Resistance

Today’s post isn’t about resistance to oppression, or even resistance to some “status quo.”  Those are both great things to stand up against and resist, but today I’m going to talk about resistance to events in one’s personal life, and the suffering that struggle brings.  For most people who contemplate this sort of thing, something like the following quote is what comes to mind:

“Change is never painful, only the resistance to change is painful”
~ Gautama Buddha

And while, yes, the Buddha’s quote is a very good one, it doesn’t go quite deep enough for today’s ramblings.  So, let me share another one before continuing . . .

“Stress happens when your mind resists what is . . . The only problem in your life is your mind’s resistance to life as it unfolds. ”
~ Dan Millman

Now, I know some of you might argue that Mr. Millman’s quote isn’t true, but hold off on that thought for a moment, and hear me out.

Life is life.  Events happen in life, and we–with our over-active brains–put labels on those events; this one is “good,” that one is “bad.”  But those labels are, like art, subjective. There’s a great Chinese parable that describes this well:

An old man and his son worked a small farm, with only one horse to pull the plow. One day, the horse ran away.

“How terrible,” sympathized the neighbors. “What bad luck.”

“Who knows whether it is bad luck or good luck,” the farmer replied.

A week later, the horse returned from the mountains, leading five wild mares into the barn.

“What wonderful luck!” said the neighbors.

“Good luck? Bad luck? Who knows?” answered the old man.

The next day, the son, trying to tame one of the horses, fell and broke his leg.

“How terrible. What bad luck!”

“Bad luck? Good luck?”

The army came to all the farms to take the young men for war, but the farmer’s son was of no use to them, so he was spared.

“Good? Bad?”

So this man–who was experiencing what many would call the “ups and downs” of life–took it in stride, and simply let life happen.  He didn’t ascribe a label to each event, but rather, let it play out to see what would happen next.  If you can learn to take that kind of attitude to life and the events that happen, you’ll find yourself MUCH happier.

I have adopted this outlook in many aspects of my life ever since reading the parable in Dan Millman’s book The Way of the Peaceful Warrior, but I admit it’s not always easy.  We humans are programmed to want life to go “our” way, and when it doesn’t, we get upset . . . or resist.

One of the places I still fall short is traffic.  I hate lots of traffic on the highway, especially if it’s moving slower than I want.  And if I’m trying to get somewhere by a certain time, I grow even crankier.  Craig, on the other hand, doesn’t stress about it.  When I’m behind the wheel, I swerve in and out, finding the holes in traffic to move myself to my destination as rapidly as I can.  But Craig just picks one lane and goes with whatever flow is happening.

I always thought my frustration was a combination of my impatience, coupled with not knowing the reason for the delay.  If I knew there was an accident 10 miles ahead, or a busy on- or off-ramp nearby, then that would explain the back up, and I could handle the situation a little better.  Not much better, I’ll be honest, but still better.  But Craig recently gave me a different insight into my issues with traffic . . .

Being taught by my father to be an assertive but defensive driver, I’m constantly analyzing the road conditions.  If I’m in street traffic, that means looking several cars ahead for anyone who might be turning (or pulling out into the road), whether there’s a left-turn lane or not, or checking for pedestrians looking to cross the street at some place other than a crosswalk.  On the highway, I’m constantly assessing the rate of speed of each lane, and looking several cars ahead to see who might be an erratic driver, or if someone simply drives too slowly for my taste.  So–per Craig’s insight–when the highway is super packed with cars, that makes assessing the situation even harder, because there are many more variables in the equation, traveling at their own pace (or with their own distractions).

That assessment blew my mind, I have to admit.  I mean, I knew that I analyzed traffic a lot, but I didn’t take it further, like Craig did.  Then, he had another gem:

“Your frustration is that you’re resistant to the traffic.”

BOOM!  Mind blown.  I had to sit with that one for a while, but he was absolutely right.  So now I can hopefully take that new outlook and work on being more accepting of when traffic gets backed up.  And, rather than label it as a bad thing, take more of a “wait and see” attitude like the Chinese farmer.

One Thing

There are many people who feel that they have a “life’s purpose,” and that their life isn’t worth much if they don’t achieve said purpose.  I used to think that way myself, and wondered what mine was, until I saw a movie in 1991 that answered that question for me.

The movie was City Slickers.

