Insecurities


I got a bit of backlash for claiming I’m not that pretty (http://ithilen.wordpress.com/2014/08/27/ironic-whistling/).  So I thought I would clarify.

You don’t see it because you aren’t looking.  Everyone has self-image issues.  When I look in the mirror, I am looking at the same face I see every day and it isn’t often that I dwell on the positive.  I see the scars from compulsive picking and the zits and the jaw line that’s a little too round and the atrocious teeth.  I see eyebrows that need tweezing and skin that needs smoothing.  But it’s my face and I accept that I have a pretty good set up, all things considered.

I also had a childhood where I was called ugly, where my flaws were pointed out, where I couldn’t live up to the ideal.  Didn’t we all get that?  So even though I’m a grown woman with a decent figure and pleasant features, I don’t measure up.  I could be taller, trimmer, could dress better and make an effort with my hair.  I could wear make up every day like every other woman on the planet (it seems).  But at the end of the day, or rather, at the beginning of the day, I’m tired and don’t feel like making an effort.  I may feel guilty about that sometimes (don’t ask me why) and I may dread leaving college for places where jeans and a t-shirt don’t cut it.  So when some stranger pays me a compliment, my immediate thought is that he must be joking.  Girls who dress up in frilly sun dresses and wear make up and high heels get whistled at.  I, in my flip-flops and jeans, lugging my back pack, am not on display.  It just catches me off guard and sets off all the insecurities that we all deal with all the time, even when we have wonderful people who point out the truth of our individual beauty.

Thank you for saying I’m pretty.  It means a lot more coming from friends and family than it does from some lurker on the street.

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15AM000000122011 · 00:53

How It Should Have Gone


The boy who stands before his father-king, puffed up and swaggering, most beloved and gentle, has brought war to his kingdom.  The girl is indeed exquisitely beautiful, in a vacant way, and looks at his son with something bordering on worship.  Children, pleased with their escape and ignorant to the consequences of their foolishness.  But what can he do?  This poor fool is his son and family is everything.  It is the basis for all civilization.  If he abandoned his son, his people would never forgive him and the kingship would be lost to him.  He must think of his legacy, his elder son who is honorable and just.

“Send her back,” Priam says, though with little hope.  The impetuous boy would not have stolen her if he had any common sense.

“What?  Why?” he asks, genuine confusion in his dark eyes.

“Why?  Why?  Can you really not know?”  Rage moves the king to pace the elegantly decored room, gesturing vastly to banners of neighboring kingdoms and tapestries of battles.  “Can you be such an imbecile, so blind to the slaughter you have brought to our door?  All of Greece shall be at the walls, her husband at the fore.”  His hoary finger stabs at the girl, who remains unflinching.  Priam begins to wonder if her intense beauty has rotted her mind.  “Have you no concept of the destruction you cause?  We had peace, boy!  We had prosperity and trade and honor among our neighbors!  Now, we shall suffer privation and shame by you hand!  How will I look my neighbor in the eye when my own son has proven himself a sneak-thief!”

“I am no thief!” he exclaims, line-less face turning bright crimson.  “She is my reward, a gift from the gods and I will fight any man who calls me thief!”

Looking at that petulant anger, Priam is tempted to slap the boy for his impudence.  “Gift from the gods?  Know you not that our gods gift roses with poisoned thorns?”  His fury is finally exhausted by this exchange and he collapses to his cushioned throne.  The boy is mad to think the gods would simply give him with the wife of a powerful king.  Unless, the blasphemous thought comes unbidden, as a means of sport, to make the mortals play at war for their divine entertainment.   “You must send her back on a ship laden with treasure to alleviate this insult.”

“I will not.”  Priam looks up sharply, his grizzled face darkening, but the boy continues.  “She is mine, my prize, my wife.  We have shared the rites and the gods have smiled on our union.  If she goes back, it will be to watch me dispatch her slovenly husband.  Send an emissary to the pig-king and demand that he release her from her bonds to him, else he will end upon my blade.”

