Archive for the 'Abstractions' Category

Taking Responsibility

Snow on the branches.

This entry begins in my car this morning.  You see, last night, I lent my car to my mother.  While in my car (besides using up my gas), she decides that she dislikes my music and wants to switch from CD to radio.  Instead of pressing the switch button, she instructs my brother to remove the CD.  Where he removed it to, evidently, was a pile of goo (God knows what it was; I certainly don’t).  I find my radio cover (on the floor of the driver’s seat) and my CD (thrown haphazardly in a nook by the dashboard.  CD is covered in gunk and is well scratched.  Mother blames brother.  Brother blames me and my mother.  All I know is that I donated something because I’m nice to have it disrespected and some of my property ruined.  I don’t care who did it (though I am of the opinion they are both at fault) but I do need someone to take responsibility and make up for the error.

And I think that’s a huge thing in the world right now.  I know that I am more inclined to point at someone else when I have done something wrong and let them take the fall for it.  It’s one of those things that I am trying to work on myself.  Taking responsibility is hard, but it’s one of those things that if we do, and we learn from our mistakes, we become better people for it.

One of my favourite cries is “oh, but he said….” and to try to pin the blame on someone else, thus twisting the situation.  Guess what, world (and myself as well)- that doesn’t change the facts.  Yes, he may have said that but you had no right to have said this.  Be the bigger person, foresee the possible issue, do everything you can in order to be sure that it’s out of your hands… if you had, we wouldn’t be having this discussion.

My second favourite?  “It was an accident.”  Bollocks.  So you took Gramma’s expensive vase and put it on the counter where the cat knocked it over.  You may have not knocked it yourself, it was an accident, the cat did it, but guess what, peanut?  You were directly involved.  Take responsibility for your involvement.

I have a story about a time it was an accident, and someone took responsibility, and everyone was the better for it.  I lent Rent to a friend once, who lent it to someone else (whose name she didn’t know).  We tried and tried but we could not find the person she lent the movie to (this, by the way, is why I’m so anal about getting my movies back).  I was miffed, but I let it go.  What could I do, anyway?  A couple months later, the middle party – who had lost it accidentally and meant no harm – bought me a new copy because she said she felt responsible.  I was happy because I got my property back, and she felt better without carrying that burden on her shoulders.  She didn’t have to buy me a new copy.  I never asked for it.  But she did because she rightly understood that I had entrusted her with the film and she was responsible for its loss.

Granted, I suppose not everyone in the world has that guilt complex.  I know I do… but I’m also aware that my brother (jerk) doesn’t.  I spoke to him about the CD, and his response was “well, Mom didn’t like your crappy music and it’s not my fault that it got ruined.  I just took it out of the player and put it somewhere.  Get over it.”  Then he went back to munching his Pringles and turned up the tele a wee bit more.  I know this situation shouldn’t frustrate me so much… but it’s the principle of the thing.  It wasn’t a CD I purchased, but knowing that people care more about their own well being than for the sanctity of others’ property… well… the only person in my family I’m going to be lending my things to now is my father.

For those of you out there more interested in “not getting in trouble” than doing the right thing… … at the risk of sounding like a conservative mother… shame on you.

Mankind’s Legacy

Chopped down trees, man's legacy begun.

“Thank God men cannot fly, and lay waste the sky as well as the earth.” ~ Henry David Thoreau.

There are two things I notice immediately about my title.  One is that it isn’t politically correct.  Oh well.  The second is that today is Memorial Day, and hey, shouldn’t I be talking about wars or veterans in my family?  I suppose to be following procedure, I should be.  But I’m not from a military family.  In fact, I don’t think anyone in my family has been in the military since, I dunno, the Civil War or something.  I guess technically that’s not true.  My aunt Maureen was an army nurse, but naturally, it’s not the same thing as being a soldier.  So given my lack of ties to the military, I’m going to write about rape instead.

No.  Not sexual rape.  Land-rape.

I was out taking a walk this morning, which I never do.  I’m a lazy bum and I like to sit in front of my computer and be useless.  So the last time I Birch tree amidst destruction.took a walk around my neighborhood was probably one of those uncannily warm days in March.  Today, I was walking around looking for something interesting and new-ish to take a picture of for my Photo of the Day.  I took a route I don’t generally take and WHOMP!  I found the image to the left here.  A beautiful old birch tree (N’Amshir state tree, don’tchaknow?) absolutely surrounded by piles of dirt.  Not like… Oh look, a pile of dirt magically appeared due to flooding and erosion!  Like, “Me big landowner, om nom ground.”  It made me incredibly… disappointed, I guess I would say, for a couple of reasons.  One, I love birch trees, but you know, that one’s gonna go, too.  As I was technically trespassing, I didn’t get close enough to see if it’s marked, but chances are, it is.  And the second reason of course is that do we really need more houses and things?

