with Lynne and Leslie

Happy Isn’t Always the Point, and Disappointment Happens, But That’s Okay!!

by SweetMidlife

HI! It’s Lynne. We haven’t written in a bunch, so hi!

So we have had an exciting few days here at my house. We have been fighting all kinds of sinus grossness, then last week I was diagnosed with bronchitis. In the middle of the ick, though, has been some fun, like the birthday party that our son went to on Saturday, where he did gymnastics stuff, then came home and went with the birthday friends to our local playground, where he jumped and ran, and then back home, where he tripped on a stick in the front yard and fractured his leg. So, our weekend looked different than we planned, with ER and ortho visits, but there was also lots of eating in the living room, which we don’t usually do, and lounging and carryout and eating fun things like Lunchables from the hospital vending machine. Life is like that, especially when you are trying to adult. You make adjustments, and even though you go through lengths to try to make your kids not so disappointed that things are different, you hope that they know in the end that you are doing what you can without passing out.

And sometimes they don’t.

My son’s cast that my husband performed Spider-Man and Sharpie magic on

This morning, the little boy and I were supposed to hang out with friends of ours, another mommy and little boy pair, and it was going to be awesome. Except I woke up this morning feeling sinus-y again, and I already have a work commitment tonight, and our house looks too crazy to have them over here, and a restaurant play place would not work with the cast, so I decided to reschedule. Which made the little boy who lives here unhappy. And my friend (the other mom) and I were on the phone trying to work out all kinds of ways to still see them elsewhere, but that was getting complicated, and we just decided to wait to get together for a few days. And I knew that this wasn’t going to make my son happy, and that made me pause for a second, but I quickly realized, with my dad’s voice echoing in my head (I miss you Daddy!!), that this was okay.

Because my son has not just the necessities like a home and clothing and food and love, but he has perks like the internet and ice cream and several couches and lots of toy trucks. We aren’t trying to toughen him up by making him eat hardened bread crusts and walk 2 miles to preschool. But making other people happy isn’t always the best thing for them if….

…It makes YOU unhappy or sick. We make sacrifices for the peeps we love, but me not getting better helps nobody.
…It teaches them that it is okay if other people are unhappy or sick as long as they have what they want
…It teaches them that momentary happy, which I personally find awesome, is always more important than anything else ever
…They think that they are owed everything that they want like donuts every time you pick them up from school, which is awesome because donuts, but you do eat them a lot and then that time you really just need to go home because it’s late and also there is a limit to donuts, they say that they never get to do ANYTHING, and because they aren’t going now they will NEVER HAVE DONUTS AGAIN EVER and you NEVER do nice things for them.

So. We aren’t going to see our friends today and that is fine. We will see them in a few days. And we might go around the corner and get a treat later that’s closer because I am still into fun and happiness. Because it’s cool. But so are other things. Treats among the other things are good.

We’ll be okay.

 


Fear and things

by SweetMidlife

Hi! It’s Lynne.

I spent a lot of time yesterday making a final decision on the next show that the theater I run (we do shows with professional actors for kids) is going to do, and after a bunch of time going back and forth, I decided on a show about a town of people who are afraid to go outside and live life until someone shows them how to get through that fear, and they get to live full lives. It’s a wonderful message, and I was feeling really great about it. Then I read about the shooting at the airport in Ft. Lauderdale. And on the way to pick up my son from preschool, and while I was there, and then while I was at Trader Joe’s, I realize that I was uneasy, because I began to eye the people around me suspiciously. And I mean everybody. And it was a horrible feeling.

And I wanted to go back to my house and barricade us inside.

Bad things happen. It’s on the news, and it’s in our lives. I have very dear friends who are hurting unimaginably  because of something horrific that happened to a dear friend of theirs.

And life still happens, even in the face of hate, and things that don’t make sense.

I believe in being cautious, and smart, but even that doesn’t prevent bad things from happening.

Fear can come from big and little things.

