Sunday, July 22, 2007

Age: The (Bigot's) Final Frontier

So I'm over at one of my favorite blogs today when I read this quote from the blogger's husband:
"I cannot wait, I cannot wait," says my husband, "until the last Baby Boomer is dead."

Somebody commented:
Wow. Steve sounds like a real asshole. As a boomer at the tail end of the demographic, I vow to live to 110 just to annoy him.

To which the blogger replied:
Oh, go take a Geritol...

So let me see if I've got this right. Substitute "Boomer" with "African American" or "woman" or "lesbian" or "person under 20" and it's all effed up. But people of my age cohort are cool to wish dead? Okay. Got it.

Good thing the younger generation will never be of this age so they'll be free from experiencing this kind of bigotry. Oh, wait...

Saturday, July 21, 2007


Yesterday I went to my two grocery stores for (probably) the last time. I've been doing my Friday afternoon grocery shopping at these two stores since I moved here almost nine years ago. I was nostalgic as I walked the aisles of my co-op. I'm going to miss it. I didn't know it was possible to be so attached to a market. This one's special, though. Worker-owned, wholly meat-free, prone to radical political acts I usually support. They close for Pride every year. The workers recently voted to close for Caesar Chavez's birtday in exchange for staying open on Thanksgiving. I think workers are required to have at least three tattoos. I love that place.

My friend and favorite checker was there -- hooray! We had a nice talk and said our good-byes, promising to stay in touch. Then a friend I haven't seen in ages showed up and we had a chance to talk and say good-bye, too. It was all very sweet.

My second stop on Fridays has always been the Safeway store near my house. It's in a complex with a post office, my bank and the drycleaner I've been going to nearly all these years. I stopped by the drycleaner to say good-bye and thanks to the woman who owns the shop. She's sweet. She has two adorable kids I've watched grow up as they spend afternoons and summer vacations in the shop. They have a new puppy. I saw pictures of the puppy months before it came to live with their family and I know all about its obedience training and temperament. And its "very sharp teeth."

I've worked in service and retail jobs in the past and I never liked it when regular customers with whom I'd developed relationships would just disappear. It tended to make me worry. I think that's why I wanted to say good-bye to people I've been doing business with for all these years. I also wanted to thank them.

Next stop, Safeway. I wanted to say good-bye to Sue, who used to be in charge of the flower department at the front of the store, but who is now an assistant manager. I'd never been in the store's office before, so I had to do some searching. In the process, I saw the employees' break room (bleak!) and the back of the dairy section (clean!). Finally I found the office and Sue was there. I said, "Clean up in the women's restroom!" I couldn't help myself. We laughed. I told her I'm moving away, she said the news made her very sad. She asked for details, like what work I'd be doing, how my husband feels about the move, when we're leaving. She said she'll miss me. I told her I'll miss her, too, and told her I always liked coming into her store, because of her. She said she was going to start crying, and then she did. And then I did. Just a little. We hugged and I got out of there fast, because if I didn't I knew I'd be blubbering all over her office.

Then I stopped at the fish counter and bought supper. The fish guy wished me good luck and told me he'd miss me. "You've been such an excellent customer."

The afternoon sent me back in time to that period in my relationship with this town when I was so often lonely and alienated. I wasn't making friends and in fact my usual ways of making friends were proving completely ineffective. To make matters worse, I worked alone practically all of the time. I remember crying while I said to my husband, "I just want somebody to go to lunch with once in a while. Is that really too much to ask??" There was something about this city -- so big, so hostile -- that hurt my feelings in a deep way. I was often deeply homesick.

Having people like Sue be friendly to me and talk to me about themselves, ask me some questions about myself -- it mattered a lot. It kept me from complete desolation more than once. I can never tell them what it meant to me and what it still means that they broke the social rule of this place to reach out to me. But I appreciate it and never will I take such kindness for granted again.

I'm also taking away an important reminder about the seeds of kindness. We really can never, ever know the effect of our actions. We might think speaking kindly to a stranger is a small thing and we might forget about it moments after it happens. But to that person? It might be the one bright spot in an otherwise miserable week. It really could, in a city like this one, be the only kindness that person experiences that day. Or week.

As I was picking out my corn for supper, a woman came by to sweep up. As she swept, I said, "This corn sure makes a mess, doesn't it?" She looked me right in the eye and said nothing. Earlier that day at the co-op, I had a similar experience. A brief comment meant to connect, to bring a smile, was met with a cold stare and a slight step away. Yesterday, those interactions made me chuckle. Earlier, they could bring me to tears. Krupskaya talks about city manners. I wish someone had given me a course in city manners about nine years ago.

I'm just not going to miss this place.

Friday, July 20, 2007

I'm It!

I've been tagged by Amanda AND frog. And I'm supposed to tag eight other people, only like bomb, pretty much every blogger I know has already been tagged. So screw that part. Heh.

The rules:

1. Let others know who tagged you.
2. Players start with 8 random facts about themselves.
3. Those who are tagged should post these rules and their 8 random facts.
4. Players should tag 8 other people and notify them they have been tagged.

My eight random facts:
1. I played clarinet from 4th grade through high school. I was in the concert band and marching band and in the latter wore a ridiculously tall fuzzy hat with a chin strap.
2. I've been to Dillingham, AK but I never worked in the fishing industry.
3. Falafel gives me heartburn every time I eat it but I will never stop eating it.
4. I was taller than my mother by the time I was in 5th grade.
5. I took seven years to complete my BA.
6. I have a water garden, which is like a pond in a container.
7. I've met Sean Penn, Phil Donohue and Bill Harris (of Bill and Emily Harris).
8. I attempted to sneak out my bedroom window once to protest Nixon's arrival at the airport in my town. It was in the '70s and I was probably 13 or 14. My dad busted me before I got halfway out.

There you go. More than you wanted or needed to know!

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Moving at the Speed of Molasses

I'd really love to be one of those people whose reaction to stress is a burst a manic energy -- the ones who immediately buckle down and clean (and possibly paint!) the entire house when the stress hits. I'm the other kind. I respond to intense stress by turning into a deer in the headlights. My coping style is neither fight nor flight. It's more like sit here motionless, pretending to be invisible, and hope the threat leaves on its own. I've spent more than a few hours immobilized by anxiety lately. This, it turns out, does not get the packing done. Nor the sorting of belongings headed for the thrift store. Nor the other 10,000 things that have to be completed before we move at the end of the month.

I'm trying to remember to take action. Even if the action's small. Maybe I could build momentum. You never know.

Yesterday I scored big-time. A couple about 10 minutes away advertised their barely-used moving boxes on Craigslist. I was the first to arrive and drove away with the car full of boxes. Yay!

I'm so distracted it's getting ridiculous. I'm forgetting things. Simple things. Things I can't believe I'm forgetting. I forgot my clothes in the laundry room, twice. Then later in the bathroom, I'm ready to change tampons, I pull out the first one and looky there! Another string! Evidently I'd forgotten to take one out before putting another one in. I guess I should be glad there were only two.

I would say "Maybe you need to slow down," only I'm barely moving as it is. Maybe I should pay closer attention? You think?