Flowers in California

Flowers in California

Monday, April 29, 2013

When Coffee Disappoints

My relationship with coffee has not been without problems lately.  It's not that I love it any less but I am tiring of its unpredictability.  I want certainty that I will enjoy a pleasant tasting drink every time I pick up a cup.  On many occasions lately, coffee has failed to provide me with that.  It has been disappointing and I'm not sure how we can resolve the issues we've had.

It is not price that determines whether or not I enjoy a cup of coffee.  Recently I enjoyed a cup from a convenience store; there have been times when I've been disappointed by coffee from some fancier vendors.  It is not that I am consistently pleased or disappointed with one vendor - sometimes I love a cup of Starbucks coffee, sometimes every sip tastes of bitterness and defeat.  We make coffee at home.  Sometimes that coffee is terrible.  But not always.  The coffee that someone brought me from Colombia was very good but I can't really ask her to go back regularly for that (I suppose).

I don't know what the factors are that lead to success or failure with coffee.  It seems so random.  It's a bit of an adventure to discover what tastes good and what doesn't but I'm not seeking adventure when I drink coffee.  I'm seeking one consistent pleasure in my relatively simple little life.  I'm not asking for a lot or not right now anyways.

To me, coffee has one ideal taste.  Every time I pick up a cup, I want to be greeted by it.  I will keep on picking up cups and keep on searching for that taste..  It's uncertain right now if my favourite bean and I can resolve our differences.  I like to think this is an important relationship for both of us.  I hope that we find our way.


Thursday, April 25, 2013

On Acquaintances and Not Talking

I may be a horrible person.  Before anyone rushes to assure me that this is simply not true (and I do hope that someone would do that), I'll let everyone know I'm okay with it.  If I'm horrible, I'm horrible.  There's no point in fighting it.

What has led me to consider this possibility is my reluctance to converse with people I know a little bit but not much.  We are acquaintances at best and while these people are all friendly, I don't always feel like coming up with something to say to them.  There's the nice bus driver, the woman who always knows my name in that store and various other people with whom I come in contact.  It can be nice to exchange a word or two but when this sets up an expectation for the next encounter, I don't enjoy the obligation.  Sometimes, I have avoided people to prevent conversations from happening.  This is where the horrible stuff starts to emerge.

I love meaningful interaction with people.  I love listening and talking and laughing with people whom I know and who know me.  My acquaintances and I cannot communicate at a meaningful level.  Our talk must be more superficial and it may be an effort for them too.  To me, really, what is the point?  We can smile, we can be polite to each other but it's probably best if none of us makes an effort to talk when there is simply nothing to say.

I think I will try to stop avoiding people and, instead, approach them in a more relaxed, honest manner.  It's ok that conversations don't take place every time acquaintances meet.  I'll try to be comfortable with the fact that I don't always have interesting things to say and that maybe I'm doing everyone a favour.  After all, the bus driver doesn't have the choice of avoiding me when he pulls up to my stop.  He might be glad if I just quietly let him be.


Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Jobs and Qualifications

Upon seeing a sign recently for Experienced Stylists wanted at a hair salon, I thought about what it would be like to apply for this job or any job for which I have almost no qualification.  I have styled my own hair, with mixed success, for a long time but my educational credentials with hair are non-existent and I have zero experience on the salon floor.  What if I applied?

Sticking to the facts, I wouldn't progress far in the selection process.  If I resorted to dishonesty, I still don't think I would be a serious candidate for long.  Things would fall apart when I had to give demonstrations of my work.  There would be a lot of questions.

Taking an honest approach to the application process for jobs, it would be interesting to see the reactions employers would have when one indicates that he or she is wholly unqualified and/or ill-suited for the job for which they have applied.  The following answers should be considered red flags by interviewers for the following positions:

Firefighting - I'm afraid of heights and I don't handle crises well.

Psychologist - I tend to drift off when listening to other people's problems.  And I possess so little empathy it's bordering on pathological.

Chef - Yeah, my cooking's not good and I'm prone to knife injuries.  Also, I wouldn't want to wear the hat.  That's asking a little too much.

Writer - I believe there are so many better ways to express oneself than with the written word.  My preferred medium is macramé.  I think in the end we'll find it's really all about the knots.

Accountant - Wow, I am really not good with numbers.  But I am a people person.  That should help.

Dog Walker - I'm afraid of dogs.  I would let go of every leash in my possession if I encountered a situation I found troubling and, believe me, I find a lot of situations troubling.

Swimming Instructor - I never learned to swim myself but I believe in the concept.  I don't like to immerse myself in water though and I would prefer not to work with children.  I find them small and somewhat needy.

Optometrist - Yes, I'm exceptionally knowledgeable about feet.  They're an amazing part of the body.  Wait, what - eyes?  I hadn't realized.  That'll be a bit different but my knowledge is very transferrable.  Feet and eyes share so many commonalities, after all.

Courier - Well, I think I'd really like driving around in the truck but I don't want to drop off or pick up packages.  Those parts of the job don't appeal to me.  I hope that's not an impediment to my working for your fine organization.

