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Food for Talk: Card 11, Accomplices

6 Feb

Your best friend steals something from a store. You are with him. What do you do? Do you confront him? Tell his parents? Do nothing? 

I’m a thief. It’s true! When I was in junior high, I walked into a record store in the Orange Park mall–I don’t remember the name. It had those sensor gates. I was looking at the Arrested Development tape(no, not CD), in that little plastic guard thing that they were held in, and I was walking around with it in the store, trying to determine whether I wanted to spend the $11.95, or whatever it was. I think I was with Beth (maybe Jen, but i think it was Beth). Beth and I were talking, and we wander out of the store. Halfway down the mall, I look down, and there’s the tape, in it’s little ladder-y plastic guard, in my hand. No sensor went off, no Paul Blart-style mall cop ran after me in his Segway. I just…walked out. When I realized what I had done, I panicked, darted into the Gap, and shoved it under a pile of sweaters. I think I might have broken down into a sweat. I believe Beth was scoping out the mall to see if I was being chased down. We left the Gap, sat down, cooled off, and decided what in the hell we should do, and when I determined I wasn’t going to end up in cuffs, I calmly retrieved the tape, took it home, and spent an hour trying to saw through the plastic security case to get to the tape. Which I did. I still love Arrested Development. I now own it on CD! Mr. Wendell!

I could have returned it to…Turtle’s (maybe?), but I didn’t know exactly how to say that in my 12-year old brain–“I walked out with this tape by mistake, and i’m returning it.” Actually, I could have said exactly that. But I wanted the tape, and no one cared, so it was easier to go home with it. And there you have it. Jen loves that story and reminds me (usually in front of friends) of my thieving ways on a semi-annual basis.

I did steal some candy when i was 5, showed it to my 15-year old sister to show her how cool I was, and she promptly turned me in to my mother. I still haven’t forgiven her. That’s about the extent of it. …That I can remember. Or admit to. Ha!

Anyway, enough about my thieving…I don’t think I’ve ever had friends who have stolen things. My childhood was really…safe! And law-abiding! If someone did something naughty, Emily Ebener was probably behind it. She was always getting into trouble, and she’d be easy to blame! This angel face? Not on your life. But if I DID hang with someone stealing something as a kid, I probably wouldn’t say anything–no one likes a rat. Now? I can’t even imagine someone taking a sweater or makeup or something. It seems so…silly. Why steal when you can just charge it?? 😉


Food for Talk: Card 10, Consequences

4 Feb

“In nature there are neither rewards nor punishments – there are consequences.” — Robert Ingersoll 

Do you think we face good and bad consequences for our actions? How do the consequences change as we get older?

I’m a big believer in karma. I think if you continue to do bad things, you put bad energy out in the world and it comes back to you. Gossip can be one of those things. And it’s not even that the main consequence is someone overhearing the gossip and gets you into trouble. A friend of mine and I were talking about gossip, and he said the worst feeling is when you’re gossiping about someone, and then later they come up to you and say something really nice, or give you a complement, and you feel like absolute shit. The bad energy isn’t coming from them necessarily, it’s coming from yourself.

I think the term “consequence” has a bad connotation, so I’ve never heard of anyone mention a “good” consequence–usually they just say a positive result or reaction stemming from a certain behavior. Consequence sounds like doomsday. Bum Bum BUM! If you’re a moral person, I think you can avoid bad consequences to your behavior for a little while, like stealing, or cheating, or taking credit for someone else’s work. But it will come back to bite you mainly because you can’t handle the guilt. If you don’t prepare for your presentation to your entire department, you’ll look like a fool. If you sneak around on your partner, you’ll feel guilty or get caught. If you cheat, you won’t ever know the information you’ll need to know to pass the class/do your job, etc. But every action has an equal reaction…so how bad do you want to make it on yourself? How deep in water do you want to get?

However, if you have no moral code? All bets are off. Just don’t get caught! I’m looking at you, Madoff, you selfish ass!

Food for Talk: Card 9, Coaches

13 Jan

Who was your best coach? What made him or her great? Who was your worst coach? What didn’t you like about their coaching style? 

