notquiteold

Nancy Roman

Maybe I Like Sour Grapes

When I was in college, I entered a university-sponsored short story contest. My story was a variation on the old Aesop’s fable “The Grasshopper and The Ant.”

By the way, I can still recite several lines from the Jean De La Fontaine poetic version that I was required to recite in high school  – I can’t even imagine how human brains work, that I can say, “La cigale ayant chante… Tout l’ete… Se trouva fort depourvue… Quand la bise fut venue”…  forty-nine years after I stood up in French class with my little presentation. There must be a cubbyhole that stores useless shit so that it can come up at 3 AM.

But anyway… back to college – all the way forward to 45 years ago.

In my version of “The Grasshopper and The Ant,” when the grasshopper shows up at the ant’s house when winter comes, the ant welcomes him in. The ant says, “All through summer, I listened to your song while I was working, and your beautiful music made my toil so much easier. I’m so glad to be able to feed you this winter and repay you for the joy your song gave to me.”

I didn’t win.

And yeah, I was a bleeding-heart socialist know-it-all.

But you know, there is still a rather large part of me that still hopes the hard-working people have a little compassion for the daydreamers of the world.

Not everyone is ambitious. I know a few loving souls who do just enough work to get by, and then they play for most of their lives. They don’t mind living poor and they have fun and are good-hearted and generous with the little that they have. And they are good parents and sons and daughters. They don’t need advanced degrees. They aren’t workaholics.

Are they pulling their weight in the world? I guess it depends on how you define ‘weight.’

But I like these people. I’m glad they are in the world.

I think the world needs some grasshoppers. How boring if we are all ants.

Along with my benevolent if naive short story, there’s another Aesop’s fable that I take issue with:

The Fox and the Grapes.

The_Fox_and_the_Grapes

That’s where the fox wants some luscious looking grapes that are on a branch that is just out of reach. He leaps for them but misses. As he gives up, he says, “Well, those grapes are not ripe anyway. I wouldn’t want sour grapes.”

So he rationalizes away his failure by deciding he didn’t want them anyway.

But the thing for me is….  what’s so bad about that?

Sometimes it’s not such a terrible thing to cut yourself a little slack. To save your pride once in a while with a self-indulgent excuse.

Of course, there are occasions when you shouldn’t play the sour grapes line. When it hurts someone else. For instance, if a co-worker gets the promotion that you wanted, it’s just not right to say, “Well, that’s a lousy job anyway.” No, it’s the time to say, “Good for you.” And suck it up.

However, it would be different if you apply for a job at a different company where you don’t even know who the other contenders are. And you don’t get the job.  Well, it may be mature and honest to say, “Gee, I really wanted that job and I’m so disappointed.” But it may be a little ego-saving to say, “Well, it would have been a terrible commute and the guy who would have been my boss seemed like kind of a jerk anyway.”

There are lots of good excuses that can help you get through discouraging moments.

“I’m glad we broke up. That man was a slob.”

“Going to the community college instead of Harvard will save me a ton of money.”

“My apartment is tiny, but it’s easy to clean.”

Sometimes for little stuff:

“This healthy salad is more delicious than a slice a pizza.”

“High heels aren’t so terrific; I look cute in ballet flats.”

And sometimes even for very big stuff:

“I’d rather be an aunt than a mother, because I can enjoy the kids but give them back and appreciate the peace and quiet.”

If you are one of those people who’ve uttered the last sentence, I understand.  Some days you even mean it.

Some days I even mean it.

There’s No Such Thing

A few days ago, I was waiting in line at the coffee shop. The guy in front of me was with his wife, and they were quietly standing there – just another anonymous couple.

Another man walked in, and gave the guy in front of me a tap on the sleeve.

“Hey, big guy!” he said. “I saw your car in the parking lot and had to stop.”

Guy #1 smiled and hugged Guy #2. “How you doing?” he said.

“I’m off to see my dad, so I’m gearing up to get yelled at,” Guy #2 said.

And Guy #1 laughed.

He laughed like it was an inside joke. He laughed like a friendship that lasts through time.