Receptionist - I don't like answering the phone and I feel interruptions are an attack on my personhood.  I do like sitting though so that's a plus.

It's important to find the right person for a job and good to watch out for answers like these ones.  They offer a hint that maybe, just maybe, the applicant wouldn't be a good fit for the job.


On Loneliness and Imperfection

If we demanded perfection from our friends, I would be very lonely.  No one who demanded perfection in a person would choose to be with me.  So that right there takes me out of the running.  I'd have to go find hobbies or just be alone.  It wouldn't be good.

If we demanded perfection from our friends, I don't think there'd be many friendships at all.  None of us is perfect.  We know that but sometimes we are bothered by others' perceived imperfections, flaws, the things they do wrong, the things they don't do right.  Sometimes it's easy to want to shut people out, reject them.  I don't think that's right.  It seems sadly wrong.

We need each other, imperfections and all.  In listening, sharing, trying to offer support, sharing a laugh and a smile, we can try to help each other.  We are all trying to muddle through.  It seems nicer to do it together.  It's lonely muddling alone.


Listening to Stories

Momentarily, a friend will tell me a story.  I sit here, a blank canvas, awaiting her words.  Where will her words take me?  What are the pictures they will create?  Will my pictures, my understanding, be like hers?  Can they ever be?  I wonder what she will tell me, I wonder what she will share.

I find it wonderful to be able to connect with another, to share each other's stories, to listen, to try to take in what each of us says, both verbally and in other ways, and to try to understand life is like from the other side of the table, looking around at a different view.  It's an honour to have people share with us.  I thank my friend for sharing.  I treasure that she did.


Sunday, April 21, 2013

Peaches and Chick Peas

I was out somewhere today and noticed a big cardboard box on the floor.  Curious about what it was, I started looking at the words and decorations that adorned it.  It was a box for food bank donations.  Among the food items suggested for donation were chick peas and canned peaches.  Somehow, in looking at those words, I got it.  I knew how wonderful it would be to receive food when one needs it.  I felt what a need that must satisfy.

Whatever situations people find themselves in, the need to eat doesn't change and can't be put aside until the money comes in.  Sometimes, a can of peaches or chick peas can be so important.  It can relieve one of hunger and provide hope.  When we can do so, it seems that giving food is a nice way to help.  How lucky we are to eat.


Friday, April 12, 2013

On Noticing and Appreciating - Despite a Decorating Concern

Moments ago I was sitting in my living room.  That's probably not information a lot of people need to know.  Still, I have chosen to share it.

As I sat there, having put down a book I was reading, and not ready to move onto my next activity, I looked at a picture on the wall and at a piece of furniture.  I considered whether colours in the painting look bad with the colour of the sofa underneath the painting.  I am still not sure about that but I realized, as I sat there, that there are things I like about my living and dining rooms.  While there is a lot of reading material sitting around and miscellaneous things on the dining room table that we would want to move before a meal, the area comes close to being a nice living space.

This entry is not written to say that I have a great living/dining room.  Rather, it is written to share my sense of enjoying that room as it was, without feeling a need to change it.  I realized how nice it is now.

We can search, seek, paint, repaint, renovate, move, do so much to improve things.  Where does all that lead and does it ever end?  Moments like the one I had where we realize we like some things the way they are refreshing.  In them, we enjoy life and appreciate what we have.

I hope that we can all sit around sometimes and appreciate, enjoy, relax.  Ideally we can do all this despite any mismatches in colour schemes.  That's where this all started for me.  I'll try to keep noticing the good things in the future.  It's easier than redecorating the room.


Some Days

Some days don't go well.  They may not be horrible but it's a struggle to get through them and they're not enjoyable.  I had one of those days today and I am glad that it is coming to a close.

There was discomfort, hopelessness, physical pain, anger, lots of frustration, hunger and even bad weather.

Sometimes it seems like you won't make it.  But you do.

We plod on through these days and get to better ones.  Despite the miseries experienced, and in the midst of them, we can pick up insights, learn to better appreciate good days, think of things we want to do when we feel better, and realize how nice things often are, just not on days like today.  I guess that's ok.  But I'm hoping tomorrow's better.


On Failure and Towels and Being Lint-Free

I read over the instructions for my new contact lens case.  Normally I don't find such reading material especially compelling but as I have had an eye infection or irritation of some kind, I thought it would be wise to review the steps I should be taking in lens care.  There weren't a lot of instructions but most of the ideas offered were good.  Then they mentioned using a lint-free towel to wipe the case dry.  For me, that's where it all went wrong.

I'll admit it now, and please try not to judge, that I don't divide my towels up into lint and lint-free categories.  I must be oblivious to the subtle nuances of towel science but to me, they're all simply items that are used to dry people, pets, the occasional massive spill.  I have never put any thought into their lint-producing abilities or lack thereof.  I didn't know.  And if I did manage to figure out such characteristics for each towel we possess, how would I store them?  Would they need separate shelves in the linen closet?  We don't have a big linen closet.  Where would I put the sheets?

