Friday, December 23, 2011

I Don't Care What You Think As Long As It's About Me

"Yeah, you could kiss like fire and you made me feel
like every word you said was meant to be.
No, it couldn't have been that easy to forget about me."
                                                                 -Tom Petty

"When you close your eyes, do you dream about me?"
                                                                  -Night Ranger

One of my biggest fears is being forgotten.

If forced to perform a psychoanalysis (which I am in no way qualified to do), I suppose I'd say that it's my insecurities that make me care whether or not I cross the minds of people who are no longer a part of my life. Whatever the reason, I do it, and I do it constantly.

You name the people from my past, I wonder if they wonder about me.

I guess I feel like if people don't think about the people from their past, it's almost as if the time spent with those people never existed.  And if that's the case, how sad is that? How sad is it to think that Somebody could spend hoursdaysweeksmonthsyears with Someone, and then one day  Someone will cease to exist to Somebody? How sad is it that the
inside jokes
sweetly awkward moments
will one day be lost to one, if not both, or all, parties?

I (begrudgingly) accept that relationships don't last forever. But memories should. Because, really, in the end aren't memories all we have?

If we aren't
(If I'm)
remembered, did we
(did I)
matter at all?

Saturday, December 17, 2011

The Incredible Weirdness of Beings

I posted a long time ago, maybe on my now-defunct If I Had My Own World blog, about how sad it makes me when people who were once close no longer communicate, and although it doesn't make me sad exactly, I was just kinda sorta in a situation that would fall under the heading of People Who Were Once Close and No Longer Communicate, and it made me think of how weird we people are.

You'll need a little back story, so--

A Little Back Story

Twenty years ago I had a boyfriend. He was my high school boyfriend, and you know how relationships like that go: It was tumultuous; it was hectic; it was passionate; it was melodramatic; it was heart wrenching. It was an episode of Buffy come to life (if you really want an idea of what my life was like for the almost two years that I went out with this guy, check out one of the episodes of Buffy in season 2 after Angel goes bad. Passions would be good. So would I Only Have Eyes for You).

While this guy and I were together, we went through crap that some people don't go through in an entire lifetime. You'll just need a general overview, so--

A General Overview (in no particular order)

Forbidden relationship
Pregnancy attempts
Being on the lam
Physical abuse
Emotional abuse
Surreptitious sex
The absolute opposite of surreptitious sex
Bad Break Up (like institutionalization this one you can repeat, repeat, and repeat again)

The last time I saw or talked to this guy was when I was twenty-one or twenty-two, three or four years after we broke up for the last time, when we ran into each other at a restaurant where I was eating with my now-husband and I found him waiting for me when I left the bathroom. It's not for lack of trying, though. I've googled him on a semi-regular basis for the last few years, looked for him on myspace when that was the place to be, and now look for him on facebook whenever I don't have anything better to do. It's all been to no avail. This guy is nowhere to be found. Or so it seemed.

Because I once knew this guy as well as I did, and because people never really change, I suspected that if he was on facebook, he might be on facebook under some kind of alias. I checked around in all the usual places but for the longest time found nothing. A few days ago, though, I found a profile that I believe to be his. It's private, so I can't check for sure, but I feel pretty comfortable in my assumption. And this is the point where the weirdness of people comes in, so--

The Weirdness of People

Once I found this guy (or maybe found this guy), I didn't know what to do. I wanted to send him a message, but I felt totally uncomfortable doing it. I felt nervous and unsure and stupid and insecure. I started to message him and ended up just staring at the little message box, writing and deleting and second-guessing everything that crossed my mind.

Why is this weird? Well, it's weird because this is somebody who I once spent every possible minute with, someone who I ran away from home for and who ran away from home for me, someone who wrote me poetry, someone whose window I used to climb through in the middle of the night and whose closet I hid in, naked, for more hours than I want to think about, someone who I tried like a damn fool over and over again to have a baby with, someone who I planned out my entire life with, and now...well, now he's someone I'm afraid to initiate a conversation with.

And that is weird.

It's not just me, either. I've had several friends over the years who have been in similar situations, under varying circumstances, and they've had that same fear, that same feeling of awkwardness and the same state of being unsure. They've been in relationships with people, whether romantic or not, close relationships in which they've shared private thoughts and intimate moments with people who they've felt they know as well as they know themselves, and then one day for whatever reason, it's like they don't know them at all, and then when they're confronted with the opportunity to somehow communicate with them again, they're afraid to do it.