I was 21 years old and living in Florida because my poorly-constructed plans to live in NYC and go to acting school (then become a world-famous actress by the age of 26) didn’t go quite as I’d hoped.  I had thought that being an actress was my life’s calling; it was all I’d wanted to do since I was five years old and my mother told me that actors get to be and do and try all sorts of different things.  But it hadn’t happened as easily as I’d hoped it would (something for which I’m very grateful now, but didn’t appreciate back then), and I became disillusioned about life and all the plans I’d made for it in my teen years.

So, sitting in that movie theater, and watching Jack Palance talk to Billy Crystal about the “Secret of Life” altered my perception of what I thought my life was supposed to be about.  I remember being hit by a wave of . . . I don’t know . . . a thunderous epiphany is the only way I can think to describe it.  But whatever it was, it hit me strong, and I cried from the emotional revelation.  The scene below is the one that resonated for me.  (Click on the image to be taken to the scene)

When Curly tells Mitch that the Secret of Life is one thing, and that Mitch has to figure it out for himself, I immediately knew that my “One Thing” was simply to be happy, and to experience as much of life as I could.  I still thought at the time that I wanted acting to be my career (it took another 10 years before I stopped thinking that), but that as long as I was doing all sorts of new and interesting things, that was enough to make me happy.

In fact, that last sentiment was why I found acting so interesting.  Before Mom told me about the multitude of roles that actors get to portray, I had wanted to be a Nurse, a Firefighter, a Teacher, a Mother, and one other thing I still can’t remember to this day.  When Mom said that I could be any of those things, I whined, “No, Mom . . . I want to be ALL of those things!”  I had always wanted to learn new things and try new stuff; I just didn’t realize until City Slickers that experiencing new stuff was more important to me than any career I thought I’d wanted.

I know that’s why I enjoy traveling so much.  It’s also why I’ve held more different kinds of jobs than most people I know (and I’m not done yet).  Even when the experience isn’t necessarily “nice” or “good,” it’s still an experience.  Now . . . I know I won’t be able to experience everything in the world, but I’m gonna try my best.

“In the time of your life, live – so that in that wondrous time you shall not add to the misery and sorrow of the world, but shall smile to the infinite variety and mystery of it.” – William Saroyan

Mr. Saroyan said it very poetically, and I would love to see my fellow humans relish the variety and mystery of life.  Too many people (in my opinion) tend to fear the unknown, or dislike change or variety.  But I think that if more people could embrace change and the unknown, they might eventually find their “One Thing.”

Hair Apparent

It’s funny how many people are never satisfied with what they have, especially when it comes to their hair.  Maybe it’s more this way for women than men, but when you see the number of balding men who wear a toupee, or comb-over, I doubt it.  But I’ve met SO many women with curly hair that wish it were straight, and also the opposite.  Me?  I’m in the latter group.

Before I was born, my Nana apparently told my mother that her first child would have naturally curly hair, like my father did.  However, I was born with hair so straight and baby-fine, that it won’t hold a style for longer than 5 minutes (even with hot rollers and a bottle of hairspray). When I asked Nana what happened, she told me that my Angel Mother (who DID have curly hair) must’ve gotten sick, and I had to be taken care of by a different Angel Mother with straight hair.  Hey, I was a 5-year-old kid . . . what else was she gonna tell me?  😉

That seemingly small comment from her somehow started a quest inside of me.  Not only to have curly hair, but to also think that I looked “ugly” without it.  I used to think that straight hair made me look plain or boring; especially because I didn’t like the color of it (I always thought it was a “mousy brown”).  While I never really wanted to color my hair, I had perms throughout Junior High and High School, all of which turned into some horrible frizzy white afro that–looking back now–was MUCH worse than if I’d kept my hair straight. And many times, I would have to get the perm redone, because it didn’t take the first time.

It wasn’t until I was in my 20s that I met a hairdresser who understood why my hair dried out and frizzed up when I would get a perm.  She said that my natural hair was SO healthy and shiny, that the perm solution couldn’t penetrate easily.  She gave me the first perm I had that looked natural, and felt soft, and I LOVED it!  She was even willing to write out the exact method of how she administered my perms before I moved to another city, so that the next person who permed it could do it “right” for my hair.

