The Unmaking of a Shallow Person

take-the-high-roadHonestly, I never thought it would come to this. If there was anything I was ever committed to, it was my commitment to being shallow. Flashback five years ago. Way back then I prided myself on having spent one whole week writing this blog. One. Whole. Week. Never in my wildest dreams did I think I would still be here five years later. Five. Years. Later. (I’ve never truly understood why people do that but what the heck.) I know. You’re going to remind me that paying my 24 buckaroonies every year around this time was at least half the reason I stuck around. Perhaps. But I truly believe it was more than that. I had a mission. I wanted to share with people what it was like to live life as a shallow person. I wanted them to know that it was ok. That one could live a rewarding and meaningful shallow life. I went so far as to let people know that it was possible to be shallow and sad, shallow and irritated and even shallow and a little scared. It was this dedication, this steadfast belief, that kept me going, posting each and every week, and then each and every other week and finally each and every month. What I didn’t anticipate those five years ago, was that it is not possible to be shallow and angry. And that’s what I am now. Angry.

Some of you are going to say “I told you so”. You’re going to confront me with some alternate facts. Facts that you think are definitive proof that I was never really all that shallow in the first place. You’ll label me a “so called” shallow person. You’ll tell me that the very act of writing this blog, of being as introspective as I have been about my shallowness, is testament to your point. That my deep thoughts about being shallow are the very antithesis of what I have professed to be over all of these many years. To you I say balderdash! Because whether you think I’m shallow or not is entirely beside the point. If I think I’m shallow then I am shallow. Sure, you might have evidence to the contrary. So what? I have better evidence that I am, or at least that I have been, shallow for the better part of my life. And I know this to be true. I mean would a person who is not shallow admit to having watched almost every reality TV show (and let me tell you that’s a very big number)  that has ever been foisted on the viewing public? Including “The Apprentice”. Before Arnold. Face it. I saw Omarosa get fired not once, but twice and even though I may have missed that lucky third time, I do believe that I have made my case. And now I expect you to think so too. And anyone who tells you different, well they’re just wrong. Probably getting some fake news from some fake person from somewhere fake.

Sorry folks. That last paragraph was just too easy. Perhaps even a little self-indulgent. It’s just this. From where I sit (literally) it is very clear that these are troubling times. The fellow that’s now calling the shots (or should I say fellas) seems to be more than a little problematic. He’s caused me and a whole whack of other people reason for concern. On very many levels. From this vantage point I would have to say we are in a kind of  time machine heading at warp speed towards the 1930s, to a place on this planet that many of us are not going to enjoy very much.  This is a guy who doesn’t trust the mainstream media, doesn’t trust the “negative” polls (which at this point would be most of them), doesn’t trust a majority of the people who live on this earth of ours, certainly doesn’t trust his political opponents, and really doesn’t trust those who have been entrusted to uphold the laws of this land of the free and home of the brave. On the flip side he does seem to trust the guy who thinks he has disguised the white supremacist movement by renaming it the “alt-right” (does he think we don’t read?) as well as the current leader of Russia who I understand might not be as trustworthy as our fella seems to believe. And here’s the thing. It’s really, really hard to be shallow when the guy at the helm who trusts almost no one can’t be trusted to do, well pretty much anything we might actually want to have done.

Perhaps not surprisingly, all of this has made me angry. And, I have to be honest with you, a little less shallow. I have abandoned “Survivor” for CNN. “The Voice” for MSNBC. I feel as though if I ran into Anderson Cooper on the street we would be on a first name basis. Rachel Maddow might as well just move in. In the past 3 weeks I’ve learned more about the U.S. Constitution than I ever expected to know and I think, if given the chance, I could probably take a reasonable stab at arguing the “merits of the case” with regard to the recent stay on the Muslim ban. (Did I say “ban”?). Quite frankly, this whole thing has pretty much turned my life upside down.

