Wednesday, September 17, 2008

The Art of Complaining

If practice makes perfect, then I should be a near perfect complainer. I do a lot of complaining. This occurred to me when I ended yet another call to my sister Traci with the now tired expression, "Next time I won't complain the whole time." Poor Traci hears a lot of my complaints; including, but not limited to, complaints about the laundry, dishes, grocery shopping, meal preparation, making the bed, vacuuming, dusting, cleaning the toilet, dusting, the price of gas, the price of milk, dirty diapers, health insurance, dental insurance, everything Bubba does that annoys me, everything Henry does that annoys me, everything that I do that annoys myself, acne, bad hair days, pregnancy symptoms, wardrobe issues, needing new towels and dishes and everything, student loan debt, credit card debt, church callings, carpool duties, working from home, the weather. I could go on. And I have.

Poor Traci bears the brunt of most of this ceaseless complaining. And it's not just the fact that she is a blood relative and keeps answering my calls that makes her the poor recipient of my tirades. It's the fact that Traci is a good complainer, too. Correct that. Traci is a good enabler for a complainer. When it comes to complaining, she knows the rules of engagement.

When I complain to Traci, she knows to avoid the following:

Inequitable complaints - Example: I complain about my tight budget, and you in turn complain about how money is so tight you can only afford to remodel your kitchen and buy a new car, but can't afford the winter cruise to the Caribbean.

Failure to reciprocate - Example: I complain about how my husband never helps out around the house, and you in turn praise your husband who does all the laundry, cooks the meals, and cleans the bathrooms.

Disproportionate display of pity - Example: I complain about how hard life is, and you in turn pile heaps of sympathy on me for leading such a downer of a life.

Traci is great at commiserating - she listens to me and complains too, reminding me that life sometimes is just hard for everyone, and I always feel better after I talk to her. But still, I really should try to cut back on the complaints. After all, I have so much more to not complain about. And those complaints that I have probably won't be helped much by continually harping on them. As Jeffrey Holland said, "No misfortune is so bad that whining about it won't make it worse."

But until I can stop complaining, I'm afraid Traci will still have to hear most of it. It's her fault for being such a great listener.

In Orwell's 1984, Winston Smith concludes that "Perhaps one did not want to be loved so much as to be understood."

Luckily with Traci, I get both.

Thursday, September 4, 2008


This Labor Day weekend we enjoyed a little slice of heaven in Yachats, Oregon. Bubba's mom discovered the place several years ago, and they have been vacationing there ever since. From the pictures below, you can see why. It is absolutely breathtaking!

Bubba and Henry in front of the mighty Pacific.

Marilyn, Bubba, and Henry on board a ship

Henry telling the beach what's what


Heceta Head Lighthouse

Views from a tidal pool