So began a decade or more of getting perms every 4-6 months; and the process wasn’t easy.  Because my natural hair is so strong, I have to sit in the chair, under the perm solution, for twice as long as most people do (45 minutes to the normal 20-25).  And, because that kind of time with chemicals in your hair can dry it out, I need to sit under a commercial hair steamer.  All in all, a perm at the stylist takes at least 4 hours for me, including the cut, rolling, and all the other intricate things that my hair needs in order to adhere to the desired outcome.

When I tell a new stylist the kind of regimen needed to perm my hair, they never believe me.  In fact, one stylist was SO adamant that she knew hair better than I did, that she refused to do it my way . . . so I walked out of her salon.  Yes, she might know hair, and have worked on it for 20+ years, but she hadn’t worked on MY hair.  Sometimes I’m willing to let the stylist do it their way so they can learn that mine acts differently, but I wasn’t willing to with her (and I’ve gotten less and less inclined to do so as I get older).

Also as I’ve gotten older, I’ve become less inclined to do the rigorous search to find a new stylist who’s willing to perm my hair in the way it needs to be done.  The hair steamer is not found at every hair salon . . . it’s most prevalent at salons that cater to Asian people.  This usually means that there is a big language barrier at first, as neither of us is well-educated in the other’s language.

Plus, there’s been a growing voice inside of me that’s calling me to accept my hair as it is.  There are a lot of other things about myself that I don’t necessarily “love,” but that I’ve accepted over the years:  My extra-long torso; My weird, almost non-existent pinky toenails; The fact that I’ll never fit into a size 2 (No, not even if I lose weight . . . my bones are too big for a 2).  But it’s been harder for me to accept and love my straight hair.  I’m now starting to enjoy the luxurious feel of it when I run my fingers through it.  And it’s MUCH easier for Craig to comb my hair when it’s straight.

There are still times when I think I’d like to get another perm, and I might do so someday.  But for now, I’m learning how to enjoy the hair that my substitute Angel Mother passed on to me.

2018 Year In Review

I sit here, a day away from my last blog post of the year, and I’m not sure what to write about.  I have blogs lined up for next year (or at least the beginnings of them), so what to write about this month?  I prefer to have the blog written and edited at least a week before the due date, but my brain has been taken up by other things this month.  Heck, I never even sent out Holiday cards to anyone (sorry, guys!)

A “year in review” blog might seem a little corny (kind of like the “year in review” letters some people send out with their Christmas cards), but since it’s been such a whirlwind year, maybe it’s warranted.  If it still seems corny to you, please accept my apologies.

The beginning of the year started with Craig losing his job, but then very shortly signing up to do his first stint as a Storyboard artist!  We knew he’d be let go from his day-job the previous November (yes, the company was nice enough to let him work through the holidays before letting him go), so it wasn’t a shock, and he was thrilled to be doing something even remotely connected to animation.  He wound up doing storyboards and animatics for an auto company (whose name I can’t say) for several months, and he enjoyed it very much.

I also began a new day-job in January at a company in SF.  It was supposed to be a temp-to-perm assignment, but in March, Craig and I decided that we were going to move down to LA in the summer, after Athena graduated high school, so I had to tell my new bosses that I wouldn’t be able to stay on with them.  They were bummed, but I offered to stay until they interviewed and found my replacement, which relieved them a lot.  I’d given my end date as the end of June, so they had three months to interview and bring in a new person, who I then stayed on to train.

Right about the time I was ready to leave the company, they told me that an assistant in their LA office had quit and would I be willing to fill in down there while they interviewed potential candidates (since I was moving to the area).  It was a win-win situation, since it meant I wouldn’t have to look for work when we got here, and they wouldn’t be too long without someone taking care of their executives.  They wanted me to stay, but sadly the commute was horrendous, and I didn’t enjoy the job enough to want to stick around.  So I told them I’d hang around until the end of September.  There was a wedding in Michigan that I had to attend, so it felt like the perfect time to separate from the company.

Craig and I went back to Michigan for the wedding, which was beautiful (oh, and the happy couple is now expecting their first baby!), and then I went to Chicago to visit some friends and old haunts, while Craig visited a part of his past as well . . . Putt-Putting!  He and a friend of his used to tour the Eastern side of the country doing Putt-Putt tournaments.  Since his friend still lives in Michigan, it seemed like a great time to revisit some of his glory days.  We had originally hoped Craig could do this trip right before our wedding in 2012, but the money and time weren’t there, so this worked out perfectly . . . especially since he turned 50 this year.  A nice way to celebrate that milestone.

