Monthly Archives: September 2012

Men Do, Women Process

I decided the previous post on this topic was a little too serious, so I’m going to have some fun with this next gender difference in relating.

Meet caveman Charlie Spearhead. (Okay, folks, get your minds outta the gutter! We’re not going to have that much fun.)

Charlie is really beat. He had to chase that damn elk halfway to the end of the world. As his stomach rumbles, he contemplates the rabbit stew that should be bubbling over the fire at that very moment, and afterwards a nice romp in the furs with his cavemate, Georgette. He grins even as his stomach growls a bit louder.

He soon discovers, however, that a fat elk haunch is not going to be sufficient to buy him a peaceful and fun-filled evening. Georgette starts in the minute he crosses the cave threshold. “You will never believe what that Gertrude Deerhunter did today when we were tanning hides.”

“Hummpf,” Charlie says.

“She had the audacity to imply that my hides are always stiff and I never get all the hair off. Oh, she didn’t come right out and say that but…”

Charlie yawns and scratches his chest, eyeing the stew pot hopefully.

“Charlie, are you listening?”

“Just ignore her. Why do you care what she thinks?”

“I don’t care about her, but she was putting me down in front of all the other women, and she was being so indirect about it that I couldn’t confront her. She’s gotten so high and mighty every since her husband got elected war chief… Charlie, what are you doing?”

“I’m cleanin’ my spear.”

I’m trying to talk to you here.”

“Hurummph.”

“Charlie, are you listening to me?”

“Yeah, yeah.” He puts down his spear.

“As I was saying, I couldn’t confront her directly. I’d be the one who’d come off sounding like a bitch, and we’re all going berry-picking tomorrow. I know she’s gonna start up again–”

“Why don’t you go out early,” Charlie interrupts, “and strip all the berries off the bushes before she gets there.”

“I can’t do that. All the other women will think I’m trying to cheat them out of their share. I just can’t believe how she’s just gotten so full of herself since…”

Charlie starts to nod off, sitting by the warm fire.

“Charlie!”

“Hummf, I’m listening already. Can’t we eat while you talk?”

Georgette dishes up some stew for him. “And I can’t believe that nobody else said anything in my de–”

Charlie jumps in. “Hey, why don’t you wear your good dress? The doeskin one that’s so soft. That’ll show her.”

Georgette glares at him for interrupting again, then her expression softens. “Actually I kinda like that idea.”

“Good, glad to help. Man you’ll never believe how far I had to chase that elk today.”

“I still can’t believe that nobody came to my defense, not even Wilma–”

“Why are we still talkin’ about this, Georgette? We solved the problem.”

“Well. I guess you just don’t care that they hurt my feelings. After all, why should my feelings matter when your feet are sore from chasing elk!”

“Hey, why are you getting mad at me?”

“Cause you never listen!”

“Hunh? What have I been doing for the last half hour?”

“Cleaning your spear and eating your dinner.”

Kissing the idea of a romp in the furs goodbye, Charlie sighs.

Are you feeling a bit sorry for Charlie about now? Or are you thinking Georgette married a dimwit? This poor couple has stumbled into one of the most common pitfalls of male-female relationships.

This pitfall is caused by a major difference between the way men and women deal with feelings and problems. Men take action; women process feelings. I’m not saying women don’t act to correct a problem; they do. But they prefer to sort out how they feel about it first, and most women like to do that by talking about the situation and their feelings out loud. And sometimes they have to repeat themselves a few times until they’ve vented sufficiently to move on to a plan of action.

Men don’t get that, because that’s not how they are programmed. Their minds jump immediately to action-oriented problem-solving. So halfway (or sooner) through the venting/sorting out feelings process, they start jumping in to suggest what the woman can DO about the problem. They are then totally mystified as to why their woman is now mad at them!

 
Men, on the other hand, tend to mull it over inside their own heads when they need to sort out how they feel about something. Then if they think it’s relevant to share, they’ll tell you about it. So they get real quiet when something is on their minds.