He laughed like the best music you have ever heard. One of those joyous, chuckling, laughs that bubbles up from the toes and gains momentum in the belly and sweetness on the heart. His laugh was magnificent.

I was suddenly envious of the young woman who was his wife. She gets to listen to that laugh every day. I’m sure it’s every day. Maybe every hour. Because he laughed like a happy soul.

About 35 years ago, I was single and hoping not to be.

A girlfriend set me up with one of her husband’s buddies. This guy – I’ll call him Eric because I honestly can’t remember his name – was a nice enough guy. Good looking enough (most people are). Kind of quiet. A guy who liked his job – and I liked that because people who like what they do are happier and nicer to be around. But I got the distinct impression that he had been pressured into asking me out. That someone was going to owe him big time for agreeing to this date.

Eric and I went out twice. It turns out that we didn’t have much in common. But I did rather hope that we could try just a little harder. Honestly, It wasn’t desperation… more of a hope that two nice people might find they liked each other more if they just worked at it.

About a month later, I had a bit of an argument with the girlfriend who fixed me up with Eric. And my friend – as a parting shot – said to me, “Eric told me that he could never warm up to you, because your stupid laugh was so irritating.”

God, that hurt. To think that something that was such an integral part of you – and something that you never even think about – it’s a natural as breathing – was terrible.

I’m a happy person. I laugh a lot. I felt bad for a long time my joy was so offensive.

But 35 years have gone by.

And I haved learned – many times over – that Eric was wrong.

THERE IS NOT SUCH THING AS A BAD LAUGH.

All laughs are magnificent.

Snorts.
Chuckles.
Howls.
Giggles.
Shrieks.
Roars.
Titters.
Guffaws.
Snickers.
Whoops.

Why would you disparage an expression of delight?

The next time you are in the coffee shop – or at work, or in a parking lot, or even at church – and you hear someone laugh –

REVEL in it!

You are so lucky! You have been given a marvelous gift. You may not even know the person who has given you this gift.

But how can you be luckier than to be given a share of someone’s joy?

PS – Eric: You missed out on the great gift of my laugh.  But I hope you found someone whose laugh you enjoy. It is so worth it.

 

 

 

 

 

Humbled

We human beings are so egocentric.

By this I mean that I am a human being. And egocentric.

But once in a while we get a strong dose of reality.

By this I mean that once in a while I realize that I’m not quite as magnificent as I usually believe myself to be.

Oh, sometimes I feel that down deep I am still quite magnificent. I can’t help myself.

But oh those other times. When I see how foolish and incompetent I am.

Like when I write an important email with three major typos. Like when I burn the oatmeal. Like when I can’t find the pen I just put down.

This week when I was distracted in Yoga class by the woman in front of me, who kept doing every movement and pose on the wrong side. It was really upsetting my rhythm and I was beginning to feel quite un-yoga-like-annoyed. Until I realized that I was the one who was doing everything on the wrong side.

I know that some human beings are very hard on themselves. They dwell on their shortcomings and never feel like they are good enough.

Not me though. I am very understanding of myself. No one is more forgiving of me than me. I am good at laughing off my blunders. Excusing my worst faults. After all – underneath it all I know I am quite magnificent.

Which is why I need someone to remind me once in a while that I am as stupid as the next human being. Sometimes stupider.

And lately, it’s been non-humans that have reminded me of my all-too-human failings.

April the Giraffe.

That girl had her baby on her OWN schedule. She let human beings stare at computer-nothingness for two months. And then with complete composure, walked around with hooves sticking out of her backside for a couple of hours.

And just when my admiration for April was at its zenith, then came the baby. Holy shit, that baby rocked his own birthing. He wasn’t in any more of a hurry than his mom. Just lettin’ those hooves groove – like you’d put your finger in the air to test the wind. And then finally, finally – with April so mellow I don’t even think she bothered to push – he drops SIX FEET. SIX FEET! SIX FEET with a slurpy kerplunk. Newborn. SIX FOOT FALL. Holy crap – I thought he’d killed himself for sure. But nope. Less than forty minutes later, that tough little bugger stood up and walked around.