I wasn’t involved in that many sports, so I can’t relate to this card all that much. But if you expanded “coach” to include teachers…I would probably say my favorite coach/teacher was Steve Ogilvie in high school band. I could probably tag most of my high school friends in this note and they would agree! It wasn’t so much that he was the best teacher I ever had, because I think I had more classes with Bert Creswell, (and I also think Ogilvie’s true genius was in his jazz band classes) but it was that he a) didn’t put up with your crap, b) he was fiery, and could get you fired up easily, c) he loved his job, and he loved us, even when we didn’t think so. He didn’t pander to his students, and in fact, he didn’t seem to really care if we liked him or not, which is why I think we strived to work even harder. I don’t know too many of my band nerd friends who didn’t love Mr. O and think he was just the coolest cat.

Worst coach? Ooh–I had a French II teacher in college that I COULD NOT STAND. And I was good in French! Worse yet, I had a French I teacher that I thought was fantastic, so I was expecting French II to be a breeze. But this woman…Argh! Difficult, unhelpful, impossible non-French accent that I couldn’t understand…bleh. Just not a good teacher, and not interested in assisting students who didn’t get it (which was 98% of us). I think we got C’s on her quizzes on a regular basis, and she totally sapped my will to be a better student…and I was a really good student normally! I just gave up and hoped to slide through with a B, which I did. My girlfriend Catherine and I barely got through it–that woman was Satan’s handmaiden. Now that I think about it, my high school French teacher(s) were no picnics, but I was enough of a brown-noser (and a good student) that I sailed on through. Maybe the French language is the problem??

Did you have any great or terrible coaches/teachers?

Food for Talk: Card 8, Are you a good listener?

11 Jan

“It is the disease of not listening that I am troubled with.” –William Shakespeare 

Are you a good listener?

Oh, this answer doesn’t make me feel great about myself. I used to think I was a GREAT listener. But now I realize the difference between being really interested in someone’s personal stories (which I am) and being a good listener (which I’m not). It’s obvious from knowing me (and reading these blogs!) that I have a lot to say. I think I’m interesting, but if you don’t…well, bite me (is that mean? That’s probably mean). But I also really enjoy talking to people and learning about their lives and how people relate to each other. I find sociology fascinating–why people do the things they do and how they interact with other people. It’s why I’m endlessly interested in people’s relationships and emotions (not unlike many women). I think I have a high degree of emotional intelligence, I’m pretty sensitive to people’s emotions, and I believe I have a small talent for being able to encourage people to talk about themselves. There has been many a time where I can get a man to chatter on endlessly just by asking him a variety of well-timed questions! It’s why I’m such a charming first date!

But while this might make me a good communicator, I don’t think it equates that I’m a good listener. I have a tendency to talk over people. It’s genetic–my mother does it (Jen can attest to this!) I want to put in my $.02, and I think what I have to say is worth listening to (even when it isn’t!) And I always want to fix problems. If you’re looking for straight sympathy for a situation you’ve gotten yourself into, I’m not always the best person to tell your story. At least I recognize my bad habits and I’m trying to improve them. With guys I tend to do the opposite and listen TOO much (and yes, this is a problem), which causes them to think they are endlessly fascinating and yet they leave the date knowing little to nothing about me. So obviously I have the listening gene, because I can listen to them, but I think think that’s more co-dependence than anything. Ha!

So the goal is to listen more. Listen better. Listen more actively, instead of just waiting for when I can chime in. It will be…very difficult. But I will try!

What do you think–are you a good listener?

Food for Talk: Card 7, What have you not conquered?

22 Nov

“I’ve conquered an empire but I’ve not been able to conquer myself.” –Peter the Great 

What have you not been able to conquer?

