Questions to weed out narcissists

Is there anything more frustrating than interacting with a narcissist?

I’ve worked with three white male narcissists in the past few years, which has led to a LOT of googling about how to deal with them. (See: the gray rock tactic.)

Turns out, some common narcissist traits are refusal to admit they’re wrong, constantly blaming others, little compassion for others, little respect for boundaries, “nice” deeds done to make them look good, and taking credit for others’ work.

Based on those traits, I came up with some questions I hope to use in the future to reveal if someone has a lot of narcissistic traits:

  • Have you been to therapy? Are you in therapy now? (Note: Some narcissists go to therapy, so this doesn’t work 100% of the time, but it’s very revealing if they say something like “I don’t need therapy” or “it’s never really worked for me”)
  • What’s some criticism you received and how did you grow from it and address your weakness? (What’s an example of you learning from constructive feedback?)
  • What’s a mistake you made and how did you take ownership for it?
  • How do you react when people tell you you’re wrong?
  • When’s the last time you sincerely apologized for something?
  • How do you react when someone is in pain or struggling?
  • Who is someone you’ve helped succeed? How did you do it?
  • What are some needs of others you’ve helped to meet?
  • How often do you admit you’re wrong?
  • Is it important to you to feel special, powerful, and unique?
  • How do you respond to other people’s boundaries?
  • How do you help build others’ confidence and self-esteem?
  • What’s an example of you taking responsibility for something negative?
  • How do you react when someone questions you?
  • What’s something kind you did recently?
  • When did you show compassion recently?

Obviously you can’t just sit someone down and ask them all of these, but I hope to sprinkle them into professional and personal settings. I know the sooner I spot a narcissist, the sooner I can save myself anguish and stay the hell away from them!

#StopPACT and tell Enterprise to stop enabling human rights violations

Peaceful protestors in Portland are getting pulled off the street into unmarked, rented Enterprise vans by people in camo who won’t identify themselves. THIS IS SOME FREAKY SHIT.

It’s the work of Trump’s newly formed PACT, Protecting American Communities Task Force, which exists to protect statues and monuments, not people. Seriously? We have cops murdering Black people and COVID spreading because idiots won’t wear masks and the most important thing to protect is MONUMENTS?!

One tiny thing to do is tell Enterprise they suck for enabling this behavior.

I just emailed Enterprise and here’s an excellent email template I found on Twitter.

You can also sign this petition urging Enterprise to cut ties with PACT.

#StopPACT.

This is terrifying.

The patience and resourcefulness of Christine McConnell

My friend Jake sent me a 30-minute house tour video by someone named Christine McConnell and I was confused. Why was she waking up in a forest? Was she cosplaying Belle from Beauty & the Beast? Was this a goth parody of home tours? WHY DID SHE HAVE A SCYTHE?

via YouTube

Turns out she actually dresses like that, she actually lives there, and she’s fairly internet-famous, with a book, Netflix show, and now Patreon-funded DIY videos on YouTube.

Despite my initial confusion, I was immediately sucked in by her soothing voice and scrappy creativity. She couldn’t afford wallpaper, so she painted her own. She makes a lot of her own clothes. She woodworks (oh, to have her saw collection). Buying things new seems to be a last resort–she gets things from eBay, friends, thrift stores, even the side of the road (that’s where the chair in her vanity came from).

via YouTube

SO INSPIRING.

I consider myself a creative person, but dang. Her videos and Netflix show (which I devoured) made me realize how lazy I’ve gotten. I spend hours poring over Pinterest and lusting after beautiful things online, when I could be watching YouTube videos and teaching myself how to DIY. I’m so quick to discard things (Marie Kondo, I partially blame you) when maybe I should keep them around longer and repurpose them, or at least see if they come in handy.

You know that saying, “Fast, cheap, or good–pick two”? Christine definitely picks cheap and good, then invests a LOT of time. She seems to have endless patience: baking things, waiting for them to cool in the “chiller” (her adorable name for the fridge), decorating them painstakingly, waiting for them to chill more, etc. Not all of us have the time or desire to spend hours on a cake that looks like a house. But it made me realize I’m pretty hung up on instant gratification, or at least this idea that my life would be perfect if I could just afford XYZ. She’s like, “Whatever, I’ll figure out how to make it myself!”

via YouTube

For example, I LOOOVE arched doorways. Obsessed. But I’d resigned myself to thinking, I guess I’ll just look for a place that has arched doorways the next time I move. HELLOOOO I could make my own! Inspired by Christine, I watched some videos about how to convert a normal doorway to an arched one. I have ZERO carpentry experience and literally had to google what drywall is (not to mention owning zero equipment besides a hammer), so I don’t have a ton of faith in myself, but I love the idea of at least trying to figure things out myself instead of defaulting to “I guess I have to pay an expert hundreds of dollars to do it.”

