My World Revisited

 

The post about My World was difficult to write. It made me feel vulnerable. It also made me wonder why I feel the need to be thankful for people who are not insensitive and unkind to my children.ThoughtBubble

Instead of being grateful for the times people behaved well, I’m grateful for the times people did not behave badly. It seems like the same thing, but the focus is different.

The times when people are not close-minded, rude, indifferent, or mean are so few.

I’ve always tried to change the way things are. Now I question myself. Should I continue to try to educate and enlighten people? Should I try to change the world in some small way? Or should I concentrate my efforts on home and prepare my children to venture out into this world?

I never felt like this was a decision I had to make. I foolishly thought I could do both. Why, now, do I feel like I have to choose?

 

My Sunday thoughts in 200 words or less.

 

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My World

 

This year, as always, I am grateful for the big things like the fact that I have a home, food, and clean water. I am grateful for my family and my friends.

And I am grateful for the little things, like chocolate, wine, sushi, and books.

I write this the day before I hit “publish” because I had a different post planned for Thanksgiving. Something like the Yam Sham I wrote last year.

I have to post this instead.

I want to thank:

  • the woman who didn’t glare at my son when her daughter was being loud and my son cringed and covered his ears because he can’t stand loud noises
  • the hairdresser who didn’t become irritated with my son for crying because he was uncomfortable in the chair and afraid she would cut him
  • the hairdresser who didn’t embarrass my (other) son for not recognizing her because he has trouble remembering faces
  • the waitress who didn’t scoff when my son got upset about his burger arriving with a bun because he can’t eat burgers that way (she got him extra fries after taking the bun away)
  • the child at the playground who didn’t laugh at my son when he was stuck at the top of the slide because he was scared but couldn’t figure out how to climb down the ladder
  • the woman at the grocery store who noticed my son’s shifting and fidgeting and flapping and didn’t hesitate before complimenting his patience during the long wait because it’s impossible for him to stand still
  • the man in line at the post office who didn’t ignore my children when one son spelled “antidisestablishmentarianism” and started chatting about atoms and quarks while my other son gave him a detailed weather forecast for the next ten days
  • the dental hygienist who didn’t scowl at my son when he broke down because she was new and he didn’t know her
  • the woman in the waiting room who didn’t roll her eyes when she asked my son what grade he was in and he answered that he was in 2nd but taking an accelerated 5th grade math class at Stanford University because he doesn’t understand that many people think he is bragging or lying
  • the group of boys who played with my son and didn’t mock him for flapping his hands because he was excited
  • the man at Starbucks who didn’t make a big deal that my son’s birthday cookie coupon had expired because my son needed that cookie to be a “special” cookie

Strangers. I am thankful for the kindness of strangers. People who have no knowledge of who my children are or what struggles they face. This is how the world should be. And, occasionally, this is how the world is.

I am grateful.

I don’t often say this, but when it comes down to what my world is, it is this:

Walk in the Woods

My Two Boys

This is my world. And if I can believe, even for a day, that the outside world might be kinder, more compassionate, better than I think it is, I will be happy. Because I will know that my two boys might live in a place that will not crush them.

Even as I work to prepare them and help them become stronger, I am terrified of letting them go into this world. I hope that my two boys might live in a place that will show them the kindness that they show others.

These strangers have given me hope. I am grateful.

 

Giving Thanks on Thanksgiving?

 

I understand stuffing your face with, well, stuffing. It’s yummy. And you gotta have the turkey, cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes withThoughtBubble gobs of butter, pumpkin pie… But Thanksgiving goes something like this: jam food in your mouth, watch football games, and get together with family you can’t stand. (Or maybe you actually like them—lucky you.)

There’s not a hell of a lot of thanks going on. I am not feeling the love, you know? I get that we’re not out hunting and harvesting our crops so we don’t gather around the table in appreciation of a bountiful harvest but we can still be thankful for something.

If you think about it, I know you can come up with one or two things you are grateful for. I just know you can.

More and more stores are selling decor with “Give Thanks”, “Be Grateful”, and “Happy Harvest” for Thanksgiving. I like it. It makes me feel all warm and fuzzy. Like a wicked soft sweater. Hey! That’s something right there. Soft, non-itchy sweaters. See? Easy.

Those simple statements say so much. Give thanks and be grateful, gentle readers.

P.S. If you’re feeling in the spirit of all that is good and covered in gravy, leave a comment with one thing you’re grateful for. Pick something, anything, and be thankful for it.

 

My Sunday thoughts in 200 words or less.

 

I’m an Online Bartender

 

When I bartended many moons ago, I stuck to the (possibly antiquated) rule of not talking about politics or religion. I kept the conversation light. Superficial.

It worked for me. After my shift, I left with a purse full of tips and my sanity intact. I didn’t take my work home with me. (Which, as a bartender, you really shouldn’t. Unless a rep comes in with free samples of a new raspberry-chocolate liquor. Those you bring home.)

Drunken conversations, disagreements, arguments, anger? Why would you want those in your head while you’re trying to get to sleep at 4 AM?