Moving from good, to great. Breaking out of my safe box. It’s not easy to do when you’ve been coasting as long as I have! My life has been really blessed. I was born to wonderful parents in an upper-middle class home. My mom was a housewife (and from a very early age, I was taught by her to say “homemaker”–she hated the term housewife. I still catch myself saying “homemaker” even though no one cares anymore), my dad was a Navy captain. I had an older brother and sister who adored me (and still do). I even had a dog! I was not given everything I wanted (the horror!) but I was given everything I needed. I got piano lessons (until my musical prowess peaked at age 12), I read all the time, I kept myself company, I had good friends, I ate interesting food, I was naturally good in school, I was kept safe. I’ve mentioned before that my life has gone completely according to plan…until now (no plan in sight!) No major catastrophes–I went from high school to the college of my choice (University of Florida), I went straight from there to grad school for my master’s degree (Florida State), I’ve happily dated a series of interesting yet ultimately unsatisfying men, and now here I am. Rarely have I gone after anything and not gotten it (and my failures still aggravate me. Losing senior year Band Drum Major to Melissa what’s-her-name? Sonofabitch.) But have I had to ever really push myself for something I wanted? No.

I remember clearly being good in French in high school. I do accents pretty well, and I pick up things quickly. I excelled at my first semester of French I in college–loved my teacher, and he loved me. But then I got to French II, with a teacher I didn’t understand, and I hated it. And her. And she didn’t really like me either (unusual for me–teachers always loved me. Not because I was a kiss-ass, I was just really good at school and I loved to learn. Who doesn’t love a student like that?!) And to be honest–I don’t do well with people who don’t like me (or at least appreciate my company). It offends me. I’m a people-pleaser, and damn it, you will be pleased to be around me. So my mother said, reasonably–just work really hard to prove to yourself you can do it. Learn it better than she can teach you. But did I? Nah–I did just enough to get by with a B, and I didn’t learn anything at all that I can remember.

This is a theme with me–if it’s really hard, I don’t bother. My mom always loves to say how her father hated to do something poorly, so he practiced until he was good at it–bowling, bridge, gardening, swimming, etc. He was that kind of guy, a strong, taciturn, honest, hardworking fellow. I feel like I have failed in that way. I glide along in a state of comfort, never really pushing myself out of my comfort zone. I think this is part of the reason I “experiment” with my dating partners–I take risks with my emotions (which I’m willing just to hand over to some poor unsuspecting fool) that I never would in the rest of my life. And it never really pays off–hmm. There’s a lesson there, I’m sure of it. Maybe if I instinctively knew they were more reliable and willing to be in a relationship with me, I wouldn’t throw myself in with such abandon.

I would love to be bolder, riskier. One of my regrets from college is that I was pretty tame. Not completely boring, but not willing to just put it all out there. And isn’t that what college is about? I feel like I’ve made up for some of that excitement after moving to Charlotte, but I’ve still got that mindset. If I don’t know what the outcome will be, I won’t do it. I don’t want to put myself in a position that makes me awkward, or uncomfortable. But that’s plainly ridiculous. I don’t think it’s necessarily that I have a problem with change, it’s that I need to have some idea of what that change will look like. But how realistic is that?

I have an opportunity to take a position in another part of the library (hopefully at some point–the budget crisis is currently having an impact) that is completely different than what I’m doing. My boss thinks I’d be a good fit, which is a wonderful reassurance. At first I rejected the idea because I didn’t think I’d like it, but then I thought–it’d be nice to have a change. I’m no longer challenged by my job as a reference/instruction librarian, and I can do it with one arm tied behind my back. But a small part of me is afraid–like, what if I’m too lazy to learn all the things I need to learn to do a good job? What if I don’t like it, and then lose my motivation to be good at my job? What if I’m unable to be quit being professionally lazy? I want to think that won’t happen, but I also don’t want to set myself up for failure and disappointment. Of course, it’s my responsibility either way, but we all know it’s easier to do a good job when you’re invested in the job you’re doing. So it’s my responsibility to invest. To work. To put in the time. To push myself. To not be satisfied with just “good enough”. It’s easy to get in that rut–I saw it in the tv I was watching, the crappy clothes I was wearing, the time I was wasting. But ultimately, just doing just enough is pretty unsatisfying. But lately I’ve been trying new things, being more active, and it’s leaving me feeling more satisfied. Maybe I’m doing something right.

What about you? Anything you’re trying to conquer? (Conquer is such a stiff, old-fashioned word. I love it!)

Food for Talk Card 6: Personality Type?

