Making Peace With Gravity?

apple tree

I probably shouldn’t be, but sometimes I get jealous of the fresh-faced, smooth-skinned twenty-somethings I see walking about. Tan and toned in shorts and tight vintage tees, they flip-flop around reminding me that once upon a time, I too filled out a pair of short shorts like they do. In fact, watching them only succeeds in making me painfully aware of the fact that gravity is most certainly winning in the epic battle of Me vs. It.

As forty looms large, hovering ominously on a not-so-distant horizon, all I need to do is look in the mirror to be reminded that nothing stays the same for very long. I can’t help but notice every new crease, line, wrinkle, dimple or dent that forms in my reflection as everything continues it’s relentless march southward. It’s so much easier now to get depressed thinking of times I looked better, felt prettier or had the stamina of the Energizer Bunny without any help from Starbucks.

However, (and this is a BIG however) if I were to be REALLY honest with myself about those alleged “better” times, I’m fairly certain I was unhappy with my appearance back then too. Surely it’s a losing battle entertaining thoughts that I was also miserable at a time when I should have been THRILLED that all the important parts remained solidly north of the equator. But it DOES beg the question: Am I EVER going to be happy!?

I’d love to find the answer. I know my mother would too as it’s a question she’s been asking me since the first Bush Administration. Someone older and wiser than me, please tell me this is something I’ll learn to do in my 40’s!?  I’m begging you, because as I come to grips with the fact that gravity IS going to win in the end and my knees (among other things) are NOT EVER climbing back to where they were a decade ago, I need to believe that peace is possible. Please tell me that at some point in the near future I will be able to shake hands with my reflection and sign a peace treaty with gravity — or at the very least declare a ceasefire.

Advertisements

Seinfeld-ology: “Nods to Nothing”

SeinfeldWhile having lunch with a coworker the other day, our conversation wondered to the topic of a man we work with. For the sake of the story (and to protect the guilty) we’ll call him Bradley. She and I commiserated about the fact that while very friendly and outgoing initially, Bradley’s interactions with each of us had indeed diminished over the course of time.

“Don’t you think that’s strange!?” I said to her in an extremely annoyed and curious tone. “I mean, why in the world would a person just STOP communicating for no apparent reason?”

My dining companion appeared to be equally vexed at the mere consideration of my question. “You know,” I continued “You’re probably too young to have watched or remembered the show, but this whole situation reminds me of an episode of Seinfeld.”

Of course, as many of you know… almost EVERYTHING reminds me of an episode of Seinfeld. Though I’d like to think that rather than this being due to my having some sort of sick, twisted obsession with the “Show About Nothing” — it can be contributed to the fact that the show was pure genius in that it dealt with the mundane, everyday things that happen to all of us.

Tell me friends, has anything like this ever happened to you? Here is Elaine’s scene from the aforementioned episode…

ELAINE: Tell me if you think this is strange: There’s this guy who lives in my building, who I was introduced to a couple of years ago by a friend. He’s a teacher, or something. Anyway, after we met, whenever we’d run into each other on the street, or in the lobby, or whatever, we would stop and we would chat a little. Nothing much. Little pleasantries. He was a nice guy, he’s got a family… then after a while, I noticed there was no more stopping… Just saying hello and continuing on our way.

And then the verbal hellos stopped, and we just went into these little sort of nods of recognition. So, fine. I figure, that’s where this relationship is finally gonna settle: Polite Nodding. Then one day, he doesn’t nod. Like I don’t exist?! He went from nods to nothing.

And now, there’s this intense animosity whenever we pass. I mean, it’s like we really hate each other. And it’s based on nothing.

You see, this was a perfect description of what was happening to my coworker and I! We went from nods to nothing with this guy. And although it remains annoying… there is a bit of comfort to be found in the fact that this MUST be a somewhat common occurrance in social settings.

I only wish that I had the guts to confront “Bradley” the way Elaine eventually does with her problematic rude dude…

ELAINE: So, I had what you might call a little encounter this morning. I spotted the guy getting his mail. And at first, I was just going to walk on by, but then I thought “no, no, no, no. Do not be afraid of this man.

So, I walked up behind him and I tapped him on the shoulder. And I said, “Hi, remember me?” And he furrows his brow as if he’s really trying to figure it out. So I said to him, “You little phony. You know exactly who I am.”

And he goes, “Oh, yeah. You’re Jeanette’s friend. We did meet once.” And I said, “Well, how do you go from that to totally ignoring a person when they walk by?”