Just how cool would it be if human beings walked around an hour after being born? And how annoying. I think the only way mothers survive the first few months without a mental collapse is because when they put the baby down, it pretty much stays put. Imagine if every time you went to the bathroom, you then had to search your house to find where you newborn has wandered off to.

And me?  Fifteen years of Yoga, and I can’t balance on one leg. Baby Giraffe: 40 minutes, strolling.

Horses.

My husband took up riding this year, and with this new passion, he received several nice books about horses for Christmas. There’s one I especially like, filled with interesting factoids. One section is all about maturity. When a horse is five years old, its physical maturity could be compared to a 23-year-old human. Its mental maturity is equivalent to a 25-year-old human. Let that sink in a minute. Physically 23 and mentally 25. Mental maturity beyond its physical years. When I was 23, I had the mental maturity of a 15-year-old. Truly. I wrote poetry while I ate peanut butter from the jar. And I walked around all winter with a nail in my boot, wondering why my foot hurt.

Cats.

My 16-year-old cat Stewart jumped three times his height to a counter to retrieve a catnip toy. I had hid it behind the clock radio to protect it from being eaten by the dog. Stewart the Cat did not see me hide it there. But he jumped up there and found it anyway. I cannot find my pen. I used it an hour ago.

Dogs.

And speaking of my dog, every human knows that dogs can hear much better than humans. They can hear frequencies we cannot. And they can hear at a distance that is four times the human capacity. When my dog Theo is out in the yard and it is time to come him, I call him. He doesn’t even lift an ear. So I yell louder. Yeah, that helps. I’m sure he couldn’t hear me the first time.

Bees.

When I was in college I took a course in Beekeeping. I took a course in pretty much everything  – because I liked school very much and didn’t really like the idea of graduating. I may be one of the only persons in the world who has college credits in Beekeeping AND Bookkeeping. I guess I am a Keeper. But back to bees. Did you know that when a scout bee finds a really good source of nectar, she goes back to the hive and does a complicated dance to tell her sisters all about it? A guy named Karl Von Frisch studied honeybees his whole life, and here I am, forty-six years after my Beekeeping course, with his fascinating research permanently etched into my head. (Which may be the only thing I remember from college – but that’s another story.) Anyway, the bee tells her sisters through an elaborate dance exactly where the treasure is, with directions and distance in the swing of her little bee hips. And the bees take ONLY as much fuel as they need to get there. Not in the meandering route that the original bee may have taken to find the food source, but in the EXACT amount to get there in a direct beeline – so to speak. Because they want to be exactly on empty when they reach the nectar – so they can bring home absolutely as much as possible, and are not weighed down by their own leftovers.

We had dinner for six this Easter Sunday. When my sister picked up the bowl of mashed potatoes she said:

“This is really heavy. How many potatoes did you cook?”

“Nineteen.”

mashedpotatoes

Easter Clothes

Just now, I was pushing little stickpins of cloves into the ham for Easter dinner, and a very old memory came back. It’s funny how an aroma can trigger your brain and suddenly you are back in time – about 60 years this time.

Just a little Easter story:

When I was about six, my mother was preparing Easter dinner, and she was getting the ham ready to go into the oven, just like I am doing now.

She went into the pantry for the cloves and the jar was empty.  She had forgotten to see if she had had any – which is easy to do with a product that lasts about 17 years.

We lived in a three-family house. My Grandma lived in a little apartment up on the third floor, and my Aunt Evelyn and her family lived on the first floor. We lived  in the middle – just like the three bears I thought, because the middle is “just right.”

So my mother said to my sister Claudia:

“Run downstairs and ask Aunt Evelyn if she has any whole cloves.”

And Claudia took off, her thick ponytail bouncing down the stairs.

Three minutes later Claudia returned – with Aunt Evelyn.

“I just had to come up and see for myself,” said Evelyn. “Why you would be asking for such a weird thing on Easter Sunday.”

“What weird thing?” asked my mother.

“Tell your mother what you asked for, honey,” said Aunt Evelyn to Claudia.

