the downside to (complete) empathy

the downside to (complete) empathy
is that when you have it,
you will never be
a rational observer
who doesn’t get involved
in others’ affairs.
if a friend vents about a horrible day
& you rage with her —
the burden rolls off her shoulders
& onto to yours.
there is nothing cathartic
about reading a tragic novel —
your eyes swell shut from bawling
because of the characters’ misfortunes.
you give up watching the news
because seeing widespread injustice
depletes (what little) hope for humanity
you have left.
the upside to (complete) empathy
is that when you have it,
you will never be
an oblivious bystander
who can’t be bothered
to help someone else.

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Schadenfreude is inevitable when the person everyone hates is suffering.

No one likes that guy (who is also known as Dementor) at work.

Dementor terrorizes everyone, so it’s not a surprise that he only has enemies here. Old Jim tolerates him because they share so many cases. People have waited years for karma to kick his ass. This week proved to be the beginning of his comeuppance.

The other day, Dementor left mid-afternoon because a pipe burst in his basement. We got reprieve from him for the rest of the day. This morning, he stomped into my office.

“Sam, do you know what happened to my coffee mug?” Dementor’s usually pale face was red and pinched with rage.

“Nope. The only mugs I’ve seen are the ones in the cabinet. Why?”

“Someone took mine out of my office and made a mess on the floor!”

“I have no clue.” I shrugged, turning back to my computer.

A few minutes later, the HR director called me.

“Samantha, you don’t think Mike would’ve –”

“Definitely not.”

“Okay, just making sure. Dementor emailed our boss, who suggested that it was the new maintenance crew who could’ve broken his mug while cleaning his office.”

“Dementor must not have anything better to do.”

“It just isn’t his week, is it?” She stifled a laugh.

“Apparently. Maybe he’ll start being nicer to people so bad things stop happening to him.”

Still.

Schadenfreude is inevitable when the person everyone hates is suffering.

PSA about NaNoWriMo

Just so y’all know, during November, I’ll be participating in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). It’s the first year I’ve entered this contest. While I’m aware the end product will be a very rough draft of a novel, I want to do the best I can.

Thus, next month, I’ll be posting mostly (if not all) photos on my blog while I write a novel that’s at least 50,000 words. I believe I can do it, given that my longest Harry Potter fic was over 65,000 words. (As embarrassing as that is to admit.) This is the first time I’ll be writing an original piece comparable to that story (in length — I’d hope it’s much better in quality).

Who knows, I may even post excerpts on my blog when I’m done (and have edited). Good luck to everyone else who’s participating in NaNoWriMo!

In every workplace, there’s always one person that everyone hates.

In every workplace, there’s always one person that everyone hates.

At my office, that guy is intolerable. He’s smart, but makes sure everyone knows it. He thinks his time is the most precious, so he’ll throw projects on my desk at 4:55 PM on a Friday. (Hopefully this won’t happen today.) Unfortunately, he also has job security because he’s my boss’s bitch.

Whenever that guy is on vacation, everyone rejoices. The halls seem a bit brighter. There isn’t a cloud of doom hanging over his office. No one dreads a last minute email insisting a project has to be done immediately because it’s of the utmost importance.

In Harry Potter, there are creatures called dementors. These creatures feed on others’ happiness, thus causing people to plummet into depression or worse, despair. This is why that guy is nicknamed Dementor.

Mike, Dusty, and I have dealt with Dementor the most. Dusty is a self-proclaimed Alabama redneck. He’s unapologetically politically incorrect, but we get along because he’s got a no bullshit policy. The three of us always brainstorm (and sometimes execute) pranks to play on Dementor.

“Well, what I could do is gather some of them mushrooms from the woods –”

“Dusty, we can’t poison Dementor.”

“Damn it, Mike. Ruinin’ my fun.”

“We could put eyedrops or white-out in his coffee.”

“That shit don’t work, Sam. He won’t get diarrhea — his coffee’ll just look weird.”

“I saw that YouTube video of the guy gettin’ tazed who was all, ‘Don’t taze me, bro!’ That would be pretty funny!”

“Great idea, Mike! Let’s do it at the next staff meeting!” Dusty paused. “But you and I can’t do it. The boss man ain’t gonna believe that it malfunctioned if we were usin’ it.”

