My common law stepdaughter decided she too wants to be a writer and I can’t help but feel a little proud, like it’s because of me. This nice and very human feeling is quickly overshadowed by jealousy; what if she ends up being better than me? What if she makes it and I don’t? Yes, I have professional jealousy of an eleven year old. That’s pretty pathological.

I’m typically jealous of everyone everywhere at all times. This probably stems from insecurity. I’ve occupied about every position on the social stratosphere as you can imagine; I’ve been sought after, ostracized, ridiculed, praised, told I was beautiful, assured I was ugly. I was approached by two drunken men one evening. The first declared I was pretty, one of the prettiest girls he’d even seen, while the other was less than impressed with me. It’s telling that I can’t remember exactly what he said, but it was basically the polar opposite of his buddy’s heady acclaim. 

Now what would you make of that? I mean, how do you process that information? Does one cancel out the other? Are they both right? The opinions of strangers mean less and less as I get older, but still that anecdote is a pretty good summation of my life. One part praise plus one part ridicule. Earning your begrudging respect one word at a time, if at all. It’s a constant uphill climb and I am a lazy asshole.

It’s a cliché but people really do either love me or hate me. There is no middle ground. I’ve had people (parents, teachers, peers, etc.) hate me on sight, and many of the people I’ve counted as friends confided that before we became close they too hated me. I take this as a source of pride. Anyone can be pleasant and kind and have people like them. To take someone with genuine ill feelings towards you and bring them around seems like an accomplishment I didn’t think I was capable of. But it’s also a bit depressing. I’ve had to come to terms with the fact that I’m not all that likable and charm is far out of my realm of capability.

After reading Hitch 22 I decided to take the Proust Questionnaire (which you should take as well: http://hoelder1in.org/Proust/fill_questionnaire.html ). The second to last question asked my current state of mind and I wrote ambivalent. After thinking it over I decided I’m in a constant state of ambivalence. I’m in love with the world and hate it miserably. I think humanity is awesome and grotesque. I think I am the worst person in the world while also believing that I’m better than everyone else. Is this inability to choose an indicator of severe mental illness or a healthy way to cope with an ever changing, fluid life? I’d have to say it’s both.

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STACIE ADAMS is a drinker with a writing problem. She's currently working on a novel and hopes to complete it before the world ends in 2012. When she's not reading or writing she's at the bar telling people about the time she saw Queens of the Stone Age in a fortress in Germany. Her alter ego can be found at The First Church of mutterhals

22 responses to “Yes and No”

  1. dwoz says:

    I’ve come up with an answer to your riddle of the two drunk guys:

    “…the man who thought you were fine was from the east coast. The man who had no interest was from the west coast. You were standing in the middle of the country somewhere, and so for the east coast guy, it was after last call, for the west coast guy, it was not yet last call. If you had had the encounter an hour later, the east coast guy would have been asleep and the west coast guy would have asked you to marry him…”

  2. Becky Palapala says:

    It’s a cliché but people really do either love me or hate me. There is no middle ground. I’ve had people (parents, teachers, peers, etc.) hate me on sight, and many of the people I’ve counted as friends confided that before we became close they too hated me [… ] I’ve had to come to terms with the fact that I’m not all that likable and charm is far out of my realm of capability.

    I hear that.

    Though I’d argue that being volatile enough to make it a love/hate situation–to make indifference out of the question–is a powerful form of charisma.

    I’d rather be charismatic than charming any day.

    • SAA says:

      I’m never more unlikable than when I try to come across as such. And being charming is overrated anyway. I’m sure Ted Bundy was one hell of a charming dude, until he tied you up and put you in a closet.

      • Becky Palapala says:

        Trying to be friendlier than I really am is a recipe for disaster. My actual thoughts and opinions are too strong to suppress, so they inevitably bubble over, along with a lot of excess resentment from having felt compelled to suppress them in the first place.

        The end result is a situation where I am in fact meaner and more crass than I ever would have been had I not tried so damn hard to get along with people in the first place.

        And Bundy WAS a charming dude. Good looking, well-dressed, etc.

        I dress like a homeless person, have had the same hairdo since high school, and constantly say rude & insensitive things without really feeling bad about it, but at least I won’t kill you.

        I’ve got that going for me.

    • Gloria says:

      This happens to me like lightning. I’d say for the most part, I get along with nearly everyone. Maybe we’re not buddies, but there’s rarely any animosity. But every once in a while – and I can never predict it – there’s someone who loathes me before a word is spoken. Usually people wait until after I open my mouth to make that assessment.

      • SAA says:

        I can’t figure this out, I don’t understand how a person could just look at someone else and decide, ‘nope, don’t like her.’ I’m judgemental as hell, but even I can’t pull that off.

        For me it’s probably my ‘bitch-face’, people constantly tell me to smile or that it can’t be that bad. Meanwhile I’m not even upset, I’m usually thinking about lunch or some shit.

      • Becky Palapala says:

        My love/hate thing has always enjoyed suspicious gender correlations. But I’ve noticed there’s been a shift since I’ve gotten older.

        It almost always used to be that guys thought I was awesome and women hated me.

        Now it seems to be gradually listing in the other direction.

        • Gloria says:

          Actually, it’s not true that I can’t predict it. There are certain situations where I can predict conflict – such as when I’m with other parents, especially moms, especially the granola moms. I’m a failed hippy. I think they can smell it on me.

        • Becky Palapala says:

          Oh man. I don’t even want to try my luck with the granola moms.

      • Reno Romero says:

        Interesting, Gloria. I understand this. I too, get a long with most people (I find it easier that way). In fact, 95.9999% of the people (I’d like to think). But I think it stems from me not really caring if we have a swell friendship from the get-go. I don’t make such an investment. I don’t take it personal and I don’t get personal. At the workplace I tend to be a ghost. I learned long ago to show up, get my job done, and split. Anything more is exactly that. I’ve had/have friends (busy body types) that always have problems at work. It astounds me. Anyhow, people are both pretty and ugly. The trick is to find what kind of pretty and ugly that doesn’t disturb your decision making when neck-deep in fantasy football. Right?

  3. Mary Richert says:

    I think ambivalence may be one of the basic requirements for being a writer, and also a sign of intelligence. I typically dislike people who seem to be too certain about the world as they are often both self-righteous and wrong.

    • Reno Romero says:

      ‘I typically dislike people who seem to be too certain about the world as they are often both self-righteous and wrong.’

      My feelings exactly. This is why I’m a failed organized religion. Shucks.

    • SAA says:

      I can’t deal with self righteous people either, even when they end up being right. Thanks for reading.

  4. Reno Romero says:

    I like you, Stacie. I also think your writing is great.

  5. Oh, Mutterhals… you so cray-cray.

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