Life Revised

Well, Dear Reader, it happened. We did, indeed, receive snow here in the Ozarks. But, even with six inches on the ground, I was able to get out yesterday – which is why there was no post.

But don’t worry your little soul. Even in my absence, I pondered the topic and found that thoughts swirled in my mind most of the day Sunday. So here we are today, a Monday with coffee in hand, united by a single keyboard. I’d tell you today to grab that drink and settle in, but I’m not sure I should be encouraging you to day drink on a Monday. But, you know, you do you.

I got my coffee. I got my thoughts. I got you, Dear Reader. Let’s do this. But first…

Never forget that you are fucking magic. Yes, you are. I am picking up a collective vibe that some of you may need to hear that today. So there. You heard it. Now all you got to do is absorb that shit and believe it in your core. Now, on with today’s topic.

Do you know who’s going through a lot right now? Literally, fucking everyone. So, with that in mind, why is it so hard to be kind to each other these days? And I don’t even want your finger-pointing COVID-based explanations on this, People. Really. I do not. This started waaaaayyyyyy before March 2020, and you know it. There’s a sense of entitlement in the air. Is it Mercury’s latest retrograde? I mean, Mercury does some pretty shady shit when she’s in retrograde. Still, I don’t remember reading that she turns people into assholes while cruising backwards through the Universe, ya know?

After the defeating scene at the recycling center that will forever be known as The Glass Bottle Episode, I touched on this. I mean, a dude from Canada had to show three dozen people who live in a city where the church to people ratio is about 1:13 how to be kind, for fuck’s sake. I would have thought a bunch of eco-friendly AWD-vehicle-driving hippies out recycling their fancy IPA and organic wine bottles could have been a bit more aware of the humiliation of others. Still, I guess even liberals can be assholes. Right? I mean…even I have my moments.

So, I wonder if – just for today – we could just take a moment to NOT talk about how unkind the world is and simply go over a few ideas on how to teach yourself to be a bit more kind. Shall we? Okay. Let’s do that.

Oh. I almost forgot. Grab a drink. Settle in. Here we go…

Behave like an inquisitive three-year-old. By that, I mean to ask more questions. When it comes to my personal relationships, I do my best not to jump to conclusions. I have started asking for clarification when I’m unsure how to take what was said. But I wasn’t always this way. When my ex and I started dating, he said something about my ‘thick thighs .’ I took that an entirely different way than it was intended – and was mad at him for days. Apparently, the man likes thick thighs, but I did not take it as a compliment. A lens marred by poor body image and the lack of follow-up questions significantly contributed to a miscommunication. In the book “The Four Agreements,” we are reminded to not take anything personally. So yeah. That. Don’t take anything personally and ask follow-up questions.

Say “no” more often. Look, People, can we just simplify this and declare 2022 the year of “Hell YES!”? I mean, there’s even a whole book about that very thing, but for those of you who like short reading assignments, here’s a Clif Notes thingy. The basics? If an activity doesn’t elicit a “HELL YES!!” out of you, then it is most likely “no” in some form. Worried about making someone mad if you say “no”? Well…first, get some therapy. That will help. Secondly, (Note this!) boundaried people are some of the kindest people on the planet, and they say “no” all the time. My friend, Jen, is one of them. That woman can deliver a “no” to an invitation faster than Patrick Mahomes can run to the end zone. And she does it with such intention and kindness that you almost want to thank her for turning you down. Really. I am not shitting you.

Stop being nice. Do you want to be a kinder person? Then stop being so fucking nice all the time. There’s a big ol’ fat difference between being nice and being kind. Nice people are not kind. Nice people are smarmy. I can say this because I am a recovering ‘nice’ person. Nice people ignore their needs and have poor boundaries. They are unsure of what they want so they are, most of the time, unsure of what they need. Stop that shit already. It isn’t working. I have been told all my life that I’m a ‘really helpful person’. That sounds like a compliment. I mean…helpful people are nice, right? Yes, they are. And they also sacrifice more in a relationship and don’t realize their needs aren’t met until one day they look up and know they have nothing left to give. And then they are really fucking angry. That’s a sad state of affairs, folks. So, here’s the deal: Takers will always find ways to take. Stop pushing their drug of choice on them (Their “drug of choice” is your inability to say ‘no’). I am warning you, though. It might get ugly. Drug addicts don’t like it when you stop dealing. Find your support system and stay strong.