Thrice-bound fool.  Menelaus, drunk and half-dead would be more than a match for the womanly strength of his son, whose only skill lies with the bow and the swiftness of his feet.  The boy must know this, else he would have challenged the king directly.  A true warrior would not have snuck away with his prize in the night, and never would have dishonored the guest rites in any case, let alone as an emissary from his father-king.  “This travesty is my doing,” Priam decides suddenly and with great melancholy.  “I indulged you too long.  I made you this fool who boasts and brags to impress a simple-minded girl.  Fine.  You may keep her and we shall defend your dishonor because I am the one who allowed it.  The weeping of the widows will hound our sleep, but we shall live on behind our walls, diminished in honor, but alive.”  Hector, who has been silent for the entire discussion, shakes his head and departs.  The boy, Paris, smiles broadly.  “I will not be grinned at in such a way, boy,” the king says venomously.  “You will be gone from my sight with your strumpet and I will see you again only as I lay on my pyre.  You bring shame on our family and death to our kingdom.  If we are very fortunate, you may be given the opportunity to die gloriously in battle.”  Paris storms out angrily, the girl dragging behind him, her face still a lovely blank.

That night, he is visited by a dream.  The next decade of bloody war stretches out before him, gore-drenched beaches and the death calls echoing off the walls of the city.  He sees ten thousand ships sailing for the sake of foolish desire.  He sees the gods feasting above while the sons of Troy spend their lives.  From the massacred masses arises a man shining with the fury of the gods.  Golden armor bears down on his people, crashing upon Hector without mercy or humanity, culling the soldiers as a skilled reaper-man, ash spear skewering his warrior-son like a pig.  His son is dragged for days behind a chariot, his body desecrated for that fury.  There is further shame coming on Paris for his failures as a warrior and a man.  He sees a giant wooden horse and his city in flames, children slaughtered, women enslaved.  Hecuba and Andromace and Astyanax, speared and bleeding at his feet.  He follows Aeneas to Rome and Rome down the ages of blood and war and death, follows the tale of the great war which is believed to be utter myth because it is so preposterous.  He watches the desert bury his city and turn it from history to legend to mere fairy tale.  All this passes in his dream, filling his mind with horror and fear, endless screaming from dying soldiers and raped women, all for a vacant-faced beauty and a spoiled little boy.

Priam awakens with cold purpose in his heart.  He leaves his wife to her sweet sleeping and dons a robe against the chilly predawn air.  Hector is standing outside Paris’ room, his tunic belted with his sword, the echoes of the nightmare in his hard face.  He nods to his father and offers the old king a ceremonial dagger, the kind used to sacrifice yearlings in the spring.  The handle is cool and worn smooth by years of dedicated use.  Silently, the two men enter the bed chamber.

Paris and Helen are entwined on the bed, limbs bare and cotton blankets tangled.  They sleep soundly, wrapped together snugly like cats.  Priam covers his son’s mouth and in one smooth motion, draws the sharp blade across his lily-white throat.  The boy struggles briefly, but Hector holds him so there is no flailing to awaken the girl.  In moments, the thrashing stops, the gush of black blood slows and stops.  Priam considers taking the knife to the girl, but decides against it.  Let the Menelaus have his pretty doll back.  Hector drags his brother from the bed, rolls him into a blanket, hefts the bundle over his broad shoulder, and leaves the room as silent as before.  Priam gently awakens the girl and explains that Paris wants to go to the beach.  Her eyes light up at his name and she makes eager sounds in her throat but says nothing.  Priam guides her by the hand down through the palace to the stables where Hector awaits with a handful of loyal soldiers, horses, and a palette bearing the wrapped body and several lengths of sturdy wood.  Helen mounts a docile mare and follows the procession out of the stables, a vague smile on her face.

When the Greeks arrive on the beach, they discover a curious tableau.  A rapidly decaying naked body has been displayed on cross-beams standing up in the sand with an accompanying army of kites and seabirds.  Little remains of the handsome face, no ruddy cheeks, no lover’s eyes to woo the unwary.  There is evidence that the cross has been reinforced to ensure that it would be on display for their arrival, however long it might have taken, through winds and rains and great waves.  At the foot of the cross is a small shelter, just an assemblage of driftwood and plants enough to offer shade and protection from the rain.  Lying in the shelter is a vacant-faced girl, a pretty creature, though dirty and thin.  She has a bowl filled with some kind of gruel and a heavy chain on her ankle attached to the cross.  On the opposite side of the cross is a long boat filled with treasure.  Inscribed in the side of the boat is a message from the king.  “Praise to the gods for saving us from great folly.  Here is your queen, stolen dishonorably from your king.  The thief hangs before you, shorn of heritage, honors, legacy, family.  Recompense for you journey is here.  A feast shall be prepared for your departure.”