15942873_10154152070563053_1145041546_o

Today, it snowed here, and my son has been itching to go outside and play, even though there wasn’t a bunch of snow, and even though it was still snowing. So we put on our stuff, and we went out, and we played with digger trucks in the snow, and we saw 2 of our teen aged neighbors riding their bikes. The little one and I walked up the street to see them doing wheelies, and ride really fast, and on the way back to our house, my son asked if we could ask the boys to come play with us. And I  tried to avoid it. I said we were going in soon, which we were, and I said that the boys were already playing on their bikes and wouldn’t want to stop doing this to come play in our yard. And as my kid looked at me and begged me to PLEASE go talk to them, I realized that I didn’t want to ask them because I was scared. I was scared of rejection, and that they would say no, and that my kid’s feelings would get hurt, or that they would feel obligated because a little kid was asking, and they really wouldn’t want to, and I imagined all of these things, and he still pleaded me to go ask, and so we did. And the boys were beyond sweet, and asked him about bikes, and we talked about my son’s new bike, and the boys rode really fast so he could see them make tracks, and one of them even got off of his bike and raced my son up the street on foot and let him win. And it was lovely and my son now knows about the kindness of big kids.

It’s good.

None of this changes that bad things happen, and that even if you cross all of your t’s and dot every i (and do that), bad things might still happen.

But live, okay? Say hi to new people. Go play in the snow. Travel. Grow things. Be a growing thing. Live.


Pamela Smart, TV murder and who’s writing your story in the New Year

by SweetMidlife
Bang your own drum, or be content with someone else doing it for you. And that means they get to pick the tune.

Bang your own drum, or be content with someone else doing it for you. And that means they get to pick the tune.

Leslie here! One of my New Year’s resolutions – yeah, they’re mostly poppycock, but hear me out – is to spend less time reading other people’s writing and actually writing myself. I’m a writer after all. Says so on my business card and my tax returns. It’s almost embarrassing how not proactive I’ve been, particularly when you consider that I always thought I was. But if you don’t take careful possession of who you actually appear to be, and who is telling your truth, you are doomed. Like, “doomed” if you were reading it in Vincent Price’s voice. Like you’re screwed.

I was reminded of this on New Year’s Day, watching “Captivated: The Trials of Pamela Smart,” a 2014 HBO documentary that’s not so much about the murder of a young husband by his wife’s teen lover and his friends that she’s accused of setting up, but why we think we know what we know about it. Smart, a former school New England school media coordinator who is serving life without parole for engineering the plot, still maintains her innocence, and director Jeremiah Zagar seems to think that’s possible. But that’s not what his movie is about. It’s about how Smart herself was set up as the unfortunate subject of a “ripped-from-the-headlines” culture in the early ’90s, before myriad studies on how media coverage effects both juries and public opinion. There were several books, a widely-scene TV movie starring Helen Hunt and even a wickedly excellent Gus Van Zandt movie, “To Die For” that was loosely based on the case. Even though the movies came after the verdict, there is evidence that they have tainted any chance Smart has of getting a new trial. Person after person involved in the case, from co-conspirators to reporters to even the filmmakers and writers who recorded it as history, admit that they have a hard time separating fact from fiction. They sometimes forget which details were in evidence and which were lines spouted by Helen Hunt on a TV set.

It’s eerie to imagine that a real woman could be sitting in jail for the rest of her life – she’s spent more than half of it there already – because she had the dumb luck of falling into a salacious situation of her own making. It possessed all sorts of nasty little made-for-Geraldo details like the seduction of a teen boy,  old found bikini photos made to look like they were taken explicitly to seduce the kid, a secret, damning tape and the like. Smart’s defense team, who decided that they didn’t want to try the case in the press, didn’t insist that she tell her own story. What they didn’t appreciate is that this story was going to be told for her, in so many televised testimonies and talk show punditry. Watching the court of public opinion bury Smart two decades later, in glorious early-90s big hair and shoulder pads, is claustrophobic, because of what we know now about how media can bury or salvage you depending on its whims. The case predated the present Casey Anthonys and even the Dalia Dippolitos – troubled women with a whiff of sexual inappropriateness and big doe eyes that make people either want to save them or smack them. Maybe they’re all guilty. But if they weren’t – like if there was video of someone else committing their crimes – some people would still refuse to believe it because we’ve all discussed it and decided that they did it.

