I’m Afraid the Grass Isn’t Always Greener

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

This past week was the 75th anniversary of my elementary school. Let’s get this right. It’s the school that’s 75 years old, and, just to be clear, I wasn’t there in its inaugural year. Unfortunately, I wasn’t there this year either. Not because I didn’t want to go. After careful consideration I figured it was just too long a hop from this little Island of mine for two hours of nostalgia, reconnecting and trying to inconspicuously glance down at people’s name tags just in case I actually could remember who they were. Because even though I wasn’t able to attend, I am guessing that, like me, they too no longer look the same as they did the last time I saw them. Which was probably in the vicinity of 1965. Let’s face it, a lot of things change over 50 odd years. Which got me thinking, as oft is the case, that as much as we are encouraged to embrace it in all facets of our lives, change, in and of itself, is somewhat overrated.

Don’t get me wrong. I’ve embraced plenty of changes in this little lifetime of mine. Like writing this blog. Only five years ago I wasn’t writing it and now I am. And how about those moves. Two of them. Took me right smack across the country. First to one of the coldest and then one of the most moderate climes in this vast land of ours. If that’s not change, well I just don’t know what is. There are other things too. Instead of bell bottoms I wear skinny jeans and I rarely enter a store to get them. I type rather than write all of my correspondence. Can’t even remember the last time I bought a stamp. I no longer have to call my friends to find out what they are doing, where they are going, who they are with, what movie they just saw, where they were last night, or what they are “liking” on any given day. With just one click I’m going to find out all of this and more. Whether I want to or not. If I must say so myself, I’ve adapted quite nicely. And yet, having successfully navigated my way through decades of change, I still contend there’s something to be said about the benefits of consistency. Honestly, in this world, some things are just meant to stay the same.

Why, you ask, have my thoughts about change started to change? Well you already know this but there’s nothing wrong with saying it again, as a shallow person I’m pretty laid back when it comes to, well (al)most everything. So when some friends suggested coffee at “someplace new” I thought “Ok, I can try someplace new. What could be so wrong with that?” Looking back at it now of course I should have known better. But there was something enticing about the thought of exploring this new city of mine which is chock full of funky little places to enjoy a cuppa. To make a long story short (and how rarely do I do that?) we traversed many a mile, stopping periodically at various establishments but never finding one that had that je ne sais quoi we apparently were seeking.

It was hard to put a finger on it. I was pretty sure they could all quite competently make my grande, no foam, non-fat, latte even though, no doubt there would be a tinge of disdain as those words so eloquently and effortlessly rolled off of my tongue. I suppose I should learn to say “medium”. Besides, if truth be told, I’m no coffee connoisseur so as long as there is lots of milk in that latte of mine, I’m good. Which is why I am pretty certain it wasn’t about the coffee. I can’t in all good conscience, say I am exactly sure what was happening. The first place we set foot in was too bohemian, the second too avant garde and the third, well the third just didn’t feel right. As we continued on our rather unsuccessful quest we finally and somewhat reluctantly conceded that the grass really isn’t always greener and sometimes that place where “everyone knows your name” (they pay those Baristas to learn your name you know) is where you need to be. Sometimes there’s just no substitute for that comfy chair by the window at your same ol’ same ol’ stompin’ grounds. And sometimes I think my Mother (remember Mom? She just hit the big 101) hit the nail on the head when she admonished me to leave well enough alone.

So you can see why these days I’m giving the whole “change thing” a second thought. I don’t know. Maybe it’s because as I get older I just know what I like and what I don’t. Maybe it’s because some things will always be more comfortable than others. Like a chair that molds to your body when you slip into it. Or that pair of shoes you’ve tried but simply can’t throw away. Or that favourite pair of jeans. Yep, that favourite pair of jeans. Even if they are bell bottoms.

Tagged , , , ,

Fit to a Tee

t-shirtsNot so long ago I arranged to have coffee with a dear old friend of mine at the local chain establishment that has become so prolific in the last few decades. I’m sure you know by now there’s nothing new or startling about that, which is why, when he strode towards me in his rather prominent Che Guevara tee, I took some notice. Mostly because I had never thought of this dear old friend of mine as someone who subscribed to the revolutionary thinking of the fella portrayed on the shirt. With my curiosity peaked, and resisting the temptation to raise a fist in solidarity, I had to ask what precipitated this rather surprising and, from my perspective anyway, newfound allegiance. Without hesitation, but with a detectable twinkle in his eye he replied, “It was on sale at the Bay”.  Which, as is apt to happen, got me thinking about “tees” and why people wear them.