All of this, as you can plainly see, has led me to the crossroad on which I now stand. How do I continue to write about being shallow in a world that deserves some very serious attention? How do I ignore the alternate facts, the discrimination and loathing that I now see every day? And that’s when it occurred to me. This is my blog and I can write what I want to. If I want to write about being shallow, I can. But if, as has happened today, I’m feeling a little less shallow and I want to write about that, I can. I’ve written about non-shallow things before and it hasn’t worked out all that bad. As a matter of fact, people seem to like my non-shallow posts. I know that’s true because I see the numbers. And let me tell you, they’re fantastic.  Huge. Really huge. But you’ll just have to trust me on that.

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Shallow and a “Little” Scared

prairie-roads-1220316Well enough time has passed and I think I can talk about it. You know by now that, come January, we gravitate to more moderate climes. In past years we have done so using the most efficient if not, admittedly, the most environmentally friendly mode of transportation and it takes about 5 hours, give or take an additional hour or two in some airport lounge along the way. Flying may not be my favourite activity but barring extended and extensive periods of turbulence (in which case all bets are off), deep in my heart I’m pretty sure that when I board that airliner I’m going to debark safely at my intended destination. But that was not the case this year. This year one of us said to the other “so how about we drive down south?” to which the “other” foolishly responded “good idea”. Because while this “other” doesn’t mind hitting the road, especially since we are doing so in the cutest little buggy ever, she (that’s me) really only likes to drive the blacktop when the sun is shining and the roads are clear and dry. And believe me, that was not the case on any of the seemingly many days we spent making our way down to where the turf meets the surf. Which, and this is not an “alternative fact”,  made me just a little scared mostly because I happen to like being on this side of that pearly gate.

Now people are going to tell me there are lots of things to be scared of that are much worse than driving in the rain, ice and snow in a tiny little car. Like spiders. Lots of people seem to be afraid of spiders. I’m not sure why. To me spiders are just little creatures, with lots of legs, who make quite lovely and intricate homes for themselves. Ok, I suppose they do use those homes to catch unsuspecting other bugs who unwittingly venture into their webs and, I imagine, quite unceremoniously become delectable morsels to be enjoyed for a late night repast. But unless you’re my friend Wade who has chosen to live among some of the more treacherous members of the species, you’re probably not going to suffer any harm from an encounter with that Daddy Long Legs who decided to take up residence in your basement. Certainly (and this is from my perspective) it’s not worth stomping out his rather precarious life when we know full well that doing so will no doubt result in the proverbial downpour I’ve mentioned above. At least you won’t find me making that trade-off any time soon.

Then there are clowns. I’ve mentioned this in the past but that’s no reason not to include them here. Some people are afraid of clowns. So much so that there’s even a name for it. Coulrophobia. You can look it up. This fear I kind of get. Let’s face it. There have been some pretty scary clown like figures around in our time. Like the Joker. Not the nicest guy and unless you are a superhero of some sort, probably not one you want to bump into when taking the garbage out at night. And more recently, those people who for some unknown reason decided it would be a hoot to dress up as creepy clowns and scare the bejeezus out of little children.  But let’s put those aside for a moment. Most of us encounter clowns under happier circumstances. Like at a birthday party, or the circus, or even at the rodeo, which, if you ask me, has much scarier things going on than clowns. These are happy clowns. They do tricks, hand out balloon animals and generally do their best to make people laugh. Given the choice, I’d rather watch a clown slip on a banana peel than find myself sliding my way through a sea of black ice.

Ok, I know. There are plenty of people in this part of the country who will tell you there are way scarier things than spiders or clowns or even driving in the rain. The fellow who has taken hold of the reigns in this neck of the woods seems to have sparked a whole new level of fear amongst the people. In many cases they are scared because they don’t really know what he will do. Then there are those who are scared because they do know what he will do. Certainly women are scared they will lose control their bodies. Immigrants are scared they will have to leave the country they love and call home. The LGBTQQIP2SAA (I do my best ot be inclusive) are scared of losing the rights they fought so hard to obtain. Some people will tell you they are scared that they will no longer get the facts but rather something called the “alternative facts”. Others think the “real” facts will be scary enough. Everyone is scared about how the world will react to the policies that are designed to keep America great again. You don’t have to hit me over the head. Millions of people right across this world of ours are marching in the streets to let us know just how scared they are. I can honestly say that, even though I’m a shallow person, it has become quite clear to me that at this moment in time there is no shortage of things to be scared about. 

