Yesterday I received an email from one of the directors of the rescue for which I volunteer. I was told that people perceive me a lot differently than I thought they did. In a nutshell, I either come across as condescending or I over-share, making people uncomfortable. While at first I was very upset and hurt, a days time has given me a little more perspective on the issue. I also spoke with a couple of people, including a native Alabamian and it's really given me a lot to think about.

I knew when we moved to Alabama that there would be a bit of culture shock, for both of us. I thought I'd handle it better than Will, since I've lived in the south before. I thought I "spoke Southern" because I easily slip into the accent, know most of the slang and am pretty darn friendly in the first place. Apparently, I don't speak southern at all.

Many of you know me or have at least met me in person. Those of you that haven't met me in person have at least interacted with me online for a good amount of years. You're used to how I talk/write. In thinking over all this, I've come to the conclusion that there has been a serious culture clash between me and many of the folks I've interacted with on behalf of the rescue.

To Yankees, it's NORMAL to talk over each other in a conversation. There's a fine line between talking-over and rudely interrupting, but we know that line. It's just how we are. I'm sure that if any of my southern friends were to listen to a conversation between me and say, Tracy, they'd probably wonder how we ever manage to get our point across. Add to that my natural speech cadence. I don't have a Noo Yawk accent; never have. Even when I slip into a southern drawl, the rhythm of my speech is very different. Heck, ask my NY friends and they'll tell you I don't sound like them either. I was raised in an European household. My mother was Brasilian; English was her second language (one of five she spoke). My father was born in California but raised all over the world, and spent most of his formative years in Swiss boarding schools. He also spoke multiple languages. So, the English I learned at home was "proper" -- the kind of English that non-native speakers speak. Diction, proper grammar, a rather extensive vocabulary, etc. This is NORMAL to me and I don't change it unless I'm speaking to a child that hasn't learned many words yet, or to someone that doesn't speak much English. (Or my dogs LOL) I don't make any assumption about another party I'm speaking with. To change how I speak because I assume the other party won't understand -- to me, that's talking to people like they're stupid. But, apparently I come across like one of those "blue-state elitists" that were in the news during the last election. Add to that my occasional brain fog, where I forget even the simplest of words and I'm sure people think I'm trying to talk like a walking dictionary.

Once upon a time, I WAS a walking dictionary, but no longer. However, I digress....

Then there's what Will calls my "lecture mode". I admit that I can get pretty passionate about some topics that interest me or I'm knowledgeable about. I enjoy sharing ideas and having discussions about certain topics. I typically "hold court". I'm aware of this, but thought people WANTED to hear what I was talking about. I'd never realized it was annoying.

Then there's the fact that for many years, my career and pagan outreach work required me to speak and write with a certain degree of professionalism. It becomes ingrained. I certainly don't mean to come across as brusque or rude, but my writing is meant to be concise and to the point. I don't bother with a lot of idle chit-chat when I write an email or letter (unless I'm ACTUALLY CHATTING). When I'm in a position where I have to interact with the public on behalf of an organization, I do so in a courteous and professional manner. I never considered that this could be taken any other way.

My Alabamian friend told me that she thinks it's culture clash. That more than likely, people perceive me as looking down on them when I'm just being myself. I guess I'm just another one of those "damned Yankees" who thinks she's better than everyone else.

It's not the truth; but the perception is there. And enough people were put off by it that I've been asked to step back from some of the things I was doing for the rescue.

And...I'm OK with that. It hurt at first, I won't deny that. But I also know that I'm a good and decent person that doesn't judge others based on how they dress, speak, write or anything else like that. I judge them based on their actions. However, others DO judge people on those very things, and I don't want the rescue to be damaged because of my personality quirks. So, I'm stepping back from certain operations but keeping up with others. Maybe those same personality quirks can be put to good use: in doing things that require a less casual mode of communication.

