Saturday, January 10, 2009

Just being.

"I think being a woman is like being Irish... Everyone says you're important and nice, but you take second place all the time."
— Iris Murdoch

"Just my luck, I was born an Irish woman..."
— Me.

Today was a pretty good day all in all. I found out for example that despite my feeling at times decrepit and old, I'm not as bad off as I thought. How so you ask? My new health plan comes with free YMCA membership. Pools, Sauna, Gym, everything. Today I managed to convince myself to actually use it. I figured I'd start with something simple and fairly easy, so I sat down on the stationary bike and blinked. It had a cockpit display that looked harder to fly than a Cessna, and I actually flew one of those once. Turns out, it was actually very easy to use. So following Preventions recommendation I started out really light on level one and quickly found myself a bit frustrated. I was hardly moving. Level two, then three, four, five and so on until I started feeling some resistance at level eight. I don't know how many levels it has, but I found the whole thing slightly amusing. Twenty years since I've done any serious biking and here I am at level eight (whatever that means) and cycling along nice and steady.

I should have brought a book. After 20 minutes and six miles later I was bored. Just sitting there pedaling away, and boredom, not fatigue got to me. So, I wandered back to the locker room, changed and left. As I was driving home, it started to sink in how much I missed cycling. How good I felt afterward, that rush of feel good drugs the body makes. Years ago, like twenty, maybe a few more than that, I rode everyday. I'd get up in the morning, ride ten miles or more, go about my day, and then ride another ten or so at the end of the day. On weekends I'd do some serious rides, like from Danbury, Connecticut to Boston, Massachusetts. I wish I could say I was joking, but no, it was around 300 miles round trip and I usually took about 14 hours one way to make the trip, which of course gave me time to hang out in Boston. Plus in those days I was crazy, pure, unquestionable, unbiased, nuts. I'd get on the highway and take the highway to Boston. It was shorter and more direct, plus I'd do most of it in the dark so I wouldn't get in trouble. Yeah, like I said, crazy.

Anyway, that was, over twenty years ago, and I had no right to expect to do six miles of decent riding in twenty minutes averaging about twelve miles an hour. Mind you I'm not complaining, not hardly, it also bodes well for getting into shape faster and easier than I thought, and dropping the weight I want, and need to lose. I'm looking forward to spending more time there, and swimming! Multiple indoor pools! Awesome!

Other than that I did a bunch of running around, getting things done, nothing earth shaking going on. I came home to find a bunch of stuff I'd ordered had come in, and the warranty replacement for the aerobed I'd ordered had also come in. This way, when Ellie comes out to visit at the end of the month, she'll have a comfortable bed to sleep on., not just a sleeping bag on the floor. Probably one of those things I'd ordered that thrilled me most where the Cubic Zirconia earrings I got at Amazon. Dirt cheap, I mean they are after all just carbon compressed down into diamonds right? "Real" diamonds are just too expensive to bother with these days, at least given the rest of my very relaxed, country girl look. Fact is however I love the sparkle, some pure "shiny" as Kaylee on Firefly would say, a nice counterpoint to my laid back country girl look. It's a nice look. Shiny in the ears, proper manicure of nicely buffed, clear coated natural nails, and a hint of lip gloss says there is more to this woman than a simple country girl look.

It was an overall simple laid back day, finished with some chicken, red and yellow peppers sauteed in Garlic and EVOO over angel hair pasta and a glass of iced green tea. Clean, clear, and light but filling and oh so very pleasing.

Probably most excitement I had all day is talking to my sister who's been in the hospital dealing with some health issues all week. She sounds oh so much better it did my heart good to hear her voice, with a calm she hasn't had in a while. A long while. She's need to do this for a good couple of years, well since I was out there two years ago, but couldn't bring herself to do it. I think this is going to be a turning point for her life, and that makes me very happy.

One amusing part was I decided to spoil myself with a movie night by myself. Some incense, scented candles, soft lights and a good movie with my diner. So I stopped into my local Blockbuster to get a movie. Mind you I'd not been there in about two months for various reasons and when I walked up to the counter I got a smile from Shawn. He scanned my movie, and I said "Oh, I'm sorry you need my card" and reached into my purse for my wallet.

"No problem Ms. Q, I've got it, I just looked you up in the computer."

I was kinda stunned. "Wow, that's so cool, you remember my name?" I said with surprise on my face.

"Yeah, Samantha Q. Easy to remember your name, every time you're in here you smile and make me feel like I'm not just some idiot behind the counter taking your money. You remember my name when you're in, why shouldn't I remember yours?"

"Well it's easy to remember your name, you're the only Shawn here" I replied "but I'm just one of how many thousands of customers that come through here every week? And please, no need to be formal, you can call me Sam or Samantha. Keep calling Ms. Q and I'll have to start calling my Mr."

It was very cool, and proved once again there's nothing better than being nice to people in stores and such. They don't like their jobs any more than the rest of us most of the time, and they have plenty of twits to deal with. So, I'm always nice, I make a point of it. It is for me, every bit as good as leaving a good tip for good service. I still leave a good tip for good service when it's warranted, because that's important too.

