Are we fooling ourselves into thinking we are nice people?

I try not to rush to judgement, heaven knows. But I fail after having met someone a few times. By that point I feel I have a good handle on that person’s main traits and I’ve made a decision, subconscious or otherwise, about whether or not they are nice/kind. 

My neighbour once told me, while relating a story about something, to never mistake kindness for weakness. Ok fair enough. I guess that isn’t related to my argument here but I thought it interesting. 

Each generation strives to improve on what they grew up with. In pretty sure that drive is as basic as the drive to procreate in the first place. Therefore, when you meet someone who you consider to be a grump or a meany  you have to consider that his or her parents were worse. Yes, worse! Sometimes I forget this and assume all mean people are mean just because that’s how they were built. 

So am I really a nice person or am I just improving on the circumstances of my birth?  I think of myself as kind, yielding and emotionally available. Other people likely don’t think this about me. This weekend I got quite the wake up call when talking to an older woman who to me has always seemed very judge-y, insensitive and occasionally openly hostile to her close family members. It turns out that her beloved mother (no sarcasm, she always talks about her mom in glowing terms) was draconian in her decisions and once a decision was reached, no circumstances would change it. 

I felt a gradual dawning realization that this woman describes herself as a nice person because compared to her mother, she is!  Holy crap I’m growing up, still. 

A Few Million Good Citizens

Just like millions of other people, I have consistent healthcare available. I’m on the ‘grid’ due to my health card, driver’s license, and passport. My medical records, although secure, aren’t impossible to obtain given the right permissions and computer skills. Being identified is normal and usually doesn’t trouble me. Is that because I’m a law-abiding, tax-paying citizen? Yep. Any trouble I have found myself in during my life has been minor at best, and easily remedied by paying a fine or apologising profusely.

When I get pulled over by police my biggest worry is that I will get a ticket for a traffic law violation. I’m not concerned with handing over my ID, ownership and proof of insurance.

I’m watching a show called American Odyssey, which is based on global conspiracy set in North America and some Middle East countries. I love that sort of plot, especially when we see how the lives of characters are connected in seemingly random ways. Eventually the plot unfolds and we see these connections are not coincidental but instead are deliberate. The homes of characters are bugged, spies are everywhere, and because this drama is set in modern-day, cell phones are tracked, and military drones carry out most of the killing and surveillance. With just one call placed by cell phone anywhere in the world, the characters are immediately identified, tracked, and targeted for elimination. These events seem realistic to me, and if I were more of a renegade I might be concerned.

My mother has been in hospital lately for an ailment that has plagued her for years and finally came to a point where diagnosis is possible. Her hospital roommate turns out to be an acquaintance of mine, through the dog rescue I adopted my dogs from (LotsaDogs Rescue) and am still involved with. It’s a surprising coincidence considering that neither I nor my mom’s roommate live nearby that hospital.

But I am not an outlier or a rebel. I am a boring nobody who is raising a couple more boring nobodies. Sometimes I feel like I live in a giant ant farm for all the difference I make in the world.

Behind the Curtain!

On my mind right now, is:

  • making a decision on a house/pet sitter to live at our apartment during our time away this summer (lots of applicants to wade through);
  • find reasonably priced rain boots for boy midget (time sensitive – he’s going camping soon);
  • stop beating myself up over not taking good care of my physical self over the past 6 months of winter (i.e. too many carbs and way too much wine);
  • keep up with the bike riding in the face of cold weather and husband offering me rides to and from work (today was tough but I persevered);
  • I’m slowly ruining my midgets by letting them eat in front of the tv.  Yes, I know! But I like to eat in front of the tv too. I don’t eat the same food as they do, which already presents a mealtime challenge. I’m also very fucking tired at the end of the work day, and on weekends, and at all times during the fucking day.
  • This year was the last one where I could crawl under the back deck to store the Xmas stuff. In 2 years when it’s Xmas time again at our house, once of the midgets will have to dig it out.
  • We are meeting with an accountant so we can get a realistic idea of how many financial mistakes we’ve made and how much we’ve fucked over our present and future.

Well now I feel like shit. So here is a nice list to lift me up again:

  • My kids don’t eat McDonald’s. They actually say No if someone offers to take them there;
  • My kids don’t drink cow’s milk at my house;
  • I’m biking to work everyday that I’m in the office (4x a week). That’s 7.5 km each way;
  • Quinoa is one of my favourite foods; and
  • My midgets will eat any bread, no matter how seedy and dark.
  • We are being responsible and meeting with an accountant.

Putting ourselves last

Our kids’ emotional needs come first, because whatever our needs are, our personalities are already formed and our emotions largely predictable. Even if they aren’t, we are adults. It’s too late for us. The clay has dried. It’s not too late for our kids though. My midgets have a great relationship with their Dad and with me, because their Dad and I have consciously grown those relationships and supported each other’s involvement in the lives of our midgets.