11 Nov

Slow motion gets you there faster.” –Hoagy Carmichael 

Would you describe yourself as a type A or type B personality?

I don’t really get the above quote, but I’ll go with it. I’ve spent a lot of time studying the Myers-Briggs personality indicator (I’m an ISFJ, if you’re interested), but I’ve learned that your success is less determined by personality type than by the strengths that you have and how you apply them. So something as simplistic as Type A versus B should be taken with a grain of salt. But I’m doing what the card says so…

Type A definition: Considered “stress junkies”, Type A’s are impatient, excessively time-conscious, insecure about their status, and highly competitive.

Type B definition: Considered to be patient, relaxed, and easy-going.

And then you have Type AB personalities, obviously a mixture of both.

You know, years ago, I would’ve said I was a total Type B personality…cool, laid back, low-stress. This would make an ex-boyfriend of mine laugh, who thought I was pretty uptight and somewhat anxious. That used to aggravate me, but as I’ve gotten older, I’ve realized that I’m more Type A than I’d like. I worry about things (thanks to my mother’s genetics, I’m sure), I’m an unrealistic people-pleaser, I like things to be very orderly, and I like being in charge. I have problems delegating! My Type B show itself because I’m relatively drama free–I don’t like to start problems, I enjoy my free time, and I think in stressful situations I keep a cool head. So I guess I’ll cop out and say I’m an AB personality.

When I think strict Type A, I think of my sister-in-law–very disciplined, used to get up at 4:30am to exercise with the Secret Service when she worked for the White House, worked 18 hour days, just started her business, is always moving. I don’t know who she’s competing with, but I’m glad not to be a peer–too much pressure! My brother keeps her grounded, which is a good thing.

When I think strict Type B, the first person who pops into my head is my friend Julia’s husband, Cri. Julia’s a lot like me (poor girl), but she married a guy who compliments her really well. Cri is a very chill, West Coast outdoors-y kind of guy. He doesn’t see the point in worrying needlessly. He’s going to be a great dad to Caydan because he’s patient and a good teacher. Complimenting personalities–that’s the ticket to a good relationship.

I think it’s good to be a little of both–a little stress keeps you moving, but you know how to relax and don’t take yourself too seriously!

What about you? Or is Type A/Type B a pointless indicator??

Food for Talk: Card 5, 5 Things that make you smile

28 Oct

Name five things that make you smile. 

This was tricky–not just what makes you happy, but what makes you smile. Hmm…

1. My new chin! Well, it makes me smile mostly. I’m still a little anxious about it because it’s not quite “ready” yet. But I think (at least I hope) that when I’m fully healed it will be great. I’m freaking thrilled I finally made the commitment to fix it. I’ve never had a real defined chin line, but it was exacerbated by steroids I had taken 2 years ago and they gave me a chubby old lady double chin. That is gone. It’s not perfect, but then neither was my old chin, so…pick your poison. No buyer’s remorse. I’m glad I no longer have to think about it in pictures, turn my head a certain way, hate how photos look, etc. It was getting ridiculous. I should have the chin that belongs to my face!

2. My brother Chris and my nephews, Kieran and Aidan. I just adore my brother–he always has the best advice, and he is the funniest person I know. And my nephews are so cute and they’re always so happy to see me–how can you not love that? And since I’m not their parent, I don’t get any of the difficult crap that comes along with that–they adore me 98% of the time. I love being Aunt E!

3. My girlfriends Jen and Lisa. They are just the best. We make a concerted effort to see each other weekly for some girl time, and it’s wonderful. It’s SATC minus one person. And it’s interesting–conventional wisdom says 3 people make for an uneven friendship (especially when 2 of them have known each other for 20 years like Jen and I have), but i don’t think we aren’t like that–all 3 of us have traveled together (Vegas, baby, Vegas!), and we can hang out with each other as easily as 2 of us can. I’m just so grateful for both of them–they give me tough love when I need it, and they always show up without asking.