From his window, Priam can just make out the dark, ragged form on the cross and the ships crowding the harbor.  “After all, I have other sons.”

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Craft Beer Weekend


This weekend, Buddy and I celebrated not having kids.

Don’t get me wrong.  We want kids at some point, after I’m done with school and started on a real job.  We’d really like to wait until I’m rich and famous.

For now, we’re happy being parents to cats, who can be left at home in the care of friends if we want to skip out.  Which is exactly what we did.

About five hours from here is a brewery which was doing a special limited release of one of their annual beers.  Buddy, being a craft beer enthusiast, really wanted to go and, because they were limiting the number of 22 oz bottles each customer could purchase (6), he needed me along as a mule.  It’s not that the beer is so amazingly good that he plans to drink all 12 bottles himself.  He has a vast network of friends with whom he trades hard-to-find brews.  Those 12 bottles are trade currency.

The brewery was going to hand out purple bracelets to the first 300 customers at 6:30 am on Saturday.  Those lucky customers would be let into the brewery at 8 am for some inexpensive sausage biscuits and then allowed to make their purchases starting at 9 am, lining up based on the number on their bracelet.  When they ran out of purple bracelets, they switched to gold bracelets.  Those customers had to wait outside until all the purples were served and then hope that the brewery hadn’t already run out.

People weren’t supposed to start lining up until 2 am.  When we got there at 12:30 am, we were extremely grateful that our friends had gotten there at 11:30 pm.  The parking lot was full and the waiting party was well on its way.

You see, when craft beer people get together, they do “shares.”  Everyone brings a couple of bottles of rare, limited edition, or even aged brews.  Then they offer up tastes.  It’s part of what makes the craft beer community so strange to me.  Most people, when they get together to drink, are just trying to get drunk and have a good time.  Craft beer people are like oenophiles in their appreciation of the product (they use some of the same terminology), but they are more like foodies in their egalitarian attitude.  Wine people frequently come across as rude and stingy, mostly because good wine is expensive and it behooves the serious collector to save it for as long as possible to increase the value.  From what I can tell, wineries are trying to change this attitude and engage younger generations, probably because craft brewers are so successful with this strategy.  Foodies, in contrast, have very limited shelf life for their products.  Half the fun is eating and the other half is sharing with other foodies, who will appreciate your offering and make you feel justified for spending $8 on goat cheese.

Beer doesn’t have the shelf life of wine, but some are made to be aged for a year or so.  It’s also a controlled substance and is difficult to ship long distances safely.  The fans of this product love sharing, but only enough to give samples.  That night in line was spent by most people moving through the crowd and sharing stories and beer with complete strangers.  It was an unexpected atmosphere, rather exuberant and welcoming.

There were a couple of police officers there for the event.  They basically let everyone know that as long as they didn’t see anything (like open alcoholic beverages on a public street after midnight), they didn’t have to notice anything.  And, even though people were drinking steadily the whole time (and we could smell some less-than-legal smoking), the cops didn’t need to get involved.  They were just a friendly reminder to keep things amiable, which is exactly what happened.

Down sides to this trip were few, I think.  The brewery piped out loud music the whole night, mostly crap.  I think they were trying to give their fans a party environment when many just wanted to get some sleep or chill with their friends.  The group of guys behind us seemed to be of the opposite opinion and spent the night yelling and swearing aggressively.  All this added up to a bad night of not-really sleep.  It wasn’t going to be good to begin with, given that our “beds” were lawn chairs, but a little less noise would have been welcome.

Still, the breakfast was tasty, the beer was great (even to me, a non-beer drinker), and it was actually a good time.  We probably will never go to that event again (we were told that the crowd was twice the size as last year).  It was a long drive and we really enjoy sleep.  And I’m being amply compensated for my mule duty (I get to build up my professional wardrobe up to the amount he spent on the beer and we’re getting my favorite almond macaroons).

