Wednesday, June 01, 2011
23. I'm basically pretty fearless. I'm not afraid of snakes (I'd have them as pets if they didn't insist on eating things that are alive and needing heat all the time) or mice or even spiders as long as they're outside. I do admit a certain amount of displeasure with the cellar spiders, probably because the "ceiling" is so low. I am afraid of polar bears, but where I live that's not really an issue. I'm not afraid of the dark or the paranormal or anything that goes bump in the night. I'm reasonably cautious about my fellow humans (I do lock doors and the like), but with two dogs, a shotgun and a healthy dose of common sense, I don't lose a lot of sleep.
24. I have great legs. Even at my age and weight, I've still got great legs. And I know how to walk in high heels. A lot of women teeter or sort of clump, but I can walk gracefully in four-inchers. So much so that I lived in heels for years, and destroyed my feet, leading to me being the first kid on the block to have a joint replacement - big toe, 39 years old.
25. I generally have a "can do" attitude. Around my old, rambling (and for a good ten years, completely abandoned to squirrels and rain and all that sort of thing) house, I'll tackle just about any repair or renovation. I don't do roofing, and I don't do electricity - anything else, I'll give it a shot. I read up on the project, ask around if possible, then go for it. It doesn't always work out, and in some rooms, you can see my learning curve if you look from one end to the other (that was the lesson in installing cove moulding,) Some projects I thought would take years wound up taking only hours ... and some projects I thought would take a weekend wound up taking years. But I'll always give it a try.
26. I'm extremely punctual. Early, in fact. And I hate when people set their clocks ten minutes ahead to trick themselves into being on time, because once I know the clock is wrong, I'll calculate the correct time every time I look at it, and that's annoying to me. If I'm not on time, it probably means I totally forgot or will show up quite punctually...on the wrong day.
27. I'm a darned good gardener. When I was still gardening professionally, I billed at $35/hr, which is expensive, but I'm worth it. I know what I'm doing and I can accomplish it quickly because I know what tools I need, I have them, and they're sharp and ready. Sure, you can hire college kids to do the job, but they'll rip out your grandmother's phlox, make messy edges using the wrong shovel, and you'll wind up paying more for them because it'll take them forever to do a lousy job. Hire those boys to mow your lawn and rake your leaves - I'll do those jobs, but it's a waste of your money and my time. Just don't come by my house to look at my work. Classic "shoemaker's child".
28. This may sound silly, but I follow directions extremely well. People think I'm a good cook, but I'm not - I just know how to follow a recipe. I'm supposedly so good at building those things that "require assembly", but it's just because I go to the trouble of laying out all the bits and identifying them, then following the directions one step at a time instead of assuming I know how something should go. Ditto sewing; I can sew quite well - tailor, even - because I do the things in the order they tell me to. I figure it takes five minutes to read through the directions first, and often a whole lot longer to disassemble and reassemble because you "assumed" that it was time to put the doors on and now you can't get the shelves in.
29. I love to label things. I have three label makers - two of the newer kind that print electronically (bought the second because the first was lost) and one of the old kind that made sort of embossed letters. I label all kinds of stuff - boxes, of course, but also light switches (old house = confusing array of switches), file drawer contents, anything where reading a label makes it easier to know what's inside. Occasionally I will label things incorrectly on purpose, or just label things ("lamp", "hairbrush") simply to entertain myself, but we won't talk about that here.
30. I don't always feel obligated to finish what I start. I know lots of people who, once they begin reading a book, feel that they have to read through to the end even if they aren't enjoying it. I feel that there are too many books to read and enjoy as it is - why waste time on the unenjoyable? I won't finish painting a room if I'm not certain that was the color I wanted. I'm usually glad I did that and didn't waste more time and money painting something mint when I wanted celery. I have no problem putting off finishing a task because I need to think about it - the tub is still awaiting its tile surround because I keep changing my mind and tile is a lot harder to re-do than paint. And there are things that, even though I bought the necessary supplies to do something, I lost interest in it before it was even begun (anyone need twenty year old macrame string?) But there are things that I will see through to the end, just because it feels good to put paid to the thing. And this set of thirty Special Me qualities is one of those. Done!
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.
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