“Do you have any old clothes?”

 

easter 1957

Easter Sunday, 1957. Claudia on the left.  (and my brother Tom, my Dad, my sister Christine, and me)

 

 

The Things She Carried

On Sunday, we went to dinner at our favorite restaurant. This used to be our favorite dive – literally a cellar with a raucous bar and tables that wobbled and peanut shells on the floor. But the owner built a new nicer facility, and so now the food is stll good and there are still peanut shells on the floor, but it just isn’t quite as cosy as when it was a dump.

But oh well, things change, and the owner has worked hard and I hope he’s a huge success.

Anyhow, at the table next to us was a young couple. They were very affectionate – especially her. She kept leaning over to caress the boy, and plant kisses on his mouth and cheeks and nose and ears. When people use the cliche, “to shower with kisses” – this girl exemplified that phrase.

I found myself slightly annoyed. And this surprised me, because I have actually extolled the virtues of Public Displays of Affection. We seem to be okay with people staring at their phones in a restaurant, but not with kissing each other.  So I reminded myself that these lovers were actually communicating in ways that didn’t involve emojis, and I relaxed and began to enjoy my role as Witness to Ardor.

And then I witnessed something entirely different. Or no… now that I reflect on it… maybe it wasn’t really different at all.

The young woman spilled something.

And with a smile not of embarrassment but of complete composure, she simply got up from the table and took a roll of paper towels from a nearby shelf. And she cleaned up. She moved aside all the dishes and glasses, the silverware and condiments, and wiped down the whole table. She never called over the busy waitress. She just fixed the mess herself.

And she wasn’t done. She tore off more paper towels and wiped the chair, and the table leg. (I didn’t even see what she was wiping, so it could not have been an enormous mess.) And while she was cleaning up, she got down on her hands and knees and scrubbed the floor beneath the table.

Then she sat back down and smiled and kissed her boyfriend once again, and finished her meal.

That’s when I knew that this girl did not just possess affection for the boy she loved. She possessed affection for the world. Her sweetness extended to everything.  Her PDAs are all-encompassing. And I was not only a witness to young love; I was the fortunate witness to a loving soul.

When the couple got up to leave, the girl picked up from an empty chair at her table an enormous backpack.

This girl could have been off to Mt. Everest.

I didn’t see whether her boyfriend also had such a big backpack. I like to think that he did not. That he traveled light and she took care of everything like she took care of the floor.

And I started to contemplate what might be in that overstuffed huge bag.

There is a beloved (deservedly so) book called “The Things They Carried” by Tim O’Brien. It is a collection of related short stories that reveal the souls of the soldiers by the things they carry into war.

I was reminded of this book as I pondered what this amazing young woman brought into the restaurant in her big backpack.

Here’s what I imagined she carried:

A first-aid kit. She would always be prepared with antiseptic and a band-aid. And probably a small vial with antacids and antihistamine and toothache drops. “I have just what you need,” she would say to a woman in the parking lot, as she pulled out the baby aspirin and a fresh diaper.

Dog biscuits. She doesn’t have a dog right now, but she’s always ready in case she meets one on the road. Just to say hello. It’s good to have a treat on hand for a friendly mutt. She goes through a lot of dog biscuits.

Photos of her family. Not on her phone. In a manila envelope with the catch broken off because it has been open and reopened so many times. She has baby pictures of her brother, now in college. She has a photo of her mother in a bathing suit, squinting against the sun. She has a creased and faded wedding photograph of her grandparents, staring seriously at the camera.

And a list of birthdays. She wouldn’t travel anywhere without a list of all her friends’ and family’s birthdays. And a few birthday cards she could pop in the mail. My father kept a list of birthdays. I found it in his wallet after he died.

A smooth pebble from a long ago trip to the beach. She holds it when she feels anxious, and as it warms in her hand, it calms her.

Socks. Specifically, new men’s socks. Three pairs. Whenever she sees socks on sale she stocks up. When she encounters a homeless person, she gives him a pair of socks. Good clean socks are her contribution to making someone’s life just a little better.