Now, women tend to be fairly sensitive to the non-verbals of emotions (I’m not making this up; research has found this to be true). The woman catches on pretty quick that something’s bothering her guy. So she asks, “What’s the matter, honey?”

And what answer does she get?

“Nothin’.”

“I can tell something’s bothering you. What’s the matter?”

“Nothin’. I’m fine.”

“Is it me? Did I do something to annoy you?”

“I said, I’m fine,” he says through gritted teeth.

Now she is totally convinced that he’s mad at her, and he is, because she’s not leaving him alone to sort things out. John Gray, in his book, Men Are from Mars, Women Are From Venus, talks about this. He shares the advice passed along by a woman who attended one of his workshops. She said her grandmother had told her, “When a man withdraws into his cave, do not try to follow him, or you will be burned by the fire from the dragon that lives in that cave.”

Image by Antonella Nigro, share alike license on Wikimedia Commons

Does any of this ring a bell for you? Have you ever been burned by the dragon fire? Any fun, or serious, stories to share about venters vs. mullers? Or maybe you know of some exceptions to the rule?

(Posted by Kassandra Lamb. Kassandra is a retired psychotherapist turned mystery writer. She writes the Kate Huntington mystery series.)
 

We blog here at misterio press once a week about more serious topics, usually on Monday or Tuesday. Sometimes we blog again, on Friday or the weekend, with something just for fun.

Please follow us by filling in your e-mail address at the top of the column to the right, so you don’t miss out on any of the interesting stuff, or the fun!

Why the H___ Does S/He Do That? — Gender Differences in Relating

I think this is going to be at least a three-parter. If I try to cover all the gender differences re: relating in one post, it would be twenty pages long. In this post, I’m going to focus on one of the primary differences. (Please keep in mind that these are generalizations; there will be lots of exceptions to the rule.)

Photo by Lisa Hall-Wilson WANA Commons

Men tend to be more hierarchal; women tend to be more egalitarian.

Men are concerned about where they are in the pecking order. Women tend to emphasize that we’re all in this together. So someone in a mixed group at a social gathering mentions a problem he or she is having, and what happens? The men jump in with possible solutions (this is also related to another difference we’ll talk about next time). The women say, “Oh, I know just what you mean. I had a similar problem when…”

Now, notice that I didn’t say that men need to be at the top of the pecking order. Most men don’t necessarily need to be there; they just want to know where they stand. Which is good because not everybody can be king of the hill.

Men get frustrated with women who want to turn everything into a team effort. My husband once had a female boss who drove all the men in her department crazy. She had a “team” meeting every week that was (my husband’s words) “us listening to Jodie’s stream of consciousness while she figures out what she wants us to do that week.” I’m sure Jodie perceived it as seeking her subordinates’ input. Indeed, she might have even been uncomfortable with the word subordinate.

My husband’s other comment was “She’s the boss; why doesn’t she just tell me what she wants me to do instead of wasting my time in these silly meetings.” He didn’t mind having a female boss; he just wanted her to act like a boss, i.e., be the leader, the top dog.

This major difference between the genders was researched by the well-known sociolinguist, Deborah Tannen. She found this pattern in various cultures around the world. Her theory about its origins was based on evolution. In more primitive times, a man who understood and respected hierarchies was a better hunter and warrior, i.e., better provider and protector for his family (and therefore his children were more likely to make it to adulthood to pass on his hierarchal genes).

When you’re chasing a herd of elk or defending the village against an invading enemy you don’t have time to stop and have a committee meeting to discuss how to handle the situation. You have a hunting chief or a war chief who says “You go here, you go there!” And everybody follows orders because the hierarchy has already been established.