We finished up at the brewery around 10 am and then went to visit Buddy’s Aunt and Uncle who live only an hour beyond the brewery.  They weren’t home when we got there, so we spent the afternoon in Barnes & Noble (me writing a paper, Buddy trying surreptitiously to sleep).  That evening, we went out for some excellent German food (after a most-needed/desired shower) and spent some time playing with Auntie and Uncle’s new puppy and kitty.  Oh, they were so cute.  That night, we slept in a soft bed we were unusually grateful for.  Spending the night on a sidewalk in a lawn chair really makes you feel for the plight of the homeless.

It was a good weekend and only possible because no kids.  Next weekend, we’re going on another short trip.  Independence is fun.

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Victory of the Excuses


Friday, the excuses won.  I didn’t even fight it.

However, that evening I got back at the excuses.  Buddy and I dug a fire pit.  It was hard work and it was really hot out.  Saturday morning, after I went to the farmers’ market, I changed into my heavy-duty jeans and my boots and attacked the forest.  This involved pruning shears, a branch trimmer, and a rake.  I took down a couple of small trees and took out about 2 square feet of tangled vines.  I also found a couple of purple flowers that I moved to the front flower beds.  This took about 2 hours and was exhausting.  It wasn’t as difficult as what Buddy did that morning.

The first time we tried to clear out some of the forest (Buddy and me plus our friend with his chainsaw), we found a huge concrete slab at the base of a tree.  It’s at least 5×5 feet.  The boys attacked it with a sledgehammer, breaking of chunks at time and lugging them over to a different part of the yard. They eventually gave up on getting rid of the entire slab and it is still a sizable annoyance, though the greenery has completely obscured it from view again.

We used some of the concrete chunks to make a base for the massive woodpile that resulted from our first forest culling.  The rest went to a pile to be disposed of at some later date.  Except it never got disposed of, for various reasons, mostly laziness.  This lack was actually fortuitous for our spontaneous fire pit.  We’ve been talking about buying a fire pit for some time, but it was really something for when we do the BIG PROJECT for the back yard (clearing the forest, building a deck/patio, putting up a shed, etc).  Last week, though, was a bad week for Buddy.  Work was non-stop stress and frustration, so much so that he is really looking forward to Korea.  For a normal person, that’s kind of like looking forward to your dental appointment because of a toothache.  No one looks forward to Korea unless their current duty station is toothache-y.   They had their last summer concert on Thursday, the rehearsals for which were a non-stop source of aggravation.  There was a bake sale that night for the unit, to which I contributed a double batch of mixed-chip cookies.  I had a ton left over, so I said let’s build a fire pit and have s’mookies with our friends.  Thus, last-minute fire pit in the yard (which made us upgrade our small get-together to a full-on BBQ).

Now, we watch DIY a lot and they show little projects we can do at home, like fire pits.  You’re supposed to dig down and line the pit with sand and then surround it with paving stones or something.  We dug down about a foot and then dumped those concrete chunks into the center.  We spread them out some and then Buddy went after them with the sledge-hammer.  He didn’t get them down to a sand level, but he broke them up enough to make a pretty even base for the fire.  Then he took some other slabs of red concrete and used those to line the edges of the pit.

Fire Pit

Ta da!  Great example of up-cycling.  I am still sore from that work.  Take that, excuses.

So far this week, I’ve used my walk time to do homework.  I was behind last week on my reading because I didn’t have all my textbooks, so this whole weekend was catching up as well as reading ahead and doing side research for all the papers I have to write this semester.  I don’t think I’ll get my chocolate this week, if only because I got a surprise 5-8 page paper due Sunday on a book I haven’t read yet because it hasn’t been assigned yet.  I miss walking a bit, but I’m considering doing yard work in the morning instead.  We’ll see what happens tomorrow morning.

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Baby Steps


Today was a baby steps day.

