unusual. There just weren’t any in that area; at least I can’t remember ever having seen them before. Yet here was this dazzling blue bird, flying into my field of vision a few times a week for a period of about a month. Within that time, I was offered a transfer to a new campus, which ushered in the beginning of a major career transformation for me. When I looked up “blue jay medicine," it said blue jays represent change, transition, and new territory. There have been other such encounters throughout my life involving eagles, bears, wolves and other such roving wildlife. This morning when I pulled back the blinds on the sliding door to our deck, a stunning black hummingbird dove and hovered in front of me for a full five seconds, then swooped off to parts unknown. I take that as a sign. A sign of what, I do not know, but I’m enjoying the mystery of it.

--Kristen McHenry

Sunday, January 20, 2019

A Full Jar of Marbles, Gun Goals, Depression Beat-Down

This week, I have been reflecting on trust and its role in my life. Speaker and writer Brene Brown has a theory that trust is akin to a jar of marbles. She explains that her daughter’s teacher keeps a jar of marbles in the classroom. When the students are behaving and being kind to each other, the teacher adds marbles to the jar. When the students start acting like little jerks, she removes some marbles. If and when the jar gets filled, the class gets to have a party and celebrate their awesomeness. Brene says that the marble theory also is true of people in our lives—they earn metaphorical marbles by gaining our trust through right action.

I have come to the realization that the blessing and the curse of my being is that with me, everyone starts with a full jar of marbles. It’s automatic. Here, you get a full jar and you get a full jar, and even you, who I have doubts about, well, what the heck, you get a full jar, too. I just go around handing out of full jars like they were candy. Others are more judicious with their marbles. For example, when I explained my marble methodology to Mr. Typist, his eyes narrowed and he said that with him, people might start with a quarter of a jar of marbles…at most. I know some people, many in fact, who give out only empty jars and expect others to earn every marble they get. But not me, nosirree Bob--with me, if you want marbles, you got ‘em. And the odd thing is, I think I’ve pretty much come out even on this. There have been some outliers, but by and large, most of the people in my life have lived up to their full jar of marbles. I realize that this is reckless of me and that it probably reflects badly on my character to some degree—it speaks to being overly-agreeable and lacking in a certain circumspect mindset, but in the end, its worked out, and it’s saved me a lot of time.

After months of me carefully practicing gun range avoidance, Mr. Typist has inspired me to get back into the game again by showing me a photo of a .38 revolver that he thought I might like. I am very excited about the .38 and really want one of my own. I’m going to take one of my much-piling up vacation days some time this month, head off to the range, and practice on a .38 to make sure it’s what it I want—then take the plunge into purchasing one for myself. I’ve decided to stop feeling bad about preferring revolvers over semi-automatics. Most of the Youtube gun ladies make a lot of noise about how women should never allow a gun store clerk to steer them towards revolvers, because it indicates that they don’t think your delicate lady-hands can handle a semi-automatic. But the fact is, I truly love and prefer revolvers. They are far more beautiful and elegant than semi-automatics, I like the old-school look and feel of them, and for a gun novice like myself, I just feel a lot more comfortable with them. Frankly, I’ve been pretty depressed lately, and it feels nice to have a goal, even a small one like purchasing a revolver.

Well, I’m off to the pool to shake off my doldrums and get my blood pumping. Depression will not win! In the meantime, enjoy this clip of Brene Brown, and if you are so inclined, check out her other stuff, too—her talks on vulnerability are very good.  

--Kristen McHenry

Sunday, January 13, 2019

I Like Big Soaps and I Cannot Lie, The Burden of Lunch, Gray Cat Update

A little disappointingly, FEMA school was canceled this week due to the government shutdown, so now the onus is upon me to show up to work as usual (yawn!) and get a proper blog post up. So here goes: The big excitement in the Typist household over the weekend was a tiff over soap. I had dutifully trudged off to Local Big Box Grocery Store to buy sundries and things for us to eat, and when I got to putting the soap away, I realized that we already had a fair supply of it, as I had neglected to check the bathroom before I left. I made a casual comment to Mr. Typist about our surplus of soap, which he immediately used as a launching pad to go off on a tirade about how I keep opening new soaps when there are admittedly thin but perfectly good soaps still in the shower. He further opined that he has suspected all along that I have a “thing” for big soaps, which unfairly places the burden on him to mash all of the thin soaps together into one soap large enough for me to deem worthy of use. He is completely correct, of course. I like big soaps...thick, blocky soaps that fit in my hand well and lather up like a boss. I have confidence in big soaps, whereas I am suspicious of the ability of thin, brittle, worn-down soaps to do the job to my standard. I do not view this as a character flaw, and I refuse to apologize.

The cafeteria at my place of work was recently closed down, which has left me with the burden of bringing my own lunch, as restaurants in my neighborhood are now far too pricey and I can’t afford to eat out very often. I had known this was coming for a while, but I’ve been conveniently in denial about it. I finally bit the bullet last week and half-heartedly purchased some bread, some overly-salty lunch “meat” and an insulated lunch bag. I assembled a little sandwich making kit each morning and tried my best to put together a sandwich on the few square inches of desk space I have available to use as an ad-hoc food prep area. This lasted three days until I gave up. The whole operation was just too burdensome and involved. I had to clean my utensils in the bathroom sink that only has intermittent warm water, make sure my little thing of mayo stayed properly cold, clean all of my plastic containers, remember to bring my lunch bag home…it was all too much, when I was used to being able to just sweep into the cafeteria and grab something to go that I could eat at my desk. So now I need a new lunch plan. I think my lunch plan may just be to skip lunch and go for a walk instead. How long that genius scheme will last will depend on how hungry I get.

I arrived home the other day to find Buddy’s nemesis, Giant Gray Cat, aka Miles, curled up on our porch, snoozing peacefully. I said hello and gently petted him. He stood up and sniffed me and was very friendly and gentle. He looked me in the eyes with curiosity and sniffed my bag and rubbed his fur against my legs. I’d never seen him up close before. He is really quite a beautiful cat, with big orange eyes, soft fur, and a royal bearing. I wish Buddy would just give up the rivalry and be friends with him. But I don’t think that’s going to happen, as the minute I walked through door and Buddy smelled a whiff of GGC on my hands, he glared at me suspiciously and immediately went to his scratcher to sharpen his claws.

Here is a silly blast from the past, because sometimes we need a little divine silliness in our lives: