Last night (and here I give credit where it is due), she came up with another one:
Monday, March 31, 2008
Last night (and here I give credit where it is due), she came up with another one:
Sunday, March 30, 2008
Excuse me. Pardon me. Small phrases that pop out of my mouth pretty randomly and regularly throughout my day. I’m not burping on that regular a basis, but I say this more generally any time I may have gotten into a coworker or customer’s way, bumped them, caused them embarrassment or confusion, walked by them or caused them to rush to get out of my way. I just say it all day long, because it’s so easy to say. Excuse me. But people don’t say it to me. By people, I should clarify that I am specifically referring to customers of the fine establishment wherein I labor. The nature of my job is such that I am often in positions from which I cannot quickly move (either on my knees or balancing a couple of unsteadily perched products), intensely focused on the task at hand and unaware that someone is behind me. Not being a mother yet, I have not sprouted eyes in the back of my head, so, the answer is ‘no, I cannot see you there.’
Instead of simply saying ‘Excuse me,’ these customers either wait until I do notice them at which time their expression is usually a dopey and somewhat condescending smile or they try to ‘sneak’ by, as in, ‘I’m just going to sneak on by,’ which usually doesn’t work too well, because I still cannot move quickly out of my position to allow you passage. Had you needed to get by or to reach by to acquire a product that I am blocking you from accessing, a simple ‘Excuse me,’ serves the double purpose a politely alerting me to your presence and need and well, I guess that’s really just one purpose. At any rate, it’s not that hard and you’ll get through a lot faster that way than waiting until you’re annoyed and then trying the sneak method.
And then there’s the other end of things – the people who have no problem talking to me – asking me where they can find x or do we have any y? Yes, aisle 3, would you like me to show you? No, I’m sorry we don’t carry that product, but we have something similar right here. I am nearly always happy to stop whatever I’m doing (and I’m really not being sarcastic – I really am happy to help) and show customers where they can find something and moreover, to talk to them about food and whatever other subjects we may have in common. But after I’m done, I’m waiting to be dismissed. The customary way to dismiss a service person who has just helped you with some task or errand is simple and we’re usually taught it from the time we can speak – it’s ‘Thank you.’
How hard is it to say those little politenesses?
Saturday, March 29, 2008
I will provide here an example that I've been chewing about and noticing in my life the last couple of days. I can't recall from which book I gleaned this gem, but it's basically the increasing tendency for people to take offense at other people's words and actions. It's interesting because this predisposition to search for offense naturally results in taking offense and much unhappiness for all parties involved. The offending act may be something completely innocent, teasing, a faux pas (per m-w, social blunder), or an intentional offense, but in most cases, the best reaction is to rise above. Even were someone trying to offend you, Miss Manners sometimes advises not to acknowledge it as an offense. She slyly observes that this actually is the best way to get the better of ones enemies. Yes, I really enjoy this Miss Manners.
[Also, Miss Manners points out that while we are ready and willing to take offense, we, as a society, don't want to limit our behavior so as not to provide offense. So we're just a powder keg waiting to go off - hence road rage and similar acts of spontaneous violence - she writes often of the time when only a duel would avenge the family honor and celebrates that we aren't in that time, but I question that we aren't.]
In observing my own life, another strange place I'm noticing offense taken where none is meant is for circumstances. Not necessarily circumstances beyond ones control, but just circumstances. I find people making conclusions about circumstances that exist, such as 'I haven't found x, so you must not have it.' That puts me in the relatively uncomfortable (for me or for them) position of contradicting them. When these are my customers, I especially wish I did not have to contradict them, but at least the contradiction can often be in the form of good news, 'Actually, we do have that - it's right here.' I think about all the conclusions I draw about circumstances and people and realize that I'd like to keep a more open mind - instead of 'they must not have,' I'd like to think 'I have not yet found.'
In my personal life, I have a friend that I do not trust to speak the truth clearly. I often rely on her tone of voice to interpret what is actually being said, but sometimes draw conclusions that I don't like. A typical interpretation on my part goes something like, 'her tone of voice is uncomfortable, she's uncomfortable telling me this, she doesn't want to tell me this, she thinks this will make me upset or uncomfortable, this makes me upset and uncomfortable because ___.' I find reasons to be upset and uncomfortable to justify my conclusions based on her tone of voice. The unfortunate part is that tone of voice is a valuable social cue, but I also think that if I make too many conclusions based on that, and above all, if I come to negative conclusions, that I should instead assume it's not about me or look for evidence to support or deny my conclusion before getting upset or acting on it.