That is it today. I thought about this post all day yesterday as I watched people stand in doorways as if they were the only people on the planet. I also realized I still struggle with each of these points when it occurred to me that I was too nice to ask them to move their fucking asses so I could buy yet another sticker for my water bottle. Thankfully I was with a really kind guy who watched all of this go down and said, “Make a path, folks, make a path.” Okay. He didn’t say that. It was more like, “Excuse us, Miss, we’re coming through” but nonetheless, I got my sticker because of him. Left up to me, we’d probably still be standing there.

So yeah. We are all a work in progress. Be kind. Love yourself. Eat dessert. And here’s your song. Like Ernest Hemingway (probably not him) always said: Write drunk. Edit sober. Life is a series of revisions. Follow your heart.

PS…if you liked this post, I would be absolutely giddy if you shared it on social media. One of these days, I plan to pay my rent with this writing gig, so, yeah, thanks.

The Glass Bottle Episode

Good morning, Dear Reader. My phone app tells me it’s freaking freezing outside but assures me it will warm up a bit mid-day. Warm enough for a quick little hike out by the lake, I hope. It is one of my favorite places in my hometown to process things – other than this keyboard, of course.

Today I am holding back – hoping I’m not going to launch into a rant but, instead, leave you with a bit of knowledge and advice. But first, I need to set the stage.

So, yesterday, I – attempting to be a good human – went to take my recycling over to the center. I’m back on my ‘no alcohol challenge,’ and this time, I emptied almost every single bottle of booze from my cabinets into the sink. (Well, {ahem}, except for two bottles of expensive whiskey. Let’s not go batshit crazy up in here.) But yes, cheap vodka, Capt. Morgan’s, every Michelob Ultra leftover from my birthday, and, the most satisfying of all…every single Angry Orchard. In other words: lots of glass.

I arrived at the recycling center feeling very much like a granola chick with a free bottle of patchouli. I opened my trunk, not knowing the containers holding said glass had shifted. And…what promptly falls out from my trunk onto the asphalt making considerable noise and an even bigger mess? Yup. All. The. Glass. After a wave of minor shock, and a few under-the-breath choice words, I went to task picking them up.

And here’s the kicker – and the launching pad for today’s blog. No-one stopped to help. A gazillion people saw it happen. Even more than that most likely heard it happen. And not one single person – at that moment – stopped to help. One dude even STEPPED RIGHT OVER a stray bottle rolling down the way. Are you fucking kidding me? Anyway, I suppose I sound angry about that, but frankly?

I’m just despondent that we have lost any decency as a human race.

Fortunately, a random dude did see the two empty bottles that had rolled under my car. He approached me later as if watching me trying to decide if I could get to them without ruining my clothes or having to move the Subby. The conversation went like this:

Aye. Need some help?” he said with an accent I could not quite place.
Um. I think so. Maybe if you have something in your truck bed long enough that I can coax those out with?”, I replied.
Naw. I’m in my workclothes. I’ll just crawl under there.” He said, getting on his belly and shimmying under the car.
Gosh. Thank you.” I said, relieved. “I mean, forty fucking people saw this happen and you are the only person who stopped to help. Pardon my French.
I’m from Canada. That’s not French.” He smiled. “I didn’t see it happen but I did see the bottles under your car and thought ‘Man, I hope she doesn’t run over those’. Anyway, glad I could help.” He said. Then he turned, bottles in hand, and jogged over to the glass bin.
Really, I mean it. Thank you. You literally just restored my faith in humanity a bit. I don’t understand how we got to be a society of assholes.
Well, I’m Canadian. We are less assholeish there.” He shrugged, got back in his truck, and he drove away. (Proving that all men who drive trucks are not dipshits. Some of them are nice.)