Books. You never know when there will be a few moments to read. Waiting in line. Traffic jams. Your companion tied up on a long phone call. Right now she has “Huckleberry Finn” – because she never tires of it; “The Double Helix” by James Watson – because she wants to learn and wants to learn about how you learn; and the Edward Gorey’s “The Ghastlycrumb Tinies” – because…well, why not?

A notebook with a pretty cover and the pages mostly full of doodles. Expanding spirals flowing from a purple pen. Every so often, a page with the beginnings of a song.

And at the very bottom of her big backpack, folded in tissue: an ivory lace dress. A wedding dress. Because her lover asked her, and she said maybe. And when they get to where they are going, she might.

 

backpackwoman2

 

 

 

Looking Like Myself While Searching for Myself

Lately I have been bombarded on Instagram with ads for apps to photoshop my selfies.

I love selfies. I admit it.

Although I will also admit that I like them much much better when I look nice.

One day late last summer we took the dog to the beach, and he was so adorable. I was snapping pics with my phone like crazy. Of course, in the bright sunlight I couldn’t see what I was shooting. When we went back to the car and I got a look at my photos, I was appalled to find that I had inadvertently flipped the camera around, and I had 47 shots of me, not the dog. And although I was laughing and delighted at the dog’s antics, happiness and delight was not what I looked liked. No. Nope. Sorry. What I looked like was:

Wacky.

I was mugging and grinning like an idiot  as I encouraged my pooch. I suppose I should have saved at least one of them so I could illustrate my complete goofiness. No. Nope. Sorry. I couldn’t delete those 47 photos fast enough.

I recognize that sometimes I look good and sometimes I look awful. And that people looking at me see both. But I have convinced myself that, since I am my own worst critic, my friends and family mostly see me as I am in my best photos. And if I destroy the evidence that sometimes I look unstellar, I can be content with my looks.

Which brings me back to photoshop apps.

The latest technology is incredibly robust. We are no longer talking about retouching. More like re-mauling.

We are not talking about blurring out a blemish. We are talking about turning your skin into glowing alabaster. You can change your hair both color and style and thickness. You can change your eye color and add liner and lashes. You can plump up you lips and lengthen your neck.

But even though I am desperate to look beautiful in photographs, what I really want is not to look beautiful, but to BE beautiful.

By this I mean – I want to look like myself.

I want to look as beautiful as possible, but I want to be considered beautiful for what I actually look like. Not for some superimposed technology.

We already have impossible standards of beauty.  Idealized versions that are getting more unobtainable every day.

We are never enough.

Even a woman as amazingly beautiful as Scarlett Johansson. Her photos get retouched because in this world her amazing beauty is not quite amazingly beautiful enough.

scarlettjo

 

Which Scarlett should a teenage girl aspire to look like?

How about this one?

scarlett-johansson-nomakeup

Impossible standards are just that – impossible. Trying to look like a movie star – who doesn’t even really look like the photo you are looking at – well, that is as self-destructive as whacking yourself with a pretty stick.

So photoshopping my selfies?

If it is depressing to compare myself to unrealistic Hollywood standards, I can just imagine how depressing it would be if the unrealistic standard was a phony picture of myself. I may understand why I can’t look as good as a movie star, but when I can’t even look as good as ME??? Why, every time I looked in the mirror I would cry.

Not measuring up to myself? WTF?

I don’t want to be a picture of myself to be better than the real thing.

I have no problem with fixing a stray hair. Or wearing a little (or more) makeup. Or taking pictures when the lighting is flattering.

But artificially making myself more beautiful than I am?

Well. I think I am beautiful enough.

annotated me

me perfect

 

 

Wearing My Heart On My Sleeve

This morning a nice friend I’m just getting to know was discussing her mother. It seems her mother was a tennis instructor for many years. She’s now retired and neither teaches tennis nor even plays any longer.

However, she still wears her tennis outfits. Not once in a while – but extremely often. Like all the time often. She wears her little tennis skirts and sneakers to the grocery store and the library.

It’s who she is.

And I love that.