And when you think about it, that's weird.
And it's sad.
It's sadly weird.

At least it is to me.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Mama Doesn't Wanna Help Build the Wall

Having been imprisoned in South Florida in a cage composed of matrilineal fears, I've told myself several times that I won't do to my kids what my mother did to me. I've told myself that I won't scare them out of going to Gainesville by constructing tales about the monetary failure they're sure to experience or moving to Chicago by sharing stories about the hundreds of water bugs that abound in garden apartments. I've also told myself that I won't make them feel guilty for abandoning me and leaving me all alone after I did every possible thing I ever could for them, nor will I put the idea that they can't find success on their own into their heads. I've told myself all of these things, and I mean them sincerely.

Sincere and well-meaning as I am, though, I have to admit it's not going to be easy. I thought it would be, but this week something happened that made me realize just how not easy not doing everything in my power to keep my kids close by is going to be:  Griffin went away to Williamsburg and Washington, DC.

I didn't think his going away was going to be a big deal; it's only five days, after all. Let me tell you something, though; I was wrong. It is a big deal, and five days isn't "only five days"; five days is FIVE DAYS! It's five days without kissing him goodnight or touching his hair or hearing his voice or seeing his face. Five days is four-and-a-half days too much. And that scares me.

If I'm unhappy being away from Griffin for five days, how am I going to deal with my children going away for four years and then, potentially, forever? How am I going to go from seeing my kids every day to talking to them once or twice a week (or maybe even less) and seeing them a few times a year? To sharing holiday time with a significant other's family? To cards in the mail instead of kisses and hugs? How will I uphold my promise to myself that I won't repeat my mother's mistakes and control my neurosis long enough not to negatively affect my sons' natural development?

As a parent, I  know I have a responsibility to help my children grow, but how am I going to do that if I don't want to let them go?

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

And Then Your Mom Goes Around the Corner and She Licks It Up!

My sons don't have friends. Okay, that's not entirely true. They have friends, but they don't have FRIENDS, not in the real sense of the word, not in what I perceive to be the real sense of the word. What they each have is a bunch of a-little-friendlier-than-friendly-acquaintance type friends, friends who they know through school or soccer or the performing arts studio they've gone to for the past four years, occasionally talk to on the phone, once in awhile see out of the usual setting, and nothing more.

And it hurts my heart.

My whole life, I've had super-close friends. I lived in Chicago up until I was eight, and while I was there, I had Danielle. Danielle, my sister, and I were together almost every weekend, and when we weren't together, we were on the phone (we called each other so much that even now, twenty-nine years later, I remember her phone number--764-7244 in case you're curious). And, yes, our friendship still stands today.

I lived in Coral Springs for a little over a year, and in the short time I was there, I became really close friends with Tracy--so close, in fact, that there was quite a bit of dry humping going on at our sleepovers, but this is neither the time nor the place for that discussion.

When I was nine, I moved to Miramar, and it wasn't long until Jessica and I found each other. From the time I started AC Perry during spring break of fourth grade until middle school began, we were pretty much inseparable. Along with Jessica, I became really close friends with Minh and Chris, too. When middle school started and we were placed in separate classes, I pretty much lost contact with Chris and Jessica (regarding Jessica, I must tell you that having different classes wasn't the only cause of our friendship's demise. Her mother HATED me--and when I scream hated in all caps, I'm not just whistling Dixie--the woman hated me so much that she warned multiple friends' parents that their children should not only slow down and proceed with caution where I was concerned, but they should advise their children to run away screaming when I approached--and no, I'm not kidding. I wish I was). During this time, Minh became my main friend. We had all of our classes together, and almost every day, we went to either my house or her house after school. We were extremely close until I misguidedly told her that she walked like a penguin and she gave me the heave ho. At that point, Samantha assumed the role of Kel's best friend; it was a short-lived role, but while it lasted, we spent a great deal of time together.

In seventh grade, Chris and I were reunited through our schedules, and we quickly went back to the way we had been in elementary school. From seventh grade until she went to college, we were as close as two people who don't have sex can be. There was nothing I didn't tell her and nothing she didn't tell me. In middle school, we were together before school, after school, and on the weekends. We spent our summer days and nights together. In high school, after she moved to Davie, we had a routine in which she spent the night at my house on Friday nights and I spent the night at her house on Saturdays. Her going to college was one of the saddest things I've ever experienced. Ever.