I'm posting this publicly so feel free to chime in. My ego can take it. But, know that I never meant to offend anyone. Now that it's been brought to my attention, I can try and be more aware of it. I doubt I'll be changing all that much; after all, it's taken me 43 years to be who I am and I kind of like me. I will, however, do my best to be more aware of it.
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I post my gratitude project mostly on FB, but this one deserves a bit more than a short bit.

Yesterday, I was grateful to be associated with a group of responsible pit bull owners. Will and I attended a meet up for Bully Lovers in Birmingham. There were 16 Pit Bulls at Railroad Park plus all their owners and children, including a 3 month old puppy that was OMG so cute!! With it's squishy face and squeeee!! She was adorable!!

We were watched like a hawk by the park officials -- we were all gathered under the main pavilion where we shared food and drink, pibble dribble and talked. Next to us was a group of teenage girls -- a church group or community group (they were wearing the same t-shirts), and many were cooing over the dogs. Joker was his usual affable self -- friendly and more than happy to let anyone pet him. As usual, I had to warn people that he licks like crazy and will jump up to get you in the face. Most people bent down to his level as I tried to keep him from jumping. Richard, one of the board members for Bama Bully Rescue did exactly as I do: make Joker sit and THEN pet him, taking his hand away if Joker jumped and waiting until he sat quietly. Joker did well, occasionally losing his control over himself but mostly behaved well and didn't go too crazy with his Tongue of Doomâ„¢. Harley was her usual self as well, friendly but reserved. We had our pictures taken as well.

The part I'm mostly grateful for is being part of this group. Showing people what RESPONSIBLE Pit Bull ownership is like. A big bunch of well-behaved and managed dogs, socializing with other dogs, people and children with no incidents or problems. We left before the rest of the group did, but apparently the group left the area cleaner than when we got there. Apparently, one woman with her kid screamed "DON"T PET THE PIT BULLS!" when her son pet Gunner. When the dog licked him she said "Well I'll be damned! It's a small victory, but a victory nonetheless when communities are still trying to ban these dogs.

Today I am grateful for once again not gaining weight after quitting smoking. I haven't lost any since I quit (11 days so far!) but I'm very happy to be staying pat (for now). I didn't quit because I wanted to -- I quit because I had to in order to heal my ulcer. But, I'm doing well with it, even when the patch falls off. I still have the occasional craving but they're getting fewer and far between and not as intense. The only problem I'm having is a nagging headache. I don't know if it's due to withdrawal, the patch or the weather pattern but this headache just won't stay away. I shall start exercising again, by hook or by crook, DAMN this stupid foot pain. I want to continue to lose weight not be stuck in a plateau. But, at least I haven't gained anything which is what usually happens when you quit smoking. So, yeah I'm grateful.
beltainelady: (Default)
( Apr. 13th, 2011 04:49 pm)
I entered a contest to be a featured reader of the audiobook version of Neil Gaiman's American Gods. Unfortunately, the first round is to be decided by the public, ala American Idol. So, I have to compete against people who probably have a zillion friends on FB and such.

But I really want this. I've always wanted to do voice over work and audio book work. So, dear friends, I'm begging. Vote for me, please. I'm so anxious about this...

http://neilgaiman.bookperk.com/engine/Details.aspx?PageType=APPROVED&ContestID=29933&SubmissionID=7776135&IncrementNumber=1

You do have to register, but once you do, it's done. You can vote once per day. And I'll be begging daily. I never do this kind of "Vote for me" crap, but I REALLY REALLY want this. Plus, I get to go to NYC to do it...HOME!!

Please?


On the "OW" front: My shoulder is KILLING me today. It was feeling all right yesterday but today it is screaming. I didn't do anything to it that I know of, but wowsa. I'm on enough pain medicines to knock out a horse and they're barely touching the pain. Bleh.
beltainelady: (Default)
( Feb. 8th, 2011 04:12 pm)
I got new glasses, which solved my vision problems. I have a sleep study tomorrow, which will hopefully get me the help I need to solve my narcolepsy problem. Baby steps, as always.

