Friday, March 27, 2015

Midwestern Suffocation

After a weekend of traveling the friendly skies I have noticed some… annoying traveling habits of fellow flyers. There are those that crack their gum, those that shuffle cards for three hours (WTF?!), and those that disclose their life's story. 

I usually sit beside the latter of the group. In my family we call this the Asher Curse: where the world by one glance deems that you are a wise sage and have the answer to why their marriage fell apart or how to get through their next bout of depression. Personally I think the world can't afford therapy but somehow when they're trapped on a plane in an overbooked flight it's a great time to unload!

I've learned to enter the plane with headphones, apologizing to the talkers that I need it for the air pressure on my ears. Occasionally I sense nervousness from the person beside me and then we talk to take their mind off the rocky flight. And sometimes there are just delightful people to have conversations with. 

Unfortunately the guy behind me is not having this scenario. He has many strikes against his getting a nap in: he's British and therefore a novelty to all Midwesterners/Southerners (I'm in Texas right now), he's in the center aisle and therefore no chance of escape, he's sitting next to a conservative and elderly military guy with countless stories and opinions, and he must have left his headphones in his bag (doh!). 

If I run into him in the bathroom line I will attempt to run an op and ease him into weaning himself out of cauliflower ear for the rest of the flight. I might pretend to have run into him earlier and give him a new pair of earplugs (I carry a stash). But for now, he'll have to just suck it up and take one for the team because he's on his own. 

I noticed when I was in the teeny tiny Kansas airport there was what is described as a friendly Kansan. Now most Kansans are friendly but this is over the top. She talks to EVERYONE in sight, asking them all sorts of generic and personal questions and sharing every single thing about herself. She assumes an instant bond and sits beside you keeping the conversation going. This is the person that will ask to change seats to be near you and want to exchange addresses to be pen pals. I left her to use the restroom and she had befriended another, wondering aloud if Dallas (directly south of us) is in the same time zone. 

Oh my. Time for headphones. 

I have changed so much. I used to be a milder version of this girl but now I respect that people share and converse at their own pace. I can sit and have a lovely conversation and never exchange names; it's not always necessary. Or I can go without talking at all. So now instead of finding this friendliness well… friendly… I see it as invasive and somewhat inauthentic. I hope this girl has a safe and uneventful flight, good luck in her midterms, and a wonderful time visiting her boyfriend of three months in Colorado. However, I will forgo friending her on Facebook and I hope she doesn't internalize this. 

On the other hand, the guy next to me wants to change seats? Sure, whatever. The kid across the aisle wants to use the empty bin above me? No problem. The guy behind me wants to bring me into the conversation with the Tea Party guy? Oops sorry, I've got earphones and can't hear you. 

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

All About Women

Happy International Women's Day!! What a perfect time to celebrate. I spent the weekend on the anniversary of my Mom's passing with several strong and wonderful women who helped mold and shape the person I am and celebrated my mom- a woman who taught me unconditional love and the kind of woman I want to be. I'm also at a crossroads in a relationship where I'm wondering what the balance of compromise is: when is it not enough and when is it too much?

And just as it always does, Life provides an answer. I was scrolling through Facebook this morning as I was getting ready and came across a post from Nuno Bettencourt. If you're into 80s metal bands you'll recognize this gorgeous rocker. If not, you'll want to. He posted the following statement: 'Strong women don't play victim, don't make themselves look pitiful, and don't point fingers. They stand and they deal.' I agree with every word but it's what he said to preface that moved me:

"Ladies… today is International Women's Day. 
It's your day to be celebrated, recognized, and acknowledged. But for all of us men, it has to be every day that we celebrate you. 
Guys… the real power of a man is in the size of the smile of the woman sitting next to him… show your love and admiration for your girl, your woman, your mom every chance you get. They are your equal and need to be respected as your equal. Kiss them every chance you get. Squeeze them really hard. Don't take them for granted…
Empower them and they will empower you back. Cheers to all the amazing women around the world!
#internationalwomen'sday #partners #powerful #love #admiration"

Can I just add a couple of hashtags to the mix? #Loveitandloveyou!! #madrespect #wherearethemenwhothinkthisway?? #goodheavensareyousingle?

Okay, so I don't have the whole hashtag thing down but I do know how amazing it was to come across that post. I read it to my sister and she was impressed, calling it a rare example of emotional maturity. It made me question whether emotional maturity is an innate and therefore inevitable point for people to come across or whether this is a chosen and/or hard-won path. 