Last night, I had a friend hang out for a couple hours while Buddy was at rehearsal.  It’s her last week in town, so it was really important to both of us to get together.  She is my only close school friend, but she graduated last spring and it’s time for her to move on to the adult world.  She’s the only school friend with whom I’m comfortable discussing all the dumb people and other frustrations.  I don’t have to introduce her to my favorite authors because she’s already a fan.  We didn’t hang out too much outside of school, but that’s why she’s a school friend.  Last semester was the first time we didn’t have classes together and lunch at the same.  It made me sad.  I don’t make friends easily so I had a very quiet semester.  So she stopped by and we drank some Spumante Rosso while I put tray after tray of cookies in the oven.

The wine went straight to my head, riding high on those delicious bubbles.  Buddy and I had a late dinner after she left and I put off cleaning up and homework until my brain was unfogged.  By the time I was clear-headed again, it was nearly midnight.  Still, I watched several episodes of the Simpsons before going to bed…and realizing that I still had a mountain of laundry that had grown beyond the capacity of the laundry basket and had avalanched onto the bed with which I so wanted to be in a serious relationship.  After hastily folding most of my clothes, I propped myself in bed to attempt getting through my reading for today.  It was about 2:00 am when I finally caved.

I snoozed my alarm until around 6:20.  It starts going off at 6:00 because that’s when we feed the cats.  By 6:20, Ninja was braving the motion-detecting air sprayer (the “alarm”) to scratch at the door, so I crawled out of bed to be a good mommy.  That was the first and most pivotal baby step of the morning.  I have made the morning feeding of the kitties my responsibility, so it is not an option for me to hope that Buddy will do it.  That first effort to leave the warmth of the bed is the Everest of my day.  Once achieving that victory, I have a 90% chance of finishing my morning routine, barring migraines or other illness.

Kitties fed, I returned to the bedroom, a large part of me dead set on getting back into bed.  My legs are sore.  I’m really tired.  My eyes are itchy.  It’s gonna be a long damn day.

Well, at least get into your work out clothes.  You’re already up.  It will actually take you more effort to get back into bed and back to sleep (that’s the type of whopping lie I will only believe when I’m really tired).  Besides, you like your work out clothes.  They are really cute and so comfy.  No one says you have to actually go for a walk.  Just, you know, get a little more comfortable.

Fine.  But I make no promises.

Now, maybe you could see your way to grabbing your water bottle and going to the kitchen.  You can refill your water bottle.  You like water.

Yeah, so?  What’s it to you?

Oh, nothing.  Just wanted to point out the nice cold water in the kitchen.

Mmmm, water.  Drool.

And now that you’re in the kitchen, I mean, you can see the front door, right?  It’s just a matter of putting on your watch and sunglasses.  And now your shoes.

Fine, Ms. Bossypants.  But you can’t make me enthusiastic, got it?  I’m gonna take an easier pace because my legs are sore and I just don’t feel like pushing myself today.  Is that okay with you?  Huh?

Oh, no, you’ll get no objections from me.  Just pretend I’m not even here.

I will!

Because, of course, I’m not here.  Just a figment of your imagination.

Damn straight!  And don’t you forget it. I’m the master of my own decisions!

Crap.  How did I get outside?  Now I have to walk because a neighbor saw me.  You win this round, nagging conscience!

 

I did take a much slower pace, but it was fast enough to warm up sore muscles and keep my breathing up.  It was really warm out, too, so I’m glad I slowed down some.  And I saw a wild turkey.

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15AM000000122011 · 00:55

Ironic Whistling


I got whistled at today.

A truck stopped to let me cross the street.  And then I was whistled at.

My initial response was incredulity.  I looked around and the passenger in the truck, a scruffy-looking fellow, smiled and waved as they drove away.

My second response was to regret that my hand was too full of books to flip them off.

My third response was, well, I got whistled at.  When you know deep down that you aren’t pretty, even as a forward-thinking, modern woman, you can’t help but grin hugely to yourself when you get some harmless attention from a complete stranger.

Even now, I’m certain that he couldn’t have possibly have seen me that well in the bright sunshine.  Or he was whistling ironically.

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15PM000000102011 · 22:46

Murder on my Walk


This morning, I broke up a murder.  Of crows.

They yelled at me, though I can’t imagine why.  I could not see a reason for them to be gathered on the road as they were.  Unless they were having a trial.

We call this meeting to order to discuss the crimes of last Friday.

Clive, did you or did you not perch upon the eaves of the blue house with white trim and copper spiral wind chime on the morning of Friday, the 22nd of August?