And he says, “Look, I just didn’t want to say hello anymore, alright?” And I said, “Fine. Fine! I didn’t want to say hello anymore either, but I just wanted YOU to know that I’M aware of it!”

But alas, I would never actually have the intestinal fortitude to say such a thing. Most of the time art imitates life. But oh how I wish (in this case) it could be the other way around.

It’s Not Me… It’s You

the_jerk_store-208x300In 37 years I still haven’t managed to figure out that some people are simply NOT worth my time or energy. They will never be kind no matter how many cheerful “Good Mornings” or “Hellos” I waste my breath on uttering day after day after day. Being a friendly and outgoing person myself, I offer everyone I meet the benefit of the doubt by being nice to them. Call me crazy — that’s just how I was raised. However, as I age, I am learning (not nearly fast enough) that there IS a limit. Or at least there SHOULD be a limit on the quantity of niceties I offer up to someone who is—for lack of a better, KINDER term—an @$$hole.

As was discussed recently on a CBS news program, @$$holes are growing in number. I’m sure this doesn’t come as a shock to you wherever you are. I’m sure that in the last seven days you have most likely crossed paths with an obnoxious tailgater or cutter-offer in traffic, a jerk who line jumped you at the register when your arms were busy juggling 12 cans of cat food, a value bottle of shampoo and an unusually large loaf of frozen garlic bread, or an office mate or acquaintance who could not return a greeting to save his or her miserable life. If you’re out there in the world, then you’ve most certainly run across one if not ALL of these characters at some point in time.

There will always be jerks in the world. I get that. But the one thing I truly have a problem with is dealing with the @$$hole(s) who KNOW you and yet REFUSE to be civil. When nothing bitter, sour or otherwise distasteful has transpired between the two of you—how can it when you’ve never even spoken?—yet you’re the recipient of endless cold shoulders, dismissive actions and downright rudeness. What do you do with THESE people? Seriously. I’m asking. Inquiring minds want to know. I want to know what others of you do when dealing with this particular individual in your own lives.

I know the whole “It isn’t you, it’s them” routine is the standard issue response to this question, generally. So please don’t give me that one (plus I already used it in the title). Because I can repeat that to myself until I’m blue in the face, pumping up my morale momentarily and feeling all I’m OK, You’re OK about the whole thing… that is until the very next time one of us veers into the other’s world. And I am dumbfounded once again at their blatant disregard for the other human being in their midst. “HELLO!?! ARE YOU BLIND!?! WERE YOU RAISED BY WOLVES!?!” I end up screaming inside my brain before rolling my eyes and muttering obscenities under my breath as I stomp off in the opposite direction.

I am not asking to be best friends. I don’t want to know what you’re buying your kids for Christmas or what color ornaments you hung on the tree this year. I don’t even want to know whether or not you’re having a good day. All I’d like is the simple acknowledgment that you and I are indeed occupying the same space on this spinning blue marble called earth at this very same moment in time. A nod, a smile, a simple return of my greeting… Is that too much to ask? Hell. I’d even settle for a grunt of recognition. At least then I’d know you had a soul.

Mean Girls

There are few things that irritate me more than getting “the look” from a Mean Girl. I’m sorry, ladies but this one is all on us because I honestly don’t think men do this to one another. In case you’re male, or you are female and somehow miraculously unaware of what I am speaking — let me paint you a picture…

You are in the grocery store, innocently roaming the aisles and minding your business when your path crosses with that of another woman. You look at her face as you pass. Perhaps you were going to nod or smile in recognition or simply keep on walking, when she does something that (if you’re anything remotely like me) causes your blood to boil.

As you are looking at her face, initiating eye contact… You witness her looking at you very slowly, her icy gaze passing thoroughly over you from head to toe. She never smiles at you, never nods. Instead, after she is finished with her visual feast, she walks on by with her nose in the air. You have officially been sized-up by what I like to call… a Mean Girl. Visually accosted for no other reason than you happened to be in cat food aisle at the very same time.

And somehow, this brief encounter with the likes of her makes you begin to entertain all sorts of luscious thoughts about doing harm to the offending female. Suddenly, tossing a few rolls of pressurized pop-and-fresh dough in front of her cart causing her to collide in a panic with a Campbell’s soup display thus sustaining some mild injuries… seems VERY attractive.

Mean Girls come in all shapes, sizes and ages. And I have, throughout my 30-odd years, encountered younger ones, older ones, fatter ones and thinner ones. So apparently there are no sociological or generational parameters on this extremely vexing behavior. Anyone who’s anyone has the potential to be that girl.

