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I don’t get a lot of hate mail.  I like to think that it is because I am universally loved, but it’s probably because no one ever really reads my blog.

But every once in a while someone takes strong offence to something I wrote, or a picture I posted, or (in this case) my very being.  You can read Angela Bryant’s comment in its entirety on my contact page, but I will break it down into pieces here in order to address it.  After all, she clearly spent enough time crafting her flame-post to deserve a proper response.

“All I can say is WOW. I think that perhaps the demons in your head are not so creative but incredibly negative.”

That is true.  I have never been known as a beam of rosy-coloured sunshine and I likely never will be.  My glass is always half-empty, and I expect the worst out of most people because, frankly, that’s what I usually get out of them.

However, I do feel that I have been exceptionally positive about many things on this site (like my wife, my dog, my daughter’s unerring ability to bring joy into the world, and (more recently) the Space Program).  It’s just that being upbeat has never come easily to me, and it tends to come off as forced when I fake it, so I more often err toward sarcasm and cynicism.  Your quick survey of my site probably missed those things, or maybe you just don’t want to admit to seeing them.  Who knows?

Feel free to go read 1000 Awesome Things if you want saccharine positivity.  You won’t find it here.

 “I stumbled on your blog because I was looking for a picture of a missing man formation to post on this Memorial Day. I did find it on your blog. You went on to describe how you are moved by Tom Clancy’s work. It also describes your inability to come to terms with battling emotions regarding the current wars. My point is that it is all about how it affected YOU.”

Well, I’m not sure what you want from me on that one, Angela.  Of course I wrote about what I felt about the book.  I sure as hell can’t write about what you think about the validity war (though I can take a stab at it now).  Nor can I write about how war affects those who fight in it because I don’t personally know anyone who is currently serving.

In Canada, there are far fewer soldiers per capita because we go to war a lot less than the US does.  Also, our education and health care receives significantly more public funding, so fewer young Canadians enlist in order to pay for college or receive health benefits.

I have already posted about just one of the many examples of my family serving in the armed forces, but that generation is quickly disappearing on me, and the war they fought in Europe is not the war being fought in the Middle East.  For so many reasons they are not the same at all.

All I was trying to do was to express my confusion over where to point my moral compass when it comes to the current crop of wars.  Maybe someone that reads it can then take comfort in the fact that they too are not willing to see things in terms of black and white.  Or maybe it will just piss off those people that only see things in black and white.  I can’t please everyone.

“I also read that your wife was in tears because she couldn’t get a massage and got flipped off. Sorry bout that. Please send my condolences.”

I imagine that it must be nice to never be bothered by the small things.  Please do tell me how you have managed to never to be hurt by another person’s ignorance or insensitivity.  All of us whiny babies would love to hear about it.

“It is a wonder the people who work at the spa are even able to find their way to work. Goodness, according to you and your estimation of their IQ’s, it is amazing they can conduct peristalsis.”

To be honest, I assume that roughly 80% of the world is stupid.  I’ll stop believing that when they stop acting like it.

And if you had actually read the blog post (which I’m beginning to think you did not) you would clearly see that my issue was with the fact that the people at the spa lied to my wife.  When you bald-face lie to me or my family, I get annoyed.  It’s bad for business and it makes you a lousy person for doing it.  So before you start sniping at my wife, consider your reaction to someone lying to you when you’re dealing with the wildly fluctuating hormones that accompany post-partum physiology.  Being a nurse, you should at least get that much of it.

“Your message is clear: You believe you are certainly more intelligent than most people, are easily irritated, and are incredibly narcissistic (which is saying something because I work with physicians who usually have a corner on that market).”

Okay, one thing at a time.  Yes, I do think that I am smarter than most people.  I should probably try not to be conceited about it, but it is a valid point.  Am I actually any smarter than the average person?  To be honest, probably.  But there are a hell of a lot of people in my life that I know for a fact are smarter than me, and I always respect that fact and make sure that I temper my opinions with their knowledge and insights.

Next:  You don’t even have to read my blog to know that I am easily irritated.  I don’t suffer fools, I hate insincerity, and ignorance makes me mad as hell.  Should I be more patient with people?  I don’t know.  That seems like I am encouraging people to ignore their responsibility to clean up their own messes and own their own consequences.

The last one is more difficult.  Based on the sentence structure, it seems like you might be telling me that I believe myself to be narcissistic, as opposed to you telling me that I am.  Both are probably true, though the former is less true than the latter likely is.  Blogging is – by its very nature – narcissistic.  I write and post and hope that someone reads it.  I try to make it funny, and I try to write about things beyond myself, but I won’t deny the cathartic value of ranting about anything that comes to mind while it likely means little to anyone but me.

