The Pariah Chronicles, Vol. II

9 Jul

In which The Disgruntler continues to whine about her current state of affairs; see previous post for backstory.

Revelation of the day: Being a pariah means that you 1) wait around a lot, and 2) generally have to keep your mouth shut, or at least try to.  Funny story, though: it just so happens that those are the two things I’m worst at.   Both of them are standard expected etiquette of a pariah, because as the vilified one, you are never to take the lead in communications with your Injured Party, insert your opinion into any conversation, or otherwise draw undue attention to yourself (like say, by blogging).   You have to be a reactor, not an actor, and always Know Your Place. good-dog

What’s unclear is how long this state of docile humility is supposed to last.  I know of other former pariahs who have paid their penance, then moved on to the much-coveted state of Resolution in a matter of months, weeks even.  But most likely, in those cases, their Injured Parties aren’t as emotionally constipated or prone to a glacial pace of decision-making as mine.  Also my particular Fuck-Up(s) – the ones that earned me pariah status – are fairly stellar, and I imagine the severity of the Fuck-Up has a direct correlation to the ultimate duration of one’s pariahdom.  Surely there must be a handbook for this somewhere; I’ll check the interwebs.

In other news, the upside to Waiting Things Out is nights out with girlfriends for cocktails, live music-enjoying, and general carousing.  Which is, of course, not something to be flaunted before the Injured Party (like say, by blogging), but it does help mitigate the Wait.  Not so great for the Keeping One’s Mouth Shut part however, though in my case, so far so good; I adhere firmly to the edict Don’t Drink & Text, You Fucktard.  Words to live by.

Stay tuned for more informative missives from Pariah Central, where I’ll continue to report out from the front lines. Er, well, to the degree that I can anyway, given the imposed restrictions of #2, above.  Actually #1 is also giving me a little trouble here too, since there’s only so much to report until I see some signs of life from my Injured Party. But there’s ways to jump-start that …. like say, by blogging.

The Pariah Chronicles, or, Why I Haven’t Posted Anything Here in Exactly One Year

25 May

Hollywood’s interpretation of Disgruntler as Pariah

Vol. I – November 2013

So I recently ended a long-term relationship, a transition that started off sort of OK, then I royally fucked it up with a Death Spiral of Lies, and then basically got booted out of my house. That’s the abridged Reader’s Digest version. Actually I think that summation may be short enough to be a tweet, plus no-one probably even knows what I’m talking about when I mention Reader’s Digest …. So yeah, I guess that’d be my Twitter feed on what went down … except that I thankfully have no personal bandwidth available to participate in Twitter. And if I did, I really hope I’m not self-absorbed enough to go ahead and tweet something like that for the entire blatho-sphere to suck down.

However I am the person guilty of the Death Spiral of Lies, so who knows what I’m capable of these days.

Let’s back up.

I fucked up big time, I’m a fuck up, I’m living the fuck-hole life of a fucking pariah right now (I think I need to invent a new word that combines “fuck” and “pariah” in order to really capture it), which is, as I’m sure one can guess, perfectly fucking lovely. Among many other things, being a pariah automatically precludes one from publicly airing snarky commentary or making humorous observations about her predicament (if there actually are any to be made), which is sort of my general M.O., so it’s been especially tough. Writing like I am now is the best way for me to process and make sense of things, but I haven’t dared to since this whole thing started. I guess I feel like I don’t have the right.

Vol. II – May 2014

Jarring jump-cut to the present day. Have my rights yet been restored? Perhaps partially. But I can’t speak to whether or not time heals all proverbial wounds, since I am the wounder, not the woundee. Things here in Pariahdom have gotten a bit smoother, a little less pariah-y, and some of the people peeved at me have grown slightly less peeved, I suppose. Unfortunately, the only existing route to the Wounded Party still remains the Eggshell Highway, and most likely this will continue to be the case for some time. It’s a road I must traverse regularly I’m afraid, given that we have a kid and a house and related logistics to negotiate and whatnot. Ah, modern life.