Naturally, from time to time I wonder if I have ever been “that girl.” I honest-to-goodness hope that I have never been. There is a tiny seed of doubt, however, because I am a woman who does venture out in public. These seem to be the only two qualifications absolutely necessary for the commitment of this societal sin.

Therefore, I am going on the record and giving you Readers absolute carte blanche when it comes to holding me accountable. If you EVER see me out in public or pass me in the grocery store and I am that Mean Girl who glares and seemingly sizes you up before proceeding on my merry way… I give you full permission to throw some rolls of pop-and-fresh dough in front of my cart. Not only would I deserve it, the unsuspecting collision with some Campbell’s soup cans would most likely do me and my attitude A LOT of good.

Averse to Adversity

I had an epiphany the other day. I’m not talking about the kind where I suddenly figured out that my new nightly chocolate ritual was beginning to make my ass fat. But the kind that I honestly believe could be life-changing. Or rather…. it WOULD be if I chose to examine it, learn from it and make some adjustments.

Bet you can’t wait to know what it is? Unless, of course, you read the title or drew some sort of a conclusion from the super adorable picture that I just HAD to use to assist in illustrating my point — in which case, you probably already have your suspicions. Anyhoo, brilliant deductions, sneaking suspicions or not, I’ll fill you in. All of my life I have had trouble with… drumroll pleeeeze… Adversity.

There. I’ve put it out there for all the world to see. Or at least the 200 people (give or take) who regularly read this blog.

Websters defines Adversity as: 1. distress; affliction; hardship and 2. an unfortunate event or incident

I know what you’re thinking… Who doesn’t have “trouble” with distress, affliction or hardship? Right? But honestly… I mean seriously… I. Have. Trouble. With. Resistance. Of any kind. And I think in some cases, there is evidence to support the theory that I may actually MAKE trouble for myself.

<< As an aside for any potential, future employer(s) out there who may be reading this and who may or may NOT be considering me for some form of professional position — let it be known that I do NOT make trouble for other people… I actually play really well with others. You can ask any of my references or teachers. >>

I am purely masochistic about this. I only do it to myself. The primary problem being that I suspect I actually LOOK for it in my life. And this is really quite amazing given that I am someone who runs around all giggly and bubbly claiming to DESIRE happiness and merriment wherever I go and with whomever I choose to spend time.

Hello, my name is Joanna and I am EXPERTLY PROFICIENT at making mountains out of molehills.

All my life I have been told to develop a thicker skin. By everyone. By people I love, by people I never thought much of and (in hindsight) by people I have hated. That in and of itself should’ve shown me something. The sheer VOLUME of people telling me that I needed to grow a thicker skin, get over it, lighten up, stop being so serious all the time and to stop taking everything so damn personally SHOULD have had an effect by now. Shouldn’t it?

Yet, as I contemplate my 37 years on this earth—paying particular attention to the last 20 where I have supposedly been an “adult”—a pattern has begun to emerge. I don’t deal well with “distress, affliction or hardship” when it happens to me. If it is happening in someone else’s life I tend to step up to the plate. But when the trouble finds me… when adversity has knocked on my door… I really do take it personally. And oftentimes, I’m ashamed to admit… I freak out.

When things haven’t gone the way I planned… When someone is rude or addresses me in a harsh tone… When I don’t “click” with a person at the office… Whenever ANYTHING does not turn out the way that I think it shouldwhich, by the way, is nothing SHORT of sunshine and rosesI cave. I fold like a bad poker hand or I wither or melt. Choose your metaphor. There are plenty. And in this case they are all the same.

Who the hell do I think I am that difficulty should avoid me? It’s rather narcississtic when I really think about it. Perhaps if I can truly begin to recognize that I am not special in facing adversity and remember that everyone shoulders some form of hurt or disappointment in this lifetime, then maybe… just maybe I will learn to freak out less. And I will learn to remain on my feet, keeping my collective shit together while standing firm in my new and thicker skin.

The Runaround

Drawing a deep breath, pen poised perfectly on paper in order to execute some highly-anticipated and voracious note taking, I posed the question to the voice on the other end of the line: “… OK, but what type of law does this situation fall under?”

Voice on the other end of the line: “I don’t know.”

Me: “Well, would it be probate?”

Voice on the other end of the line: “I’m not sure. Maybe. That sounds about right.”

“Maybe. Sounds about right.” I say to myself, repeating her and considering another way to extract the necessary information from this person — my closest link to anything remotely resembling assistance in the matter.