Maybe I’m so passionate about this issue because if I give this situation my ‘all’, and my midgets turn out emotionally stunted or damaged in spite of this effort, I don’t have to blame myself. My first instinct is always to avoid offending someone or affecting them in a negative way. This has led to my avoidance of conflict, although I’m working on that. So perhaps my passion comes easily to me because my life goals are aligned with the goal of raising my midgets surrounded by love. I saw an episode of Grey’s Anatomy where a working mother was jealous of the bond between the nanny and her child. I have never felt that way toward my caregiver, and in fact used to call her my midgets’ day-time Mommy. She is still an integral part of their development, and, together with her husband is one more element of love added to my midgets’ lives.

Just this morning I was patting myself on the back once more, after I read an article in the newspaper.

I can’t imagine how guilty I would feel if I screwed up my chance at perfect parenthood. Perfection is a pipe dream, I keep telling myself, but I don’t believe that. I am doing the best I can, same as all parents do, so what makes me think my method is correct? Will I look back on this in 10 years and see I was wrong? What will I do then, to console myself? I’ll probably tell myself I did the best I could, and at that time I will have to admit I didn’t do a perfect parenting job. Perfection is always my goal; through all of my schooling and achieving traditional milestones. That’s what got me into the wrong marriage, into a beige cube job that probably doesn’t suit my personality, and pushes me to push my midgets into socially sanctioned roles of good helpful teens who will be university educated and gainfully employed. And then I see a TED talk like this, which makes me question my effectiveness in preparing my midgets to be happy successful adults.

I want my midgets to be proactive, creative, and independent. Does achieving a university education and a ‘regular’ job promote these qualities?

Marry, Fuck, Kill

Marry, Fuck, Kill!

Also, if you’re feeling particularly snarky today, I recommend Go Fug Yourself. Hours of snark, like having a snark faucet in your home or office. One of my fave saying (Sweet Cracker Sandwich) is from this site.

 

 

 

 

We Don’t Burn Our Food

A few weeks ago, after smelling burnt cooking oil through our vents one too many times, I sent a text to our basement tenants: “I look forward to the day you are no longer burning your food.”

Our tenants are 2 young men from Venezuela, who are here studying English. From the smells emanating from the basement I have concluded they are learning how to cook. They are troopers, I’ll give them that, based on the frequency with which we are subjected to cooking odours that have not been created by us.

The response to my text was the title of this post: “We don’t burn our food.” No smiley face accompanied that message, either. Just 1 more week of this cooking until the tenants move on. I can only imagine the work ahead of us to rid the apartment of manly body odour and cooking oil. Last time we were faced with this was from a family who liked to prepare fried fish. That was a big job, complete with odour-absorbing chemicals and vigorous scrubbing.

These are just 2 examples of why I don’t like to rent the apartment for longer than 2 months at a time. Our next guests are a couple, 1 of whom is a pastry chef. I’m really hoping she likes to cook at home, because that’s a smell I could enjoy.

Here, There & Everywhere $

Last night our city withstood a terrible windstorm. Some homes fared better than others; ours are intact although a fence came down. No big deal, right? Wrong!

I live in a city. I don’t have access to post diggers, circular saws, or any other fence repairing/replacement tools. I also have no skills in that area. There was a time when I could count on the men in my family to instinctively know what needed to be done in any outdoor situation, but that’s no longer the case. These days I hire out. Hiring someone is not itself a panacea; you have to hire the RIGHT person with skills and integrity. Not an easy find. My go-to resource is usually Homestars.ca. There you can find all manner of trades and read their reviews too. And then yesterday my confidence in this site was compromised! It turns out that lots of people who post glowing reviews are not real customers. And the negative reviews are often not even posted. So there is another level of scrutiny I have to go through: now I have to pay attention to how many reviews a certain company has, to make sure they are real reviews. After all, who could falsify over 100 reviews? Don’t answer that rhetorical question.

Luckily we know a ‘fence guy’ who has done great work for us in the past. I texted him (all hail the mighty text!) and he called back quickly with an estimate and ability to send someone over today. But the price tag was too high for us, so Husband and I needed to find a different solution. It isn’t a matter of calling a neighbour to help us out; no one else around us knows what they’re doing either! The solution we came up with was to pay the fence guy to install a temporary fence for the winter. This will be done today, considerably cheaper than the option of completely replacing that side of the fence. And the debris will be cleared too. Used to be we had to get to know our neighbours and make friends in the community so we could pool our collective knowledge and help each other. Now we have to develop a roster of trustworthy tradespeople while surrounded by less skilled, less honest ones.

This past weekend I went to Alberta to attend my little bro’s wedding. He’s a plumber/steamfitter in a small town, so his life is very different from mine. I’ve always prided myself on my physical strength and ability to figure out how to ‘make do’. What a shock when I realized this weekend that I don’t remember how to do anything outside the usual house cleaning and very minor repair. Used to be I’d have confident support of men and women in my network around me, to help figure out a solution for whatever outdoor problem had arisen, but no one else around me now has that skill set either. Weird.

