The Meme is Not Me

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I am a middle-aged white woman named Karen.

I’m not even ironically a Karen, like a teenager wearing some sort of normcore olive green cardigan. I really am named Karen.

I am not blonde. I do not have a severe jaw-length bob haircut. I do not want to speak to your manager.


From the Know your Meme website.


I know none of that matters, for I am a Karen, which was a perfectly good name in the 1960’s when it was applied to my natal form, but is now a burden upon which I have been saddled.

Memes, jokes, and Reddit threads all define what it means to be a Karen and none of them adequately describe the real me. I just have to wear the veneer of the meme, but on the inside, I know the truth.

Please embrace me in these troubled times.

I remember when Becky carried this burden. Who didn’t disdain Becky with the Good Hair? Or barbeque Becky? I laughed and laughed for the Becky memes were funny (and a little sad), but now fate has turned like the worm that it is.
Ask not for who the meme tolls, it tolls for me. I swallow my Becky laughter and stoically take my unearned meme lashings.

I do not have kids, but if I did they would be vaccinated and would attend public schools. I believe the earth is as round as a shiny blue marble. I do not try to cure my ailments with oils, balms or salves unless medical science calls for that, then oil, balm, and salve me up.

I’ve always seen myself as the very anthesis of the memeified Karen.

And yet here we are.

Karen is not a person, she’s a state of mind that shall live on in internet form for many, many years.
When I was a kid, I always wished for a hurricane to be named after me. I wanted to hear every weather person on every news station say my name.

I wanted hurricane Karen to be a good strong storm.

Just a few months ago, the name Karen was applied to a developing hurricane.

And then this happened:


From Peter Matti on Twitter


Not only was the hurricane joy stolen from me, storm Karen couldn’t even gather together enough wind to become a hurricane. Downgraded to tropical depression, she just sat out there being petulant, demanding attention without putting in the work.

What a disappointment. I refuse to allow this to become my metaphor.

I am not meme Karen. Meme Karen is not me.

My name may never be associated with something like Good Guy Greg, but at least I am not Scumbag Steve/Stacy.

Today, I shall go out, order something and not demand to speak to anyone’s manager, because I am a good Karen and I will represent my name nobly for all the decent Karens of this world who will redeem our name, one positive encounter at a time.



May Santa Poop In Your Stocking and Smash Your Ornaments

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Subtitled: An Open and Passive Aggressive Letter To A Jerk

Dear Festering Canker on the Butt Crack of Society,

On the weekend after the American Thanksgiving holiday I see that you managed to find yourself, and maybe a few of your slackjawed mouth breathing friends, in my neighborhood.

I can’t blame you because I live in an awesome neighborhood. Those houses that line the block are old, pristine and outrageously expensive.

It’s a neighborhood so nice I can’t afford to live here. Well, I mean own here. My economic status is evidenced by the nearly fifteen-year-old vehicle that I have to park on the street in front of the building that houses my teeny tiny apartment.

One of my neighbors who also lives in a small but well appointed apartment had parked her nearly decade old Volvo behind me on that fateful day. I know her, she knows me. We park near each other a lot.

So yeah, there are some really rich people who live on my block, but my neighbor and I are not among them. We managed to slip our middle class selves unnoticed into this nice neighborhood and enjoy the benefits of tree lined quiet streets and a walking score of an outrageously high 93.

I can see how you might show up in this neighborhood and see the opulence and think to yourself, “I need to mess some sh– up.”

And so you started with my neighbor’s Volvo. About eight months ago this same very nice person had a different Volvo, but a drunk college brat came careening through our street and bounced of her car and several others (thankfully I had parked across the street from her on that night) thus totaling her beloved old Volvo. That thing was a classic. She was heartbroken.

But her insurance kicked in and she lovingly replaced it with this used but in good shape model. You decided to be “cool” and rip the side mirror off of her new/used car. Ripped it clean off and left it dangling by the electrical cords. Aren’t you so clever?

Then you set your sights on my Jeep. You popped the passenger side mirror out and folded it over. It’s an SUV so it’s okay to do that. It’s a tough offroad vehicle and I’ve moved past bendy Willow branches that were stronger than your weak sauce.

It appears you wrestled with it a little bit because the case is cracked but your underdeveloped arms weren’t strong enough to twist it off of my Jeep.

Pause here, hand to heart in honor of my Jeep people.


So, since you weren’t able to complete your impotent act of vandalism, you then moved to my radio antenna. Yes, my Jeep is so old it still has an old fashioned non-retracting antenna that stands tall, reaching far into the universe to pull down radio waves and send them to the interior of my vehicle.

I have listened to hundreds and maybe thousands of baseball games on that radio using that antenna. Jon Miller’s voice so deep and bassy that it vibrates the cheap factory installed speakers in the doors. Well, speaker and door, singular. The driver’s side speaker hasn’t worked since 2005 and I never bothered to get it fixed.