Although Chris and I were always together, she was by no means my only friend. In middle school, we had a "group," and that group consisted of Chris, Hope, Mary, and me, and one person from the group was always with another one or talking to one on the phone. I seriously cannot imagine my life without the friends I had in seventh grade. I wouldn't want to.

When Chris went to college, Marnie came along, and the same things I wrote about Chris and me could be said for Marnie. By now, you know the drill: we were always together, we slept at each other's houses all the time, and we shared everything two people who don't have sex can share. This went on for three years until she moved to Chicago (at which point she fell in love with a pastor, became some type of fundamentalist, and apparently decided it wasn't in her best interest to associate with a heathen like me. Thanks a heap, Marnie).

Enter Erin. I won't bore you with the same details I've already bored you with over and over, but suffice it to say that Erin and I were close. We worked together. We lived together. We did everything together. Everything.

It wasn't my intention to ramble, but I see that I have. Let me just apologize in advance because I'm about to do it some more.

As I've made very apparent--sorry about the dead horse--I've never not had a close friend. As I've gotten older, my time has gotten scarce, and my close friendships have gotten different, but I still have them. In my opinion, a life without close friends just isn't complete.

Each and every friend I mentioned had a significant role in my life, especially the friends that I had from seventh grade on. I never felt lonely when I was young;one of my friends was always around. I always--always--had somebody who I could talk to, who I could cry to, who I could laugh with. I always--always--felt like I was a part of something. And now, looking back, I know that I was. I can't begin to tell you how much having close friends has enriched my life.

And my sons don't have any.

They don't have anybody whom they can tell every little mundane detail of their day; whom they can tell every sick, twisted thought that crosses their mind; whom they can talk to about the girl they like, the teacher they hate, or the fight they just had with one another. They don't have anyone with whom they can just be.

It's a fundamental part of growing up that they're both lacking, and it's one of the saddest things I can think of.

 A week or two ago, we watched The Goonies for family movie night, and in the middle of it, Griffin said, I wish I had friends like that.

I wish you did, too, Griffin. I wish you did, too.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Don't Know What You Got Till It's Gone?

So I'm wondering. If you know that something is inevitable, is it better to stave it off and experience a low level of discomfort and unhappiness interspersed with bouts of happiness for an extended period of time, or is it better to just face the inevitable and experience a massive amount of pain that may never go away?

Take, for example, surgery on a body part that experiences chronic, yet intermittent, pain. Sometimes the pain might be mild and dull--so mild and dull, actually, that you barely--barely-- notice it's there--and it lasts for several weeks; other times the pain may be horribly acute (this acute pain is often, but it usually only afflicts you for short periods); and still other times, the pain may be gone entirely, at which point you not only feel completely healthy and robust and better than you ever have in your life, but you're so filled with pain-free bliss that you walk around feeling thankful and blessed until the pain strikes again. 

Now, you know that at some point you are going to have to have surgery and that this surgery will be utterly painful and completely debilitating; in fact, after having surgery you may never have proper use of this body part again.  Instead of the varying kinds of pain you now experience--and sometimes don't experience--there is a chance that your chronic pain will never dissipate; it will be constant, it will be major, and it will be there for the rest of your life.  Of course, there is also a chance that after the utterly painful and completely debilitating rehabilitation period, your pain will be gone. But which way things will end up is impossible to know.

Knowing the risk, do you get the surgery now, or do you try to enjoy (as much as you can) the time before the tremendous pain?

What do you do?

What do I do?

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Diff'rent Strokes Really Do Move the World

It's elaboration time! And the lucky number from my list that will be elaborated on is number 10:  "Two people from the same family who were raised exactly the same way can be completely different, not just in personalities, but in beliefs/practices/lifestyles/anything and everything."

Okay, so here's the thing. People are seriously prone to blaming the way a child was raised for his or her shortcomings. If a child is a little hellion, rude and lacking in basic manners, we usually say something akin to, "Well, he doesn't know better. His parents never taught him to put his napkin on his lap," or "Well, how's he supposed to know he isn't supposed to say please and thank you? Nobody ever taught him to do that," or maybe even "It's not his fault. His mom's never home, so he doesn't know he's not supposed to lick his plate like a dog."

