Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Misery loves M & Ms

I typically like to purchase my feminine hygiene products at the grocery store (um, actually, I don't like purchasing them at all), buried deep under the rest of the items on my list. I know that we all pretend to be adults, but who really wants to converse over an armful of Kotex? "Maybe I should let you go carry on with whatever situation you have going on?"

It doesn't always work out that Mother Hubbard has stocked the cupboard, and a quick drug store recon mission is necessary. This evening was one of those times. I had no interest in spending money on things I didn't need just to camouflage my order. I felt like a thirteen year old carrying my items as quickly as possible to the checkout. It wasn't my own pride at stake, I realized when I heard some young girls an aisle over. It occurred to me that I was not interested in running into any of my son's actual thirteen year old friends. I scooted thru the card section and got to the registers...where there were no cashiers.

Teen dude quickly came over to ring up my merchandise. I noticed the assorted box of m & m packages on the counter, and the sign that said they were free if I wasn't asked about purchasing some. The coconut package winked at me, but I looked away. Dude asked me if those things were all I had...yes, and I'm thrilled about it! I was not asked specifically about the delightful melt in your mouth candies! I considered giving this handsome young man a little advice regarding the fact that he should ALWAYS offer a female with feminine products some candy. When my transaction was complete, I mentioned his oversight, then immediately felt like an idiot, so I covered with "thank goodness you didn't ask because I really don't need them". (I know, GREAT cover...ha!) He did not hand me my free yum yums! I considered giving him a second piece of advice...just hand over the chocolate to the woman with the further questions asked...and you might want to slide the package with a stick as to not risk touching her.

Saturday, September 11, 2010


For many years our children were too young, in my opinion, to try to provide them with much detail regarding the events of September eleventh. Then there was the question of what to share, as we adults certainly couldn't make complete (or any) sense of what happened. They weren't old enough to have ever had the thrill of seeing those massive towers as part of the skyline, so even saying that they had fallen didn't give them a frame of reference. I admit that, over the years, it was becoming easier for me to not be so terrified when reflecting on that day. It became part of history, something to remember, to reflect upon with awe and honor.

Today, my son and I were reading some facebook posts together that were written by family members who were right in the midst of chaos that day. The first was our cousin's husband who was working in building two. He was talking about the fire ball, his long walk down the stairs, and the falling debris. I realized the picture being painted was one that "thirteen" was old enough to grasp. There was also a picture, from better days, taken from the sixty-ninth floor of building two. That gave even more perspective than I could've possibly provided. He almost reluctantly tried to connect the dots of what stairs who had been walking down.

My aunt also had a post to honor and remember a friend and four of my uncle's probes...he has since retired as an FDNY Captain. I realized that even if my boy remembered being told that our uncle was there, he hadn't been given much other information to incorporate that into. I went and got the old New York Times Magazine that had an article in it featuring a firefighter who our uncle helped rescue. I suggested that my son read the story if he wanted to know more about that day. I realized that there was still nothing else in my own catalog of stored knowledge to share.

I also noticed that I was feeling slightly shaky with tears in my eyes, as if this was the first time I was hearing the tale. I remember my father being so collected and calm on the phone that day, as he updated me on the whereabouts of our family members in the city. Each person had found safety. The relief I felt was so quickly invaded by anguish at the thought of the thousands not receiving good news...or unable to get any news at all.

Last year, another one of our cousins went to Iraq as a Marine. We read his posts about helping children, villages, stopping smugglers, and rescuing a donkey from a hole. That pretty much was the extent of war stories in our home. I realize that there was additional talk at school, on the bus or out in public in general. However, we stayed away from letting the media educate them.

I am not terribly interested in trying to characterize the "enemy" for our children. I don't want to taint their view of an entire people at the same kitchen table we try to teach tolerance. I want them to grow to focus more on this day to remember the heroes, and all of the different ways we can define them, and to know that so many people overcame fear to help each other.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Even if it is just me...

During each of our lives, I am sure there have been many times the predominant thought has been "OK, enough is enough!" I give credit to those who are quick to A) Recognize when the moment arises and B) Put a stop to whatever it is that there has been enough of. I am a creature of the thought pattern that goes something like this: I don't like it...Maybe it's just me...I really don't like that...I should do something...But what if it's just me?...pout, vent, stew...repeat. Perhaps this sounds familiar and I have some soul sisters/brothers out there? (Or it just sounds familiar because you know me?)

I get the concept that we can't change another person's behavior--just our own. However, most efforts at self-preservation really seem to have the potential to make someone come across as a broom-rider. It seems really obvious now, but I just realized that while there may be explanations offered for a person's behavior, I am not obligated to accept the excuse. There was a woman I knew who, quite seriously, attempted to excuse an entire six months of unfriendliness due to being pregnant. Let's face it, some actions are just inexcusable. I fully accept responsibility (or at least recognize that I should) for things I have done to elicit less than pleasant responses from others involved.

Of course there is always the adult version of the typical playground scenario-"who gave the dirty look first", or "who used their nasty voice first". I know that I tend to lean towards replying in whatever tone I heard coming my way. Yet, I am the same person who tells actual children that their cold and prickly voices are not necessary. The dirty look business gives even greater impact to the complete negative vibe package. I am always amused when I hear the comment "Oh, that's just how so-and-so always looks"...Yikes! How unfortunate! Another alleged misconception I've heard about involves the silent treatment...I have an expectation that when coming across someone, there will be an overlapping of salutations. It is a little bizarre, in my opinion, to have a situation where nobody says hello...even more bizarre still to lay blame with one another for saying nothing...absolutely bonkers if someone says "hello", and gets no response.

Sometimes for the sanctity (and sanity) of the group, we might try to sort of wipe the slate clean before each gathering. There are absolutely some occasions where it just feels easier to put on some big girl panties and get over it. Where do you go from there if you still get the feeling there's a "kick me" sign on your back, and you're pretty sure you know who put it there? Is that when enough is really enough? Can you dig deep down within yourself and decide whether you are strong enough to withstand some unpopularity, but still know you are an ok person? Does it feel any better to be superficially popular, but have a stress headache the size of Texas to show for the performance?