I did, Dennis.

And did you, that morning, make lascivious caws at a human female walking alone on the street?

Um, what does lascivious mean?

Well, it’s like rude language.  You know, like, cat calls.

Cat calls?  I can’t do cat calls.  Don’t have the lips to make the “m” noise.

No, not literal cat calls, Clive!  I mean, did you make inappropriate comments at the female with the intent to make her uncomfortable?

Like, your walking form is going to lead to hip and knee discomfort?  Those shoes look like they give you blisters?

No!

Well, what exactly?

Did you make comments of a sexual nature at the human female?

What?  No!  That’s disgusting.  They don’t even have tales.  Who told you I was…was saying that stuff?

Well, Samson said.

Oh, Samson.  I see.

Yeah, you’re right.  Should have known better.  Sorry, Clive.

It’s okay, Dennis.  You’re not the first.

I guess I’ve learned my lesson.  ACK!  ACK!  ACK!  Here she comes again!

Flee to the eaves and yell at her!

Trespasser!

Philistine!

Hussy!

Whoa, Dennis.  That’s going a bit far.

Sorry Clive.

Featherless Freak!

Damnit, Samson!  Get out of here.

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Acceptable Excuses


Every morning, when I get up to feed the cats and go for my walk, I argue with the excuses.  I have a very long list of excuses that try to convince me that they are reasonable.  It looks like rain.  You stayed up too late last night.  It’s okay to miss one day.  You are just too tired.  The bed is so soft and warm.  It’s chilly out there.  It’s too hot.  You slept in too late.  You just don’t feel like it.  Who cares?  No one will know but you and Buddy, and he won’t judge you.  You never say anything when he skips a work out.  It’s not like you’re fat or anything.  You don’t really need to work out.  You’re not like all those other people out there with their Wal-Mart and their fast food.  You can always start exercising when you actually start gaining weight, which is what all of them should have done.  I mean, how do they let themselves get that unhealthy before they decide to do something about it?

My mind is not especially charitable at 6 am.  Actually, I can be a right b*tch first thing in the morning.  After coffee, I can feel ashamed for such thoughtlessness and I can remind myself that I am not magically immune to all the traps that can lead to unhealthy decisions and behaviors.  If I was immune to anything, I wouldn’t have to argue with that niggling little voice every morning, would I?

I have made an agreement with myself concerning excuses.  There are 3 acceptable excuses.  It must be raining, not sprinkling or threatening rain.  Thunder and lightning are a plus.  OR it must be less than 45°F outside, though I may change that after I take a walk at that temp.  I know running would keep me warm enough for that temp to be manageable, but walking doesn’t warm me up nearly as much as running.  OR I have a migraine.  Sunlight and sweating will only exacerbate it and migraines are hard enough to get rid of without annoying them.

Yesterday, I woke up to a railroad spike being driven through the top of my skull.  It was about an hour before my normal wake up time, so I took some meds to hopefully kill the bugger before I had to go walk.  When my alarm went off, it was still there, trying to push my brain out through my ears.  So I went back to bed and didn’t get up until 11 am.  Yeah, I know.  But Buddy had the morning off and it was hard to leave him when I was just so comfortable.  I spent the rest of the day lazing on the couch, reading and watching Doctor Who.  I rewarded myself for that super lazy day with no chocolate and a glass of wine with dinner.  And then I stayed up until 3 am because apparently I can’t simply stop watching David Tennant’s last episode.  As they say, it hit me in the feels.

This morning, I got up and fed the cats almost an hour late (sorry kitties).  Then the excuses started their roll call.  I know myself.  If I give into the excuse once, it’s that much easier to give in again.  I like rules.  I need rules.  If I sleep in, there is no way I’m going to work out later.  If I skip one day for a petty reason, then I’ll need herculean determination to get put of bed the next morning.  As Mad-Eye would say, “CONSTANT VIGILANCE!”

I will lose this battle occasionally.  I’m human.  I am weak and lazy.  That’s why I need bribery and cajoling and name calling to get me going.  I won this morning.  You’re already standing, you know.  You can always take a nap afterward, like you normally do.  Stop being so lazy, unless you want to become fat.  Fat and ugly and unloved and undeserving.  Like I said.  I can be pretty nasty before coffee.