So basically, I've been thinking about these ideas for days and had many more eloquent examples and turns of phrase planned out, but you know me, as much as I like writing, it's also a relief to leave it and go on to the living. However, the connection that brings this post full circle for me is linking it to The Four Agreements. Making conclusions is really like making assumptions and taking offense is really like taking things personally. So, all this new age spirituality (which I love) is linked and provides a means of being more mannerly. When I was attending school at an Adventist university, one of my TAs to whom I am eternally grateful, called the Ten Commandments 'a recipe for happy living.' See, it all comes around again and again - I'm so glad, because now I don't have to worry if I don't get it the first time.
Friday, March 28, 2008
Think about most of the golden retriever opgs you know, though. Suburban, upper-middle class, got the dog(s) for the girls, got the SUV to drive the girls and dogs around, oops did my dog jump on you, entitlement. It's no wonder the dogs are obnoxious with these people training them. Yes, bad golden retriever moment today, immediately after a life filled with similar golden retrievers. I'm going to spend some time with a couple nice goldens to help balance me out.
And I probably won't be opening that golden retriever themed healing center any time soon.
Thursday, March 27, 2008
I snuck away for a few hours yesterday and renewed my faith that there is life outside of being a caretaker. I called my mom, the ultimate caretaker who is currently taking care of grandma with Alzheimer's, and she laughed and told me that my dad was also an extreme baby when he was sick and that's just how men are. (Sorry, male readers, this is mom's wisdom and my experience.) Talk about some perspective.
Then I went to my favorite doctor. The treatment he gives me is very specific and highly effective. One treatment about every 6 months is all I need and if I listened to his advise and ate better I wouldn't ever need it again. It's immediately corrective and completely comfortable. He has an amazing bedside manner, always makes me feel like a better person just from being around him and doesn't charge me for my treatments. How's that for reversing the negatives from the day before?
On the way home from the doctor I stopped in to see a friend because I just wasn't ready to go home. It felt so nice to have someone feed me that I was able to prepare (aka warm up) some tomato soup for my sick beau with a little more cheer. So, it's back to work this morning for a full five days in a row, which is unusual for me, but I enter it cheerfully, because, despite being a healer, I know I'm not a good nurse.
Wednesday, March 26, 2008
Then I went to the dentist who seems to be brand new to dentistry and seeking my approval. He may have given me too much lidocaine, because I lost half my face the rest the night, although I concede that too much is preferable to too little. And I didn't bite anything (my cheek, my tongue), so I guess I can't complain too much. It was weird, though, for two reasons - 1. he asked if we were still friends after the procedure. I'm 31, not 11. We were never friends to begin with - you're my dentist and if you stop acting like a hack, I might keep seeing you, but it's not like we're going out for cocktails afterwards, especially since you numbed up my face enough that I have to use my fingers to hold that side of my mouth tight to a glass to keep from spilling.
And 2. he suggested I take ibuprofen to avoid the painful injection site or sensitivity in my tooth. No one has ever suggested that to me before and I have had a) bigger fillings and b) the same type of filling before. I find this somewhat insulting and possibly related to the fact that I made any noise at all during the injection and/or procedure. Does he think I'm a wimp, because I breathed heavy, signalled that I needed suction or squirmed during the injection? They hurt, of course I reacted. It goes against all of our animal instincts to sit there quietly and calmly while someone sticks a needle into us, but especially when they shove a block between your teeth (aka your best defense) and put a huge needle into your mouth. The only thing more invasive besides surgery seems to be genital treatments. So, anyways, I hate that he told me to take it and would have preferred that he said "if you have a lot of discomfort tonight, you may want to take some ibuprofen." I know, it's just semantics, but I was just irritated by him in general. It's no wonder dentists are so hated.