So what I’m saying is this – whether you’re the First Lady or the lunch lady, you are a public person to someone. There are people who are curious about you, who are forming opinions about you based on your Facebook profile or your last ten Tweets, or your Pinterest boards or even what they saw you buy at the Winn-Dixie last week. They probably don’t even realize that these opinions are being formed, but they are being formed, all the same. I respect the right of everyone to have their own lives, to curate the details of those lives accordingly and to not have to justify anything they do to a bunch of strangers. But “Captivated” reminded me that if you don’t take an active role in telling your own story, it’s still being told. I will take that lesson this year as a person who posts about working out but doesn’t lose weight because I keep eating things you don’t see, as a writer who sometimes spends too much time watching TV someone else wrote and not writing herself. Stuff like that. I can say I’m one thing, in all the Pinterest and Facebook and Twitter I want, but if I don’t actively inhabit those things, I am not them. I am telling a different story. Be aware of who you are and how your life tells that story. It might be speaking louder than your words.


2016: The year that was…sucky…and great…and a good set-up for something better

by SweetMidlife
Keep on rocking in the new year!

Keep on rocking in the new year!

This is Leslie, who does not write nearly as much as she should on this blog. My previous excuse has been that I write full-time as a newspaper columnist so I don’t always want to sit down and write some more, but time is money, and as a single mother I can tell you that making money is worth my time. So even though we don’t really make any money on this labor of love because we don’t write enough, we certainly won’t make any if we don’t write. Synergy and stuff.

So this is why I’m up at 1-ish a.m. on the last day of 2016, briefly writing about how even though this year sucked for so many reasons, it was OK or even transcendent in some cases. Yes, yes, I’m talking about the same year that killed Prince, David Bowie, Carrie Fisher and her mother Debbie Reynolds, Glenn Frey and George Michael, among others. (Hide, Betty White!) And then there’s the fact of some major nastiness, racism and ugliness that seems to be bolder about showing itself. It was always there,  but now it’s just braver and not hiding (and if you’re attempting to blame racism on people who note that there is racism, this blog is not for you and you can go now, seriously. Get out of here with that mess.)

But bad and good things happen in every year – 2015 was the year I lost my husband, and 2016 was the year that the adoption of our son became final. So I’m a bigger fan of 2016. I am sure that in all of your lives, there are highs and lows in any 12-month period. I can’t speak for you, but here is a list of the reasons that 2017 might be better than 2016:

1) If 2016 did not kill you, you can make 2017 better.

Yep, that’s it. That’s my list. If you are still breathing, you have the opportunity to find something about 2017 to like. I am not attempting to downplay the very real pain that you may have about politics, or that rise in nastiness and sharp drop in courtesy and civility. It sucks. It’s real. And it might get worse before it gets better. (Again, go hide somewhere, Betty White, until the smoke clears.)

But let me lay something real on you – in 2015 I got the wind kicked out of me. In an instant I was a widow, a single mom, the primary breadwinner and a matriarch. Stuff got real. I was doubled over. And then I crawled to my feet and kept moving. I am not a hero. I am not special. I am not Beyonce. I’m a person who had to keep breathing, broken heart and all. For a while, I was just treading water. But now I’m doing something approximating thriving. It’s not the way I would have defined that before, but I now have some joy. And a new beginning. 2016 was a new beginning for my family – actually, everything that came after my husband’s death in July 2015 was a new beginning. And this year represents another one.

It is another year to fight the injustice we see, to slap down ignorance and buffalo racism, sexism, homophobia and other isms and phobias till they run screaming. It’s another year to lick our wounds, to regroup, It’s another year to hug your babies, to kiss your partner, to fall in love. To love on your mama and your grandma, or, if you don’t have one of those, to hold close whoever you have. It is a year to be better.

Because we are still here. Which is better than the alternative. Happy 2017, guys. It might not be the most awesome new year, but it’s awesome because it’s a new year we have.


Marvin Gaye Was Right

by SweetMidlife

IMG_20140114_105806 (2)Hi. It’s Lynne. (And I say in the way of disclaimer that because of Leslie’s job as a journalist, there are things she can’t comment on here, so what follows is from me.)

So, the last time I blogged it was the day after the Presidential election in November, and some people were elated, while others, including me, were not. And I wanted to think about the fact that on a human level, we all hurt, and those hurts and wanting not to have them anymore, often plays into how you vote, and to how you feel when your person wins. Or doesn’t. I was raw.

