Monday, April 23, 2007

Can't complain...

I bitch. I often make aggrieved, self-pitying and sarcastic noises. Really, I don't have a life that warrants that kind of thing, so I've decided to attempt a cure - a week without complaining.

Let's look at the part of the definition I'm interested in...

com·plaint (kəm-plānt')
n.
  1. An expression of pain, dissatisfaction, or resentment.
  2. A cause or reason for complaining; a grievance.
In my case "complaining" is closely linked with "whining."

whine (hwīn, wīn) pronunciation
v., whined, whin·ing, whines. v.intr.
  1. To utter a plaintive, high-pitched, protracted sound, as in pain, fear, supplication, or complaint.
  2. To complain or protest in a childish fashion.
  3. To produce a sustained noise of relatively high pitch: jet engines whining.
So not complaining is partly a matter timbre, maturity level and what I'm projecting to my fellow humans. For instance, I will allow myself to say, "The bus is twenty minutes late and I have missed my appointment." But I will not let my voice arc into that wheedling, why-me-god, nerve-shredding tone of voice, punctuated with deep, sad sighs that mark protest in a childish fashion against the inevitable.

I picked a week in which I have to attend a meeting all afternoon. This is a proposition (she said in an upbeat voice) that generally makes me hope to be struck seriously ill - just for the day. Meetings are, to my personality type, as church services are to a hyperactive three year old wearing scratchy underwear and forced to sit in a wooden pew. That is simply a fact. I say that calmly, evenly. Not in a sustained noise of relatively high pitch. Nothing unduly protracted.

In spite of loathing of the average business meeting, my deportment, lately, is impeccable due to the fact that I've learned to: A) Shut my pie hole and B) when my eyes glaze over and I am beginning to look forward to counting paint stains, I take notes. Occasionally, in sheer desperation, I industriously record every word said. This yields the bonus of being able to actually report back on the meeting when I return to work, to appear to have cared about the content of the meeting. Sadly, though, this is often not sustained. It morphs into observation and free-writing. If someone comes in hauling a towering ego problem or an advanced case of anal retention they are likely to become fodder for the creative/escape impulse and I use them for writing practice - meaning that I have to read my notes aloud to my coworkers and boss and never, ever show them to anyone.

This week though, I am confined to facts. Just the facts, ma'am. Unembroidered and without opinion. She is wearing red shoes. His tie is loud enough to break the sound barrier. No. No. Scratch the tie thing. If it gets really bad, I'll draw or count the number of words in every sentence spoken.

Right after this week's meeting, I have computer training. It is necessary. It is good. I am supposed to be grateful for it. I will behave and take notes. Real ones. I will smile and look interested. I will use my company manners.

Then, on the way home, I will jam on headphones and play soothing music at a volume that could be heard by the dead. Oh. And I won't look around the bus, either.

Wish me luck. Better yet - choose a bad habit of your own (not blogging. NOT blogging) and swear off for a week. I figure we'll all have lots of material after seven days...

22 comments:

Kate said...

Ok, you've inspired me. I too would choose whining as it's a particular speciality of mine, earning me the rather special and slightly harsh nickname of 'little streak of misery' amongst those who know me best.

To make the exercise more fun though, I'll pick one of my many other diverse and notorious talents; procrastination. For a week hereafter I shall not procrastinate...although I'm slightly worried that what I'm doing is putting off procrastination, which would mean that I am in fact procrastinating...

...and would it defeat the object if I say it's getting late, so I'll start tomorrow?

LJ said...

Cheater.

edvard moonke said...

oh lj I do so love your deadpan humour.... :-D

LJ said...

See Edvard Moonke! You ONLY even KNOW about my deadpan humor because...
Why?
Why?
I BLOG!
xo

jessie said...

Speaking of dead pans, did I ever tell you about the time I wandered off while cooking, and when I came back the entire aluminum-clad bottom of my stainless steel Farberware had turned into a giant Hershey kiss underneath the burner?

LJ said...

No. You didn't, Jess. But your not complaining, right? :)

Mr. X said...

Alcohol may help here ;)
We would swear off chocolate for the week, but we've got no chance of sticking to it.

Darkmind said...

Who are you and what have you done with LJ? Let me get this right...Faking interest in what co-workers say? Resisting the urge to complain? Holding back self expression in public? Smiling out of social obligation to SEEM positive, rather than actual desire? Welcome to my world!

LJ said...

D - You may leave any tips you've found useful.

LJ said...

Mr. X - Do feel free to ship chemicals appropriate to the task.

Minor Deity said...

I'd give up my bad habits, but bikes, old cars and women are too difficult to give up. ;)

Besides, LJ - I'll give it a couple of days before you complain about *something*... ;)

LJ said...

Money? Are you putting money on that MD? Ten bucks? My coworkers are watching me.

zhoen said...

...

Naw, this week is tough enough already. I've had three years practicing humor instead of complaint, cheerfulness squared.

I will do a bit of yoga every day. There, positive, helpful, about what I can do.

LJ said...

Good on yah, Zhoen. Do a headstand for me while you're at it?

Ariel said...

Mmm, if only I could stop procrastinating, it might help. Then again I have been meaning to leave a comment since you posted this...

Minor Deity said...

$10? I would, if you were here for the entire week and not taking days off... ;)

LJ said...

You are just trying to get out of losing money you welcher. I'll extend it to next Monday night if you like. But the real test is tomorrow, I promise you. A looooong Novanet meeting, followed by training on computer tables. You know how I love that. Want to tag along and keep an eye on me?

Minor Deity said...

I could use some more sleep...

goatman said...

If we follow the definition of "complaint", I don't see how you can avoid a "cause or reason for complaining". Which source must come externally and is beyond your control.
So, as they say: let it be.
Happy to hear from you, I love your blog.

LJ said...

Ah Goatman, m'dear - circumstances are almost always out of my control...but reactions? It's an experiment. I do this stuff. Like doing a day of complete silence - no speaking, reading, radio etc. I was trying to stay present, with no distractions. Play with the mind. Field.

phlegmfatale said...

Remember, darling - we are not complaining-- we are unburdening! *wink*

mm said...

Far too late for this I know ..... the complaining (whether silently or out loud) is actually is a good one for me too.

Made me think, lj.