Listful Thinking’s great post: Everybody’s Got Something to Hide, Except for Me and My Monkey

After reading this, you can thank Stephanie at Listful Thinking for your new knowledge of Professional Detachment. Brilliant post—just what I needed.

Listful Thinking

Remember that time I was mad at every single person and object on the entire planet for no reason at all? I figured out what my problem was.

I had way too many monkeys.

Not, like, actual monkeys. I should back up.

Last week I asked my boss, Ike, if it was alright for me to stop going to a meeting that always leaves me with a feeling similar to the kind one might experience after repeatedly slamming one’s head into a brick wall.

A brick wall that won't listen to any of your ideas and gets really upset when you question it. A brick wall that won’t listen to any of your ideas and gets really upset when you question it.

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No Apology Necessary

I apologize for everything. I think a lot of women do. I apologize for legitimate things like stepping on someones toes (literally and figuratively), forgetting a birthday, and hurting someone’s feelings. I also apologize for needing a towel when I visit my mom, for my house being a bit messy when I get unexpected visitors, or when my guests have to walk upstairs to use the bathroom.

The first time I realized how much I apologized was about a decade ago when my mom, who was very annoyed by it, kept telling me, “No apology necessary.” She also said, “If you apologize one more time I really am going to be mad.” I think all this apologizing comes because I am a people pleaser. I want everyone to be happy and comfortable when they are around me. I don’t want people to think poorly of me or my family, and I generally don’t want to feel like I am inconveniencing anyone.

I was at the orthopedist today for a check-in about a torn meniscus in my knee. Last night I realized I would have to pull my pant legs up at one point during the appointment and I hadn’t shaved my legs. We’re not talking Sasquatch hairy, but it was definitely noticeable and prickly. I was so tired, I just decided to not worry about it and apologize instead. So I am sitting on the table in the exam room and my doctor asks me to pull up my pant leg. I was all ready to start in with my excuses and apologies when it hit me—why should I have to apologize? It’s hair, not poison ivy. I choked back my ‘I’m so sorry I didn’t shave. Sorry,’ and instead said, “You’re going to have to deal with hair, I didn’t have time to shave.” That wasn’t exactly a non-apology either. It was just me trying to be tough and then explain myself. I shouldn’t have said a thing. I should have owned it, like a strong woman who doesn’t need to explain her hygiene routine to anyone.

It’s so hard to let people see you in a vulnerable state and not offer excuses. It’s hard to know that some people don’t like you, or are mad at you. It’s hard to be a mother who doesn’t apologize when your kid is just being a kid. It’s hard to feel like what you do is good enough. It’s hard to be a woman (I’m sure it’s hard to be a man too, but I am a woman, so I can’t really speak to the whole man emotions). Damn, but it’s just plain hard some days.

I am working on using ‘I’m sorry’ at appropriate times, so until then, please excuse me. I might finish each ‘I’m sorry’ with an ‘Or am I?’ Would that be too weird?

My Dog

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Ralph is my dog. He sports a scruffy beard, bad haircut, and a cowlick on his forehead. He won’t fetch, has bad breath, growls at everything, and sucks on the fir of his toy mammoth like a puppy at his mother’s teat.

Ralph is stubborn. He will find the smallest pillow in the house, drag it to the ground, and make it his bed. He refuses to acknowledge that some pillows are just too small for him. Instead, he will do absolutely anything to keep all of his parts on top of the pillow—even if it means hooking a back foot into his collar to keep it from slipping.

Ralph has deep, soulful eyes that he uses to get extra treats or make me feel like he knows when I’m sad. He gets excited when he sees me get ready for bed because he knows he will soon get to burrow under the covers and sleep behind my knees.

Ralph has a very short memory and must bark and growl at all of my friends, no matter how many times they come to visit. He forgets he just ate an entire bowl of food and begs for more if he thinks I am headed for the kitchen. Ralph snuggles by my side even if I’ve just yelled at him for being a d-bag.

Ralph is happy to see me when I get home, and sad when I leave. He licks the sheets at the bottom of the bed just in time for my bare feet to make contact with it at bed time. He groans with pleasure when I scratch under his collar, and growls with impatience when I try to trim the hair on his feet.

Ralph is not just a dog—he’s a friend and I am his human.

Bookstores Smell Like Happiness

I found the ideal book smell in a small used bookstore in West Seattle this past weekend. I was visiting friends and we walked into a small shop off California Ave. where the owner, who inserted herself into all our conversations, made the experience even more enjoyable. The front of the shop had the usual assortment of books, but around a sharp corner was a display of loose leaf teas, and around another, a display of spices. The scent of old books combined with dried sage and jasmine blossom tea, was heady. I purchased a few books, and was rewarded with a reading from the small volume of poetry in my stack. The owner was quite impressed with herself and waited for applause—which we happily supplied.

The bottom two photos are of the independent bookstore near my home- BookPeople of Moscow. It used to be a bit ramshackle, with stacks of books set precariously around the shop, and older gentlemen lounging on couches to read the morning papers. You could never find a thing you wanted, but somehow managed to find exactly what you needed. It has since changed owners, and they have done an amazing remodel—beautiful floors and shelving that are categorized just so—it is quite nice, but not quite the same. You can no longer find a corner where the books muffle the outside world. I often think orderliness is overrated.

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Shadows

The sunlight leaves a crosshatch pattern on the floor, like the tic tac toe we played as children. It’s almost charming, until you see the bars. They were built to look like trellises from the outside, with climbing roses planted at their base—the roses refuse to cooperate. In their stubbornness, the roses have not grown up, but together into one large mass that chokes out the buds and leaves the branches to dry and fall away.

