2013: An Awkward Death

2013: An Awkward Death

I am, admittedly, slow on the uptake for writing about 2013. After all, 2013 was so last month!

I’m going to blame it on my blinding anticipation of the new season of Downton Abbey. Damned Brits.

So, what can I say about 2013? It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was a year of weirdness, it was a year of boredom, it was a time of unsightly rashes and a time of emotional outbursts.

Does it seem to anyone other than me that 2013 has had the longest death scene ever? Haven’t we been trying to wrap this year up since about June?

The long, awkward death rattle of 2013

turkish2

So, here are a few of the oddities, in a vast sea of weirdness, from the year that made me tilt my head and say “Whaaaa???”

Zygote Infamy

Imagine having a lifetime supply of fame before you even develop limbs. Then imagine eventually being born to some of these parents.

  • We have yet more Kardashian blood on our hands now with the arrival of North West, who will most likely be bi-polar before hitting kindergarten.
  • His Royal Highness Prince George Alexander Louis of Cambridge selfishly took all the focus off of the final season of Breaking Bad by being born.
  • This created…something:

Wiz Khalifa, Amber Rose

  • But, to balance that, so did this:

Kristen Bell, Dax Shepard

  • Brad and Angelina did NOT have (or go get) any more children this year.

Dennis Rodman’s Love Affair

Celebrity couples are just like us!

Dennis Rodman, Kim Jung Il

They show their love in public.

They laugh together!

They laugh together!

They have serious discussions about stuff!

They have serious discussions about stuff!

They clap!!

They clap!!

Same Sex Marriage

A tip o’ the hat to California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Rhode Island, Utah, Vermont, Washington and the District of Columbia.

These states legalized same-sex marriage, thereby ensuring they will all be better pressed, accessorized and smell of lavender.

And, a wag of the finger at the rest of you states. You can all continue to wallow in the stench of backward thinking and fear while living in your trailers that lack tasteful yet vibrant throw pillows. No pop of color for you!

Paula Deen

Paula Deen loses endorsements due to stupid racist remarks = $12.5 Million

The sustained consumption of salt, butter and bacon causes obesity and diabetes = $450 Billion

A Spike Lee/Jaime Oliver/Paula Deen Fight Club session = Priceless

Paula Deen

Spike Lee

Jamie Oliver

God’s Bouncer

Mario Jorge Bergoglio, (ex-bouncer, chemist and janitor) dares to be the bad boy James Dean of Vatican City with his crazy ideas of relieving poverty rather than focusing on old news like homosexuality, premarital sex and abortion. What are you, some kinda Christian?

This kid's the pope!

This kid’s the pope!

Don’t get me wrong – My membership card expired many years ago. I mean, I am a thinking human with ovaries who birthed two males of alter boy age, all of which are cause for concern in the Catholic Club.

This Guy

Shut your pie hole. Really.

Duck Dynasty, Phil Robertson

So, in closing, I bid 2013 a tardy adieu and good riddance. Don’t let the door hit you in that freaky ass on the way out.

 

7 Things I Love About You: A Letter To My Beloved Coffice

7 Things I Love About You: A Letter To My Beloved Coffice

My Dearest Coffice,

With the end of the year nigh upon us, I wanted to take a moment to let you know, beloved coffice (Scenes From A Coffice), how much you have given me this year. You have been my rock and I want to take a moment to let you know of my deep feelings for you.