In the month that has passed, there has been a lot of ugliness, and hate crimes, and generalizations, and just trying to make sense of everything, and how people are feeling, and why they feel that, and whether or not you even care how they feel, because, well, you have to live your life.

Which is how the heck we got here.

So I ask you to take a step back and really look at your fellow humans and ask WHY they feel the way they feel. We have acknowledged THAT we hurt. But do something to figure out why. People aren’t just whining because their candidate lost, and if you stick with calling people Buttercup and deciding that they are just sore losers, or calling them Deplorable and decided that they are all just wretched, you miss why they are sore and bleeding. And it isn’t about losing a daggone election. There are so many things happening that affect real lives on a basic level. Here’s just one of mine: I can say for me, that an administration that wants to deny the existence of institutional racism, and who thinks that profiling people and whether they will commit crimes based on how they look directly challenges the physical, moral and dignity of existence of me and my husband and my son. This is not okay. No. Not. This is what’s going on for me, and I am sure that you have your own things that give you pause, that challenge your existence, that influenced your vote for or against the President-elect, or for or against his Democrat opponent.

I would like to hear it. Like really hear it. Because we aren’t going to get anywhere if we aren’t listening to what’s going on in other people’s lives.

Last month I was at the funeral for my husband’s beautiful sister in Texas, and after the service, everyone went back to my niece’s house for fellowship and the most ridiculously awesome mashed potatoes that had butter swimming on the top. Yes. That is the good stuff. And as we ate, I was talking to a couple from my family’s church, and it turned out that they and my husband had lived on the same military base in Japan, and as they talked and remembered what it was like to drive in blinding white snow, and compared notes on people they knew, and the sights, I didn’t have anything to add to the conversation at the level that they did because I never lived there. But instead of just listening at first, I realized that I was trying to catch pieces of the conversation to turn things back to stuff that I could comment on, not so much because I wanted to be a part of the conversation, but because I wanted something to say in a talk I knew nothing about. And when I realized what I was trying to do, I kinda kicked myself, and just sat there and really immersed myself in the conversation around me, until I could see what they saw because they described it so well. And I learned.

And this is what I challenge us all to do. Really find out what’s going on in other people’s lives who are different from you. I guarantee you that if we did that, we would have less division, because I couldn’t reduce you to talking points, and you couldn’t do that to me. Because people aren’t just licking their wounds. People feel like their lives are being threatened. I am not being dramatic, even though I am an actress and do drama well. Just keep your eyes and hearts open. I promise to do the same. I am not content to saying, “Oh well, we got 4 more years. We can win in 4 more years.” Because seriously, if people were less concerned on either side with winning than they were about making people’s lives better, well, maybe people’s lives will be better. And maybe we would have less “sides”.

Okay, I am starting to repeat myself. But just really try to see what’s going on, okay? What’s going on with you?


Things a mom thinks about at 2:25 a.m., five hours before she’s supposed to work out

by SweetMidlife
bed

Scene of the 2:30-something mind crime.

 

This is Leslie. It is 2:25 a.m. As the great Wanda Sykes once said, women’s brains are so full of tasks and thoughts and things we have to do that we can’t get to sleep because even the minute stuff like not being able to remember the name of a teacher we haven’t seen in 30 years just won’t leave us alone. This is happening to me right now. Here is the dumb, deep and sleep-depriving stuff in my head right now. I wish it was not in my brain, because I would like to go to bed now.

You certainly don’t want them in your head, too. But here you are – I have too much on the brain to be charitable at this point,. You understand, of course. You’re awake, too. Shouldn’t you be sleeping?

THINGS I AM THINKING ABOUT AT 2:25 a.m. INSTEAD OF SLEEPING

– “Why am I awake?

– “It has taken me four hours to get through this two-hour finale of ‘Secrets and Lies.’ I wonder if anyone watches this but me, Michael Ealy is fine. I’ve almost grown attached to Juliette Lewis’ character, and she’s kind of awful. i hope they don’t cancel this. They always cancel the shows I get attached to. Dang. Now I’m worried about ‘Blackish.’ Please don’t cancel ‘Blackish,’ Jesus.”

“Jesus doesn’t cancel TV shows, right? He’s busy, right?”

“I finally finished that assignment for work I should have done before I feel asleep. Win for me? Does procrastination count as a win? Whatever. Taking it. TAKING THIS WIN.”

