The Gift of Generosity

Today is my birthday. I have spent a very relaxing day off receiving well wishes from many of my friends (especially Facebook friends) and being the general center of attention. The vain part of me, and that is a part of all humanity, has glowed warmly all day from the affection.

And so, when I got a chance to pay it forward, I did.

I think a precedent should be made. When one is feeling particularly good, they should strive to make others feel that way. Especially on one’s birthday, when all appears to be right with the world, even for a day, because there is cake. Maybe some may say that generosity is selfishness disguised in colorful wrapping paper as it is only there to make the giver feel good about giving. To that I’d say tell that to the woman behind me in her SUV.

Today, when I stopped at Starbucks to get my new obsession (maybe “obsession” is tame, let’s say “reason for living”) Iced Chai Tea Latte, I waited at the drive-thru window for a long time. Now, I’m not a coffee drinker, and it’s only been recently that I learned the difference between “venti” and “grande.” But I felt an urge of goodwill when the next customer pulled up behind me. Her hair was flat-ironed and her dark glasses on an overcast day made me think that she might possibly be hungover. Recognizing the feeling, I made the decision to buy her coffee.

I The workers inside were in a frenzy because their computer system was down. I timidly asked if I could buy the woman’s coffee behind me. They looked surprised. And then replied, “That means you get a free coffee. Would you like blond, medium, or dark roast?” I blinked in shock. Wasn’t generosity supposed to be self-less? Plus, I don’t even drink the stuff. Suddenly, I was in deep. Two beverages I didn’t need? I felt a little bit soiled. As if my generosity wasn’t pure because I was getting something for it. Turns out the CEO of Starbucks has implemented this little deal because of the government shutdown. 

Feeling a bit dejected, I waited patiently for my free coffee. The girl in the window gave me a warm smile and handed me the warm cup, “You’re the first person to do this all day.”

And suddenly, I shined a little brighter. Maybe I started something that day. Maybe the next person bought the next person’s coffee, and so on. I have no idea.

I didn’t get to see the woman’s face when she pulled up to the window and was told that she had received a free coffee. And I didn’t care. Because I knew that I had done the right thing. And my Venti Iced Chai Tea Latte tasted a little bit sweeter as a result. Okay, so maybe it didn’t. The truth is I sucked it down so fast I hardly got to experience it. But did it make me feel a little cooler.

So, Happy Birthday to me and John Lennon. He would have been 73 today, the old fart!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XLgYAHHkPFs

The Death of the Photo Album

We are gathered here today to mourn the fact that we will no longer be able to gather around a friend’s vacation pictures set expertly into a photo book. Instead, we will have to huddle around a computer screen and flip through Facebook pictures, waiting for them to load. Forgive me friends, but maybe we shouldn’t all be seeing the intimate pics of your wife in her bikini? Perhaps, you should have only kept that for your eyes and the photo developer at the pharmacy? Maybe next time you might discriminate what photos you put on the internet. Simply put them in a photo album. You can always frame your favorite money shots for later.

I regret to inform you that the slideshow projector could not make it today. It too, has bitten the dust. Or rather, it has been covered in it.

Truthfully, I believe this world has lost an art form. The ability to set the right pictures next to each other to tell a story. Circumspectly lifting the plastic flap to slip them inside without dog-earring the picture. Your baby book can’t be brought down from a shelf anymore, it’s taken off the hard drive. You don’t point and laugh at a particularly embarrassing photo, you like it, and you “LOL.” Or at least you say that you are “loling,” but really I think you are just chuckling darkly in your basement.

Loved ones, don’t fret. Pictures and photographs will always have a place in our over-sharing hearts. As long as our friends still shoot milk out of their noses, someone will be there to document it. As long as we take vacations to the ocean, we will feel compelled to take pictures of it, even though we have seen it before. And finally, as long as we feel good in our clothing and in our own skin, we will take the all-important selfie.

Long live the photograph.

Please proceed to the rotary phone’s house for refreshments after the service.

Amen.

What (Alaskan) Women Want

TLC: (The Last Channel) You Want to Watch

Sharing a couch and television time with my sister on Sunday night was a rare occurrence. She’s a teacher and so her quiet time is sparse, but her quiet time with other adults is even more scant. So, when she grabbed the remote after Long Island Medium and told me that she was going to try to stay up past her bedtime and watch TLC’s new special, Alaskan Women Looking for Love, I was happy to stave off sleep as well, despite her choice.

Now, I am not here to argue the validity of TLC or its shows. I understand that the majority of their air-time is filled with selections that would not be contenders for the Nobel Peace Prize or the award for the most intellectually stimulating programs on television (if there is an award for that).

I’m looking at you in particular, Honey Boo Boo.

