26.11.12

Notable Quotes

I am always intrigued to hear from men and women facing retirement that they will get a chance to read the books they never had time for. I don't believe this, unless they mean read more steadily, for longer periods. Reading -- like those more frivolous lifelong pursuits, singing in tune, or driving, or roller-blading -- is either an early acquired passion or not; there is no in-between, no catching up in one's later years.

-- Carolyn Heilbrun, Last Gift of Time

23.11.12

Divesting

Recently I've read a few posts - on Facebook, on twitter, on blogs - that made me upset.  What upset me was the mixture of content (do you really want to be posting that in a relatively public forum?) and the level of personal involvement the poster has with something that is, well, in the grand scheme of things, unimportant.

Here's an example: the personal goal setter.  If you're setting the goal of finally conquering your addiction to drugs or alcohol, I'm there for you in whatever way I can be - and if you slip, I'll be there to help you back up.  If the goal you've set is that this is the year you'll win the Nobel Prize in  [your field], I'll be happy if you win but be skeptical that you'll actually manage to hit your goal... what will worry me more is that you tie your self-worth into getting the prize.  Most goals are somewhere in the middle, but my worry is still the same: if you don't lose the weight/get out of debt/make VP or partner/run a marathon/etc, will you assume that 1. you're a failure and 2. that I think you're a failure? Because my feelings for you aren't so conditional - if there are good feelings now, there will be good feelings later.  Beating yourself up over not making the goal hurts me as much as it hurts you.

Another example: the overly sensitive type.  This is the type of person who take offense when none is there, who holds onto hurt or implied insults far beyond what seems to be healthy.  The fact that the PATH train is late is not The Man out to get you.  Yes, it's rude that that woman with 20 items in her cart is in the 12 Items Or Less lane, but it's not the end of the world.  That really popular person in high school or the BMOC in college isn't going to suddenly want to be your BFF because you've had a letter to the editor printed in the paper (they've forgotten you - do likewise).  Someone abusing a hashtag on twitter doesn't need a tweet tirade correcting them.  In other words (and again, it's a matter of health) Let It Go.

Final example: the didact.  Let's face it, we don't always agree on things - politics, religion, which book should win the Printz (ok, maybe there's more agreement on that than the others), how many supplements you should take to stay healthy.  Insisting that your source of news (NPR, Fox, God, smoke signals from the neighboring village) is The Best, that You Know What's Right/True (even if there's evidence that you don't have the whole story) and castigating those who don't agree is just unhealthy.  Who can carry around that heavy a load of self-righteousness and anger against those who don't "get it"?  It's not healthy for you, it's not healthy for your relationships.

The past few days, reading some of these... I've started to get sucked in.  "OH NOES!  A failed goal/idiotic political comment/hashtag abuser/etc"  My blood pressure rises, I feel the other person's anger and pain... and that's not good for either of us, it's a feedback loop that just enhances the issue.To preserve my own health, I'm divesting myself of these people.  It may mean not reading a blog post (or ten... or all).  It may mean blocking them on my FB News Feed.  It may mean dropping their twitter feed.

I don't love or like you less, I just love our mental health more.  Here's to a happier, less stressed, emotionally lighter end of the year and 2013.

15.11.12

I thought I was special

Found in today's e-mail:
hello my one and onlyTo: [undisclosed recipients]
From: woman [email address] via alice.it
Good afternoon. I would love to meet you and get to know you more as I think you're a good person. I live in Russia. I am open to talk to you my name is Elena. I will be very glad to your answer. And we can continue our acquaintance with you.
This reminds me of the Tom Lehrer bit on his live album: I know some people feel that marriage as an institution is dying out, but I disagree. And the point was driven home to me rather forcefully not long ago by a letter I received which said: "Darling, I love you, and I cannot live without you. Marry me, or I will kill myself." Well, I was a little disturbed at that until I took another look at the envelope, and saw that it was addressed to 'occupant'... (dmdb.org/lyrics/lehrer.tw3.html)

11.11.12

A Tale of Four Uncles

This time last month, I had four uncles (I think... more on that in a moment).  At the risk of sounding careless, I've since lost two of them.

When I was born, I had three uncles: two were my mother's brothers, one was married to my aunt.  My aunt divorced and remarried, and that's where some of the confusion is.  You see, she (and my parents) were clear that her first husband was no longer my uncle, while my cousins were quite certain that their father still was - and that her second husband was not.  Let's say everyone's right and that I ultimately had four.  All of whom were living as of mid-October.

One, The-Uncle-Formerly-Known-As-Anchesis, was in hospice and wasn't expected to live much longer.  My mother's other brother is still with us, relatively healthy.  My aunt's first husband has just died, and her second is alive, married for the fourth time.  Of the four of them, I knew Robert best and will miss him most.  The most recently departed was a man I'd not seen to speak to since the mid-80s, and hadn't seen at all since my aunt's funeral in the 1990s; I haven't seen her second husband since a few years after the funeral, nor do I want to.  She had bad taste in men, sadly, and while the first made a happy second marriage, the second was (and remains) a complete creep.

We all have those relatives who cause us to roll our eyes: the second cousin who says indiscreet things at the Thanksgiving table, the uncle who hugs his nieces a little too closely and for a little too long, the aunt who kisses and then needs to scrub your face to rid it of the nice lipstick marks.  There are the ones who try to dictate how you live your life, the ones who are such know-it-alls that they brook no discussion of ideas contrary to their own, and the ones who are so meek that they barely make an impression except to apologize for existing.  I've got all those and more in my family - and I feel very blessed to have had at least one uncle who was truly a wonderful man, friend and relative, embodying none of those traits. (since this is about my uncles, i won't comment on my aunts here)

This morning, following Meeting, we're having a Simple Lunch around the theme of gratitude for friends, family, health, hearth.  I'll be thinking of my loss and of the family they've left behind.  I'll also be thinking of the remaining two uncles, trying to come to peace with their failings as uncles and lack of meaning in my life.


6.11.12

Voting for groceries

Woke up early today, grabbed the handy dandy postcard that gave me my new district information, and headed out to the not-so-local high school to vote (by quirk of county configuration, I have a street address of SmallTown1 but pay taxes and vote in SmallTown2 and am in SmallTown3's fire district - if I had kids, not cats, I'd have to petition to get them into the Middle School literally across the street, because it's in SmallTown1!). Anyway.

The first election I "voted" in was 1968, when I proved to my mother that clearly nature was winning over nurture: my choice was the guy whose name was nearly a palindrome and had that cool x in it. Folks, I was in kindergarden. And in Ohio. Do I need to say more? The incredibly sophisticated voting method our teacher used was to have us raise our hands while she pointed to (and probably said) the name.