  1. You were there for me with open arms as I narrowly escaped the life of an unwashed shut-in and an awkward family intervention. You’ve provided me a safe haven in which to mix with other nutjobs with similar afflictions. You have been my savior.
  2. Living in a place as lovely as Santa Barbara, you have been an island of rough edges in an otherwise shiny, tanned and well-pressed city.
  3. You know what I totally love about you? I love the fact that I hesitate before sitting on any of your numerous well-worn couches and chairs for fear of contracting a new strain of antibiotic-immune super virus. Just like home.
  4. Your staff provides the perfect balance of irritation and cool. And, thank you, dreadlock girl, for not laughing at me when I asked if you had hemp milk. I could see that was a real effort and it did not go unnoticed.
  5. Your WiFi has been as steadfast and consistent as my love for you.
  6. You play the coolest music. This of course contributes to my wasting hours of time hitting Shazam over and over again instead of writing. But, I now have the freakin’ most awesome playlist on the planet. It’s like my mixed tape of love for you.
    (Yes, there was that one day when someone decided cross-over country music was the right choice.  I am not unreasonable though and have chalked that up to a lapse in judgment only. No relationship is perfect.)
  7. I hope I’m not overstepping any sense of propriety by saying that your tomato/avocado/lemon pepper toast is nothing short of sublime.

So, in closing, I thank you for always being there for me with a tepid smile, wobbly tables and your abundance of outlets. I am hopelessly devoted to you and I will thank you when I receive my Oscar for Best Screenplay, assuming I ever finish it because OMG I LOVE THIS SONG!!!

Forever yours,

Irene

My Movie Briefs – Take #1

My Movie Briefs – Take #1

That’s right, I hand wash my unmentionables.

It’s the holiday season again! Time to get out the big box of decorations, bake treats, dig out my clapboard and director’s chair and listen with a child-like sense of magic as the nominations start to roll in.

That’s right, it’s the start of award season and I, for one, need to change my pants because I AM SO DAMNED EXCITED.

Knowing how busy we all are preparing for that “other” holiday, I figured I’d do a mini-review of the movies that look to be award contenders during this, the holiest time of the year.

Sort of a Reader’s Digest version without the old people cartoons about prostate cancer and hearing loss.

So I present a niblet, a trace, a whisper, and a whiff of my opinion on some of the movies I’ve seen thus far, thereby reducing the essence of the gigantic human effort of creating an enduring piece of cinematic art to one or two snarky lines.

Here are my Movie Briefs. (Not to be confused with my actual lucky movie underwear I’m wearing right now.)

Nebraska – This is nothing short of a renaissance for pissy, stoic geriatric Midwesterners. It’s finally your time in the spotlight! And Will Forte, you adorable bastard, call me.

I’m freezing and it’s too damned loud in here.

Blue Is The Warmest Color – Finally, I can now go out in public to watch my foreign lesbian pornography under the guise of French art house noir! If real porn were one-tenth this good, well, I’d probably have to quit my job.

Dallas Buyers Club – Heroine-chic is so 90’s and so OVER. If you are not sporting retro HIV-chic then I simply cannot be seen with you.

12 Years A Slave – Terrific, fantastic, impactful movie that states what we all grudgingly know deep down inside – white people are just very bad.

Captain Phillips – Tom Hanks acts out exactly how I responded to the news I was having twins with his amazing portrayal of PTSD. Nailed it.

I don't accept this! Re-do the ultrasound now!

I don’t accept this! Re-do the ultrasound now!

Blue Jasmine – Mental illness has never been so exceptionally well dressed. I wanna get me some of that!

Gravity – Sandra Bullock is one badass chick, floating through space all perfectly toned yet “sciencey” at the same time. Only thing that would have made it better is if they threw Melissa McCarthy out there with her. Now that is a buddy movie I can get my arms around.

Enough Said – So adorable, heart-warming and moving that I am suddenly drawn to overweight, balding yet soulful middle-aged men. That’s right, I’m looking at you, Dennis Franz. Call me.

That’s it for now. Stay tuned for round #2 when I’ll give you the 411 on depressed folk singers, dysfunctional families, techno-erotica, corporate greed and Walt Disney. Deck those halls!