Where I used to live, we were practically in a hole in the woods.  Since we didn’t have a mailbox, almost everyone missed the driveway.  It was like we were invisible.  I loved it.  Even people dropped me off at eleven at night and I had to walk the eighth of a mile or whatever it was down the pitch-black driveway, I loved it.  On the far side of the driveway, there was this great big overgrown field.  Since we were just renting, we never really bothered with it.  But my brother and I used to wander around in there when we were kids, because lets face it- to children, all the world’s a stage.  There were a couple of saplings in there, and wild rose bushes.  Things like that.  the other side of the driveway was the same, but separated  from us with a line of trees, since it wasn’t our property.  Since we moved, both those fields have been torn apart to look like the typical American clean-cut front lawn.  Nothing special, nothing pretty, but the grass is all 1 3/4 inches tall.  On the land that wasn’t ours, a house was erected.  Well.  Isn’t that just divine?  A house in the front yard.  I preferred the fields, but maybe I’m just old fashioned.Tractor marks.

People from the city will never understand the beauty of the land out here.  A lot of people leave New Hampshire because it’s boring and there’s nothing here but trees.  These people want the busy ways of the city, the running and rambling streams of businessmen instead of the cool, sweet water streams.  People who have been born and raised in the city see beauty in the steel-lining of skyscrapers, appreciate artistic landscaping, but not the land.  I am a child of the country.  When I was a kid, I didn’t want to admit that, because quite frankly, everyone wanted to be somewhere else, so I did too!  But now I’m older, I don’t give a darn about my peers, and I have no desire to leave the northeast.  For me, the magic is in the mountains and the trees.  Seeing them plowed through like play-dough makes me sad.  Like a part of my childhood is being murdered.

There are three movies that I can think of that warn people, in one way or another, that we should take what we need from the world, but no more and we should be grateful for it.  Two of these, ironically, are Disney movies.  The first is Pocahontas.  Yes.  I know it’s not historically correct (I’m a history major- I’ve been over the story of Jamestown a couple times, thanks).  But there’s one song in the middle called “Colors of the Wind“.  Most people know it.  With lyrics like “You think you own whatever land you land on/the Earth is just a dead thing you can claimOm nom, land.” and “How high will the sycamore grow?/If you cut it down, then you’ll never know” it’s difficult to ignore the facts- human beings are slowly destroying the Earth.  We don’t have to be.  But everything needs to be bigger, taller, shiner, stronger, until there’s no more space.  We are obsessed with the idea of ownership, and isn’t land with a house on it more valuable than just land?

That kind of leads into the second movie, also Disney, the movie Wall-E.  Even in the theatrical trailer, you get a glimpse of what the world has become in this image of the future.  As the movie continues off the now uninhabitable (because lets face it- trees and other plants create oxygen, which is essential to our breathing) planet earth, you see what has become of the human race- fat and lazy.  The first time you see humans in Wall-E, you see two riding side by side in these huge chairs, talking to each other on a view-screen because they’re too lazy to turn their heads and talk to one another.  Really.  Why should they have to do anything, though?  They’ve built a world that allows them to be lazy.  Can’t help but to wonder, is that what we’re moving toward?

The third movie is, of course, Avatar.  I tried to find clips of the damage that the humans did to Pandora on YouTube, but because the moDirt-filled deer field.vie is so new and highly protected, I couldn’t find anything useful.  However, when I searched “Avatar mining” I found a true story similar to that of Pandora.  And in the thinking of Avatar, I remember Fern Gully, which is a direct relation to destruction of the rainforest.

My point, ladies and gentlemen, is that we’re too obsessed with the creation and acquisition of things, and in the meanwhile, we are, to quote a sentiment in the movie avatar “destroying our mother”.  Is it really worth it?  I walked past a field earlier today filled with piles of dirt (clearly preparing for some sort of construction) that was once a place where deer grazed (seriously.  I’ve seen them).  I’ve been woken up every morning for the last few weeks promptly at 7:30am by the sound of drills and hammering and power saws from next door.  I’m pretty sure they’re putting an addition on their house (but I can’t be sure, this is one of those neighbors that lives in a hole-in-the-forest and has angry dogs and tall gates, way in.  And he’d probably shoot me if I trespassed.  Even though his kids trespass over here all the time and leave toys and sleds and junk in the woods to rot).