On the other hand, the tasks the women did to contribute to the survival of their families and tribes were better accomplished through cooperation. They minded the children, tanned the hides, dried the food for winter consumption, gathered roots and berries. So those women who were better at being part of the team were more likely to see their children make it to adulthood to pass on their cooperative/egalitarian genes to yet another generation.

This ties in with the whole issue of competitiveness. There’s a lot of research out there that indicates men are more competitive than women, in general, and that this is probably at least partly innate. They are much more likely to feel the need to be “one up” on the next guy.

Photo by kbowenauthor WANA Commons

Yeah, yeah, I know, there are plenty of women out there who are super competitive. There are at least two other factors that play into competitiveness. One is genetics. The personality continuum of agreeableness vs. ruthlessness has a heritability factor of 42%. What does that mean, you ask. It means that 42% of our tendency to be agreeable and cooperative vs. aggressive and ruthless is inherited, male or female.

The other factor is our perception of the availability of resources. If we think that resources are limited, then we need to compete for them. So the girl who grows up not getting much attention from her dad perceives male attention as a limited resource that she has to compete with other women to obtain.

This whole hierarchal thinking tendency is, by the way, why guys are reluctant to ask for directions if they get lost (this is less of an issue now, since the advent of GPS devices). Admitting that you are lost and need help is a one-down position. Women don’t understand this, because they have no problem with asking for directions.

Photo by Basher Eyre, Wikimedia Commons

I was explaining this to one of my developmental psychology classes a few years ago and one of my male students piped up, “Yeah, and if you do ask for directions, ask a woman, not a guy. Cause if he doesn’t know, he’ll make something up and get you more lost.”

I gave that student an A for class participation. What an astute observation! The person asking for directions has just given the guy the one-up position. He’s not going to sacrifice that by admitting he doesn’t know the answer. He’ll make his best guess and say it with authority!

A woman, on the other hand, has no problem with admitting she doesn’t know. She’s okay with admitting that we’re all clueless together.

Now, ladies, before you start shaking your heads and exclaiming about how dumb guys are, let’s look again at more primitive times. The guy’s lost in the jungle. He encounters a male stranger. If he admits to that stranger that he’s lost, this may be perceived as a sign of vulnerability and the guy may attack him to steal his possessions. So he blusters his way through until the other guy shows that he’s friendly by inviting him to come enjoy the local village’s hospitality for the night.

Now if a woman is lost in the jungle and encounters a strange male, unless she’s armed to the teeth and has a pet tiger on a leash, she’s already physically one-down. So her best bet is to throw herself on the guy’s mercy and ask for his help.

So what do you think about all this? Have you noticed these differences in the men and women you relate to?

How about exceptions to the rule? My great grandma used to say, “There’s an exception to every rule, including this one.”

(Posted by Kassandra Lamb. Kassandra is a retired psychotherapist turned mystery writer. She writes the Kate Huntington Mystery series.)
 
We blog here at misterio press once a week about more serious topics, usually on Monday or Tuesday. Sometimes we blog again, on Friday or the weekend, with something just for fun.

Please follow us by filling in your e-mail address at the top of the column to the right, so you don’t miss out on any of the interesting stuff, or the fun!

Where I Am From…

This is a writing exercise that’s been going around my online writers’ group. I did it just for fun, and discovered it was a rather poignant experience, even a bit healing. I think anyone who grew up in the 40’s, 50’s or 60’s will be particularly able to relate. Below is the template if you wish to do it yourself.

I am from black and white TV, Cracker Jacks and eating white bread and butter as a snack. I am from the white frame bungalow with the new bedroom under the eaves that was all my own, and the long narrow backyard that was the stage for my fantasies. I’m from the ugly green walls of that room, painted with Army surplus paint, and the cute ruffled skirt my mother made for my vanity.

I am from climbing the neighbor’s cherry trees and eating tart, cooking cherries until I was sick. I am from the locust tree in the front yard that I thought was so huge, with its round green leaves that reminded me of coins. I stuffed them in my pockets and pretended I was rich.