“I am super hungry. I didn’t eat enough last night,. Didn’t I leave some veggie chili in the bowl? I wonder if it;’s in the fridge. Did I put it in the fridge? I wonder if it’s still good if I didn’t put it in the fridge? Or did I leave it on the counter? It’s got light sour cream on it. Is that real dairy? I wouldn’t get that sick, right?”

“Maybe I shouldn’t eat counter chili.”

“I love ‘The Affair’ even if I don’t like any of these horrible people. They’re awful. But they have great apartments. Great kitchens. I like my kitchen. It has chili on the counter.”

“I really ought to get off the stick and get a hotel for Disney this weekend. I canceled the one I had because I am convinced there is a cheaper one out there. Hotwire is an addiction and I need to get help. But…the…deals! There are deals out there and I shall find them. They are the Precious and I am Black Smeagol.”

“I am still so hungry. If I eat right now I can’t weigh myself this morning because it won’t be the real weight. Then again I had hash browns and bourbon for lunch so I probably tanked that thing already. I should eat.”

“I have to sleep, man. I have to work out at 7:15, and if I don’t leave on time the kid will wake up and I’ll have to take him, too, and that running stroller and him together weigh like 70 pounds and he’s a weight wearing an Afro, At least he holds the phone up so I can hear the Andy Grammar song he’s playing. He’s a little DJ.”

“I need to figure out how to make more money. Like, now. I should read that book my friend Kim had me buy about platforms, that I never read, thus I am sitting here at…what…2:47 a.m. now wondering how to get a platform to make money. She’s always right. And she’s got a platform. I bet she’s not asleep either.”

“Maybe I’ll write on that blog I never write on. That’s a platform.”

‘I wonder if that chili’s still down there.”


Michael Stipe Was Right.

by SweetMidlife

Hi everybody. It’s Lynne here. Leslie can’t make specific comments about the election because of her job as a member of the press. If you want to hear the thoughts she can express, see this. I don’t know if this is going to be an uplifting post or not. It’s going to be real from my heart, as much as I can articulate it. I hope there’s hope in it, because there is hope in my heart, but I can’t gloss over stuff. Because if you put buttercream frosting on a cake made with garbage, you have garbage with a tasty outer layer. But it’s still garbage cake.

People are hurting right now.

Some of us are hurting because a man was voted in last Tuesday who promised to do some things that would hurt people, like take away their healthcare, or deport them or their family members, or invalidate their marriages, or round them up and track them because of their faiths, or arrest and harass them because of their race.

Some of us were hurting because they voted for that man out of their own hurts, because maybe they lost THEIR healthcare because premiums went up and they can’t afford groceries and rent and medication they need to live, or maybe because they lost their livelihoods because factories closed in their towns and there are no jobs.

Some of us are hurting because they voted their consciences because of what the President-elect promised he would do to protect babies in-utero, or because they believed him when he said he would keep them safe. And they are happy with the results, but not with people thinking that they are racists, or don’t care, and they don’t know what to do.

And some of us ARE racists, who voted for this man because they believed he would oppress people. And these people are making their voices known by ripping off hijabs, and wearing black face, and drawing swastikas, and entering black college freshmen into calendars scheduling their lynchings. I am not talking to those people, because you are hateful and I am praying for you that your heart changes. Well, wait, if you guys want to read the rest of this, go ahead. But I know you are real and I know that you exist, and I want people to know that you do because we can’t fight you if we don’t know you are real.

Okay, everyone else. Hi.

Here’s the thing. People voted the way they did or they didn’t because they have hurts, and voted for the president-elect because they believed that he would do what he said he would do to lessen their hurts, and those of us who didn’t voted against him because they believed that he would do what he said he would do to magnify those hurts and bring new ones. Whether or not he actually does those things, we all believed him. And now we are on the immediate other side of this. And we have people who voted for him wishing that the people who are hurt by his election would just move on, while those hurt by his promises who can’t, because they are terrified. And I have to ask myself, being in the group of those who actively did NOT vote for him, what I would say to those friends of mine whose real, tangible hurts influenced them TO vote for him. Would I be telling them to “get over it”? Maybe. I am not proud of that.