You see, I like Tees. For a whole bunch of reasons but primarily because they make it so easy to get dressed each and every morning. I mean what’s to think about? Want to show off the tan? Pick white. Feeling a little plump? Black will take care of that. Add some jeans and you’re done. Simple. What’s not to like? But lately I’ve been thinking more and more about the real value of wearing a tee. Not in my own case, which as you can see, is fairly straightforward. But for other people. Because, from where I sit, other people seem to have a more complex relationship with their tees than I do. And it’s all more telling than you might think.

It seems to me that tees are, for some at least, not only a reflection of “the self” but also a way in which to express one’s likes and dislikes to the world. In some ways, I suppose, it’s the social media of yesterday. I mean what a great way to let people you don’t know and who don’t know you learn about how you view the world. Think about it. There are the proverbial sports tees that let you share with your part of the world your favourite team and pretty much what you will be watching on TV for most of any given season. Then there are those travel tees that you pick up to prove to people who don’t know you where you chose to spend most of last year’s salary. Of course we would all be remiss if we didn’t, at least once in awhile, wear a tee from our alma mater, and if not our own, at least one from some Ivy League school that we can pretend we attended. Or one with a giant pic of the rock star we always thought we could be, or be with. And while affinity tees say a lot, they’ve got nothing on those much more expressive tees with actual sayings on them.

You’ve seen them. They’re the ones that display the profound thoughts of our icons of the past and present. Perhaps the people who wear these tees are more introspective than I, but I do still wonder if they believe that simply because they are wearing the words of Aristotle “To perceive is to suffer” across their chest, that people will think they actually know, and more importantly, understand what he meant. Or that in some odd way they share with Churchill the notion that “When the eagles are silent, the parrots begin to jabber”  just because they put 20 bucks down on a medium red with white lettering.  Having said that, I will admit that these days I just might take a few steps back from someone wearing a “Make America Great Again” tee just in case they really mean it.

Truth be told though, if (and that’s a very big “if”) I ever decide to take a detour and go down this road, it will be for one of those “in your face”  tees because if you’re going to say something to the world you might as well say what you mean and mean what you say. Like the other day, in that proverbial coffee shop of mine, I saw a young woman wearing a “I’m having a shitty day. Does that answer your question?” tee. You gotta know, the last thing I’m gonna do is strike up a conversation with that gal. Or talk to the person who got up that morning, looked through their closet and with everything else they had to wear chose to don their “I don’t like morning people, or mornings, or people” shirt because, as a shallow person, I can relate to that. And me being me, I have to give them credit for being open, honest and to the point.

So here’s what I’m thinking now. Maybe I could get myself a couple of those tees that became so popular during the Brexit hoopla. I’d buy one that says “Leave” and another that says “Stay” because who needs to take sides at this point? Besides, I keep my clothes for a long time and need something with staying power. Just think how handy those would be when…well I’ll just leave that to your imagination. In the meantime, I’m going to see if I can pick up a couple in black and white.

Tagged , , , ,

This is not a shallow blog

letterNo, I’m afraid this is not a shallow blog. Some of you may be a little surprised. You may even think it’s a little sappy. But it’s not. Although fortunately it is uncharacteristically brief. It’s an open letter to my Sons, from a very proud Mother. And I’m posting it on this little soapbox of mine for all to see.  

Dear Sons (sappy or not, I never name names in my blog). You are grown up now. That happened much more quickly than I ever would have imagined. Mostly you managed to do this on your own but I like to think we helped you a little along the way. It’s true. There were times that we yelled when even we knew we shouldn’t have. Hovered when we should have walked away. Walked away when we should have stayed. But there were also times when we got it right. Like sharing with you the importance of accepting others no matter where they come from, the colour of their skin, who they worship or whether they worship at all, or who they love to love. That each person’s history is a part of them that deserves respect. That life is not always fair but you have to do your best to try to make it that way. And that sometimes you have to stand up not only for yourself, but for others too. Even when it’s easier not to. We let you know there are never any guarantees and one never knows what life will bring but sometimes things work out pretty well. Like the two of you. And the proof, as they say, is in the pudding.

