Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Ms. Nervous

I was at Target a few weeks ago, and I saw a little display of buttons, magnets, and stationary featuring those characters from the Mr. Men children's books. The series featured various anthropomorphic shapes that had personality flaws that were resolved through the narrative.

I had a moment of nostalgia as I looked at the stuff on the Target rack, remembering the one Mr. Man book I had and read regularly. It was Mr. Nervous. Ah, the memor....wait. I had Mr. Nervous. The only one my parents ever bought me was Mr. Nervous.

It occurred to me right there at Target that it was likely no coincidence that they bought me that one. I'm sure it wasn't just a matter of them choosing whichever one was available or cutest. They chose the Mr. Nervous book...because I was such a nervous little kid.


I remember being a high-strung, nervous little kid. I got scared at school, at home, at church, at the store. I'd have tear-filled meltdowns with little notice, driving my parents crazy. I was in 4th grade before I went to school on day one without bawling about it. I cried when I spent the night away from home without them. And so on...

But when I got my Mr. Nervous book, it never once occurred to me that the book was meant to be a lesson in chilling out from my (very likely) exasperated parents.

But 25 years later, I'm finally onto them. I see their game! Too bad for them I'm still a high-strung nervous adult. Mr. Nervous wasn't enough to cure me.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Home vs. home

I was lucky enough to spend my spring break away from home. I went Home. I didn't need a fancy beach vacation. I like going Home.

I've always been very close to my family, and I consider myself exceedingly lucky to have these people in my life. But every blessing has some twinge of a curse. It's the dualistic nature of the universe to pair opposites: yin and yang, black and white, etc. The curse of having so many wonderful people in my life is that I'm perpetually Homesick. No matter how settled I am into my adult home, I still always long for Home. Home with my family. Home where I belong to people. Home where I am a daughter and a sister, not just a single woman, a professor, and a friend.

I joked with my students before spring break that I was jealous of those who were going somewhere exciting, that I didn't think it was fair. But the truth was, I was just as excited to go Home as they were to go to Florida, South Padre, or the Caribbean.

And I left my parents' house this morning, and their company later in the afternoon, with that familiar sense of dread. That feeling of going to a strange familiar place I call home in my everyday life, but that can't compare to Home. Even if I have a family of my own someday, I don't think it will compare to the Home I've known my whole life. I'll always want to leave home for Home.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Some compassion after all...

A Catholic church official has spoken out against the ex-communication of the Brazilian mother who chose to terminate her 9-year-old daughter's pregnancy after the girl had been raped by her stepfather. Just wanted to point it out to show there's complexity of thought even within the church's relatively straightforward views.


Kudos to this dude, IMO.


I hate people who are vain, and who focus too much on their appearance. I hate people who judge others solely on their looks, and who value themselves for their physical traits at the expense of their personality and basic human decency.

And yet.

I recently got a new hair cut, complete with brow waxing and all that. And I have to say that my confidence has taken a noticeable bump. I find myself smiling at people more, being bouncier, being happier. Feeling more like approaching people and chatting them up. Add to that the new glasses that I'm trying to grow accustomed to, and I feel like a new, cooler person.

I'm struggling with it, though, because I love the feeling. I love feeling good about myself when I walk out the door, and I love chatting people up and feeling like a fun person. But I also feel kinda lousy that it took a physical alteration to make that happen, and I fear I'm using my appearance as an artificial boost. What happens when I get used to the changes and they become the normal me? Will I take a dive again? And is it really healthy to base your confidence on your looks? Shouldn't I worry more about being happy inside and less on looks?

I worry about the balance. Where's the balance between these two elements of our total selves?

And I worry that I'm worrying too much about all of this. And then I worry because I worry too much about worrying about things to worry about.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

The trouble with black and white thinking

I'm shocked by the following article...every possible aspect of it is terrifying.


The issue of abortion is frightfully complex, and I'm not willing to dip my toe too far into it on a silly little blog like this, but the fact that the Vatican calls abortion a worse crime than the rape and impregnation of a 9-year-old girl by her stepfather is giving me the absolute jitters. Here are some reasons why:

A. If you've seen what happens to a woman's body when she's carrying multiples, you can imagine what it would do to a tiny 9-year-old body. This girl's life would be at very serious risk if she carried them to term, which (BTW) simultaneously puts the fetuses' lives at serious risk.

B. This is not an issue of birth control. If you want to argue that abortion as b.c. is a moral crime, I'll listen to the argument, but I'm not willing to listen to any claim that this case is anywhere near the same issue. This girl had no control over any aspect of what happened to her. She did not choose any of this. So I can't in good conscience tell her that she has to further put herself at risk and live with more personal physical trauma than she already has.

C. The Vatican basically is arguing that this girl's life and well being are less significant than the fetuses' lives, which is one of the issues that bothers me more broadly about the abortion debate. Once children are born into the world by parents who don't want them or can't afford them, then it seems like society is supposed to care less about their welfare. Programs that help children living in poverty, or in abusive homes, are too often derided for being entitlement programs. Sure, the parents suck sometimes, but it is no more the kids' fault than the 9-year-old girl's fault for being raped. So why do we care more about the fetuses than we do about the people already living in the world, including (but not limited to) this girl and her personal tragedy? How can you rank one as more important than the other when your basic argument is that all are equally important in God's eyes? It's a circular argument, I realize, but that's why I also think the following.

D. The idea that abortion is a black/white issue, a right/wrong issue, a simple issue, etc. does not work, and this case is absolute proof that we will never resolve it by trying to oversimplify it the way the Vatican just tried to do. That might make me a wishy-washy liberal, but I guess I'm just fine with that. I'm siding with the little girl's family on this one. If I were them, I'd tell the Catholic church to stick their little pointy hats up their butts and find a new religion.

Monday, March 2, 2009


So I went to the mall to kill a little time on Saturday (before the birthday fiesta). Macy's was having a 75% off sale on shoes, and who am I to resist a perusal? I actually need some brown dress shoes to wear with my dress pants, and they had a pair for $11. Sweet. The clerk who had brought out the mate to the one on the rack put them on the back shelf while I looked around some more. I ended up finding another pair of boots to try on, but by then the clerk was busy helping another customer. So when another clerk asked to find the mate, I said okay.

Shortly after I get the mate, the original clerk shows up asks if I need another mate from the back. I said no, that someone else had brought them up for me. She acted all confused, so I pointed to the other lady and said she had offered to get them for me. The first clerk was all upset, and told the other lady that she had been helping me.

And that's when I realized they work on commission. How the crap was I supposed to know that??

The rest of the time I was in there, the first clerk was polite to me, but only just barely. It was obvious she was mad that I may have cost her part of her commission. I apologized for having made things complicated (even though I didn't really feel like I should have to apologize at all!), and she was all coolly accepting of it.

So the thing is, I'm thoroughly annoyed at stores that put their clerks on commission. Partly because I have no way of knowing, as a customer, when that's the case; and partly because in busy times like Saturday, it would have meant I had to wait an extra five minutes just to get the attention of the one clerk to try on the 2nd pair of shoes. How inefficient is that? What does that say to the customer? Basically that your time is less important than making our clerks be pushy about sales.

Meh. Yet another thing to irk me. I needed that.