I’ll admit, I’m a hugger.  I love hugging others and being hugged.  It’s warm and comforting until you come across a non-hugger.  Then it’s stiff and awkward.  I guess not everyone has to like hugging but shouldn’t hugging be in the same category as hand-shakes?  So much is read into a hand-shake.  It determines your sincerity, your stance, your professionalism, your integrity.  When you shake someone’s hand and it’s like grasping a dead fish, doesn’t it turn you off?  It does me.  I almost want to wipe my hand off on my shirt.  It’s the same with a hug.  When you get that lean in that doesn’t actually touch you and then a tap on the back, I feel almost embarrassed.  On the flip side, it seems invasive when those that aren’t ok with hugging grab you with some force and practically slam your body into theirs with a pound on the back and then a push away.  It’s almost violent and notably uncomfortable for both.
There’s nothing quite like seeing a loved one and embracing, however.  It’s familiar, sometimes intimate, and overall welcoming.  It allows me to share myself with those I love, those I connect with and those I feel for.

In line

At every event I go to, I can’t help but think back to the days of elementary school when we were all taught to form a single line, standing perfectly straight behind the person in front us. Sometimes we got to stand against the wall but we weren’t allowed to put our backs on it, we just used it as a guide to line up our shoulders, using it as the example of how it should be when we didn’t have the luxury of the wall to help us.  This procedure was taught early and we used it throughout our lives.  That is, until we became adults.  Now, when the airline folks continually repeat for the customers not line up until their row is called, it’s as if they’ve requested each person stand and move to the boarding area to wait for their row to be called.  I understand being anxious about flying but the plane is not going to leave without you.  And if you think about it, giving the pilots and airline staff a few extra minutes to go through their safety checks and make sure that your bags actually get onto the plane might not be such a bad thing.  Then the next set of rows are called and each person pushes their way to the door having everything that we’ve learned over the years fall out of our heads.  There is no line, no wall to use as a guide to line up against.  So each person presses up against one another in a giant, filled in, V shape, scootching, scootching, uncomfortable, couples getting separated, scootching.  I HATE IT!  Why can’t we just get in line?  Why is it so hard?  I blame it on the men.  Why?  Because there’s always a line to the women’s restroom and THERE’S A LINE!  We obviously know how to do it!  Get in line!

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

It seems like everywhere I go these days, I’m being handed a reusable bag.  Similar to plastic bags, I feel that I have to take every one I’m offered and store them away in the house only to go out and get more.  So many places are starting to ban plastic bags which makes the production of reusable bags that much more addictive.  Every company has them, every store, every festival passes them out like candy.  I get the first reusable bag so that I can tote around the 12 other reusable bags I get while walking around.  I have a stack of them in the car.  Another stack in the closet in the house.  They come in varying shapes and sizes, colors and textures.  I was proud of myself yesterday however.  I was at another said festival when I took one bag.  I took it because a woman came up to me and offered it to me, explaining that there was a bottle of water in it along with some coupons.  Who doesn’t want free bottled water and coupons?  I smiled, thanked her and then looked at the bag.  It was from a retailer I despise.  Dilemma.  I secretly wanted the bag because it had WATER IN IT AND COUPONS!  I love coupons.  Hmm, but they were probably coupons to the place I don’t like to shop at.  I didn’t care.   I put the bag up on my shoulder but turned it so that the company name was on the inside facing me.  That way, the few hundred people that were also getting the same bag wouldn’t know that it was from THAT store.  I carried it around all day.  I did put other material in it but I refused all other bags!

Today, I saw that bag sitting on the counter loaded down with all the business cards, handouts, booklets, stickers and such that I’d accumulated all day yesterday.  I lifted the handle to peer inside.  I started pulling out the random items.  A nice reusable water bottle that I disassembled and placed in the sink to wash later.  A wind jacket from a software company – nice.  I proceeded to make piles from the other stuff.  Papers, pamphlets, business cards to the recycle bin, toys to the donation box, plastic things to the recycle bin.

Once I’d emptied the bag, I folded it and added it as well to the donation box.  I don’t need it but I didn’t want to throw it away. Then I wondered how many of them end up in the landfill.  It can’t be as many as plastic bags, right?  I probably have 20 to 30 of the reusable bags in my possession.  That’s probably a similar amount of plastic bags that I used to harbor.  Makes me wonder.

So, with that chore being done, I decide to fix myself some lunch.  No leftovers in the fridge from last night since I didn’t cook because we were at the festival.  I poked my head in the freezer and found a frozen Lean Cuisine.  I popped it in the microwave and grabbed a soda.  It wasn’t bad.  When I was done, I put my can in the recycle container and then looked for the recycle symbol on the bottom of the plastic container.  It was there so I went to the sink to rinse it.  I reached for the handle to turn on the water but stopped just before I reached it.  If we’re in such a drought, should I use the water to rinse my recyclable?  Another dilemma.  What’s worse – no water or filled landfills?  The exhaust from the recycleries must cause poor air quality, right?  I think about these things.  Do the right thing!  Well, what the hell is the right thing?  I cook on the grill so that I don’t heat my house so that I don’t waste electricity running the A/C and then my neighbor complains about that.  Someone, somewhere, is getting their feelings hurt because I’m sitting on the sofa using electricity for my laptop to complain about god knows what.  Ugh.  I rinsed the plastic and tossed it into the recycle bin.  Damned if you do.  Damned if you don’t.