I’ve seen a few bar brawls in my time caused by “discussions”. It’s really not a good idea to drink and talk about volatile issues. In fact, one can drink a few margaritas, make a cutting comment about another person’s shoes, and that can lead to a fist fight so what might talking about religion lead to? Go ahead and give that a moment’s thought.

I have coined a new term: “Online Bartender”. I’m not going to mix you a martini. (Get your own drink and meet me back here.) I’m also not going to discuss politics or religion or current events. Bet you saw that one coming.

If a person (like me, for example) does not write about the latest news on her blog, tweet about current events on Twitter, or use a trending hashtag, it does not necessarily mean that said person doesn’t know or care about these issues. She may. She may not.

Personally, if it’s a celebrity’s new nose job or fabulous $500 pair of jeans, I don’t care. If it’s brutality, war, poverty, injustice, abuse of power (in any form), I do. Very much. And you will never know about it. Because I won’t discuss it. Not even if you ask nicely and send cookies.

I choose not to write about my opinions on religion and wars and abusive sports players and school shootings and terrorism. It doesn’t mean I don’t know about these things, it means I don’t use social media to talk about them. I work through my feelings in my own way in my own home. I discuss news stories with my friends and family in real life. That’s just me.

Although…

I do happen to know that some other writers, bloggers, and tweeps also feel this way so, before you judge a person for being ignorant or uneducated or callous, please do remember that some people are Online Bartenders.

 

Do you discuss politics, religion, and current events online? Do you keep quiet on social media and talk about it at home?

 

Sometimes I Wish I Were a Goose

 

ThoughtBubbleI love seeing geese in autumn—their long necks bright white against the blue sky, wing tips flashing bits of black as they fly in V formation. I watch them until they are tiny dots.

I love the sound, too. Most people I know think geese are noisy and annoying.

And what do we teach our babies when we’re trying to get them to talk? “A cow says ‘moo’”, “A horse says ‘neigh’”, “A goose says ‘honk’”.

Honk? Well, that’s unpleasant. Honking reminds me of a loud bicycle horn or some driver who’s ticked off, slamming the steering wheel, and flipping me off.

Geese have a deep yet loud resonance with a touch of high-pitched squeak mixed in. It’s kind of indescribable. But I think it’s beautiful.

I also love that geese are taking a journey, migrating to a warmer place. I wonder… Do they know exactly where they’re going or only that, wherever they are flying to, it’s a better place for them?

Sometimes, when I’m watching their V formation, I wish I could instinctively migrate to some place that was better for me.

 

My Sunday thoughts in 200 words or less.

 

Common Courtesy & Calling People Out

 

The other day, I was walking into a building. (This is thrilling, I know!) It was a courthouse to be exact. I had jury duty. The man in front of me didn’t hold the door. Now, I don’t need a knight—I’m no damsel in distress. But I was directly behind him so, when he let that door go, it slammed right in my face.

I opened the door, stepped inside, and said something like, “Gee! That was nice. Thanks for holding the door! Much appreciated.” As I was taking off my watch to walk through the metal detectors, I heard a voice say to the man, “Oh! Good morning Judge Quincy.”

This was not good for me. And maybe I should keep my little comments to myself. However, just because you’re a judge or some other “important” person who wields power, does that mean you are excused from being considerate and civil? (Pun intended). Hell, no. Superman? Polite. Captain America? Polite. And they are way more powerful than any old judge.

Okay, so that’s a funny little anecdote that I simply had to share because… Well, imagine the look on my face. Anyway, it made me think about my intolerance for people who lack manners. Also, about my rage frustration when I see someone disrespect another person.

I’m one of those people who comments on others’ behavior or says something sarcastic—you know the type. Type me. Rude.

I’m also a stickler for common courtesy. (I know. It’s a conundrum.) I certainly could never be mistaken for Miss Manners, but if you can’t take 3 seconds out of your life to acknowledge others around you and act appropriately, I get a bit bitchy.

How difficult is it to say “please” and “thank you” or hold the door for someone or smile? Had a shitty day and don’t feel like smiling? Got it. Been there. Doesn’t mean you scream at a cashier because your coupon expired last week and she can’t give you the discount. Or whistle at your waitress and point to the fork you dropped. Dude. Really. That’s just wrong on so many levels.

I overtip a waitress who’s been mistreated and joke with a cashier who’s been yelled at. I’ve also been known to offer an irate customer the fifteen cents she would have saved with the coupon. That makes me giggle inside. Yes, I know. Rude.

I try to let my irritation out in small snippets. It may not be the best solution but it helps me feel like a boiling tea kettle rather than a bag of microwave popcorn. Those are perfectly apt analogies. Let’s move on.

When some kid pulls stuff off a shelf, throws it all over the floor, and the parent tells them to leave it – someone who works there will pick it up – I want to throw my bag of frozen peas at their head. But since I’m so nice, I say “Oops! Look at all those things you accidentally dropped! Do you need help picking them up?”

When someone elbows me out of the way to get ahead in line, I make it my mistake. “Oh, I’m sorry! Didn’t mean to bump you. Excuse me!” As I said, I’m one of those people.

Is my attitude just as bad as their behavior? Maybe. Maybe not. You can label me a trouble-maker. But I like to think of it as a form of meditation. I’m calming my inner Hulk.