Okay, so maybe most people know enough to not lick their plates (though I wouldn't be on it), but my question is, How do they know? I already said we usually blame the parents for the bad, so, logically, we should praise the parents for the good, too; after all, it's our parents who make us who we are, right?

You're probably inclined to answer that question with a yes, but if you are, I need to overpower your yes with a resounding no. I mean, sure, it makes sense that we'd be molded by our parents, but it's just not the case.  Don't believe me? Want proof? Fear not, readers. I've got proof aplenty.

As you all know, my sister and I just went on a three-day trip to Chicago together. I used this time to gather anthropological evidence supporting my parents-have-nothing-to-do-with-the-people-we-are hypothesis.  My findings are as follows:

Heather can't sleep with the TV off, and I can't sleep with it on. She is in no way concerned with the energy she is wasting or its effect on the environment. I find the thought of contributing to global warming horrific.

Heather turns the water on about ten minutes before she gets in the shower. Again, the environment is not at all a concern.  I turn the water on and get in the shower before the water is even hot.

In yet another kick to the crotch of the environment, Heather leaves the water running the entire time she brushes her teeth (which, incidentally, is about three minutes less than I brush my teeth). I turn the water off as soon as my toothbrush gets wet.

My sister does not know who Rick Scott is (she also doesn't vote in local elections (I have a sneaking suspicion she might not even vote in national ones)). Nary a day goes by that I don't lament his existence.

My sister believed the Obama birth certificate controversy. I don't believe anything, ever, unless I consult about five sources first.

My sister talks with her mouth stuffed full of food--it's actually practically the only time she talks. I hold my pinkie out when holding a glass and can't remember the last time I ate without a napkin on my lap.

My sister subscribes to the more-is-better-and-cheaper-is-best school of thought where food is concerned. I'd rather have something decadent and expensive.

My sister is, generally, friendly and amicable, and she doesn't get easily irritated and frustrated by every little thing that people do. Do I even need to state my side of this one?

Monday, October 24, 2011

Add It Up

I just--as in less-than-an-hour-ago just--got back from a three day trip to Chicago with my sister, Heather. To say the trip wasn't a great one is like saying--well, I'm really tired and can't come up with a comparison right now, but it's like making some hugely obvious understatement (feel free to insert your own).  From the time I went on my less-than-great trip until just after I got home, I made several observations, which I'm going to write down right now before they go away.  Because I'm ridiculously tired, elaboration will come at a later date. Maybe.

1. I love running outside and looking at pretty things while I do it.
2. I can get lost even when logic dictates that I can't.
3. People who don't have a spouse/bf/gf/significant other are selfish and inconsiderate and don't know how to coexist harmoniously with another human being.
4. The cause-and-effect relationship of Observation Number 3 can probably be switched.
5. Class in no way dictates how good of a person someone is nor does it dictate likeability.
6. The people on my father's side of the family feel the same way about dogs as I do.
7. Chicago is overflowing with Asian people.
8. The girls on my father's side of the family all have the Cappellano hips.
9. I tend to romanticize.
10. Two people from the same family who were raised exactly the same way can be completely different, not just in personalities, but in beliefs/practices/lifestyles/anything and everything.
11. I am a curmudgeon.
12. I really don't want to teach for another 18 years (hell, I don't want to teach for another 18 days!).
13. Florida is poo.
14. I'm past the age of desirability (but you guys already knew that one).
15. My romantic-colored glasses make realism infinitely depressing.

As promised, no elaboration due to my extreme fatigue.
But I'm sure you get the gist.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

It Hurts

I had big plans to write a blog about the disgusting dinner I attempted to eat last night, but then, lo and behold, something way more interesting happened. So here comes different.

Today at school, one of my students stole the iPod touch that I've had for all of about four weeks (I said interesting, not good-interesting). I was listening to it during my planning period like I often do, turned it off when third period started, and some time between then and the end of the day, it was taken.  When at first I didn't see it in the spot I had left it, I didn't think it had been stolen; instead, I thought that I must have moved it without realizing it, and I searched absolutely everywhere in my room that it possibly could have been. I moved piles of paper, books, folders, and legal pads, and then I moved them again. I looked in all of my desk drawers, I looked in my closet, and I looked in my bag, and then I looked in my desk drawers again, I looked in my closet again, and I emptied out my bag.  And then I realized that I was wasting my time looking for my iPod because my iPod was nowhere to be found--it was absolutely, positively gone.

