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The science of addiction: a personal struggle to kick cocaine gives a neuroscientist unique insights

Having survived a decade of drink and drugs as a young woman, Professor Judith Grisel focused all her determination on writing a book about addiction

When Professor Judith Grisel sat down to write her book Never Enough (a guide to the neuroscience of addiction that has been her lifes work), she didnt expect to share so much of her own story. Nevertheless the resulting chapters are a collision of the personal and professional, detailing the deep links between her work life and the decade of drug and alcohol addiction that almost destroyed her.

On paper, Grisel was an unlikely candidate for going off the rails. One of three children, she describes a privileged upbringing in a progressive, suburban area of New Jersey. With an airline pilot father and a mother who was a registered nurse, Grisel remembers growing up in a perfect-looking family.

As her research would go on to help demonstrate, there was no single factor that predicted her drug problems. Neuroscientists have found a complex blend of nature and nurture at work in addictive tendencies and their research shows that many genetic, epigenetic and environmental factors work together in complex ways that often remain elusive.

Why me? is the question that underpins much of Grisels research, and she continues to wonder why friends who drank heavily with her in high school were spared addiction. In Never Enough she offers a smorgasbord of theories behind her own and others predisposition to addiction: an extreme personality and love of risk-taking, trying drugs at a young age, lower levels of endorphins in the brain, potential hypersensitivity to the neurological rewards of drugs alongside, more surprisingly, her own parents strict response to her behaviour.

If they had just been a little more lax, if I hadnt been the first child, I probably could have been normal, she reflects. Grisel did not experience the childhood poverty, insecure housing or abuse we have come (rightly) to associate with some drug users histories. Instead she believes the misery within her parents relationship and the pressure she felt to keep up appearances had the greatest impact on her trajectory. Their marriage was so dysfunctional that my mother eventually got an annulment from the Pope but we never acknowledged it at the time. As a kid I felt like a prop in this play of the perfect family.

A pivotal moment came when, aged nine or 10, Grisel found her mother crying at the kitchen sink. I asked her what the matter was and she answered that she was crying because she was so happy. My stomach sank a thousand feet because I knew it wasnt true but I also knew there was no way to reach the truth. Her mothers insistence that the family ignored the reality of their problems and instead went along with a pretence of happiness had a profound and negative impact on the way Grisel herself came to understand her own emotions and place in the world.

What I learned to do in that moment, she explains, was to doubt my reality; to realise that what was critical in life was the story, the veneer. And that felt like dying.

So began Grisels search for a way to escape her everyday life, a life that felt false and full of pressure to go along with the pretence, and instead to find a way to feel something that felt like the truth. It started with an obsession with reading books, I would read constantly, upside down if I had to, and then aged 13 (reaching a key developmental point when the teenage brain is primed for risky behaviour) she had her first drink. I thought, this is how people get through life. I can pretend all this stuff, because I can have this little secret where Im nice and warm inside, remembers Grisel. It was the first time in my life I remember feeling relaxed.

Grisel swiftly progressed to the solace of daily drinking, smoking marijuana and regular drug use. I loved being able to connect to my true self and I only seemed to be able to do that when I was wasted, she explains. Unsurprisingly, she was soon in trouble at home and school, trouble that escalated through her teenage years until she was kicked out by her parents when she was 19 dropping out of her first year of college at the same time. After years of trying a range of ways to stop Grisel taking drugs her family now withdrew financial support entirely. As she left home, despite her brawny high school football player brother crying in the street, she felt exhilarated: I felt like all the restraints were off and things got very bad after that.

Increasingly detached from her parents, who she barely saw over the next four years, Grisels life became entirely focused on drugs. I was scraping by on nothing but lies and evasion and my only priority was staying loaded. Now injecting cocaine, her dedication to the next hit led to frequent homelessness and unemployment. When she did find work she stole from the till, she regularly took credit cards from strangers and ruthlessly stole money and drugs from friends. Soon she was facing lunatic dealers and DEA agents with a single-minded determination that she also credits with her subsequent scientific tenacity.

The depravity of Grisels addicted life, described in the memoir chapters of Never Enough, illustrates the vicious cycle of the A and B process she explains in the scientific sections of her book. When humans engage in any mind-altering activity, the effects are known as the A process. Whether its the sedation of alcohol or the rush of cocaine, users often feel pleasure from the initial use of their drug of choice. But as Grisel is at pains to explain, There is no free lunch.

She believes people might make better choices if normal brain function was more widely appreciated. The brain adapts to any addictive substance or activity by producing the exact opposite effect, says Grisel. This opposite state, known as the B process, is led by the brains drive to return to its baseline state and its why hangovers and comedowns are such unpleasant experiences. Our brains are so efficient at returning to normal that with regular use we need more and more of the drug or activity to feel the A process and the oppositional B process kicks in almost instantaneously. Soon, as Grisel herself experienced, we need the drug just to feel normal and without it we only feel the negative impact of the B process.

With addiction rates rising steeply, helping people avoid being imprisoned in this cycle is a priority for many worried parents, case-workers, researchers and Grisel herself. But, just as a simple set of causes of addiction doesnt seem to exist, there doesnt appear to be a magic recipe for recovery either. Grisel describes her own transformation from addict to sober scientist as a collection of coincidences and luck. I was inexplicably fortunate. I think I was carried through by circumstance, she says.

A lucky break led to better housing and a move away from injecting cocaine. After a terrifying encounter with her reflection in the mirror, the final push she needed to start her recovery came from her parents. In a crucial moment of compassion from her father, he told her he wished only happiness for her life and the 23-year-old finally realised just how unhappy she was.

A drug-treatment facility in Minnesota was followed by a three-month stay in a womens halfway house and then Grisel began to repair her life. A key motivation for staying sober was her determination to find a cure for addiction. At the beginning of her career, Grisel and others in her field were convinced they would swiftly find that cure, but as neuroscientific understanding has deepened it has revealed just how much we dont understand. In the book, Grisel reflects, I was shocked that I couldnt say that neuroscience is making great strides. It didnt seem true to me.

Though she cant yet offer a magic switch to turn off addiction, She now believes much of the answer lies not in manipulating DNA but in encouraging human love, compassion and connection. With more high-potency drugs available more widely than ever before, alongside a sea of addictive technology enticing adults and children to fritter away our lives checking updates just like users fritter away their lives snorting cocaine, Grisel believes we need a range of tactics to tackle the global problem of addiction. The people right next to us are an obvious place to start, she adds. Human relationships and connections are the low-hanging fruit.

With her own 16-year-old daughter and grown-up stepsons she and her husband have prioritised staying emotionally connected to their children and, when they are worried about behaviour, sharing their own feelings rather than telling their children what to do. I will say, I love you and Im really concerned about this. If you need help, I will give it to you, Grisel says. But I will also be clear that I am not going to enable the behaviour. Despite choosing to parent differently from the way that she was brought up, Grisel now reflects on her parents with compassion, believing that if you have a child who is an addict, Its an almost impossible situation to be in and very hard to know what to do.

Decades of research and experience have led Judith Grisel to believe that the dominance of addictive substances and activities in contemporary life are leading society to the brink of an addictive black hole and that it is only by connecting with each other that we can avoid being sucked in. Right now were in a rising phase of escapism and pharmacology this epidemic of addiction is really an epidemic of avoidance. Above all we need better ways to cope with life and to be present to our experiences. Despite her concerns, she does have hope. Ultimately you cant avoid yourself. It didnt matter how high I got, I was stuck with myself. I think were soon going to get to that point as a society and then we might finally have our moment of truth. Then, Grisel believes, well discover that the way out of addiction was actually inside us all along.

Never Enough: the Neuroscience and Experience of Addiction by Judith Grisel is published by Scribe, priced 9.99. Buy it for 8.79 at guardianbookshop.com

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2019/aug/24/the-science-of-addiction-a-personal-struggle-to-kick-cocaine-gives-a-neuroscientist-unique-insights

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Here’s How To Help The Bahamas After Hurricane Dorian’s Massive Hit

Handout/Getty Images News/Getty Images

Here’s How To Help The Bahamas & Those Affected By Hurricane Dorian After The Massive Storm

As Hurricane Dorian finally begins to inch away from the Bahamas on Sept. 3, Americans along the southeast coast are preparing to stay indoors, evacuate, or even leave their homes. While many are hoping the storm will weaken in coming days, it’s already unleashed much of its destructive potential. As of Sept. 3, Dorian has left at least five people dead and countless others missing or without supplies after hitting the Bahamas as a Category 5 storm on Sept. 1 and 2. If you’re fortunate enough to be out of harm’s way, here’s how you can help those hit by Dorian in the Bahamas.

As of Sept. 3, Dorian has been downgraded to a Category 2 hurricane, with wind speeds of 110 mph. Hurricane categories use wind speeds as a basis to measure danger, with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) categorizing Category 3 or higher to have high potential for significant loss of life and damage. However, it reached Categories 4 and 5 over the Aug. 31 weekend with winds of up to 140 mph, making it the strongest hurricane to hit the Bahamas, per CNN. The storm has already reportedly killed at least five people, including an 8-year-old boy, according to CNN.