Because both of you have turned out to be the best sons any two parents could hope for. Both of you have faced challenges from which others would have walked away. Quickly. As a matter of fact, there were times that others thought that was exactly what you should do. But you didn’t even though it would have been easier. Much easier. You stood tall when others thought you should kneel. For one of you, the challenge came early on. Wise beyond your years, you stood your ground when others tried to pull it out from under you. For the other the bump came a little further down the road but you managed to navigate your way through it. In both cases you stood up not only for yourselves but for others because you truly believed that what you were fighting for would make their lives better too. Even though you knew the consequences. And there are always consequences because, it seems, in this world of ours we blame the victim to save ourselves. Which makes standing your ground so much more difficult than walking away. Turning the other cheek. Letting bygones be bygones. We all know that to be true. It’s just that so few of us have the courage to do our best to make things right. Like you do.

So this is just to let you know how proud we are of you. That we will never stand behind you. Rather we will be with you, up front and centre. Always. And forever.

Tagged , ,

I’ll Settle for a Million or Two

sale-tag-1205009By now there are two things about me I am certain you know. The first, that I am shallow and proud of it is, I would think, fairly obvious. After all, it is rather unlikely that I would have spent the past four years writing this blog if that wasn’t the case. The second thing to which I am pretty sure you would agree, is that I have some experience being associated with a person who is much more famous than I. And let me tell you, four years puts that phenomenon to shame. I mean who would have thought that 45 years ago, give or take a few, when one of my classmates joined me in the school elevator singing “People” in a way that made it clear he had discovered some kind of connection between me and that particular ditty, it would be a precursor of what was to come? Since that first “sighting” of course,  I have become accustomed to the various rudimentary impressions of such favs as “Memories” and “Don’t Rain on My Parade” (honestly, who could?), in the same way that over the past four years I have become quite comfortable in my role as the “shallow gal”.  At least I was until a couple of weeks ago when something quite unexpected happened. And it was right out of the blue.

I suppose one should always be cautious about becoming too comfortable in life. We see it all the time in the movies. Or the soaps. You know how it goes. Your favourite character has an unfortunate accident while on her way to find her long, lost brother. Left with amnesia, she spends the next year working as a store clerk in a town not so far from her own until one day, finally, that brother, who by the way has been happily living in her house for the past year (well why not, it was empty after all) walks in and, although he hasn’t seen his sister in forever really, sees himself in the store clerk’s face. He hesitates for a moment, decides it can’t be true but nonetheless, returns the next day. Realizing he might just as well be looking in a mirror he knows, in his heart of hearts, that it simply must be her. It takes a few days of sharing stories from their checkered (to put it mildly) childhood but after much convincing, he finally gets her home, gets her better (not such an easy feat) and life is good for them both. They spend the next three years bonding, remembering the good times forgetting the bad, making up for time lost. Life is comfortable but you have that nagging feeling that when things get too comfortable, something not so great is bound to come along to stir that pot of theirs and inevitably it does.

(My husband some times tells me that these treatises of mine sometimes get a little derailed. I never said this train ran on a track in the first place. Trust me. Eventually this is all going to make sense.)

My guess is that by this time most, if not all of you have heard something about Mr. Donald Trump. Clearly we all know that he is interested in becoming the President of those United States of America, but it wasn’t always so because Mr. Trump, or perhaps I’ll call him “The Donald”, has done many things in his life to date. Most recently we learned that “The Donald” gained some notoriety from starring in a TV show where teams of celebrities compete in a series of rather inane tasks for which they are mostly ill prepared, culminating in one or more of them being “fired”.  From what we are not really sure as most of them are not actually gainfully employed anyway, which possibly is the most reasonable explanation for why they agreed to go on the show in the first place. And I don’t suppose I have to tell you that before all of this hoopla, “The Donald” built many an empire. Like you, I knew all of this but never really thought much about it, or him, until recently when a dear friend of mine brought the following quote to my attention:

“Whenever I’m making a creative choice, I try to step back and remember my first shallow reaction. The day I realized it can be smart to be shallow was for me a deep experience.” (D. Trump, 2004). 

Hmmm…so now it’s me and Mr. Trump. As you might well expect, this revelation jolted me right the heck out of that comfort zone of mine. I mean, it’s one thing to consistently come up with witty retorts to that age old “do you know who you look like” question but quite another to find yourself sitting in the same haystack as “Mr. T”.  Let’s face it. At best it’s a rather dubious distinction. Somewhat perplexed by the whole thing, I was left wondering what to do next and that’s when it happened.  The idea just popped into this little head of mine. As distressed as I was about my new celebrity association, I got to thinking. Mr. Trump has a lot of money. At least much more than I have and one day he’s bound to realize what a good idea it would be to have a website in which he could wax eloquently about the creative benefits of being shallow. He’s going to need a catchy name for the site. I’ve got what he needs. So Mr. Trump, give me a dingle and we can negotiate. I won’t be greedy. I’ll settle for just a million or two. And make no mistake. I will be really comfortable with that.

