I Don’t Have Pet Peeves, I Have Whole Kennels Of Irritation*

*attributed to Whoopi Goldberg

Some days, maybe even some weeks, maybe even some months – everything just gets to me.  I bet it happens to you too, even if you pretend you’re oh so calm and balanced and nothing bothers you…

So…at yoga:

  • Why would you set up your mat DIRECTLY in front of me, when there are plenty of spots, as though you’ve used a ruler to make sure you block every inch of my view?  This is one of the many reasons I get there early and set up in the front row.  (Interestingly, the studio where this was the biggest problem was in Sydney.)
  • And if there are plenty of spots, why set up so close to me on one side that it’s clear what you are really trying to do is get me to move since I apparently have taken “your spot”?
  • Don’t fart during class.  Really.  Don’t.  (Okay, okay, I know, sometimes you can’t help it, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t tick me off.)
  • Please, you truly lovely (and young) women, I appreciate you like makeup.  So do I.  But why, oh why, are you slathering on so much that you look old?  And embalmed?   

On the subway:

  • If you smell so bad that it makes me wonder if you are actually decomposing, and you’re not currently homeless, bathe.  Now.
  • Sir (and I use the  term loosely), I’m not impressed when you sit with your legs spread so far apart that there is no access to the seats on either side of you.  I am quite sure it does not take up that much room.
  • Hey, we’re all busy.  I get it.  Sometimes the only moment you have to grab a bite and drink something is on the train.  Just, for God’s sake,  take your trash with you.  Really.  Seriously.  And if you spill it, clean it up.
  • I’m thrilled for you that you know where on the platform to stand so that the doors open right in front of you.  I do too.  But I actually let people get off before pushing my way into the train, even if that means I might not get that seat I had my eye on.

On waiting in line:

  • When you’re going to an event with reserved seating, there is no need to get there early and wait in line.  Look at your ticket.  Your seats are reserved.
  • Trust me, the line will not move more quickly if you crawl up my ass.  In fact, I’ll make sure I let a big gap open in front of me before moving up, just to bug you.
  • In general, just don’t touch me.  I mean it.  Don’t touch me. 

I could, clearly, go on.  And on.  And on.  And there might be a second edition of “Kennels of Irritation” in the future.  But here’s the last one for today:

My own behavior…as in “why do I let these (and other) things, that are really no big deal, make me so crazy?”

My Ripley’s

Believe it or not, I’m pretty easy to embarrass.   I’ll blush in response to compliments; to shows of concern; to questions that most might not consider awkward.  And also believe it or not, I’m shy.  Given my druthers, I’ll be the person at a party standing in the corner nursing one drink and watching the clock until I have been there long enough to sneak out without saying goodbye.  However, the work I do does not allow me to indulge myself in my easily embarrassed and anti-social tendencies.

It’s not easy – I still have to work hard to take comments lightly that I find wounding; to smile and make party talk when I feel like the ugly fat girl that’s only there because someone felt obligated to include me  (you know, like the parents that make their kids invite everyone in the class to their birthday party).  Alone in my house, I’m pretty okay with the way I look – thanks to Bikram Yoga, Weight Watchers and a slight level of maturity gained after many years.    But set one foot outside the door, and all bets are off.

Why right now?  Well, one result of my Sjogren’s is that I occasionally get flare-ups of one of two skin diseases that lurk in my body.  Luckily, neither is contagious – but they’re ugly.  And they are usually on my face.   Of course.  This started in 2001, and for several months, I had at least two open sores, about the size of a quarter each, right on my face, with smaller ones in other locations.  People stared, but no-one asked except a young girl on the subway.  Her mother was mortified, but I was pleased.  She asked politely, listened respectfully, then patted my arm and said, “I hope you’re all better soon”.  It was the best thing that had happened to me in quite a while.

I’m flaring up now.  It’s just starting, but I don’t know when I’ll be able to get to the dermatologist.  See, each time this happens, it has to be biopsied, so he can’t just call in a prescription.  And in the meantime, I’ll be blushing.  A lot.  And avoiding mirrors.  But believe it or not, as much as I feel like the girl in the photo…it’s okay.

Just don’t stare.

Not So Lonely Anymore

I love watching people on the subway. I mean, who doesn’t?  Last night, I was all dressed up with a place to go, and was riding the train when I usually don’t.  The night before a holiday, the train was pretty busy for an off time on a Sunday, so there were some interesting people to watch.  However, what really caught my eye was a group of five kids who got on a few stops after me.  Three girls, two boys, and clearly none of them were couples.

Of course, the train wasn't empty...

When they got on the train, they sat in what I call the “three-two” – three seats facing the center of the car, two facing an end of the car.   This left one of the girls sitting in the three-seater with the two boys.  Almost immediately, she got up and moved to the two-seater across the car.  At first, I thought this was just a pre-teen thing…but then I got caught up in watching the interaction.  The two girls were talking, laughing, looking around – the two guys were the same, with an occasional nod toward something the girls said.  And the lone girl by me?  She kept trying – she would listen, comment, laugh at the appropriate times – and they barely noticed her.  I wanted to cry.

