In Due Course

Does anyone even remember the list of courses that were mandatory ones in their curriculum in high school? Were there any subjects that stand out in your mind as being crucial to your well-being as a functioning adult? Didn’t think so.

You learn life skills by living your life, not by signing up for a crash course in life skills 101. It’s one thing to make up a budget on paper based on a minimum wage job, a sad little apartment, public transportation and the rationing of milk and shampoo. It’s another thing entirely to actually live that life and wonder where your next meal is coming from and what you’re going to do when your shoes finally wear out. Lectures on money management and domestic skills and family planning can’t hurt, but they also can’t prepare a high school kid for all the eventualities of real life.

Some kids are already living that hand to mouth life. Others will never understand the concept of being without if they live for a million years. And the rest are somewhere in the middle where not everything is handed to them on a silver spoon, but where there are still some things that will never be theirs unless they learn to work really hard to get them.

What is sadly lacking is knowing the value of things, understanding sympathetically, becoming aware, and developing the power to bring about positive change.

How do you teach appreciation, empathy, compassion? Kindness and courtesy? Reverence and respect?

There’s no course in the world that could cover all that. These are things that must be taught by example, and learned by experience. We can’t stop the critical introspection, but maybe we could re-direct the results. Self acceptance is something a teenager fights for every day. If we can help with that first small step, the rest will fall into place. But it probably won’t happen in high school. More likely it will take a lifetime.

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Raiding Closets

Although Lady Gaga’s closet might be a lot of fun to raid, I don’t think I’d find anything in there that would fit me. Or that I would want to leave the house wearing unless I’m intent on getting myself arrested or committed.

Much safer and more sane to pick someone closer to my age, I suppose. I think Judi Dench is an amazingly beautiful woman, inside and out. She proves it’s not at all impossible to have wrinkles and grey hair and still manage to look like a million bucks. Helen Mirren is another lovely lady who always looks perfectly put together. I’d take advice, fashion and otherwise, from either one of them. But I’m also glad I really don’t have to worry much about how I look since there’s never a lot of people buzzing around me snapping my picture for some magazine or posting it on the internet. How stressful would that be? I just try not to embarrass my children. Not saying I always get it right, but I do make a bit of an effort, if only so I won’t stand out like a crazy person in family pictures.

Personally, style-wise, I’m in a rather deep ‘black with silver accessories’ rut and can’t get out. Mostly because I don’t really want to, except for the occasional deep purple or dark blue which is comfortably close to black and therefore grudgingly acceptable. It’s all about comfort really. I know crocs exude their own special fashion hell, but they’re the most comfortable thing I’ve ever put on my feet and that’s why I wear them.

Black pants, black shapeless long or short-sleeved soft-knit shirt, silver earrings, purple watch. That basically describes my entire wardrobe. I might raid a celebrity closet, but then I wouldn’t be able to blend into the background unnoticed and unremarked. So probably Judi’s clothes are under no threat from me.

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Perfect Weather

How often do we get perfect weather here? Absolutely every day.

It’s always perfect weather for something.

Like taking a walk in the pouring rain. Carrying a bright red umbrella, splashing through the puddles and breathing in the fresh clean air.

When the wind is strong and the sun is hot, I hang my laundered sheets and towels outside and watch them billow and snap and dance on the line. Later when I gather them up in my arms and carry them inside they smell like heaven.

When its dull and overcast and cool, it’s perfect weather for throwing some comfort food in the crock pot, lighting a couple of scented candles, curling up in a comfy chair with an excellent book.

When it snows and blows and is dismally cold, that’s the perfect weather for digging out those fuzzy red socks with the reindeer on them that I got some long ago Christmas and swore I’d never wear. If I’m really lucky, I’ll also stumble upon the matching fuzzy red sweater and scarf that came with them.

When thunder rumbles and lightning flashes in the night sky, I love to sit in the dark and watch it through my rain streaked windows. I know some great, spooky, blood curdling stories. If you’ve heard them before, I can make up more. This is the perfect background weather for sharing spine chilling tales.

