28 October 2008

Respect is Relative

Every family is different. This is a safe statement, relatively speaking.
(Get it? Family? Relatively? Haha!)

Okay, well anyway.....

I am speculating that in most families there is one trait or characteristic that is looked upon with greater respect than any other. It might be one's net worth, in comparison to the rest of the family members, that is admired most. It could be longevity of marriage. The number of one's college degrees of one sort or another. Maybe it's physical strength or perceived physical beauty. Who knows, if you are a particularly close family maybe it's the size of those prime body parts you're comparing.

In my family, you could have degrees at Harvard and Oxford. You could drive the newest Porsche and own three homes. You could have the latest cutting-edge plastic surgery procedures of one body part or another but if you're a bit of a dunce in the smart-assery department, you're a loser. And, added bonus, probably the butt of most family jokes.

'Clever' is the currency of my family.

It took many adult-type years for me to come to this realization about my 'loved ones.'

En garde. Wit. Sharp. Edgy. Dark. Quick intellect. Jab, jab, jab. Verbal triumph! All in the name of laughter and familial entertainment. Quick, stabbing retorts as a form of showing off one's intellectual prowess. The quicker, the sharper, the sexier. Comebacks and jabs are gold in my family. And in all honesty, I am not exactly bankrupt in this area.

But I'm not nearly as well off as the two most prosperous members of my family. My grandfather and my uncle. It took me years to realize that each time I found myself traveling to a family gathering, I also found I was girding myself with an emotional Kevlar vest. Bracing for the assault that would surely come my way, just as much as any other family member's way. Yet at the same time, arming myself with any weapon of wit I could think of. I was as guilty as anyone, but alas not quite as 'good' or well skilled as these two. Yet it was not from lack of trying. I justified it as self-defense.

Earlier today I walked into the building at which I work. A friend of mine said Hello and asked how I was doing? I explained that I was working about ten extra hours this week and to check with me at the end of the week.

"We'll see how I look after working all these hours," I said.

"Well you don't look that great to begin with," was his reply.

Now let me say up front, that I did not take offense at this. Well, okay maybe a little bit. I understood fully that he was kidding around. Being funny. I know this form of humor well. I was raised on it. Maybe it was it's familiarity that caused it to linger in my head and stimulate my blog thoughts. (Honestly I was not offended. This 'jab' was nothing compared to the stuff my family can sling.)

Say anything as long as you say it with a big grin on your face, or tack on 'just kidding' after the damage is done. The pay-off is the laugh from the standers-by. Ca-ching! The laugh and the slight crumble of expression on the 'victims' face.

Yesterday at my other place of work, one of my favorite young patrons took a couple of cheap shots at my expense for the sake of the amusement of his nearby peers. We're talking about thirteen, fourteen year old boys here, so my expectations were not all that lofty to begin with. However, I still found myself quite disappointed. And frankly sad. Not in a personal manner, exactly. Okay, well maybe a little tiny bit. But more in a big picture, human spirit, right-brain manner.

When did being hard on people become entertainment? Our society, the media industry especially, puts a high premium on laughs coming at the expense of others. This feels like easy, cheap humor to me.

I don't know if I'm evolving or regressing but I have come to the point where it just doesn't feel good anymore. The ca-ching has an empty and mournful ring in its tone. I believe it's entirely possible to be charming, social, funny and desirable company without someone taking a hit. And when I think of all the years spent swinging at those I love most. Being swung at by those who are supposed to love me most, it makes my eyes water.

I'm not whining about being a recent target. Because really, it doesn't hurt my feelings. It just makes me sad. Okay, sometimes it might hurts my feelings. A little bit...

I think my time is better spent building up those people around me, as opposed to tearing them down, bit by witty bit. I do not grow by ripping others to shreds in the name of funny. I do not gain. I do not shine when those I love crumble the tiniest bit. That is the path to emotional bankruptcy. I lose a little of something good every single time. And I resolve to stop. I have no interest in being the unfortunate comment that rings in someone's ears when they go home at night. I want the words I choose to use to create and strengthen. I'm determined.

Sticks and stones may break your bones, but our words can break someone's heart or make someone's day. Speak softly, spiritually speaking.

08 October 2008

Two-ply Quilted, Please

I was so looking forward to Wednesday. Today.

It's pretty much the best day of my work week. If there is such a thing.

It's a light day work-flow-wise and typically a light day patron-flow-wise. Win-win, smack dab in the middle of my week.

I now have two blogs in the center of my radar. I love this. It is all, all good. However, it does double my blog expectations. Expectations strictly self-imposed mind you, but still, being my own toughest critic this is no small thing.

As far behind as I am feeling in the area of 'blogging,' a wide-open, slow day looked like a hot fudge brownie sundae sitting in front of me.

So there I was, starting my much anticipated Wednesday work shift, eager to get the blog wheels turning.

What shall I write about? Fiction? Non-fiction? (And I totally know the difference.) Personal, intimate? Or irreverent and observational? It would be fantastic to get two whole blog posts up and visible in this one day. And I'll do it, too. Because I've got all day for the 'brainstorming' part of the process, so no problem right? Yes indeed, that's what I thought as well.

Hello, Inspiration? Hello. Are you there? I'm here, I'm ready. Let's go.

Nothing. Less than nothing, if that's possible.

In the mean time, I keep chipping away at regular, on-going chores. Waiting, waiting. But nothing.

*drumming my highly polished, overly bandaged library fingers impatiently on a book about the Amish*

Waiting. Woo hoo, Inspiration. Where are you? WAITING already!

Now I won't explain in detail what happened next but I will tell you the discovery I've come to because of what happened next: Writing in the bathroom! Eureka.

Of course! Why hadn't I thought of this before? Years before? *head slap*

I am a writer and I have colitis. 2 + 2

Writing in the bathroom just makes sense, doesn't it? A match made by the gods of porcelain and Northern toilet paper. Not that I did the writing on the actual toilet paper, but that's not a bad idea either. Although single-ply might prove a bit problematic with my favourite fountain pen.

Now . . . .this was not exactly the type of inspiration I was aiming for, but I like to remain open-minded when the Universe speaks to me, all poetic like.

If you happen to be the squeamish sort, be not afraid, for I did not write this particular piece in the bathroom but good things are to come, I assure you.

If you happen to be a participant in the other blog in which I am engaged, please note the following permission slip:

To whom it may concern ~

Barbie has my permission to use this fluffy piece in both of her blogs. But just this once. Please allow her back into class upon return of her senses and do not count this entry against her. Just pretend like it never happened.

Yours sincerely....

Thanks for reading.

PS: Let's never speak of this again...... unless of course you have a comment of encouragement, in which case, speak away.