Hmmmm… I don’t really want to venture into these unchartered judiciary waters with the paper-thin supply of confidence that comes pre-packaged in a phrase like “Maybe. Sounds about right” but what other choice do I have? 

Me: “Since you aren’t sure what type of legal matter this actually IS… Where do you suggest I start?”

Voice on the other end of the line: “Visit your county courthouse first thing Monday morning and ask them where to begin.”

Me (inside my own head): “I thought I was beginning with YOU. Someone I believed to be well-equipped in this arena. But whatever.”

Me (actually speaking): “OK. I’ll do that. Thank you.”

Bright and early on Monday we arrived in the courthouse lobby. The nice officer standing guard at the door will know where to direct us.” I said to Lee, my fellow voyager. And he most certainly did direct us to the sixth floor of an adjacent building.

After bounding down the stairs—pleased to have at least a scrap of direction on our legal quest—and crossing the busy intersection, we managed to weave our way through an obstacle course of revolving doors and metal detectors to the elevator that would surely deliver us to the sixth and proper floor.

Upon arrival on the sixth floor and a simple inquiry directly regarding the matter at hand, we were swiftly directed to the fourth floor. The fourth floor houses the County Law Library and—or so we were told—any and all of the necessary forms for the remainder of our journey.

Feeling a teensy bit wary of the whole Nobody-Knows-What-the-Hell-They’re-Doing thing, we got back into the elevator and rode it to the fourth floor. Surely the Law Library would hold the preciously-guarded secrets of the mysteries surrounding our increasingly-tricky trek.

After signing the Law Library Guest Book on the fourth floor, a friendly librarian asked how she could be of assistance. For what would be the third time in explaining exactly what it was we were in search of, the librarian declared that the place we most certainly needed to be was… on the fifth floor.

It was precisely at that moment that I burst into a fit of laughter as though suffering from some form of tourettes. And I’m certain that the poor, innocent librarian-turned-target-of-my-mental-breakdown suspected as much.

I explained my odd and inappropriate behavior to her by recounting ALL of the places we had traveled to on our adventure of odyssean proportions. But sixth floor, fourth floor, fifth floor, across the street, across town, across state lines, across the border… it no longer mattered.

Dizzy and reeling from countless elevator rides and red tape… I was fairly certain that if we ever located and retrieved the proper paperwork appropriate for our legal situation… neither one of us would know how to pick up a pen, much less spell our own names.

We did eventually procure the information we’d been searching for with such great gusto. And when we did—after flipping through a jillion jargon-packed pages—we swiftly stuffed it into a folder and have not spoken of it since.

Stating the Obvious

“You’d better bundle up today because it’s cold, Cold, COLD out there! Most areas are currently experiencing single-digit temps that aren’t expected to climb out of the teens until tomorrow!”  The way-too enthusiastic weatherman squawked at me from inside the TV.

Face buried deep in the pillow, half comatose and wrapped blissfully in my flannel sheets I groaned as I felt an overwhelming desire to violently hurl the remote at him.

“Studies show that this is the most miserable time of the year for Americans.”  The annoyingly chipper anchorman regurgitated immediately after the weatherman stepped down.

“No shit.”  I mumbled aloud as a peeled myself from the heavenly embrace of memory foam and goose down and set my feet on the cold, hardwood floor.

The anchorman continued.  “…With the holidays over and most people heading back to work after a long vacation, people report finding this time on the calendar to be the most difficult. Darkness still looming in the early morning, the frigid weather combined with poor driving conditions effects people significantly. Not to mention that the bills from the holiday season are already beginning to arrive adding even more stress to the average financially-strained citizen.”

“Well aren’t you a genius. Like I needed YOU to explain to ME why my current mood is creeping from ‘just a little blue’ ever closer to ‘murderous rage’.”  I spewed at him as I pulled on my robe and bitterly thrust my ice-cold feet into their slippers.

Mr. Brilliant then expressed that  “one individual we spoke to explained that she felt rudeness was particularly an issue during the actual holiday season this year so she can only imagine what it will be like now that the so-called ‘Season of Joy’ has come to an end.”

“Really?” I questioned in a flattened but sarcastic tone. “You only spoke to ONE individual? Perhaps you ought to pay me a visit. I’ll give you something to talk about. My focus would be on the phenomenon of bubble-headed news anchors stating the obvious and then going so far as to call it ‘news’.”

Perhaps this is the person they spoke to... Ain't she a peach?