Is this ever going to stop?  Um.  The Earth-raping, I mean.  Although the obnoxious neighbor is okay to stop, too.

Matchmaker

Heather and John at Hampton; July 8, 2007.

“Matchmaker, matchmaker, you know that I’m still very young… please… take your time?  Up to this minute I misunderstood that I could get stuck for good.” ~ Matchmaker, from the musical Fiddler on the Roof.

I have match-made once in my life that I can think of.  They were two of my friends from different worlds, one massively depressed, and the other a bubbling ray of sunshine.  She liked to help people.  He needed help.  I didn’t expect Andy and Vilmary to become a couple, but they did.  She met him by reading over my shoulder as I cruised Facebook during a college English course.  It was a bad plan.  See, they were really happy for a while, but it was all about sex.  Sexuality.  Sexualism.  Any other word I can stick “sex” into.  I used to want to scream at her for having somewhat lewd conversations with him on the phone and via webcam at three-in-the-freaking-morning while I was trying to sleep.

They are the reason I am hesitant to match-make my friends again.  See, they were really happy and there was a heck of a lot of unresolved sexual tension between them for a while, but now, anything I hear about them is raging red hate.  I hear from her how much of a soulless, heartless pain-in-the-ass he is.  I hear from him what a dumb, manipulative bitch she is.  I never hear anything positive.  I feel like I’ve created this monstrous relationship of negative energy that seeps out of the black lagoon and wants to eat my soul.

Okay, yeah, it may not be all my fault.  I mean, if he cared about living past the age of twenty-five, it would be okay.  If she didn’t decide to mess with his head and piss him off for fun every now and again, it would be okay.  And of course, I’m not psychic, and I couldn’t anticipate these things happening, but nonetheless… I still feel responsible.  Without me, these people would never have met.  And then there wouldn’t be so much hate and angst in their lives.

I have this thing about angst.  I really don’t like it.  It makes me grumpy.  Probably explained why CAPSLOCK!Harry and I don’t get on so well.

Relationships are so hard to determine.  Unless I can very clearly see that this person is no good, I don’t have anything negative to say.  Like Heather and John.  They practices?  Not my thing.  I didn’t much enjoy hearing about all their sexual encounters, and I felt that for a sophomore and senior in high school, they had a heck of a lot of sketchy ones.  But who am I to judge?  I let it be.  At any rate, they were happy.  And Heather?  She doesn’t do happy easily.  So seeing her smile instead of angsty and depressed was a good thing.  I could never have predicted that the relationship would end around three years with massive amounts of  cheating and neglect going on.  Bad stuff.  Bad times.  Big mess.  And that wasn’t my fault.  So I know that relationships go awry even without my help.  But that doesn’t keep me from being hesitant.

See, I love Bryan.  Really, I do.  I mean it when I say “love”.  I know I’m going to be with him, we’ve already begun (half-jokingly) planning our wedding and I have names for the children which he likes.  For anyone who is interested, there will be three children, two girls and a boy because I totally have control over that.  Angela Piper, Tristan Dorian, and Sonora Essylte.  I’ve got that covered.  But seriously, my own relationship is always rocky.  Sometimes I want to punch Bryan in the face just to get him to leave me alone (he can’t bug me if he’s unconscious, ja?).  I love him, but at the same time, I freaking wish he’d leave me alone.  But I know he’s crazy about me, and in the end, three years going in, that’s enough to work through the little things.  I have that much faith in myself, and I have seen him work hard to do the same (though, granted, I’ve had more than one person tell me I should have dumped him a long time ago, for various different reasons).  Our relationship is a little unhealthy and a little dysfunctional, but we shouldn’t believe all that cockamaymee bull crap about happily ever after being perfect and Prince Charming on a silver steed.  My relationship is dysfunctional and unhealthy but it’s also healthy and wonderful and we make a really great team when it matters.  I made the choice to be in that relationship.

I just don’t feel right helping other people with their choices.  I feel pushy.  And responsible.

Relationships can be a nightmare.  Or they can be amazing.  It’s really up to us in the end:  are we going to be selfish and make it all about ourselves?  Or is it going to be for the greater good?

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Health ReportHealth Report: I’ve eaten 1668 calories today and burned off 908.  That keeps me under my daily allotted – rock and roll!  I even included the ice cream sundae I haven’t eaten yet into that estimate, so I should be golden today.  Working copy center burns a lot of calories.  Making money and burning calories for the win!

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Random SqueeRandom Squee: One of my improv students posted this amazing, rocking video from YouTube on his Facebook profile and it makes me giggle.  I’ve watched it twice.

(Un)Pleasingly Plump

06-15-2007:  Caitlyn and I at Project Grad, waiting in line.