What’s proven trickier, however, is the slow unfurling of my suddenly very tightly-guarded self. Virtually overnight, some 7 months ago, I went from Open Book status in almost all affairs, to holy shit, Circle the Wagons. And when you are a Wagon of One, your circle is very very rigid. Since barricading myself here, I’ve barely dared to breathe, lest I make any pariahdom-aggravating missteps. I painstakingly question and evaluate every move I want to make before I make it, putting me into a perpetual state of second-guessing myself that has been an especially difficult adjustment, given that my natural emotional state is Casual Friday. I don’t really have the wardrobe for anything else …. so I guess that’s why I haven’t ventured out much. Emotionally, that is. Jesus I’m getting lost here inside this ridiculous metaphor … where was that emergency exit I saw a few hallways back?

oh, here it is

As for the unfurling, I suppose it will come with time. I have so much I want to overshare and blather on about, good things as well as bad, but I can’t just yet. Actually, almost all of it is good, but of course “good things happening for oneself” is an especially taboo topic of discussion for a pariah, so I’m keeping a lid on it for now. In the meantime kids, my recommendation is – don’t try this at home!


Dante’s Infirmity

23 May

For me the greatest irony of living in a large, multi-kulti city is that, while familiarity with a diverse cross-section of humanity has expanded my consciousness, cultural horizons, and overall tolerance, it has also made me fantastically more judgmental.  But as a wise man once said – I’m not prejudiced; I dislike everyone equally.

annoying and ridiculous

annoying and ridiculous

Naked gay guys? Annoying and ridiculous. Old Chinese people?  Rude, pushy and cheap.  XXXL, Suburban-driving 49ers fans?  Neanderthals.  Panhandling Haight Street crusties?  A scourge on humanity.  White collar, high-maintenance Uber-Moms?  Self-righteous be-yotches with fucked-up priorities.  Skinny-jeaned, fixie-ridin’ hipsters?  Poseurs.

See what I mean?  All are disliked equally.

So obviously, no one cares what I think; that’s not my point.  My point is that I am so uncomfortable with the paradox.  I am tortured by my co-existing but irreconcilable traits, Love-of-Diversity and Disdain-For-Virtually-Everyone.

Eons ago I ran a homeless feeding program in Hollywood.  While I took on the job primarily for the employment, not for the sake of being some Amazing Fucking Altruist, I felt good about helping my community.  Homelessness in Los Angeles, is after all, you know, a problem, and I might as well be a part of the solution, right?  Fast forward six months, however, and my capacity for empathy had shrunk like wool socks in a dryer; I began to see the clients as perpetually whining infants incapable of doing anything for themselves.  Without a background in social work or psychology or drug counseling or mental health treatment (HOW did I get this job?), I had no tools to understand or grapple with their vast gaps in logic or lack of basic life skills.  I just wanted to slap and shake some of them and shout “has it ever occurred to you that maybe there’s a REASON why you are homeless??!!”

It's agreed - she's in

It’s agreed – she’s in

That is just SO wrong.  Is there anything lower than hating homeless people?  As I couldn’t reconcile my newfound Ninth-Circle-of-Hell evilness with my generally liberal social beliefs, I quit that job before Satan or Jesse Helms or whoever’s in charge down there recruited me to be his right-hand gal.  I do really and truly, deep down, want to embrace the beauty of imperfect humanity, love my fellow man, and live and let live.  Really and truly.

Which I guess is pretty much what I DO do.  Secretly.  And with judgments, lots and lots of judgments.  Mostly as a survival mechanism when the great crush of multitudes gets to be too much, or – fuck it, let’s face it, it’s fun to make snarky comments to yourself about people you don’t know.  Whenever I get a little too nasty though, and wonder if maybe it’s time to blow this leftier-than-thou, ridiculously expensive popsicle stand, I realize the alternatives would only magnify my misanthropy.  A few hours in my native Orange County and BOY do I remember how I love the City folks!

How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Dead People

26 Apr

Disgruntler Alert: the following post contains little-to-no snarkiness, offensive opinions or crude observations. We will return to standard programming when we damn well feel like it.

After a fruitless morning search underscored by a complete lack of planning, I now found myself waist-high in blackberry bushes, breathlessly close to a discovery.  The brambles clutched desperately at my clothes, as if to intentionally delay me in my quest;  Nature Always Finds A Way, I thought to myself.  This tangle of thorns had made short work of overtaking the graveyard, and now turned its attention toward the unexpected human invaders, reminding us that they – the bushes, the earth – would ultimately have the last word.  At least I was wearing my motorcycle boots.

As much as I’d like to say the stone marker beckoned to me in some way, that it was psychically calling out “Over here!” with cinematic flair, in reality, it was simply the last accessible gravestone left in the plot, and I was going to be bummed if it didn’t pan out.  I tried to fabricate some sort of meaning from the ominous, foot-swallowing critter hole directly beside the marker, as if this hole was a clear sign that This Stone Must Be It.   But the agnostic in me knew:  that’s no omen, it’s just a fucking critter hole.