Tornados are great for hiding in the basement under the stairs. I’ve lived through one, and if there’s ever another, it will be a good time for learning to more fully appreciate nature’s powers. While I sit quietly contemplating the odds of an afterlife.

And really, no matter what the weather is like – hot, cold, wet, dry, not co-operating with whatever activity I’ve planned – it’s always the perfect topic for starting a conversation or filling up an awkward pause. The perfect reason to whine and complain, with no expectations on anyone’s part that anything at all can be done about it.

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Stupid Contests

Would you ever participate in a food eating contest? What kind? How much do you think you could eat?

Well this is one of the weirdest prompts ever. The only reason I’m answering it at all is because it will be my 198th answer and I would like to see “You’ve written 198 answers” under the “Your stats” heading. Then, for all you math impaired people out there, what that means is that I will have two more answers to go to reach the magic number of 200 answers written. One hundred was a mind-blowing accomplishment, so I expect double that to be doubly so. I’ve always suspected that I could blather away ad nauseam on any number of topics, and I think 200 posts is certainly proof positive that I was right about that, if nothing else.

And here’s another ‘stat’. Approximately one out of every 7 questions has actually been worth answering. That means I have made 28.1429 posts which have been vaguely interesting and worth reading since my relationship with Plinky began. You could go back and read them all and figure out which ones they are if you want. I can’t seem to drum up the motivation to do it.

So, let’s discuss this hypothetical contest. What kind, they want to know. Are there really different categories of competitive food eating? Like speed eating, the eating disorder challenge, the cheesecake tournament, the dog eat dog match of the century? And how much do I think I could eat? Oh, I don’t know. My weight in frozen yogurt maybe? I guess I could say any bizarre amount of anything since it’s supposed to be what I ‘think’ and therefore there can be no wrong answers.

But let’s be serious for a moment. The terms and conditions under which I would participate in a food eating contest are as follows:

1. I have not had any solid food for a week and I am starving. To death. To the point where dead bugs are starting to look tasty.

2. The prize for winning is a bazillion dollars and a dream home in the Galapagos.

3. The prize for participating is a million dollars and a beach front villa in Lemery Batangas.

4. The food is not hot dogs.

5. The event is not televised and my real identity is never revealed.

So, I guess what THAT means is – the answer is no.

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Filling In the Blanks

Once again I’ve managed to skip a week of prompts and decided to play catch up.  So it’s not a full-blown cop-out,  merely a semi blown one.  I am very good at those, and as everyone knows, one should always do what one does best.

You have ten minutes to interview a celebrity.  Who will it be?  I have no idea, but if I’m actually doing this it is under duress or at gunpoint or because of a death threat.  But if any celebrity would like to interview me, I’m fine with that.  The ten minute time limit is good, since then there would be only one question, because God knows I can blather away about being completely unknown and without any real talents or accomplishments for way longer than that.  I’d pose for pictures too.  And look for myself in the tabloids to see what kind of garbage lies they had to come up with to make me interesting.

List the cities you would consider moving to in the future.  Aquitaine or any similar seaside resort in the south of France.  Puerto Baquerizo Moreno in the Galapagos.  Edinburgh Scotland.  London England.  Marrakech in Morocco.  Montego Bay, Jamaica.  The list is endless, really.  Get me an atlas.

What is the best live musical performance you’ve attended?   Strangely enough I’d have to say Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.  With Donny Osmond.  Way back whenever it was at the Jubilee.  I don’t get out much.

What are your favourite things to photograph?  Ha.  You’re asking a grandmother.  One guess.

Ever won a contest, giveaway, lottery?  Nothing big, but I’ve won small things.  The one that immediately comes to mind is from a sort of field trip I was on with the Women’s Institute to which my mom belonged.  I can’t remember why I was tagging along, and I could not now name the place.  It was some kind of rehabilitation centre.  Not for criminals, but maybe for the mentally ill.  I remember being mildly excited to get a glimpse of real live crazy people.  If that was even what they were.  I was young, and obviously not paying attention.  We were given a tour, and one of the therapeutic activities that was pointed out to us was the manufacturing of stuffed animals by the patients.  Or inmates.  The resident nutballs.  There was either a door prize, or some kind of draw, and that’s what I won.  A little fuzzy yellow and white thing that could have been a dog sitting up on its haunches looking rather pathetic and sad.  I named him Delmore.  The first three letters were the backward initials of my current boyfriend, of whom I wanted more.  Who says teenagers aren’t deep.