I am from Saturday nights watching TV as a family and from bum arguments, from angry Roy, and Marty, the peacemaker, and Mary Amelia and Randy, who taught me about unconditional love.

I am from stubborn determination and keeping secrets, and not holding a grudge. From “It is more blessed to give than to receive,” and “Do onto others as you would have them do onto you.”

I am from the little cement porch where I stared up into that locust tree and wondered how I had come to be, at that particular moment in that particular place, totally unaware that I was having a spiritual experience. Doesn’t everyone feel at one with God and the universe occasionally?

I am from “What can I get ya, hon” Baltimore and from dark wavy hair framing fair Gallic faces. And from equally Gallic tempers and passions.

From simple homemade bread dressing stuffed inside our Christmas turkey and Pop’s special cornmeal pancakes (with a fried egg on top) on Christmas mornings.

Photo by Michael Dorausch, Venice from Wikimedia Commons

I’m from sneaking down to the forbidden stream (off limits because it might be polluted) with my big brother, from making mud pies and catching tadpoles and playing pirates in the cattails. I’m from summer trips to Ocean City with my grandmother, and playing hide-and-seek after dark with my cousins.
 
I’m from the two big boxes of mementoes my mother packed to move to Florida, and never got a chance to unpack before she died of cancer. From the two weeks it took me to unpack them, once they’d found their way to my house, savoring each item. Souvenirs from two dysfunctional childhoods, hers and mine, that nonetheless had a lot of happy moments.

Where Are You From?

I am from _______ (specific ordinary item), from _______ (product name) and _______.

I am from the _______ (home description… adjective, adjective, sensory detail).

I am from the _______ (plant, flower, natural item), the _______ (plant, flower, natural detail)

I am from _______ (family tradition) and _______ (family trait), from _______ (name of family member) and _______ (another family name) and _______ (family name).

I am from the _______ (description of family tendency) and _______ (another one).

From _______ (something you were told as a child) and _______ (another).

I am from (representation of religion, or lack of it). Further description.

I’m from _______ (place of birth and family ancestry), _______ (two food items representing your family).

From the _______ (specific family story about a specific person and detail), the _______ (another detail, and the _______ (another detail about another family member).

I am from _______ (location of family pictures, mementos, archives and several more lines indicating their worth).

(Posted by Kassandra Lamb. Kassandra is a retired psychotherapist turned mystery writer. She writes the Kate Huntington mystery series.)
 
We blog here at misterio press once a week about more serious topics, usually on Monday or Tuesday. Sometimes we blog again, on Friday or the weekend, with something just for fun.

Please follow us by filling in your e-mail address at the top of the column to the right, so you don’t miss out on any of the interesting stuff, or the fun!

Readers: How Do You Feel About Cliffhangers?

This is the first in a series asking readers what they do and don’t like in fiction. Please, readers, let us know what you think! We authors want to give you what you want.

I’m going to go out on a limb here, or maybe I should say a ledge, and assume that at least some readers are like me and don’t like cliffhangers.

My husband and I were watching Criminal Minds, Season 2, on DVD the other night. At the end of the last episode, all the main characters get into their various look-alike black FBI-issued SUV’s, and then the scene flashes to a black SUV blowing up! Grrr! We’ve learned the hard way to already have the next season’s DVD in hand before watching the last episode on the disc, so within minutes we knew whose vehicle it was. Our annoyance was short-lived, this time.

I find full-blown cliffhangers even more annoying in novels. Awhile back, I read a debut novel in a mystery series by an indie author. The story had come to a satisfying end, and then, as the loose ends were being tied up, the protagonist’s boyfriend suddenly disappears. I turn the page, and there is a note from the author telling me I should run, not walk, to my computer and order the next book in the series.

I don’t think so!
Instead, I vowed never to buy another book by that author. I was offended by this blatant manipulation.