Dorian was particularly deadly thanks to the hurricane’s slow movement — at 1 mph or even slower — across the Atlantic, according to Storms that strong rarely just linger or even stand still over land. Even if it proves less destructive in the United States than in the Bahamas, the storm will almost certainly arrive in the United States with strong winds and rain. Evacuations have already affected millions in Florida, Georgia, and the Carolinas.

The eye of the storm will likely remain around 50 miles off Florida’s eastern coast, but it will still bring heavy rains and wind, CNN reported on Sept. 2. Forecasts then see the storm moving north along the coasts of Georgia and the Carolinas.

Florida is more than familiar with the fears and consequences that come with hurricanes. On Sept. 3, Mayor Carlos A. Gimenez of Miami-Dade County announced relief efforts to assist their eastern neighbors. Locations across the county are accepting donations for items requested by the Bahamian government.

“We will match our thoughts and our prayers with action by offering as much assistance as we can in the aftermath of this unprecedented event and hurricane,” Gimenez said at a press conference. “We are counting on our entire community of South Florida to step forward and donate whatever you can.”

On Sept. 1, Miami Commissioner Ken Russell launched #BAHAMASTRONG on Twitter. In addition to the donation relief effort, the hashtag has allowed for mass updates regarding Dorian and its aftermath in the Bahamas. As you keep up with the storm, here’s what you can do to help.

Donate Goods

If you live in the Miami area, you can drop off items such as water, canned foods, can openers, baby necessities, and first-aid or emergency items to BAHAMASTRONG locations in Miami. Other locations across Florida are also accepting donations for local communities and others affected.

Donate Money

For those who live farther away and would like to offer monetary help, you can donate to efforts such as HeadKnowles, a grassroots non-profit based in the Bahamas that raised more than $2 million after Hurricane Joaquin in 2015. HeadKnowles is crowdfunding to assist Dorian victims and accepting donations in person and through mail. Co-founder Gina Knowles told on Sept. 3 that much of the donated funds are being used to fuel the supply planes bringing relief items to the Bahamas.

Neighbors 4 Neighbors is another option that has partnered with news organizations to raise relief funds. The partnership of news services and organizations local to South Florida works to support community relief in the area. You can also donate to Chef José Andrés, who has arrived in Bahamas to feed people through World Central Kitchen and provided over 3 million meals to Puerto Ricans after Hurricane Maria in 2017.

For on the ground assistance, All Hands and Hearts is raising money to help victims and enlisting volunteers to offer firsthand assistance.

Support Evacuation Efforts

For those who are still facing the storm, Uber announced it will offer free round trips to a list of state-approved evacuation shelters. You can use the promo code DORIANRELIEF for up to $20 each way.

For those in affected states, it is important to know your specific evacuation zone in order to plan for potential flooding and plan for travel in advance. A list of designated zones is available by county.

The Bahamas is just getting started recovering from the worst hurricane it has seen. Whether you have a couple dollars to spare or canned food sitting around your kitchen, please consider giving to those affected. In the meantime, always make sure to hear from people on the ground before deciding how to offer your help.

Read more: https://www.elitedaily.com/p/heres-how-to-help-the-bahamas-those-affected-by-hurricane-dorian-after-the-massive-storm-18719115

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Marlon Brando Confronted Michael Jackson About Child Abuse Allegations

The public’s fascination with Michael Jackson continues.

On what would have been his 61st birthday, it’s being reported that the King of Pop was once confronted by his friend Marlon Brando over the child abuse allegations against him — and Jackson broke down in tears.

The podcast Telephone Stories: The Trials of Michael Jackson touts in a press release that it obtained the sworn account Brando gave to Los Angeles Deputy District Attorneys on March 14, 1994.

That interview — which was recorded and transcribed — will be featured in its season finale on Sunday.

In it, Brando reportedly told authorities, “I think it’s pretty reasonable to conclude that [Jackson] may have had something to do with kids.”

The reclusive Oscar winner — a close friend and visitor to Neverland Ranch —had been contacted by the D.A.’s office and spoke with district attorneys Bill Hodgman, of O.J. Simpson trial fame, and Lauren Weis about “an unusual conversation he had with Jackson and his suspicions concerning the King of Pop’s behavior around young boys,” according to the press release.

He also relayed “impressions and concerns” he had discussed with his son, Miko C.Brando, who worked as a security guard for Jackson.

Brando detailed a “tear-filled conversation” he had with Jackson at NeverlandRanch, the release states. It reportedly took place after Brando confronted Jackson during a private dinner and acting lesson and it “culminated in a revealing exchange between the two men.”

Weis, now a judge, confirmed the interview with Brando about Jackson to the Los Angeles Times.

According to Brando’s documented account, Jackson broke down in tears during the talk and admitted he hated his father, Joe Jackson.

The conversation then turned to homosexuality and the children he was accused of sexually abusing, as Jackson had first been investigated for child molestation in 1993.

Brando reportedly said that Jackson ended up crying so hard that the superstar had to comfort him.

That’s when Brando told prosecutors, “With this mode of behavior that’s been going on, I think it’s pretty reasonable to conclude that he may have had something to do with kids.”

That said, Brando noted that Jackson never came out and said he was gay or admitted to sexual relations with the boys.

Instead, he kept crying and was so shaken by the conversation that Brando thought he was telling him something.

“My impression, was that he didn’t want to answer because he was frightened to answer me,” Brando said.

Brando also reportedly told the D.A. that the childlike Jackson never cursed and didn’t like when people used the F word. He was especially uncomfortable when being asked about his sex life.

“I had asked him if he was a virgin and he sort of laughed and giggled, and he called me Brando,” the actor told prosecutors. “He said, ‘Oh, Brando.’ I said, ‘Well, what do you do for sex?’ And he was acting fussy and embarrassed.”

Brando also asked, “Well, who are your friends?’ He said, ‘I don’t know anybody my own age. I don’t like anybody my own age.’ I said, ‘Why not?’ He said, ‘I don’t know, I don’t know.’ He was crying hard enough that … I tried to assuage him. I tried to help him all I could.”

This is the first time the conversation between Brando and Jackson has bee nmade public because it was never used as evidence in Jackson’s 2005 trial —which resulted in the pop star’s acquittal.

Brando died in 2004 followed byJackson in 2009.After Brando’s death, his son Miko told the L.A. Times his dad counted the pop star among his closest friends in his final years.

“The last time my father left his house to go anywhere, to spend any kind of time, it was with Michael Jackson. He loved it,” Miko said. “[He] had a 24-hour chef, 24-hour security, 24-hour help, 24-hour kitchen, 24-hour maid service. Just carte blanche.”

Miko said that the men met through “Quincy Jones back in the 1980s.”

Read more: https://www.huffpost.com/entry/marlon-brando-michael-jackson-podcast_n_5d6843a8e4b0488c0d11cde0

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33 Families Describe Their Experience With Narcissists, Psychopaths, And Sociopaths

These people on Ask Reddit aren’t sure how to handle their family members.

1. It’s always difficult to share my problems with them because they also had that same problem at some stage of their life and it was much harder for them than it is for me apparently.

2. It’s interesting really. My mom died recently. When I called my sister to come down the day before she died she said, “I thought she was going to die today. I’m not disappointed, but I can’t keep missing work.”

The next day I called her to come to the hospital again as the doctor and I made the decision to take her off the ventilator. On the phone she said, “Well, can we pull out the tube as soon as I get there because I have plans tonight?”

She also proceeded to ask me for rent money that day, as I also live with her.

The things they say, and don’t realize how messed up it is is really baffling.

3. My daughter was hit by a drunk driver when she was 12 and nearly died. She was in a coma for two weeks and I was there all day every day, except to go home to shower and change. My sister decided that when I was at the hospital was the perfect time for her and her druggie girlfriend to jimmy the sliding door off the track, break in and steal everything she could find–jewelry, my camera, and yes, my daughter’s piggy bank.

The bitch stole the piggy bank from a comatose kid.

4. When I was 10, my mom put a lock on my door because my brother started threatening to kill me and my mom in the night. When I was 14, he fixated on my mom and threatened to burn down our house, shoot my whole family, and steal all the valuables and drive away. That same year, (he was 17), he took our car and ran away from home for two weeks. We ended up calling the police on him. When he came home, the police decided that it would be best if he lived somewhere else so he did. As we were cleaning out his room we found hundreds of knives, a hand gun, lighter fluid, gasoline and lighters.

5. Oh god where do I begin. She fed my hamster to our cat because I wouldn’t let her name it. She woke me up when I was sleeping in my mom’s bed by punching me and then proceeded to break my index finger with the door when I fought back just because she wanted to sleep there that night. She also poured bleach over my clothes because she was mad that I was doing laundry when she needed to. Honestly there’s a whole lot more but those are some of the major things.