When someone wins, someone loses. They are our neighbors, our friends, our co-workers. People are hurting.  I know I am using that phrase a lot. That is kind of the theme.

So here is what I think. I have had a million thoughts this election, and post-Tuesday, and I am not even writing all of them down right now. This is not a definitive because grief takes time to work through and live with, and while we sort through this election and the far-away and real-close implications it has on our real lives, we are also still dealing with colds, and flat tires, and disobedient kids, and sick relatives, and funerals and cancer. All of these things weave in and out of our worlds and make real impacts on our lives.

Everybody hurts. We just hurt about different things. And if we truly care about each other, and maybe we don’t, or you don’t feel like you have the luxury to, and I get that, and I am going to talk to everyone left, because we need to be listening to each other’s hurts. Even when it’s unpleasant. Even when you would rather talk about Shark Tank and what you ate for dinner. I am currently brining pork for my family, which I have never done because i don’t eat pork, and this is really trippy. I am gonna post a picture below. But these other fears are real too, and if you don’t want to acknowledge them, it means that you don’t want to see me. And if I don’t listen to you and why you voted for the President-elect because of your real fears for our nation, then I don’t want to see you. And maybe once we see each other, we will decide we don’t like each other at the end. Sad, but I get it. But we will not survive this if we don’t listen.

I am hurting. You are hurting. Brined pork. Shark Tank.

All of these things are happening. You wanna tell me where you are? I wanna hear.

Write me below, or at sweetmidlifelynneleslie@gmail.com.

Have a good week.

15034084_10153992834353053_875663161_o

Pork. Brine.

 


Things I am doing today besides worrying about the outcome of Presidential election

by SweetMidlife
My mother and I smiling after our civic duty. Then we got coffee and bought the kid a muffin.

My mother and I smiling after our civic duty. Then we got coffee and bought the kid a muffin.

So this is Leslie, and Lynne and I, like anyone paying attention, know that today is a historic day in our nation. Not only is Election Day sacred, to us, as the chance to exercise the rights that our mothers and fathers fought and suffered for, but this one comes at the end of the ugliest contest anyone alive seems to remember. Whatever happens, there are going to be some desperately sad and angry people, and we’re all going to have to figure out how to move on, together.

My mom and I, with my little one, voted this morning, after I’d already walked/run three miles, and then after we voted we walked some more and then got some coffee, and the day moved on. I am concerned about what happens tonight, but I can’t sit by my TV and dwell right now, either. Here is what I am doing instead:

– Watched the end of the first season of “Good Girls Revolt” and wished that my Afro was as glorious as Joy Bryant’s.

– Exchanged emails with John Schneider’s publicist, because I love my job.

– Talked to “Gilmore Girls” fans.

– Pondered what kind of tequila to bring to the taco party I’m going to later.

– Started watching Netflix’s “The Crown” and renewed my crush on Jared Harris, because smart gingers are sexy as hell.

– Consigned a dress that my mother bought by last year, that is now too big and that I never wore, because she bought two sizes and challenged me to get into the smaller one. She is a genius.

– Decided not to put olives in with the rest of the veggies at the taco party as one of the attendees is anti-olive. I shall segregate the olives. More fish for Kunta!

levar-morefishforkunta

– Tried to figure out how to leave work early to go cook the non-olive beans.

– Trying to figure out where I put my coupons because I’m running out of leftovers and my kid has to eat something more substantial than mac and cheese for every meal.

In other words – I am living my life because other than try to figure out how to possess every American voter and make them do what I want, which is impossible, illegal and bad for the soul, I can’t change things other than what I have already done today, which is to vote myself, and then pray for our country. We are better than this crap we’ve done to each other. We’re America. That’s like in the manual, right?


It’s Not Your Puppy, or Being Happy For Other People When They Have the Thing You Wanted

by SweetMidlife

Hi!! It’s Lynne! Ir’s been a long time since I have written, mostly because I have been busy with the the theater I founded and run, Building Better People. We do professional theater for a kid audience, as well as classes for kids, and everything that we do is based around themes of kindness and respect and forgiveness. We had a show yesterday, and one of the lines of the play stuck out in my head, not only because I wrote it, but because I realized that I needed to hear that message preached to myself. Oh yes.