I don't know whether the physical therapy is helping my shoulder or if it's the steroids my doctor prescribed, but it feels good today. We'll see how it goes after the steroids wear off. If I'm still having pain and problems, I'll be having surgery to correct the impingement. I REALLY hope I can avoid that.

I'm also trying to figure out things I can be doing with myself. I have a few touch ups to do on the backdrop I painted for Will's studio, and now I'm cruising around looking for props. He wants a good Victorian chair, but those are hard to come by in our price range. I keep looking though, scouring Craigslist and checking out thrift stores. I also want to start sewing again, making costumes. I scored a crinoline at a thrift shop that was going out of business for $10. SCORE!! I hope to get a machine this weekend; a used one from Craigslist. I guess I'll take a couple of sewing classes to get back into it; it's been a lifetime since I've sewed. But, since Will is kind of getting into the Steampunk thing...someone has to make the outfits because I'll be DAMNED if I'm going to pay big bucks for it. I hope to be able to find some decent ballgowns that I can re-purpose as well. If it's got good bones, I can use it.

Might also take a painting class at some point.

Hopefully, after Liana gets her GED and PT is over, I'll have days where I don't have to run to one place or another. I'll be able to do what I WANT to do. Imagine that. lol
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But truly, there's not much going on that doesn't fit into the 140-word status update on FB. And most, if not all of you, are on my FB.

Physical therapy continues apace. Hopefully, after a few more weeks I won't need surgery. I'd really rather avoid that, especially since I'll probably taken even longer to heal with the Fibro. I just want to get this under control so I can get back to doing what I want. I want to go back to the gym and go back to violin lessons.

We had a couple of people Will met through Model Mayhem over for dinner. A model and two photographers, and it just made me want to get back into modeling. I am going to do my best to work on losing some weight and getting back into shape. I won't EVER get back to my serious hardbody days, but if I can tone up and feel more comfortable, I'll be back in front of the camera. Helping Will with making backdrops and directing models and doing makeup and such also makes me want to get back into it.

I'm also wanting to get back into my Craft. I've been alone and essentially non-practicing for years now. I go to the occasional ritual with the guys in Atlanta, or to a festival but that's about it. So, I've volunteered to do a ritual and workshop at the 2011 Shenandoah Midsummer. I know, that seems like a massive jump rather than starting small but I've got so much experience doing public ritual that I'm actually MORE comfortable doing that than moving towards starting a coven. Especially since our Governor Bentley made the statement about only Christians being his brothers and sisters...I will remain quietly closeted here in Alabama. When the right people appear, I will consider starting up again. Small, slow steps toward being a BTW HPS, so I'll just work solitary and do public stuff here and there until it happens.

My narcolepsy has gotten out of hand. I've even tried increasing the dosage of my Ritalin, and instead it puts me to sleep. I've had to stop taking it and now struggle through my days, trying to stay awake at least enough to function. I'm rarely fully alert and the exhaustion presses so hard upon me. I have an appointment with a sleep specialist on Feb.2, so hopefully he'll put me on Provigil and I might be able to function again. I hope. I can't take this anymore. The fatigue actually HURTS. My eyesight is affected, and I can't tell if my prescription has changed or if it's due to the exhaustion.

*sigh* So, that's my life for the moment. Up and down, as usual.
beltainelady: (Default)
( Nov. 16th, 2010 05:20 pm)
I haven't posted in a month. It seems I spend more time on Facebook, but that's only because I post short little bits and pieces there. I save my LJ for longer, more thoughtful or detailed posts. I really should make more of an effort to keep from becoming a soundbite-person.

So yeah, allow me to explain. No, there's too much. Let me sum up:

Went to the Rally to Restore Sanity in DC on Oct 30. This was Will's idea, and he seemed really hyped for it once I mentioned that I knew people in the area so we'd have a place to crash. So, off we went. We left Cai's house around 9, figuring we'd get the train around 10:30 and get into DC around 11 with plenty of time to get to the rally site. I, along with 200,000 other people, didn't think that there would be THAT many people attending. We sat in traffic for an hour just to get to the train station then found out it would be another 2-3 hours before we could even get on a train, thereby missing the rally. We decided to just drive into DC and go sightseeing. Will was really disappointed, but in the back of my mind, I was determined to get him to the rally by hook or by crook. I oriented the car toward the Washington Monument and figured we'd somehow get there.