6. She threatened to self-harm because there was a miscommunication over what my parents would give her boyfriend – now husband – for Christmas.

7. My twin sister is a narcissist along with being psychologically, physically, and verbally abusive in general. She has:

– Told me she wished my host family would murder me (I was on foreign exchange).

– Told me that I’m worthless and she should have killed me in the womb.

– Gone through all my things to the point where I have to take 20+ pictures of my room every time I leave the house so I know if she’s touched my stuff.

– Read all my diaries, and once stole an incriminating one and gave it to my social worker to keep me in the mental institute longer.

8. My sister, who is 8 years older than me, chased 6 year old me around the house with a knife so I would leave her alone… because she was babysitting while my parents were on a date… and I needed food…

9. My sister is way too into herself. She has no real friends but she has like 60 thousand Instagram followers. She literally just spends her money on new clothes and the newest iPhone to take selfies. And when I say she has no real friends I really mean it, she never leaves the house, never had a job, dropped out of high school. But she thinks she’s the greatest thing god graced this planet with. I don’t really talk to her because anytime I try she’s just taking pictures of herself with different outfits. It’s really annoying, I don’t know why my parents condone/finance this lifestyle.

She gets it from my mom, she’s kind of the same way.

10. My sister broke my mom’s arm just because she was trying to get a toaster out of the cabinet. I really don’t understand why that was such a big deal to her. Also when my mom was sick she threatened to pour hot coffee on her if she didn’t get out of bed and do shit for her that she could have easily done herself. She also would hit the pets for no reason and talked about murdering strangers because she thought it would be fun. I finally got her out of here and away from us about a month or so ago but it was long overdue, as she is currently 31 years old. There’s a lot more shit but yeah I’m just glad she’s finally gone. I still have nightmares about her.

11. One of my older siblings killed his neighbor’s cat because the cat would come in to his yard. So one day he trapped the cat and put him in a sack and beat it with a bat. At the time I was 15 and idolized him so I didn’t know the severity of what he did. He’s killed other animals, he took another neighbor’s dog and dumped him in town 50 miles away just because the dog would bark sometimes.

He’s an evil sadistic asshole. But tell that to my parents and other siblings and they defend him to the end.

12. One time, I didn’t order my sister a pizza, and she locked me out of the house for the rest of the day.

Another time, she asked me to make her a sandwich which I then forgot to put cheese on and she screamed, “You did this just to fuck with me!” Then beat me up.

13. Oh boy, my big sis kicking down door frames because she “had something inside,” strangling my little sisters, picking up knives to threaten my mom and young kids, smashing furniture, pouring juice in gas tanks, breaking my brother’s nose and always begging, borrowing, and leeching. And somehow they always “deserved it.”

14. Nothing is ever their fault, it’s always yours.

15. My entire childhood my sister would manipulate me and anyone else she could. Had a baby when she was a teen, so I “babysat”. I was seven years younger, and basically raised her first two kids.

She would move across country at the drop of a hat, upending her kids lives numerous times. All of her kids had different dads. She’s been married 3 times.

Our mother almost died a few years ago, and she made the whole thing about her.

Her kids don’t even talk to her anymore. They are all adults now, and I’m their support system.

I own the house our mother lives in, and she tells me everything I should do for our mom and fix the house. I pay the mortgage, I buy her groceries, I make sure she gets to the doctor, but that isn’t enough for my sister. Does she offer any support? Nope, just criticism.

She gives me endless shit about how I bought a nice house for my family when our mom’s house needs a new roof. Told her if she pays for it, I’ll get it fixed. She says she can’t afford it. Yeah? Me neither.

Since the beginning of the year, she got hooked on drugs, left her husband (who should have been the best thing to ever happen to her, he’s great). She’s attempted suicide and tried to say it’s everyone else’s fault. She was in a psych ward for hallucinations and hearing voices. Again, it’s everyone else’s fault.

I haven’t seen her since the holidays last year and I plan to keep it that way.

16. I’m pretty big, but my older brother is huge and burned my face in a fire simply because I was playing with his toy.

We haven’t spoken in a long while, but I’m sure one day we will run into each other again.

17. I caught my younger brother catch a mouse kill it himself and feed it to his snake. One time when he broke his arm climbing over a fence instead of screaming in agony he laughed crazily.

18. When we were younger, we had no heat and he would come into my room and take my covers. I was too small to fight back so I’d just lay there and freeze all night. He’d threaten me that he’d hurt me if I told our mom.

As we got older, he became a drug addict. He would steal my mom’s pain medication and anxiety medication so he could get high. If my mom had any money, he’d steal it from her. He used to steal her car but she wouldn’t do anything because she didn’t want him in jail.

After my mom died, he broke into our house and stole several of our things. The cops said they could do nothing about it.

He got all his kids taken away because he and his baby momma were doing meth while she was breastfeeding and their baby almost died. He still says that his kids shouldn’t have been taken away. He seriously doesn’t understand. He actually said to my dad, “She just smoked a little bit. I don’t know what the big deal is!” They are about to have another baby.

I hate him and want nothing to do with him. We are half siblings. Our older brother, who was his full sibling, died earlier this year and I constantly wonder why it was him and not my awful brother. I don’t even consider him family anymore.

19. My sibling is not a sociopath or psychopath, but is narcissistic with extreme anger issues. He would intentionally start arguments. The slightest response from me would be his excuse to go mental. Worst was once when he choked me after I tried to defend myself, only stopped because I threatened to call the cops. Later my dad sided with him saying I shouldn’t have made my brother angry, and that if I did call the cops, they’d laugh at me and would do nothing. That’s idiotic, obviously. Bear in mind my brother was 6’1 and athletic, while I was a skinny 5’4 teenager that was 5 years younger. I’m now an adult and in the military, and don’t plan on talking to either of them much after I leave.

Needless to say if he ever tries something like that again, he’ll be lucky if he isn’t hospitalized. Count on it.

20. My dad is as much of a narcissist as it gets. I didn’t realize that it was abnormal until I moved out of the house and out of state. When I finally came back I remember him calling me one day to tell me to give him $10 because he claimed he need to grab something to eat.

“Sorry but I don’t have $10 to give you.”

“You don’t have $10 to give your dad? Come on I’ll pay you right back I just need it to go down to the store so I can eat.”

“I don’t have it, so you’ll have to put on your big boy pants and make some money for yourself.”

“Well I was gonna ask your sister, but I don’t wanna ask her because she’s my daughter, ya know?”

I hung up after that. A few minutes later he calls me and says, “Hey your sister just sent me the $10, see it wasn’t that hard.”

21. I’m not even totally sure of my older brother’s diagnosis but several years ago I found out through his journal that he had an elaborate plan to murder me and had apparently attempted to before, but couldn’t go through with it. His reasoning was mostly because I was mean to him as a child, but really he was the one cruel to me?? The part that really fucks me up is that both my parents knew about his wish to kill me and never said anything to me, let us sleep under the same roof. They always coddled and treated him differently than me. He is severely mentally ill, likely a psychopath, has been in a mental hospital now for several years. I cut contact with my parents as soon as I moved out.

22. My sister has dialed down her act a bit, after we have all spent a few years out of our raging NPD asshole father’s house. I mostly remember a MASSIVE sense of entitlement that simply made no logical sense and would require a great deal of cognitive dissonance to explain. Like, she would never loan me things (CDs, etc.), but had no problem walking straight into my room, in front of my face, to take a bottle of body lotion to use on herself. She seemed to have no remorse for what her behavior did to others, so long as she got what she wanted out of the deal. Sometimes, she would just do and say mean and spiteful things for no reason.

I talk to her from time to time. While is less of a self-involved sociopath, she still is insufferably self-righteous.

23. Brother was doted on as a child because he was gifted at basketball. Literally had no consequences growing up and could do whatever he wanted. Treated me and our parents like absolute crap and they still doted on him, while I would get the belt for the most benign and asinine stuff. My brother’s life is absolute crap right now, he has no sense of self-worth and just gets hand outs from my parents. He is in his late thirties and my parents are giving him money for rent and food. He wants everyone to feel sorry for him and expects everything to be handed to him. He can’t do anything on his own and guilt trips and manipulates my parents into doing whatever it is he needs doing for him or just giving him extra funds. He has no incentive to change and is content playing video games all day while my parents just enable his lifestyle. At holidays he just talks down to me and tries to make me feel bad about how ‘difficult’ his life is. I could care less about him and have no desire to talk to him until he makes some serious changes in his lifestyle and life choices.

24. Growing up, she had total control of my life. She criticized what I wore, listened to, ate, everything. If I was different I was weird, if I liked what she liked then I was copying her. She tried to scare me multiple times with guns and knives, claiming she never would actually hurt me but she would hold up a samurai sword to my throat and tell me if I moved I died.