How to help

With the news of Robin Williams’ suicide, I’ve been pondering and reading all of the articles on depression, sharing them when I find a good one or one that makes me shake my head either from relating to it or from the shear irony of it all.  As with most tragedies that affect a large group of people, the “experts” come around spouting on about what people “should” do or signs for loved ones to look out for.  I understand the reasoning behind it and I see the benefit however I wonder what friends and family think of it all.  The person that’s depressed is putting a lot of pressure on them.  It’s not the responsibility of loved ones to take on the onus of finding and providing help for people that have found themselves in a bad way.  I’m not trying to victimize the victim.  Really.  I guess I’m trying to say that loved ones hear.  They see.  They know.  But perhaps they’re just as afraid.  They don’t want to lose their loved one just as much as the person going through the mess wants to act upon it.  The problem is not that people need to pay attention.  They already know.  They just don’t know what to do or how to help.  I bet more than one person that reads this knows someone that is depressed.  I also bet that more than one person that reads this knows someone that has thought about killing themselves.  You can’t drag them to therapy.  You can offer to listen but how many actually talk?  They don’t.  They smile and say they’re ok with tears in their eyes.  I’ve also suggested therapy to relatives.  It’s as easy getting someone to go see a counselor as it is getting an elderly person into a senior community.  Wait, that’s a different discussion altogether!

My point, I suppose, is that none of it is easy.  I mourn the loss of the kids from bullying.  I mourn the loss of Robin and the countless others that succumb to the demons.  I empathize with the partners, parents, spouses, family and friends of them all that couldn’t fix it for them.

On a scale

I was watching a TV show the other night and had a thought which progressed into a night later and another show.  The person on the first show was talking about a 360 degree action but for some reason, instead of picturing a circle, I thought about a calendar.  Then it hit me, if a circle is 360 degrees, wouldn’t it make more sense if we have 360 days in a year?  It would certainly simplify things.  My partner argued with me that one is based on mathematics and the other on gregorian, phases of the moon and things like that.  I came back with them both being based in science.

Then just a couple nights later, I was watching the weather and I went right back to the same simplification theory.  They were talking about an EF4 tornado that hit earlier this week.  It made me wonder why we basically use a 10 point scale for so many things but none of them are related.  For example, the Enhanced Fujita Scale (EF) rates a tornado from 0 (little damage) to 5 (catastrophic damage).  An earthquake’s damage is determined by the Richter magnitude scale.  There’s not been a greater magnitude earthquake than 9.5 so you could say that we could probably use a 10 point scale and still be ok.  If it’s more than 10, is it really necessary to say it was an 11?  The damage will be so catastrophic that I don’t think it would really matter.  Even the terror threat scale is based on 5 levels so is there really a need to have so many differentiating scales?  Even when taking surveys, which every receipt that’s given these days has one, it’s based on a 10 point (or less) scale.

Maybe it’s time we simplified our lives a bit and started combining some things.  I know I could use a few less things to remember.  I think that’s just age though.

With so many Europeans begging the US to go metric, I wonder how this theory would fit with that.  Hmmm.

There can be only one

But that’s not really true.  I’m flipping through TV channels when I see U.S. Open.  Oh, good, I love tennis.  I’m so much better at watching it than playing it so I hit the button in the guide to take me to it.  What’s this?  Golf?  No, no, no!  I don’t like golf.  I mean, it’s ok.  I have nothing against it, I’m just not in to it.  Now I’m disappointed.  I think back to the days when I was a kid when my mom and I would watch Bjorn Borg, Martina Navratilova, Billie Jean King, John McEnroe and Andre Agassi.  Mama bought us tennis rackets so that we could knock the ball around a bit on the weekends and get some exercise.  But I continued to watch as I got older.  I loved Martina Hingis and Jennifer Capriati.  Then Amelie Mauresmo came along as did the Williams’ sisters, Andy Roddick and Nadal Rafael.  I even went to a U.S. Open (Tennis) match in Flushing Meadows, NY one year when my partner got us tickets from a co-worker.  It was awesome.

I’m sure Golf has its fans too.  I see the final shots made on the news and see the hordes of people standing around so there is interest.  So why not call them something different?  There’s no Stanley Cup of Baseball or World Series Football.

I wonder who came first – Tennis or Golf?  That’s who should hold the title of U.S. Open.

For today, since there’s no U.S. Open Tennis on, I’m stuck watching reruns of The Matrix while I do more, more, more edits to the book.

Empty Handed

Have you ever gone into a store looking for something specific only to find that they don’t have it?  You end up wandering around for a little while trying to find something else that you might need or want so that you can make a purchase.  After awhile you decide there’s either nothing you can convince yourself to buy or you just don’t want to spend the money on non-sense so you decide to leave.  As you approach the exit, you know that every security camera in the place has started to turn to focus in on you.  You double-check to make sure you didn’t accidentally pick something up and forget that you were carrying it around.  Nothing in your hands.  You try to relax.  You’ve done nothing wrong, yet you feel the guilt grow and know that you have no reason to be guilty so you try even harder to not look guilty.  The closer you get to the door, the faster you walk, making a conscious effort to look side to side to see if there are security guards approaching but not wanting the cameras to pick up on your suspicious movements.  You reach into your pocket or purse, pull out the car keys and hold them up in plain site to show that you aren’t stuffing anything away, you are just removing your keys.  As the auto doors open, you cross the threshold and exhale.  A smile appears on your face as if you’ve gotten away with something but there’s nothing to be gained.  You hop into your car and head to the next place on your list to find the ever elusive item you’re in search of.