Thankfully, I have a disabled parking placard and was able to park on Constitution Ave right in front of the Wash. Monument. We walked down the Mall and got to the rally only an hour late. TaDA!!!! We never did get close enough to actually see the stage or anything, but we heard it. After a few minutes of dealing with the massive crowd, we moved to the edges of the street and just took in the scene. It was really cool and I'm glad we made it. We made a bad move in going back to the car to drive and find a place to eat; we lost the ONLY PARKING SPACE left in the city. I don't know my way around DC and even with John on the phone and the GPS, without a distinct destination we ended up just driving in circles. The sheer numbers of pedestrians, bicyclists and motorists made Will anxiety crest, even though city driving is second nature to me. So, we got stuck in traffic for another hour trying to leave DC and ate at a Red Robin on the way back to Cai's house.

Other than that, there's really not much going on. I'm taking violin lessons and doing well. We met up with a cool person at the Witches Ball, exchanged contact info and now have someone who knows what's going on around Birmingham so we might actually have a social life! The puppies are a year old, big but still puppies. I've volunteered for Bama Bully Rescue and will be transporting a pit bull to his forever home over the weekend. I go to the Y at least twice a week, an attempt to start getting into better shape. And that's about it.

There's really not much to write about...which is why I end up reducing my life into bullet point posts on Facebook.
beltainelady: (Default)
( Oct. 7th, 2010 03:21 pm)
It's about time I had a decent day, one where things went RIGHT for a change. Oh sure, my fibro is still flaring but I still got things accomplished.

Took the pups to the dog park this morning. We had the place to ourselves for a while, so we worked on the agility course. Harley actually seems to be getting more excited about it than Joker, but then she'll do anything if there's treats involved. We worked on the ramp and the tunnel and both dogs really seem to like playing on "the rides". A little while later some other dogs arrived, and we had a free for all on the ramp. I had about 6 dogs running up and down it, having a ball. I really like the new dog park; it's clean, shaded and with the agility course, there's more for them to do than just run around or wrestle.

I dropped them off at home, showered and went out to run my errands. I got a shoulder rest for the violin so it doesn't dig into my collar bone and it's so much more comfortable. I have a long neck, so it also makes playing it a lot easier. I also applied for state aid in paying my Medicare premiums, signed up at the local Y (paid for by my health insurance) and discovered that it's got everything I want. A pool, yoga, water aerobics, etc. It'll not only get me out of the house, but I'll be able to do the types of exercises I enjoy.

All in all, a good day. Nothing exciting, but good nonetheless.

Oh, we're also planning on going to Atlanta PPD this weekend. IF the coordinator gets back to me about being able to bring the dogs. I'd rather have them with us than crated for such a long time.
beltainelady: (Default)
( May. 7th, 2010 01:01 pm)
I've got a bunch of little projects going, small stuff around the house to make things a bit better or more convenient. I installed a handle on the outside of the sliding door to the sun porch because the finger-pull that was there was hard and broke my nails. At some point, I want to take the door off and see what's up with the rollers. It's constantly getting stuck and lubricating the track doesn't really fix the problem. I've installed new rollers before, I just need another person to help me get the door off. It's heavy.

I bought a new doorbell kit, since the entire set-up was cheaper than just getting a replacement chime. It's a good thing I did: the button needed replacing and so does the transformer. After rummaging around in the house I found it: next to the AC. So again, I need another person to help me replace it. I'll be putting Will to work this weekend, lol. I'm also going to replace the lock on our mailbox. I hope to build some screens for our bedroom windows at some point as well. The windows in this place SUCK BALLS, but when it IS nice outside I like to be able to open them up and get some air. Maybe get some insulation strips for the front door as well. There's tons of little places where our heat/cool seeps out of the house. And without an active landlord, I do what I can. We really need to get the window in Will's office replaced, but we have to pay for it and then take it out of the rent. Ideally all the windows need to be replaced...but she won't go for it. So, one bit at a time...

