Over the past month, I’ve been given three awards by six different bloggers, and true to form, I’m just getting around to acknowledging them now. It isn’t that I’m ungrateful. It’s that I’m self-conscious about a lot of things, so I’ll never get used to receiving an award. I don’t even know what to do with a casual compliment. If someone says, “Hey, nice shirt,” I launch into a backpedaling flurry of deflections and explanations that would make you think I’ve just been mistakenly given a Nobel Prize in Economics.
“This shirt? Oh, well, I didn’t make the shirt. I just bought it. And it was on sale. Actually, it was buy one, get one free. It was made in Bangladesh. That’s really why I bought it. I figured, Bangladesh, it must be good quality. I feel a little guilty, because Bangladesh is one of those places I don’t think about very often, you know, and here they are making all of these great shirts and everything.”
If someone admires my shoes, I ask if they’d like to have them.
Rooha Tariq of Envisioning Future gave me the Versatile Blogger Award on January 11, followed soon after by Susan of lostnchina, Judy of earthriderdotcom and Catherine of The Sandwich Lady. On December 28, my great friend Melissa of Play101 sent me the Happy Blog Award, and way back on December 18, Kate of Believe Anyway presented me with her Candle Lighter Award.
All of these honors come with slightly different rules and requirements. Most ask the recipient to link back to the bloggers who bestowed the awards, designate a number of new recipients, and in between, write about some revealing personal traits or experiences. I’ve done this a few times now, so there isn’t much left I can say about myself that wouldn’t include the exposure of my most carefully guarded neurotic tendencies, and maybe some embarrassing physical measurements.
Speaking of neurotic tendencies, here’s something I’ve been trying hard to change: getting annoyed, frustrated, and generally disturbed by minor events, those meaningless incidents that should have no effect on us, but that in my case may be quietly shaving days and weeks off my life. This new happy-go-lucky attitude, then, represents a major advance in my eternal battle with the outside world. I suddenly see that these are insignificant irritations, and they’re no longer going to bother me.
At least that’s the plan.
By the way, if it seems as though these things are upsetting me even as I tell you about them, don’t be fooled. I’m learning to let things roll right off my back. It isn’t easy, I’ll admit. For one thing, I can’t think of any reason to have something on my back to begin with. Besides, most things don’t even roll. A broken VCR, for example, would be hard to roll because of its boxy shape. I could probably get it to slide, though, if I stood at just the right angle. So here are a few things I now let slide off my back.
1. Does this happen to you? You’re standing in the kitchen and you need to make a list of stuff to buy at the store. You’ve started the list in your head, but once it exceeds four items you need to write them down. There’s an empty jelly jar on the counter crammed with writing utensils. You reach for a pen and try to use it, but the ink is all dried up. You scribble circles on the paper for ten or twelve seconds to get the ink flowing, but nothing happens. You try another, and then a third, all with the same results. The list you had in your head is now almost completely gone. The only two things you can remember are shoelaces and bubble gum, and you’re pretty sure there were other things you needed. Who put those pens back into the jar when they knew they wouldn’t do anyone a bit of good? Why not just throw them away? There was a time when such an incident would cause my ears to light on fire.
2. Occasionally, a person will say something, and I’ll respond with what I think is a perfectly good answer. Then they’ll shake their heads a little and say, “But you’re missing the point.” This is the worst thing anyone can say to me, with the possible exception of, “We heard you were a vegetarian, so we made you a broccoli casserole.” I try really hard to get the point. I usually have to look around for it, and sometimes for quite a while. My subtle nod and serene expression may send out a signal that I’m comprehending, but most times, inside my head I’m scrambling around like a man in a tuxedo attempting to cope with an overflowing toilet. Eventually I bump into the point and recognize it immediately. So up until this moment in my life, I would get pretty steamed when a person advised me that I’d missed it. But not anymore. This is the new me, the one who doesn’t get steamed at little, unimportant things. Although, I suppose if I mention to someone that I don’t care for broccoli, even in a casserole, and they tell me I’m missing the point, I could easily revert to old behaviors.
3. There are foods that are described as Extra Mild. How can anything be extra mild? That sounds like they’ve added something to it in order to make it less of something else. What did they add? Is it the ingredient-version of negative numbers? If mild salsa isn’t tame enough for me, then I shouldn’t be eating salsa in the first place.
4. Sometimes I’ll pull into a parking space that has one of those low blocks of concrete running across the front of it. Maybe it’s still light out when I park the car, but when I return, it’s gotten dark. A lack of sunlight makes it harder for me to see, and also, less understandably, causes a lapse in my mental faculties. I get in the car, start the engine, and drive forward. I move only about eight inches before hearing a horrific scraping noise, like a helicopter wedging itself inside an elevator shaft. Do you know the sound I mean? I do this more frequently than you might imagine, but in a funny way, each time it happens I’m momentarily bewildered. My first thought is always something like, “What in the world…?” accompanied by a low-grade sense of outrage, as though some force of evil has shown up unannounced and damaged the bottom of my car. This outrage is quickly replaced by recognition, because really, it’s the same sound I heard four days ago when I drove over that concrete barrier at the bank.
5. When people say, “It’s all downhill from here,” I never know what they mean. I usually answer with, “Yeah. That’s for sure.” But inside my brain, I’m doing the scrambling thing again. Does downhill mean good or bad? I know if I’m looking at one of those graphs that indicates profits, then uphill is good news and downhill is a sign of trouble. And when they say someone is over the hill, they mean he’s reached his peak and everything from now on is going to be a disappointment. On the other hand, if I’m pushing a nine-passenger van filled with canned goods up a mountain, when I get to the top, it’s all downhill from there, and I’m always pretty relieved about that. Or shouldn’t I be? I think from now on, I’m going to ask for clarification.
6. I don’t like the blank tiles in Scrabble. I don’t like wild cards, complimentary passes, or anything that’s referred to as a “freebie.” I also don’t appreciate faux finishes — plastic that looks like wood, or tile painted to look like marble. Airbrushed photographs of human beings are the dumbest thing I can imagine. So if we’re playing a word game and I don’t have a Z, don’t give me a blank tile and tell me it’s okay to pretend it’s a Z. That offends my sensibilities. I don’t even know what sensibilities are, but man, there are a lot of things that offend them. Or once offended them, I should say. Now, of course, they just slide.
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These award posts take time, and I realize most people are busy figuring out how to pay their credit card bills, or searching their coat closet for a matching pair of gloves. So I’m not going to pass the awards on in any formal way. But here are a few blogs I like. I think you will, too. In fact, I’m pretty sure you’ll find, after reading this post, that it’s all uphill from here. Or something.
The original artwork for these cartoons was done by Ron Leishman.