Of Mice, Men and Madison Avenue

I just saw a new ad for D-Con (which in case you didn’t know, kills mice) and found myself routing for the brave little mouse who risked his life.

I don’t think that’s what they intended.

Problem is, we live in a world in which rodents of all sorts are humanized and made movie stars. Mickey Mouse, for example. And the rats of Ratatouille. Little charmers. Chip ‘N Dale. Rocky the flying squirrel. My references may be largely outdated — although arguably, timeless — but you get the idea.

That’s not to say I wouldn’t want my cats catching any mice they find under our roof. But in my world, they’re kind of endearing.

Now I know the difference between cartoon characters and rodents. But seeing this ad made me wonder, what kind of subtle influences in advertisting have affected my biases without my recognizing it? Are there prejudices abounding in my mind because of the way hair spray once was portrayed?

For the first time ever I saw a television ad for WordPress.com. I already have multiple accounts here, but is my opinion of this platform going to change because of the ad? After all, I saw it shortly before the D-Con ad and now here I am, writing for the first time in four weeks (well, I’ve been doing other writing, so I should be fair and say writing on this blog for the first time in four weeks).

We all recognize that our attitudes about certain products are influenced by advertising. But how deep does it go? I’m sure there have been studies, but even reading about one of those wouldn’t tell me why I haven’t been to Burger King in 40 years. Way back then they had an ad that irritated the bejeebers out of me, but who would have thought I’d still be boycotting them?

So if an ad can annoy me away from a product, no doubt it can draw me in. I’d like to think I’m smart enough to avoid those influences, but I’m not.

Because if Mickey Mouse is endorsing something, I’m probably buying.

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Some time ago I wrote about my precious cat Mimi, who’s experiencing a case of displaced aggression. That’s when one thing upsets a cat (in this case, a stranger cat peeking in through the front window) and she takes it out on another (her brother Walter). I’ve had to separate the two for six months now.

I tried last week to reunite them, and only succeeded in upsetting Mimi to the point she won’t leave my bedroom anymore. She’s cautiously approaching the door, but nothing more. I should add that Walter is placed in another room when I try to lure Mimi out, so she’s safe. But she isn’t so sure.

On Friday I was convinced I was going to need to find a new home for one of them. I was devastated and the grieving process began. I cried and cried — sobbed, really — and in the end realized I wasn’t ready to make that move. Saturday I spent all day knowing that, ready or not, it was inevitable, but Sunday I came up with a plan that will give each cat enough space to run around in while keeping them away from each other. It’s not ideal, but it’s fair.

Is this situation likely to resolve itself? Everything I’ve read says it’s a challenge and can take up to a year. Sometimes it never happens. I may have restarted that calendar by trying to reintroduce them too soon, I don’t know.

It’s painful all around. I don’t have any wise words to summarize my thoughts here.  Just thanks for listening.

Beauty and Hope

On my drive home from the grocery store today, I chanced upon a really beautiful sight. It was the end of a vibrant rainbow, right on the road in front of me.

This was a winding mountain road, so taking a picture wasn’t an option, but no matter. The important thing wasn’t capturing it on film. The important thing was the sense of hope it gave me.

Like the end of a rainbow,  hope is a beautiful thing.

Multiple Paths

Here I am, waiting for the next phase of my life to begin. Except it’s already started. I just don’t know where it’s going.

For so long I’ve been waiting for this point, and now that it’s here, it’s harder than I imagined. Those of who’ve been following my blog for any length of time know that I suffered a terrible setback in my life, an injustice that nearly destroyed me. Now I’m beyond the worst of that, but thrown into a whole new slew of obstacles.

It’s hard to job hunt when you’re over — a certain age. I’m there, and while it didn’t hurt me a year ago (I eventually lost that job), now I believe it’s holding me back. There’s that, and the fact that I’ve been freelancing for so long that I don’t have any recent office experience. So now I’m looking at starting a new chapter in my freelancing, and the prospects are intriguing.

Fortunately I’ve been able to find part-time work, even though the pay is horrid. But anything helps.

I’ve heard it said before if you don’t have goals you’ll end up nowhere. But what do you do when your goals appear to be unreachable? I’m trying to set new goals, but that’s a challenge, too. Things are never what you expect them to be.

Ah, life. It seems to challenge some of us more than others. Having said that, I don’t know what unseen challenges others face. Still, I think it’s fair to say some of us deal with more than others, but how do you determine levels of pain in another’s life? You don’t.

Most of my life people have assumed I’ve been very sheltered and I’m naïve about the world around me. I don’t know exactly why they believe it, but it frustrates me. Even people I’m close to, those who know in detail what I’ve dealt with, come around to thinking I’m wide-eyed and innocent. I’m not, but I’m not about to try to prove it.

The best thing I can do at this point is set daily and weekly goals and leave the future a bit undefined. My current long-term goal? Financial independence. I’m trusting one of the paths I’m following will lead me there.

