Tuesday, June 24, 2008

PC and Me: A Drama in One Act

In the grand scheme of things, it's hard to know when you're going to put your foot in your mouth, but in this age of political correctness, sometimes there is nothing that you're able to say without doing it in one way or another. Sometimes you're left with absolutely nothing to say, even though social conventions require an answer.

Confused enough yet? Let me elaborate. Last week, I went to see two acquaintances, Tim and Peter, whom I first met, oh, maybe 17 years ago or more when their band, Cordelia's Dad, came through Columbus and whom I used to spend some time hanging out with when they played in town. It had been over a decade since I'd last seen them, so I bit the bullet and took the kids to see their show last week.

It was then that I got into an uncomfortable situation. Here we were, well over a decade since we'd last seen each other, talking after the show; all of us are married with kids now, which is great. Tim has two kids skewed a little younger than my two (same age split, but maybe one year younger than each of my kids) and Peter has a daughter who is three. Still, we stood there with our various offspring running around or in arms and I tried to have a distracted conversation while they packed up their instruments before they got too wet (it was an outdoor show and it had started to sprinkle). The conversation was feeling butt-ass awkward for some reason, but most likely it was because I was really, really tired and I had the kids there by myself, which is stressful on the food allergy front people around us are having all sorts of cheesy or milky snacks to eat or accidentally scatter on the ground. I was feeling uncharacteristically self-conscious, too, perhaps because of my braces or perhaps because I live a very different life now around a very "non-artistic" crowd and wasn't sure what I could possibly say that would interest them. Perhaps it's also because I've been at home with kids for the past eight years and have trouble conversing with adults now in any meaningful fashion.

So, there I was, talking to Peter who had his young daughter in his arms. I got through the first bits of the conversation where you mention the ages or names and it came to the part where I was supposed to respond with a compliment. All of a sudden, I was tripping over my words.

What I wanted to say was, "She's really pretty" or "She's really lovely", but I was tongue-tied by all the PC stuff that says that it's socially unacceptable to call attention to a girls looks as it might damage them forever by putting focus on the exterior. The problem I was having was that she really was pretty (since when has it become an evil statement to say that someone is pretty or handsome?! If they are, well, then they just are!). She was just sitting in his arms, not talking, just looking at me quietly. I froze! Hmm, I couldn't compliment her on her intelligence because I hadn't seen her do anything brainy (though I'm sure that she's quite bright), I couldn't compliment her on her physical prowess or stunning vocabulary because she was just quietly and calmly sitting in her father's arms. And she was looking sweet. And pretty.

I was at a loss, crushed between what I wanted to say and "correctness". In the end, I mumbled out something that I can't even remember though I got the impression that it wasn't enough. Whatever it was that I said, I'm sure that it certainly wasn't, "She's really pretty." Ah, bumbling through an already awkward conversation. I had wanted to compliment him on his lovely daughter and I couldn't even find a way to do it that might not potentially offend someone. The situation really stunk. This isn't the only time that I've been in this situation, either; one time, when making a polite compliment about an acquaintance's daughter, I went with the old standard and got icy stares from both her parents. After that, I just wasn't up for having it happen again. And this was a no win situation.

I hate political correctness... less offense, more stress. Ugh.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Where does the time go?!

Okay, okay, I hear you Orhan... I'm not disappearing again, really!

Man, have I had a stressful week with a disasterous trip to the kid's dentist (yes, Dr. Ass Hat from my other blog) and working to wrap up the school year (reports are due into the Assistant Superintendent's office next week... UGH). There are many of you who have waaaaay more to deal with than I do, but still it's enough to make my shoulders tense up.

As for posting, I've been writing drafts, but they instantly lose steam the second that I save them for finishing later. Then there's the fact that most things that happen to me would be of little or no interest to anybody. Sometimes I do actually find something to write about, but by the time that I can get around to tapping it out on the keyboard I'm tired enough that I don't think that my two exhausted brain cells would spark if I rubbed them together with all my might.

That's kind of where I am now. I've been finding some new things that have been making me pretty excited for once, but it would require posting *gasp* videos, which seem to be regarded as the lazy way out. Well, sometimes it's the only way to pass on something new that I've found or old that means something to me. But that did get me thinking...

...what's so wrong with posting videos anyway?

("Egads, what would she consider next, posting recipes?!")