The play is called ‘We Got It!”, and it’s about empathy, and the second scene of the show is a game show called “How Would You Feel If Someone Said That To You?”, where an actor is pitted against the audience. Another actor, playing the host, asks the players questions that bring up the golden rule in doing or saying to people what you would want them to say to you, and in one of the scenarios, the contestants are asked what they would do if a friend of theirs got a puppy, even though the contestant wanted one as well but doesn’t have one. The kids in the audience usually answer things like “I would ask if I could play with their puppy!”, or “I would be happy for them.”, which is a good contrast to the actor, who says, “I would say, ‘Who cares about your puppy? I don’t!” , to which the host says later, “But it’s not your puppy!” And every time I hear that line (or say it, since I am in the play at times), I laugh at how bratty it is to not wish people well just because you are jealous. Even though that’s hard.

Well, dang, I have had several moments lately where I had to be reminded that other people’s puppies were not mine, and that it was the right thing to be happy for them and their canine-having selves. I recently applied for 2 things that I didn’t get, the first being a grant for my theater, and the second, a chance to speak at a local event. I get rejection stuff all of the time, because life, but both of these “Thanks for applying and you’re awesome but sorry, not this time” emails were different because both asked for my support for the people who WERE chosen for the things that I applied for by either voting for the finalists for the grant I didn’t get, or my attendance at the event I didn’t get selected to speak at. And I have to be completely honest that my initial reaction to both, even though I was convicted in about 90 seconds, was “Ain’t nobody got time to be helping people who got what I wanted. LATER!” And if I was a character in my show, I would be the example of what NOT to be.

I need to get over it. And I did.

Because if I had gotten those honors, I would have wanted people to show up or vote. Because we can’t, won’t, and probably shouldn’t get every single thing we pursue, and that’s good, because everything isn’t for us. It’s not. Say that out loud. Everything isn’t yours because it is not statistically possible, but because we learn from the things we DON’T get just as much, if not more, than the things that we do. Years ago, there was an actor/businessperson whose career I greatly admired, as they were doing many of the things that I had always wanted to do, and I said, to myself (Myself always hears the petty things first), “They have my career.” But no. They had their career. The career they worked for, and sacrificed for, and had successes with and failures with, and learned from all of those. What I had was gazing into someone else’s life while not taking the steps to get MY career. So that’s what I am doing., and it is a roller coaster, complete with loops, but the ride is worth it, y’all. And part of that is supporting other people in the goodness that is their life, and hope that I get theirs, and I am gonna vote for the people up for that grant, and I will try really hard to attend that speaking event, and I will put out all of the goodness that I want to come back to me.

Me as the person who can't be happy for someone else's puppy.

Me as the person who can’t be happy for someone else’s puppy. Picture by Bellephont Photography.

Not just because I want extra goodness, but because that’s the way the world works. And I want to be a part of that.

Have any of you ever been in the place where you had to be happy for people who got the thing you wanted? What did you do?

 


“This Is Us” and the importance of rituals, even if they seem weird

by SweetMidlife
Perhaps taking a Purple People Eater to a sports bar every week seems weird to you. But that's weird that you think it's weird.

Perhaps taking a Purple People Eater to a sports bar every week seems weird to you. But that’s weird that you think it’s weird.

SPOILER ALERT FOR A VERY POPULAR TV SHOW!

Leslie here! Lynne and I don’t live close to each other, so our Monday-morning quarterbacking of TV shows is part of our enduring togetherness (We also like talking, and seem to like talking about the same things, so we’ve found maybe the only other person who will endure in-depth 20-minute dissections of one episode of “Survivor.”) “This Is Us,” NBC’s next-level “Parenthood”-like exploration into emotional manipulation, is not one of those things that no one likes but us. EVERYBODY likes it, and cries about it, and then goes on Twitter and cries so more. Fans like us all seem to agree that it’s one of the best new shows this season.

But there’s something a lot of us can’t agree on, and that’s Toby, the too-enthusiastic love interest of Kate, a gorgeous, talented but insecure young woman who lets her lifelong struggle with her weight (and the baggage of her mother’s apparently early disapproval of it) make her hide her considerable light under a basket. Toby, who she met at a weight support group, initially seems like an encouraging factor in Kate’s life, pushing her out of her comfort zone to, say, use that gorgeous voice to sing to the folks at his aunt’s retirement home, or be chauffered around LA and be a star, like her sweet, pretty, famous twin brother.