But that’s not the point.

You got your giggles satisfied by ripping the antenna off my car. I can see from the clean spot in the dirt on my Jeep you had to lean in a little to get that done. I hope my antenna gave you a valiant fight. I hope you tore some skin when you ripped the metal and then carried it off.

You know, I grew up in the kind of place where there was really nothing to do on a weekend when school was out. My friends and I did some seriously stupid shit, too.

The quest to steal lawn ornamentation comes to mind. As young bucks we’d get a little sloshy and then go on the hunt for lawn ornaments. The people and culture of New Mexico tend to lend themselves to neighborhoods littered with plastic and clay items purchased over the border and brought home then proudly displayed on patchy grass and dirt lawns.

So yeah, we took stuff, but we always treated it nicely and often we’d go out on another night to return the things we took. Not always to the same lawns, granted, but the intentions were good.

All that by way of saying that I get it, the need to be young and dumb and act like an idiot.

But for eff’s sakes! There is A LOT to do in this town. We live in a hotbed of unique things to do, and not even all of them cost money.

Nah, you wanted to leave your little limpy mark on the world by destructing the property of some people who value our tired old hoopties the most.

Congratulations. You win. You got me.

I will rebuild. I will eventually have my antenna replaced. For now I listen to either scratchy FM stations or I pop in a CD. Yes, my car is so freaking old it still had a CD player.

And as the Christmas seasons dawns merry and bright, my wish for you, dear vandalist, is that Santa Claus takes a giant squat in your stocking while smashing your favorite ornament to bits.

And that someone takes something that you value very much and vandalizes it.

Happy Holidays!







Image found here.




I’m So Arty. And Maybe A Little Farty.

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It’s been two months now at the new gig and I’m really getting into it. The job, the management and the culture are all really in my wheelhouse. Even though I’m crazy busy and working hard, I really do like the job.

So I guess at sixty days into this gig I am making plans to hang around a while. When I went through new hire orientation, they talked up their employee activities program and mentioned that there are a lot of strong clubs here at the company. It seems most employees participate in at least one club. It’s not required, people just want to be involved.

Cool!

I took a look at the list of clubs and the one that jumped out at me was the photography group. Rock on! I haven’t been shooting much lately and I certainly need a kick in the butt. I belong to a photographer’s salon group where once a month we meet and critique images, but I felt like this new group would really expand my horizons.

I dropped an email to the co-presidents of the group, two female coworkers, who were listed on the webpage and told them I’d like to be part of the group. They answered pretty quickly and said they were actually the last year’s co-presidents (the webpage is out of date) and handed me off to the new leadership. In closing, one of the women said, “I’m so glad another woman is joining the group. It’s mostly men right now. They are all nice but it’s all men!”

Oh. Well ok! My photography teacher and mentor has spoken about this. She has been a professional photographer for a long time and has dealt with the male dominated world of photography for years. I’m unsure why it’s still so heavily male dominated, but fair enough. I know my work can stack up.

I got an invite to the online user group and to the meeting coming up next week. I also got access to the club’s site where members upload their photos. Each month there is a theme and a contest to pick a winner.

Whooo doggies, the photos on that page are really good but they are all very technical. I don’t feel a lot of emotion in the photos. Then I recalled that I work with mostly engineers and scientists. Yeah. These are the kind of folks who will sniffily say they only shoot in manual and can calculate the exposure triangle in their heads.

I have taken other photography courses, including a class from a well-known and well-respected landscape photographer. That guy wasn’t too uptight about the stuff, but several of the men in the class were. One guy challenged me on the spot to calculate the exposure triangle for a particular photo and I said, “Nope. I don’t need to. I shoot in Aperture mode and am happy there.” He looked like he had bad gas and walked away from me.

Look, I know *how* to calculate the exposure triangle. I just choose not to.

So we’ll see how this group thang goes. I decided I should put together a quick portfolio of photos to show the rest of the group what I’m about.

What do you think?





“Knob” — I feel this piece speaks to the inaccessibility of the world and the challenges of just getting past closed doors. Should you walk away or bang on the door demanding to be heard? That is for you to decide.





“Elusive” — This is a study in hiding behind false coverings, like the fur that covers a Cranky Feline. And the need to hide behind artificiality and illusion. The grain reminds us of the blurry nature that life presents and the need to have better lighting.





“Have A Seat” — The black and white really captures the moodiness that comes with the decision of whether or not to have a seat. The push-pull of subverting yourself to the will of powers greater than you or maybe standing up to fight instead. This thought provoking piece required meticulous set up and lighting.



I think I am a shoo-in for high praises and honor from this new club. I can hardly wait to reel in all my accolades!