Eventually she had at kid when she was 19 and I was 16, and for a year she was a good mother and then decided she didn’t want to be a mom anymore. I’ve seen her ruin countless people’s lives, spanning from just stringing them along to draining their bank accounts to contributing to them being put in jail for domestic abuse (she’s still waiting for trial on her charge). I despise her and she is not family to me. I had so many issues growing up that only stemmed from things she did to me and I don’t want to see my niece grow up like that. My parents are doing a wonderful job of raising her but she doesn’t understand why mommy isn’t there and it breaks my heart.

25. They’re insane, and always mad about something petty. Somehow everything is related to their projected social image, regardless of context or content.

26. I haven’t spoke to my brother in 3-4 years. Last time I did he went after my wife and that was the last straw for me. Since then, my parents have cut him off, he lost his job, and his life has spiraled. Not sure what he is up to now but my quality of life has improved with him not in it.

27. Lived an entire lifetime not being aware that it isn’t normal to run to your bedroom and hide when dad gets home. That it isn’t normal to be scared of your parents reactions to, well, anything.

Becoming a mom and having little kids that I just looked at and knew… I could never beat them up for picking a flower, or shame them for not knowing how to hang a shelf, or throw grubs at them if they come outside, or throw potato salad at them if they say they don’t want any. It wasn’t normal and only just now am I realizing all of that.

28. She called the cops and CPS, repeatedly accusing our step-dad of child abuse. It usually lined up with her having rules and punishments. She didn’t like that my parents did research on how to raise a psychopath that doesn’t become a murderer, they suddenly knew all her tricks and tactics. I sometimes think about how sad it must be to be physically incapable of feeling human emotions, but it clearly would only hold her back.

29. They can make drama out of any situation and will try to drag you into it even years later.

Example: I am the next to youngest. My whole family is a shit show, but when I was planning my wedding, I was still trying to pretend I had a reasonable family. My future husband’s family was like Leave it to Beaver.

So I asked both of my sisters to be bridesmaids. I knew this was a risk, but I hoped they could keep their shit together for a single evening. At the time, I thought they had.

About 8 years later, we were in the same city because one of our brothers was in the hospital due to a bad car accident. We had one hotel room across the street from the hospital so people could go rest when they needed to.

I was in that room with my oldest sister when she said, “You know {middle sister} stole wine glasses from your wedding, right?” I told her I didn’t care.

A couple of hours later, I was in that room with my middle sister. She said, “You know {older sister} stole glasses from your wedding, right?” I also told her I didn’t care.

So here we are, waiting to see if our brother was going to die and both of these bitches are playing reindeer games with me, trying to make me be angry with the other one.

Our brother lived. I’ve cut contact with all my siblings because they are all like this. They have to start shit no matter what the situation or consequences.

30. When she threw a cup of hot tea at my face because I refused to show her something on the computer. Or the time when she yelled at me for over an hour because I was really sick and had thrown up all over the bathroom sink. The same bathroom she had just cleaned.

I stopped speaking with her over 7 years ago.

31. Brother believes the world is his oyster and that friends and family and loved ones are his to control and exploit.

He told a girl they are dating and she should buy him a car and take him out for dinner.

Brother has also tried to burn down our childhood home thrice because mom didn’t give him the things he wanted, we were poor and he knew that but he honestly believes that he gets what he wants because that’s how it should be.

He also tried to sell my car, he still hounds me for the money he should have gotten if he sold it.

32. My sister has never been diagnosed with narcissism or a personality disorder other than OCD, but when we were younger she often enjoyed telling people before I met them that I had a “difficult relationship with the truth” so that they wouldn’t want to be around me. I had the reputation of a liar and no friends for most of my preteen years, and she was popular in our homeschool group until she left and got into high school. After she left, I still didn’t have friends, but neither did she, and she blamed me for it during her frequent temper tantrums. She would throw things, scream, cry, and threaten me with kitchen knives on a pretty regular basis. All of a sudden, the year that I turned 17 and she turned 21, the tantrums stopped and she got engaged. He moved in with us, the tantrums started again, and for once I wasn’t the target. The worst fight they had happened when she caught him looking at a photo of a bikini model, which she considered cheating. She hit him full force with an open palm, and when our mum saw, she threatened to kick her out if she hit him again. They got married, moved out, and divorced within a year of him enlisting in the army.

33. I was playing with a suitcase while watching TV. I was small enough to fit myself in it. My brother, nearly four and a half years older than me, saw what I was doing and asked to zip me up in it. After already having learned to never trust him, I asked Mom to watch us to make sure he didn’t do anything stupid.

He zipped me up inside the suitcase and started carrying it in a shuffle-step.

Thump. Thump. Thump.

I heard the sliding door to the enclosed patio open, Mom started screaming and I could hear her slapping my brother repeatedly. The suitcase fell over onto its side with me still in it.

I managed to pry open the zippers from the inside and got myself out of the suitcase as quickly as possible. Mom was still slapping at my brother, screaming, “Why?!

I was two feet away from being dumped inside a suitcase into the family hot tub.

He laughed and said that I would have floated, what’s the big deal?

So, yeah, that’s what it was like growing up with a sociopath.

Related

Read more: https://thoughtcatalog.com/january-nelson/2019/08/33-families-describe-their-experience-with-narcissists-psychopaths-and-sociopaths

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The Spiders Under Your Skin

The bathroom door swells in the summer and compresses in the winter. So when I make my late-night visit to relieve myself and brush my teeth before bed there is always a chance I could accidentally wake Christopher, our 6-month-old baby. 

Don’t close the door just leave it open, I hear Jen say. Or just leave it cracked but don’t close it. I tried that. The problem is Yukon Cornelius. He comes barging through the door like Hagrid to tell me I’m a wizard mid-shit. Yukon is a huge maine coon cat, but I consider him our eldest child.

It was on an August night a few weeks ago when I decided to leave the door cracked. I hadn’t seen Yukon. I hoped he was chasing flies or mosquitoes that may have wandered inside. The baby was exceptionally difficult to put to sleep that night and I wanted to spare Jen any further frustration from a noisy old door.

I was brushing my teeth when I felt it. Something hairy walked across my bare foot. I looked down to see a small black spider, slowly walking across my toes, no larger than half a centimeter. I panicked. My leg jerked upwards, kicking the sink. I yelled in pain. Then Yukon exploded into the room.

“Fuck,” I shouted. Several doors down the baby began to cry.

“Get it!” I yelled. Yukon stared at me blankly and meowed once before leaving the room. “You fucking coward.” I knelt down and began looking around for the spider. After a few minutes I gave up and headed towards bed.

“What the hell was that?” Jen asked, half asleep.

“A spider,” I said.

“Ah, my knight in shining armor. I hope your scream scared it away.”

“Yeah, yeah, it did but uh, it woke Chris up.”

“Well, go rock him then, I’m done for the night,” Jen said before rolling over. “Hope he goes down soon, you have a big day tomorrow.” She put earplugs in and pulled the sheets tightly around herself like a cocoon.

“Yeah,” I sighed, thinking about the party at work the next day. I was finally being promoted from the warehouse to a cushy office job, and my warehouse friends were throwing a small goodbye party. The thought was exciting. It was also dreadful.

I walked out of our bedroom and into the hallway. A soft white night light led me down the runner to Christopher’s room. The faint hum of his white noise machine emitted from the slightly open door. As I reached the doorknob I paused to listen for any sounds. I heard nothing. Thank god, I thought and turned to walk back to our bedroom. That’s when I saw it on the wall, slightly above my head. Another black spider, this one about the size of a quarter, but large enough that I could see the individual hairs on its long arms. It crawled down the wall closer to me. I fell against the adjacent wall. Yukon emerged from the darkness meowing. Baby Christopher once again began to cry.

“Fuck my life,” I muttered. When I looked back up the spider was gone. Yukon too was staring at the place on the wall where it had been.

“You saw it too right?”

Yukon meowed and walked away.

***

I’ve never enjoyed being the center of attention, so as my co-workers sang the final verse of “For He’s a Jolly-Good Fellow” I could feel the heat radiating off my face. I smiled politely and muttered a thank you. It had been six long years of driving forklifts, packing boxes, and loading trucks full of pallets stacked high with books and magazines. Now that I had finished my AA in Accounting the company rewarded that dedication with a promotion to their Accounting Department.

The crowd began to disperse into a line for cake. I took another slice of Ledo’s pizza off the table and found a quiet spot to sit down and avoid any future outbursts of songs or unwanted conversations.

“Hey,” a voice called from behind a row of pallets stacked with large boxes. “Let’s go celebrate for real.” Andy, one of the only co-workers I’d publicly admit to being a friend, gestured towards the loading dock door. I stuffed the pizza in my face and quietly followed. We walked outside, down the parking lot, and onto a path which led to a section of forest on company property. Andy smiled as he removed a joint from behind an ear, hidden by his long blonde hair.

“I don’t know man, that’s gonna have a strong smell,” I said.

“Relax, I have some cologne and breath mints, no one will know.”