Say What You Mean And Then Shut Up – #6 In The Achieving Emotional Grace Series

Say What You Mean And Then Shut Up – #6 In The Achieving Emotional Grace Series

 

“The last thing I want to be remembered as is an annoying blabbermouth… You know, nothing grinds my gears worse than some chowderhead that doesn’t know when to keep his big trap shut… If you catch me running off with my mouth, just give me a poke on the chubbs…”

~ John Candy, PLANES, TRAINS AND AUTOMOBILES

 

 

I understand fully that I may be the last person to even attempt to address this issue. I can definitely go on and on and on and on and on. Boy, I can really blather. I can often be redundant by saying something numerous times by using different combinations of words.

See what I did there? I used a lot of words to illustrate a point that could have been illustrated with many less words.

I’m still doing it.

It’s an affliction I think many of us struggle with. It’s the verbal equivalent of the movie Speed. As if a busload of innocent commuters will die if you stop talking. Rest assured, my verbose friends, absolutely no one will die if you shut the hell up for a minute.

You don’t understand, if I do not continue to chatter in this monotone voice, we are all doomed to a fiery death. So, anyway, I ordered the salmon but with the sauce on the side because really, who needs all the cream, and she was all….

You don’t understand, if I do not continue to chatter in this monotone voice, we are all doomed to a fiery death. So, anyway, I ordered the salmon but with the sauce on the side because really, who needs all the cream, and she was all….

It’s infuriating not to be heard. I completely get that. I am a woman living with three males, two of which are probably legally deaf due to the lethal levels of pre-pubescent hormones packed into their eardrums. Unless I up the volume to an ear-splitting 11, no one hears me.

The numbers all go to eleven. Look, right across the board, eleven, eleven, eleven and...

The numbers all go to eleven. Look, right across the board, eleven, eleven, eleven and…

But, in normal polite society, a little dead air never killed anyone.

Conversation is a two-way street, not a monologue. That’s why they don’t call monologues conversations. Hope that clarifies things for you.

You are welcome.

The people I love to interact with are the ones who seem to get this. They are succinct, thoughtful and purposeful in what they say. Then, and here is the real kicker, they stop talking and listen.

Because they understand that what they intended to say doesn’t actually matter. The only thing that really matters is how it is received.  And, you cannot know how you are being received if you don’t stop to listen.

Otherwise, we’d all just walk around talking to ourselves. Which I know we all actually do. A lot.

In fact, isn’t that really what I’m doing right now?

Without being understood and truly heard, what’s the point of communicating? It lies squarely on your shoulders to make your message clear.

OH FOR THE LOVE OF GOD SHUT UP AND END THIS POST ALREADY!!!

OH FOR THE LOVE OF GOD SHUT UP AND END THIS POST ALREADY!!!

So, as the screaming baby has requested, I’ll sum up with this.

In order to be heard, you must listen.

 

“Let me close this conversation by saying that you are one unique individual.”
“Unique… what’s that, Latin for “asshole”?”

~ Steve Martin, John Candy – PLANES, TRAINS AND AUTOMOBILES 

Original artwork entitled “Small Man Big Mouth” by Sean.

The Corner Of State And Main

The Corner Of State And Main

I am a woman of habit. I find a lot of comfort in knowing what is coming next and have always had a strong aversion to surprise.

For instance, I drive the exact same route to and from work every day. I drive this route at the exact same time each day. I know which song will be on the radio at the exact time I pass a certain shop or hit a specific intersection.

Other than the possible deviation in the timing of the traffic lights, it is the same thing day in and day out. And I like it that way.

On one particular day, however, an additional deviation was introduced to my tidy and controlled commute.

It was an unusually gloomy day. Swollen, dark clouds hung low in the sky, making you instinctively duck like you were passing through a smaller than usual doorway. The Thanksgiving holiday and time with family loomed as ominously as those rain clouds.

I was stopped at the traffic light at the corner of State and Main. As I often did, I was thinking to myself that every town in the nation must have an intersection of State and Main. And, as always, I thought this while humming along to an old Beach Boys song because it was 7:47AM and that’s what was always played at 7:47AM.