At least, I know how to do these things and what I don't know, I can find out. I'm not going to spend the money having someone come to fix the fridge: the water dispenser doesn't work. And I'm not going to rig a water line heater so that it does. That's more work than I'm confident in doing, so I'll do it the old-fashioned way: a hair dryer. It's not my fridge so I'm not spending more on it than I have to.

It's almost as if I own this place with all the work I do to it.
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In an effort to save money on my grocery bills, I've increased the amount of time I spend clipping coupons. I've always used coupons, but now I'm signed up with a few online coupon sites and I scour the weekly ads for ways to combine sales with coupons and stack manufacturers coupons with store coupons and so forth. It's a bit of work, but definitely worth it.

A lot of the couponing websites (as well as bits I've seen on TV) talk about how you can save more than you spend, if you do it right. For example, the bagger told me today about how a woman saved almost $350, only spending $70. Wow. BUT...and it's a big BUT....

... Most coupons are for processed convenience foods. Those of us who don't buy much of those products don't save anything. Rarely are there coupons for fresh produce and meats. And the coupons for frozen produce are usually those small boxes of Green Giant or Birdseye veggies that are either too small for a family or laden with sauce. If you've ever seen the segments on TV about "super shoppers", their pantries are full of macaroni and cheese, Chef Boyardee and Rice a Roni. I've talked with other patrons in the stores, and they've told me how they'll buy stuff they don't use because they can get it for free. Then, they usually donate it. Well...if Will's office or the store itself is running a food drive, I'll do it. Otherwise, I have to drive somewhere to donate it. And there's NEVER a coupon for gasoline!

Little by little, I'm shaving off a lot of money from my grocery bill by playing the coupon game. My local Publix takes competitor's coupons as well, so I can use a $10 Target coupon there. It's a little bit of work, clipping and printing and going to more than one store, but I spend about $200 today, and saved over $75. Not too shabby.
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Since we moved here, I haven't met anyone. Granted, it's hard for me to get out sometimes and I've been pretty home-oriented. But I'm also getting a bit stir-crazy. I've been considering ways to get out and meet people and hopefully develop a few friendships. It's a little scary though, because it really is quite conservative here and I'm DEFINITELY not your average housewife.

Will and I are attending some Halloween shindig with his coworkers, and I'm considering attending the local Witches Ball. But those are one-shot events; I need to get involved in SOMETHING.

So, here's the plan:

1) Go to the Birmingham Witches Meet-up. At least I'll meet other pagans, but I have reservations. My tolerance level for fluffbunnies and BS is very low. I'm concerned as to whether I'll label myself "Pagan" or "Wiccan" and keep the fact that I'm an Alexandrian HPS to myself. In my past experience, as soon as people find out you're an initiate, they flock to you for teaching. Either that, or I'll be ostracized as an elitist BTW. We'll see. I'm gonna keep my mouth shut and test the waters.

2) Check out the Buddhist Temple; maybe go to one of their book-reading groups. It's a Tibetan Buddhist temple, which wasn't what I thought I was looking for (I've always been drawn to Zen), but I have very high esteem for the Dalai Lama and it may be a cool place to check out. I like Buddhists...

3) I'm going to volunteer my services to the Humane Society as a dog trainer. I can work with either puppies or adult dogs and help socialize them and give them basic obedience training at the very least. If there are any dogs that have special issues (like Navarre), I'm reasonably sure I can bring them to an adoptable point. I like dogs more than most people, but I'm pretty sure I will also find folks to associate with, since we'd all be animal lovers.

4) Attend knit nights. I've "met" couple of local people on Ravelry; they both have pitbulls as well, so we have that in common.