This weekend I remembered a lot of sights and smells of my childhood, which was incredibly comforting. I hadn’t realized how removed I am now from my roots. I work in an office, I have lily-white hands, I studied English Literature, I manipulate words. I occasionally pay others to do manual labour at my house. We had a new door installed a couple of weeks ago, by a handyman we know. Despite all of this evidence, I still believed I was a down-to-earth, can-do-it person. I mean, I can write the absolute shit out of a technical document or anything else sent my way. But that’s all so…intangible a skill set. My abilities seem so imaginary; made up, even. I know that’s not true, but compared to the skill of putting up a fence, I doubt I would survive very well in a post-apocalyptic world unless someone needs a written manifesto.

Prejudices and Stereotypes

I hate tattoos. I especially hate seeing them so often adorning the skin of 20-somethings these days. When I see a person with a visible tattoo on their arm, chest, shoulder, or leg, I question their intelligence. I wish I didn’t, because I spend a lot of time telling my midgets not to judge a book by its cover.

Actually, do I tell my midgets not to judge? Now that I think about it, I think I do teach them to judge adults, at least. I tell my midgets to trust their guts. If a person sounds/talks strangely, approaches them/invades their personal space, appears threatening (dirty? aggressive? drunk? high?) to avoid them like the plague. And I have threatened them with tattoo removal via razor blade if they ever dare to mark up their skin permanently. For me, the idea of adding a tattoo is like adding another barrier to one’s personal, educational and professional success. Why put up more roadblocks to your success than there already are? Isn’t life hard enough as it is? A tattoo, to me, is not about expressing individuality. I consider a tattoo to be a short-sighted decision with long-term implications.

I watched a Russell Peters show last night on Netflix, on which he expounded upon his hatred of tattoos as only a comedian can; by making fun of people who have them. In particular he took a 19-yr old woman to task, telling her she should have her skin for at least 20 years before marking it up. Further he points out a dragon tattoo on a white guy, comparing that tattoo to one of a dragon on the arm of a Chinese guy. According to Peters, at least the Chinese guy has a cultural connection to the symbol of a dragon. Yes true, but still. Dumb.

I love (not actually) when people in their 20s have (what seem like) random images that appeal to them at the time. And with all of the foresight someone in their 20s can muster, they can’t imagine ever regretting the decision to apply permanent art work to their skin. After all, they are fully fledged adults and perfectly capable of making their own decisions. Likely they haven’t experienced real regret in their lives yet. I’m sure they think they have, that they are wise and smart, but in one’s 20s you have no idea the twists and turns your life will take in the decades to come. I remember trying to imagine the challenges and issues I might face in my far future, and I was unable to. I still am. But at least I am insightful enough to realize I don’t know everything.

Uhhhhh……….meh

What the hell am I going to make for tomorrow’s BBQ?

VIP

In other news, yesterday I saw a movie in a VIP lounge at a movie theatre downtown. Holy moly, I loved it. What is the difference there, you might ask?

Seats that are cushy, wider than normal, and recline.

  • Arm rests that can be folded up to make cuddling/hiding your eyes from an intense scene easier.
  • Menus with interesting items (floats, cocktails, other food)
  • Table service (I think only before movie starts but I don’t know for sure)
  • Leg room! No one sitting in my row has to stand up to let me in or out of my seat.

Cost? Weekday matinée is $20. Weekend is $25. Once in a while, this is a wonderful treat.

Am I turning back into a hick? Was I ever one to begin with?

D-R-A-M-A

There is, as usual, a lot of drama going on in our immediate family, but I actually do not feel involved in it. I feel like a puzzled spectator. Without being too vague, some behaviour occurred that I found to be tremendously and shockingly immature. I don’t think there is anything to be done about it; the situation happened and that’s all there is to it.  There are no apologies wanted, only growth. Do I vent too much? I don’t know. That’s like saying I have too many feelings.

At least I can still count on my Gramma to sound like herself. I phoned her this morning and she answered the phone, “Yellow!” just like always. That greeting alone makes me feel warm and safe.

Eeeeeeeeyaaaaaahhhhhh

Remember when you were a teenager and young adult, going through relationship problems and trying to figure out why the opposite sex is so dumb and unknowable? Me too.

This week I have just girl midget with me, as boy midget is away on a school trip. Step-teen is done exams and is probably sleeping most of the time if he’s not eating, but nonetheless is at his mom’s house. That means we have an only child this week. I like when this happens; gives me a taste of what life would have been like if I had stopped childbearing after 1 time. My conclusion? Pretty fucking sweet! Why did I have sex with that man all those times, and end up with more than 1 child?! Why?!!!

Patio lunches rock. Today I went out with a good friend from work, the kind of friend you can bitch to about your personal life and she always takes your side. Sometimes that’s what’s needed, not a devil’s advocate.

I feel utterly dispassionate about our off spring at the moment. All of my empathy and desire to help has been drained out of me just as surely as a bathtub empties when you pull the plug from its drain. I’ve often said that when you don’t know what to do, don’t do anything. I should put that on a canvas or a t-shirt.