Tag Archives: Attitude

Dad Fu, Animal Style

Listen up, dudes. I believe I’ve stumbled on the ultimate martial art.

No, really. This time I swear I’m not just passing along one of those ads you find in the back of old comic books that tell you how to become the hero of the beach and kick sand into the faces of people who once slighted you and then steal their girl.

I’m completely serious.

See, it started when I was watching how the four-legged members of our Casa de Dude operate around each other. We’ve had three of the little critters in the house at the time. Since then, the oldest — Big Fat Cat — has passed on to the big food bowl in the sky. Or a pit in the back yard. Either way.

Dug the dog likes squirrels.
Dug the dog is the movie-fied version of Buzz. The old, crotchety guy in the glasses? Totally not me. Totally.

Moving on.

In addition to Big Fat Cat, we have the orange Twitchy Cat and Buzz, the Garbage Disposal That Walks Like A Dog. In addition to eating anything too slow to move out of his way, Buzz also is the type to bark at squirrels, birds, moles, chickens, other dogs, people at the door, people walking by in the street, people four streets over that might possibly be thinking about maybe knocking on someone else’s door. Bark and charge, that’s Buzz’s motto.

Buzz doesn’t want to hurt any of these small, furry and twitchy animals. Really. He doesn’t. All he wants to do is hug them. With his teeth. It’s completely different.

You’d think with Buzz’s bark and charge ethos, he’d have produced a (more) psychotic (than normal) cat from the constant chasing. But that’s not totally true.

Big Fat Cat, back when he was alive, got along quite well with Buzz. BFC would be sitting on the floor of a room and Buzz would explode inside. BFC didn’t move. Buzz would run up to BFC, then pull up. Puzzled.

BFC didn’t move. Buzz would look confused. Normally, by this time, he’d be haring off after the spastic furry animal he’d charged. Nope. BFC didn’t move at all.

Eventually, Buzz would get bored and wander off looking for excitement.

Twitchy Cat was a completely different story. Both cats are huge strings of exposed nerves. They are cats, after all. BFC just didn’t show it.

Twitchy Cat shows it when he’s asleep. When he’s awake. When he’s sitting still(ish). When he’s eating and drinking. There’s a reason he’s called Twitchy Cat.

TC’s approach to Buzz was completely different than was BFC’s. Mostly in the fact that TC’s approach was to run away as fast as felinely possible, wailing like to end the world.

Which would, of course, set off Buzz’s Imminent Teeth Hugging Time alarm and he’d be chasing after TC as fast as his stubby legs could carry him.

Two cats, basically the same. One dog. Two different reactions.

So what was the difference?

I’ll tell you, dudes. The difference was Big Fat Cat projected an attitude of “I don’t care. You can’t make me care. Why are you still here?”

Twitchy Cat immediately freaked right the freak out, which triggered the chase. I’d call it the chase reflex, but the word reflex connotes that it is off sometimes.

And here was my big revelation: Show fear and you’re doomed.

Just as we talked about yesterday in that negativity is a choice, and your attitude can change the way you approach life, here’s another example of attitude over aptitude.

If the world sees you freaking out, it’s just gonna go at you all the harder. Mostly just for kicks. If you’re a rock, solid, just going about your business while the world falls apart, the bad crazy stuff will get bored and wander off to find a butt to sniff.

Metaphorically speaking.

Take a breath. Stare down the bad crazy and then go your own way. A martial art for life, not fighting.

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State Of Emotion

Surveys are weird.

No, really. I mean, there’s stuff out there on the interweebs, some pushed by relatively sedate and well-respected organizations, that just make no sense.

Take, for instance, this interest survey that is designed to tell us what state of the United States you most resemble.

Yes. You read that right.

From the science portion of Time Magazine, the survey is designed to tell those taking it where they might best fit in amongst the 50 not-as-united-as-you-might-think states.State of emotion

It’s no secret that a lot of (our famously different personalities and cultures) seems to be determined by — or at least associated with — where we live.

Now a multinational team of researchers led by psychologist and American expat Jason Rentfrow of the University of Cambridge in the U.K. has sought to draw the regional lines more clearly, literally mapping the American mood, with state-by-state ratings of personality and temperament.

After having taken the test, I’ve found something interesting about myself. Apparently, I’d fit in best in the state of Oregon. I rank in the top 10 of openness and agreeableness, but low in every other measure. Which I did not expect. At all.

Of course, I hadn’t given it much thought. Certainly not as much thought as I’ve given to, for example, if I were a tree, what kind of tree I would be. That consumes a lot of brain power, let me tell you.

What? Why are you looking at me like that? It’s an important question*.

Moving on.

The survey results were based on data taken from more than 1 million people interviewed across the United States. It found some other interesting data that, again, I did not expect.