Now I don’t mind if an author leaves something dangling a little bit, such as a budding romance or hints of some other new development in the protagonist’s life. But please don’t hang me off the cliff! I get vertigo.

Then again, I know that semi-cliffhangers, have become a bit of a trend in some series and trilogies. I just finished reading a friend’s debut novel and she did this. The initial story, in which the young protagonist is running for her life from her abusive father with the help of her boyfriend and a stranger from another world, is resolved. But there are lots and lots of loose ends dangling when you turn the page and discover the book is done. What saved the day for me, the abhorrer of cliffhangers, was an excerpt from the beginning of Book 2 in the trilogy. It gave enough hints of where the tale was going next to turn the sour taste in my mouth to a whetted appetite. Well done, Myndi Shafer! (I highly recommend her book, Shrilugh)

And then there are soap operas–those time-honored, slow-moving series on daytime TV, and sometimes during evening prime time. I will confess that even I watched Dallas, in its first rendition. And I had an aunt who would do you bodily harm if you got in her way when she was trying to get home in time to watch her “afternoon stories.”

How about it, readers, do you like wandering along paths close to the edge of the cliff? Or do you get vertigo like me?

All of these pictures were taken at the Cliffs of Moher in Ireland (gorgeous country!)

Just how tolerant are you of loose ends at the end of a book? Do you have any other pet peeves about how some novels are written?

(Posted by Kassandra Lamb. Kassandra is a retired psychotherapist turned mystery writer. She writes the Kate Huntington mystery series.)
 
We blog here at misterio press once a week about more serious topics, usually on Mondays or Tuesdays. Sometimes we blog again, on Fridays or the weekend, with something just for fun.

Please follow us by filling in your e-mail address at the top of the column to the right, so you don’t miss out on any of the interesting stuff, or the fun!

Are You Aging Graciously?

Every time my 32-year-old son says, “Oh, man, I’m getting old,” I want to smack him. I don’t, of course, because (1) I love him and (2) he’s just doing what we all do. It has become the norm in our society to complain about aging, while fighting it tooth and nail.

I do it myself, and I’m sure my older friends want to smack me sometimes (maybe for more reasons than that). One of them has a favorite line, whenever somebody is moaning and groaning about getting older. She says, “It sure beats the alternative.” One of my older brother’s favorite lines is, “Ain’t none of us getting out of this alive!”

But I think I like another of his favorites best. “Enjoy life now; it has an expiration date.”

photo by Ardfem, Wikimedia Commons

So why do we Americans waste so much of our precious lives fighting the inevitable? The beauty industry, with its hair dyes and anti-wrinkle creams, is a multi-billion dollar industry. Western countries–the U.S. and to a lesser degree Europe–lead the charge on this. We have face-lifts, lipposuction and Botox. We’ve even got children on TV encouraging their dad to use Just For Men so he can get a date! And of course, he magically does, as soon as he ditches that nasty graying hair.

Today is my 60th birthday so it’s to be expected that I might have aging on the mind.



Me at 30; said son is 3.



Me at 60.

I like to think that I’m handling it well.
But it’s tricky, finding a balance between
not letting age stop me from doing what
I want to do, and respecting my limits.

I’ll admit to dying my hair and using some
of those anti-aging products. What bothers
me the most is that I look in the mirror and
my mother is looking back. Now don’t get
me wrong, I loved my mother. But I don’t
want to be her. I want to be me.

And I guess that’s the crux of the matter. As
we age, we have to keep redefining ourselves.
I used to be the one who loved doing fixer-
upper type projects around the house. Now
I get vertigo on a four-foot stepladder and
I’m exhausted after a couple hours of such labor. A couple weeks ago, I finished a task–spraying all the mildew off the rafters of my screened-in back porch–that took four sessions on four separate days to complete. The first time I did that chore, seven years ago, I got it all done in one day.

Mother at her 75th birdthday party.