Finally, I got home from wedding dress shopping (ugh!) with a gal pal and A decided to come over and have pizza and a movie with me. We debated this on the phone because he's been sick and it was already pretty late, but he wanted the company. I thought he was on the mend, but turns out the pizza was too much for him after a day of complete fasting, so he woke up in the middle of the night and now it appears that he may have the stomach flu. I have compassion - and I keep having to remind myself of that. It's really hard though - having lived alone through so many illnesses, I find it really difficult to wait on someone hand and foot through their illness. If he can walk into the room to follow me around and ask for tea and toast, I feel like he should be able to put the bread in the toaster and turn the kettle on, too, so I can steal some Z's on the couch since I was up all night running for tea and toast (that remained on the table untouched), cold washcloths and a huge bowl, you know, just in case.
Okay, clearly cranky. After a couple disappointing appointments, 2+ hours wedding dress shopping with a woman who knows exactly what she wants and only had 3 choices and a bout of taking care of a sick beau, I think I'm entitled to one bitchy post. I'm going to try to get a quick nap then a shower then I'm leaving my house to get some work done on that side job.
Tuesday, March 25, 2008
But I also felt hungry while lying in bed playing said game, so I thought, "at least I'm up early and have plenty of time to make a yummy breakfast." What to make? I'm trying to avoid eggs right now and don't have any in the house, so that's out. I've eaten toast more than I care to admit this week, including three pieces with fake cheese and fake meat last night for dinner, so that's out. Hmmm...ooh! How about a delicious blackberry-banana smoothie? Sounds good, right? Somehow it came out bitter, but I'm too cheap to throw it out and make something else. So, I'm out of the gate, but so far the day is a little rocky. I'm confident it will get better.
Especially since I feel excited to work on the projects of the day and have some fun appointments. Here's today's to-do's:
- Work on my web essay (while lying in bed, I thought of the perfect intro to my subject!)
- Walk the dog
- Mail my tax forms back (yes, all I have to do is sign and affix stamp, but I'm out of stamps, so I haven't done it yet. If I walk the dog to the store for stamps, I'll have fed two birds with one seed.)
- Acupuncture appt at 12
- Work on side job for 2 hours (I talked to my friend who also works on this same project and she agrees that 2 hours is about the realistic limit for any one go at this intense project)
- Clean off my desk
- Go to the bank
- Go look at wedding dresses with a friend (for her, not me)
Since I've now already gone through my email and blogged, I guess it's time to jump into the list. I'll add checkmarks towards the end of the day for the items that get completed.
Late Addendum: For some reason, I can't seem to add a checkmark, but suffice it to say I did everything on the list except the side job and dog walk. And I added in the following that were also completed:
- making and going to a dentist appt
- making a doctor's appt
- buying canisters for the many flours and bulk items I have lining my counters
Sunday, March 23, 2008
Eclair: a usually chocolate-frosted oblong pastry filled with whipped cream or custard
Charlotte: a dessert consisting of a filling (as of fruit, whipped cream, or custard) layered with or placed in a mold lined with strips of bread, ladyfingers, or biscuits
Petit Four: a small cake cut from pound or sponge cake and frosted
Napoleon: an oblong pastry with a filling of cream, custard, or jelly
I also wanted to know how to pronounce maitre d' (headwaiter) for some reason, so it's a French language lesson!
All this word looking up is fun. If you enjoy words like I do, you might also enjoy this talk which is part of the TED Talks series. I can't rave enough about the TED talks - this is what the Internet should be about - ideas worth sharing and sharing them freely to enhance the possibilities. If I aspire to any lofty goal, it's that someday I have an idea worth sharing.
In Basic Training, Miss Manners is advising people about what to say for all occasions and addresses the case when people have troubles in their lives. What should we say? According to Miss Manners, a simple 'I’m sorry' is enough and she reminds us that saying “Just do…x” is not appropriate as it belittles the person, suggesting they could not have come up with your seemingly simple advise on their own (and many other interesting and amusing unmannerly habits – you’ll have to read the book for more!).
I was thinking about writing about a party I attended last night and thought to myself, "I should have just not gone," and realized that I was ‘just’-ing myself! I was being rude to myself. Yes, I think staying home or leaving the party earlier would have been my preference for the evening and may have resulted in a better outcome, but there is no ‘just’ about it. For all today’s “I should have just,” it was a bit more complicated at that time I decided to go and learned that I was not going to be supported in leaving early. So, I want to treat myself with better manners and sincerely say “I’m sorry, self, that you felt bad or did not have the evening you intended.”
Thursday, March 20, 2008
Wednesday, March 19, 2008
I'm so sorry for suddenly ending our phone conversation, but somehow I just couldn't handle the background noise on your end of the phone. I look forward to talking more soon.