While I've somehow managed this long without in-depth towel knowledge, I find instructions such as these a little defeating. If I don't use a lint-free towel,  it will seem like I've failed a little bit before I've even begun.  I don't need a little injection of failure added to my daily grooming routine.  There's never any certainty of success as it is.

Maybe, though, strict instructions such as these ones work by giving us a little wiggle room.  We don't have to use the towel prescribed but we should wash and dry the case with something, whether it is certified lint-free or not.  That would be better than what I was doing up until a few days ago: I was rather negligent.

I won't start studying my towels and contacting manufacturers to figure out lint status yet.  I will continue to use them for what I consider their standard purposes.  But I will ponder what to do with the linen closet when it is no longer possible to ignore this important towel distinction.   It's not looking good for the sheets.


Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Thoughts on a Plane

I returned from my fun trip to Toronto yesterday.  After much rummaging, I found a pen and jotted down some thoughts during the flight.  Here they are:

I have slept on planes before; I know it's possible.  This time, we are sitting in the back row of the plane.  While I try to never use a washroom on a plane, most people on the flight do not share such an ambition.  It is very loud here as each person opens the washroom door.  None of these people know how much I hate them for these bathroom trips.  Perhaps I will start growling.

I wonder if I can complete one flight, and ideally the return trip as well, in which I seem like a sleek, put-together air traveler.  Today as I held onto 2 coats, repeatedly kicked my carry-on bag along in the line at Starbucks and tried to have my money ready to pay for my drink, it was apparent that I had not reached that status.  Maybe one day I will accomplish that feat and other travelers will, while admiring my stunning outfit and smooth grace, quietly scorn me.  I really hope so!

On some flights my thoughts, as I sit above the clouds, are of an inspiring, high-level, perhaps life-changing nature.  Then there are flights like today's in which my thoughts are along the lines of:

- Who eats something that smells like that at this time of day?
- Oh good!  The drink cart is coming but what about my vow of abstinence on bathroom trips?  Those ideas conflict.
- Why did I get a coffee right before boarding - for so many reasons that's wrong and now I have to balance this cup as I read, get things out of my bag, pick up things I drop and dislike people who interrupt my sleep.

Why is there always at least one businessperson at the front of the plane who gives me a condescending look as they apparently question how I could be on the same plane as them?  I know I'm not one of them; that's not the role I'm playing today.  But regardless of their feelings on the matter, we are on the same flight and mine is not paid for by an employer.  Maybe I'm wrong but I suspect theirs may be.  So was that look really warranted on your part?

Why do we have the busiest, chattiest flight crew ever?  They're friendly too which makes it harder to dislike them.  Still, they gather close to our back row location and when I was still hoping for sleep, they disturbed me.  But they are a wonderful crew.

I've spent some time trying to decide if the top of a man's head is off-center or if it only looks that way because of how he is sitting.  I may never know.  He's bald, with a lovely fringe of bright white hair.  The top of his head is nice-looking but I do question its symmetry.  If he would sit up straight, we could get this matter worked out without any embarrassment.  We'll see what happens.

Saskatchewan - there you are.  We know each other so little and I think it will stay that way.  There are no bad feelings - there are no feelings at all.  You look like such a sunny province.  I'm much more comfortable with busy big city streets and shopping malls.  But I wish you well.

How freaked out are people when they see someone writing pages and pages of notes in public?  Yes people know that there are those who write, but do they consider me in something like the "crazy cat lady" category when they see the process in action?  They seem to notice as they stand in the washroom line.  Perhaps they wonder if I'm writing about them.  They are right to wonder.

I am tired of having to repeat things I say because others in my party are wearing headphones/earbuds/things-they-put-on-their-heads that block out my voice.  (Admittedly I have spoken mostly to complain or when I needed help finding something I'd dropped so they haven't missed a lot.)  Perhaps later on at home I should pretend, for four hours, that I do not hear what people say and then remove an imaginary device from my ear.  I wouldn't explain why I was doing it.  It would teach them or make them really, really confused.

I have not let my son's school that he will not be there.  I wonder what they do to parents like that.  I'll know soon.

I am revisitng the question of the symmetry of the man's head.

As I look at the maps showing the flight path and progress, I come up with places to which I never wish to travel.  My mood has deteriorated (it didn't start off great anyways) and I have become geographically hostile.  I have decided that I never want to go anywhere north.  I am sure the north would be somewhat relieved if it knew.

Landing is starting now so only about 90,000 more hurdles to clear before we're home and I'm in trouble with the school.  Landing makes me a bit nervous but it is beautifully done.

Despite all the little annoyances that accompany it, air travel is amazing.   I am grateful for the ability to travel great distances quickly and safely.  It doesn't matter how we're dressed, what we do to get through the flight, whether that man's head is symmetrical or not (he seemed comfortable with it regardless) or whether we are able to sleep on board.  Air travel enables us to get there, wherever our "there" may be.  I hear a plane.  Happy flying to all!