4.Getting my Netflix DVDs in the mail. It’s so dumb, but it’s true. My free month is running out Sunday, which is a very good thing, because 2 years ago I had it for a year and was totally a Netflix addict. I don’t need to repeat that (and also–there’s really nothing else I need to watch that I can’t get from the library). I don’t know what it is…the red package? Getting something not bill-related in the mail? Getting a movie I really want to see? Don’t know, don’t care. Still love it. But it is crack!

5.Bob and Sheri. I just adore them. They are completely part of my daily morning routine–I could give up my clock from 6:30-8am based on their radio broadcast and still know exactly when I woulld get to work on time. They are funny, insightful, silly, and entertaining–they are like listening to old friends. I’ve turned on some of my other friends to them, and even if you can’t listen to them on the radio, you can get to them via podcast on iTunes! Love!

So tell me, what are your 5 things?

Food for Talk: Card 4, Faith in God

23 Oct

When a man of goodwill is troubled or tempted or afflicted with evil thoughts, then he can better understand how great a need he has of faith in God.” –Thomas A Kempis

Do you feel you have a need for faith in God? 

This is a timely card, because I have felt a longing to be closer to God recently, probably in the last year or so (definitely the last six to nine months at least). I’ve been taking stock in my life (like I said, the 30th birthday has definitely affected me!) and trying to figure out where my next steps are going. It’s alternately exciting and scary. I’ve really looked at my relationships, I’ve cleaned out junk in my house, I’m trying to take on more responsibility at work, I’ve been improving my physical self, and the major thing that’s left is my spiritual self. And I’ve been working on that as well.

I think most of us, when we’re younger, question God’s presence or place in our lives–I know I did. I think that’s healthy and normal, and what God expects of us. If we never question His love or plan for us, how can we really appreciate Him being there? It’s very easy to take God for granted. My doubts started in high school, and I thought–what if God doesn’t exist? But what I quickly found out is the thought of that upset me so much–it would literally bring me to tears that I was basically alone in the world without someone guiding me–that I abandoned that thought. That didn’t mean I became a super-believer–far from it! Often I felt going to church was very rote and uninspiring, and I didn’t pray very often, or read the bible. But recently I’ve begun changing my attitude towards my faith, and it’s made a real difference. I’ve already described in these notes how I’ve felt the need to take control of my entire life, which is just insanity. It hasn’t made me really unhappy (except in my romantic relationships), but it has left me unfulfilled. So I’ve decided to listen more, instead of always acting on what I think is right. Because He usually tells me the right thing to do. He is the voice inside my head that gives me good advice. Now I have dated atheists and I have friends who are atheists, and I’m sure they would tell me that the voice I hear is not God, but just my good instincts and intuition. But how do they know? How do I know? I don’t–it’s just the beauty of faith. And that faith has to be stoked–otherwise it won’t grow and develop. So I started becoming more active in my faith and my church , and I think it’s satisfied me in ways that other things haven’t. It started when I did a year-long bible study a few years ago, and continued with me joining my women’s circle, and then my under 35- Sunday school group, and it’s continuing with me helping to organize a young professionals group with my friends Kelly and Mary Taylor to bring more young people to the church and connect them to their faith more strongly. But all those decisions have seemed like the right ones. It’s not just about being a member of my church, it’s about being tied to something greater than myself.

My brother, who after the birth of his children has really embraced his faith, is probably the closest thing I have to a spiritual advisor and friend. He keeps me grounded, and keeps me looking at the bigger picture. He understands what it’s like to leave God and come back to him–how our faith changes as we get older and wiser. And how we need it, and Him, to put our life into perspective, to give up the control, to focus on the important things.

I guess the bottom line is without faith, I’m powering my own boat. It’s slow-going, it’s confusing, often I have no direction and I’m exhausted! I’ve tried it on my own, and I just make a mess of things. Faith in Him ultimately makes me more productive, happier, more satisfied. It’s making me give more of myself, it’s making me less selfish, and it’s helping me figure out my own path. These are all positive things!

Food for Talk: Card 3, I woke up this morning…

5 Oct

When you woke up this morning what did you most look forward to doing?

