On Friday I took a vacation day, because Lola had no school due to parent teacher conferences. T and I met with her fourth grade teacher the previous evening, so Friday was a relaxing day of sleeping in and hanging out. I’ll take a moment here to be a proud, doting mother. Lola received an A+ in every subject, and I am so proud of her! She is an amazing girl. I am especially proud, because she refuses any help or parental checking of her homework. She earned those grades, and she’s very proud of her achievement. I am, too! Continue Reading »
I question everything. I seek understanding. Until I have answers to my questions, my mind won’t shut up. If I don’t understand something, especially the behavior of others, I mull it over and over until I am satisfied with their motives, reasons, or what is causing their behavior. If someone snaps at me without cause, I try not to take it personally. Instead, I want to help. What has them upset? What’s wrong? What can I do to help? Most times in my life, this has served me well. My attempts to empathize and understand the behavior of those around me (and not take it personally) has given me a better understanding of myself and has kept conflict to a minimum. Continue Reading »
In our little town, we drive slowly. You can’t go very far without having to stop at a stop sign. The speed limit is only 30 mph. This time of year, you have to watch for children outside at play. But mostly, you have to make sure to wave. Waving is very important in our town. I never, ever leave my house without waving at least one time during the trip. No matter if I am crossing to the next street, or driving ALL THE WAY across town (one mile) I will end up waving at someone.
There is no such thing as road rage in my town. There is no anonymity. People know my car. I know what cars or trucks other people drive. Not only that, but I know many of their license plates. Case in point: Once I was driving from my parents’ home to my house, and a friend later called to apologize for not waving at me. She wasn’t feeling well, and was rushing to get home to use the bathroom. Yes, she told me that, and yes, she actually called to apologize for NOT WAVING.
I have written before about how it hurts me to see how the anonymity of cars turns people into uncaring bastards. People can be mean or harassing to those around them, and as long as there isn’t a cop nearby to catch them, they can speed along their way without repercussions or accountability.
Today I received an email from a citizen calling me a communist and a socialist. Not only that, but he said that I “help people get pets intoxicated.” WTF??? Yes, my friends, I serve liquor to dogs and cats!! But first, I oppress them with my communist dogma. This was the result of a marketing piece I did promoting a local business that produces a bloody mary mix (no alcohol in the mix!) A portion of all sales go to a pet rescue organization. I was promoting the locally owned business, not intoxication of pets, although I will admit that the thought makes me laugh!
This crazy man was insulated in his “car” of email. Just as road rage is easy to perpetrate, so is email criticism. If he had a problem with me, would he have been able to say those things to my face? Of course not. Frankly, I am astonished at the number of hateful, critical emails I see floating around. People have an easy, unseen, soapbox in popping off a critical email, and boy, do they love to get up on that safe soapbox.
Cars, phone calls, text messaging, and the internet has in many cases eliminated the need for face to face human contact. Sure, sometimes this is great. I love to blog, and here I am hidden behind my blog, Pam’s Planet. I love to talk on the phone. I am able to stay in touch with friends and family in far off places. The internet and email have brought me great joy and great friends. But there is a downside. While these advances in convenience have made our lives more fun and productive, it’s also easier to waste time and to hide behind technology in our dealings with those around us. We are insulated by technology. Sure, we get things done faster. Our lives are more organized, but I am beginning to see the downside of not being forced to interact with those around us in a transparent, accountable manner. I miss eye contact and body language. I miss the give and take of real conversation, even when those interactions aren’t always pleasant. I miss holding a piece of paper in my hand and looking at the handwriting of someone special to me. Oh, I how I once loved to get a real letter from my grandma! I could see HER. I could see where she had sat to write the letter at her cherry desk with the black dial phone. I could see her head bent and the wrinkles on her hand. That letter contained a little piece of Grandma. It was written with care and love.
I am as guilty as the next person of hiding in my own little cyberworld. I text, email, and I’m a Facebook junkie. I am as guilty of the behavior I criticize as those I condemn. It’s time for that to stop. It’s time for me to step out of my car occasionally and actually speak to real people, shake a few hands, hug a few friends, and wave at the people I see passing by.
Something strange happened to me one day last week, and it got me to thinking. Strange things are always happening to me. I am a magnet for the world’s oddities. I happen to believe that it’s because I am open to new experiences. I am always waiting for meaning in my life. I keep the lines of communication open to the world beyond. I have a lot of friends there. They might want to get in touch with me!