Back in LA, I’ve been at a sort of crossroads.  I haven’t been able to find work at a day-job that seems like a good fit.  The pay down here is much less than it was up in SF, so I’ve balked at taking such a huge pay cut, especially since the cost of living isn’t that much cheaper.  Also, since I’ve been working towards a Certificate in Media Production for the last few years (I transferred my credits to a community college down here), I’m not sure that I want to keep doing the same ol’, same ol’.  This has meant that the last few months have been tight for us, financially, but I still feel like I’m making the right decision in holding out for the right opportunity.  As for Craig, he’s gotten some work in Legal Graphics (which he did for years before we got together), so that’s been good for him.

Part of the reason for the move down here was so that we could both be closer to the industries that we want most to work in, but I think we both assumed we’d make connections faster than we have thus far.  We’ve since revisited our expectations, and realize that it’ll take us at least a year to settle in and find the places to meet people we want to connect with, so we’re just focusing on getting acquainted with the LA area.  It’s a LOT more driving than I’m used to, but all in all, it’s okay.

There are some plans already in the works for next year, so it’ll be exciting to see what comes about.

As for the pre-planned blogs for next year . . . Over the years, I’ve had kernels of blog ideas pop into my head, and have written a line or two about them (to remind me for when I actually write them out).  Well, I’ve got 16 of those kernels sitting in my “Drafts” folder, and I plan to use 12 of those as my monthly blogs in 2019.  It’ll be interesting to see what the topics are, and whether or not I can remember what I wanted to say about each of them.

I hope you all have a wonderful New Year, and I hope that 2019 brings you much happiness and great stories to tell!

Too Much Automation

While I enjoy many of the perks available to us in this digital age–I love being able to access information quickly and easily–I also feel that technology is invading too many parts of our lives.  It’s more than just people being super-glued to their phones (which is DEFINITELY a problem, IMO).  We’ve become so dependent on technology, that engineers see this as a request to develop more and more ways for technology to take over for some functions we used to do ourselves . . . which only makes us dumber.

For instance, our cars.  We’ve got rear-view cameras now (which are mandatory in all new cars), to “help” us with backing up.  This “assistance” is actually ruining our spatial awareness, and making us too reliant on this machine.  What happens if it breaks?  What will people do then?  And don’t even get me started on self-driving cars.  Ugh!

Another example is our cell phones.  People use their phone’s GPS to get from Point A to Point B . . . even if the distance between the two is less than a mile.  There’s now an entire generation that doesn’t know how to read maps, and wouldn’t be able to figure out how to get to their destination with one.

And now, we’re able to just speak to our phone to ask it to do anything from dial our mother’s number, to looking up movie times for the latest Tom Cruise flick.  I mean, seriously?!  How lazy have we become??  We can also do that in our home . . . which is where things get really scary.

Back in May, an article came out about a couple whose private conversation was recorded (without their knowledge) and then sent to someone they know.  It seems Alexa’s voice recognition “thought” it heard words instructing it to do this.  My own phone has actually turned itself on based on a word or phrase I’ve said while talking to Craig.  When it says “I don’t understand your request to [fill in blank],” I get pissed and turned the entire phone off.  I don’t like the idea of my phone (or home) deciding what to do on my behalf.

Now, I’m not a full-blown conspiracy theorist–I don’t believe that airplanes are emitting some sort of mind-controlling gases into the air–but I DO believe that Big Brother has been monitoring us for years, and here we are, happily giving them even more access to us and our information.

I mean, we’ve already got cameras at intersections photographing when you run a red light, and now there’s talk about facial recognition stuff at the airports.  Even worse, Amazon recently had a meeting with ICE to market its facial recognition software.  This is a HORRIBLE idea, if you ask me, and is akin to the whole “National ID” crap that’s been proposed a few times since 9/11.  Here’s what the ACLU has to say on the idea of a National ID.

Why are we (as a group) so keen on releasing our rights and independence?  Is it really that difficult to back up your car with only your side and rear-view mirrors to help?  (It wouldn’t be if we brought Driver’s Ed back to high school, but don’t get me started on THAT again.)  Do we really think facial recognition at the airport will make the wait through security go any faster?  Do people not connect the hacking that’s going on with their email or bank accounts to what could happen if we go completely digital?  Did nobody see the Sandra Bullock movie, The Net, or the Will Smith/Gene Hackman film Enemy of the State?