With that said, I’m starting to think that maybe driving in the rain and snow isn’t so scary.  I’m also starting to think that perhaps I should be more than just a “little” scared.

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Welcome to Canada!

tooniesYou may have noticed. I’ve been a little tongue-tied lately. Or, as my friends from the far east of this great land of ours might say, gobsmacked. As most of you know my heart’s desire was to have this blog go viral. Four, almost five years down this long and winding road I have come to the conclusion that it’s just not going to happen. And I’ve made peace with that. I’m ok. Really ok. The thing is, over the past month or so I have spent much time reflecting, and at times feeling just a little reticent, about having shared my thoughts and deep, inner musings about living life as a shallow person. Because it seems, and I say this with as much humility as I can muster, the world has in fact listened. Don’t ask me how it happened. How the message leaked out. I’m certainly not going to point fingers in any one direction. Maybe there’s some kind of cosmic force unbeknownst to me that has its finger on this world wide web of ours. Whatever the case may be, given the events of the past few months, it’s impossible not to notice. It is a shallow world after all.

I’ve said it before and, as has been the case in the past, I will say it again. I like (and may God bless them) the United States of America, so much so that I spend a somewhat significant part of my year within those borders. Mostly because it is much warmer there than here. But also because the people I’ve met are lovely and the produce is cheap and mostly local. That’s the nice thing about Southern California. Well not just that. I mean where else can you pretty much know when you wake up each morning it’s going to be 72 degrees and sunny. And that you’re going to spend that 72 degree day walking along a seemingly endless beach stopping every once in while to let the gentle waves wash over your warm and sandy feet. And those sunsets. Nothing can compare to watching the sun bid us goodnight bathed in all of its red and orange splendor. Nope. There’s not much to complain about when it come to Southern California. Which is why I’m getting out my Nexus pass and that passport of mine and making my way down that magnificent coastal highway once again.

But there have been rumours. Yep, there have been. Since that rather surprising (to some although not so much to me) upset that occurred a month or so ago to our neighbors to the south, I’ve heard rumblings. Particularly from the left side (depending of course on which way you are facing) of this rather vast continent. And it’s not just about people wanting to move to Canada. Sure, Babs says she’s on her way but so far our paths haven’t crossed, and let me tell you, I would know if they had. It’s about entire States wanting to become part of the “true north strong and free”. States like Washington and Oregon and yes, my very favourite of the lot, California. Imagine that! I think we need to give this some serious consideration. In one fell swoop we would more than double the population count of this country of ours. I mean think about it. There could be a province that would actually really hardly ever get any snow. Where our kids, like theirs, could take surfing as part of their P.E. program in school. Where we could grow avocados in our backyard. Avocados! Where you almost never have to wear socks. Have I ever mentioned that I hate socks? I’d say it’s a win on our side for sure.

Here’s the catch. It’s not all that easy to become a Canadian. After all, if it was there would probably be more of us. I know. I’ve been one for my entire life which is why I feel eminently qualified to share some tips with those who are right now, as we speak, weighing their options. Because there’s nothing like being prepared. So, let’s just say it happens. The morning after the “big event” you’ll have to remember that 72 is now 22 and 100 is only 60. Coins are much heavier than paper. Pop is not your Dad. And I’m sorry to have to say it, but you’re going to start saying “I’m sorry” more than you care to think. On balance though, it’s not such a bad deal. You can go to the doctor whenever you want, you won’t go bankrupt sending your kids to school, and, let’s not forget, you woke up today 35% richer.  So just say the word and we’ll roll out the red carpet. Welcome to Canada! I think you’ll be happy here. To be honest, it will make me happier too. You see if this all works out I might feel a tad less guilty about all of the shallow stuff currently going on in this world. And not just that. I won’t even have to renew my passport next year.

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I’m Afraid the Grass Isn’t Always Greener

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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.

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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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