We shared the joint and some of our favorite memories of working together. Like the time we super-glued a quarter to the floor to watch old man William try and pry free for over half an hour. Or the time we moved the foreman’s entire office onto several pallets about two stories high in the warehouse racks.

“Now you’re one of them,” Andy said. “One of the carpet walkers.” Carpet walkers was a term invented by the warehouse staff for anyone that worked on the side of the building with carpet and air conditioning, both items sorely lacking in the warehouse and production facility. “How does it feel?”

I felt giddy and light-headed as we continued passing the joint. “I don’t know, excited and nervous, happy and sad. It’s hard to describe really, so, conflicted I guess?”

“Yeah but that extra 10k a year should help you feel a little less conflicted right?” Andy said as he flicked the roach onto the ground. I bent down to pick it up.

“Careful, you don’t want to start a fire, it hasn’t rained in a few weeks.” I stubbed out the end onto a nearby rock. A thin black leg extended from below the rock. I stepped back and watched another, and another emerge until all eight legs appeared with a furry abdomen, and a small black head. The spider climbed up the rock and stood at the top, rubbings its hairy legs against a pair of claw-like appendages. It appeared to be the exact same spider I had seen in my house, but easily twice or even three times the size. As I stared down I could see my own reflection inside its glossy black eyes.

“Whoa, look at this thing!” I said.

But Andy was already walking back towards the building. He motioned for me to come with him. “I need a piece of a cake pronto before it’s all gone.”

I stepped forward to leave but hesitated, wanting one last look at the large creature. A weight pressed against my leg. I looked down to see the spider crawling up my jeans. I shook my leg and it fell to the ground. I tried to stomp on it but missed. It ran into a patch of tall grass and disappeared from view. I ran to catch up with Andy.

“Whoa, man, you okay? You look totally freaked out.”

“Um, yeah, just,” I said, panting, “there was this huge spider, I think it’s following me.”

I pointed towards the woods we had just left, half expecting to see a black shape running up the trail behind us. But there was nothing.

“Holy shit man you’re paranoid. Let’s get some eye drops, you are bugging out my friend.”

***

I stepped into my new office the next day, carrying a small box of personal artifacts to decorate my desk. Photos of my wife and child, an Admiral Ackbar action figure, a stress ball in the shape of Mjölnir, and so on. The office contained a small desk, a bookshelf full of this year’s fall lineup of books, a trash can, and a fan.

“It can get pretty hot in here with the door closed,” Eric, my new boss said. “That’s why Jerry left his fan, said the next occupant would definitely need it.” Eric had welcomed me into the office by parading me around to all the people I had known for years as if I was a new employee. He loved dumb jokes like that. I set the box down on my desk and sat in the obviously overused office chair, which squeaked in protest.

“I’m afraid Chad stole the good chair though,” Eric said. “Jerry had some sort of lower back issues, probably from years of sitting behind a desk.” Eric laughed and took a long sip from his mug. “He had some sort of fancy ergonomic chair we had to order and a few hours after he left that jackal Chad came in here and took it for himself, says he’s starting to get back issues too.” Eric shrugged. He had a reputation for being a hands-off type of boss, only emerging from his corner office to make a joke, show off a new tie, or to put out the occasional accounting-related fire. “Well, I’ll let you get settled in, holler if you need me,” he said, closing my door.

The air inside my office seemed to increase by several degrees once the door closed. I pressed the top button on the fan which sputtered to life and began unpacking my personal items. I spent the morning arranging things and answering the few emails that trickled in from co-workers, mostly a barrage of congratulations.

At 9:52 Andy sent me a text. The 10:00 AM morning break was usually reserved for Andy and me to sneak out into the woods and get high. “You coming?” the text read, followed by an animated GIF of Homer Simpson backing himself into a background of marijuana buds.

“Not today, not sure I can keep joining those parties moving forward. How about after work?” I texted back.

“Whatever carpet walker,” Andy replied.

“Ouch,” I typed back, then deleted. I thought of several options for a response and gave up. It actually hurt my feelings in a very odd way. It felt like a personal attack from my former self.

“It will blow over,” Jen said after I copied and pasted my conversation with Andy and sent it to her. I called her on my lunch break at noon to discuss how the day was going. “Maybe he’s jealous, you both started there at the same time, right?”

“Yeah, maybe, it’s just like . . . we work hard to move our way up and I guess that comes with sacrifices.”

“Like not getting stoned during work hours?” Jen laughed.

“Yeah, but more than that, it’s like we’re playing that old board game, The Game of Life, and now that I’m in this office it means I can only interact with the blue pegs with ties on, right? Like I’m forced to act out this play up here where the floor is soft and the people tuck their shirts in, and I can no longer be my authentic self like in the warehouse.”

“Wait, are you sure you didn’t smoke?” Jen said.

“Fuck off,” I laughed. “Okay I’ll see you at home, have a good-”

BANG. A loud metallic noise rang through my office.

“What was that?” Jen said.

BANG. It happened again somewhere overhead.

“Some weird noise in the vent I think, probably just something Eric forgot to tell me about. I’ll talk to you later.”

I hung up. The noise came several more times. BANG. BANG. BANG. Each time it felt slightly closer. I stood up and opened my door. No one else appeared to be in the Accounting Department, it was lunch after all. I stepped outside into the main area.

“Hello?” I called. No response. The next BANG caused a cloud of dust to fall from the ceiling over my newly decorated desk. “Hey is someone working on the air conditioning?” I called. I walked back into my office and began cleaning the dust off my keyboard. The banging stopped, it was replaced by a much softer creaking. I turned off the fan and listened. Creeeeeeeeeeak. The opening of a vent fell onto the floor behind my chair.

I looked up to see a black shape uncurl itself through the vent and onto the ceiling above my head. It was the size of a small dog, a small, black, hairy dog with eight legs and six gigantic eyes. I screamed and fell to the floor. The spider scurried across the ceiling. The lights in my office flickered and more dust spewed from the cheap particle board tiles. Slowly the spider descended, attached to a thick white rope. I laid motionless on the floor, attempting to move or scream but finding myself completely frozen with fear. It made a deep purring sound and barred two fangs the size of knives which were now mere inches from my face. I could feel the hot breath of the arachnid on my cheek. This activated a fight response inside my paralyzed lizard brain. I grabbed my chair and threw it into the spider’s face as hard as I could. The spider hissed and fell over the front of my new desk.

The sound of people entering the Accounting Department through the main door distracted me from the horror of the situation. I stood up and ran towards the door. The spider had already begun scurrying up the side of my office wall and back through the vent. I heard familiar banging noises as it retreated. My heart raced as I tried to piece the events together. I was short of breath and covered in sweat by the time my co-workers walked past my office.

“Jogging on your lunch break?” Eric asked. “That’s how you do it new guy, gotta find the time somewhere right?” He patted me on the shoulder and continued walking towards his corner office. Eventually, I walked back into my own office, cleaned the dust off my desk, placed my chair back behind it, and sat down to answer some emails.

***

Shortly after lunch, Eric received a call from the CEO about a discrepancy in the books. This created an all-hands-on-deck scenario. I arrived home two hours later than expected to a reasonably pissed off Jen.

“You couldn’t call or text?” were her first words as I walked up the stairs to our lower-middle-class craftsman home.

“I’m really sorry, I wanted to make a good impression on my first day but you’re right I should have called.”

“Yeah. You should have,” she said, handing me baby Christopher. “I saved a shitty diaper for you.”

I carried Christopher up the stairs to the nursery. He pulled at the buttons on my dress shirt. The sun was going down and I watched the sunset while changing a particularly smelly diaper. “Shitty end to a shitty day,” I said to Christopher in a high-pitched, baby voice. He smiled and smacked his tiny hands against my face.

After Jen got Christopher to sleep I heated up some leftover pasta and sat down to eat. I opened my phone to see a few new texts from Jen. “Hey I’m going to sleep now too, you’re not the only one who had a long day,” followed by an animated GIF of the cat from Tom and Jerry, opening a bottle of sleeping pills which contained a large hammer and knocking himself unconscious.

“Okay, we can talk later, maybe 18 years or so?” I texted back. “Goodnight, love you.”

I continued eating dinner while staring out the window into our backyard. The moon was bright enough to cast a white glow across most of the yard. As I took the last bite of food the white moonlight turned into a harsh yellow. Something had activated our outdoor motion sensors in the backyard. They remained lit for several seconds then automatically turned off. Probably Yukon, I thought, out for a midnight hunt. Our cat was constantly activating the outdoor lights, the manufacturers claimed it was immune to pets but Yukon’s size proved otherwise. As I thought this Yukon meowed and rubbed against my leg.

I went to the kitchen to give Yukon some wet cat food when it happened again. Yellow light flooded in from outside, this time activated from the lights on the opposite side of our house. I put the food on the floor for Yukon and stepped outside. The light on our porch activated, bathing the shrubs and trees in a yellow light. I stood watching the yard for any signs of movement, breathing in the cool night air. A small breeze swayed the trees back and forth, their rustling created a quiet song that echoed through the neighborhood. I walked down the stairs to investigate the perimeter of our house.

