Friday, May 27, 2011
21. I honestly, genuinely do not care what people think about me. I mean, everyone likes to be liked, and I'm always polite - sometimes painfully so - to known detractors. But in my bones, I don't gave a single damn about their opinions. I will go to the beach (example, here - no trip planned) and I will wear a bathing suit. I won't intentionally offend their sensibilities (wasn't there some famous saying about not scaring the horses?) by wearing a bikini or something, but I will wear a bathing suit without a skirt or what appears to be torso armor, and anyone who doesn't wish to see me thus can damned well avert their eyes.
I also understand that people (almost all teenagers, for example) will declare, "I don't care what anyone thinks!" and then go do something that they see as outrageous. But as I patiently explained to both my daughters at some point, that means you're still letting other people control your actions, only this time, instead of doing what they want you to do, you're doing what they don't want you to do. You're still, in effect, letting them decide what you will do.
(Go back to the tolerance blog entry to see the rules on not hurting people.)
22. I don't sweat the small stuff. Family story: I was driving somewhere with my husband as passenger. A car cut me off and my husband angrily demanded, "Are you going to let him get away with that?!" I replied, "No, of course not dear. Could you get out the gatling gun please?" and he didn't speak to me for the rest of the trip, I think.
I'm a little behind on outdoor tasks here. The lawn is now literally knee high, but instead of fussing about it, I've decided that I no longer have a lawn - I have a meadow! A lovely, fresh meadow! How delightful! Admittedly, this is a lot easier to get away with out in the country, but the principle remains.
I really try to take things in stride, and for the most part I'm pretty successful. Forgotten items are done without or the menu is changed. People are given the benefit of the doubt. The unexpected is incorporated without fuss. Library fines are paid without complaint or embarrassment - I forgot, It happens. (More and more frequently forgotten, it seems, but we can talk about that another time...if we remember.)
I wasn't always this way. I remember agonizing over what to wear to a first-grade parent-teacher conference. But I began to observe how ratcheted up people got over the smallest things, flying into tantrums, verbally abusing unwary strangers, and generally making life miserable for themselves. Not so much the people around them, but for themselves.
At first I was cautioned that if I went on this way, I'd be thought of as a doormat, or a shy, insecure person who couldn't speak up for herself. But I discovered it didn't feel like that at all. It felt like freedom.
Thursday, May 26, 2011
I think about things a lot - more than most people, I suspect. Sure I occasionally think about the human condition or the fate of the universe, but usually it's stuff that no sane person would even come up with, let alone dwell upon.
For example, this morning I woke up with the song "Little Bunny FooFoo" in my mind. For those of you who have somehow managed to avoid this classic, the lyrics go:
Little Bunny FooFoo
Walking through the forest
Scooping up the field mice
And bop them on their heads
I swear to you, my first conscious thought this morning was: why would he do this? Scoop them up with what? And what were the field mice doing in the forest to being with? Aren't they by definition supposed to be in field, where theoretically they'd be safe from Little Bunny FooFoo? "FooFoo"???
*sigh* I need more coffee.
Tuesday, May 24, 2011
I don't, for the most part. When my husband and I were first married, we went to Atlantic City (actually we went to Cape May, but it doesn't matter) and his mother gave us $20 to put in the slot machines. We walked in, converted the bill to whatever kind of change was necessary in those days, put it in the slot machines, lost, and left. The coat check person asked us if we'd forgotten something in the car, it was so soon after our arrival. We just never were money gambling sorts. Lives, reputations, sure; money, no.
That said, I and a friend of mine, both in grad school and impecunious in the extreme, used to go to local bars and hustle......backgammon. We were an odd pair: he, a veteran who'd lost an eye in Viet Nam and acquired a drinking problem to replace it, and I, good at playing the reckless innocent. We ate and drank free all over town for two years.
So that's my Special Quality for today: I'm a backgammon hustler.
Monday, May 23, 2011
I know the difference between whether or not I like a particular thing, and whether or not that thing is any good. At first glance, that seems simple enough, but there are an awful lot of people who don't seem to get that difference. I think this is an important distinction to draw, so stay with me here - it's not just one of my silly semantics games. (I love them, most people hate them - we'll get back to that later.)
How often have you been in a museum or a gallery and heard someone say, "My gods, that's dreadful!" What they almost always mean is that they don't like it. If you ask them to tell you why it's "dreadful", they'll point out the things that they don't like, ("But it's entirely *white!*) ignoring the fact that they're in the Museum of Modern Art, so there must be something good to be said about the piece, or at least some reason why it's an important piece to see. (Please note: this one hits close to home for me because I'm really not big on abstract expressionism.)
