Thursday, April 30, 2009

Judgment Day

This is an email I wrote recently to a friend during an ongoing conversation about judgment and classism, spurred on most recently by a blog post at (hey, spell check doesn't recognize 'should'...or maybe I spelled it wrong!):

We are talking about the same thing and on the same side, believe it or not. I was raised not to judge people based on the very things you're talking about, and my father was the anti-bigot, made sure we didn't pass judgment. So I was almost afraid to say I didn't like someone (for some real reason, like they were leering at me lustily with dishonorable intention) for fear it would be misinterpreted as racism, or whatever.

As I said, I was raised blue collar by a beer drinking, whiskey swilling, smoking, womanizing father (I can't say anything about my mom, she's got her issues, but nothing that applies to this conversation) who was funny, fun, and loved by almost everyone he met. He raised me to be confident and proud of myself, no matter what I did with my life.

I was the first grandchild on my father's side of the family to graduate high school, and didn't take college courses until I was about 30. I married a man who, ten years into the marriage, told me he knew from the very beginning that his parents wouldn't like me, because in their eyes I
wasn't good enough for him. His parents never asked me anything about me or my family, didn't care to know.

And yet, because I was married to a Naval officer, I was often pointedly (I mean in my face, in a checkout line) sneered at because of it (as if I thought somehow I was better because of who I married...I never gave a shit that he was an officer, didn't even know they were different than enlisted until I met him, and my dad was Navy for 20 years!) I felt defensive, and wanted to wear a sign that said, "You don't know me or where I come from, so don't judge me!" One night at a ball (full dress, long gowns) I was drinking a beer (out of a bottle) and I overheard another wife whisper, "Someone should get her a glass." As if!

Contrast this with the folks back home in Norfolk (looked down upon in general by many in Virginia, and I defend it like it were my own child), who at one point implied that I thought I was too good for them, simply because I left home and went out into the world and saw and did things. When I came back years later, they realized I was basically the same person, but still.

I have struggled all my life not to care about the fact that I didn't have a college eduation, or that my degree, when I did get one, is 'only' an AA in Japanese Studies and nothing more lofty. It encroaches into my dating life, when I find myself figuring I'm not good enough for someone because they are more educated or hold a 'better' job.

...we're all just human and we make judgments (like it or not) based on our life experiences. I've got folks who live near me right now who are considered redneck or even white trash, and my daughter is friends with one of the kids there. I have no issue with these folks in general, but when the one guy w/the souped up car starts squealing up and down Naomi Drive (and not just once, but for 30 minutes at a time) to the point where I can't sit on my patio and hear the person directly across from me when we're talking, well, I get a little pissed off...more at the lack of
consideration for other folks than anything. I try to base my judgment on how folks treat me and how they treat others.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

This is Your Brain on Hormones

Tuesday I got a call from the dentist's office confirming Rebecca's appointment. Yes, I said, we'll be there. Now, I already had this appointment on my calendar (because I am organized and way ahead of the game.) But just to be sure, I open my Groupwise calendar to Wednesday, but it's not there (stay w/me.) So, I enter the appointment for 3, and tell Rebecca when she calls me that I'll be picking her up right after she gets of the bus the next day to get to the appointment on time. Then, being ever efficient, I email my co-workers and tell them I'll be leaving early on Thursday (seriously, stay w/me) to take Rebecca to her appointment.

So, yesterday, at about 2:30, I remember I'm leaving at 3. I leave here and arrive home just after Rebecca. I am proud of myself for the good timing. We even stop to give the lab across the street treats and check the mail.

On the way to N. Stafford going north on Route 1, I see a school bus stopped on the opposite side. I slow down, trying to remember if I am supposed to stop on a four lane highway when headed in the opposite direction. A few blasts on the bus's horn tell me, yes, I am supposed to stop, but at this point I'm abreast of the bus and drive on, muffler tucked between my tires. Then we encounter dark clouds and the subsequent large drops of rain. Wipers are now going full on fast.

We arrive at the dentist and I am able to secure 'princess parking.' We dash to the door...but it's locked. What?! Wait, maybe they moved, I mean, the last time we were here they had experienced major flooding from burst pipes. But why didn't Mary mention this when she called me on Tuesday...? I have my phone out, it's ringing, we're still standing in the rain. Mary's voice thanks me for calling Dr. Rai's office, and tells me their office hours. Closed on Wednesdays. I look at Rebecca: Crap, the appointment is tomorrow.

Okay, regroup (I'm good at this part): traffic was looking bad going south, so I suggest we head to Kohl's, do a little shopping (she for unmentionables, me for a new purse...another entire adventure in and of itself.)

Fast forward. We've just spent $80 or so on Rebecca, and nothing on me (me and purses, it's ridiculous) and are walking out the door. Can't find my keys. This is nothing new. I look again, no keys. I'm certain I've left them in the dressing room (no, I don't try on my purses, at least not in the dressing room, but I did try on a couple of...oh, never mind, it's irrelevant and was a disaster.) Anyhow, no keys there either. A bit of panic at this point; Rebecca asks if she can check my purse, and I let her because this has worked in the past. No luck. So now, we're retracing our steps through rows of panties, bras, camisoles, purses, and belts. Looking high and low, and wishing ever so much Rebecca was a toddler again so that she could have that optimal vantage point. Nothing. No keys. I tell everyone I see in the aisles that we're looking for keys. They all respond with the same knowing nod and sympathetic gaze.