I honestly never would’ve thought of myself as a luddite (second definition, not first), but the more that society embraces technology doing things for them, the less I want to have anything to do with it.  I used to watch The Jetsons and think it would be cool to have your food instantly cooked and on your table, but if that means that your food cooker might one day overhear a conversation and accidentally piece together the words “poison” “husband” . . .

Well, let’s just say the thought scares the bejesus out of me.

Jen & Jess

Last month, I had the pleasure of attending a wedding for a woman who I’d babysat from the time she was an actual baby.  It was such a wonderful, emotional experience for me, and I was so happy that she asked me to attend.

Before I go further into the wedding festivities, I need to delve into a little backstory to give you an idea of the players . . .

Larry and Carol got together later in life.  Carol had a son, James, from a previous relationship, and Larry had a few kids from his own past relationships.  His youngest daughter, Krista, was about the same age as James when Carol and Larry got together.

Some time after Carol and Larry got together, my mom met them (I think through a bowling league, or something).  And shortly thereafter, Carol had Jennifer (who we also sometimes call Jen).  I don’t think Jen was even a year before I began babysitting her, but I know I was eleven at the time.  James lived with Carol and Larry, so I usually babysit both Jen and James.  And, every once in a while, I got to babysit Krista, too.

Carol, Larry, and the kids would often come to our house for holidays, weekend bonfires, or even New Year’s Eve, and we’d all watch movies, or play board games, and when it was time for the younger kids to go to bed, the three adults and me would play card games into the wee hours.  Feeling estranged from my own extended family, these guys became my family.  There was love, laughter, and lots of fond memories.

Many summers, my mom, Carol, and Larry would go on a trip together for a week or two, and I was in charge of all the kids.  We had SUCH fun times.  Nighttime Hide and Seek was a favorite game for us to play (there were lots of shadows around my house), as was “Classroom,” or even just regular board games.  Sometimes we joked about what kind of influence I had on these young people’s lives, since they were around me so often, and I was a bit of an odd duck.  But the kids loved being around me, and I them, so we didn’t care what other people might think later in life.

Well, life went on, and I moved around in the world, while James, Jennifer, Krista and their parents stayed in Michigan.  I would often see them when I came home for a visit, but after a while, I had other places to see, and I didn’t make it back as often.  But thankfully, the bond was still there, and when I did see them, it felt like no time had passed.

Then, about eight years ago, James asked me to come to his wedding.  I was honored that he wanted to include me in this moment in his life, and had a great time seeing him and my heart family again.  It was great seeing Jen, too, and we spent a lot of time reminiscing about our times together way back when.  We connected on Facebook when that came out, and whenever she came to California for a visit, we’d often meet for a meal or a hug.

She started seeing Jessica (also called Jess) shortly after James got married.  Apparently they had lived across the street from one another for years, but never met until seven years ago.  Jess is a bit younger than Jen, so that might have something to do with it, but you’d think they still would’ve at least seen each other around town.  But I guess not.

I met Jess when she and Jen came to my wedding six years ago.  And I liked her there and then.  I saw how happy Jennifer was with her, and that was good enough for me.  I also got to visit with the two of them when they both came out to California, so I got to know Jess better, and I was thrilled when I learned of their engagement just last year.

When Jen told me the date they wanted for their wedding, and asked if I would be able to come, I told her there was nothing that would keep me from being there.  And, like with James, I was honored that she wanted me to help celebrate this momentous occasion with her.

Well, the day came, and when I saw them walk down the aisle, I had this wave of emotion rush over me.  I don’t know if I’m making more out of it than it is, but I felt what I imagine a parent feels when s/he watches his/her child getting married:  Pride, love, hope, and just this outpouring of emotion for the beautiful person standing there about to embark on a new journey in life.  Even now, writing about it, my eyes well up with tears of joy.

Their ceremony and reception were beautiful and showcased their unique flair.  And when it was time to go, Craig and I went back to Carol’s place (she’s now with someone else), and Carol, Craig, my mom and I all sat down and played some cards into the wee hours of morning.

So, to Jen and Jess . . . Thank you for inviting me to your wedding!  May you have a wonderful, long life together, filled with joy, laughter, and opportunities to grow as individuals, as well as a couple.

I love you both, very much!

The Audacity

There are numerous ways of saying this phrase, but essentially it boils down to asking for what you want in life, because the worst that could happen (usually) is that you’ll hear the word “no,” but the best that could happen is that you get whatever it is you’re asking for.