But there I go again, complaining about aging. We in the West don’t really get it that there are advantages to age. We develop expertise, wisdom, confidence. Those of us in ‘late adulthood’ (the euphemism now for being old) are comfortable in our own skins, wrinkled as it may be, in a way that we often didn’t experience in our youth.

My husband is a retired linguist. He now teaches English part-time to international students. He loves it, mainly because a lot of his students come from countries that revere age. His Asian students especially adore him, because he is the wise old man who deigns to spend his time helping them learn. They call him, in their various languages, the equivalent of “Grandfather,” with no clue that in our country, that is a bit of an insult. But he doesn’t take it that way at all.

The strangest thing is that this birthday isn’t particularly bothering me. Not like turning 40 or 50 did (I flipped out over 50).

I’ve lived six decades, and every one of them has been packed full of interesting experiences, poignant moments and learning opportunities. I’ve had my share of heartache too, but I wouldn’t trade a minute of my life in order to magically be thirty again, or even forty.

And my forties were probably my best years. No wait, I think it was my fifties.

Or maybe it will be my sixties.

How are you aging?

(Kassandra Lamb is a retired psychotherapist turned mystery writer. She writes the Kate Huntington mystery series.)

The Sexy, Sassy, Sensational letter S

Myndi Shafer gave us her list of top ten Beloved “B” words. Kathy Owen picked up the ball and Regurgitated a bunch of “R” words, Coleen Patrick shared her Love for the letter “L” and this whole thing was off and running.

I dropped a major hint to get my favorite letter – S. And I’ll warn ya up front that I’m gonna cheat and Sneak in a few extra “S” words.

1. S
henanigans

May we never be too old to cut up and horse around and just be Silly.

2. Self-Confidence

That “the Sky is the limit, I can do it” feeling!

Photo by Frank Selmo, WANA Commons

(Phew, that’s giving me vertigo!)

3. Sexy

Does this really need an explanation. I think not!

And this is a G-rated blog, So Sorry, no pic for this one.
 

4. S
assy

(Hubs took this one. Our friend’s shoes she wore for her wedding.)

5. Strong

Not he-man strong, but emotionally strong. Although muscles aren’t a bad thing either.

I searched WANA Commons for a “muscle” picture. I got four shots of “muscle cars” and one other pic that I definitely am not putting on a G-rated blog! (Okay, I know you’re all gonna abandon me and jump over there to see what I’m talking about, so if you promise to stick around until the end of this post, I’ll give you the link.)

6. Sunsets

Especially at the Seashore!

photo by M.G. Edwards, WANA Commons

7. Sensitive

My mom always told me, when I was a kid, “You’re just too sensitive. You’ve got to stop wearing your heart on your sleeve.” As an adult, I came to realize that we don’t have a lot of control over this. It’s an innate thing. Runs in the family (ironically, in her family).

And it’s not a bad thing. I may feel more pain at times, but I also feel more pleasure and passion (for things like my writing; get your mind out of the gutter 😉
 

8. S
urvivors

Which brings us back to Strong. People who face adversity and come out the other end in a better place.
 

9. S
weet

(Didn’t want to Stay too Serious for too long)

As in personality trait (which I Sadly lack but appreciate in others), and also as in cute little critters and luscious edibles, especially when chocolate is involved.



photo by ambernwest, WANA Commons



photo by thesparechangekitchen, WANA Commons

10. Sisterhood

Sorry, guys, I love you dearly, but there’s nothing quite like my female friends to keep me Sane!
 
11. (Not only do I cheat, I am also mathematically-challenged)
Shafer, as in one Stray-Sock-away-from-insanity Myndi. Which brings us back to Shenanigans!
 

What’s your favorite “S” word (keep it clean, now)?

As promised, here is the muscle picture

Also, Myndi just released her new book,  Shrilugh  I’m about halfway through it and it is great!

(Kassandra Lamb is a retired psychotherapist turned mystery writer. She writes the Kate Huntington mystery series.)