When is it okay to let someone go because there is too much going on on their end of the phone? Is it okay? If they can concentrate on the conversation, should I be able to deal with it? If all is calm and quiet at my end, I think I deal with noise on the other side better, but if things are hectic on my end, it just doubles the stress level, because I've got barking dogs, heavy bags and a full bladder on this end and people talking and milk steamers screaming on the other end. And I can deal better with it if I know the noise is finite, as, for example, as passing ambulance or something one is walking past. This afternoon I all but yelled at and hung up on my good friend because I got so stressed out by all the background noise.
Surely that was not polite, but this gets back to the heart of the intrusion of our technology into more private realms of our lives. There was some article online a few weeks ago about movies that are totally out of date, such as Pillow Talk, because of the totally outdated technology of the telephone party line. The common scene I recall is the restaurant maitre d' bringing the telephone to the table for VIP guests or requesting they come with them to take a call - those days are gone, it seems (except at my work, where a very comfortable elder woman makes herself right at home and who's husband calls her there asking for her by name, but not specifying that she is a shopper and not an employee - how strange). Cell phones mean everyone is on the phone in restaurants. Despite my connected-at-the-hip (literally, with a belt clip) relationship with my cell phone, I actually appreciate those restaurants with a no-cell policy.
During a business meeting yesterday, I left my ringer on because I needed to receive a call or text message to perform an exchange during the meeting. I apologized in advance and excused myself away from the group when the phone rang, but it rang no less than three times in excess of the call I was waiting for. It was obnoxious and reinforced my desire to keep my phone on silent at all times. I hate hearing the ringing phone, be it mine or anyone else's! I don't know how I would feel if I were the barista helping my friend today. I don't know if my friend kept the phone or earpiece in place while talking to the barista. I don't know if my friend raised her voice so that I could hear her clearly or if that annoyed the people around her. I do know that I did not enjoy the noise of the cafe intruding on my life at that time and despite my desire to talk to my friend, I let her go in favor of a more peaceful moment.
Tuesday, March 18, 2008
- Another classmate finished his thesis draft
- I called in sick the last three days to work
- Bills are all coming due
- My scale keeps reporting a sickeningly higher weight every day
- My heart races and I get out of breath walking the dog
- My budget is not balanced
- My house is a mess
- The babysit dog (or my dog when the babysit dog is here) keeps peeing on the blankets
But I want to turn that frown upside down with some idealistic positivity:
- Yeah! My (lazy) friend finished his draft - it's possible and probable that hard-working I will also finish very soon.
- Yeah! Way to take care of myself so I don't get sick or sicker by overworking myself.
- Yeah! I have the money to pay my bills, just got a raise, am getting back pay and a healthy tax return.
- Yeah! I have the skills and tools for healthy weight loss - veggie tuna salad is yummy!
- Yeah! Summer is coming and I always get more fit in summer when I do activities I love, like kayaking.
- Yeah! On my day off today, I've not only cleaned most of the house, but also washed the pee'd upon blankets - what a good use of my time.
That said, I'm still beating myself up a bit for not working on:
- the essay I need to post on my work website
- the medicinary project I should have finished before the meeting tonight
- my thesis
- my side job
Luckily, I have tomorrow and Friday off. So I guess I'll work on my medicinary project since that's due in 3 hours. Then focus on my side job since I need the money. Okay, I have prioritizing skills. I can do this - it's just a life, I can manage it. Wish me luck.
Sunday, March 9, 2008
Saturday, March 8, 2008
- a Walk dog
- Deal with mail
- Make plan for week (contact MPC, JC, SB, ML)
- Clean house
- a Laundry
- Move stuff to garage
- Vision board
- Food (including dehydrating multiple types of foods, making cheese sauce, hummus and guacamole)
- a Update blog (this subject, driving rant, friendship)
- Side job research
My friend actually arrived to my home just before I got there – she let herself in and took the dog out, which was nice, but which also meant no down time for me. Reminder: this is why I like living alone – transition time, alone time, quiet time. Why would I want to give that up? So anyway, you’ll note on the list is a suggestion to blog about “busy getting nothing done” – this is what I mean, so I guess I can check that off the list.