So now I'm out an iPod--a really nice one, too--but the iPod I can get over. What I can't get over is the sense of violation and invasion that I feel. What I also can't get over is the sense of betrayal.

You know, I'm a more-decent-than-not person, and anybody reading this who actually knows me knows how much I love my students. Anyone who knows me knows that they're not just my students to me, they're my kids--I cry when they cry, I get excited when they get excited, I believe in their dreams, and I cry with happiness and pride when those dreams are achieved. More tangibly, if I'm eating and one of them asks me for food, I give them some. I give them money if when they ask for it I have it (albeit in small, dollar-or-less amounts), and I let them wear my jacket when they're cold. I've baked my students cookies, I've made them cakes, I've brought in Halloween candy, and I've spent several painstaking hours writing out personalized Valentine's Day cards to each and every one of them. I give those kids absolutely everything I can.

And this is what they give me.

They give me the feeling that I'm an idiot. They give me the feeling that, despite what I'm always telling Glenn, my kids can't be trusted, and they're not really good, nice kids. They give me the feeling that I'm stupid to care so much--to do so much--to give so much.

They give me the feeling that I shouldn't trust.
They give me the feeling that I shouldn't care.
They give me the feeling that I shouldn't love.

They give me the feeling that the world, even with its angelic tow truck drivers and its random-act-of-kindness-exemplifying women who let me cut them in line at Starbucks, is ugly.

They took my new hope, and now it's gone.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

I'm on Another Planet with You

So a girl--this girl, to be specific (it's a link, click on it!)--that I never met just commented on a Facebook post that I "live in another planet." I really feel the urge to discuss why.

Earlier today, a former student of mine posted that she's selling her seven-month-old blue-nosed pit for $350.  The puppy has been giving her a lot of trouble, chewing and destroying her things, since she got him.  She's at her wits end and just wants him gone.

I commented, very nicely, that she shouldn't get rid of her dog, that it might be difficult now, but he's only a puppy, and soon enough he'll stop destroying her things.  I told  her that in the meantime, she should keep him crated, give him chew toys, leave nothing destructible within his reach, and maybe consider behavior training.  I also told her that my dogs give me so much happiness, and my life wouldn't be in any way complete without them.  I also mentioned that she made a commitment to him--to him, a puppy, not an object--and she shouldn't just get rid of him.

Comments (all nice and civil) went back and forth, and at one point, a girl said that everybody has an opinion, but nobody's in the situation and should just leave the original poster alone and let her do what makes her happy.  To that I wrote an admittedly snarky comment about how my sons break things and are ruining my house, and I clearly should have gotten rid of them when they were young.  And then the other girl--this girl, to be specific (it's a link, click on it!)--entered the conversation.

She said, and I quote (copied and pasted--you know very well the grammatical errors aren't mine), "I am a mother of three lovely children, a cute as dog, and a sexy ass Horse. Ther os no way in HELL you can compare the love of a mother to her children, to any damn animal in this whole world!!! [Name omitted] YOU DO YOU! Nobody helpd [Post ends abruptly. New post] Nobody helps you clean up dog shit, and pick up all the stuff the little darling destroys! get rid pf the little terror, if thats whats going to make you HAPPY!"

Rationally, I responded, "Noelby, maybe you can't compare the love of a mother to an animal, but I certainly can. And this isn't to [Name omitted] or meant to offend her, it's in response to what you said, but did she think somebody was going to help her clean the dog shit when she bought it? Did she research owning a puppy and all the responsibility that goes along with it? I'm guessing no to both answers which is exactly why hundreds of thousands of pets are in shelters and up to a million are euthanized every year--because people have a piss poor, lackadaisical attitude like you do--if it's not easy, get rid of it. Animals aren't inanimate objects that should be bought and surrendered at will. Quite frankly, your statement and attitude disgust me."

She then asked me what I would do if my house were on fire--if I would save my "precious dogs" or my sons.  First of all, I have to say, what the hell does a Sophie's-Choice situation and my house being on fire have to do with the price of tea in China (God, I love that expression)? The original poster wasn't selling her dog because she had to choose between him and her children.  Clearly this Noelby girl is either unbalanced, or none too bright (I think I have to go with the latter on this one).  

Even though her question was irrelevant, I humored her with a response.