Glancing to the left, I saw Mandarin Palace, the best Chinese restaurant in town. Mu Shu pork, six pancakes and extra hoisin sauce every Friday night.

But today there was a girl, no more than 16 years old, standing outside the ornate red and gold doors to the restaurant. She wore ill-fitting jeans, a couple of sweaters topped with a jean jacket and a knit cap. She looked unwashed and exhausted, like so many others I had seen on these streets.

But rather than smoking a cigarette and looking angry, like so many She was playing a well-worn violin.

I turned off the radio and rolled down my window. I strained to hear over the hustle and bustle of street noise as a mournful and beautiful melody wafted into the car. It may well have been the most moving sound I had ever heard.

I closed my eyes and let the ethereal music wash over me.

I was unpleasantly startled out of my reverie by an annoyed car horn and I saw the light had turned green. I quickly rolled up my window and continued my drive.

The following day, at the corner of State and Main, I once again saw the girl and listened to her beautiful playing until the light changed and I was forced back into my routine commute.

She was there each day for the next two weeks, always playing the violin but never playing the same song. Each piece more beautiful and perfect than the last. I never knew what I would hear each morning and I liked it that way.

Until the random Wednesday when I pulled up to the intersection of State and Main, rolled down my window and heard nothing but street noise. I looked up to see only the gold and red doors of the Mandarin Palace, but no violin player.

She never appeared again and I returned to my predictable mornings thinking of who she was and where her music had come from. After a while, I began to wonder if I was the only one who had heard it.

But, my tidy and controlled commute never held the same appeal to me again and from that day forward, every time I drove past that street corner, I thought of her.