Another bonus is you end up with things perfectly customized to your desires and that are totally unique. Soooo many home decor “influencers” (barf) have exactly the same style: white walls, bright and gold accents, stuff from Target and West Elm (with affiliate links, of course). It’s so copycat and devoid of personality and vintage flair. I won’t name names, but you probably know who I mean. Their homes look perfect and Insta-ready, rather than having some charming clutter and imperfections. Christine embraces her “weird old Grandma’s house” aesthetic with zero apologies AND I LOVE THAT.

via YouTube

Overall, I like how Christine’s videos make me FEEL. She makes me want to be a little more graceful, patient, and gentle, to slow down and savor little bits of beauty. To dial up my unique weirdness instead of being like everyone else. And once it’s safe, I’m gonna hit up ALL THE ESTATE SALES. Maybe I’ll even bake something–what a concept 😉

white silence is violence

Source

Awhile ago, I started writing a blog post titled, “All white people are racist.” A friend had recommended So You Want To Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo, and it really opened my eyes. Like so many ignorant white people, I hadn’t realized before that we white Americans exist in a racist system. We’re taught to be racist. We ARE racist. And getting defensive and insulted about that is soooo not the point. The point is to own my privilege, recognize my racism, and do the work to be actively anti-racist.

I never published that blog post.

I went back and forth. It seemed important. It also seemed angry. Shouldn’t I stick to happy fluffy stuff, like collages and gifs and inspirational quotes? I didn’t want to be offputting, have people think I was an angry feminist or ~ social justice warrior ~.

FUCK THAT. That was a big mistake. I’m sorry for my silence. Black people don’t have the luxury of deciding, nope, I don’t want to think about race today. I’m going to do better by:

It feels weird to put that out there, like I’m bragging, but I want to commit and hold myself accountable. Silence isn’t an option anymore.

fashion distraction

“What’s out of fashion now is the schedule of the entire system: the shows, the showrooms, the orders.”

Anthony Vaccarello, creative director at Saint Laurent

runway pics via NYT; collages by moi

It’s probably frivolous to even be thinking about fashion right now, but for me, it’s been a welcome distraction from the depressing-as-fuck state of the world: friends losing their jobs, (more) racially motivated murders by police (and others), America’s worst president (enabled by a chickenshit social media platform), and an overwhelming feeling of powerlessness.

It’s a privilege and a luxury to be able to step back from all that for a second and look at pretty pictures. Color cheers me up, if only for a moment. And it’s a tiny consolation that COVID-19 just might be changing the fashion industry for the better.

For one thing, gender lines are continuing to blur. It’s slowly becoming more acceptable to be nonbinary, and fashion designers are starting to make more unisex clothes. So people are realizing that maaaybe it’s unnecessary to have different men’s and women’s lines, shown in different months. According to the NYT:

On Monday [May 25], Alessandro Michele, the creative director of Gucci, held a video news conference to announce that the brand will reduce the number of shows it holds each year from five to two…He also wants to do away with the distinction between men’s wear and women’s wear, and the traditional appellations of fall/winter and spring/summer.

Woot!! Gucci is also launching a genderless section of its website, the NYT says in the same article. Hopefully others will follow.

Another way the fashion industry should change, IMO? Lose the snooty exclusivity and promotion of rapid consumption. (Remember “Don’t stomp your little last-season Prada shoes at me, honey!” from Legally Blonde?) It’s such an elitist, rich-person world, even without shaming people for wearing something that–gasp!–came out last month. Thankfully, the lines between seasons might blur, in addition to gender divides. InStyle predicts, “Fashion trends will slow down…Designers including Donatella Versace, Rick Owens, and Guram Gvasalia of Vetements have indicated they are looking forward to slowing down and creating seasonless clothes.” (Besides, with climate change, every season is summer! 😬)

Speaking of climate change, that’s another reason the fashion industry should reinvent itself right now. Excess is never a good look, but particularly when resources are becoming more scarce AND SO MANY PEOPLE ARE JOBLESS. Rather than using child labor and oil-based materials like acrylic and polyester, we need quality clothes that are designed to last, made ethically, and priced somewhat reasonably (like Everlane, only cuter and more colorful). CGTN thinks consumers are ready: “During the crisis, many customers have been shopping more consciously and thinking about ethical aspects of their shopping experience–a shift in consumer mindset expected to accelerated by the pandemic.”

