Monthly Archives: July 2012

What am I doing wrong?

Magazine rack from RYoung and more I find myself having to defend my status as a shallow person. There are those who perceive my introspection as being incongruent with what I profess to be my true nature. I have gone to great lengths to counter these accusations, providing clear definitions and understandings of life as a shallow person and even subjecting myself to a rigorous grading process which I am pleased to say I passed most handily. And I think if someone were to have a reread of this blog to date there would be little doubt that I have made my case. As a matter of fact, when Kev and I first shared our plan to write the shallow blog with a close friend, his immediate response was “I can’t think of two better people for the job!” and we took that as a compliment. But now it would appear that doubt runs deeper than even I had imagined and at this point I am at my wit’s end as to what to do about it.

This new obstacle was brought to my attention on my recent return flight from New Orleans where I found myself buckling into a seat beside two very nice ladies, one perhaps much younger than the other, both likely much younger than me. As I am want to do, I struck up a conversation with my closest neighbor and as conversations go, this one was both congenial and illuminating. I discovered that my new friend (I like to call her that) was a scrapbook consultant returning home from a scrapbook convention where she learned about all of the new and upcoming trends of her craft. Now I can’t say that I have a a great deal of experience in her world but I have never been averse to learning new things, so I listened. She explained to me all of the “ins and outs” of scrapbooking and I asked what I thought to be reasonable and engaging questions. As she told me how she masterfully arranges all of the photos and artifacts in her home I thought better than to mention that when my children were in their elementary years I had politely requested they refrain from bringing home their “artwork” as I had no where to put it, not to mention that I have a particular disdain for fridge magnets. And all went well, or so I thought, until she pulled out a stack of magazines and offered the younger woman in the window seat her choice from the pile. As I sat quietly anticipating my turn to have a look at what was left, she turned to me and said, in the nicest sort of way, “you don’t seem the type to read trashy magazines” and then proceeded to put them back into her bag. So there I was, left straining to read the headlines on US magazine before Ms “Generation Y” turned each of the pages.

That’s when I knew I had a problem. What was it I wondered, that made my scrapbooking friend think I was somehow above reading all the latest dirt from tinsel town? Me who has every episode of Glee on my iPad just in case there are no “romcoms” playing on the inflight entertainment system. Me, who can rhyme off the names of the most recent bachelors and bachelorettes along with their chosen mates. Me who takes solace in knowing there are people who need to lose more weight than I do and are willing to go on TV to prove it. Does she not realize that I am the one who writes a blog about being and becoming shallow? How could she be so wrong? How could I look so wrong?

So now it’s time for me to take stock. Is there something about my round, tortoise shell glasses which, although quite fashionable, transform me into a rather bookish looking gal? I can take those off. Are my lucky jeans that I always wear on the plane but never anywhere else, causing me to appear a tad out of date? If they are I can make a different pair of jeans lucky. Or do people mistake the rainbow Star of David pin I wear on my jean jacket as support for some sort of obscure cause? Honestly, it was a gift. I don’t even know what it means! Whatever it is something has got to change, and quickly. I’m looking for your ideas and suggestions because if I don’t figure this thing out soon I’m afraid I’m never going to find out which stars were caught walking on Rodeo Drive without their makeup on.

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Things I learned at the Conference

Just back from a hot time in the “Big Easy” and I mean that in the most literal way. Boy, was it hot! It’s been more than thirty years since I have lived in a humid climate and I was painfully reminded of why I left. The oppressive heat hits like a brick each and every time you walk outside while the blast of cold air as you enter the always over air-conditioned buildings sends shivers up your spine. You change your clothes multiple times each day knowing that after a few short minutes outside you will feel the need to change them again. Although you have every intention to drink in all the sights, sounds and smells of this truly amazing city, you find yourself longing for the comfort of your hotel room, a cold drink and some rest for your tired and blistered feet. And while you would think that together these harsh realities would be enough for me to find myself craving the cool, dry air of my prairie/mountain town, none of it holds a candle to the real reason for my discontent. No, the truth of it is, the most distressing part of my stay in the deep south was my inability, no matter how hard I tried, to maintain my naturally curly locks in the manner to which they and I have become accustomed. I’m afraid there is no product, no appliance, no amount of effort that would allow me to recreate the no fuss, straight bob I so enjoy when I am north of the 49th. And that, my friends, is possibly the most important thing I learned at the conference. Indulge me while I reflect on some others.