 

~~~-~~~-~~~-~~~-~~~-~~~-~~~-~~~-~~~-~~~-~~~-~~~-~~~-~~~~-~~~-~~~-~~-~-~~~-~~~-~~~-~

Dipping my toe, once more, into a little bit of fiction through the Yeah Write Weekly Writing Challenge.

This is my response to the Speakeasy prompt, which was to write a fictional piece in less than 750 words using “Every time I drove past that street corner, I thought of her” as the last line.

Please take a minute to click on the badge below to check out all the details!

Peace out,
Irene

The Shelf Life of Relationships – #5 In The Achieving Emotional Grace Series

The Shelf Life of Relationships – #5 In The Achieving Emotional Grace Series

 

“I wish I would have a real tragic love affair and get so bummed out that I’d just quit my job and become a bum for a few years, because I was thinking about doing that anyway.”
~ Jack Handey

 

Relationships are hard. There. I said it. Did I just blow your mind?

Being in them is tough but having them end can be even harder. And, I don’t mean just romantic relationships. Friendships, work relationships, and don’t even get me started on families.

We “humans” often don’t deal with endings very gracefully. (I’ve been binging on True Blood reruns so I question everyone’s species right now.)

We get hurt, depressed, angry, hungry. Ben and Jerry’s is in existence because of emotional eating. Well, that and weed.

I certainly have had my fair share of struggles with closing those doors and moving on. Or, having those doors slammed in my face and not moving on because I couldn’t find my car.

This was especially daunting for me when I was younger. But as I got older I started to wonder why it had to be such an emotional roller coaster. Clearly it’s a part of living life but I wanted to understand how to be more accepting and see more clearly.

And, it was becoming abundantly clear that I’m really not good at stalking people. My voice carries and I have a heavy foot. Especially after I’ve smoked weed and eaten all that Ben and Jerry’s.

I came to this conclusion: All relationships have a shelf life. Every single one of them.

People come and go in our lives and I believe that there are lessons for us and for them in those connections. I believe that the duration, whether it lasts a month, a year or a lifetime, is all part of the grand design of co-habitating on earth.

We should not get mad at the loaf of bread because it’s gone bad. It was tasty and fed you when you were hungry, serving its purpose. The bread’s value should not be diminished because you are now constipated and have a need for vegetables.

Do you smell that? What the hell is that smell?

Do you smell that? What the hell is that smell?

Whether you are the bread or the vegetable in this analogy, it’s always good to keep an eye on your nutritional value.

I think deep down, if we are paying attention to all parties involved, we know if the connection is adding value to your life and to theirs. If it doesn’t work for one of you, it isn’t working for the other.

It’s a matter of paying attention and really being present in any relationship. If you aren’t reading the expiration dates closely, things can get toxic.

Next thing you know, you’ll be waking up with melted ice cream on your face and clutching a restraining order.

And that just leaves an unnecessarily bad taste in your mouth.

“Don’t cry because it’s over,
SMILE because it happened.”  ~ Dr. Seuss

Top Knots, Amish Beards and Comfort Food – A Love Letter To Portland

Top Knots, Amish Beards and Comfort Food – A Love Letter To Portland

 

I am an Oregonian. I say that with no small amount of pride because I love the Northwest in general and Portland specifically. That city is my soul mate. It’s inhabited by such a variety of humanoids that it sometimes smacks of the bar scene from Star Wars.

I love every one of those freaky bastards!

But, here’s the terrible tragedy in my love affair with Portland.

The weather kind of sucks ass.

You see, emotionally I wear Gortex and fleece. My psyche and humor reside in a dark and rainy place.

By stark contrast however, physically, I am a giant weather pussy. Shorts and a t-shirt or death. I eschew the very thought of socks and shoes.

The thing about Portland is that while the people and it’s environs can look dark and, often, grim, in reality they are exceptionally sunny of disposition. Which flies in the face of the stereotype that Northerners are all Kafka-esque, alcoholic Nihilists who suffer from seasonal affective disorder.

Nay, these are a friendly, helpful, welcoming and honest tribe who read a lot and compost even more.

And I, just like Oscar Wilde, have been exiled from my home land. Except that he was an amazing writer. And he was exiled for sodomy and gross indecency. I guess I could cop to the gross indecency but you can keep your sodomy thank you very much.

Lest I sound ungrateful, I do live in a very beautiful place. The sun shines pretty much every day and 70-75 degrees with a pleasant breeze of 0 MPH out of the North is de rigueur. (Along with throwing out the occasional snooty French term to prove you are wealthy and well-travelled.)