I love that we can send messages about who we are on the inside by what we wear and look like on the outside.

Some people do that with designer labels. I confess, I love the Coach bag my husband gave me for my birthday a few years ago.

Some people do that with slogan t-shirts. (and once in a while, I am even one of those people)

agreewmyself1

Some people do that with ethnic clothing that represents their heritage or religion. Like kilts or saris or hijabs.

Some people do that with the uniforms of their professions or hobbies – like nurses or cable tv repairmen – or tennis players.

Some people do that by wearing a costume once in while to break out of their own stereotype and make a freer statement. I think the fact that my all-time favorite Halloween costume is Dorothy from The Wizard Of Oz says a whole lot about me.

Some people do that with crazy hairstyles or eccentric makeup – to signal that they are not about to conform.

Some people – currently a lot of people – do that with tattoos.

I personally don’t like tattoos. (although I am not condemning those who do.)

But I’ll admit that I’m impressed by those peoples’ commitment and by their complete confidence that their identities will never change. To use permanent ink to make a permanent statement about who you are takes a level of faith that I do not have.

I believe what I believe with my whole heart.

But what if my heart should change?

I was born a brunette.  I used to wear frilly anklets with sandals. In 1962, I wanted to be a cheerleader. In 1968, I wanted to be a nurse. In 1974, I wanted to be a writer. In 1981, I got an MBA. In 1997, I was a Vice President of Finance.  In 2001, I became a writer.

I want to show the world what I am – but I want flexibility to change what I am if I want to.  My Statement is fluid.

Right now I am telling the world about myself:

I love a nice rosy blush, because it presents my rosy outlook.

I love soft clothes. Even when I wear black or grey, I like a fabric that is soft. That feels warm to the touch. That gives comfort. Soft clothes represents my accessibility.

I love to wear my leopard print raincoat, because it is practical and funky at the same time – and so am I.

I love my blond hair – I want to tell the world that 66 is not old.

I love good jewelry. I am the real thing. I am valuable.

But I could change.

I could want grey hair (which would be pretty easy for me right now) and present the image of a kindly grandmother – which would also be nice. Or I could decide I wanted to show the world that I am earthy and practical, and swap my designer purse for a burlap bag – (a cool one, though.)

I think most people would benefit by keeping an open mind about their own mind.

For example:

Suppose someone gave you a GREAT hat. But months later you realized that the person who gave you the hat was not so GREAT.

Why, you could just take it off.

red cap1

 

 

 

 

The 40% Rule

When I was in college, I had a 40% rule.

I was in college for a very long time. I liked school. I changed my major a few times both because I was interested in everything and also to make it last longer.  I took extra courses. When my parents finally told me they had educated me quite enough (which they had), I reluctantly graduated.

Anyway, with my many years of experience with college studies, I learned that mostly you have one great course in a five-course semester. If you have two, you are going to have a spectacular semester. If you are really interested for 2 of your five classes, you are happy 40% of the time. And that’s good enough. Very good, as a matter of fact.

(I also used to advise my younger co-students – which was almost everybody, I stayed in school so long – that if possible, take the professor and not the course. A good teacher makes everything more interesting. A bad teacher can make the most fascinating subject into a big sleepy yawnfest.)

A while back I read Dan Harris’ 10% Happier, a book about meditation. It’s excellent. His premise is that if a small change could make even you even a little happier, wouldn’t you try it? Why not be a little happier?

And I was thinking about that book and about my 40% rule in college, and I realized how I could put them together right now. If “40% Happy” is sufficient when you are young, imagine how great it is when you are older.

And when you think about it, you only need to be 10% happier to get to your 40%.  Because you already sleep 30% of the day, and that’s a really happy time.

Here are some suggestions to add 10% more happiness to your day:

– Find a really beautiful tree in your neighborhood, and any time you go out, make sure you drive by that tree and let its awesomeness envelop you.

– Put a dollar bill and a wrapped candy in the pocket of every coat you own. When you put on your coat, you will find some money and something sweet.

– Wash your bed linens in the evening. When you take them from the dryer, put then back on the bed while they are still warm, and get right in.