I circled to the back yard after finding nothing in the front and side yards. I decided to take one last look at the entire backyard before heading inside. The once-promising garden was overrun with weeds, something that usually happened although Jen insisted that we have a garden. Maybe she can take care of it next year and do a better job than me, I thought when I saw it.

Among the bushes a large dark shape stood completely still against the swaying trees and bushes. I began to walk back to the stairs when I saw the yellow security lights gleaming against several large orbs. I heard the loud purring now, like an idling car engine. The shape stepped into the light revealing a spider the size of a grizzly bear. It’s tree-branch thick legs moved frantically fast, casting shadows all their own against the light. I ran towards the fence, afraid the spider would close the distance in a manner of seconds if I ran in a straight line to the house.

The ground beneath my feet shook as the spider got closer. I reached for the fence and jumped over it into the alley behind our house. I fell onto wet gravel. The fence shuttered as the spider crashed into it. I got up and ran down the alley into the darkness. If I can get out of the light, it won’t find me, I thought. Can spiders see in the dark? I wasn’t sure. The spider hissed louder than a car horn. Heat, they only see heat, is that it?

The spider landed in the alley with an earth-shaking THUD. Its skittering legs threw gravel into the air, smacking into fences, trees, and sheds like a hail storm. The moonlight reflected off the metal handle to a shed. I entered the yard with the shed and opened the door, closing it behind me, falling into pitch-black darkness. Can it smell me? Do spiders smell their prey?

I stood in the small shed for a long time, listening to the steps of the spider. It went up and down the alley, pausing, then running, then pausing again. I grabbed at the walls of the shed, trying to find anything to use as a weapon. I found a hose, a lawnmower, screwdrivers, and finally settled on a pair of rusty garden shears. I covered my mouth to hide the sound of my panicked breathing.

After a long bout of silence, I opened the shed door. It whined quietly, a sound I prayed would be lost to the chorus of insects in the summer night. I took a step outside. THWACK. A mass of white goo landed on the shed door, forcing it shut. THWACK. The next one landed on the roof. The trees above my head creaked and leaves fell in waves. The spider crashed through the branches, landing on the ground in front of the shed. I turned to run. THWACK. My face hit the ground hard. The white goo covered my leg. I pulled as hard as I could but found myself unable to move. The spider took several steps forward, towering over me. A loud purr radiated through its body, vibrating the ground I was pinned to. I reached for the shears and tore into the white goo. The pressure against my leg released slightly, then completely as I ripped a straight line through the sticky web.

The spider continued walking closer. A thick, black, hairy leg landed in front of me. I stabbed it with the shears. The spider hissed and took several steps back. The shears were covered in a black tar of blood. I threw them at the creature which hissed again and began climbing the tree. I ran back to my house, closed the door, and passed out on the kitchen floor.

***

“I know you’re having a hard time adjusting,” Jen said, looking down at me on the kitchen floor with a mix of amusement and disdain, “but this is ridiculous.” She held baby Christopher in her arms who also stared down his father, lying on a floor no one ever lied on. 

My head throbbed as I sat up. The microwave clock read 7 AM. I’m going to be late to work, I thought. I stood up and headed towards the stairs.

“What the hell happened to you last night?” Jen called after me.

“Uh, I heard a noise outside, went to investigate and fell down. Must’ve bumped my head on a rock or something.”

“Jesus, are you okay? Can I take a look at it?”

“I’m fine, no time, I’m gonna be late.”

“Okay, well, make an appointment or something, you should have it checked out.”

“Yeah, yeah, I will.”

I took a shower, washing off the night. It took a whole bar of soap to remove the sticky white goo off my leg. It must have soaked through the fabric, I shuddered at the thought.

I walked into our bedroom to pick out a shirt and tie. Our walk-in closet was deep, and dark, without any light bulbs. Bracing the doorway I took one step into the closet. The black room swayed in response. I reached for a shirt. Oh god, I should go see a doctor, I thought. The blackness seemed never-ending. When I reached the distance where my clothes should have been I felt a soft, warm mass. I pressed my hand against it. The whole room was covered in a thick, wet, substance that appeared to be moving. This must be a concussion, I thought. The closet moved slightly, breathing in and out. The whole room was, purring.

“No!” I screamed. Turning around I saw the giant fangs reversed. Long appendages closed the open gap disguised as the doorway to my closet. All light disappeared from the world. I screamed but my voice had nowhere to go. The room grew tighter against my body until I couldn’t move at all. The chittering of a thousand tiny legs filled my ears. Spiders of all sizes, crawling over my skin, into my clothes, onto my face. They poured into my mouth and ears. The spiders crawled under my skin, into my body. I felt them behind eyes, inside my throat and ear canals. They crawled everywhere, filling up the space inside me more and more until there was no room left for anything else.

***

“Hey man, haven’t seen you in a few days, wanna grab some lunch?” a text from Andy read. In actuality, several weeks had passed. I no longer spent any time in the warehouse at all. I kept my head down and my shirt tucked in. Eric had noticed and rewarded my hard work with a small bump in pay. Twenty-five cents to be exact.

“Don’t spend it all in one place,” he said winking. I faked a laugh and he patted me on the shoulder. A thousand legs inside me protested against the sudden jolt of movement. I rubbed my shoulder to soothe the small moving masses living just under the skin.

***

A small black spider crawled across baby Christopher’s changing table. I was putting a new diaper on him and he lay smiling and batting at my hands. The spider crawled over his skin. I picked it up and examined it. After a few minutes, I placed the spider onto my cheek. It crawled beneath my left eye socket to rejoin its brothers and sisters. My body purred in response.

Related

Read more: https://thoughtcatalog.com/jonathan-byrd/2019/09/the-spiders-under-your-skin

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50 Times People Witnessed Slightly Annoying Things And Just Had To Share (New Pics)

Our brains just love symmetry! So much so that when we see a fine example of things just falling nicely into place just as they should, it satisfies us deep within our souls.

Of course, when we encounter the opposite – the wonky, the askew, the lop-sided – it triggers a vague feeling of discomfort. This reaction is stronger in some than in others, but even those of us who would consider themselves chill about imperfections can get fixated on certain mistakes.

Can’t understand what I mean? Well, as a follow up to previous efforts here and hereBored Panda has collected another list of things that aren’t quite right and are sure to set the alarm bells ringing. Scroll down below to check them out for yourself, and let us know how they made you feel in the comments!

#1

This Neighborhood I Saw On Google Maps Really Hits Me Hard

So what lies behind this fascination with all things symmetrical? Well, according to an article in HowStuffWorks, it comes from the fact that most objects in the real world are symmetrical. “This is particularly true of nature: the radial symmetry of starfish or flower petals, the symmetrical efficiency of a hexagonal honeycomb, or the uniquely symmetrical crystal patterns of a snowflake,” they write. “In fact asymmetry is often a sign of illness or danger in the natural world.”

#2

Okay What The Hell

#3

Well You’re Not Wrong

“And, of course, human beings are symmetrical, at least on the outside (some internal organs like the heart and liver are off-center). Decades of research into sexual attraction have proven that both men and women find symmetrical faces sexier than asymmetrical ones. The leading explanation is that physical symmetry is an outward sign of good health, although large-scale studies have shown no significant health differences in people with symmetrical or asymmetrical faces.”

“The simple explanation for our attraction to symmetry is that it’s familiar. Symmetrical objects and images play by the rules that our brains are programmed to recognize easily.”

#4

It’s Like They Want Me To Have An Aneurysm

#5

How The **** Does This Happen?

In an essay called The Symmetrical Universe, Alan Lightman, American physicist, writer, and author of The Accidental Universe: The World You Thought You Knew, writes:

“Symmetry leads to economy, and nature, like human beings, seem to prefer economy. If we think of nature as a vast ongoing experiment, constantly trying out different possibilities of design, then those designs that cost the least energy or that require the fewest different parts to come together at the right time will take precedence, just as the principle of natural selection says that organisms with the best ability to survive will dominate over time.”

#6

This Stove

#7

Someone Thought It Would Be Funny To Do This At The Corner Of Every Page Of This Notebook

So try to relax whilst perusing this list – your sense of discomfort or even anger at the asymmetry of things is fully justified, and is an appropriate human reaction to these design outrages. Good symmetry is good organization and our brains are hardwired to appreciate that!

#8

People Whose Desktops Look Like This

#9

When You Play The Sims But Forget To Rotate

#10

Meanwhile In Supermarket

#11

This Chandelier At A Restaurant I Ate At Bothers Me So Much

#12

What The Actual Mother ******* **** Is This *******

#13

The Way This Pizza Has Been Cut

#14

These Lights

#15

Preth Any Button

#16

Just Re-Pave The Damn Road At This Point

#17

At My Closest Train Station. I Think I Need To Move

#18

You Had One Job

#19

911 – I’d Like To Report A Crime

#20

That. One. Pole.

