Thursday, February 2, 2012

That Really Bugs Me

Here's a random list of stuff that annoys, confuses, or otherwise bothers me.

1. The smell of peanut butter

Status: Bother

I really cannot stand the smell of peanut butter.

By this I mean I literally get nauseated when I get a whiff of the stuff.

I blame this diet I went on in 8th grade. One of the strange meals involved 2 tablespoons of natural (meaning unsweetened) peanut butter on a bread.

It was an unholy alliance, and I still don't make peanut butter cookies.

2. My blood is a second class citizen.

Status: Annoying/confusing/bother

Whenever I heard anyone talk about giving blood, there was always the mention of how the most requested blood type in hospitals is O type blood.

I always feel a little flicker of shame.

See, my blood type is A-positive, because I am apparently just that awesome. Back in 1986 or so, there were at least a couple of people who decided to donate blood who were A-positive. Yet doesn't have that O-type magic that everyone just craves.

You always get a feeling that the nurses are all like "oh...A-positive...well, I guess we'll take it" in their minds. Then you feel a little defiant.

Yeah, heck right, my blood's good enough. What.

3. I'm female, so I'm all over chocolate like Dracula in a blood bank.

Status: Confusing

I'll take a second to explain. While I was in college, I heard this one a lot. "Girls, don't you just crave chocolate sometime..." "Oooh, truffles..." "Girls, doesn't chocolate just make everything better..."

Uhm. No.

Now, I do like chocolate. I imagine a lot of people do, and I've only met a couple of people who don't prefer it. Fine by me; my candy of choice is Haribo Happy Colas, because they are scientifically proven to be that ambrosia stuff the Greeks kept going on about.

But, in an interesting twist of things, my fiance is the one with the sweet tooth. Mostly, sugar makes my teeth hurt and gives me a touch of heartburn. I don't eat meal replacement bars for that reason.

I actually refer to my taste as a "meat tooth."

I also don't drink, so I had a double advantage at BJU while all my fellow women students had their wits compromised by the presence of Lindor truffles.

4. "I pushed my blond hair away from my face, and my violet eyes stared across the land..."

Status: Annoyance, to say the very least.

I see this a lot in way too many first-person books. Usually they have younger characters. Sometimes they're self-published, sometimes they're bestsellers.

There's a pretty big reason you probably should avoid this.

By probably, I mean definitely.

Ready for it?

Here goes...

No one describes themselves when they're telling a story. I don't care if you're writing in a journal or telling a story to someone face-to-face. If you've resorted to having your main character describe himself or herself, then back off for a second. Look at it through the eyes of another person.

And don't freaking do it.

Honestly, readers will picture a character any way they please, regardless of your input. Also, if that character absolutely has to take the time to describe how mind-blowing their eye color is, then they're at best self-absorbed.

And yes, I just snuck writing tips in. Deal with it.

5. "Are you German?/You look German..."/"You look like your name should be Helga."

Status: Bother/Back the heck away now.

The first two aren't so bad, except they don't make a whole lot of sense.

I went to Bob Jones University for college, and because of apparent nutritional deficiencies within fundamentalism, I was among the taller of the students there. Also, people from Michigan are short. So there's that.

Apparently being tall makes you German, in BJU-World.

Now, sure, it would make sense if I had actual blond hair and fit any stereotype whatsoever, but I have brown hair. Yes, I have blue eyes, but that particular trait is more indicitive of my actual ancestry, which is partly of the British Isles. And BJU people are really good at asking awkward questions, like if you're German because "you're so tall."

The Helga thing actually hurt a little. I'm not even sure where it came from, or what the intent was, but it was said with a derisive giggle, by people I didn't even know well. It bothered me because nothing about my clothes or hairstyle invited such a statement. In BJU-World, someone with the name "Helga," however inaccurate the perception, is heavy-browed and lumbering.

I already know I'm quite far from being pretty by anyone's standards, but this little incident was just one more reason I was glad to graduate and get away from there, mostly because people there were willing to say anything about you behind your back, as long as it's "good clean fun."

6. I have a history degree, so I just know tons about the Civil War.

Status: Confusing

'Cause I really don't.

I mean, I really, really don't.

I never took a single Civil War-focus class in all my four years of college. Heck, I only took one American history class beyond the required U.S. History classes. Most of my choices included the ancient world and the 20th century. My personal favorite choices were a study of Germany from 1933 to 1945 and World War II. I woulda taken a bazillion classes on the latter if I could.

My favorite century is the 20th. I like seeing how it all meshes together. I love seeing how everything, from technology to pop culture to warfare, changed in just 100 years. The 20th century is like no other.

'Bout the only thing I know about the Civil War is the correct pronunciation of Antietam. Call me negligent, but it wasn't what really captured my attention as I grew up. At some point in high school, WWII caught my eye and everything just unfolded from there.

7. "Well, you can do stuff giving blood, because you're taller/bigger/like a giant..."

Status: Really freaking annoying

I think I first noticed this in earnest a little while back, when I was discussing a blood drive with some people. Now, as I've said before, I'm not exactly petite. By that I mean that I am 5 feet, 9 inches tall.

Not exactly a giant, either.

See, when I was a baby, my white blood cells decided to go on a witch hunt. Like most witch hunts, it went badly, and my poor innocent red blood cells were being eaten in pretty great numbers. I imagine it looked somewhat like when the T-rex in Jurassic Park ate that goat. I had to receive a blood transfusion of packed red cells. That's a heck of a lot of A-positive blood types. The crisis was averted, and I am here today, delivering your daily-ish dose of snark.

So you could say that giving blood is close to my heart.* I've done it two times now in my lifetime, and I'm trying to get my fiance to do it so we can have an excuse to go out for a steak afterwards. I try to encourage people to give blood if they can, when the subject comes up.

The replies are always what really get me. I can see if someone just plain doesn't want to. I mean, if you're squeamish, that's fine. Or, alternatively, you can't, for whatever health reason.

The annoying part is when smaller people say stuff like "well, I'd just get sick and have to go to bed all day; you're a lot bigger than me, so you can afford to give blood."

Uhm, actually, no I can't. The average human has about 10 pints of blood. The range for women tends to be 8-10 pints. I have as much blood in my body as I'm supposed to; when I give a pint, it's a lot.

See, I have trouble gauging what "a lot of food" is. What seems to me like it might be a lot of food very likely isn't. The last time I gave blood, I'd had a good breakfast, but "eat a lot" for me, that day, meant adding a piece of toast, which, you might have guessed, isn't iron rich. Couple that with having an upset stomach sometime that morning. I was running on empty and decided to give anyway. For some reason, filling the bag didn't take as long the second time around. I'd estimate 5-10 minutes, which is short for a donation. I got pretty nauseous after that. If I actually bled a pint, it would make a mess.

So no, tiny people, actually, I can't just "afford" to do without a whole pint of my blood. It's not money. I can't save it up and decide to splurge on a trip to the Red Cross. So spare me the excuses and just be honest, okay?

So now you know.

And it probably explains a lot.

*I swear, that wording was an accident.

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