“The devil has put a penalty on all things we enjoy in life. Either we suffer in health or we suffer in soul or we get fat.” ~ Albert Einstein.

I’m desperate.  It took me a month to take off five pounds.  It took me less than a week (gah!  Ice cream!) to put it back on.

I haven’t eaten a thing today.  And I just used LiveStrong.com to figure out the dinner I will be eating tonight.  I intend to have a hamburger on a bun with one slice of American Cheese, a squirt of mustard, and a handful of nachos.  Plain, nothing on them nachos.  This is one meal.  In order to lose a measly 2 pounds a week, I can have no more than 1039 calories excess a day.  I can eat as much as I want, as long as I exercise it back down to 1039 calories.  This single meal?  669 calories.  I haven’t exercised much today.  When I say exercise, I mean some form of physical activity.  Today, worth mentioning, I played (at least) two hours of  Rock Band 2 (singing) and I showered twice and I worked on my colored pencil drawing for about half an hour.  That burned off 356 calories.  Yuck.  One meal is half my daily allotted amount!  And unless I have time for strenuous exercise… I really don’t exercise anything off.  I hate being fat.

145 pounds? “Psh!” say some “That’s not fat at all!”  Only for me, it is.  All my life, I’ve never ever been above 130 pounds.  Suddenly I don’t fit in any of my jeans, and my prettiest skirts are too small, and when I try to fall asleep at night, I can feel my rolls of skin press against each other, and it grosses me out.  So yeah, it may not be fat to some people, but I feel gargantuan.  I don’t want to have to put out a lot of money on new pants ($40 each is intense.  It’s like… robbery.  Because we all know that they don’t cost that much to make.  The companies make something like a 1200% profit).

And at the same time, I’m incredibly lazy and I have a sweet tooth.  Meat?  Bread?  Psh-aw.  I could go without it.  But cookies, cookies, yum, yum yum!  I love my ice cream and cake and cookies.  And chocolate.  For a little while, I was genuinely concerned that I was a chocoholic because I’d get edgy if I didn’t have chocolate everyday.  Earning $20/week at Houghton pretty much remedied that.  As for the laziness, I just feel like I waste my time when I exercise.  It’s not fun, and I get bored.  I spend the entire time thinking of all the other things I could be doing.  It takes me an hour to do 200 calories on the treadmill, and at the same time, if I typed and did all my writing consistently for two hours, I would burn off the same amount of calories.  It inspires me to not want to exercise.

I feel like the Cookie Monster is a lie.  How can he om, nom, nom so much goodness and not gain weight?  It gives the wrong impression to children.  Huff puff.

I’ve tried being bulimic.  Throwing up food doesn’t work for me.  And bulimics tend to gain weight, because of the binge eating.  I don’t want to gain weight.  I have been, in the past, an accidental anorexic.  How can you be an accidental anorexic?  Actually, it’s pretty easy.  My senior year of high school, I stage managed a play.  I didn’t drive, so I just stayed at the school until play rehearsal at six.  I didn’t eat breakfast, and at the time I was absolutely in love with fried bagels, so I ate them every day.  They cost $1.75 with cream cheese and my allotted daily lunch money was $2.00, so that was all I could eat.  I didn’t have any extra money, so I never ate dinner. A bagel a day, five days a week, for nearly two months.  That’s not enough food to live on.  By the end of my senior year of high school, I was down from 130 pounds to 110 pounds and I loved it.  And the best part?  I didn’t even notice it.  It took until after the show when my best friend’s step-mother commented that I had lost a lot of weight that I even noticed.

It didn’t take me a long time to trace back the cause to my lack of time to eat during my only high school excursion into drama club.  I didn’t intentionally not eat more, but I just wasn’t hungry.  As I went into college, sometimes, I just forgot to eat.  We were in the middle of nowhere and couldn’t randomly go out and buy snacks, so snacks were rationed to last.  The caf was only open three times a day and as usual, I regularly slept through breakfast.  I clearly recall coming out from chapel and crossing back to my dorm room somewhere around exam time and having someone ask me “are you coming to lunch?”  I responded with my usual, “No, I have a bunch to do.” Their response was “When was the last time you ate?” And I thought about it and laughed and said “Probably not a couple days.  I’ll be at dinner, I promise.”

I never gained the Freshman Fifteen, and I was so, so excited.  By the end of my sophomore year, though (I tranferred colleges) I gained ten pounds.  I was at 120 pounds.  Okay.  I could handle that.  Then this year, I made the error of getting a meal plan.  I have gained 25 pounds since September.  I’m getting rid of the meal plan next year so that doesn’t happen again (and because I want the extra thousand dollars.  And because I’ll only be on campus three days).  School food, I’ve decided, is incredibly bad for me.  And the stuff that is healthy looks like a dog threw it up, so it’s not appetizing.  In the end?  Bad choices are made.