What do you do in these situations? Do you feel more like the Hulk or Hello Kitty?

“Roar!” Meow.”

 

It’s a Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood

 

When I was growing up, there were people who lived next door and down the street. They were called “neighbors”. (Pronounced NAY-bers.) I talked to the grown-ups and played with the kids. They knew my name, I knew theirs. I stayed with them after school if my parents weren’t home.ThoughtBubble

After writing a post about Halloween being cancelled, I started looking at every house on my street. How many of these folks did I know?

What kind of wine do they like? Do they take sugar in their coffee? What are their names? I bet you know where I’m going with this, you clever readers.

I don’t know the people who live on my street.

A few wave to me while walking their dogs, others glare at the dandelions on my lawn or point to the peeling paint on my garage but that’s about it.

Forget asking to borrow a ladder. If I locked myself out of the house in the dead of winter with my pajamas on, I’d get a frost-bitten ass before knocking on any of their doors. There is no sense of community. These people are strangers to my children. What has happened in one generation?

 

My Sunday thoughts in 200 words or less.

 

Serendipity, Social Media, & Sunday Brunch

 

I wanted a sketch for my blog.

Nothing fancy. Just a pen and ink drawing. I asked the only person I knew who could do this. Quite easily, too. I thought he was actually going to do it. I wanted so badly for him to come through for me. But he didn’t. Or wouldn’t. Or couldn’t. I don’t know. And so it was with much disappointment and upset that I fell into a silly hole of self pity. I needed a big, fat helping of get-over-it.

What I received instead was an email. It was from a fabulous tweep, Geoff Le Pard. He had no idea I wanted an image for my new blog. When what to my wondering eyes did appear? An attachment for me and a note of good cheer.

Over Sunday brunch, Geoff and his nephew were discussing a post I had written about social media. I mentioned that when I do too many things at once, they all suck. Especially when the things I still needed to do were piled on top of my head. Lisa Reiter commented that this would make a great cartoon. Geoff’s nephew, who I will call Peter (because that is his name), happens to be an artist. While eating an apple crumble, Peter quickly scribbled an image of what he imagined my life to be. Scribbles by talented people can be quite impressive. That is what arrived with Geoff’s email.

Serendipity is such fun.

I cried. Then I sent a gushy email back about how wonderful they both were and how the timing bordered on magical.

With a few minor alterations (like adding lots of wine and getting rid of some of those roundish metal things with handles that go on the stove), the drawing was perfect.

I am so grateful to Geoff and his nephew, Peter, for providing this incredible image. For me. To use however I wish. I feel like Cinderella. Without the dress or shoes or pumpkin carriage… Okay, I don’t feel like Cinderella at all. It’s the fairy godmother thing I was thinking of. Bibbidi-bobbidi-boo!

Sarah Brentyn Parenting Posts

Isn’t she awesome?

Geoff said to think of this as a random act of kindness or a pay it forward. And so I will. But what can I offer? I can’t draw so sending a beautiful work of art to you is out. I can drink coffee while getting my shoes on and blowing an 8-yr-old’s nose. (Not helpful, but true and pretty impressive if I do say so myself.) Going through the list here… I can play Mary Had a Little Lamb on the piano. If I try really hard, I can probably fail fifth grade math. Oh, hell, I’m talentless.

Here’s what’s going to happen. If you comment on this post, I will randomly choose one of you for a pay it forward. I will send The Chosen One a brand new copy of Matchless by Gregory Maguire (bestselling author of  Wicked, Lost, Mirror Mirror, and many other fantastic novels—he’s brilliant). Matchless is a retelling of Hans Christian Anderson’s “The Little Match Girl”. I read this. I loved this. I bought extra copies of this (for friends, family, and apparently an unforeseen give-away).

Matchless

“Matchless glows with aching beauty…An eloquent retelling…A wonderful gift.” – Huntsville Times

The Peter Le Pard Pay It Forward:
This is, of course, international. Last date to enter a comment for the book is November 12th. I will contact the lucky recipient via email and will make a goofy announcement in the comment section. 🙂

 

…Not As I Do

 

ThoughtBubbleI love wine.

Beer and coffee, too. Oh, and salt. I especially love those sea salts and rock salts from around the world. But I digress. These are grown-up things. When my kids ask if they can try coffee, I say “no”. When they ask if they can grind some pink Himalayan salt on their mac-and-cheese, I say “no”.

Why? Because too much salt is bad for you. Why do I use so much salt? Because it’s yummy… But that’s not the point. What is the point? Wait, what was I saying? Do as I say, not as I do.

I was thinking about this the other day—how unfair it all was.

Is it really, though?

I know parents who strive to set a good example, saying, “We don’t eat salt in this house” or “We don’t drink alcohol in this house” and I’m sure their children benefit from having such great role models.

Meanwhile, my kids get stuck with a mum who drinks beer and wine and coffee and uses too much salt. But, hey, I also drive. Because I’m a grown-up.

I missed the frickin’ memo about not being allowed to tell your kids they’re too young.

 

My Sunday thoughts in 200 words or less.