5) Look into getting violin lessons. Since Liana isn't playing it, I might as well give it a whirl. I play three other instruments so I can read music and have a good ear...I hope I can pick it up as quickly as she did. At least, she can help me with some fingerings...

*smile*

The last couple of posts from me have been "to-do" lists. I've never been a list maker before...
I figure if I put it down in writing (OK, electrons), I'll remember what needs to be done. Not in any particular order, just as I remember:

1) Ironing. The one thing I promise Will I'll do with regularity, and it's the one thing I always seem to forget or put off. I really do want him to go to work wronkle-free. And yes, "wronkle" is a word, LOL.

2) Vacuum and clean the floors.

3) Bake bread. Sourdough or whole wheat? That is the question.

4) Chisel out the door frame to fit the new lock for the inside garage door. Forget buying a chisel for this one project, I have an old screwdriver I can sacrifice if necessary.

4a) Sweep up all the sawdust on the floor from said lock project. BTW - Using a wood boring drill bit is kinda fun.

5) Install the hanging light in the sun porch so I can see at night.

6) Put up the curtain tie-backs in the bedroom. I've only been putting that off since we moved in. Such a simple thing....

7) Bring back cable boxes.

8) Pay Liana's library fine so she can renew the book she can't find. *facepalm*

9) Dust the living room.

10) Give dog a bath. If anything, at least brush his teeth.

11) Install peephole in front door. While there, replace the busted lightbulb in the outside light.

Ummm...Is that it? I need to finish all the little things that never got done when we moved in. I can't stand having my home look unfinished. Oh yeah...


12) Hang the speaker that's on the fireplace mantle so I can hang the candle sconces.

Future:

Find a picture to put over the fireplace. I want original art, even though I've seen pretty mass-produced stuff in stores. I'd rather support a local artist if I can. Or continue to poke [profile] tiltedsideways to make something for me.
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beltainelady: (Default)
( Oct. 8th, 2009 09:51 am)
I am so thankful that I remembered to put in a lifeline for the lace and cables cap I'm knitting. I got mixed up and started knitting the wrong row, and my attempt at going back to where I screwed up failed. I only had to rip out 8 rows, rather than the whole thing. If I'd had to start from the beginning, AGAIN, I'd have just quit.

We're planning on attending Atlanta Pagan Pride Day this Saturday. It'll be my first time to Atlanta since we moved here, and Will's first experience with public paganism. Should be fun. I hope to hook up with [profile] oakthorne while we're there...and hopefully [personal profile] brock_tn, if he's going. I'm looking forward to seeing Emerald Rose play; I haven't seen them in years.

Now, I have to go research window replacement companies. We've been waiting on a window for the front bedroom since we moved in, but it turns out that the company that did the original estimate has gone out of business, so our landlady said to just get it done and take the cost out of our rent. I hope to be able to also get some screens for the upstairs windows. They're not the kind of window that takes a standard screen, so hopefully we can get some and I can open the windows for some fresh fall air.
beltainelady: (Default)
( Oct. 5th, 2009 11:19 am)
In addition to my constant knitting, canning and baking, I've become an iTouch Scrabble addict. I play for hours, so many hours that my Official Scrabble Word-finder book has fallen apart.

I've always liked Scrabble, since I'm a word nut. After Joe and I broke up, we rekindled our friendship over a Scrabble game. He bought me the book, taught me strategies and challenged my vocabulary knowledge. My Scrabble board gathered dust in the closet after Joe died, since Scott wouldn't play with me (not a great speller) and Liana was too young to play against me. When we did play, I'd obliterate them. Will will occasionally play with me, but gets frustrated because I usually beat him by at least 100 points. I haven't played a good game unless I score over 200; 300 is my usual score and I've occasionally gone over 400.

On the iTouch, I get to play a computer and challenge myself. I mostly play on the "normal" setting, but have also ventured into the "hard" setting. I'm considering joining a tournament one day...so I can use my addiction as an excuse to practice ;)

At least the computer game gives me hints when I'm having a particularly bad fibro-fog day. LOL
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