I don’t know what to do, though.  As a result of allowing myself to eat more, I have a bigger appetite.  My metabolism is shrinking by the day.  When I’m bored, I eat.  It’s a huge self-control thing not to eat.  I know I read somewhere once that most the time that people eat, they’re not hungry, they’re thirsty.  And I know that I don’t drink as much water as I should (I average probably four glasses a day).  So I try to drink when I’m “hungry” instead.  But it still took a month to lose 5 pounds that I put back on in the time of a few days.  I just don’t know what to do that’s healthy.

Well, no.  That’s not true.  I know I should exercise and eat more salad.  But that won’t make me happy, not to mention I don’t have a lot of time for exercise.  Is there any way to lose weight and be healthy and be happy?  And not stress myself out and not hate everything I eat and not starve myself and not spend money?  Since I live in a very small house with the other three members of my family and a landlord, do not presently buy my own groceries (no space or money).  I’m going to start calorie counting more passionately.

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Weather ReportWeather Report: It was supposed to thunderstorm all day, but it looks like we all lucked out!  My brother will be pleased- he has a huge even tonight that is also a huge grade for one of his classes.  Right now, the sun is still out and shining bright, and his event starts in half an hour.  Here’s hoping the rain stays away!

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Health ReportHealth Report: See this entire entry.  In other news, I almost just caved and asked Bryan to bring me ice cream.  But he said he thinks he was going to head home.  This is good.  First of all, it is good because I will add no ice cream calories.  Second, Bryan is standing up for himself and not letting me take advantage of his heart.  Go him!

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Financi-SmashFinanci-Smash: I have $11.  That’s it. … Okay.  I have like $100 in my savings, but we are pretending that isn’t there.  I spent nearly $75 dollars at Borders last week, and I bought (finally!) my Prismacolor colored pencil set that I’ve wanted for five years… which cost me $130.  But it would’ve cost $210 if I didn’t have a 40% off coupon.  That’s no excuse, though.  $11 is lousy.  No more money spending!  Except, I’ve decided, on school expenses.  These will be my parking permit (goal buy time, two weeks.  It’s $125) and books.

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Schoolhouse RockSchoolhouse Rock: I picked up one of my reading lists yesterday for my 400-level class next semester.  There are a lot of books on it.  At least 12 books.  I didn’t count.  The good news?  They’re all around twenty dollars.  The bad news?  There are twelve of them.  That’s $240.  I mean, I guess they’ll be cheaper used and all, but nonetheless, that’s frustrating.  I had a 40% off coupon, so I ordered the most expensive one so I could start reading, but the earliest ship time is 2 weeks, and it may be as late as 4 weeks.  As soon as I have over $200 again, I’ve going to order a cheaper one that isn’t on back order.  I am happy that one of the books I’ve already read, so I can skim it.

“Nobody Here But Us Trees.”

Middle School lunch with Jon and Andy

“Always the innocent are the first victims…. So it has been for ages past, so it is now.” ~ J.K. Rowling in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone.

Wouldn’t it be nice if you could hide away from the world, and have it dismiss you?  Have it say, “oh, that’s okay, I guess you’re really not here.”  The title of the blog entry comes from the movie Bunny Picnic.  Another Jim Henson masterpiece, I grew up on that movie.  It was mine and my brother’s Easter movie (though we were firmly reminded that Easter had nothing to do with bunnies, that was the Roman’s bright idea).  Bunny picnic is about a colony of rabbits preparing for the biggest holiday of their year.  You follow the character Bean, a ragamuffin brown rabbit who is always breaking things.  Purposefully, the other rabbits keep sending him somewhere else- they don’t want his help, he’ll break something!  Eventually what ends up happening, is a dog ends up at the Bunny Picnic!  Everyone is terrified of the dog, and they’re all hiding, and he’s going to not only ruin their holiday, but eat them all!  Om, nom, nom!  They need to make the dog go away, so a lot of the rabbits hide in the trees, and when the dog asks if there are rabbits there, Bean and the other tree-ridden rabbits respond “Nobody here but us trees.” and the silly dog believes them.  Wouldn’t it be nice if life was just that simple?

