Saturday, April 19, 2014

A to Z: Quirky

Quirky is how I used to see myself.  Others would call me odd, weird, or just plain nuts over the years, but I never saw myself that way.  I suppose that it is normal to have a view of yourself that is a bit biased, or is that quirky as well?

Quirks just are. 

There's not necessarily a rhyme or a reason to the oddness that is me.  I didn't inherit my love of word play from a long lost relative, so genetics is certainly not to blame.  I love language not necessarily because of what it says, but for how it sounds.  Puns, double meanings, and other manipulations of the language are fascinating to me, like the inner workings of a well cared for timepiece.

But that's weird, right?  Most of the time, no one else around me catches the joke.  If I'm the only one laughing, is it still funny?  Probably.  That's another one of my quirks--I laugh at things that no one else seems to find funny.  Something falls, a person makes a comment, a dog shows up, a completely random event--and I will giggle, or outright guffaw.  It's rather embarrassing.  (I also laugh inappropriately in some situations, out of anxiety, but that's not necessarily a quirk, but a faulty survival mechanism.)

I have an almost visceral reaction to someone biting their fork, which is a quirky sort of quirk. (See what I did there?) It's like nails on a chalkboard annoying, and the sound causes my entire body to clench up as if I'm having a seizure.  This makes visits with my friend Evil Laura a little interesting; one of her quirks is to never let her lips touch her fork.  Luckily, I am as tolerant of the quirks of others as I can be.

Quirks just are. 

When I was a kid, I wasn't happy about my quirks.  I grew into them over the years, and now I believe they fit me, a well worn security blanket.  There's comfort in my quirks.  I'm sure that I'll have them my entire life, and it's likely that I'll find more them them along the way.  That's what being human is all about--the quirks make us ourselves. 

What quirks do you have?


Friday, April 18, 2014

A to Z: Parents Come In All Flavors

Perhaps I'm old fashioned.  I did grow up in a traditional household, with a mom who stayed at home and a dad who went to work.  A mom who cooked and cleaned and occasionally made things for me for various school activities.  Everyone I knew lived in the same sort of household.  No variation to the plan, all through high school.   

But the times have changed, and traditional has taken on an entirely different meaning. Parents come in all flavors, like ice cream.  In the traditional environment I grew up with, certain expectations seep underneath your skin, whether you like them or not.  Expectations about what moms are supposed to be, or look like, or sound like. 

I became a mother in my forties.  I am not a stay at home mom, either.  You would think that I should know better, be more accepting, but prejudices are like cockroaches, hiding in the shadows underneath the refrigerator.   I've had to get over a few biases over the years. Some that I didn't even know I had.    

I chaperoned a field trip last year with my son's class. One of the other moms had blue hair and several piercings.  I caught myself feeling...disapproval.  This woman didn't look like my expectation of a mother, and I got a little irritated about it.  Once I realized that I was being a bit of a jerk, I got even more irritated. At myself.  My bias was showing!  This mom was obviously very interested in her child.  She stayed with him as he walked through the pumpkin patch and helped out with some of the face painting.  If a mom loves her kid, is there for her child, who cares if her hair is blue?  The piercings I'm still having difficulty with, but I'm working on it.  I can at least smile at her without wincing. (those had to hurt! especially the eyebrow!)

I've been around many different flavors of families over the years.  Some are the traditional families, but they are becoming a rarity.  What I see most often today are single moms(and occasionally single dads) trying to raise children by themselves.  I've seen families with two moms or two dads.  I've seen grandparents raising their grandchildren, something that was completely unheard of when I was a kid.  What used to be the expected form of the family has changed.  What was, served a purpose, and that purpose no longer exists in this day.  It's time to accept that, and move on.  That includes me.

Different doesn't mean bad, no matter the flavor. There are too many children abused, neglected, or thrown away out in the world. Parenting is a thankless job, and it is not for the weak. Instead of castigating a parent because they are different, embrace them for the warriors they are.  If a person loves their child and is willing to do what it takes to raise them to adulthood?  It is all to the good.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

A to Z: Overheard

Overhearing the conversations of others is pretty common in our society today.  No matter how hard we try to pretend otherwise in a crowded setting, our brains tend to fixate on the various excitement going on around us.  It's unintentional in most cases, but eavesdropping happens.

My old office, in the early 90s, used to be one big, open room.  We did not have dividers between desks while we spoke on the phone or typed out psychological reports.  The internet didn't exist as it does today, so secret online shopping while at work was unheard of.  

I had stepped out of the BIG ROOM for a moment to make some copies one afternoon.  When I came back, one of my coworkers was on the phone.  Of course I heard every word--her desk was less than ten feet away! I pretended that I wasn't listening, to be polite. I even got out some test manuals and flipped through some pages.  (One was upside down, and I did not even notice. This is why I am not an actor)

"Yes, I'd like to order a bikini," Paulette said.  I immediately became jealous that she was a)able to wear a bikini, and b)going someplace where she could wear a bikini.  It was cold outside!


"Size 10." 


"Two-day delivery."

That's about the end of the conversation, I thought, opening a folder and pretending to read an IEP.   All the salesperson needed to do was ask if there was anything else. The call would be ended, and silence would prevail once more.  I waited.

"Yeah.  Can I get some breasts and thighs to go with that, please?" 

I admit that I turned and stared at Paulette, too surprised to pretend any longer.  She was smiling at me, not fooled for one second.  Apparently the salesperson on the other line was shocked as well; it took her a moment to respond in the negative.

"Oh well, it was worth a try. You have a good day." 

Paulette hung up the phone and we had a good laugh about it.  Then I made her tell me all about her upcoming trip.  We did not get any work done for the rest of the day, and that was just fine with us.

What funny things have you overheard?