(In most states, employers GET AROUND minimum wage, by making tips part of the pay. Frankly that's just sleazy in my opinion. In Jersey for example, employers in restaurants get away with "paying" waitresses TWO DOLLARS an hour because it's expected they get tip money. So next time you decide NOT to tip because someone's just doing their job like you have to, remember, tips are PART of their job. If you don't leave a reasonable tip, you're taking money out of their pockets and telling them they aren't worth anything. So remember to tip your waitress, PLEASE?" The only time it's acceptable nor to tip, or to leave a small tip, is if the waitperson did a terrible job. Okay, sorry about that, lecture over. It's just something I'm passionate about. If you can afford to "reward yourself with a night out at a decent restaurant with waitstaff, you can afford a decent tip. If you can't afford the tip, well you probably shouldn't be eating out. But that's just my opinion.)

All in all, a completely remarkable day because it was unremarkable. Yes, I started this journey in a hostile and unforgiving land where I didn't know the rules, let alone understand what thinking there was behind them. I didn't belong anywhere, I was feared and respected because I'd built this shell of power and attitude. I was then, truly every bit a stranger in a strange land. Years of isolation and distance from everything wore on me, and suddenly the expectations and rules outside me, really meant nothing but ongoing pain and trauma. Every day was a fight, this epic battle between what was expected and my own nature. Five years ago I decided I could take no more and set out to claim my birthright, a journey I knew not how long it would take, if I'd even live to see my destination, let alone find something like peace, growth, progress, belonging and inclusion.

Now, I'm back home, where I should have been from day one, years of impossible dreams and yearning for freedom have blurred into everyday life. The impossible then is what just is now. And you know, I really like it. Now I have time to work on the long standing ghosts of a life tortured and move on, but the start of it all, the most horrific and painful part of my life has been pretty much corrected. Sure there is one last bit, the "cherry" so to speak on top of the cake I need to get finished, but for now, I'm "Just being!" It can hold me for a little while as I focus on other things. How I'll afford to finish, I know not, but I have a reason to be hopeful now, because I've come this far across and terrible desert.

I'd like to thank Karyn, Veronique and Lori for being the genesis of the title and concept for this post. I wanted to share this wholly unremarkable day so that folks who are walking a similar path know that the destination can, in fact, be reached. If I can do it, anyone can. It's not about gender, sex, parts, clothes, hair, nails, shiny or anything else. It IS in fact about freedom. Honesty with the one person you can least afford to lie to in life, yourself. No, I'm not saying it's easy, or will happen overnight like I dreamed of as a child. But it can happen, it will happen, you'll reach a point of ordinary, of real life, of just being . . .

More than that, who can ask for eh?

If you can't be honest with yourself, and live your life for you, you really aren't doing anyone else any real favors.

Just being all in all was, and is, easier than what my life used to be.


Véronique said...

Glad you had such a nice unremarkable day!

When I moved to the mellow Wet Coast, I purposely started being nice people I dealt with, like merchants. I'm not sure why it was then, but I figured out that if you're nice to people, they tend to be nice back to you, and maybe both our days will be just a little better.

I've wondered if when people say that people are rude to you in New York or Boston or wherever, it might have something to do with falling into a pattern of rudeness. I think it's both possible and desirable to break that pattern. And it costs nothing.

Funny, we call it EVOO too. I've confused a lot of people when I use that abbreviation.

Samantha said...

Thank you! I get odd looks quite often when I call it EVOO, which is funny considering the fact that many of the folks on the Food Network call it that too. I've been calling it that for years, because honestly it's easier than saying Extra Virgin Olive Oil.

You know it's funny, people have been saying for years how rude folks are in Boston and New York, and honestly I've yet to see it. I tend to smile as my almost default facial expression when I'm not otherwise using my face so to speak. I make eye contact in a friendly, hi, how are you kind of way and feel life is too short to be suffering constantly. It's amazing how utterly contagious my smile seems to be.

Ironically enough I read an article in a Boston paper a few years back (when I still lived there) about how rude the US has become as a people, surpassing even the very rude French. In that article they talked about how it seems to have become a pattern. I'd say from what I've heard, there is merit to the contention, but like I say I don't really experience it much.

I really do think our attitude, our vibe, tends to impact first impressions more than most folks are even aware. So it can start things off on a bad footing even when we're not thinking of it. I try when ever I leave the house to take sunshine with me, and leave my own junk at home. Over the years it's caused folks to nickname me sunshine. I completely agree, if you are nice to folks, you stand a much better chance of them being nice to you.

In many ways it's my Mom's "Fault" she always said it doesn't take that much extra time or energy to say thank you, or treat people like they are important. She always said using pleasant thoughts and caring about how you make other people feel when you are around them isn't going to kill you, and makes everyone's lives better. She was right. So when I ask someone how they are, or say hello, or any number of other little things that are kinda automatic and have been rendered meaningless over time, I'm sincere about it.

You are so right, it costs nothing to be nice, and it does break patterns quite nicely.

Thanks for being a wonderful human being Veronique!

alpharat said...

With the weather in single digits outside, I really miss my bike right now, sitting in the basement, waiting for spring...

It's amazing how being friendly gets you remembered. I went to get an oil change the other day, with my car. I had only been to this oil change place with my wife's car, and it's been three months. The guy at the oil change place asked me if I'd bought a new car, because he'd only seen me in the gray one. I like to think it's because you treat people the way you want to be treated, whether it's the oil change guy, the guy at Blockbuster, your mail carrier or a waitress. Nobody is beneath anyone, and nobody deserves to be treated that way because of what they do.

I spent years waiting tables, tending bar, selling books and even picking fruit. You always remember the people who don't look down on you for what you do.