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Mad Scientess Jane Expat

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On humo(u)r [20090729|16:40]
Mad Scientess Jane Expat
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Although my mother taught me many wonderful things now considered archaic, such as sending hand-written thank-you notes on completion of a visit, she also taught me one thing I wish she hadn't: how to fear offending people. My mother is so afraid of offending people that she rarely speaks in the company of strangers except to make innocuously pleasant remarks, leading them to think of her as proud, stuck up and prudish. Attempting to be funny deliberately, therefore, has always taken a great effort. For example, after hitting the "Submit" button on my recent post "Reasons I Dislike Cyclists", I agonized for a couple of hours over the title, because I didn't want to offend the considerate cyclists I know. But a post titled "Reasons I Dislike Cyclists Except The Ones That Are Nice And Don't Do The Stuff Listed Here" simply would not have been as funny, not just because the length of the title is off-putting but because the sentiment has been watered down. I compromised by adding a caveat, although part of me wishes I had the nerve to leave it off.

It is nearly impossible to try to be funny without risking giving offense. Without at least a bit of a bite, it becomes either twee or tedious. For those of us whose tendency is to try to please everyone, humour is a faculty that is only acquired after a long struggle.

Oh, and those of you who were offended by my cyclist post? You'll be pleased to learn that I am getting my comeuppance beginning next week, when I begin cycling regularly on my commute.
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Comments:
[User Picture]From: sekl
2009-07-29 17:24 (UTC)
It's a much better title than Cyclists: Don't Make Me Hit You Again.

Humans are social, we try to get along, and we can achieve a lot that way. Look at the big pointy buildings we can construct.

Best of luck starting your commute.
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[User Picture]From: nanila
2009-07-30 19:05 (UTC)
My bike lock still hasn't arrived. nanila: Cyclist Edition maybe delayed.
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[User Picture]From: becala
2009-07-30 16:01 (UTC)
I was raised in the same way, and I've actively worked to NOT be that way anymore. I try not to offend strangers, especially while traveling, and I definitely try not to offend people that are doing me favors or offering me hospitality. But when it comes to my friends and acquaintances, I really think that people just need to be offended sometimes, myself included. If nothing else, it reminds us to not take shit too seriously.

I wasn't offended by your post about cyclists because the things you listed are all true and annoying things that some cyclists do, and also because I know that you do not swerve to hit a cyclist on purpose. Yes, this HAS happened in Olympia. I've seen it with my own eyes.

If I made a post entitled "Why I hate drivers," I would not expect everyone who ever drove a car to be offended, and if they were, I would laugh at them.

That said, I'm glad that you're going to start cycling regularly. I should fix my effin bike and start doing that as well. :)
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[User Picture]From: nanila
2009-07-30 19:08 (UTC)
Ooh, drivers. Don't get me started. Especially the ones in Kensington who don't stop at the flashing lights at pedestrian crossings. And why are they always driving cars whose only purpose can be to break the glass on the Cockometer?
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[User Picture]From: anthrokeight
2009-07-30 17:12 (UTC)
Whew... what a source of constant low-grade anxiety. Also, this surprises me, because you seem effortlessly full of humor.

I am from a family of eccentric humor and silliness. When I lived in Glasgow, I found the power of Scottish sarcasm and joking so overwhelming as to feel like waves were washing over me sometimes. Someone once described me as having "an India-rubber ego." I swear it's in part because of my time there. Having people say offensive things, and learning to take it, is all in the game, really.
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[User Picture]From: nanila
2009-07-30 19:26 (UTC)
I think the sarcasm of the English has done a lot to change my perspective on myself, too. Five years of it has thickened my skin considerably.

This is going to sound awful, but my sense of humour has also become a lot more robust since splitting up with my ex. I think it's because I had somehow managed to convince myself that the relationship had been going on for so long that it must survive any amount of unhappiness inflicted by either of us. It was such a weird, warped perspective to have adopted unconsciously that the act of breaking it did something permanent to me. Well, it probably did a lot of things to me permanently, but one of the more positive things was to make it a lot more difficult for me to take myself quite so seriously.
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[User Picture]From: anthrokeight
2009-08-01 18:03 (UTC)
No, not awful. Valuable, I'd say. I have similar feelings about different realizations after splitting from a really inappropriate-for-me ex.
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