But, you are not going to see the chunky human soup here that you will see in Portland.

A clown wearing a kilt and combat boots while weeding the community garden? What of it?

A woman who looks remarkably like Betty Paige whilst sporting a Betty Paige tat across her back with an ironic and Escher sort of vibe? All women (and many transvestites) in Portland look like Betty Paige.

Here are a few other delightful and singular quirks about my beloved City of Roses.

The men’s top knot – Here’s your situation. You are running late to bartend at the new badminton/karaoke/tequila bar you work at called “Flick”. But, your exceptionally long tresses that brush your vintage rockabilly belt buckle are in the way.

Do you:

A) Cut them off to free you of the burden?

Or

B) Twist them up into a head bun ala Black Swan?

Obviously, you are going to go with option B. Cut off your hair??? Not even possible! What are you, high? And, if so, quit bogarting.

Facial follicles – Just when you think there is only so much one can do with face hair, you walk down Burnside Avenue and a whole new world is opened up to you. Big mustaches, done that. Retro mutton chops, yawn. The Amish beard, or “face mullet”, well, that’s still kind of cool…to the Amish anyway. Is that a dude with The Rachel on his face walking into The Doug Fir Lounge? Why, yes. It certainly is. Bold move, my man! Well played!

Which brings us to vintage comfort foods. Portland loves it’s eclectic food combinations and genre-specific trends. Like a Yoo-Hoo and Hamburger Helper tapas bar. I don’t know if it exists, but it should.

Allow me to illustrate the depths of the emotional investment Portlanders (Portlandians? Portlandists? The Portlandic?) feel for their food.  The following is a real-life tragic tale that recently occurred one evening at a fine establishment on SE Division Avenue during dinner.

The young adorable nerd (adora-nerd?) looked solemnly through his horn-rimmed glasses and toyed with one of his lip studs.

“I have some terrible news about our menu tonight.”

We sat back and girded ourselves for some horrific story of severed fingers or a devastating kitchen fire.

“Our waffle maker is broken.”

I actually believe I saw a small tear forming on the inside of his left eye.

“And what’s even worse,” he continued, “our back up waffle maker also isn’t working.”

They have a back up waffle maker?

“So, I’m so sorry but any items on the menu that have a waffle involved will now be replaced with johnnycakes instead. I’m so sorry.”

We all look at each other and murmur our understanding of the situation to our forlorn little hipster as he slinks away.

“Wow, he was really upset about that. Should someone go see how he is holding up? Maybe we should buy him a card.”

So, in closing, I leave you with a quote from my 11-year-old son upon our return from a recent visit to PDX.

“You know what I like best about Portland, Mom? I like that no one cares what other people think about them. I think that’s why everyone is so happy and friendly.”

Could not have said it better myself.

Don’t Expect A Fish To Climb A Tree – #4 In The Achieving Emotional Grace Series

Don’t Expect A Fish To Climb A Tree – #4 In The Achieving Emotional Grace Series

 

“Everybody is a genius. But, if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.”

~ Albert Einstein

 

 

Judging others is built into our DNA. I’m sure we crawled out of the primordial soup, looked at the slimy amphibian next to us and judged him for his weird lazy eye. That is if you believe in that particular theory of evolution….not that I’m judging creationists….honest….that wouldn’t be very Christian of me, would it?

OMG, did you totally check out Hank's middle eye?

OMG, did you totally check out Hank’s middle eye?

See, you are most likely judging me right now. Who does she think she is? Does she even have data to back up that last, oddly-constructed sentence? And, while I’m at it, what’s with the over-use of elipses? Pause much?

And, I’m judging you right now for that weird-ass haircut you got. And that shirt. What the hell are you thinking wearing that shirt?

We all do it. Definitely inside our heads and, after a drink or two, outside our heads. Often loudly.

There are a lot of reasons to judge. Much of the time we judge because it simply makes us feel a little better about ourselves and our lives. It’s also why I binge watched “Cheaters” and “The Anna Nicole Smith Show” right after having twins.

Thank you Anna Nicole Smith! I do feel better!

Thank you Anna Nicole Smith! I do feel better!

But, it’s also a means of discerning what is or is not acceptable to us. We have an innate need to choose people who do not threaten our pre-conceived notions of who we are and our belief systems.

I don’t like myself when I judge people. But, I also have a really hard time just not doing it.

So, rather than shutting down what appears to be a natural human response, maybe there is a way to simply not do it so harshly.

