Vegetalian or Meatalian

Sooooo… I have a lot of crabby rules in my head about myspace, much like the rest of my life. Like, I don’t add girl collectors if I can help it, or girls with default pictures of their asses. Unless of course the ass is used for comic effect, then I’m all for it. And I refuse to set up photo albums for my pets, although I do like looking at pictures of my friends’ pets.

It’s also my humble opinion that it’s juvenile and fishing to bulletin requests for people to comment on either new photos or blogs. My thinking is that if people are interested in what I have to say or what I looked like last Saturday night, they’ll head on to my page on their own.

If you were just getting ready to post a bulletin saying “New pics, please comment!!”, I apologize in advance for calling you out, and hope that you understand it’s for your own good. I do think there are exceptions to this rule as well, e.g. if you’re posting for an event that you’ve blogged and you really want people to know about or say, um… if you’re so incredibly desperate for attention that you reunite your metal band from 15 years ago and then post photos from the show for people who couldn’t make it.

Another pet peeve that I know I bitch about too often: surveys in bulletins. Please describe your first kiss and chocolate preferences (Dark! Thanks, Dano!) in a blog like civilized adults, goddamnit. The only people who desire this information are stalkers and best friends, and they’re already all over your page.

The other thing that torments me is random strangers sending invitations to subscribe to their blogs. I can understand if it’s coming from someone I’m tight with and they want me to see what they’re up to or read something specific that they think I might be interested in. But the stranger thing is bizarre to me. And invariably the blogs are crappy and long, full of boring stories about being on the train that try to be overly clever, or tedious poetry about being on the train. Why do bad writers always want to talk about being on the train and why do they ask people they don’t know to subscribe to their blogs?

The last time I received an invite I decided to see what was on this stranger’s mind, thinking maybe I’m just a crabby misanthrope (um…yeah…). So I sent the woman a message back saying, “Do we know each other? Is there a reason you want me to subscribe?” and she replied, “No, but I know your friend X and I’m very funny and entertaining and because you are intelligent I think you will enjoy my blogs.” So that sounded fairly reasonable and I’m a sucker for even the most minor flattery, so I gamely went and took a look. And of course they were awful, because no one who is a decent writer is going to waste precious writing/eating dark chocolate time hunting for readers. And not for nothing, but dude, before you start tooting your own horn, maybe you should check out the person you’re tooting at to see if you have anything in common or whether they’re doing their own writing.

Sigh… But I’m not completely grumbly and foul-tempered and I do like to read other blogs, and voluntarily subscribe to most of my friends. My friend Maya is pretty genius with a sharp sense of the absurd, Dano is hilarious, and Holly is poetic, to name just a few. And I just happened on a co-worker’s today and immediately decided I must send you all there; the blogs are marvelous, made even more so by the fact that English is her second language.

I work with a lot of Japanese people and the cultural differences are fascinating. The energy of the store and the office I work in is very high. Pat has a million things going on and the store is involved in much of it and we are always on stressy deadlines or freaking out over money or trying to put the place back together after it’s been torn apart and covered in pink fabric for a party. And everyone’s gay or female and therefore way too overly dramatic. If you didn’t know what office you were walking into you’d think we were curing cancer or creating a world diagram for peace, the way we all carry on. And the store Director is generally stressed out and yelling about something. It’s a very difficult job and he comes from your typical American/Italian family where everyone shouted at each as a matter of course.

I can totally relate to this as I am a highly emotional person too, and I understand that he’s just blowing off steam and not actually intending to cause harm to anyone. I would much rather have it out with someone and then move on cleanly than hold it all in and fester. But the Japanese, especially those that haven’t been here for very long, don’t have the emotional vocabulary for this. They are extremely hard working and just the politest people on the planet and completely unaccustomed to people screaming at each other to get things done. They are gentle and kind, even if they secretly hate you. It’s both disconcerting and completely lovely.

So periodically we’ll get a new Japanese girl in the store and invariably she’ll spend the first six months in tears. Motoko, one of our buyers, was constantly made to cry when she first arrived. It was painful and because I am sort of the house mother I worried for her and tried to speak for and to her, but I didn’t know exactly what to say to help her feel okay. Then another Japanese employee pulled her aside and told her to start eating sweets in front of our former and very yelling Director, who just happened to be heavy her whole life and constantly on one diet or another.

It was absolutely brilliant and completely diabolical and utterly Japanese. Moto just sat there in hot pants, chewing pastries peacefully, all wide-eyed and with the most perfectly formed body you’ve ever seen, while her chubby and starving boss blew a gasket. The art of war indeed. And it got her through and though she still doesn’t yell she now tells us to fuck off constantly and I haven’t seen her cry in quite a while.

But it took a lot of time. It’s like she not only had to learn English, but she had to learn a whole new language of relating as well.

Now it’s Masami’s turn, and when I see her holding back tears and the Director reacting in surprise, I am often reminded of that line in A League of Their Own when Tom Hanks shouts, “Crying? Are you crying?? There’s no crying in baseball!!”

Crying? Are you crying?? There’s no crying in retail!! And then the pretty face crumples and it’s another day of consoling and mediating while sequin berets fly past your head.

Masami hasn’t been here very long and she’s in the early stages of learning the wacked out culture at a very crazy place of business. It’s not easy. And on top of being in a strange country away from her family and friends, toiling at the pink house of fashion faggotry, she’s also working in a restaurant at night. I can only imagine how draining all of it must be, and that’s what she’s blogging about right now: life in the service industry as seen through the eyes of someone who is way more courteous than our sorry-ass citizens. The blogs are genius, hilarious, and educational, so go check them out, there are only three: JAPANICANA

Okay, gotta go get ready to see Witchcraft at the Bowery Ballroom (for you stalkers out there). It’s f-ing freezing out and I think I’d prefer to stay in my jammies and hang out with the pets, but the call of rock on a Saturday night will not be denied…

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