If not, I’ll have to forge a new path.


Image Credit: © ©ablokhin – stock.adobe.com

Patience and Faith, Please

I’m learning a lot about patience and faith these days. I’m still job hunting, and despite the low unemployment I’m having a hard time finding a job.

For the first time in my life, I’m faltering during job interviews. Not all of them; some I do quite well with. I’ve had six so far and the last one, gah, was horrible. And of course that’s the job I want. In all fairness to me, the people interviewing me weren’t experienced with the process.

I start to second guess myself on a regular basis. Job hunting is a demeaning process, and while I’ve obviously had to do it before, I didn’t really recognize it as such until now. I have to believe the right job for me is out there and it’s just a matter of time.

But I’m scared.

Patience and faith — God grant me both.

I Will Literally Die…Ironically, Of Course

Trends are a funny thing. I tend to stay away from them because in the end, they just date you. Fortunately I recognized that back in the 80s when multiple ear piercings were all the rage. I had friends, conservative mom types, who had up to seven piercings. Now they’ve got a series of tiny scars.

I don’t know that those scars are so horrible. Certainly not like some of these tattoos are going to look as people age. If you must get a tattoo, look at your parents — or grandparents — and picture it on their sagging skin before you decide where to ink up.

Today it’s those cold-shoulder tops you see everyone — I mean everyone — wearing. I was in line while shopping when the woman standing behind me called over a 60-something friend.

“Oh, I just love your t-shirt!” she said in reference to a blue peekaboo number. “Your shoulders are beautiful. You look ten years younger.”

I couldn’t help it. I turned to look. The top was cute, if you like the style, but for crying out loud, I’m quite sure she didn’t look a day younger because her shoulders were on display. Well, wearing something current would help. I’ll give you that.

Are you reading this post ironically? If so, tell me what that means. Okay, I know what it means, so I know you’re using the word incorrectly. I looked it up in case there was an obscure definition people pulled from. That would have impressed me. There’s  not.

Fashion, body art, vocabulary — it all comes and goes. For those of you using the word ironically to mean you’re doing something you normally wouldn’t do (we used to call it guilty pleasure), you may have started something. Ten years from now “ironically” may have an additional definition.

Like literally. I’m told it’s now acceptable — according to some word gods out there — to use it when you mean figuratively. That ticks me off. A decade or two of misuse and we just change the meaning of a well-defined word?

I apologize to all of you learning English as a second language for such thoughtless acts. Well, it’s not my fault, so I can’t apologize. But I empathize.

And not ironically. Literally.

The Power of Information

Recently I received a notice from my state’s Department of Workforce Services. Apparently I had underreported my income when filing a claim for unemployment, which they take seriously. I don’t doubt that there are those who have gone to jail for this type of fraud. In my case, it wasn’t deliberate. I simply had underestimated my week’s earnings by $1.53.

I ‘fessed up to the mistake, confident they would see it for what it was and fully willing to write out a check to correct the error.  Turns out it’s not that simple. The amount isn’t what’s important. They were primarily concerned with my intent.

I eventually received a notice saying it was determined I hadn’t committed fraud and I was in the clear. Before this, however, I had to fill out a form claiming financial difficulty would prevent me from paying back the state. It actually wouldn’t; I’m broke but could shake $1.53 out of my penny jar if necessary. But not making an official statement about my finances would lead me down a dark road.

I took care to keep any sarcasm or snarkiness out of my answers in the multiple questionaires I completed through this entire process, but I can’t promise I was entirely successful.

I mean, really. You have to precisely report your weekly income, but not everyone (myself included) has access to the exact amount they’ve earned. Even if you have a down-to-the-minute accounting of your hours, it’s easy to make a mistake in calculating the week’s salary.

I’m sure our state lawmakers pounded their fists when voting on the unemployment fraud laws and said, “they must answer for any discrepancy!” leaving the DWS with a ridiculous amount of paperwork for honest human error. I’m betting most of those suits have never stood in the unemployment line or gone through the tedious and somewhat degrading process of collecting money when you’re out of work. Their decisions are academic.

Which leads me to wonder: how many other decisions do they make without valid background information? Don’t get me wrong. I have a great deal of respect for our elected officials as a whole. They are tasked with challenging decisions on a day-to-day basis.

But they don’t always know what their votes mean.

We have a responsibility to paint a picture with our words for our state and federal congresspeople. Fill in the blanks for those who sincerely want to do right (let’s work with that assumption). The controversial issues make the headlines, but there are  mundane decisions made every day.

Like where you draw the line in unemployment fraud. How much did it cost the state to process my error when a first glance would tell a reasonable person that, indeed, no fraud was intended?

Do we have the time? Do we believe it will matter? I’m confident that a well-written letter can make a difference.

You can make a difference.