Teen Vogue says that there’s also been an uptick in online secondhand shopping (GOOD!). Thrift stores and vintage shops are where it’s at (or, uh, they will be once they reopen, if they aren’t closed forever?! #shoplocal). Maybe fast fashion is finally losing its luster.

Who knows? Call me Pollyanna, but maybe something good will come out of our current disasters: changed consumers and fashion designers alike.

quote of the day: “strong female leads”

NYT: I Don’t Want To Be the Strong Female Lead

I have mixed feelings on the phrase “strong women.”

Years ago, a woman told me, “Most of my friends are…[pause]…strong women.” It came off slightly condescending, insulting, and confusing. Was she saying most women AREN’T strong? Was she using “strong” as a euphemism for “loud,” “difficult,” and/or “opinionated”? (Which women should be allowed to be, obvs.) At the time, I thought she was saying I wasn’t strong. I can definitely seem quiet, shy, and “nice” at first, before people realize I’m a diabolical witch with coals for eyes. But kindness and strength aren’t mutually exclusive.

Plus, fuck our culture’s obsession with strength! (See: the proliferation of “strong is the new skinny” quotes on Pinterest. YUCK.) Being physically weak DOES NOT mean you’re inferior. People who are weak, vulnerable, and/or marginalized need advocates and assistance–not in a paternalistic way, but in a way that acknowledges privilege and uses it for good. (Like donating to a homeless shelter or writing your local politicians or whatever.)

If lifting weights makes you happy, go for it. Be as physically strong as you want! But fetishizing strength seems harmful. The “strong woman” thing seems related to the “cool girltrope: “I’m not like most girls/women [because most of them suck]; I’m more like a dude!” Yikes. Internalized misogyny 😦

Anyway, I LOVE Brit Marling’s quote! Femininity is not inferior. YES to listening, empathy, and vulnerability, now more than ever.

dispatches from the end of the world

hello! are you still alive? good job!

it’s a weird time to be alive. emails about coronavirus are annoying. emails that aren’t about coronavirus seem tone-deaf. we got an inch of snow yesterday, in March. THE WORLD IS ENDING! everything is fine! i go back and forth several times an hour.

words, as always, are powerful. being concerned about coronavirus is either “freaking out” or “taking it seriously,” depending who you ask. being unconcerned is a luxury:

[T]he theory that this isn’t serious, the idea that other people are succumbing to a panic you’re way too cool to get wrapped up in, that’s not interesting, or thoughtful, or contrarian. It’s just cruel.

i already have hermit-like tendencies, but when it’s externally mandated, staying home alone suddenly feels isolated and empty and apocalyptic. then at Safeway, everything seems normal (ignoring the gaping holes on the shelves in the cleaning aisle). so much alone-ness seems like a golden opportunity to get in shape, like movie montages of the main character (wrongly imprisoned, of course) doing pushups in her cell. when in reality, i drink wine and lie on the couch, half-watching Bones and working on the same rag rug i’ve been working on for ages. so basically nothing has changed.

it’s times like these i’m oddly glad to not work in media anymore, not be a slave to clicks, not have to spin literally every topic into how it relates to coronavirus. (The 10 Best Nail Polish Shades For When You’re Involuntarily Working From Home! Affiliate Links May Give Us a Small Percent of Your Purchase!) it also reminds me of how privileged and fortunate i am to have a job where working from home is no big deal, unlike my cousin and her boyfriend, who work for school districts. will service-industry folks get fired? how many restaurants will have to fold? will this thing fuck up the global economy for years?! the panic starts again.

then i breathe, and make more tea, and look at my cat lying unconcerned in the sunshine. maybe i’ll go for a walk today. maybe i’ll tackle my stack of library books (another silver lining: no late fees indefinitely!). all we can do is wash our hands, try to stay calm, and help each other out (from three feet away, obvs). oh yeah, and vote for someone in November who ISN’T a willfully ignorant, unresponsive asshole grossly mismanaging the situation.

we’ll get through this. most of us. hopefully.