I told her that we actually had a plan for that very situation, and, yes, my dogs would be saved "because they're that important to us."  I also told her, and , again, I quote, "We didn't get rid of them when they caused us trouble that cost us over one thousand dollars; we didn't get rid of them because we can't ever take a vacation where we can't drive anywhere or because it's almost impossible to find a hotel where we can stay with two sixty-pound dogs because we take them everywhere with us; we didn't get rid of them when we realized we have to vacuum twice a day because they shed so much because we understand that, as human beings, we are responsible for taking care of those that we've committed to loving and taking care of, no matter how inconvenient it may be."

Her response? A well-thought out, "Kelly you live in another planet."

To which I have to respond, Really? Really??

So...why exactly do I live in another planet (as opposed to on one, as people usually exactly did I get in there? A really big shovel?)? Is it because I don't think animals are here to buy and sell at our whims? Is it because I love my dogs like I love my children? Is it because I feel that people have a responsibility to honor our commitments and protect things that need to be protected? Is it because it makes me sick how she encouraged the original poster with a " YOU DO YOU!" because, like so many other people, selfishness rules her world? What exactly is it that implies I live in another planet? Is it because I'm not a self-centered, inarticulate bitch? You know, like this girl, to be specific (it's a link, click on it!).

Friday, October 7, 2011

I'm Okay (I Promise)

Let me just preface this by saying that this is totally crazy to me, but I was recently told by someone (please forgive the passive voice) that I'm somewhat inspirational to her.  My first reaction was surprise. Hearing that I'm inspirational to someone took me aback, and I simply thought, Wow. In the two days since then, though, I've been thinking about my friend's statement, which, in turn, led me to think of two other instances when I was taken aback in the same way.

Both incidents occurred about a year and a half ago, very close in time to one another.  A former friend of mine and I were talking, and she told me that she loved the way I looked and would give anything to look like me. I can't even tell you how shocked that statement made me.  Okay, wait--maybe I can--let's see. That statement shocked the hell out of me.  I'd spent my entire life up to that point vacillating toward being okay with my looks and hating every single thing about myself.  I'd spent (and still spend) countless hours in the mirror lamenting my looks, from my swimming-pool-sized pores to my dimple-ridden, extra-large ass to the Greek-Italian monstrosity of a nose that sits in the middle of my face to the Jew-curl hair that I could never control.  I mean, when I tell you I've hated my looks, I am in no way using the word hate lightly.  Not only that, but I've pored over countless magazines in my day, scrutinizing pictures of models and actresses and thinking that if I could just look like any one of them, my life would be so much better.  And then, suddenly, somebody was doing the same thing I'd always done, expressing her desire to look like somebody else, but shock of all shocks, she wasn't expressing the desire to look like Drew Barrymore or Lucy Liu (two people I'd trade places with any day), she was expressing the desire to look like me.  What?

The second incident came pretty soon after when I was out playing pool one night (I guess I must have been going through a good stage).  I was in the bathroom when a complete stranger told me that she loved my hair (it was super short and even super-er red at the time) and that she wished she had the confidence and the nerve that I had.  It's been awhile, so I don't remember her exact words, but I remember they were the kind of words that made me feel the same way I felt when my former friend said that she would give anything to look like me and that I recently felt when my friend told me that I was inspirational.  All three incidents left me with the same feeling of what? 

And here's where I'm going with this.  We're all so busy--and when I say all, I mean me, and because I mean me, and I'm not a complete anomaly, I also mean you--seeing what's wrong with ourselves that oftentimes we don't see what's right. We're so busy complaining about what we have--in my case, a crooked, chipped front tooth, my grandmother's hips (on a smaller scale, thank God), a fine layer of facial fuzz that gleams in the sun--and wanting what we don't have--to be Asian, to be dewy but not shiny, to carry off the gamine thing as flawlessly as Jean Seberg did (yes, my case again)--that we don't realize that we--We! Yes, you! And, yes, me!--are to other people as our objects of admiration/inspirations/motivations are to us.  In a lot of ways, we're better than we think.

So the next time you're having an episode, staring in the mirror and thinking that if only you'd upped your SPF way back when, you wouldn't look like a leather bag with eyes or like anything you do is futile because you're just a big nobody who could just disappear and nobody would even notice, remember that I--I!--am somebody else's Drew Barrymore, another person's Zora Neale Hurston.  And that, readers, means so are you.


Tuesday, October 4, 2011

What If You're NOT Beautiful, No Matter What They Say?

