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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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I Need Some Motivation

keyboard-question markEvery year around this time I get thinking about what motivates me to write this blog.  Obviously as of late not much has, which is perhaps why I began to wonder in the first place. Not to mention the fact that it’s time, once again, to pony up those 24 buckaroos for yet another year of sole ownership of the “shallowbemyname.com” address on this world wide web of ours. I’ll just bet there’s a line-up of people waiting for me to miss that deadline. The thing is, it’s not like I need to be writing the blog to fill up my day. Let’s face it. Between work, coffees on the patio and my rather “annoying even to me” Candy Crush habit, my days seem to be remarkably full.  And while I do have a fanbase, small as it may be, it’s not like anyone has rung me up lately to ask when I’ll be making my next post available. Of course I continue to hold on to the faint hope that one day this little hobby of mine will gain some traction, but to date, I certainly can’t say that the prospect of  fame and fortune is the raison d’etre that keeps these fingers waltzing (well in my case it’s more of a polka as I jump around not always knowing where I’m going or where I’ll land) across the keyboard. 

I suppose there’s something to be said about sharing one’s perspective on life with others. Not that I would ever try to change anyone. The truth is though, when I embarked on this journey I did have some concerns about the amount of time and energy people spent seeking meaning and purpose in their lives. Now don’t misunderstand. I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with asking the big “what am I doing here anyway” question from time to time. We all like to think that there’s a place for us in this world to make a difference, even if it’s an itsy-bitsy little one. But it seems to me that people have a tendency to get carried away with their eternal soul searching and like it or not, it can get somewhat depressing at times. Here’s the thing. For all intents and purposes, most of us only live once, and with that reality in mind, perhaps it’s not such a bad thing to let go of the “meaning-making” and be a little shallow every once in awhile. Just live a little. And since I know something about that, I suppose I should share. After all, it’s what my Mother always told me to do. And while I’m more than happy to give it my best shot, I can’t imagine that’s reason enough to keep this project going.

Of course there is the thrill of knowing that people from all over this world are somehow finding their way to my meanderings. Don’t get me wrong. I’m under no illusion that they all get here intentionally. Even so, it is interesting at times, to speculate about exactly how they landed on the site. I mean who would have thought there were literally dozens of people, from both near and far, seeking advice on how to have a conversation with their hairdresser. Or what not to say to when they bump into someone who looks like a famous person, but isn’t. And as exciting as it might be to think that I can reach out and have a modicum of influence in this rather limited sphere, I do sometimes worry about the impression that a shallow person might make in the far reaches of this world which, if anything, would give me pause rather than inspiration to write on any given day. 

This whole venture has turned into quite the puzzle and, if truth be told, one with which I continue to struggle. Just what is that elusive je ne sais quoi that motivates me? But all of this thinking has not gone to waste as I have come to realize that I seem get most of my ideas rather serendipitously.  A comment made in passing, an inconspicuous gesture, or an otherwise run of the mill life event that triggers an idea in this shallow little head of mine.  So, (get ready) perhaps it’s my fascination with humanity that keeps me keeping on. The intricacies and complexities that make each person unique and special in their own way. Possibly it’s my deep-seated need not only to understand but to fully immerse myself in the very essence of the human condition. Maybe that’s what keeps me going.  And yet, something inside of me thinks that doesn’t quite hit the nail on the head. 

That’s it. I’ve dug as deep as I can and have come to only one conclusion. Really I should have figured it out at the get go. It was right there, staring me in the face all of this time. There’s one thing and one thing only that keeps me writing this blog. For the fifth year in a row I have put down my 24 bucks. And apparently for this shallow gal, that’s motivation enough. 

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