Yes, a gross overreaction, I’m sure.  But all of a sudden, I felt like I was watching myself as a pre-teen, a teenager, a young woman…even now.

Who hasn’t felt like the outsider in a group of friends?  If you say “me, me!”, I’ll call you a liar.  I truly believe everyone has had this experience.  And for me, at least, it’s not something that never happens anymore.  What has changed is how it makes me feel.  I am finally happy in my own company, a goal that I worked hard to reach.  And if I’m part of a group and I’m having an “outsider” moment…so what?

It’s like the weather in Florida, where I grew up – if you don’t like it, wait twenty minutes.  It will change.

Change I Can Believe In, Or Silver Linings

Despite the title, this post is not about politics, but… 

 BEEP! 

This post has been interrupted for a special announcement. 

VOTE FOR OBAMA 

This announcement was brought to you by Americans for Sanity.

BEEP!

Seriously, though, I’m thinking about my Bikram Yoga practice.  Due to the interference of my constant companion, I had to take a few weeks off and then come back very slowly and carefully.  However, during that slow and careful return, I’m learning all kinds of cool stuff.  I mean, really, who knew that drinking water at party time is one of the reasons I’m never hot enough?  Or that standing in the back row changes up my practice in more ways than just the visual perspective?  Or that my legs were just MADE for yoga shorts?  (Okay, okay, that last I already knew…but I still like it.)

In order to come back to class, I had to commit to backing off the instant I felt a twinge of pain, and I also had to know that I was going to be spending my time, for quite a while, thinking only about form and alignment with no hope for depth. (And before you say it, I KNOW that I should always be thinking about form and alignment, but admit it, you like depth too.) 

I wasn’t really happy about either of those things.   But what I have discovered is that the focus and attention to detail have brought my practice to a new level.  It’s easy to get complacent and even lazy in any repetitive exercise, and since all Bikram classes are the same sequence of postures, it can be hard not to goof off or get bored.  In fact, one of my sisters, who also practices Bikram, just told me yesterday she never goes to that fourth class in a row because she’s “over it” at that point until the next week.  I didn’t try to change her mind – I know her better than that.

So, the cloud of the last five (yes, five) weeks of continuous pain has been eclipsed by the silver lining of all that I am learning.  And THAT’S change I can believe in!

I’m A Sucker For Shiny Things…

Are You Ready To Fail?

Valentine’s Day.  It’s almost here, and I hate it.  

Not because I’m single (I hated it even when I was part of a couple), not because it’s oversold by retailers, and not because I’m a big grump.  I hate it because, like New Year’s Eve, it’s almost impossible to live up to society’s expectations of a “good” Valentine’s Day.  If you don’t – God forbid! – have the perfect relationship, with a significant other who planned a perfect evening, you damn well better have creative and exciting plans about how to spend the evening as a lonely single.  Or perhaps it’s best, if you’re single, if you just hide under a rock to avoid embarrassing yourself.

Wait, what?  Yes, once again, single-hood is maligned.  Because it’s not “normal”.   You know, I’m a big fan of marriage – for other people.  And please, marry anyone you want.  But where are the demonstrations supporting my choice to live singly?  Where are the slogans?  The banners?  The online petitions?

Yes, before you say it, I’m exaggerating for effect – no-one, you say, is legislating against my right to be single.  No, they’re not, and again, before you say it, I do know that that’s more egregious than the social gauntlets I run. Despite the evidence of two blog posts, I don’t brood about this issue – but made-up, high expectation holidays like Valentine’s Day get to me.  No matter what you do, it’s probably not romantic/exciting/sexy/memorable enough.

So, I’ll probably meet up with friends, maybe have a few drinks, and we’ll laugh together about how we have avoided the craziness that is V-Day.  And afterwards, I’m pretty sure we’ll have had as much if not more fun than those obsessing about having the “perfect” Valentine’s Day…

With Friends Like These…

I’m sure we’ve all had this experience, though I wish I could be sure most of us had not.  That friend who thinks telling you everything is a good thing.  I don’t mean everything about her, but everything about you.  Every random gossipy comment, every passing thought – especially the hurtful ones.  All in the name of “friendship”.

I don’t deal well with this.  What I would like to do is say “what the fuck?  you’re supposed to be my friend!  with friends like you…” and give a good slap.    Yes, violence is never the answer, and yes, I’d probably get arrested.  But that would be better than my current reaction, which basically involves crawling away to lick my wounds, and wallowing in self-doubt.

It’s probably true that people who do this are acting out of their own insecurity and negative thinking, but boy, do I wish they could just keep it to themselves.  And I wish even more that it didn’t get to me.

But they can’t.  And it does.  So I’m venting here – think before you talk.  Just because you know it, doesn’t mean you should say it.  If you actually care about your friends, you will also care how what you say might affect them, and be very, very, very careful about deciding you know what you should tell your friend “for their own good”.

Whew – I feel better.  On another note, it was really, really, really hard to find a photo of a woman slapping another woman for this post.  I wouldn’t have thought that, but then, maybe that’s a good thing.

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