You’ve all heard a great deal about my Mom. But, I tell you , she passed on some of the most amazing advice I have ever gotten. And, she had a wonderful take on judgment that went something like this:

Everyone on earth is in a different phase of their lives. Some are advanced in their overall, spiritual development while others are just beginning to walk. Judging all humans on an even playing field is like expecting a toddler to win the Boston Marathon. It not only makes no sense, it’s a disservice to them and to you.

Don’t assume you are the marathon runner in this analogy….you may still be in diapers so don’t be getting all high and mighty.

But, imagine the opportunities for interesting relationships with people if you just keep that idea in mind. Not only do you open up the possibility of helping another person get on their feet, but you may also benefit from a helping hand now and then.

Life can be a real slog, people. I know I’ll take all the help I can get.

So, next time I start down that path and think or say those petty, shitty judgments, I’m going to attempt to step back a bit and think about it.

I’ll forget to do it more times than I remember, I’m sure. So, I’ll apologize in advance if I forget with any of you.

All that being said, for the love of God, go change that shirt. Really. You look like a lunatic.

Nevermind. A bad Hawaiian shirt is the least of your worries.

Nevermind. A bad Hawaiian shirt is the least of your worries.

 

“We can never judge the lives of others, because each person knows only
their own  pain and renunciation. It’s one thing to feel that you are on the
right path, but it’s another to think that yours is the only path.”

~ Paulo Coelho

Don’t Be Defined By Your Dining Set – #3 In The Achieving Emotional Grace Series

Don’t Be Defined By Your Dining Set – #3 In The Achieving Emotional Grace Series

“That’s all your house is: a place to keep your stuff. If you didn’t have so much stuff,
you wouldn’t need a house. You could just walk around all the time.”
~ George Carlin

I’ve never been one to keep stuff. I was raised by a couple of minimalists who came out of the Great Depression (as opposed to the Mediocre or Meh-Not-So-Great Depression). They  realized that owning possessions can be a fleeting thing and it can all vaporize with just the bad intentions of a couple of greedy bankers.

Yeah, THAT could never happen again, right?

Yeah, that could never happen again, right?

Now, don’t get me wrong. This aversion to owning a bunch of stuff is not rooted in any sort of noble goal to make the world a better place. Nor is it coming from some philosophical belief or my life-long study of Immanuel Kant.

(That’s right, bitches, I got me some Wikipedia!)

I’ve always had a bit of an obsession with being able to put everything I own in the back of a car and take off at a moment’s notice as if I lived the life of some seedy criminal, needing to steal away from a broken down motel under cover of night.

Ultimately, it’s always just been a sign of freedom and independence for me to travel light and not get too attached to things.

My tidy little bubble burst when I got married. Of course, even if you marry someone who has the same minimalist mindset, you still end up with twice as much shit.

It’s pretty hard to avoid unless you are marrying a Buddhist monk. And I wouldn’t recommend that. They are super hard to buy for at Christmas.

I, on the other hand, did not marry a minimalist. To his credit, he is one now (probably because I threw out all his stuff while he was sleeping).  But, at the start, not so much.

When we first moved together to a new house, I watched in horror as we filled up both our cars plus a fair sized U-Haul.

Twice.

overloaded-car

Here’s a sampling of a typical conversation that day.

“Why are we keeping all these random pieces of wood?”

“Because it’s perfectly good wood.”

“But what do you plan to do with it?”

“I was going to make a book case out of it….or something.”

“We already have a book case. And, you don’t know how to build stuff.”

“But, what if in 30 years I decide that I want to learn carpentry or whatever and I find that it’s a huge talent I never even knew I possessed? I’ll need wood for all the awesome furniture I’ll build in my new career.”

“Have we packed the vodka yet?”

Thanks to a healthy combination of booze and compromise, I pushed through the crisis and no one was harmed.

I still have an overwhelming urge to purge. I lose sight of myself if I’m sitting in clutter and start to feel oddly invisible.

I’ve started to realize that I’m allowing my discomfort with clutter to define how I feel about myself. And, at the end of the day, is that really any different than someone who is happiest surrounded by a lot of stuff?

Tomato/tamahto – we have the same affliction at the end of the day. It’s internal definition by outward elements.

I shouldn’t be defined, or define myself, by my possessions or my lack of possessions. Both are false representations of who I really am.

My fear of being weighed down by material items must be some indication that I have issues with commitment, right?