And yet, this is the internet.  It is an open forum.  No one made you come here and read anything.  You could have taken the picture from my site and moved along.  You stayed to read.  Caveat emptor.  I don’t make any claims of quality, universality, or validity here.  This is not Wikipedia.  My site expresses opinions.  I am free to do that, and you are free to not read it.

“Of course, I am not sure what I expected. I suppose to even have a blog, one must believe that others care about what you think which requires a certain amount of narcissim [sic]. I guess that is why I don’t read them.”

Do you have a Facebook account?  Have you ever updated your status?  It’s the same thing.  You write something for other people to read.  It’s usually about you or something you are doing.  It is personal.  I just do it more formally.  (I’d hate to know what you think about the genre of autobiography.)

And to be honest, there are very few blogs out there that I read myself.  The scant few that I follow can be found on the right side of this site; they represent quality writing and creativity.  Most blogs are crap, and mine is nothing special (hence my low traffic numbers).

“I don’t know if Canada celebrates Memorial Day like Americans…”

Then Google it and cure yourself of that little bit of nationalistic ignorance.  You might be surprised to know that not everyone follows the American system of doing things.

“… but today I am thinking about my bothers [sic] and sisters in the military who have suffered hardships and died, not just for my freedom but for freedom around the world (I am an Army nurse).”

To quote myself, “How do I stand behind the Canadian men and women that go to Afghanistan while I loathe the confused and ineffective intentions of the Canadian government that sends them?”  I support the soldiers that go to war to fight for our human freedom and dignity.  I just don’t think that the governments that send them do so with those noble intentions in mind.

And let’s be honest, there are men and women that have gone to war just to kill people.  They are a blessedly small minority, and they do not represent the whole of the military of either my nation or yours, but they are there.  The issue of war is not black and white.  It is not simple.  That isn’t a matter of opinion.  That’s just reality.

“I am thinking about people who have lost loved ones in fatal tornados here and have been left with nothing. I am thinking about their spirit and their resiliency. I am thinking about how blessed I am.”

I’m glad that you feel blessed and safe when you think about those people.  I really am.  Do you think that this blog, with its tone and content, could do any sort of justice to the hell that they have endured?  Really?  I wouldn’t disrespect them or their loved ones’ memories by trying to convey what they might be feeling.  Even if you had been through similar degrees of tragedy (I haven’t even come close), you would have to be remarkably arrogant to take on their pain as your own.  And it’s downright ignorant to expect someone else to.

“Count how many times you type ‘I’ in your next blog. Count how many times that ‘I’ is used to whine about something inconsequential. Again, WOW,”

I would try to explain the difference between writing in the first and third person, but why even bother?  Why go into the long history of journaling, why cite the collected writing of Samuel Pepys, why quote Bill Bryson when it would fall on deaf ears?

Instead, let’s build an analogy.

Let’s say that I went to a furniture store to buy a table.  While I was there, I saw a chair.  I didn’t much like the looks of it, but I went against my better judgment and sat down in it anyway.  And you know what?  That chair just sucked.  It was hard and uncomfortable.  The arms were way too high for me.  The back was too tilted and my butt got stuck in it when I tried to get up.

In short, that chair clearly wasn’t for me.

Would I then find out the manufacturer of the chair, write the company, c.o. it to the head chair designer, and rant on and on about how that chair was the worst chair in the world?  Would I tell them how it hurt me to sit in it, and how the designer was clearly a sadist, and how the manufacturers were ignorant prats for having put it on the market?

Probably not.

Because I would look like an idiot.

My letter would surely end up on the wall of the chair company’s break room, where it would be ridiculed and mocked.  And rightfully so.  I didn’t buy the chair.  The company owes me nothing.  I just decided I didn’t like it and I blew up for no real good reason.

About 20 people subscribe to this blog.  That’s it.  You trying to “fix me” by shaming me into being less… well… me is such a hopeless waste of time that it is laughable.  Write something like this to People magazine and shame them for their shallowness.  Or send something off to the producers of The Hills and try to impact society for the better.  Complaining here won’t make the world a better place.

You have simply shouted out into the void in the hopes that someone would hear your quaking voice, and you have yearned in vain that it would be heard, that it would validate your feelings of impotence at the crappy world in which you live.  You think that you have shamed me.  You think that I care about your angry, snippy, condescending comment, and that others will read it and nod sagely with you.

How… narcissistic.