I like that philosophy and try to use it myself whenever I can.  Whether it’s traveling (asking for a free upgrade), or help in the house (with chores, etc.), I truly believe that it never hurts to ask.

However, there are times when I do feel that sentiment gets abused, and it seems to me that more and more people are abusing it lately.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I understand that sometimes people need assistance with paying for an expensive surgery for themselves or their pet.  No, those aren’t the people who I feel are abusing someone’s generosity.  I’m talking about those who take advantage of crowd-funding in order to pay for their lifestyle choices.  For example, the Bridezilla who expected her guests to pay for her wedding at $1,500 a pop, then went on a tirade when they didn’t.

Or worse, people who have plenty of money, but don’t want to dip into their own pockets to pay for lawyer fees; like Michael Cohen, Trump’s former attorney.  He set up a GoFundMe account for $500,000 so other people could pay for his lawyer fees.  Yes, the very famous lawyer (who may or may not have tons of illegal money stashed away somewhere), is trying to collect money from people to fight his own legal battle.

And then – in news that shocks nobody, I’m sure – another of Trump’s cronies, Roger Stone, began asking for $2 million in legal fees.  And his request is preemptive.  He hasn’t been charged with anything yet.  He just worries that Mueller is going to charge him with a crime and wants money to help battle this imaginary attack.  He’s asking for this money because – in his own words:

“This attack on me is designed to bankrupt me and destroy me and my family financially. Mueller knows I cannot afford the expensive legal fees to defend myself.  My defense cost could be more than $2 million — money I do not have.”

Now, I don’t know either of these two men personally; I’ve never seen their bank statements.  But I’m fairly certain that both of them, while maybe not part of the 1%, are more than likely in the top 5% of this country, income-wise.  If you mingle with the likes of Donald Trump, chances are that you’re worth at least the in high six figures, if not seven figures.  So for these bozos to ask that the general public pays for their legal fees takes a hell of a lot bigger balls than I could ever hope to have.  The audacity of it just drives me insane.

It’s like “Awww, poor little rich man doesn’t want to have to sell some of his possessions in order to pay for legal fees because he got caught doing something illegal (or at least barely legal).”

I have NO sympathy for someone like that who might have to pare down his possessions to keep his butt out of jail.  Personally, I hope they DO get thrown in jail, or at the very least have to “slum” it by owning only one vacation home or a smaller-sized yacht than before.

It’s these kinds of things that prove how huge an issue income inequality is in this country today.  On the one hand, you’ve got people asking for a couple thousand dollars to help get their dog a transplant or new hip, and on the other are jackholes asking their guests for a couple thousand dollars to attend a wedding, or worse, a couple million dollars to keep them out of jail.

It’s enough to put a sour taste in my mouth as far as crowdfunding is concerned.

Captain Obvious . . . Moving

I think I’ve written on this topic before, but something happened recently to make me shake my head again at the inane and unnecessary questions people ask even when they’re staring directly at the answers to said questions.

Craig and I recently moved from our lovely little island of Alameda, down to the Los Angeles area. Athena has graduated high school and will be making her own road in life, so it was time for Craig and I to focus on our careers – his in animation, and mine . . . well, voicing the animation. We’d been packing things for months (and even that wasn’t enough time in the end), and had rented a 26-foot U-Haul truck to take all our stuff down with us.

So, there we are, HUGE, orange moving truck up in our driveway and even blocking half of the street, and sure enough, someone walking by asks “You moving?”

Now, Bill Engvall had a whole routine on questions like these. If you haven’t heard it before, you can see it on a video here.

His routine is funny as hell, but honestly, what is it that makes people ask the most answer-obvious questions? Is it their weird way to make small talk? If so, said small talk could also be approached by simply asking “Where are you moving to?” or “Are you moving far away or locally?” Both of those are perfectly valid questions and no more intrusive than the first one, especially since everyone who asked if we were moving subsequently asked “Where to?” Why not just cut to the chase and ask that in the first place?!?!

I mean, seriously. A 26-foot moving truck–prominently painted with the company’s logo, so there’s NO mistaking that it is, in fact, a moving truck–parked in a driveway with people entering the truck carrying boxes and leaving it empty-handed . . . what the hell else would we be doing? I’m sure there is at least one person in the history of moving trucks that has rented a large truck for some other reason, but you’re safe in assuming that 99.9% of the time, it’s because someone’s MOVING!!!