– Say “I love you so much and I’m so glad you called” when you answer the phone. Say this to the recorded voice in the next robocall you receive. It will make you feel a lot better than swearing at the recording.

– On the subject of phone calls, keep silly putty on your desk – I guarantee this will improve your phone calls.

– Did you ever notice how your pets will know what time the sun comes in what window? Sit by that window too for a moment.

– Get yourself a really nice pen and a notebook with a soft leather cover than you love to touch. This will make business meetings 10% better.

– Make breakfast special. In nice weather, sit outside in your bathrobe with your coffee. In bad weather, wrap up in a blanket at the table. Use a wine glass for your orange juice. Use real napkins.

– Bring a pair of slippers to work. Put them in your file cabinet. If you have to work late, take your shoes off and wear your slippers.

– Relax in a nice hot bath. Use some fragrant bath salts like lavender or eucalyptus. Bring an orange with you and eat it slowly in the tub.

– When you get up in the morning, flex your muscles. Feel your biceps, Be impressed.

– Leave a book of poetry by your bed. Read a poem before you go to sleep.

– Watch an old favorite movie. Make popcorn.

 

 

Hours Of Free Entertainment!

Or minutes.

Whatever.

Would you really pooh-pooh a few minutes of fun because it doesn’t last longer?

Which reminds me of a story.

Thirty years ago I was in a relationship with a nice, but melancholy, man. One day we kept his 10-year-old son out of school, and we all played hookey together. We went skiing. We had a fantastic time. The weather was perfect We all skiied till we were exhausted – which for me was about seventeen minutes – but father and son skiied on and on joyously for hours. On the drive home, the young boy unbuckled his seatbelt and leaned forward and put his head on my shoulder. I never felt closer to a kid. I was so happy. When we returned home, we had hot dogs and hot chocolate, and the kid went right to bed. As I was getting my things together to return to my own place, I turned to see that my boyfriend was in tears.
“What in the world is wrong?” I asked.
‘It really kills me,” he said, “that we can’t have fun like this every day.”
WHAT?????
The fun made you miserable because it wasn’t eternal?

Anyway…. enough of sad, ridiculous immature men…

Let’s not devalue a few minutes of sheer happiness.

And I know just the place you can get it.

The Pet Supply Store

There’s probably one in your town. PetSmart, PetcCo…. you know – those collosal kibble castles.

petsmart

Whether you have pets or not, you need to stop by on a busy Saturday.

At the pet supplies superstore, their motto is: “Well-behaved pets on leashes are always welcome.”

That’s such a trip.

First, you’ve got folks who have these sweet little dogs who are trying on sweaters.  Dogs who all look like someone’s grandma. They really should be wearing pearls.

And then there’s the other group.

Pet parents who think maybe – just maybe – this time their dog will be well-behaved. The ultimate optimists. Whose dogs are peeing in the aisles and sniffing butts and dragging their owners down the hamster aisle.

I’m in the latter group.

I end up spending a lot of money there, because my Theo is a shoplifter. And once the chew toy is already in his mouth, it’s a little awkward to put it back all wet. And with a corner torn off.

If you are really lucky, they’ll be an obedience class going on. You will get to see a whole bunch of puppies with the attention span of the fleas their collars are supposed to repel. Puppies so wiggly they can’t possibly ‘Sit’. They excel at getting tangled in their leashes and at knocking each other over. They excel at adorable.

And then there’s cats. Occasionally you will see a cat on a leash, which is quite wonderfully weird. Mostly though, you will see the cats in the adoption center. The best moment is if you get to see one going home. Maybe with you.

The grooming salon is all windows so you can watch the dogs get their cute or unfortunate hairdos. Last week when I was walking by, there was a big tough guy watching the dogs grooming from outside on the sidewalk. He grinned when he noticed me, and said, “I can just watch these pups all day!” I agree. This is better than “Survivor.”

Spend a few minutes, too, with the fish, the iguanas, the hamsters and mice and gerbils, and the huge and tiny birds. If you take your well-behaved pet, though, you may want to wait for another time, as you really don’t want tragedy to ensue.