Only the sad fact is, life isn’t that simple.  Everybody wants something of us.  One of my managers usually spends Sunday running around complaining that everyone she talks to wants something from her.  I can’t really argue with her- it’s absolutely true.  We really don’t have our own lives.  It’s funny, the idea of independence is incredibly ironic, because in order to become independent from our families and go out into the world on our own, we have to heap on a bunch of responsibility.  Suddenly we have rent to pay, car payments, insurance payments, groceries, utilities, things like that.  Those are financial commitments, and by the time that we’re done paying off things, we have measly pennies left to ourselves.  And what of time commitments?  Working forty hours a week, if you’re lucky.  If you’re like most people, you have a second job because the first doesn’t pay enough or the hours are inconsistent.  Usually you work between forty and sixty hours a week between the two jobs, just trying to make ends meet.  When you get home, you’re too exhausted for anything.  Or, if you’re like me, you try to pursue your passions in the little free time you have.  Maybe you’re part of community theatre.  Maybe you volunteer somewhere.  One way or the other, your calendar is full.  It’s to the point where spending time with friends is just another time commitment, and there’s no end in sight.  Whatever happened to recess?  Summer vacation?

Childhood is where it’s at.  It was an age of innocence and joy.  Mum and dad fed you and clothed you, and the worst thing you had to worry about was bullies.  Your world was the playground.  When you were on those swings, you pumped as hard as you could until you reached the top and you felt your swing bounce just a little and you knew if you went much higher, you’d flip over and get hurt.  But it was the rush of the wind that made it all worthwhile.  You go through your school work because there was the promise of recess, of weekend, of summer vacation on the other side.  That made it worthwhile.  Elementary and middle school were dream worlds.  Oh yes, I said middle school.

Middle school is what you make of it.  It could be the awkward pimply hormonal stage of life, or it can be magnificent.  You wouldn’t have to pay me to go back and relive my middle school years.  I loved them.

Sixth grade I ended up with what I anticipated was going to be the worst teacher ever, and ended up to be one of my favourite teachers ever.  I ended up with none of my friends in that class, but I was at an age when I had no issues making new friends, and I ended up with Caitlyn, who to this day (goose, ten years later) is still very dear to me.  From her, I gained Jon and Andy.  And others.  In sixth grade, we were the most popular people in school.  I can’t even begin to describe all the memories.  Shutting Jon’s finger in the window (oops, teehee), listening to Andy sing the Beach Boys all the time (he’ll deny that now), signing things to Caitlyn in class one letter at a time (to this day, I still don’t know anything more than letters in Sign Language).  That’s just the tip of the ice berg.  I could honestly keep going forever, and just about sixth grade.

Seventh grade was just as good.  Some crazy person put all of us in the same homeroom (thanks Ms. Cass and Mrs. Gitchell!!!!) and I couldn’t’ve been happier.  There were always the lonely moments (I still have a grudge against my parents for letting me go to neither Nature’s Classroom nor Sergeant Camp, but I understand now that we really just couldn’t afford it).  But there was also yard-stick battles before school started, and Groovy!  The Musical, and all the little moments.  Superrally was fun, even with our vagabond group of friends.  In seventh grade I went to see the Attack of the Clones primere at 2am, and went to school for testing the next day (I’m stubborn).  I remember walking into the classroom and Jon looking up from his test and mouthing “how was it?”.  Teehee.  And of course the marriage project.  Oh, that may have been eighth grade.  Either way, it was funny.

In eighth grade someone remedied our sixth grade teachers’ kindness and put the four of us in different homerooms.  There was orienteering, which is probably the highlight of eighth grade for me.  The looming prospect of high school.  High school changes the innocent things.  I’d still rather redo high school than be in college, but nonetheless… it made everything separate.  Everyone put up walls.  We didn’t like each other- we tolerated each other.  It could have been the beginning of the end.  If we let it.  I think that I let it.

One of the rules of high school is that you start over.  It’s a bad rule.  It should be changed.  Friends in high school are sewn together by deceit and desperation.  In middle school and high school, it’s because of commonalities and genuine interest.  After you graduate high school, you laugh and reminisce about your middle school friends, but you kindly avoid and secretly dislike your high school friends.  At least, that was the case with me.  Of the few friends I made in high school, I tolerate them.  I don’t dislike all of them, but they all feel awkward.  Like a shirt that’s just a little bit too tight.  I’m much more inclined to want to reconnect with my middle school friends.

Then again, I’ve always been one to hold on to the past.  I like my concept of innocence.  I like freedom of mind and heart.  If I could get it back, I would, but the funny thing about innocence is that it’s exclusive to children.  I can be silly all I want, watch Disney movies, hang out with people younger than me.  Those things are fun and I enjoy doing them, but they won’t give me innocence back.