Just a quick blog to comment on something that's been bugging me. I posted a link to an article about Isaiah Mustafa creating a mild controversy when he said that he wanted to marry a woman with good hair, and among the conversation on my page under the link was this statement regarding mainstream acceptance for Jamaicans' preference for a certain type (made by a Jamaican woman):  "It's pretty ignorant and sad because an individual there isn't chosen based on knowledge and talent but on looks and desirable traits such as light complexion and eyes and softer hair texture. They're obsessed with those traits because it's believed she'll do better in life."  

First let's talk about the last part of the statement, specifically the belief that women with desirable traits will do better in life.  I have to say that's absolutely true. Studies show that attractive people are treated much better than unattractive ones--and you can spare me the beauty-is-in-the-eye-of-the-beholder spiel--and that, as a result of their attractiveness, they're afforded more opportunities than their unattractive counterparts.  If a culture reveres certain traits, having those traits is going to be an attribute. End of story.

Now, about the mate thing...I can't pretend to know a lot about Jamaican culture, but I know absolutely everything about human nature, plus a hefty amount about American culture, and I can definitively say that this desire for choosing a mate based on "looks and desirable traits" is universal and has absolutely nothing to do with being Jamaican.  (And, yes, before somebody points it out to me, I'm aware that there's prejudice within the black race that revolves around skin tone.  This post is not about that.)  As animals, we instinctively look for the most attractive mate with specific attributes; it's just plain nature.  Biology aside, we all, despite how evolved we might profess to be and how above being superficial we pretend to be, want a mate that's hot, rather than one that's not.  Knowledge and talent are, of course, nice traits for a mate to have, too, but when we're out looking, whether we're window shopping or looking for something to take home, it most certainly isn't  knowledge that we notice, no matter what culture we're from.

Look at this way--for this you must be honest (even if it's not here, at least be honest there, wherever you are). Do you really want to spend the rest of your life looking at somebody who's not pleasing to the eye? Do you? Do you?? don't have to answer.  I already know.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Girl, You'll Be a Woman Sooner Than You Think

If you've been reading my blog, you know that my car broke down in Boca last week, that I was stranded on the side of the road with a friend, that my hope for humanity was restored during the incident, and that the people who passed me by were complete and utter jerks.  Just about the only thing you don't know regarding the incident is that, as a result of it, I came to what probably shouldn't have been a startling realization but was:  I'm old.

Okay, so first let me say, my approaching old age isn't exactly news.  I've known for a long time that it was coming.  But still, knowing and knowing are two completely different things. For years I've been able to convince myself that even though I'm oldish numerically, I'm still youngish physically, but on Saturday, I realized that I've been laboring under a total misconception.  I'm almost forty, and apparently it shows.

On Saturday, I was on the phone with my friend, Curt, telling him the story of what had happened on Thursday, and when I got to the part about people yelling at Erin and me to move the fucking car, boom! all of a sudden it hit me:  not only did no guys stop to help us damsels in distress, but not even one single guy yelled something sexually inappropriate at us.  There were no whistles, no catcalls, no perverted ogles from behind car windows.  There was nothing at all to indicate that one person who zoomed past us found us sexually exciting at all.  If it weren't for the fact that people were being mean, I'd think nobody had even noticed we were there.

I've read, on several occasions, testimony from women about what happens to them once they cease to be girls and turn into what people commonly refer to as "ladies."  I've read about how these women experience what can only be explained as culture shock, having gone from being objectified their entire lives to being all but ignored, and though the women I've read about it happening to were not much older than I am, I somehow thought it would be a long, long time before it happened to me.

I was wrong.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Thou Shalt Not Berate Women Stranded on the Side of the Road

Yesterday I posted about the good that came out of a situation that started out as a fiasco. Today I'm going to post about the bad. I already set up the situation, so I'll spare you the recap. Let's just pick up at the point when Erin and I were standing on the sidewalk next to a car with its hazard lights on.

So there we were, standing on the sidewalk next to a car with its hazard lights on, a clear indication that something problematic had occurred. I was on my phone, frantically calling my insurance company, one of my credit card companies, various towing operations, and Glenn in an effort to try to figure out what to do with my car. We were both pretty panic stricken, having thought my car was going to blow up, and I was insanely stressed, having no idea what was going to become of my car. It's one of the few times in my life I've felt completely and utterly helpless in a "helpless woman" sort of way.