On that note, here's a happy video of a song that I've loved since I was a kid... yes, I grew up in the '70's and I'm starting to like that fact, much to my surprise. Until I get to writing some quasi-deep reflection on life as it is, here is a gem from the 70's... diggin' the hair. Hee hee!

(that's "Mr. Blue Sky" by ELO, just in case you wanted to know.)

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

What I Want (a list)

I was over at Los Angelista's Guide to the Pursuit of Happiness and she mentioned that someone suggested that she make a list of what she wanted. I don't know what the real reason behind the list was, but the idea of making a list of what I wanted was in interesting one to me, so I'm just going to run with it.

So, without further ado and in no particular order whatsoever...


... to be able to see my children grow up.

... for people to stop bickering and killing over gods and religions and start simply treating each other with respect and tolerance instead.

... my younger son to outgrow his food allergies.

... to stay strong as long as possible.

... my children to find their gifts and follow what makes them happy.

... to never stop trying new things.

... to see the Northern Lights.

... to go to Burning Man Festival.

... to see a rational leader in the White House.

... to get my braces off.

... to spin fire for the first time within three months.

... to always have friends whom I love.

... all the moles in my yard to go away.

... help with the yard work.

... for my mother to be around for a long time to come.

... have an extra lifetime so that I can read all the books that interest me.

... to go to Rome and Greece to see the ruins.

... to see the mighty Himalayas.

... to live in an old house that has a lot of character and individuality.

... to spend one more day as a child.

... to have an income doing something that I love while still being able to teach my kids.

... to go to a place with better shore breaks for skim boarding.

... my kids to love reading.

... to find the perfect bright raspberry color to paint my living room.

... to have less "stuff".

... live in a place where people go out and about, not come home from work to hide in their houses.

... to see the ocean more.

... to cook interesting and delicious food.

Speaking of which, I'm hungry. Gotta go eat.

So, what is it that you want?

Monday, June 2, 2008

Random Crumbs

Just a few things that I've been thinking about lately.

1. I've been wondering something lately... when you dig a hole in the sand at the beach, both kids and adults are compelled to come up and look into it. I was hip deep in a hole that I was digging at the beach on Memorial Day and every time that I actually looked up, there was someone peering down at me trying to see the bottom of the hole. Why is this?

2. Tatum O'Neal was busted for buying crack in NYC. I had a hard time pretending that I was surprised given her past history, but the woman is a mother in her 40's. I had a conversation a few days ago with a 25 year old acquaintance and he was talking about how he's still going to be "kicking just as hard" in his 40's (married and with kids) as in his 20's, indulging in the recreational substances that he's doing now. Some people would say that drug use is always evil while some people can excuse it as a part of the exuberance of youth. But it got me thinking... at what age does even recreational drug use become pathetic?

3. The people next door had a birthday party for their three year old yesterday and they hired a musician (who amplified his performance for all of the neighborhood to hear) to entertain the kids and their expensive-SUV-driving-parents with an elaborate show. Whatever happened to plain old cake-and-ice cream and a few party games for birthdays?

4. A new friend of mine was surprised to find out that we teach our kids at home because I was the only home schooler he'd ever met who didn't trumpet it from the rooftops (I had known him for about a month and generally don't talk about the home schooling thing unless it comes up in conversation... with the crowd that we hang with that is, thankfully, almost never). I think that we all may have met the rooftops kind of people, the ones who are (*trumpet fanfare*) HOME SCHOOLERS. This is kind of how I'm thinking... just put the banner away, folks, and quietly do your thing. Waving your choice in someone else's face, well, it's kind of just bad manners.

5. The Mister recently thanked me for keeping him young by introducing him to new things and keeping him in a younger mindset (he's always been quite serious and maybe a little "old" for his age). A lot of my peers are so set in their ways that they stop seeking out new things. I've noticed that many of them have sort of frozen themselves in the era that they came of age. Why is that? Shouldn't life continue to be an adventure of discovery?

Speaking of which, here's one of the things that I've discovered lately that I've been pretty excited about. While looking up some musicians that I spent a brief time hanging out with (in what now seems like another lifetime), I found that they were playing with this group: The Mutaytor. From what I understand, the group/troupe took shape at Burning Man Festival and the show seems like a microcosm of the festival. I really like the music and the show looks awesome. I'd love to experience both the show and the festival sometime.

The kids love Chinese dragon and the smiley face guys near the end. I like the fire spinning stuff... but more about that at a later date when I feel like talking more about it. ;-)