#21

My Friend’s New Front Door

#22

My Grandfather Doesn’t Peel The Plastic Off Of Anything And Won’t Let Me Peel It Off. I’m About To Have A Heart Attack

#23

This Building Where Nothing Lines Up

#24

This Teacher Doesn’t Erase The Board Fully And Continues To Use It

#25

ON Is Red, OFF Is Green

#26

I’m Literally Screaming Inside

#27

How These Pipes Were Installed

#28

Not Only Is The First Light Different, The Last Light’s Fixture Is Upside Down

#29

Why Write The ‘S’ Like That? The More I Read It, The More It Mildly Infuriates Me

See Also on Bored Panda
#31

Looked Down During My Shower Today. Can’t Unsee It Now

#32

Askew Angles

#33

Horrible Cut-Out

#34

I Was High In The Road And Was Not Sure If It Was The Weed Or Not So I Took A Picture For Later

#35

I Am Forced To Look At This Every Time I Get Up

#36

Why Not “Intense Raspberry”?

#37

Why?

#38

This Stripe On My Friend’s Car

#39

I Put The Manhole Cover Back, Boss

See Also on Bored Panda
#41

Do I Even Have To Say Anything

#42

Why?

#43

The Way My Mom Watches TV With Things Obscuring The Screen

#44

Found This In Louisiana

#45

But How?

#46

Cut It Wrong. I Think They

#47

Well Done

#48

Finished Laying The Bricks, Boss

#49

This Apartment Building

See Also on Bored Panda

Read more: http://www.boredpanda.com/uncomfortable-imperfection-pictures/

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Today, I Cried

Today I cried.

I cried hard.

I sat at top of the staircase, covered my face, & cried.

When he saw me start to come down the stairs, The Toddler ran behind the recliner to hide.

He knew he wasn’t allowed to have the cereal but there it was spilled all over the kitchen counter I had just finished scrubbing.

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He was hiding from me, afraid I would start yelling again.

I wanted to. I would have.

But instead, I cried.

He watched me for a moment; confusion turning into concern.

“Oh Mom,” he said, “please don’t cry.”

But I just sat there. Exhausted, defeated, & broken.

He brought me his ball & his racecar.
He did a silly dance & made a funny face.
He touched my face & put his tiny arms around my shoulders.

“Please, Mom. Don’t cry.”

Today was a bad day.

He wants candy for breakfast.

I want to go back to sleep.

He wants Team Umizoomi NOT Bubble Guppies.

I want to turn the TV off & go back to bed.

He doesn’t want to take a shower.

I want to take a shower by myself.

Instead, I shower with my hands over my ears with the Toddler sitting at my feet. The shower walls amplify his defiant screams & shatter my eardrums.

He wants to get out of the house.

I want to go to bed.

He wants a tennis ball from the grocery store.

I want a bottle of wine.

Wait now he wants the football?? He screams it loud enough for the entire store to hear.

I want to leave him in the parking lot.

The entire day goes on like this. Fight after fight. Argument after argument.

Despite it all, today, I am trying.

I reach out to a friend & tell her how I’m feeling.

I keep my voice level & calm. I talk to the Toddler & listen & try to understand. I give so many hugs & dozens of kisses.

I turn off the screens & turn on music.

I dance around & play on the floor & read books.

But no matter how hard I try & no matter what I do or say or act, it doesn’t stop.

Today, I tried. I really, really tried.

Everything I thought I knew about parenting was exhausted & useless.

Today, I failed.

Today I screamed & cussed & threw things.

Today I popped my kid on the mouth more than once & I put him in timeout.

Today I lashed out at my husband & resented the peaceful relationship he has with our son.

Today, I was mean. I was unkind. I was impatient.

Today, I lost.

I lost the fight with my son. I lost the fight with my husband.

I lost the fight with myself.

Today, I don’t think I can do this anymore.

Today, I don’t want this life.

So yeah, today I cried.

No one tells you about this part.

No one tells you about the anger & the sadness & the isolation & the disdain.

No one tells you that motherhood brings out an unrecognizable version of yourself who you hate & resent.

No one tells you about days like today.

But as I sat on the staircase weeping at the terrible thoughts rattling through my head, that little boy didn’t leave my side.

He had spent the entire day watching me morph into a terrible, ugly monster, just as I’d watched him become one as well.

But at the end of the day, when our scary monster masks melt away, I am still his Mama & he is still my child.

Today, I am his mother & tomorrow will be the same.

So tomorrow, I will keep trying.

& you should too.

Keep trying, Mama. Keep going.

Today was hard. Tomorrow might be too. That’s okay.

Some days won’t have a happy ending. Some days there are no resolutions.

You just have to go to bed & wake up ready to try again.

We can do this, Mamas. We can do this.

If you have had or are having days like today, leave a comment, share this, or send me a message. Anything to send the message to all mothers that we are not alone in days like today.

All my love,
Taylor

**This post originally appeared on the Ticking Time Momb Facebook page. Published with permission.


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Fashion steps up its catering for vegans

Image copyright Doctor Martens
Image caption Dr Martens’ vegan boots represent 4% of all pairs sold

Remember when synthetic leather was the fall-back option, if you couldn’t afford the real thing?

Not any more.

It has just become a selling point: clothes and accessories marketed as free from cow skin and any other animal products, are being launched by retailers up and down the High Street, including Marks & Spencer, Zara and New Look.

There are fur coats, that are “vegan”, jute and plastic “vegan” belts, and shoes made from tree bark, natural rubber and coconut fibre, labelled “vegan”.

While an increasing number of Brits are trying to eat less meat, market researchers Mintel found in their latest fashion and sustainability report that the trend is now spreading from kitchen to closet. It found animal welfare came top of a list of issues that people said they considered before buying clothes, with 42% saying it was important to them.

Mintel predicted 2019 would see a boom in animal-free shoe collections with shoppers of all ages saying they would buy footwear labelled “vegan”.

“It seems to be a bit of a buzz word,” says Patsy Perry, senior lecturer in fashion marketing at the University of Manchester.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Designer Stella McCartney is seen as a pioneer of animal-friendly fashion

As well as being on trend – and with a much better ring to it than “synthetic leather” – the “vegan” label does convey an important extra distinction, Ms Perry points out.

“If you are labelling it as vegan, the whole product needs to be vegan,” she says. That means checking things like the glue that holds the shoe together for example and the chemicals used for finishing them.

At the top end, designers like Stella McCartney – described by Ms Perry as the original pioneer in this area – have shunned leather and fur for some time. Her fashion house is now exploring a leather substitute made from fungi, and looking at replacing silk with yeast proteins.

But it is at the more accessible end of the market where the trend is really taking off, with some big brands already converting demand for vegan fashion into sales.

Dr Martens – purveyors of high-top leather boots – has experienced a 300% rise in sales of the vegan version of its stompers over the past year.

Launched right back in 2011, the vegan DMs are made from a combination of polyester fabric and polyurethane. After last year’s rapid growth, vegan boots represented 4% of all pairs sold.

The Vegan Society says they’ve seen a boom in products registered with the vegan trademark: in 2018 there were 119. So far this year it says 1,956 have been registered.

“New products are being added daily, and many new brands are currently in the process of submitting products for review – including some very well-known High Street brands,” says the Vegan society’s Dominika Piasecka.

These new products aren’t for the most part, though, coming at an extra to cost to consumers.

Vegan Doc Martens cost the same as the leather originals. New Look, one of the first High Street chains to use the vegan trademark prices ballet “flats” at £7.99 and a vegan laptop handbag at £29.99, comparable with its other products.

This marks a change, points out retail analyst Kate Hardcastle. In the past ethical products, whether that was fair trade or organic came at a premium.

On the other hand, once upon a time that “leather-look” handbag would have cost half the price of the real thing. So should these products cost less?

Charging similar prices to general ranges is justifiable, argues Ms Hardcastle, since the cost of materials is a small part of the overall cost and the cost of production isn’t likely to be significantly lower for vegan products.

She does strike a note of caution though, over just how ethical these new ranges are overall.

The debate over durability, production techniques, crop-growing impacts, pollution, biodegradability and recyclability is a complicated one, not to mention the ethics around the working conditions for people making the products, whatever the component materials.

Environmental campaigners are adamant that the best approach to is to buy less, never mind what the item is made of.

Some companies are “dressing up” items using the vegan tag, warns Ms Hardcastle, to make products appear “far more environmentally [and] ethically friendly than the product actually is”.

Consumers should not be “lulled into a false sense of security” that just because something isn’t an animal hide it is suddenly therefore environmentally friendly, she warns. “That isn’t the case.”

Related Topics

Read more: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-49409405

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Man shakes friend’s baby, leaving her blind

Image copyright Dyfed Powys Police
Image caption Stephen Carl Smith shook his friend’s five-month-old daughter as he was babysitting, the court heard

A man who shook his friend’s five-month-old daughter so hard she suffered permanent brain damage and is virtually blind, has been jailed for 10 years.