A short couple of steps up the hill, then a brief struggle with a particularly determined clump of bushes, and I awkwardly managed to work myself around to the other side of the stone. Clearing off some clinging Virginia Creeper, I was startled to see my imagined cinematic scenario fulfilled. “TALBERT,” it read.  Really?  Yes.  “TALBERT.”

No specific individuals’ names or dates were listed, but it was the surname I was searching for, and felt satisfied to have found this much.  It was already more than I figured we’d be able to accomplish, given that, as I said, there’d been a complete lack of planning in this venture.  I guess I had just thought I’d roll into Abingdon, VA – my father’s family’s home for over a century – and see what I could find.  Check out what’s in the historical society, stop into a few stores and ask around, what have you.  Except that I didn’t think about this being a Sunday.  In a small town, in the South. To my fellow confused Californians out there:  this means that basically everything’s closed.  Strangely, no-one seems to be home either.

Earlier that day, armed only with Google Maps’ insistence that there was a small plot of land here called “Hayter Cemetery” – where I knew that the Talberts, my paternal grandmother’s family, were buried –  I had quickly discovered what any native Virginian could have easily told me; that there are hundreds of family cemeteries all over this history-riddled countryside, but many have been moved, destroyed, or otherwise made virtually inaccessible, laying within the confines of other people’s private property.

Which explained why the “unnamed street” where the cemetery had appeared on the map turned out to be someone’s driveway.  And why now – pinned between blackberry bushes and the gaping hole of some animal’s den, amongst the remains of my long-dead ancestors – technically, I was trespassing.


Next up: creepy things happen!  And then we go to the theatre.

Because I Do

12 Jan

As much as I enjoy my own misanthropic tendencies, the growing realization that this questionable attribute has clearly been passed on to my offspring, leaves me with some misgivings.  Certainly I have not done him any favors.  The world smiles upon those who are apt to smile back; but for the rest of us curmudgeons?  Not so much.

While I am more of a private hater (prior to going public in The Disgruntler), and have spent my life compensating for my secret via outgoing antics and a passable degree of friendliness, my son seems less interested in such nonsense. His disdain is Out. True, at sixteen, he is probably at the nadir of his charm, with nowhere to go from here but up, personality-wise.  But it is impossible to ignore just how spot-on his highly judgmental yet hilarious descriptions of people can be: “basically a Burning Man sleazeball,” “your typical film school douchebag,” “generally dislikable sports-type meathead,” “hipster with stupid nerd glasses and an ugly sweater,” “self-righteous Noe Valley mom who only gives her kids herbs for medicine or some shit.”  That’s more than mere 16 year-old ennui talking; I think he’s in solid curmudgeon territory here.

So, as I said – misgivings.  It can be a fine line of difference between the neighborhood Cat Lady and, say, Aileen Wournos. On one side, there’s your healthy punk rock aversion to mob mentality/fashionable trends/shopping malls/mass-produced culture/suspiciously enthusiastic people/overattended events/etc. – that’s the sort of misanthrope I am – and then there’s the sociopath.  I really really REALLY hope I haven’t unwittingly created one of those.

Or are the real Bad Seeds something that just come out of the blue, an evolutionary luck of the draw sort of thing? You reach into the genetic grab bag and pull out – oh shit, it’s Richard Speck.  I’m just riffing here; in no way at all do I question my son’s sanity or grasp on reality.  He’s clearly paying attention to the details, that’s what makes his wit so razor sharp.  Though I’m sure just being a 16 year-old boy alone qualifies one as borderline sociopath; and since he won’t be sixteen forever, in theory, he’ll grow out of it.

And if not, well maybe it’s preferable to a generally dislikable sports-type meathead.

Pray Tell

23 Dec

The latest preventable American tragedy to touch ground on our conflicted shores – this time in Connecticut – has incited the usual maelstrom of fevered public discourse.  Also as usual, I am doggedly avoiding entering the fray.  So much talking, such incessant commentary, as if we can just talk-talk-talk the horror of it all away. A dirty bandaid over a fresh gaping wound. Thankfully however, it seems that even-tempered logic is prevailing over knee-jerk hysteria this time around, and perhaps some positive societal changes may eke their way out in the end.