I would think that Life's curve balls would force one into maturity but then Wendi pointed out several examples of people of all ages- people we know very well- that never reached it and probably never will. This is a humbling lesson and also a wake up call. If you are surrounded by people that are emotionally immature, i.e. they don't compromise, they're full of absolutes, they run from problems or adversity, they are close-minded... they may just stay that way. Eek! 

I think the only thing I have going for me is that I do change. I try to learn from my  many (add *gasp*) many mistakes and grow from them. I can't imagine a life where you are so set in fear of the unknown that you remain stagnant or worse, regress.

Therefore it is even more impressive that this guy is out there celebrating women and taking the time to empower others. So I would like to take this moment to toast Nuno (choose adult beverage of your choice... mine will be an 18-year-old Bunnahabhain) and to say how much I appreciate the standard you set for all men. Slàinte!


Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Best of the Worst: SNAGadu

Unfortunately, I can easily do a whole series on my worse-case scenarios: dates, exes, breakups, etc. Also, rather unfortunately, I enjoy these experiences because they're a hell of a good story. To start off, let's not undermine my idea of the worst. For instance, my best of the worst in movies would include Urban Cowboy (a story about a mechanical bull rider who wants to be a better mechanical bull rider), or Baptists at My BBQ (a story about a Baptist that dares to intermingle with modern-day Mormons). How can you beat that for favorite bad movies?

So for my best bad date let's go with SNAGadu. He is a now famous story that my friends occasionally ask me to reenact. I met him when I had first moved to North Carolina. He was several years older than I was, had a PhD is Gaelic studies (if you know me, this is cool), wrote a book, recorded a CD- all-in-all, very talented and interesting individual. I thought surely this guy is  smoochable. Turns out not so much.

We were both at a ceilidh and I noticed that he "presented" himself to each partner with great theatrical elan. I should not have ignored this. I also noticed that most of my friends thought he was gay. Despite these barriers, I carried on and we had our first (and last) date. We met at this restaurant and he kept asking the waitress if she honored the NPR coupon. In fact he harassed the woman so much I thought she was going to leave for the night. Turns out this was a 2-for-1 coupon he was trying to get.

The conversation began and he asked me very specific questions: could I sing opera?; had I ever illustrated a children's book?; was I part Cherokee? To most this would seem odd until you knew that these were all things his ex-girlfriend was. Then the conversation went downhill: "I'm a SNAG." "Huh?" I say, half listening. "I'm a SNAG: a Sensitive New Age Guy." "Ugh," I reply, not even able to hide my disgust. He proceeded to tell me all about himself- the fact that he was a 40-year-old man living in a hippie commune, how 'theatrical' he was, etc. etc. By the end of dinner I was past wanting to go home. I had cable and the History channel and surely it was better than this.

"Let's get gelato," he insisted. "You know, I think I'm done," I replied. But after even more insisting I caved and agreed to walk the block and a half to the gelato store. We go in, he selects his, I select mine and then he leaves the store... many awkward moments pass as both the server and I realise that he intentionally wanted to stick me with the bill. I guess he wasn't over not getting that 2-for-1 discount.

I go out and he skips down the street, pointing his toes. "What do you think of my new shoooooes?" he sings. "Did you just skip like a little girl?" I ask, "I kind of want to punch you for that." This violence from me brushed aside, he repeats his lilt and then tells me how he got them for $1 at the garage sale. I sigh. We can skip through the tirades about his family, the Bad Renaissance festival jokes in poor accents, and all of his other delightful personality… quirks.

As we walked back to our cars he asked me what the story is on my friend, Brenda. "Are you seriously asking about my friend while we're on a date?!" "Well, it's just that I met her first, and well, I was just curious about her status." Good grief, and yet I was more offended that he skipped like a little girl.

He asked me out the following day. I told him I had t.v. that took precedence, i.e. NO. The good news is that my father (known to threaten castration to... say a brother-in-law at the Wedding Rehearsal) heard this story. He has never met any of my boyfriends (can you blame me??) but he heard about SNAGadu. And while he chuckled about the idea of he and SNAGadu skipping down to the barn together I know that I saved any guy I might introduce to my dad. After all, he only has to have the tiniest bit of testosterone and walk upright and he'll be now be golden with my dad. I should probably be embarrassed that my dad thinks this is what I attract but I prefer to see it as paving the way to the future. Any guy I get serious with has no idea the favor I just did for him.