Stephen Carl Smith had agreed to babysit while Luke Taylor and his partner Sophie Reed went night fishing, Swansea Crown Court heard.

Smith, 28, of Haverfordwest, had denied causing grievous bodily harm with intent but a jury found him guilty.

Judge Peter Heywood said Smith had lost his temper with the baby, Bayleigh-Lee.

The couple had returned home from Milford Haven pier, Pembrokeshire, after Smith sent Mr Taylor a text message saying his daughter was having difficulties breathing, the court heard.

When they arrived, Bayleigh-Lee was sitting in a chair and appeared to be asleep.

‘Piercing scream’

But the court heard that while Miss Reed was in the kitchen, the baby let out “a piercing scream” and when she picked her up found her limp and lifeless.

Doctors found there had been bleeding to the brain.

Bayleigh-Lee suffered “catastrophic and life-changing” injuries in the incident on 18 August 2016, the jury was told.

Smith, of Hywel Road, claimed Bayleigh-Lee had suddenly fallen ill. He had maintained he was innocent and refused to apologise.

The jury heard the two men had been friends and Smith would sometimes help Mr Taylor, a self-employed delivery driver.

“She will need medical care for the rest of her life. Something went disastrously wrong that evening,” said Judge Heywood, sentencing Smith.

John Hipkin, counsel for Smith, said all he could offer on his client’s behalf was that he had not offended in a similar way before.

Related Topics

Read more: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-49323333

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A made-up tweet about Olive Garden supporting Trump sparked a boycott

Over the weekend, news that Olive Garden was supporting Trumps reelection campaign spread like wildfire across Twitter. #BoycottOliveGarden trended for hours.

Theres just one problem: It isnt true. The Daily Dot could find no record of Olive Garden or its owner, Darden Restaurants, donating to Donald Trump.

But no matter; the pyre was stacked and Resistance Twitter was ready and willing to roast Olive Garden.

Some took aim at the fare. No one should ever eat at a chain Italian restaurant, where your money goes to the highly paid execs who cant even cook. You go where mama, the owner, is in the kitchen, fixin your pasta herself. #BoycottOliveGarden, one wrote.

Yall want me to boycott Chick-Fil-A, Taco Bell, In-N-Out Burger, Pizza Hut, KFC, Waffle House, IHOP, Wendys, KFC, AND OLIVE GARDEN?! Whats left Im sorry, but Ima still eat their crusty, oversalted breadsticks #BoycottOliveGarden, another lamented, referencing the numerouspolitically-motivated restaurant boycotts, such as that of Nestle.

Trump supporters, meanwhile, busily proclaimed their intention to eat copious amounts of unlimited breadsticks and salad in solidarity. Thanks for letting us know! Not a fan of Olive Garden but will now go to show my support! said one woman.


Chuck E. Cheese recycles pizza is the conspiracy theory that won’t die

While many conspiracy theories have their origins in political events, acts of war, or great crimes, others are purely pop culture inventions. They arise from viral stars or YouTube creators, and find millions of watchers who have been conditioned to believe things without proof.

The Chuck E. Cheese recycles pizza conspiracy is a perfect example of this, starting with a single YouTube video, which exploded to the point of international coverage.

One Eared Weasley/Twitter


What is the Chuck E. Cheese recycles pizza conspiracy theory?

The Chuck E. Cheese conspiracy theory posits that the pizza and kids entertainment giant saves money by assembling uneaten slices from ordered pizzas into new pizzas, and passes them off as just-baked.

The conspiracy theory achieved viral popularity in February 2019. YouTube star Shane Dawson and filmed evidence that the chain was re-purposing old pizza slices, because several of the pizzas they ordered had irregularly cut slices.

One pie, a half-pepperoni half-cheese pizza, appeared to be two halves of different pizzas served together. Dawson and several friends were visibly shocked at the discrepancies, and even measured the pizzas to confirm their theory that the slices were irregular.

Sure enough, the slices were the same size, but not in a perfect circle, sending the group into a flurry of conspiracy ideation. Dawson speculated that there was a reason, but that legally Im not going to say what I think the reason is.

How popular did the conspiracy get?

Very, at least for a few days.

Dawsons followers ate the theory up, andthe video he made has nearly 35 million views. It also spawned dozens of mainstream pieces, with everyone from the Washington Post and BuzzFeed to the Today Show and Fox News recycling the same scant conspiracy theory into articles and segments.

Was Shane Dawson the first to claim Chuck E. Cheese pizzas are irregular?

The claims have actually been around for over a decade.

MultipleYahoo Answers threads ask the question Does Chuck E. Cheese recycle pizzas? The answer is always no, because it would be a health code violation, and be terrible press if it ever came out. Dawsons video was the first mainstream exposure it got, though.

Does Chuck E. Cheese actually recycle pizzas?

According to employees, no.Many employees went on social media and denied ever recycling or being told to recycle pizza slices. The irregular shapes, they claimed, were because the pizzas would sometimes warp or shrink in the oven.

Beyond that, the cutting tool used to make the slices sometimes didnt go all the way through and had to be used multiple times on the same slice. Finally, the pizzas are brought out by hand and are knocked around in transit.

What did Chuck E. Cheese have to say about it?

The pizza giant issued a blanket statement saying: The claims made in this video about Chuck E. Cheeses and our pizza are unequivocally false. No conspiracies hereour pizzas are made to order and we prepare our dough fresh in restaurant, which means that theyre not always perfectly uniform in shape, but always delicious.

This isnt related to Pizzagate, is it?

The Chuck E. Cheese conspiracy theory is about pizza, but it is not related to thepizzagate conspiracy theory that political elites are trafficking children for sex by using the non-existent basement of a Washington, D.C., pizza restaurant.

It is also not related to conspiracy theories that Little Caesars actually serves unfrozen DiGiorno pizzas, or that Papa Johns Pizzas founder was ousted by his own board.

Wait, Little Caesars serves unfrozen DiGiorno pizzas?

A viral video from 2018 caught a bunch of frozen pizzas in a shopping cart next to a Little Caesars located in a K-Mart. The company said theyd merely been moved before being disposed of, since theyd hit their expiration date.

Or were they?

Read more: https://www.dailydot.com/layer8/chuck-e-cheese-recycles-pizza-conspiracy-theory/

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High Street shops sold knives to children

Image copyright Getty Images

High Street retailers have illegally sold knives to children during test purchases conducted by National Trading Standards, the organisation says.

Tesco, Asda, Poundland and Home Bargains sold blades to under-18s at least 15 times each during tests between April 2018 and March 2019.

Tesco and Asda have since updated their checks and further restricted sales.

Poundland said it stopped selling kitchen knives last year, while Home Bargains has not yet commented.

Trading Standards sent in “mystery shoppers” under the age of 18 to carry out the test purchases.

Shop staff failed to prevent the sale of a knife to a child 344 times, equal to 15% of the 2,231 tests carried out by Trading Standards at national chain and independent shops.

It is illegal to sell knives to those under 18, unless it has a folding blade 3 inches long (7.62 cm) or less.

There were 285 killings by a knife or sharp instrument in the 12 months ending March 2018, according to Office for National Statistics (ONS) analysis.

One in four (71) of all victims (285) were men aged 18-24, ONS said.

Lord Toby Harris, chairman of National Trading Standards, said: “Restricting the sale of knives to children is clearly a difficult issue for retailers, especially those with large numbers of outlets, staff and delivery partners.

“I am aware that many retailers are working incredibly hard to train staff and introduce robust procedures to stem the flow of knives to children.

“But let’s be clear – it’s illegal to sell a knife to a child. Our tests show that it’s still too easy for a child to buy a knife.”

Separately, 100 online test purchases were carried out; children were sold a knife on 41 occasions.

Under the new Offensive Weapons Act, retailers will be stopped from delivering knives to residential addresses, in a bid to curb under-18s circumventing age restrictions.

The act, which received Royal Assent in May, is currently under public consultation before the new laws come into force.

Some online retailers already refuse to deliver knives without the courier checking the person’s ID.

An Asda spokesman said: “In April 2019, we became the first retailer to remove all single knives from sale across our stores to help ensure that they do not fall into the wrong hands.

“Whilst we are clearly disappointed with the results from a small number of cases between April 2018 and March 2019, we would like to reassure customers that we have since provided updated training for colleagues.”

The spokesman added the supermarket has “clear Challenge 25 policies”, which require staff to check a customer’s proof of age to ensure they are over 18, when buying a restricted item.

Tesco UK and Ireland chief executive Jason Tarry said: “Tesco takes the safety of our colleagues, customers, and the communities we serve very seriously.

“We have made significant changes to our approach to displaying and selling knives, without taking choice away from customers, including a new two-stage age verification process and removing knives from display on the shop floor.”

A spokesman for Poundland said: “As this body [Trading Standards] is aware, we’re baffled by their numbers.

“They know we stopped selling kitchen knives completely in all our 850 stores last year.”

Read more: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-49497672

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