Tagged , , , ,

To go or not to go…It’s a question

reunionPlease don’t get me wrong. I’m not insinuating that any of you are shallow just because you read this blog. I know that many of you (and by all accounts there are “many” now) just want to know how the other percentage (small as it may be) lives. You’re curious and that’s ok. I mean, from the very beginning it’s what this blog has been about. At least I’ve always thought of it as a little window into the life of a shallow person. Sometimes you can see your reflection in a window, sometimes not. I suppose it all  depends on how the light falls. Having said that, something has recently happened to me that I would bet my bottom dollar has also happened to you. Because, like me, I’m guessing that each and every one of you attended elementary school. And this comes as a result of that.

As usual, before I get to the crux there’s a little something I have to say. For the most part, I have spent the time since elementary school, and there has been a lot of it, pretty much minding my own business. It’s not that I don’t think about my preparatory alma mater once in awhile.  I’ve even been known to take a drive by when visiting the old neighborhood, just to see if, like me, it’s still standing. It’s just that in the intervening years I have moved from my hometown, not once but thrice, each time substantially further to the west. As a matter of fact, at this point I’m just about as west as one can get in this coast to coast to coast country of ours and with each of these moves the chances of casually bumping into someone from the “good ol’ days” has substantially diminished, along quite frankly, with my memory.

It’s not that I have completely divorced myself from my long ago past. Of course I’m on Facebook and, as one or two of you know, there have been a couple of “blast from the past” moments where me and my former clarinet band mates have had a chance to get together to share some notes. But those connections have been few and far between leaving me, for the most part, with little recollection of my first grade teacher or the popcorn man or even whether I was chastised by Mrs. Elder for not having my sneakers as white as they should have been for gym class. Ok, clearly that one I remember. So with this in mind, you will understand how surprised I was to find out that this year is the 75th anniversary of my elementary school. (No, not my 75th, just the school itself.) And to discover that yes, there is going to be a reunion.

I don’t know about you but as a shallow person my head starts to spin just a little as I consider the implications of this event. It might not surprise you that one of the first things that crossed my mind was my closet. I mean just what might I have in that closet of mine that I would want someone who hasn’t seen me for the better part of 50 years to see? Keep in mind that I was raised in a rather tony part of the big city where parents regaled at the thought of having their six to twelve year old children wear a uniform lest it inhibit their fashion sense.  Oh boy, it’s all coming back to me!  Apparently I didn’t have as much at stake as others may have as now, with most of my days spent working from my home office on this laid back little island of ours, it’s a bit of a stretch to find much beyond jeans and a tee on those hangers of mine. Hence the conundrum. Does one  “come as I am” and not betray thy inner self, or would a trip to the local boutique to drop a bundle on some designer duds which, might I add, are likely put together in the same precarious third world building as that tee of mine, be in order? Honestly, as a shallow person I can go either way with this one. But that’s just one of the many questions that have popped into my head upon learning of this impending get together.

Like who’s going to recognize me anyway? Not that I’ve done anything in particular to look different. There’s been no cuts and tucks, no needles and pins in this face of mine. Heck, I’m lucky to take the time to draw on a couple of eyebrows every morning. Astonishingly, my hair is the same colour as it was way back when, but even so, I’m pretty sure time, in and of itself has taken it’s toll and there will be those who must  inconspicuously glance down to my “Hi, My name is ________”  tag that no doubt we will be asked to don upon entry.  As will I to theirs. Bottom line, if neither one of us truly knows who we are talking to is there really a point to all of this? I mean if I really want to talk to strangers I might just as well amble on over to my fav Starbucks, sit down beside someone who appears to be around the same age as I am and start up a conversation about times past. I won’t even have to worry about making that trip to the boutique.

As you can see this whole thing has caused me much consternation. So now, if you don’t mind, could you put yourself in my Toms for a minute or two and help me as I struggle with making the decision that underlies everything else. To go or not to go? Because, it seems to me, this really is the most important question of all.

Tagged , , , , , , , ,
%d bloggers like this: