On the Nice List

There’s only a few things in this world that really grind my gears:

Wet socks

Not grabbing a towel before jumping into the shower

Mean people

And the first two things always happen in the same place, so at least I know to expect them.

But mean people? No, they come out of nowhere. Stamping their feet, rolling their eyes, acting like they’ve never met you before, even when you’ve addressed them from across the street (wait, those aren’t mean people. Those are just strangers. Nevermind.)

And somehow, mean people confuse niceness with weakness. As if kindness and compassion aren’t the hardest things to do when you’ve spent all day fuming at the “public” and wanting to bite everyone’s heads off, but resisting this temptationI mean, talk about earning a gold star. Being nice takes courage.

And assuredly, this is how I perceive the world. One kind act can erase 1,000 evil deeds.

So, tell me why I totally dodged a super nice cashier at Target today.

That’s right. I totally went in another lane because he was there. I know him. I’ve been in his lane before. And he is so nice. He comments appreciatively on your purchases and helps you with that stupid credit card chip technology. I once had to wait in his line while he finished having a really pleasant conversation with the person in front of me. Like, if he were a candy, well, he’d be all of them because he is just that sweet.

And I purposely avoided him. Why? Maybe because I just wanted to check out without making polite conversation. Maybe it was because I saw that another lane was moving faster?

But, no. That wasn’t it at all. It’s because he’s too nice. Which shouldn’t be a bad thing, ever. But suddenly, it is.

Do you know why? Because people are so rarely nice that I’m not sure I know what to do with it. I’m all, what’s your endgame? I know what you’re trying to do and it won’t work. And they’re all, “I was just trying to give you a recipe for spinach dip.” And I’m like, Oh, really? Do I look fat? Do you want me to eat healthier by eating spinach? Well, joke’s on you! Spinach dip isn’t really that healthy!

And the worst part is that I know it sounds crazy. But it’s true. Especially as a woman. I’m always just assuming that nice people are trying to put me in the back of their white van. And I love my dad, but he’s not Liam Neeson (even though he thinks he is), and he isn’t going to be able to get me back from the black market that they sell me to.

And truly,  I don’t know how to fix this avoidance of nice people in order to keep myself alive. I mean, it begs the questions: Should the world be more nice so I get used to it? Or should we stop being so suspicious of each other? Is being too nice a bad thing at the end of the day?

I’m not sure, but I wished I lived in a place where these weren’t actual questions.

I do hope that guy knows that he’s really good at his job, though. So good, it makes me uncomfortable.

 

Sick Day

Today was not my finest hour, or really my finest several hours. I was sick today, and pretty much dead to the world. As such, I had to mentally reorganize my schedule to put off today what needs to be done tomorrow. And then promptly take a nap (which for me I do as often as skydiving, which I never do).

Sick days are pretty much the worst things to ever happen to me. Why? Let’s just examine my gene pool for a minute: my mother never comes back to bed after she’s out of it, unless it is night time, of course. (In fact, I actually watched a television show the other day where the mom was sick and she was in bed and I realized that I had never seen my mom do that before.) Then my dad quite literally has not missed a day of work in 28 years, unless of course he has a vacation day.

Now, this wouldn’t bother me so much if my parents weren’t really successful and awesome people. I mean, if I saw them getting behind on the mortgage because they are such go-getters and that they never stop, then maybe I’d be a little more keen to take a sick day every once in awhile. Or at least allowing myself to think I deserved a sick day.

OKAY, OKAY. I can’t blame this all on my parents. I certainly can’t blame a stomach flu on them, either. But today wasn’t easy and I’m bitter. I’m dedicated to my responsibilities, and I h a t e  abandoning them, even for a day.

So, I’m not trying to say everyone should take more sick days to remember what’s important and to take care of ourselves, or whatever that’s about. I’m not encouraging you to play hooky or take a mental health day. That’s really not my style.

I’m just saying that when you need to take a sick day (in my house, 100 degree fevers were about the only criteria for this, but you know), then you should. You can’t do your best when you’re not feeling your best. And if you don’t take the time to recover, you’re going to wake up one day like me, not with the stomach flu but with way too many unused homework passes because you thought you needed to save them. But really? Sometimes saving things for a rainy (or sick) day can mean that you never do them at all.

Calm/Chaos

You know how people say it’s not the situation, it’s the way that you react to it that matters? Well, put simply, I’ve been like a human cat for most of my life. I run away from loud noises or bite people when forced into social interactions. “Conflict resolution” isn’t really in my vocabulary, and if it is, it’s me talking about how I’m not good at it.

But lately, I’ve been reacting to situations that are more tense than a bomb squad like the Dalai Lama.

The other day I had a lot on my mind and I was swelled up with stress like an angry bullfrog. And instead of blaming the situation itself like I normally do, instead of blaming anyone else (including but not limited to, the Starbucks barista or the guy who is walking way too slow in front of me) I said to myself, I need to do something about all the stress I’ve been experiencing because I can’t get this frustrated when something happens every day.

What?! I mean, really, where do I cash in my tickets for my adult points? I looked at my life and took responsibility for my own actions. I realized that my reactions needed to change, not the situation. (A trick that only took a quarter of a century to learn!) It felt uncomfortable and good to do this, all at the same time, like wearing your favorite sweater that’s way warm but so itchy.

And this made me really think about how we communicate with our world. As much as I wouldn’t prefer to be numb, we really do need a thicker skin to get through life. Because when we let in the chaos from the outside world, we can’t distinguish between the two. And if we form a core of calm, we can float above it all, like when you hold your breath in a swimming pool and let your body rise to the top.

In the end, chaos is only chaos when you give yourself over to it, when you don’t pay attention to how you’re reacting to a situation. And being calm is only calm when it starts inside yourself and radiates out. And everything in between? That’s life. And you’ve got to keep it balanced.

 

Leap Day

There’s a lot of pressure to do things on the weekend–run errands, see friends, basically…live your life in between the lunch breaks and commuting that you do the other five days out of the week.

I mean, you can’t do laundry AND drink a glass of wine on a Tuesday. You’re lucky to make it out alive when you do that on a Thursday. And conversely, if you try to shop for groceries on a Friday, the store is absolutely packed. (As if no one has any beer to drink or pizza to eat on a Friday night!)

But then, every once in awhile, you finish your chores early, or the days start to get a bit longer and the sun stays out later, or you’re just able to keep your eyes open for an hour extra that night. And suddenly you feel like you are on borrowed time. So, you quick try to hurry up and do something just for you. Like write a blog or read a book or watch a half-hour television show.

That was today for me, leap day. The 24-hour period that only comes around every four years and makes the shortest month of the year that much longer. Which is kind of overwhelming.

I’m all like, shouldn’t I be doing something special on this day that doesn’t come every month, let alone every year? I mean, shouldn’t I at least try to make something matter with all of this extra time? It feels like an anxiety-inducing holiday. (Wait, never mind. It just feels like a holiday.)

But as you probably predicted, I watched the dying light of the day and realized that the answer was no. I was going to do what I always do with my extra time. I’m not going to have this day in another four years, but that only means that I should be doing something for myself. Because that’s even rarer than a leap day.

And I can’t tell you what to do with your leap day, but I hope that you’ll join me. Well, maybe in another 4 years, anyway.