Faking It Until I Make It

Sometimes I feel like an impostor. I hear myself talking to someone on the phone at work and I sound authoritative and knowledgable and then I hang up and I think, ‘They actually bought that?’
Not that I don’t think I know a little about a lot of things, but it seems strange to me that someone would seek me out as a person who has good information to hand out.
These people have obviously not seen me in my natural habitat, where I start a sentence and lose my words so my kids have to interpret what I want from my hand signals. Sometimes they even get it right.
I suppose what I really mean is I want people seek me out for information, just not the kind I give at my day job. I don’t dislike my day job—I am grateful I have a job to go to every day and that they treat me well and pay me regularly—it’s just not what I want to spend the rest of my days doing.

Someone I know just decided to follow her heart. It was a brave decision. It looks crazy to some, but it’s brave. She is more than 20 years older than me and it took her this long to get up the nerve. I hope it doesn’t take me two more decades to make my decision.

You Remember What’s Important

I tend to make notes and write missives on every available writing surface. I have random notebooks with half-filled pages and scribbled sentences in my own shorthand. There are envelopes from old bills (hopefully paid) that have words, phrases, titles of books, and authors names written on the back at various angles. I write on calendar pages, on sticky notes, with pencil on my desk top, and I have even been known to write on my hands when there is nothing else available.

I am always on the lookout for the next great notebook or notepad. You all know what I’m talking about—the one that is going to hold all my fantastic ideas and help me turn them in to the best stories of all time. I am most lured by paper items, but use iPad apps and notes on my phone to keep some thoughts. I have recently become fascinated with the Boogie Board ewriters. Have you seen these? They are like high tech versions of the wax and plastic writing boards (Magic Slate) we used as kids, but instead of erasing when you lift the plastic sheet, you just push a button and your work is gone.

I want to buy one—they aren’t expensive, maybe $25. I can think of many uses for it, like writing shopping lists or words of the day, etc. The only thing keeping me from buying one is fear. Fear that I will find it when I have just had a fantastic idea. I will write it down, because it is available and easy to use, and then, before I can write the idea on something more permanent (like paper), I, or my kids, or my dog, will accidentally press the little round button that erases it forever and ever. The original, inexpensive version, does not have any kind of memory capability, no back or undo button and no wax backing that holds the grooves and shadows of what was on it before. I suppose I could buy one of the models that syncs via Bluetooth, but I’m too cheap for that.

After re-reading the above paragraph, I wonder if that is exactly what I need. Maybe the good ideas are only good if they stay—if they have permanence in your brain and needle at you to be written even when you don’t want to bother with them. My mother always said, “You’ll remember it if it’s important.”

Writing Unconstrained

I’m watching the sun set from my desk. I stare a little too long and I can’t see my screen anymore, just a big ball of orange light. Writing blind. I do that sometimes- write without looking at the page/screen. There’s something about writing freely without worrying about the grammar or punctuation—allowing sentences to trail off when an idea has broken or you’ve run out of page. Not to get philosophical, but life might be better if we lived like that once in a while. It’s cathartic to go a day, or even an hour or two, not worrying about what you’re wearing or how you are perceived by others. It’s exhausting to always be on, to always be correct. Sometimes it’s okay to let yourself trail off the page for a bit.

The Best Squash I’ve Every Eaten

I met a woman this weekend, who under normal circumstances, I might not have looked twice at, let alone stopped to talk with her. She had a deep, reddish tan not unlike some of the women of my mother’s generation who didn’t know about skin cancer until it was too late to make up for the hours spent under harsh UV rays. She stood with a bit of a hunch in her back. Her shoulders were rounded, but not in a tense way.

I noticed her hands first. I want to say it was because my eyes were down while I was busy looking for something, but the truth is I try to avoid eye contact when I don’t want to converse with someone. Dirt stained her knuckles, and the undersides of her nails were caked black with soil. Her fingers didn’t straighten—I’m sure it was the result of arthritis. As she handed me my bag full of zucchini and summer squash, I looked up to pay. She smiled and a million tiny cracks appeared at the corner of her light blue eyes.

I told her how beautiful her produce was. This was not a lie. The colors were vibrant, the smells wonderful, and the prices just right. She said, “This is all I do. I sleep for a bit, tend to the plants, eat and tend some more. This is what I love.”

“Then you have a wonderful life.” I said this thinking about how I would love to spend all my waking hours doing what I love.

She looked at me for a moment, then nodded her head and said, “You’re right, it is wonderful.”

I thought about her again last night as I ate her life’s bounty. It tasted like happiness.

Facebook Ruined My Life, Now They Must Pay

This is a fantastic post- I’m especially loving her Shar-Pei filter idea for Facebook. Someone should get on that.

Peg-o-Leg's Ramblings

Should a ginormous corporation be allowed to humiliate a child and profit from her pain? Could $167,000,000 in compensation even begin to make up for her suffering? We can only hope so.

I give you, Exhibit A

Oh, the humanity Oh, the humanity

What’s the first thing you notice about this picture? (Besides the vast number of people piled onto 2 chairs.) Your eyes are drawn to the child on the right.

She sits alone. Two skinned knees are proof of a life spent tripping and bumping into coffee tables, and it’s not hard to see why.  Her cats-eyes glasses hint at the weak eyes beneath, while her chubby body attests to a complete lack of athletic skills. Her hand-me-down dress is so short the viewer can practically see both London AND France. From the top of her head (uneven hack-job on too-short bangs) to the soles of her feet (in black knee-socks…

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