edited to add: Welcome to readers visiting from the Whining Carnival!
Phantom Scribbler is hosting a whining carnival, to be held, naturally, on the shortest day of the year, a perfect day for dwelling on the negatives. Being a faithful participant in Phantom’s Wednesday Whines, I thought about writing a post for the carnival. I’ll submit this post, but I’m not going to whine, so here’s my explanation why I don’t want to play.
It’s not that I don’t have things to whine about, like a scratchy throat that’s threatening to turn into a Bad Cough (as Curious Girl would put it); a child with an ear infection that won’t clear and is draining very smelly stuff; a partner who’s stressed out with last-minute grading (someone has to give finals on the last day of exams, but does it have to be her?); a long to-do list that must be finished before we pile in the car for a 1200 mile trip to visit family and friends in Far Away Places; a long to-do list that won’t get finished before classes start in January because of said trip; a house that is cold, cold, cold because renovations have taken off the siding and not yet blown in more insulation; a mentor who has just moved to England. And that’s just the personal stuff. If I start thinking about, say, our president who apparently doesn’t care for the Constitution, I get quite whiny, not to mention despairing.
But I’m not whining.
Whining is never appropriate, we tell Curious Girl. Mama and Mommy don’t listen to whiny girls. Use your words. Have a polite tone. At work, I have a few whiny colleagues. I whine about them, sometimes, but mostly I think, Stop whining, and do something to make it different. If you don’t like the situation, change it. I don’t like whiners. They’re irritating.
Except on Wednesdays, at Phantom’s, where whiners are stylish, funny, and heartbreaking all at once, and whining is superb. Share your whine on Wednesday, and you could get a prize. Regular prizes (the playdough violin!) for whines of substance and of style (more creative or poetic misery has ne'er been expressed), with ad hoc prizes for things like whines of the season. There are running jokes (about nipples, bodily fluids, and mullets, for starters), and there’s compassion. Mostly we listen to each other, but we offer some advice. We throw out our own whines, and then vote for someone else’s. We show up to listen even if we’re not whiny. The pixies are an amazing support group (thanks to Phantom’s hand in shaping the culture of her place in the blogosphere). And I like whining there. When crappy things are happening during the week, I sometimes think “but it’s not Wednesday! How can this be happening?” or “Hey, this’ll make a great whine on Wednesday.” Whether or not I actually whine about it on Wednesday, it gives me perspective. And then the range of whines offers another perspective. And people don’t just whine: they anti-whine, noting another perspective on the problem, or noting another part of their life that’s going OK even while the whine exists. Or they show up to announce there really isn't much a whine (see one example of this mix here). Wednesday whining offers a chance to blurt out the most oversimplified and selfish version of a whine; it also offers a chance to look at a whine in all its complexity. Whatever kind of support you need—people to be mad with you, people to muster a blog posse, people to send virtual hugs, people to listen—you can find it somewhere on a Wednesday whine. Maybe not all at once, maybe not every week, but if you make yourself a Wednesday regular, the whining will do you good. Really good.
Phantom jokes that people come for the whines but it’s all about the nipples. It’s really all about the community. And that’s what makes whining there so great. I can come with a whine, and leave it, knowing that people will listen. I could whine here, on my own blog, but I don’t really know what you readers would make of it. Some might comment, some might laugh, who knows? But at Wednesday whining, I can toss out a whine, have a “pay attention to me right now this sucks dammit!” moment, and then let it go, knowing that my problems—whether resolved or not—are just part of the rhythm of life. And it gives me a little more energy to tackle them anew on Thursday, or it helps me shrug it off.
So no whining for me here. I’m saving it for Wednesday. At Phantom’s.