Things I learned at the conference in New Orleans:

  1. Vegan food is only meant to be eaten by vegans.
  2. When visiting Youngwood, PA drop by TGI Fridays but be on the look-out for long, pointy things. (Thanks to Annette for the tip.)
  3. Got a bookshelf to fill? Try using the colour block method of selection. Your room will look great, you can buy in bulk for less than 2 bucks each, and you may even find a good read among the bunch.
  4. Quote from a presentation: “Starbucks is more than coffee; Amazon is more than books; iTunes is more than music.” Wait, I tried the smoothie at Starbucks. Take my advice and stick with the coffee.
  5. Who would have imagined that talking to a 17-year-old kid from Flint, Michigan would be the highlight of my three days among the eLearning elite. Okay, so that’s not such a stretch after all.
  6. 1600 sorority women at your hotel, all dressed in blue and yellow, is not “a good thing”.
  7. Some of the toughest looking people are really nice and some of the nicest looking ones are not.
  8. Apparently there are still people who don’t know the difference between SWAG and chotskies so I’ll explain. SWAG is good. Chotskies, not so much.
  9. While southern hospitality is divine, my hair and I will always have a strong preference for the west coast.
  10. What’s so magical about the number 10 anyway?
  11. Even a shallow person knows that there’s no such thing as a “free drink”.

Oh, you thought I was going to talk about the sessions? Come on people! Have you not been reading this blog?

While I’m here I’d like to give a “shout-out” to designer extrodinaire Wade, for the nifty new logo.  Let me know what you think.


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You don’t say!

Since I am currently on my way to a conference and facing the “goes without saying” obligation to network, I thought this would be an appropriate time to introduce one of the key skills I have cultivated as a shallow person. Wait, perhaps I should take a step back and admit that this one characteristic, which I have spent many an hour perfecting, has perhaps done more to cement my status as a shallow person than almost anything else I have done. I can confidently say that mastering this skill has served me well in a multitude of situations I have encountered over the years. I know you are wondering what in heaven’s name I am talking about so let me explain.

As I see it, no matter how hard we try, in everyone’s life there comes a time when it is necessary to engage with people we have no real interest in. Now I may be shallow but for the most part I like to appear to be a decent human being. That doesn’t always come easy so I have developed a mechanism by which I am able to appease both others and myself as I make my way through the maze of unavoidable interactions. Some of these are simple encounters; it’s summer and you’re out gardening and you know your neighbor is going to come over to talk about your current crop of dandelions and how you might try getting rid of them and you really have no intention of ever doing so. Others are more complicated; like when a person that you vaguely recognize walks up to you and starts talking about your kids, job and mother-in-law and you are pretty sure that given the depth of their knowledge you must know them but can’t recall how or why or, at this particular moment, even their name. And then there is the apex of all encounters, the conference, where there is more than a little expectation that you will meet, greet and not only have conversations but intellectual ones with people you have only known for moments and more than likely will never set eyes on again, and all you really want to do is sample the hor d’oeuvres and hightail it back to your hotel room.

So how does a person such as myself navigate through a world of social obligations without losing their identity? In the shallow vernacular we like to call our technique “feigning interest” and while I am sure it is not unique to our world I think it is fair for us to take credit for openly recognizing and naming this most useful of all skills. Yes it’s true, I have perfected this art and without further adieu I’d like to share these tricks of the trade with you.

Feigning Interest “how to’s”:

  1. It’s back to the mirror (remember Forgetting…it’s an art) to practice your “I’m excited to see you and make you think I want to learn more about you” smile.
  2. At the same time you’re going to need to acquire a complete set of verbal and nonverbal social cues. You might want to start with: “uh huh”, “yep”, “you don’t say!”, a cute little chuckle, and a knowing nod of the head.
  3. Those verbal cues work especially well when the interaction takes place on the telephone. Used right, you should be able to get oodles of work done with minimal interruptions.
  4. When faced with someone whose identity has eluded your memory you’re going to need a believable greeting . Try, “Long time, no see” or if you suspect you may have bumped into them more recently go with “So how’s it going?” even though you have no idea what “it” is.
  5. Prepare some generic questions that can be used in most every encounter. Be careful though as a wrong turn here may cause you to appear more interested than you actually are, resulting in a prolonged and completely meaningless conversation. You will never get that time back.
  6. If you have to network at a conference, always keep your eyes open for someone you vaguely know, gesture them over while mentioning how much they know about whatever it is you are talking about, enthusiastically introduce them to your new friend and then quickly excuse yourself leaving the two to carry on without you. Consider it a win-win.
  7. Always have an exit strategy in your back pocket. You can prepare some closing remarks in advance or feel free to use this tried and true favourite of mine, “This has been great and I’m really sorry I have to scadoodle. Let’s do lunch sometime”. Word of caution: Some people will take this to heart and actually try to call you for lunch. Unless you are a glutton for punishment you better have a contingency plan for that as well.

As with all things worth doing, this too will take some time to do well. My advice is to stick with it and it won’t be long before you too can enjoy the advantages of uninvested engagement.

Now I would be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge that my dear friend Kev (remember Kev? The shallow guy I had lunch with for all those years) helped me to elucidate the aforementioned steps. This is the first time we have worked together on the blog and, as usual we laughed until we cried . And, of course, we talked a little:

Me: So Kev, looks like we did pretty good with this one.
Kev: Yep.
Me: Maybe we could do this again sometime.
Kev: Uh huh.
Me: You know now that we have actually worked together I’m going to go out on a limb and suggest that while we are equally shallow I just might be the nicer one in this duo.
Kev: You don’t say!


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