“That’s true, Dusty.” Mike turned to me, “Sam, I’ll buy you a pink tazer if you do the honors.”

“Guys, I’ve never used a tazer before.”

“Exactly why this is a brilliant plan.”

“We’re totally gonna get fired!” I shook my head. “Wait — there’s that dead roach in the kitchen…”

“Say no more. I’m on it. When he goes to lunch, we’re goin’ in!”

Dementor’s strangled scream of disgust was worth having to plant the dead roach in his desk drawer.

I used to believe that my mother and I were like the Gilmore girls.

I used to believe that my mother and I were like the Gilmore girls.

As with most kids, puberty wasn’t particularly easy for me. Angst and self-loathing plagued my middle school existence. In order to combat this, my mother and I talked constantly. She gave me formative talks on how to have self-esteem as a chubby kidthe importance of family, why religion is essential to being a good person, and how sex ruins an unmarried girl. I absorbed every word.

At the time, my mother and I were each other’s sounding boards. She discussed fights with my dad; I psychoanalyzed his motivations. I told her about petty drama at school; she insisted that friends came and went, but family was always there. We watched TV shows and movies together. We were best friends. Like Lorelai and Rory, we consulted each other on every decision. We had inside jokes. I idolized her.

When I met Andrea, I found a kindred spirit in someone my age. During high school, I made more friends of my own. My mother lashed out. She couldn’t understand why I would want to spend time with people who weren’t family. She didn’t comprehend why she wasn’t the only friend I needed.

By the time I got to college, I recognized that I had to escape this unhealthy codependency. It wasn’t fair for her to confide in me as a friend (about her and my dad’s marital woes) one moment and in the next moment, snap into mother mode, trying to dictate my every move. She always claimed she was psychic — that she would know when I was being disobedient. College proved that when I didn’t tell her anything, she had nothing to zone in on. She couldn’t interrogate me so that I’d crack and “confess.”

Though I’m the most stable and happiest I’ve ever been, my mother is always angry at me. She belittles every choice I’ve made without her. I’m the biggest disappointment of her life. These days, I’m like Lorelai (the supposed rebel) and she’s like Emily (the bourgeoisie housewife who insists that her daughter should have the best, which is her life).

We used to be like Lorelai and Rory, but I’m thankful that we haven’t been for years. It’s impossible to be friends (much less best friends) with your mother when she refuses to acknowledge you’ve grown up. It’s unlikely to get better until she realizes that we can have a relationship as adults. One day, I hope she understands that trying to control your daughter’s life isn’t the same as wanting what’s best for her.

Knowing how stubborn my mother is, though, I’m not holding my breath.

I used to write Harry Potter fanfiction.

I used to write Harry Potter fanfiction (also known as fics).

Even before that, I wrote hilariously bad Gilmore girls fics. In my defense, it was middle school. I knew nothing about keeping characters’ voices true to themselves or what high schoolers’ lives were actually like. Rory Gilmore’s world was as foreign to me as Harry Potter’s. Despite encouraging reviews, I took the Gilmore girls fics down from my fanfiction.net profile.

I’ve always been an enthusiastic fangirl. During my Gilmore girls phase, I had a wall in my bedroom with magazine pages featuring the cast and a giant collage I made. While I began reading the Harry Potter books in fourth grade, I didn’t start writing fics until high school.

Oftentimes, fans write fics in anticipation of the next installment of a series (to predict what’s going to happen next) or to rewrite moments they found to be unsatisfactory. Typically, I wrote fics for the former reason. I never wrote the plot-driven fics; instead, I always focused on the ships I supported. In fandom terms, a “ship” is a relationship that you support (thus making you a shipper).

I wrote my first Harry Potter fic during junior year of high school, before Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince was published. Like many fans, I was (and still am) a Ron and Hermione shipper. At lunch, I brainstormed ideas with my fellow Harry Potter fangirls (and fanboy) friends Gaby, Daniel, and Becca. I ended up writing sixteen chapters and over 65,000 words. Almost a decade later, people are still reviewing the fic and adding it to their favorites.

Any time I get discouraged about writing, I remind myself of two things:

  1. I wrote a silly Ron/Hermione fic in high school that got 854 reviews.
  2. If E.L. James could get published by rewriting a Twilight fic as Fifty Shades of Grey, I will get published by writing an awesome original book.