According to the study, the winners (or losers, depending on how you view these things) were in some cases surprising and in some not at all. The top scorers on extroversion were the ebullient folks of Wisconsin(picture the fans at a Packers game — even a losing Packers game). The lowest score went to the temperamentally snowbound folks of VermontUtah is the most agreeable place in the country and Washington, D.C., is the least (gridlock, anyone?).

For conscientiousness, South Carolina takes the finishing-their-homework-on-time prize, while the independent-minded Yanks of Maine — who prefer to do things their own way and in their own time, thank you very much — come in last. West Virginia is the dark-horse winner as the country’s most neurotic state (maybe it was the divorce from Virginia in 1863). The least neurotic? Utah wins again. Washington, D.C., takes the prize for the most open place — even if their low agreeableness score means they have no idea what to do with all of the ideas they tolerate. North Dakotans, meantime, prefer things predictable and familiar, finishing last on openness.

Why not go over to the site and take a gander at the test. I’d love to hear where you dudes and dudettes sorted out.

*If you must know, it’s an weeping atlas cyprus. For all the obvious reasons.

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On The Benefits Of Not Being A Nice Girl*

Catherine Newman does not want her daughter to be nice.

Newman, the author of Waiting for Birdy, writes atwww.benandbirdy.blogspot.com, had a recently published column  in The New York Timestalking about how the concept of being “nice” might be on that’s detrimental to any young dudette’s growth and development.

My 10-year-old daughter, Birdy, is not nice, not exactly. She is deeply kind, profoundly compassionate and, probably, the most ethical person I know — but she will not smile at you unless either she is genuinely glad to see you or you’re telling her a joke that has something scatological for a punch line.

This makes her different from me. Sure, I spent the first half of the ’90s wearing a thrifted suede jacket that I had accessorized with a neon-green sticker across the back, expressing a somewhat negative attitude regarding the patriarchy (let’s just say it’s unprintable here). But even then, I smiled at everyone. Because I wanted everyone to like me. Everyone!

The problem of being a dudette and being nice. It’s something into which I’ve run before and it never ceases to appall me. The very idea that a girl needs to be “nice” if she’s to be accepted, that she has to cauterize select areas of her personality, always be chirpy and nice and smiling. . . Ugh.

And, yet, it’s something we seem to see a lot of these days.

Take, for instance, the character of Aubrey, played by Anna Camp, from the fantastic movie, Pitch Perfect, about a cappella singing in college competitions, is a perfect embodiment of this appalling character type. She’s always smiling, always talking nicely to people, but will not suffer any deviation from her plan.

Newman, though she might have had brushes with being that sort of person in the past, does not want her daughter to Aubrey-ify herself as she grows.

I bite my tongue so that I won’t hiss at her to be nice. I tell you this confessionally. Because do I think it is a good idea for girls to engage with zealously leering men, like the creepy guy in the hardware store who is telling her how pretty she is? I do not. “Say thank you to the nice man who wolf-whistled!” “Smile at the frat boy who’s date-raping you!” I want my daughter to be tough, to say no, to waste exactly zero of her God-given energy on the sexual, emotional and psychological demands of lame men — of lame anybodies. I don’t want her to accommodate and please. I don’t want her to wear her good nature like a gemstone, her body like an ornament.

And, currently, she is not in danger. She is decisive and no-nonsense, preferring short hair and soft pants with elastic waistbands. Dresses get in her way, and don’t even get her started on jeans, the snugly revealing allure of which completely mystifies her. She’s the kind of person who donates money to the Animal Welfare Institute and attends assiduously to all the materials they send her, including their dully depressing annual reports, which she keeps in a special folder. Gender stereotypes, among other injustices, infuriate her. “This is so stupid!” she sighs at Target, about the pink rows of dolls and the blue rows of Lego. “Why don’t they just put a penis or a vagina on every toy so you can be completely sure you’re getting the right one?”

Hah! That last line just kills me.

Now, I don’t have any daughters, only young dudes, but. . . Man, that does not sound like it’s an easy road to teach your daughter to walk. You don’t want any kid of yours to be nasty or spiteful, but you need to teach them to stand up so firmly and so fiercely they can simply shrug off the demands of lame-o men or women who insist that the only way they can progress is to give in and do what others demand of them because it’s “nice.”

Fortunately, I have a great role model to look at when I wonder how a successful job looks like. My sister, Tia, and her husband, the Teaching Dutchman, are doing a great job raising their daughter, Boo, to be who she wants to be. She’s strong, intelligent, athletic, courteous and doesn’t waste her time with foolish behavior. She’s everything you’d want in a daughter and can even be nice when she wants to. The thing is? She doesn’t let the imperative “be nice” rule her life.

Tia, the Teaching Dutchman and Catherine Newman all seem to be doing a great job with their respective female spawn. I can only hope that, were I in a similar position, I would be able to do anything like as well as they do.

*A version of this was accidentally published last week, with an original publishing date of May 5, 2013. This is the correct version, published on the correct date.

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