R.A.O.K.s

A collectible figurine in the curio.

May 18, 2010; Chesterfield, NH: One of my mother's collectible Boyd figurines.

“God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference.” ~ Prayer by Reinhold Niebuhr.

R.O.A.Ks.  Not to be confused with R.O.U.S’, which are the infamous Rodents of Unusual Size from the movie A Princess Bride.  What is an R.O.A.K.?  Does it sound a little familiar?  Maybe it would help if I spelled it out for you:  Random Acts of Kindness.  Now what we know what it stands for, you may wonder, why is she talking about that?  It’s not Kindness Day; the next one of those isn’t until November.  Why bring up the topic at all?

The topic is being brought up because the topic has to be brought up.  It occurs to me that we don’t do Random Acts of Kindness nearly as often as we should.  I did a WordPress Search for “random acts of kindness” and my top results were about World Kindness Week, commercialism of R.A.O.Ks, and about Random Acts of Kindness Day.  I didn’t find anything about acts being performed, but preachings that they should be.  So, I figured that maybe my sample size was too small.  I went to Google.

When you Google search “random acts of kindness,” the first thing that comes up is The Random Acts of Kindness Foundation.  My first reaction?  Frustration.  Does everything needs to be commercialised?  Do we really need days, products, a foundation to inspire us to do R.A.O.K.s?  Then I found the testimonial stories.  I haven’t decided what to think of them yet.  Every once and a while, there’s a golden one, talking about an R.O.A.K. done for the teller.  Many of them are self-centered and self-promoting, which to me defies the point.  If you’re doing a random act of kindness to make yourself look good, then it’s not selfless.  Stories that claim “I didn’t punish my sibling for finding the toy they lost and I was looking for” don’t seem like a R.O.A.K. to me.  And stories that sound like a chain email could easily be fiction.

There aren’t a lot of stories on the website, and only half of them sound like legitimate R.O.A.K.s.  And all the legitimate ones are based around money (lost wallets, etc.).  That concerns me.  Do we even know what kindness is anymore?  I decided to look up the “official definition” of “kindness” in the Merriam-Webster Dictionary Online, and the definition I received was “the quality or state of being kind.”  Geez, well, that’s not very helpful?  I looked up the word “kind”, and I got “of a sympathetic or helpful nature.”  So, if we plug that into the previous definition, we get “the quality of being of a sympathetic or helpful nature.”  Well goodness, no wonder so many of those stories are based around self-promotion?  According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, all you need to be is unplannedly helpful and voila!  Random act of kindness.  That seems a little uneventful to me.

I am firmly convinced that the word “selfless” really needs to be included in that definition.  Bringing lilacs to a friend because they make you smile and so do lilacs… that’s unplanned and selfless.  Returning a wallet and taking the reward?  Not so selfless.  Returning a wallet is more helpful, yes… but it brings relief not joy.  Random acts of kindness should bring joy to both parties.  Not just a “thank God, my credit cards are still intact… I think.”  It should be the type of thing that makes you want to tell other people.  Tell other people “this complete stranger did this awesome thing,” not “hey, guess what, I got my purse back.”  I’d like to share some random acts of kindness that have been showed to me recently, just in way of saying that I appreciate them.  They have not gone unnoticed.

  • Last week, one of the ladies I work with gave me wrapping paper.  No reason at all- it had my name on it and she saw it and wanted to give me it.  I don’t know why.  I mean, we’re not really friends, but she did anyway.  That was really nice of her.
  • Bryan gave me a bouquet of Scarlet Mimis a few weeks ago, the Friday before he moved out of his dorm room.  They were beautiful and I dried some of them out to keep forever.  We hadn’t been fighting, and it wasn’t a special day, he just woke up that morning and wanted to do that.
  • Every once and a while, one of the girls I used to work with in ActingOut comes up to me, gives me a hug, and tells me I made a difference in her life.  Wow.  Way to make me feel like I’m doing something right in the world, and in that program.  I think hearing that and knowing its true it amazing, and always uplifting.  And I don’t think she realises how much hearing that means to me.
  • A few weeks ago, one of my friends gave me a stone (two, actually!) painted in nailpolish with my name on them.  No reason at all; she just did.  I named the smaller one Steve and it was exciting.
  • My mom bought baby carrots and pineapple at the grocery store last week, just for me.  It made my weekend for her to think of me like that!
  • My manager helped me doing some busy work last night in my closing shift, because he didn’t have anything else to do.  It saved me loads of time!  I think I said thank you a dozen times, but it wasn’t enough.
  • I had a customer compliment me to a fellow associate, who passed it on to a couple managers.  This is two random acts of kindness:  one from the customer, and one from my fellow associate.  It was nice of him to say it, and it was nice of the associate to pass it on, though he didn’t have to.  Thanks, guys!
  • One of my best friends stopped into work yesterday to see me, and even though I was crazy busy and didn’t even get to say “hello,” it was nice to see her, and to have her take time out of her day to say hello.
  • One of the gentlemen I work with in theatre dropped off some music cds for me to listen to for an upcoming show in his free time yesterday.  It’ll help me get ahead for the show, which is a relief for me, and it was nice of him to come out of his way to bring them to me!
  • One of my directors is pushing her husband to give me a lead role which (she doesn’t know because I’ve never told her) I really want.  She has so much faith in me, and that’s great to know, and great to have.  She’s always trying to help me improve and she’s always teaching me new things, for no reason at all but the goodness of her heart.