I have also consistently noticed amidst this particular Media Aftermath – somewhat inappropriately, I admit – how irksome I find the repeated references to prayer.  We send our prayers, so-and-so is praying for them, the community is holding a prayer service, etc etc etc.  Of course I understand that this is, in spirit, a positive thing, but I also find it both vaguely oppressive and decidedly exclusive.  What about those families who are not of the Christian faith – and certainly Christian-based prayer is what they’re talking about – or moreover, not of any faith at all? And by that I don’t mean hopeless people “without any faith,” but those who are non-theist.  Lest we forget, not everyone seeks solace in prayer.

Again, logically I understand there are positive intentions behind these unsolicited spiritual offerings.  But I also know that being insistently handed a cocktail or a joint at a party when I don’t want one is, at the very least, unnerving.  Actually that usually bugs the shit out of me and I leave.  It’s just so fucking presumptuous, in a desperate sort of way. 

So I can’t help wondering, where do the non-religious families fit into this tragedy? Where do they go?  Do you show up at the prayer services anyway and just try to ignore the mumbo-jumbo part of the program?  If someone you don’t even know says how they’re “praying for you,” do you say thanks-but-no-thanks, or just muster a wan smile?  It would grow tiresome.

Churchy folk, I’m sure you’re awesome.  But if you feel compelled to start churning out prayer vibes like microwaves, remember some folks prefer not to cook their food that way.  We can all still eat at the same table, though.










What’s All This Then?

3 Dec


who’s in the what now?

So what would YOU do if your OB/GYN told you, with unexpected dramatic flair, “You need to go right home, and throw all your birth control pills away!  You’re DONE!” ?  Me, I kinda felt like crying a little.  My pills? But we’ve been together my entire adult life!  Ironically, my longest relationship by far.  Then … Confusion. What do I do now?  Are there even other forms of birth control out there?  Wait, how does it all work again?  Followed by … Anger.  Shit, don’t tell me we’re going to have to start using condoms!  That blows (no pun intended, well, maybe a little)!  

Seems that if you throw 25+ years on birth control pills in with a few ocular migraines and raise the blood pressure a bit – voila, you’ve got your classic Pre-Stroke Indicators.  Which means no more BCPs.  Ever.  Again.  Fuck, man, I want to keep fucking! 

The snappy OB/GYN lady wanted me to get an IUD fast-fast-fast, because apparently the second you go off the pill your body starts to go cray-cray for making a bay-bay and cranks the factory into overdrive. I know the Dalcon Shield fiasco is decades behind us, but I’m sorry, it’s still pretty hard to warm up to the idea of a pointy metal lance dancing around inside you day in and day out, like a bitter chaperone at a middle school dance continually breaking up the make-out sessions on the cozy sofas that are your uterus.  They want me to get an IUD but I said no, no, no.

Why not free-ball it for awhile?  It’d been so long since I hadn’t either been taking some sort of artificial hormones, or having my real hormones royally fucked with by the wondrous joy that is pregnancy, that I figured it might be interesting to see what it’d be like to go au natural.


oh boy, I can still square dance!

Fast forward a month or two: FUCK I FORGOT HOW MUCH THIS SUCKS.  Clearly I was getting my karmic due for once blithely bragging to a friend in the midst of menstrual woes about how I didn’t hardly have a period at all anymore and felt great.  WHY must I intermittently feel horrendous and mercilessly bloodthirsty for chocolate according to some mysterious Satanic schedule, and HOLY JESUS what’s with all the BLOOD?  I know you menfolk are cringing right now so please, pardon the fuck out of me very much, but us 52% of the population occasionally needs to break the shackles of your squeamishness and voice our complaints.

Speaking of which, I have another one. During the many years I was enjoying not serving among the ranks of tampon purchasers, it appears that some genius did away with the concept of cardboard applicators.  Wow, plastic is our only option now?  That just makes SO much sense, since there’s simply not enough plastic in the world already.  Plus, the “smooth glide” that plastic provides – reassuringly promoted on a number of brands’ perkily-colored boxes – is just SUCH a concern when the whole, well, AREA is liberally lubricated.  You know, with BLOOD.

Well-trained San Franciscan that I am, I simply cannot throw anything plastic in the “landfill” bin.  Which includes these damn applicators.  I know you’re thinking EW, but they can be WASHED, dammit, and after I do that I make sure they are buried deep, deep in the recycling bin.  I live with a teenage boy and I do not want to accidentally create a horrifically vivid lifelong memory for him by leaving a tampon applicator laying around, one he will know is his (ack!) mother’s, since I’m the only female in the house.

God bless this great gift that is the female body, it’s awesome. 

Next issue:  Who’s Up For A Little Snip-Snip?, or, Family Planning Phase II


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