The flip side of that is, well, let's take Madonna. I was never a big fan, and I don't listen to her by choice (although i did like her in some obscure movie...something about Susan?) but I'll be the first to say that I think her dance music/party music, like Holiday, was flawless. Same with Michael Jackson's Thriller. Like it? No, not especially. Think it's any good? Absolutely - doesn't get better than that.
I'm not much of a one for reading poetry, other than the occasional round of some Romantic like Wordsworth. I never quite understood why e.e. cummings didn't like capitals (possibly punctuation, either) nor do I understand why his and many others' work is "good", but I don't doubt the judgment of those who do know about such things.
I recognize that escargot are (is?) a delicacy, adored by humans everywhere, but to me they all taste like garlic flavored erasers. I've eaten parts of creatures that aren't even talked about in polite company (my family is Scots, German and Greek - use your imagination) and often prefer them to the more choice bits - tenderloins and such. I have no explanation for this, but it's certainly part of why I'm mostly vegetarian.
So much for I-don't-like-it-but-it's-good. How about the it's-dreadful-but-i-love-it? Well, there are some mystery writers who couldn't (or shouldn't) be allowed to write copy for cereal boxes, but I read every one of their books as they come out, because I love them, though I've no idea why. I love lots of stupid, physical humor (Dick Van Dyke makes me laugh every time he falls over the footstool) and lots of stupid, physical writing (Ogden Nash comes to mind.) There are some kid cartoons that I laugh at every time (Fairly Odd Parents, Invader Zim) although even kids may lift an eyebrow. There are any number of small, quirky things that I adore, and they aren't even good craft, let alone Great Art. I love Cheez Whiz, and God knows there's nothing more dreadful than that.
Sunday, May 22, 2011
Sorry. Had to take a moment to recover from that largely maudlin #16 - i didn't start out for it be like that, but when I start going on about In Flanders Fields, you know it's time to run away. When I was a kid we went to Gettysburg for a school trip nearly every year so I know the place pretty well, and my children now know to run away whenever I get started on the Civil War and Gettysburg, or on WWI in general. My grandfather had trained to be a pilot in WWI, but the war ended before he got a chance actually to fly. The children were, however, fascinated when I told them about how it took a while before airplanes could have machine guns on board, because until they figured out how to synch to propellers and the machine guns, they had an unfortunate tendency to shoot their own propellers off.
Now, back to my Special Quality #17:
I am a very tolerant person. It isn't, as someone said to me long ago, that I don't understand people and I don't give a damn. I actually am simply quite tolerant of others and their ways. Okay, maybe part of it is that I don't care: I don't care what consenting adults do in the privacy of their own bedrooms, nor do I care with whom they do whatever it is - and I'd prefer if no one enlightened me, thank you.
I don't mind people having belief systems that are different from mine, and I don't want to argue about whose god is better. If you believe that the earth is carried through space on the back of a giant turtle, I think that's lovely for you and I'd love to hear about it. Just don't try to convince me, about the turtle or any special human or set of humans (and if you don't think that they were humans, that's fine with me too.)
I don't especially care what you wear, as long as you have shoes on in my restaurant. (If my restaurant is a dressy one, I'll have a couple spare sport jackets for you if you "forget" yours.)
i don't care what you eat, as long as it's not me or my cat. If I'm serving something objectionable for dinner, please don't go on about how dreadful it is. A simple, "No, thank you" will suffice.
I don't care what you read, watch on television or in the theater, or print in your magazines as long as you don't force me to read /watch it or forbid me from reading/watching what I prefer.
While I might think it's stupid of you, I don't especially concern myself with what sorts of substances you put into your body. As long as I don't have to pay for it with my tax dollars or lug your overdosed self out of my bathroom, your body is yours to do with as you please. Oh, yes, and I don't want to be forced to breathe your smoke in public places - smoking is optional, breathing is not.
In my tolerant little world, I only insist (at the moment, anyway) on one thing: no one else is allowed to be hurt, either intentionally or accidentally, either physically, mentally or emotionally, in your pursuit of whatever it is you're pursuing. In other words, we don't go to war to prove whose god of love and mercy is more loving and merciful. We also do not indulge in Substances and then drive, nor do we wear T-shirts with sayings on them that demean or inflame others. Despite our private belief that someone's ideas are pretty far out there, we keep them that way - private - and don't tell people how silly/stupid/irrational/unevolved or whatever we feel they are. We realize that none of us - not king, not saint, not billionaire, not genius, not the beautiful, not the talented - no one is inherently better or more right or more entitled than anyone else. We speak respectfully and wait our turn.
And Fulgham was, I believe, (see how we slip that disclaimer in there?) right: everything we need to know, we *did* learn in kindergarten.
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