However, there is a considerable amount of what is scientifically termed as the “warm and fuzzies” on TLC. From Say Yes to the Dress to the Long Island Medium, all of their shows bear some valuable message that transcends the characters’ circumstances and simply makes you feel good.

With this in mind, I was not disappointed when it came to Alaskan Women Looking for Love. For the next hour, I met five young ladies living in Alaska, ultimately looking for love outside of their hometown, Kodiak. A few of them had given birth to their children when they were children themselves. Others were struggling to find their first spark of romance in the frozen terrain of the 49th state. But all of the girls wanted to remove themselves from their bearded exes and their typical way of life.

High Heels and Happiness

The more I watched, the more I began to smile and laugh with my sister. The women, under their many layers of coats, had big hearts and great senses of humor, which came out especially when they began to talk about their “dream men.” Amidst their introductions, they fantasized about the men they would meet, or rather, the “meat” they would meet in Miami in the next episode. Their descriptions of abs and tight buns merged into one over the duration of the show. They might as well have been trying to pinpoint the specific color of the snow in Alaska in trying to typify their taste in Miami men, it all melted together.

But there is one thing that the girls were adamant and anal-retentive about when they referenced their trip. They wanted to wear short dresses, wear their hair down, and wear high heels. They wanted to be “real women,” they oozed.

Femininity at its Finest

And I completely and totally sympathized with them. All women have experienced that inner stirring of power and control when you strap on some strappy heels or finish the final swoosh of your eyeliner. It’s like putting on war paint, as you brace yourself to take on the world. And for once, you feel good about yourself, and it’s finally you against the world and not the other way around. Pulling from another TLC legend, What Not to Wear, clothes can influence how you see yourself and how others perceive you.

In the end, these women may think that they are looking for love, but really they are looking for an excuse to dip into their stores of self-confidence. They are looking for a new start, and a chance to reinvent themselves as women, specifically. Not as moms, not as girlfriends, or as daughters. Most of them are leaving comfortable lives behind, while others are eager to step outside of their comfort zone. In the highest heels possible.

And really, they don’t want to find new men. They want to find new shoes to make them feel something that they haven’t felt in a long time: wanted and appreciated. Which, by the way, is a much cheaper way to go in terms of emotional and monetary investments.

While I agree that putting on a dress doesn’t transform you into Wonder Woman, or a “true” woman in general, and that it would be stupid to think this way, it is a way to convince yourself that you deserve kindness and attention. So take a trip to the mall before you take a trip to Miami, girls. They might have what you want in stock and they might have it in your size. But make sure you leave enough room in those jeans for your long johns when you head back from the Sunshine State.

Watch Alaskan Women Looking for Love next Sunday at 10!

I Totally Look Like That Girl Who Quit Her Job and Other Revelations

With most of the work week under your belt, it’s time to reflect on what is essentially important in your life while taking time to be grateful for your blessings. Remind yourself that you are an unique individual, and that you have a lot to offer the world. Close your eyes. Take a deep breath.

Now look at my way-cooler-than me doppelganger. If you haven’t seen the “I Quit” video that went viral, check it out here. But to summarize, this young lady decided to stand up to her boss by making a video. Instead of taking a lunch break, she took a dance break, and quit her job. My friend, Kimmy, pointed out that she looked (and danced) a lot like me. I’ll let you decide on that one…

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I mean, we’re practically twins. I also don’t have a full-time job or any rhythm to speak of.

But in all seriousness, this girl has made me realize what the two keys to happiness are:

 Let Go
The strongest people in my life are not the ones who get everything done. They are the people who prioritize, and who let go of the worry in their life when it isn’t necessary. Remember when you were learning the monkey bars for the first time? Wouldn’t your arms fatigue, as you hung there, waiting for the burst of strength that never came? Sometimes you need to let go before you try again.

And before I sound anymore like a bad poster in your therapist’s office, this is just your little sign that it’s okay to be kind to yourself and to let some of your problems roll off your back. This works most effectively when your sweater of life isn’t falling apart one stitch at a time. But cuddle up with your favorite mug, and try not to let the chill drive too far into your bones.

 Celebrate

And, when it is simply too hard to let go of what needs to be done, at least take time to celebrate what you do have. I finally got my car back today after a few weeks of being without it. So, when I was able to roll down my windows and turn up my stereo, I closed my eyes and tilted my head back in sheer contentment. And then I realized I was driving.

I want to be more grateful for what I have. We all do. Sometimes,  you have to put a candle in the smallest of cakes and celebrate the littlest of things just to get by. And, when all else fails, have a dance party like my doppelganger. And dance like you’re quitting your job.

Somehow, this young lady is able to let go and celebrate at the same time. So, it’s your choice, really. Break down or break it down.