Is it fear of sounding stupid for assuming? Why? I mean, it’s not like accidentally congratulating a woman on being pregnant, when she merely has a large stomach. Most people won’t be offended if you assess the situation and assume that a move is imminent.

By the time the third person walked by and asked us the same question, I told Craig that I would likely scream at the next person who asked. Thankfully, there was enough of a break from the Captain Obvious-inspired question that I didn’t actually scream at the person, but I did laugh at him before answering. At first, I felt kind of bad for laughing, but another part of me didn’t. By then I was exhausted, and my natural abhorrence for people not using their common sense was stretched thinner than usual. Packing everything on the truck had taken MUCH longer than we’d anticipated, and though we had hired movers to help us, after three hours it was clear that it would have taken several more for them to finish the job for us (at $85 an hour), so we let them go and finished packing up the truck ourselves. All in all, it took us 10 hours to load everything into the U-Haul, and we wound up leaving several items on the curb, because we had more items than available space.

Of all the people that stopped by to inquire about our activities, one lady thankfully said “I’m sure this is a ridiculous question . . .” before asking if we were moving. At least she was aware that her question was a ridiculous one, and acknowledged it.

We’re currently staying in a transitional dwelling, while we look at neighborhoods and apartments down here, and our stuff is in a storage facility. I’m sure that when we move stuff from the facility to our new place, we’ll have lots of people asking us the same question, but at least this time will be a little more acceptable, because they won’t have seen us before, and the question will likely be “You moving in?”

But I’ll probably still get annoyed by the 4th time that question is posed.

Unusually Enriching

When confronted with something new, many people’s first reaction is to think it “weird,” or maybe even “stupid.”  But over time, you get used to the unusual thing and then it’s just “unusual” or you don’t even notice it anymore.

I felt that way when I first started seeing unusual spellings of “everyday” names.  I know, I know, where do I—who chose this spelling of my name—get off making remarks about the way someone’s name is spelled?  But, in my head, at least the “y” still sounds like a vowel and it was an easy switch.  No, I mean names where people are using numbers instead of letters to spell the name, or maybe insert a “silent” letter for what reason I don’t know.  Those still seem “weird” to me, but I’m running across them more and more these days, so it’s becoming less jarring.

Also, with our culture becoming more diverse, I’m seeing lots of interesting names, and spellings.  Just look at your Uber or Lyft account, for example.  If you take a look at the trips you’ve taken with them, you’ll see all sorts of unusual names.  Names like Esvin, Fnu, or Ekkaphot show up regularly in your account (at least, if you live in larger cities).  Yes, sometimes they pose a pronunciation challenge (which I enjoy), but I also am fascinated to see these names and wonder what the origin is for them.

The same is true with clothing.  Back where I went to school, if you didn’t wear Jordache Jeans, Jellies, or other clothes popular in the 80s, you were mocked, a lot.  And I’m sure this was true of many other times throughout history.  But nowadays, I walk down the street and see someone sporting the current fashion walking next to someone wearing mis-matching colors and patterns, or maybe someone wearing MC Hammer pants.  While a sight like that might initially be a shock to my eyes, a few moments later, I realize that people are able to be who they are; to let their fashion freak flag fly, as it were.  Which is awesome!  I’m certainly not someone who’s up to date on the latest clothing trends—and sometimes, the latest trends are ugly to me—so I think it’s great that you can find whatever style floats your boat in the stores nowadays.  There’s no limit on choices, and people are less likely to be publicly mocked for proudly displaying their personal fashion sense.

Things like these are why it’s so important to get out of one’s comfort zone and see more of the world.  Even if it’s a big city within your own country, you grow so much as a person when you experience new things and meet new people.  It might be something as simple as finding a new dish that you love, or something deeper, like learning a new philosophy.  But if you can be open to new things, there’s no end to how your life can be enriched.

But I think some people are afraid of learning new things, because they’re afraid of losing hold on their old life.  What they’ve known for most of their life has become comfortable to them; even the parts about it that they hate.  If you experience the same frustrations, then you know how to react to them.  But when something new comes along, you don’t know how to react.  And for some people, that’s scary.