Years ago, a coworker told me that when she was broke she took her two-year-old to the pet store, and told her it was the zoo.

And you know what? Why not think of it as a little free zoo? Why not spend an hour being entertained by screeching parrots and dogs in tutus?

Every day does not have to be the perfect ski vacation. Sometimes an hour smiling at shy cats and berserck puppies is fine too.

0217171029

My Theo at his hair appointment.

PS – You can still buy the kindle edition of my novel JUST WHAT I ALWAYS WANTED for just 99 cents until March 30.  Here’s the link:  JUST WHAT I ALWAYS WANTED.

The Non-Complaint Department

I overheard the most ordinary – yet extraordinary – conversation yesterday.

Two friends were catching up after our Yoga class. One had just returned from visiting her son and grandchildren.

“I see my grandchildren so much more than I ever thought I would,” the woman said. “It’s such an easy trip. Bradley [our Connecticut airport] is so fantastic.”

“I know!” said her friend. “Convenient parking, easy walks to the gates…  we are so lucky!”

Okay. Wow.

When was the last time you heard someone say something nice about AN AIRPORT????

But it’s true. We have a nice airport. And there are great airports all over the world. We can go anywhere. I did not travel the ocean in steerage to go to my business meeting in France.

I’m not saying we don’t have lots of problems with flying. But my God, we are flying.

And there are so many things that we complain about that are really such first-world problems.

And again, I’m not saying that first-world problems are never serious – holy crap, there are many things on this planet that are a mess, including this planet.

I’m just saying let’s focus please on the important concerns of our life and our world, and not bitch quite so much about the remarkable and wonderful things in our life.

Like cell phones.

  • “My  phone battery drains like a sink.”
  • “I never have any bars.”
  • “The memory sucks.”
  • “This app takes forever to load.”

Well how about this:

  • “I don’t have to look for a pay phone.”
  • “I just showed my Mom new pictures of the grandkids.”
  • “Honey, pick up bread on your way home.”
  • “I was about to buy this new toothpaste, but it says here that it makes your gums bleed.”
  • “In one quarter of a mile, turn right.”

And television. “Oh there’s nothing but crap on TV.” Well, it’s true that most of your 200 channels aren’t exactly Hamlet, but what did you turn the TV on for anyway? Mostly for mindless entertainment, and a way to unwind – am I right? And you have 200 choices. Remember when we had 3 channels and the picture rolled and you needed tin foil on the rabbit ears? And we LOVED TV anyway. And be honest, we weren’t watching Hamlet back then either. Am I right, Gilligan?

And restaurants. “There’s nowhere good to eat out. Overpriced or junk food – that’s all you get.” Well, I know that some of you may live out where there are only soybean fields, but for most of us, we just need to Google ‘restaurants near me’ and pick something. I added ‘within 10 miles’ on my Google search, so I only got 101 choices.  And you know what? – I don’t have to cook the food myself or do the dishes in any of those 101 places.

And supermarkets. While we are talking food, someone I know recently said, “The supermarket in my town is horrid.” That’s so strange. I walked into my supermarket yesterday which is in a much smaller town, and there were two aisles of apples – ordinary, organic, loose, bagged. And it isn’t even apple season. And oh my God, THE CHEESE!

And costs. Yes. Stuff is expensive. Yes, I remember when gas prices were 40 cents a gallon. But I also made $1.60 an hour.

And by the way, your pen is not shit, your clothes do not fall apart in the wash, your bank is online, the hospital will stitch up your kid’s knee, and your car has seatbelts.

You want to complain?

How about complaining that some people are hungry and some people do not have homes?

apples

Apple aisle. More on the other side.

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PS:  If you’d like to read my novel, JUST WHAT I ALWAYS WANTED –  you can download the Kindle version from March 24 – 30 for just 99 Cents!  That’s like 3/10ths of a cent per page. Or, since it took me three years to write the book, you are just paying me 33 cents a year!  Well below minimum wage!  Just click here:  JUST WHAT I ALWAYS WANTED