Honestly, going back to bed, which isn’t like me! I was a bridesmaid at my girlfriend Debbie’s wedding this weekend, and I was at the rehearsal dinner on Friday and then the wedding on Saturday. I’m an introvert by nature, so I can be outgoing, but it always wears me out. Especially small talk. So this weekend I spent lots of time talking to people I don’t really know or talk with much–Debbie’s other friends, Debbie’s family, friends I haven’t seen in years, etc. And as much as I enjoyed talking to them, it’s just…tiring. So I spent the night at the lake (where the wedding was) and got in a good 8 hours, but I was still tired when I woke up this morning! Part of that was the multiple tasty gin and tonics and glasses of white wine, I’m sure…but still, I had church to get to!

But after that I still wasn’t done! Tonight we had a Charlotte Phi Mu event that was to get new members involved with the chapter. Again, I really enjoyed it (and we got a good turnout as well as some new people!), but…tiring. It takes brain power to remember everything to buy for the event, as well as the important details about people and what they do, who they are, what’s going on with their family, where they’re looking for jobs, etc. And be charming and cheerful on top of that! My brain is worn out! And then tomorrow I’m hosting my first book club at my house to talk about “The Female Brain” (really good book, trust me) and I’m cooking dinner for the ladies (about 5 of them). That’s 4 straight days of talking! More details to remember, more conversations to keep going. And I’m good at that, and I think I’m engaging (something I definitely think I’ve improved as I’ve gotten older, and Phi Mu was a big help as well!) but i have to accept I need some downtime to recharge. Recharging is big for me! Especially after a busy day of cleaning, churching, shopping, and talking. Right now I’m watching Jaguars football (alone!), which is nice. Blessed downtime. And after everyone goes home tomorrow night, and I’m cleaning up after cooking my chicken cacciatore (and drinking my 2nd glass of red wine) and I head to bed…I’ll try not to talk to anyone for 24 hours!

Food for Talk: Card 2, Speaking in anger

30 Sep

“A soft answer turns away wrath, but grievous words stir up anger.” –Proverbs

Share a time when you stopped yourself from saying an unkind remark in anger. How did you feel about yourself? Had you said what was on your mind, what would have been the outcome? 

I wrote a whole post responding to thiis, and when I re-read it, I realized it turned into another different post entirely. It turned into how I get angry mainly when I judge a person’s (usually a friend or family’s) actions that I don’t agree with. But then I thought that was really a different post about my judgmental streak (maybe subtitled: what’s one of your more unattractive qualities??) and I started over. This one was harder than I thought.

Alrighty–talking out of anger. When I get angry about something (which doesn’t happen too often, but when i get riled up, I get RILED UP) I don’t think of myself as wanting to say unkind things. I might say very DIRECT things, which might be seen as harsh, but they aren’t untrue and they aren’t unfair. I really don’t think I fight dirty. So this question is tricky. For instance, today I helped a patron who immediately gave me attitude for no reason. I could’ve told him to drop the ‘tude or else leave (and I thought about doing that), but frankly I was taken aback, and also I knew that he needed help and maybe he just had a bad day. I thought it’d be easier to just not confront him and move him along. But his rude attitude angered me, and a big part of me wishes I had told him to be nicer. But sometimes speaking up causes more trouble than it’s worth.

However, I feel one of my better qualities is not being passive aggressive–when I’m angry with someone, I tell them very directly why. I don’t beat around the bush. I don’t think I fly off the handle like I used to. I can get very quiet, and sometimes I’ll hit back with a retort which is laser sharp and right on the money. But just because it’s true doesn’t mean it’s nice. So I think i’ve gotten better about holding my tongue as i get older. When I was younger, I would take on battles that didn’t even involve me, out of some misguided sense of self-righteousness (one or two of my high school friends on Facebook have at one point been on the other end of these rants…a much-belated sorry is in order!) I might be as self-righteous as ever (Jen G. will laugh and agree), but I try to stay out of other people’s arguments. Hey, I’ve half-improved! The outcome to me lashing out was just a lot of drama, and mainly it’s just…exhausting. It’s a lot easier to let things go, especially when it doesn’t even concern me. But occasionally I still want to fight back and i have to catch myself…it’s not the easiest job in the world to be the bigger, nicer person!