I bet you were wondering when I would grab him and kiss him, but whoa. Wait. This isn’t a smutty romance novel. This is simply a creepy online diary, and while, yes, he was handsome AND CANADIAN, I was still just shaking my head in awe that so many people are douchey.

I’m sure none of you are dickheads, but what I’d like to do is remind you – all of us, really, myself included – to stop being so self-absorbed. When life hands you a series of shitty circumstances, it takes no effort at all to be bitter and a bit tunnel-visioned. But honestly, let’s just assume everyone is just doing their best to make it through the day sometimes. Ain’t none of us really all that special.

Yeah. So. Grab a drink. Settle in. Let’s go over a few basics of kindness, shall we?

1) Do the obvious shit. You know, hold doors open, help people who drop things, send a sympathy card when necessary, and do that random ‘thinking of you’ text thing. These acts don’t require a degree in rocket science and, while seemingly insignificant to you, may be vastly important to the recipient.

2) Pay it forward – correctly. You know that thing where someone in line at Starbucks pays for the drink for the person in the car behind them? That’s nice, right? No. It’s utterly fucking stupid. People in line at Starbuck’s can most likely pay for their own overpriced drink – that’s why they are at Starbucks and not Dunkin’ Donuts. So how about you take that additional $6.12 you planned to give away to a person who won’t even say ‘thank you’ and give it to the poor kid who made your drink. You know…the person who has put up with shit from entitled jagoffs all day long. That person. (Who knows. Maybe that might score more points in the Karmic Universe.)

3) Do the little things. Do you know how I know when someone cares about me? They don’t just hold my hand or say nice things to me. They see me. This week was so incredibly hard—deadlines at work coupled with virtual school made for a very cranky mommy and friend. Not to mention, my son’s other half of DNA lives, idk, five hundred feet away and is unemployed. Did he bother to check it to see if he could help? What do you think? (Oh. Boy. Sometimes I brag about my ability to forgive that man, and then I’m reminded of all the reasons I divorced him. Anyway. Another blog, another time.) Back to my point: My friend took my son for a few hours so that I could run errands. My fella brought me flowers, and a random stranger crawled on the ground, under my car, to retrieve two wine bottles. These aren’t monumental acts of kindness but trust me…after a shit week…I am very appreciative. (Thank you M, G, and Canadian dude. Really.)

4) Say “I love you” more often. Now, I’m not a fan of using the L-word as a synonym for ‘tremendous like’. I get that some of you – the likes of my Aquarius and Pisces readers – are all, like, “I just love this ice cream so much! And don’t you just love this darling little candle holder? And by the way, even though I just met you, I sure do love you!” I’ve learned to tell the difference between your loves and deep likes. My point is, though, if you do love someone, fucking say it. Jeez. I know you’ve seen your partner puke, smelled their feet after a day at the lake, and want to kill them every time they chew with their mouth open. It’s even more challenging to say “I love you” when you’ve been on the receiving end of one of their bad moods. But please. Love them when they are really hard to even like. (Unless the relationship is- or borders on- abusive. Then tell them, “Go fuck yourself.” It’s a balance, really.)

Anyway. I close today with what I’ve managed to deduce after having a day to consider what will be forever known as “the glass bottle episode’. I’ve determined that I wasn’t so upset that no one initially stopped to help. I was more bothered by the fact that, at that moment, I felt unseen. I felt insignificant and unworthy. (Dang. Right?) And that hurt. But I can leave you with this today if it’s any consolation: Because of this experience, I vow to ‘see’ better, practice more empathy, and be a better human. (Except towards those who have already received all the grace I have to give. I ain’t no Saint, after all.)

And, as always, here’s your song today, my dear reader. Despite the fact that people in my hometown are self-centered, I don’t think all y’all are.

PS…if you liked this post and think others might like it too, pass that shit on. The Universe rewards people who do good things.