But increasingly, Dude’s behavior has bordered, at best, on overbearing and at worst completely and insufferably creepy. He’s right that she throws herself into her brother Kevin’s life at expense of her own, but he seems to be mad that she doesn’t choose the whims of him, a guy she’s known for a week at that point, over her twin brother who also happens to be her employer. (He is, however, right that stalking and then accepting a job with his ex-wife is cray.)

On Tuesday night’s episode, Toby steps up the overbearing behavior to a disrespectful level, by ignoring something sacred to sports fans – the game day ritual. Honestly, it’s rude to ignore someone’s gentle but emphatic refusal to change the way they do something that means more to them than to you, no matter what it is. But when it’s about sports, whose personal importance is usually tied to deeply-seated details like national and regional identity and family tradition, you need to step off. I have a friend who broke up with a guy once for that same thing, and honestly, Toby deserves the same.

I feel strongly about this because I am related to, by blood and marriage, people with very strong sports rituals, that seemed quirky and inconvenient until they let you inside of them. My Granddaddy Streeter would retreat down the hall to his bedroom after dinner and lie in the dark to silently listen to Baltimore Orioles games on the radio. If we were very quiet, we were allowed to sit there with him, quietly bonding over strike-outs and home runs and the sparkling crack of the bat. It seemed like an inheritance. And anyone who ever met my late husband Scott knew that he had as many sports-related rituals as he did Ravens Jerseys, including buying football magazines before the NFL draft to study the upcoming picks, and then before the season to do his fantasy draft. He also brought a dancing Purple People Eater doll we called Purpie to every Ravens game he watched at Kirby’s, our local Ravens bar, and made it dance at every Ravens touchdown. It was fun, it didn’t hurt anyone and it was cool to have a thing.

Kate’s thing, apparently, is watching football by herself. That should be enough explanation, and she doesn’t owe anyone else more than that. But Toby decides that if he doesn’t get her motivations it must be sad, because Toby seems to need to worm his way into every part of her life in some supposed attempt to break her out of her shell. So he won’t accept “No” for an answer when she declines his invitation to watch a game together. Because Toby’s appointed himself Kate’s personal confidence guru, he can’t give her credit for choosing to do things he doesn’t get, because he doesn’t allow her the autonomy to know the difference between stuff she does to hide and stuff she does because she just wants to. She’s a person, not a project, loser.

Anyway, because he’s a pushy bastard, Toby does his usual public declaration thing that’s seeming less and less spontaneous and more and more like bullying, when he makes a homemade invitation to a supposed football party at his place, and passes it to Kate across their weight loss meeting. Nothing says “I respect your boundaries:” like involving a bunch of other people in it, particular because he assumes correctly that she’s easier to coerce when other people are watching. So she shows up, reluctantly, to his house, and he and the random friend he’s also invited yap through the whole thing and actually pause the game to keep yapping, so that Kate almost misses a touchdown.

So she bails, as you do when you aren’t having any fun at an event you got badgered into in the first place. Toby shows up at her house demanding an explanation, because how dare she not find his pushiness charming! So she explains that football, particularly Steelers games, was her family thing (she and her twin were conceived in a sloppy bar bathroom during the Super Bowl), and that they always watched together. Then she explains that they still do, in a way – her father Jack (whose absence in the show’s present-day scenes was, until now, a mystery) has passed away, and she sits with his urn and watches the games.

There are writers who think this is a sad cry for help, which seems awfully judgey. Everyone’s rituals are not yours. Everyone’s life is not yours. People keep their loved one’s ashes for a reason, and as long as they aren’t smoking, eating, or having untoward relations with them, I don;t know what is weird about silently enjoying an activity they would still be enjoying were both still alive. I was sometimes annoyed by his insistence on always having to watch Ravens games, even if we were traveling and it was a pain in the butt to find somewhere broadcasting them. Sometimes it seemed selfish. But he asked for one afternoon, once a week, for like four months, to be in his element, and it was OK with me, because he gave so much of himself to everyone else.

The people who love you should respect, if not completely understand, the things that are important to you. If they don’t, they don’t deserve you. Sorry Toby.


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