But not for me.  I don’t know if it’s because I’m a Gemini, or if it’s just the way I was born, but I often become bored with things that happen the same way all the time.  It’s part of why I can’t stand a lot of the music right now . . . too repetitive.  I even need variety in how I go home; I get bored if I take the exact same route every day.  So I switch it up every now and then, just to keep things interesting.

So, as jarring as it might be to occasionally see names spelled unusually, or to see “weird” combinations of clothing, I would MUCH prefer that, as opposed to everything and everyone looking the same.

A Hero’s Fall

Whenever I see the question “Who is your hero?” on a cute little quiz (like Buzz Feed, or even in some magazines), I’ve never really known what to answer.  I used to think I didn’t have any heroes.  Sure, there have been people who I respect quite a lot, but I always thought that a “hero” was someone who you looked up to in a way that you wanted to be like them.  And, in fact, that’s actually the second definition of the word, according to Dictionary.com

2.    a person who, in the opinion of others, has special achievements, abilities, or personal qualities and is regarded as a role model or ideal:

Well, my mom had thankfully taught me that it was better to be my own person, than to try to be like someone else, so wound up looking inside of myself to form my moral compass, rather than looking to others.  Another thing she taught me was to not put people up on a pedestal, because the more you idolize them, the higher they get placed on said pedestal, and the harder they’ll fall when you see them for the real human being they are.

I saw that first-hand when I learned that Sherlock Holmes was not only a brilliant detective, but he was also a drug user.  Although fictional, Sherlock was probably the closest thing I ever had to a “hero.”  I used to love how he could use logic to solve any crime, and I still use logic to this day to solve problems, or even to figure out “whodunit” in movies and books.  But when I first learned of his drug use, I was absolutely crushed.  I had no desire to use drugs, and had always viewed drug use as an unhealthy escapism that only “weak” people do because they can’t cope with life.  Yet, here was Sherlock—whom I’d always thought was highly competent and strong—taking drugs as a way to escape his life.  And, in truth, he was escaping the doldrums of his life when not on a case.

I did eventually get over my disappointment in my youthful hero, and came to fully comprehend what my mother was saying about not putting people too high on a pedestal.  And since then, I’ve been able to accept people much better for their flaws as well as their good points.

That viewpoint helped me to see that idolizing athletes, movie stars, or other people in the public eye was NOT a good thing.  Sure, much of what we know about them is fabulous, and something to be envied, but you never know what lurks in the shadows.  Ghandi wasn’t quite the wonderful human being people initially thought him to be.  Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. allegedly cheated on his wife, repeatedly, as did JFK.  Even Billy Joel (who I still consider my favorite musician) has quite a few skeletons lurking in his closet.  And in today’s society—where dirty laundry is being aired as a form of “entertainment”—it’s getting even harder for people to hide their own personal Mr. Hyde.

In many ways, the fact that secrets are being told is a great thing.  I fully believe in openness and honesty in this world. Not only because it’s the morally higher ground, but also because, the sooner we’re all honest with each other, the sooner we’ll learn to accept each other as full human beings, and we won’t think ourselves such horrible people, or that “I’m the only one who [insert “bad” personality trait].”

However, the downside to all of this new openness, is that we’re going to see more and more of our heroes’ foibles.  Especially in this MeToo movement.

First, there was Harvey Weinstein.  Then Bill Cosby.  And there have been others along the way whose inappropriate behavior has crushed us in various ways.  I wasn’t surprised to hear about Harvey.  I was surprised and saddened to hear about Bill, and even Kevin Spacey.  But the one that’s just recently been brought to the fore has shaken me most of all . . . Morgan Freeman.

I had loved Morgan as Easy Reader on the show The Electric Company.  I thought he was the coolest cat, and he really did help instill a love of reading in me.  After that show ended, I didn’t see him in anything for years, until the movie Teachers.  I was thrilled to see him again, and have enjoyed watching him in many movies over the years.  He conveys a calm presence with a hint of a wink so well, that even when he plays the villain (like in the movie Wanted), you still can’t help but like him.

But to hear that he’s almost as inappropriate in his words and actions towards women as Harvey Weinstein, honestly breaks my heart.  So, maybe I have more people that I consider “heroes” than I thought I did, but maybe they’re people who influenced me as a child.  And, maybe, like my mom said, those childhood heroes hit pretty hard when they fall off the pedestal that I (unwittingly, perhaps) placed them on.

Oh how I hope I never learn anything truly negative about Jim Henson.  That one will crush me for sure.

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