That’s just the beginning.  I certainly could keep going.  Those just touched the last three weeks, at the most.  People do kind things for me every day without even realising it.  We shouldn’t need an event or reason to do good things, selfless things for other people.  We should want to do them, just because they’re right.

Not to be cheesy, but have you performed a R.O.A.K. today?  Has someone done one for you?  Tell me about it!

Health ReportHealth Report: Just ate a Peanutbutter Whoopie Pie.  Those things are calorie-crazy.  Needless to say, some exercise will be required.  I’m thinking Wii Swordplay or Basketball for an hour or so, topped with improv?  Lets hope that’s enough.

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Words Worth Getting AtWords Worth Getting At:  I maintain that the typewriter is great for writing something even when I don’t want to.  In fact, it’s on my to-do list today.  After Wii Swordplay/Basketball.  I already typed up a dead-end short this morning, but it’s good to keep writing.

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Random SqueeRandom Squee: I found out yesterday that a young gentleman has made a motion to open an ice cream parlor in my hometown, fairly close to my house.  That would be marvelous.

Live, Laugh, Love.

The "L" key on my typewriter.

May 17, 2010; Chesterfield, NH: A dimly-lit macro-shot of my typewriter. The letter "L".

“A day without laughter is a day wasted.” ~ Charlie Chaplin.

Laughter is the very best medicine.  I cannot stress that enough.  Every day people are hit with a thousand things, demands for their time and money, harsh words, and other such things.  As the world moves faster and faster, people are shorter with each other.  Working in retail, I have learned that everybody has had enough of the world.  We’re running as it is and the economy keeps notching up the speed.  We’re out of breath, we’re upset, things aren’t falling into place, it’s okay, I understand.  Believe me, just because I am not you doesn’t mean I can’t feel your stress.  The strings are being pulled tighter and tighter and eventually they’re going to snap.

I hope people can go home and relax.  I don’t get the impression that they can.  In my home, my father has always brought work home with him.  Part of that is because he works in a “home office” (also known as, the living room).  The tension comes home with the job, family just makes it worse because they want something, too.  If we can’t go home and relax, how can we laugh?  How can we alleviate the tension?  It’s a matter of choice, I believe.

Work is going to be there whether we think about it or not.  When we go home, we have to be able to drop the worries about work and be happy with the people we’re with.  My friends have been trying forever (literally) to get me to live in the moment and I’m trying to do just that.  Because otherwise, I can’t drop worries about work and just sit down and laugh.

One of the reasons I have stuck with ActingOut for so long is the laughter that comes with it.  Unfortunately, it has become more work than fun for me in the last couple years, but every time there is that one improv game that makes me fall to pieces, it seems worth it.  Sometimes, I sit down and watch Whose Line Is It Anyways? marathons, because even if I’ve seen the episode twenty times, I’ll find something new to laugh at.  Maybe it’s someone’s facial expression.  Who knows.  But laughter alleviates everything.  There are so many different ways to find laughter.  Lately, for me, it’s improv theatre.

I challenge the world to put their day away when they punch out and come home and find something to laugh over, and to fellowship with friends and family.

After all, Charlie Chaplin was the master of laughter, and how can you argue with him?


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something to think about

"You know, I don't know if you'll understand this or not, but sometimes, even when I'm feeling very low, I'll see some little thing that will somehow renew my faith. Something like that leaf, for instance - clinging to its tree despite wind and storm. You know, that makes me think that courage and tenacity are about the greatest values a man can have. Suddenly my old confidence is back and I know things aren't half as bad as I make them out to be. Suddenly I know that with the strength of his convictions a man can move mountains, and I can proceed with full confidence in the basic goodness of my fellow man. I know that now. I know it." ~ End of Act I in the musical You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown.

competing for the house cup

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