We go out to the car...maybe in our haste to dash through the rain...but no; the car is unlocked, and I'm able to retrieve my cell phone, but no keys. So now we're going back in to look again amongst the lace and leather. We overhear a conversation at one of the checkout counters...someone has lost some keys. Ridiculous, I think. A couple is standing there looking befuddled -- they have been looking for over an hour for a set of keys. What are the odds? We wish each other luck, and go our separate ways in our searches.

After no luck again, we go back to customer service. No keys have been turned in; I give a description of my nondescript keys and my cell number. We head back to the car to look again for what I know is not there. Halfway to the car, I hear a woman calling, "I found your keys! You must have been using the cart I have, they were in the bottom!" She was oh so proud, and had abandoned her cart at the checkout counter to run after us. "Oh, thank you so much, but those aren't our keys...but I think I know whose they are." Crestfallen, she hands me the keys. I thank her again, saying the couple will be so relieved and I will turn them in. She walks back in with us, and I thank her yet again. I feel so bad that I've disappointed her.

As we arrive at customer service, I see the couple and hold up the keys. Oh, they are so happy! They thank me and thank me. I've done nothing, really. Then she tells me in a lilting Carribean accent, "I pray for you to find your keys too!" We smile and say goodbye, united by our recent loss and her more recent reunion.

Finally, I cave and call my friend, my hero, Lois. She has a key to the house. No problem, I'll just come pick you up, I'm on Route 3 now. Well, I say, I'm in N. Stafford. Oh... So, Lois heads to my house, I walk her through the possible places where the spare keys might be, and soon she shows up, my spare keys in hand, and saves our day.

This is my brain on hormones. Today, at 3 p.m., I will leave work and go pick up Rebecca after she gets off the bus, and we will head to her dentist appointment. Pray for me.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Back to 'Normal'

Been a busy couple of weeks. First we had a friend and her two cats staying with us while her kitchen was being renovated. Then my mom came into town, so the friend went to stay with another friend, but the cats hung out at my house (mom liked that...) Mom and I had a great visit, I was able to take off of work and we took a few days to drive a part of the Crooked Road and visit Floyd, VA for music, food, and scenery. Had a few more days off here in town, mostly relaxed, had a fun mother/daughter night at Bistro Bethem, and mom got to meet and see a lot of my friends and get a taste of my life in the 'burg (which she knows I love.) During this time Rebecca was away with her dad, which went well and she had a good time, visiting museums, Longwood Gardens in PA, and attending The Lion King in NYC.

Took mom to the airport in Richmond yesterday...she got home safely, after an annoying delay in Atlanta (this is no surprise to anyone who has traveled through Atlanta!) Had a nice drive back on Route 2, listening to Prairie Home Companion and some great music by Tom I'll be checking out his new CD.

So now, everything is settling in back to our normal routine. I am so glad to have Rebecca home; I am so glad mom and I had a good visit (she's great, I am very lucky); and I am so glad Rebecca and her dad had a good vacation together. Life is good right now. Have allowed myself to spend some quality time getting to know new friends and, in spite of the insecurities and self-doubt that crop up, am enjoying myself. Key to this is taking things easy and allowing the friendships to evolve naturally. No pressure, no hurry. Just glad I'm finally at this stage where I can let people in a little closer.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Writing When I'm Not Unhappy

A friend told me recently I need to blog more. Trouble is, my writing is not very interesting when I'm free of troubled thoughts. At least, I don't think it's very interesting. I am not troubled right now, although I am a little jangled of late. Spring is here, and there's twitterpating all around me. Reason enough to write, I suppose. For those who don't know, twitterpated is (one of many definitions from the urban dictionary, but it originated from Bambi):

"An enjoyable disorder characterized by feelings of excitement, anticipation, high hopes, recent memories of interludes, giddiness, and physical over-stimulation which occur simultaneously when experiencing a new love. These feelings take over without warning, usually at odd times (such as at a check-out line), with or without the partner present, and make it difficult to concentrate on anything but romance. They interfere with work and safe driving, but should be experienced at least once in every person's lifetime."

Indeed, at least once in every person's lifetime. I think the definition should include something about this feeling being at once exhilarating and unnerving and just a little scary.

So, give me your stories about your twitterpating experiences. Could make for some fun writing and entertaining reading. You can remain anonymous, it's okay!

Me? Well, it's too soon to say for me. But obviously this is on my mind for a reason. Cautious and superstitious right now. But my twitterpating experiences in the past (and the very few recent ones) tell me it's a feeling I like, and at the same time causes me to ponder what is left when the twitterpating subsides. That is the real stuff, of course, but the twitterpating stage is awfully fun, so I'm inclined to give in to it again, if given the chance.

There. My April blog post. I look forward to hearing feedback on this tittilating topic (or should that be twitterpating topic?!)