Maybe I have some weird sort of ADD and get distracted way too easily by objects in general.

Or, perhaps it all boils down to some psycho-sexual Oedipal complex. Can women even have an Oedipal complex?

How the hell should I know? I’m not a therapist. I barely even own a couch!

I do suspect, whatever the core reason is behind it, that any reaction that is not within a moderate spectrum warrants closer examination. Getting too much pleasure from buying stuff or feeling too much joy in getting rid of it, is indicative of something else.

Hoarder, minimalist or monk. I guess the bottom line is to be sure it’s a choice and not a band-aid.

“I flipped through catalogs and wondered:
What kind of dining set defines me as a person?”
~ Chuck Palahniuk – Fight Club

 

 

Image credits:

Image #1 – http://static.guim.co.uk/sys-images/Film/Pix/pictures/2011/1/11/
1294755406420/Michael-Douglas-in-Wall-S-007.jpg
Image #2 – http://www.khmer440.com/chat_forum/viewtopic.php?f=1&t=16852

Don’t Be An Emotional Litterbug – #2 In The Achieving Emotional Grace Series

Don’t Be An Emotional Litterbug – #2 In The Achieving Emotional Grace Series

“Always leave a bathroom cleaner than how you found it.”
~Viola Barnett, armchair philosopher

Really, you couldn't light a match?

Really, you couldn’t light a match?

I was the recipient of many sage nuggets of advice from my Mom. And, as with most of her lessons, it was intended to be applied in a  much broader context.

Don’t get me wrong, it is no small thing to leave a literal bathroom cleaner than you found it. Only since having children have I truly understood how that can change a person’s life.

But, what if we took that concept and applied it to human interaction? I’m not suggesting we Purell the hell out of the world and its inhabitants. Not that I haven’t had that overwhelming urge when stepping out of a children’s museum.

Hurry, I think we missed a couple over by the touch tank!

But, what if, every time you had any interaction, large or small, with another human, you decided to leave them better off than when you found them, even in the very smallest way?

What if you challenged yourself to step outside of how you are feeling that day and, instead, make it a point to turn someone else’s day around?

And, what if you don’t get to see any results from your effort but you do it anyway, knowing you may not get any immediate satisfaction?

You know the saying about the road to hell being paved with good intentions? I’ve had a few backfires in this quest to spiff up my fellow humans.

Some of you may already know my story about trying to help out a local hobo who was very verbose about the fact that he did not like carrots.

In fact, he tore me a new one and I ran away like a coward. So, that is an example, at least on the surface, of my good intention going horribly wrong.

But I posit that maybe it didn’t go as wrong as it seemed. Even if the outcome wasn’t what I’d hoped for, I still would like to believe that I have added a positive intention into the world. Whether it’s noticed by the I Hate Carrots Hobo or anyone who happened to see me try, at least the attempt was made.

And, I did walk away with a huge lesson learned. (Aside from looking more closely at a person’s dental status before offering hard food.)

You can’t go about this with the expectation or hope of a particular response. That sort of takes the focus off of someone else and puts it right back on you. It defeats the purpose of getting outside your own bubble for a minute.

On another occasion, I decided that I was going to try to walk around all day with at least the glimmer of a smile on my face, as opposed to what I expect I usually look like – confused and annoyed.

I won’t lie, I think I probably looked a bit creepy.

Well, this is what it FELT like anyway…..

Well, this is what it FELT like anyway…..

It’s really hard smiling for no specific reason. And I think I was so preoccupied with trying to look natural, I never noticed whether I got more smiles in return than normal or anyone seemed a tish happier.

OK, so again, I lazily went back to focusing on myself, thereby missing the entire point of the exercise.

It’s like any habit, I suppose. It takes repetition to make it a natural part of who you are.

At the very least, if I can’t leave someone better off than I found them, I’m trying not to add to the mess.

You don’t have to try to feed the homeless or frighten children with your forced smile like me. But, at least start by making sure you don’t leave anyone in worse shape than you found them.

Baby steps people. Baby steps.

“Just because an animal is large, it doesn’t mean he doesn’t want kindness;
however big Tigger seems to be, remember that he wants as much kindness as Roo.”

~ Pooh’s Little Instruction Book (inspired by A.A. Milne)

 

 

Image credits:
Photo #1 – http://www.kab.org/
Photo #2 – http://www.flickr.com/photos/mcas_cherry_point/8580947002/
Photo #3 – Drew, fledgling cartoonist
Photo #4 – Willem DeFoe, who is often not this crazy looking and I’m guessing this is a selfie