All photos Copyright 2013, Karen Fayeth, and subject to the Creative Commons in the right column of this page. (why would you steal these masterpieces anyway?). All three taken with an iPhone5 and the Camera+ app.




Well, You Asked!

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There are many things in this world that I take evil glee in doing. Taking a flyer forced into my hands on the street and walking it right to the trash can. Hanging up on telemarkers. Shoulder bumping the oblivious spandex clad ladies on the nice wide walking path who won’t move over after I’ve moved over.

This is but a few examples.

This morning brought an especially fun one. You see, yesterday I had to call in to Very Large Telecom Company to make some changes to my mobile phone service. These were not changes I could make in a store or online, I was forced to call in.

After being on hold for fifteen minutes waiting for “the next available operator” and listening to a litany of bad advertising, I was finally connected to a call agent. Now, to be fair, the call agent was very nice and rather helpful.

She did tell me that Very Large Telecom Company would have to assess a “one-time fee” for making the change I was making.

I questioned this, “Let me get this straight…I’m only making a change in how this is billed and I always pay on time and I have been a long time customer and you are still charging me for this!?!?”

“Yes, ma’am, that is our policy.”

Well that cheesed me. No need to unload on the lady on the line, she’s just a minion.

“Oh fine,” I snapped, “Just make the change.”

Then it took another fifteen minutes as the call agent waited for their computer system to respond. Waited. And waited. And waited.

All in, the call took forty minutes of my time. FOUR ZERO minutes. Whisky. Tango. Foxtrot.

So, this morning, Very Large Telecom Company called me and asked me to take a survey regarding my experience yesterday.

Oh I do love it when I get to take a survey after a crap experience.

When I bought my first car, I was treated so poorly by the shark of a salesman that when I was sent a survey from the car manufacturer, I not only filled out the form, I attached three pages with details, figures, facts, dates and times. The shark was demoted to the used car lot and I was given several free tanks of gas. It wasn’t even the free gas I was after, I just wanted SOMEONE to know how poorly their employees were representing them.

Also, it should be said, if I get really good service and I am asked to take a survey, I will gladly answer the questions and sing praises. That kind of behavior should be rewarded. After managing two different call centers, I happen to know that often times these survey results are used in annual performance reviews for call staff.

So this morning, on every question that pertained to the call rep, I gave very high scores. She really was very lovely, and certainly stuck in a bad situation.

On every question that pertained to “call length” and “time to resolve the issue” I gave them the lowest possible marks. One on a scale of one to ten.

Look, Very Large Telecom Company doesn’t give two rat’s butts about my one on a scale of one to ten but hey, they asked.

It kind of felt good to say my piece. Felt good in that evil glee sort of way.

I do love me some survey.







Image from Savage Chickens by Doug Savage.




Somewhere Between the ) and the (

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Sometimes I feel like I’m constantly living my life inside the parenthesis.

Defined as a word or phrase that comments on or qualifies part of the sentence in which it is found, I think parenthesis are really just the voice inside my brain.

Facebook status: “Here’s a photo of the most amazing thing I had to eat for dinner tonight!!” (I already feel guilty about too many calories and boy-oh-boy was this meal expensive. But do you think I’m cool?)

Pass a coworker in the hall: “Hey Karen, how are yoooou?” Me: “Oh, I’m great! (I have a great big headache and I need a nap). How are yooou?”

See what I’m saying? I think as I walk through this world there is always a subtext going on in my brain. I know I’m not alone in this. Right? (Yes, Karen, you are the only one with parenthetical sarcasm. Not.)

Checkout at the grocery, Clerk: “Did you find everything ok?”, Me: “Yes, thank you” (oh god please don’t comment on my purchase of a block of Velveeta, two pints of Ben and Jerry’s and a People magazine. Just. Don’t. Say. A. Word.)

Or…

Clerk: “Did you find everything ok?” Me: “Yes, thank you” (look at all that healthy food I’m buying. Look at it! LOOK AT IT and then tell me what a healthy little customer I am.)

How about when someone bumps into me on the side walk? Them: “Oh, excuse me!” Me: “No problem.” (What the hell, did you NOT see me? I’m tall and broad and formidable and you are so far up your own bunghole that you couldn’t be bothered to take one step to the friggin left to avoid me?)

In a restaurant: Waiter: “Can I get you something to drink?” My friend “Oh, I’ll just have a water.” Me: “Um. Me too.” (damn, I really wanted, no needed, a cocktail)

I find as the years slip by that keeping what is between the parentheses inside my head gets harder and harder. The urge to blurt grows strong with me.

Lately I tend to find myself muttering the parenthetical text under my breath. I didn’t used to have this problem. The bars on the cage are starting to bend…






Image from CarrieSuzanne.com.




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