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Parenting Don’ts


Today, I took an easier pace on my walk and pushed myself harder on my push-ups.

Today, I sent a box to my brother in an attempt to be helpful from 1400 miles away.

Today, I finished book 51 of my summer reading challenge.

Today, I rode a horse for the first time since I was ten.

Today, I stood behind a woman in FedEx who taught me a little something about parenting.

I am not a parent, except in the special way pet owners are to their pets.  I used to work in a church nursery, which gave me a broad spectrum view of both parents and kids.  That was an excellent learning environment because it showed me just how unique each parent-child relationship is.  It also demonstrated how very difficult it is to be perceived as a good parent in public.

Let the kids run wild and you clearly aren’t teaching them discipline and respect.  Yell at them or (God forbid) spank them in public and you’re some kind of monster.  There’s always someone looking over your shoulder and judging you.

I do it, too.  A lot.  And whenever I observe parenting I disapprove of, I always say to myself, “I’ll never do that with my kids,” or something similar.  I also have grandiose plans for what I am going to raise my kids.

For instance, there were two little girls running amok in FedEx, a 3 and a 5-year-old, I think.  They were freaking adorable and they weren’t doing much but leaping out at each other between the aisles and squealing.  Their mom was talking on her phone the entire time she was in the store.  Not keeping an eye on her daughters, not giving her full attention to the clerk.  When she reeled in the girls when she got to the desk, she ended up juggling her phone and the papers she was shipping while the girls clung to her legs and got in the way.

I made faces at them and then started shadow boxing with Buddy, because that’s what I do when I’m bored.  At one point, the younger girl knocked her face against the counter and started crying.  First, the mom asked the older sister what happened.  Then, presumably because the girl didn’t appear to be hurt (no blood or anything), she had the older girl take her sister (still crying) to sit by the door.

Still on the phone, she finished with her transaction.  Still on the phone, she took her daughters out into the dark parking lot to her SUV.  Still on the phone, she drove away.  I told myself I would never be that attached to a phone call.

Then it occurred to me that I rarely use my phone to make calls, so phone calls were not a real threat to my parenting technique.

Don’t worry.  When I really think about it, I know that reality makes a mess of all high-minded parenting ambitions.  The best laid plans are easily mislaid by toddlers.

I will say this, though.  If your little girls are in the back of your vehicle, GET OFF YOUR GORAM PHONE.  You know what, even if you don’t have kids, maybe don’t block half of your vision and half of your brain for a conversation that really can wait.  You may not be chauffeuring a couple of rugrats around, but the person your carelessly run off the road might be.

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15PM000000112011 · 23:08

Self-less Selfishness


I spend a lot of time worrying about other people.

But it isn’t because I’m a selfless person at all.  It’s because I am completely self-centered.

I worry about how I would be affected by the loss of a person I care about.

I try to think of ways that I can help them so that they will feel gratitude toward me.

I have to fight against myself all the time because I want to buy people stuff that I think they will like.  They won’t like it.  I just need them to like it because I do.

I need praise and gratitude.  I need thanks for every tiny, insignificant thing I do for someone else.

I am a narcissist.

However, with careful deliberation, I can steer my self-adoration into actual good deeds for others.  When I shut down that inner whine that insists I don’t get enough credit and wonders why I bother at all, I can remember that good deeds for praise are empty gestures.

I am sorry that I can be so easily swayed by my ego to sneer at people I love simply because they don’t acknowledge a paltry gift I sent.

On a slightly related subject, I am also paranoid.  If I send someone a gift and they don’t acknowledge receipt of that gift, I begin to fear that it was lost or damaged or stolen.

Knowing my penchant for narcissism and paranoia, I have developed a system by which I find out if a gift was received without directly asking the recipient.

Examples:

How was your day?

Do anything special for your birthday?

Did Mom/Dad/Bro/Sis get that thing I sent?  (Spying)

Did you hear that there have been a rash of gift card thefts in the mail?  (Fishing)

 

Yeah, I worry about a lot of people.  Bit I also worry about me because I have to remind myself that I should worry for their sake and not just my own.

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15AM000000122011 · 00:01