Thursday, March 6, 2008
Pulling out of work parking lot onto a 5 lane road. Have to cross 2-3 lanes to go left. One car coming along on my left stops. I look right and see traffic like mad, so I wait. Other driver continues to wait for me, despite zero traffic behind her and the obvious reason I’m not pulling out: all the traffic from the right. This other driver starts honking their horn at me. They are stopped in the middle of their lane, for NO REASON, and they’re honking at me. This is my biggest driving pet peeve – people who try to be nice and don’t JUST DRIVE. It’s okay to be nice and not cut someone off or slow slightly to let someone merge, but stopping your car and waving someone along someone pushes my buttons. I’ll know when it’s appropriate for me to go and I’ll go. Don’t get honk-y with me because I don’t take advantage of your largess.
I’m heading for work in the morning, running late as usual. I pull out of my complex onto the road, where I see a car pulling from the left lane into the right turning lane. Since they are already maneuvering with their signal on, I wait until they are over before pulling up behind them. Then I wait some more as the car doesn’t actually turn right on red despite the lack of any traffic coming from either direction. The light turns green and still nothing. I or the driver behind me may have honked, I can’t remember, but finally the person took their turn. I know some people get annoyed that I honk my horn and I certainly don’t like people honking at me, but when someone pulls into the right turn lane, you’d think they’d already made the decision to turn right, right?
When we were in Seattle, I feel like I identified my second-least-favorite driving habit (second to nice drivers), but since I didn’t write it down, I forgot it, but generally, I found Seattle traffic on the weekend, though more than I expected for a weekend, to be pretty manageable. GPS helped a lot, drivers looked lively. The two above are the most annoying driving incidents that have happened in February and unfortunately serve to reinforce the stereotype of a certain type of woman driver.
Tuesday, March 4, 2008
I’m not even sure that I’m exactly bothered by this practice, because I can see that it just greases the social wheels and makes large events with relative strangers just a bit easier, but it’s something I notice. I have a buddy who says she doesn’t really have any friends, but whenever I see her in public or social situations, she’s surrounded by people…well, gushing over her. I guess the reason I bring it up has to do with 1. social networking sites online and 2. dilution.
First, social networking sites – I hate them. I tried MySpace, and I just don’t see the point. It’s another website to log onto and I just don’t have the time – I’d rather be face-to-face than Facebooking. It’s a shame to me that in many of the papers and magazines I’ve read lately, these sites are listed and discussed. It’s not enough that the people who choose to spend their time on them use up (trying to not use the more judgmental term “waste”) their time on these sites, but now articles are written and take up my newspaper space to discuss these sites. Yes, they are addictive – enough reporters have tried them out and written that conclusion, we don’t need another article about it. So, making “friends” on these social networking sites – this is one instance where this enhanced intimacy thing seems to happen – you’ve read that your “friend” is a red, is most like Cameron Diaz, would be a wood nymph rather than a wizard and maybe a few of their favorites (song, color, type of food, dog/cat, etc) and suddenly, they’re your best bud, even though you’ve never met in person, you don’t know if they have brothers, sisters, parents, children, real live friends or said favorite dog/cat, etc. It’s just weird and … sorta sad.
Now, that said, I know there are lots of people who only friend people they know in real life. I also know there are people who meet people from online in real life and develop real time relationships that are maintained and enhanced by their online relationship. But I hate hearing that my friend was hurt by someone “de-friending” them or no longer commenting on their blog when it’s someone that isn’t really a part of their life anyway. (I recognize that even online pals are really a part of someone’s life, but I just cannot conceive of having relationships that are solely online, anymore.)
Okay, so setting that rant aside, moving onto dilution. The solution to pollution is dilution, but this is not the solution to friendlessness or loneliness. Simply increasing the number of acquaintances one has and calling them friends doesn’t seem an effective method of personal growth, social support or pain relief. I have trouble making time for coffee with my local friends and colleagues, keeping in touch with my out of town friends and family and balancing that with maintaining my home life and career. And I’m really good at time management. When my friendships get diluted by knowing more people, it’s actually harmful to my close, personal relationships, rather than helpful. This is just the effect on my life, but I’ve also noticed the way it feels being just one of the many friends of people who are accumulating friends in this way. You can’t save me – I won’t remain in your “friend account” forever. Our friendship needs to be cultivated and developed or, despite our overly intimate physical greetings, I’ll be a friend on your friend’s list only.