I started, what has now become a tradition, a few years ago. Souper Sundays. I love to make big batches of soup in the winter. I love to have people over for Sunday dinner. And thus, Souper Sundays were born. If you like soup, and it’s Sunday, then c’mon over! The kids always knew that friends could be invited for Sunday dinner. My parents often came, too. Through the years, we have had regulars Sunday guests. Some still come for dinner on Sundays. Others, not as frequently, but always they know that they’re welcome. Out of Souper Sundays, another tradition has grown, too. In the summertime, Cheeseburger Sundays have replaced Souper Sundays. We don’t just serve cheeseburgers. Last Sunday, we had hot dogs and brats, too, but you get the drift.
When I told my (former) therapist about Souper Sundays, she claimed that I “collect strays.” I had never thought of it in such terms, but she was right. I hate for people to be alone or lonely. I want those around me to feel welcome and cared for. I want to trust that people are basically good. Oh, and have I mentioned that trusting and welcoming people into my life has bit me in the butt a time or two? 😦 For the most part, collecting strays, as my therapist called it, has been one of the most rewarding things in my life. I have an eclectic group of friends. I cherish the hell out of them. I’ve met some of the best people in the world, because I have been willing to take that chance and reach out to them.
Tonight as I drove home from work, my phone rang. It was one of my best friends, a 70-year-old man. He frequently comes over for Souper Sundays. Yes, he was a person that I brought home and made a part of our lives. He also became one of the most influential people in my life. He became my mentor and my shoulder to cry on. He became a friend to T, who loves to fish with him, and he became like a grandpa to the kids. I was so thankful to hear his voice tonight, to talk and laugh with him, and to hear the smile in his voice as we caught up on each other’s lives. I felt so thankful as I drove along talking to him that I had to burst out and tell him how much I loved him. He laughed so genuinely and said, “I love you, too.” Good friendships are priceless!
Back to the incident last week. After meeting T for a quick lunch, I stopped by Target to pick up a few household items. I was browsing around in the women’s clothing department, when a woman stopped me. She said, “Can I ask you a question?” I said she could, but instead of asking me anything, she stood there scrolling through pictures on her phone. I waited, but was a little freaked out. What kind of picture was she going to show me? Did I look like someone she knew? Once she found the picture she had been looking for, she flipped her phone around for me to see. “Do you think this dress is appropriate to wear to a funeral?”
Oh, my. No. It most certainly was NOT something that I would wear to a funeral. It was the kind of dress that I would see someone else wearing in such a situation and wonder what in the hell they were thinking! It had spaghetti straps and was a maxi dress. I LOVE the new maxi dresses that are out this year. Too bad I will never get a chance to wear one! I’m so short that it would look like I was playing dress up in my mother’s clothes. Even if I hemmed a maxi dress, it would still never look right on me. Maxi dresses are for beautiful, tall, stately women. To pull of a maxi dress, you must be lanky and elegant. That is NOT me! Hey, accept what you have. I love the dresses, just not for ME.
This poor woman asking for my advice obviously owned the maxi dress that she had pictured. Uh oh… I didn’t know what to do. First of all, it was definitely NOT appropriate to wear to a funeral. I felt bad, though, when I looked up at her. She looked so hopeful! She said, “What if I wear a white shawl with it?” (Oh, boy…..yuck!) Also, she didn’t look like she had a great deal of money to spend. I don’t mean to be judgmental here. Been there, done that, recognize the look. So, I went against my fantastic fashion sense, and gave her some practical advice. I suggested that a white shawl may look a little too perky for a funeral. Yeah, I think I used the word perky. I suggested that maybe she could use a lightweight, short-sleeved flyaway cardigan. I told her that it was such a versatile piece of clothing to own. You could pair it with so many things, and it just so happened that I had seen one a few moments ago that would be just perfect. (Perfect if you HAD to wear a maxi dress to a funeral.) This woman and I took off across the department to check out the cardigans. When she saw it, her eyes lit up. YES!
We were both so happy about this fashion find, that I forgot that she was outfitting herself for a funeral. Heck, I think we almost hugged. I quickly apologized for her loss. She reassured me that it was no big deal. Very old person, more like a family reunion. Well, OK…
You would think the story would end there, just a tale to tell, but no. Yesterday, I was in kind of a cruddy, sad mood. I was driving down a busy street on my way to lunch. I was feeling kind of (no, VERY) lonely. As I drove along, I glanced up. There she was. Wow. I was shocked. There was the maxi dress woman walking along on the sidewalk. It looked like she was just out taking a walk on a beautiful summer day. She looked up just as I looked over at her. In the moment that I recognized her, she also recognized me. Her face lit up, and she waved like we were old friends. There. That is why I keep on trusting and believing in the goodness of people. Most people…just not all of them.