In the forty-five minutes or so that Erin and I were stranded on the side of the road, I'd estimate that at least one thousand cars passed us. It sounds like a lot, but we were on a busier-than-not-busy street right in front of a college, across the street from a shopping center with Whole Foods and Barnes and Noble, and only a few blocks away from the entrance to I-95, so that thousand is probably a conservative estimate. Now, I didn't expect anybody to stop to offer us help--although it would have been nice--but what I didn't expect even more than that was for people to yell and scream at us. At least five separate cars slowed down long enough for people to yell something akin to "Move your car!" at us (because, you know, we were obviously just leaving it in the middle of the road where it could have been smashed into at any moment for fun). At one point, a bunch of guys in a pick up truck stopped behind my car, sat there for at least two minutes, and then, upon pulling away, yelled at me to get my fucking car out of the street.

My question is this: What the hell is wrong with people? Like I said, I wasn't expecting complete strangers to stop to help us, but did they have to berate us? Did they not think that, as two girls with a broken-down car in the rapidly-approaching dark, maybe we were scared enough already and didn't need random strangers hurling vicious words at us? Did they not think about how they'd like to be treated if something like that were to happen to them?

The world makes me sad. I know I can't change the miserable hearts and bad behavior of everybody in existence, but I know I can make a difference with some. As soon as I got home, I sat my sons down and told them that if they ever see a woman in trouble, it's their responsibility as good citizens and good people to offer help to them. Griffin, because he always wants to help everybody, pointed out that sometimes men need help, too, and he was absolutely right. Everybody needs help sometimes. I'm glad that, through my children, I'm able to contribute to a new generation that understands that.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

A New Hope

I'm usually quite the grumbler, but I have to take a break from complaining for a minute to acknowledge the random act of kindness that was bestowed upon me just a couple of days ago. I had just left FAU when my car stopped working--and I use the term stopped working loosely; in fact, what actually happened is my car lost all power, and sparks were flying up through the hood--in the right lane of Glades Road, a busier-than-not-busy street. Afraid that the car was going to explode (you know, since sparks lead to fire), my friend, Erin, and I ran out of the car as quickly as possible, leaving it in the spot where it stopped.

Once we were a safe distance away, I called my insurance company and talked to a man who informed me that they would reimburse me up to fifty dollars for a tow truck. He then gave me some numbers, which I wrote down on a dollar bill. There was no answer at the first number I called. A man answered at the second number, and we went back and forth for awhile about what could be done with my car and how much it would cost. I don't remember every number that was mentioned, but I do know $165 came up at one point. He wanted to take my car to his shop; I didn't think that was a good idea. After a few minutes, I told him I had to call my husband and would get back to him. When I talked to him, Glenn agreed that my car should be taken to an established garage, preferably a Toyota dealership, but at least to a Firestone or Tires Plus. A Bob's Garage-type place was out of the question.

I called the guy back (admittedly by mistake--I was actually trying to get an estimate from one of the other places), and when I told him my exact situation, about how my car was in the middle of the street and I lived over 30 miles away, he sounded genuinely concerned. He told me there was a Firestone three miles away and that he would tow it there for $55. After telling me he'd be coming in 10 to 15 minutes, we hung up.

About 10 minutes later, the tow truck driver arrived. I explained exactly what had happened to my car, and even though he in no way had to, he opened up the hood to see what was going on. After a minute or so, he saw that the battery had come loose. He said that was the reason my car had turned off, and the reason my car sparked was that the metal from the clamp was rubbing against the metal from the battery. He then tightened a few things, looked at me, and said, "Drive your car home."

Now, I know that may not seem like the nicest thing in the world, but this man could have completely taken advantage of me. He could have towed my car even though it didn't need a towing, making me pay money I didn't need to pay. He could have lied to me just because he was annoyed that he had driven out there in such a hurry for me. He could have done any number of things to a clueless woman standing on the side of the road, panicked. But he didn't. Instead he helped me, doing something for me for absolutely nothing in return but appreciation.

It's no secret that I'm not a lover of people. I read the newspaper and watch the news and cry over the absence of compassion in the world. I lament the loss of the values that I believe people must have had at some time. I mourn the loss of humanity on an almost daily basis. This man, though, this tow truck driver named Huss, made me feel something about the world that I haven't felt in a long time. He made me feel hope.