If Cleanliness is Close to Godliness, What is Disorganization?

Encounters with the Messy Kind
Working with the public, you see a lot of things. And I don’t mean things in the general sense of the term. I mean the innards of people’s lives.

As a cashier, I have seen hundreds of change-purses dumped in front of me with just as many coins spilling out of them. I have seen searches for rogue dimes that have felt similar in length and duration as the quest for the fountain of youth. I have caught glimpses of photos of grandchildren, birth certificates, passports, and other documents that seem too important to keep stuffed in a purse, or an old pill container, or a bra.

But what I marvel at most is when I am standing patiently before a customer while he or she flips through their rolodex (am I dating myself here?) of credit cards and post-it notes and business cards and pieces of irrelevant paper only to discover that we do not accept Discover. And so they dive back into their den of disorganization.

And so I ask you, how do we live such disorganized lives?

Drop it Like it’s a Hot Mess

I am, undoubtedly, not a saint in this category. I do not look upon my customers with the disdain of a Puritan on the likes of Hester Prynne. In fact, as I search for my first job, I am wondering if it is not a more efficient test to simply ask me for my wallet and not for my resume. Will my employer find instead that I am an unfit candidate because of the slovenly way I keep my money crinkled and folded, which will effectively give him/her an idea about how I will keep my office space? I shudder to think how people might judge me when I reach into my newly washed jeans in line at Starbucks and shout, “HEY LOOK! I FOUND 5 DOLLARS! LOOK HOW CLEAN IT IS!”

So, is this a pedestrian/driver predicament? That is, when we are a pedestrian, we become angry at the audacity of drivers. When we are drivers, we heat about the ignorance of pedestrians. In a similar vein, do we think it is cute and quirky when we dump our change, and mutter that we “must have another quarter in here somewhere,” and yet find it absolutely maddening when little old ladies do it in front of us when there is a line down the sidewalk?

First Purse Impressions

And really, is “creative clutter” real? Most importantly, are there really people out there who are organized in every other part of their life, besides their personal effects? Are there people whose disorganization, and perhaps dysfunction, stays neatly in their purse and does not spill out into their personal/professional life?

It’s hard to say. Perhaps first purse impressions are not a litmus test for personal efficiency. At any rate, I shouldn’t judge someone in the split second when I am ringing up their purchases for they are frazzled, as they subtract in their heads the amount of hard-earned money they will be giving up for less and less product. Maybe I should take pity on them.

But if I see one more person shoot a strained rubber band halfway across the room that once held their most precious belongings together and curse their shoddy “wallet” and rant about their inability to find anything when they need it, my faith in humanity might fall permanently into the bottom of my bag where it may never be seen again.

Are YOU disorganized? Does it work for you? Does disorganization bother you? Tell me in the comments!

A Middle-School Poem for the Government Shutdown

Sadly, the American government is currently in shutdown. Even more pathetic is the fact that no one seems to know what is going on. After reading several blogs that attempted to convey the matter to me, a fairly normal and politically uneducated college grad, failed miserably, I have taken it upon myself to write a very tasteless poem about our government’s pickle. (Take that how you will.) Oh, don’t thank me. It’s the least I could do for my country. I wish Washington could say the same…

Unlike most political blog posts, howeverm you have absolutely no excuse to not read this because it is written for a very low reading level. Also, it rhymes like all great, tasteless poems. (See “The Man From Nantucket” if you don’t believe me. Also, don’t read aloud. NSFW)

And now, without further ado, my take on the government shutdown. I think Shel Silverstein and Dr. Seuss will either throw up in their graves or love this one:

WHAT’S THE PROBLEM, GOVERNMENT?

What’s the problem, government?
Did you forget to pay the bills?
Did someone forget their teddy and blanket at home?
Is that why you’re freezing us out? Giving us the chills?

Or is it something simpler than that?
Did someone not schedule the right meeting?
Are you mad because you’re not sitting next to someone you like?
Would it help if you had assigned seating?

Because children on the bus are more well-behaved
And rival gangs can get more done
Than you and a couple of friends, sitting in upholstered chairs
In the nicest room, with the nicest food in Washington

Now, maybe I’m uneducated
Because it surely must be hard being you
But I’m certain that making sure your country is paid for
Is a no brainer, just like red, white and blue.

Thankfully, our military services are still getting their pay
For they do it for their families, and not for the fame
But I sincerely believe that everyone’s at fault
And I am placing absolute, bi-partisan blame.

Could someone please help us figure this out?
Do we need new organs in this governmental body, a new donor?
Because I’m not feeling very happy to see this on TV.
But you all seem to be, because you still have a Boehner.

If you have a better idea for a poem for the government shutdown, leave it in the comments!