What was your childhood dream job?  Marine Biologist.  But when I found out it involved dealing with oceans and aquatic creatures, I changed my mind.

Music for the Road

The best type of music to play while driving is something you can sing along to at the top of your lungs. It may not be pretty, but it will definitely keep you awake and your mind off those road trip snacks which are almost impossible to open with one hand and get crumbs all over the upholstery and down your neck. Belting out those vocals is hands-free. And relatively safe, unless you get totally carried away by your own incredible talent.

It’s a definite plus to know all the words. Or at the very least, be able to make them up as you go along. Hit those high notes! Or not. Who cares? Nobody can hear you. Practice those latent harmonizing skills. Throw in some crazy background vocals. Do you stare at other drivers at a stop light? Of course you don’t – so nobody is staring at you either and there’s absolutely no need to interrupt your own brilliant performance by humming while pretending you’re not.

The music I remember best is what I listened to in my teens. So I tune into a radio station that plays the golden oldies; perfect for this golden oldie. Hearing myself get the lyrics right is kind of astonishing; sort of like when I’m playing Trivial Pursuit and the right answers seem to pop into my brain without any effort at all. (Okay, I admit that happens RARELY, but it does happen.) I don’t know why I know all the words to every Lovin’ Spoonful song ever written but it is what it is and I’ve resigned myself to the fact.

Sharing my dubious ‘talents’ with the rest of the world would probably be mortifying, for everyone. My car acts like a little sound proof box on wheels. I can crank up the volume and turn up the bass and suddenly I sound amazing. Passengers, unfortunately, seem to ruin the acoustics and curb the enthusiasm somehow. Best to do this on your own. And if it’s a long trip, think up some plausible reasons for your croaky hoarse throat before you reach your final destination. Damned air conditioning or something like that.

I’ve tried audio books, talk shows with phone-in participation, classical stations and easy listening – they all lull me to sleep. Whereas my brilliant one woman concerts keep me focused and alert. Plus they’re funny as hell. I’m almost sorry you can’t share them with me, but keeping them private is probably for the best.

Poor radio reception? No problem. Five cd’s of Rod Stewart singing the American standards along with one jumbo pack of red licorice (no crumbs) and I’m set. You’d be surprised at how fast those deafening miles fly by.

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Mea Culpa

Do I think I deserve an apology that I haven’t yet received?

Oh, probably. I often feel hurt or wronged or on the receiving end of rudeness. When I get all pouty about something I try to consider the source, and then come up with one of two conclusions.

Either I am being overly sensitive and touchy and need to suck it up and get on with my day, or….

…..the other guy is a totally insensitive heartless stupid jerk, and whatever he said or did wasn’t necessarily personal. In which case I still need to suck it up and get on with my day.

There are people out there who, if you tried to explain to them exactly what was offensive and why, wouldn’t get it anyway.

And insincere apologies are worse than no apology at all. When you demand an apology from someone who then obediently says “I’m sorry” what he really means is “I don’t think I did anything wrong and I don’t get why you’re so bent about this, but what the hell, if an apology makes you feel better, here ya go. Suck it up and get on with your day.”

Then there are the people who say they’re sorry CONSTANTLY. For EVERYTHING. Knowing they can say or do whatever they want as long as they apologize for it later. Insensitive jerks.

Do I owe any apologies that I haven’t yet given? Well, if I do, please clue me in because I have that insensitive jerk side of me going on sometimes too. I have been known to screw up on occasion. And even if I don’t think I’m wrong, it has never killed me to at least say “I’m sorry you feel that way. I’m sorry I hurt your feelings. I’m sorry this happened.” I would mean that sincerely. And then I would sincerely hope that you are able to suck it up and get on with your day.

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