Thursday, June 28, 2012

Being the Bigger Person: Is It Really Worth It?

Hardly a week goes by that I don't hear from at least one person about a particular situation, "I've decided to be the bigger person."  This declaration is usually followed by a self-suffering sigh and possibly a slight roll of the eyes.

Usually, being "the bigger person" applies to dealing with circumstances within one's family (I would say at least 60% have to do with in-laws), but it can also apply to friends, neighbors, and, of course, that jerk who cut you off in traffic.

Being "the bigger person" takes a lot of work because, in any given situation, it takes a lot less effort to say, "Good God, you're an idiot" than it does to try and come up with reasons why that idiot acted the way he did.  Usually being "the bigger person" requires a lot of speculation on our part.  We come up with excuses to try and reason with ourselves so that we can eventually quash the urge to just haul off and smack the other person.

"Maybe his dog died recently and he's just not thinking straight."
"Maybe she has PMS."
"It's quite possible that stupidity runs in her family and she really can't help it." 

Now, when I Googled "being the bigger person" (I just love searching for random stuff like that), there were many blogs and articles about "bigger" people who are suffering all over the world.  They're taking the high road, but since they're blogging about it, you can tell they don't like it.  By the way...I don't think you can call yourself "the bigger person" if you blog about your complaint.  That really defeats the purpose.

Another article came up that actually had 8 steps to becoming the bigger person.  And I truly admire those people who came up with these ideas.  They're a lot perkier than I am and all of their advice had to do with smiling and staying positive.  And I get that. 

The problem is that it didn't address what I should do when I wake up in the middle of the night and think, "Ugh.  I wish I had said (insert rude comment here)."

Let's face it.  Being "the bigger person" often means taking a lot of shit from someone else and then not defending your viewpoint.  In some circles, being "the bigger person" is code for "you're a coward and now I know I can walk all over you."  Admit it:  There are times when you think back to a situation where you were "the bigger person" and regret that you didn't just let the other person have it. 

Are "bigger people" really helping the world?  Is it really better for everyone if we "bigger people" hold back on our opinions?  Do the "smaller people" know something we don't?  Do they sleep better at night, having unleashed their idiotic notions on us "bigger people," knowing that they got everything out of their systems with absolutely no backlash?

Usually what happens with "bigger people" is that one "small person" will push them a little too far and say one stupid thing over our limit.  We won't say anything in that moment, but we will lay awake at night in bed, daydreaming about the next opportunity, when we will unleash years of "being big" on that person who mistakenly thought they had found a kindred "small person" spirit in us because we always smiled and nodded at whatever they said.

When I think of the sleepless nights I've had, fantasizing about a situation in my past and what I wish I would have said, I'm starting to feel like I wasn't necessarily "being big" and instead missed a prime opportunity to make the world a better place.  By being "the bigger person," I have allowed countless "small people" to go about their business, sprinkling their seeds of idiocy, giving foolhardy advice, and senseless opinions.

Right now countless scenarios are running through my head.

Oh, dear.  What have I done?

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Where There's Smoke, There's Fire But When it Rains it Doesn't Always Pour

Last night, as we were leaving to go out to dinner, Mike and I took in the view from the top of the hill of my neighborhood.  Being able to see almost the entire front range from that vantage point has always been one of my favorite things about where I live.  But in the last few days, it's just been depressing.

The day the Waldo Canyon fire broke out, the heavy plume of smoke about 50 miles south of us in Colorado Springs, was slightly frightening.  That small plume quickly turned what would normally be a blue Colorado sky to one of ash and smoke and brought a haze to Denver that tinted the light and made everything look like an underdeveloped Polaroid.  But last night, as dark storm clouds began to roll in from the south, making the sky go from black, then orange where the smoke hit sunlight, and then just looked like one thing.

"My God," I said to Mike.  "It looks like hell."

We scanned the mountains from that spot 1000 feet above Denver until we saw what looked like, to the north, rain clouds.  And then one of those rain clouds suddenly looked like it was going from the ground up.  And we realized that this morning that what we saw was the beginning of the Flagstaff Fire up near Boulder, set in motion by a lightening strike.

It's hard to watch the state you love go up in smoke.  Images of people evacuating and then losing their homes and are all over the internet and greet us on the front page of the paper when we wake up in the morning.  Even though we aren't in immediate danger (a small grass fire broke out just east of us but was quickly put out), we are all coughing, our eyes are burning, and our throats hurt.

Even though officials are saying that something like this was bound to happen at some point, it doesn't help what has been lost.  My parents, who are from Louisiana, have commented that they are now glued to the T.V. just as they have been through every hurricane.  And as I watch the updates...there are some things that I just don't get.  But then again, maybe it's not for me to understand:

  • When I watched the news a couple of days ago, one of the things they talked about was how federal help would not come until all private resources had been exhausted.  One gentleman said, "We expect that to happen some time tomorrow morning.  That's when we will get federal assistance with these fires."  Why?  What good did it do to wait?  I'm sure that there was some sort of official procedure in place, but since just about everyone knew at that point that this was about to get really bad...shouldn't we have started calling in what we could right from the get-go?
  • Almost 1/2 of the people fighting this fire are contract firefighters.  The reason that they are contract firefighters is because the government can't afford to pay for their benefits.  Things that make you go hmmmmm....
  • And then there's Barack Obama's impending visit tomorrow.  I make it a point never to get political in my blogs, but pul-eeze, Mr. Obama.  Don't come tomorrow while they're still struggling to get everything under control.  You should know by now that when you make your appearance, you tend to shut down and redirect a lot of air traffic and traffic in general.  We appreciate the thought.  But it's just not a good time for us to host you.

Some have described the scene in Colorado Springs as similar to a war zone, with military and police, smoke and fire, planes and helicopters circling.  And who are they fighting?  Mother Nature.  Most of us out here are looking at the dead grass around us, sweating in the 100 degree heat, and dreading the sight of clouds because that usually means she's going to strike a match somewhere.  As I write this, she's teasing us.  There are clouds.  A little rain.

But what it mostly amounts to is wind and the dreaded enemy:  Lightening.

Monday, June 18, 2012

The Reasoning Behind NASCAR Scheduling

This blog will only make sense to a few people.  And you know who you are.

In the last week, I have been deeply thinking about a shallow subject and that is why NASCAR operates the way it does as far as scheduling.  I know I'm not the only one who wonders about this.  Many women have been looking at their significant others who work on teams across the country and saying, "You're not going to be home until when?"  And then trying to rationalize why this might be.

I'm starting to believe that there is a man who sits in a small, windowless cubicle in NASCAR headquarters, bent over the schedule for the year, thinking about how to fit as many unnecessary things in as he possibly can into a ridiculously long season.  He periodically meets with a psychologist who helps him come up with an effective plan to ruin everyone's plans and occasionally an Executive Vice President who has 10 kids and a wife who sounds like Gilbert Gottfried sits in on the discussion.

"Okay, so by the time February rolls around, everyone has had a couple of months off," says Dr. Doom.  "It's better just to get them back into 'travel mode' right off the bat.  Ten days in Daytona ought to do it."

"No...that won't work," says the Vice President, thinking that come February freedom is his at last.  "We need a test in there, too.  Let's make sure everyone out there is on the road for at least 2 weeks."

"Now right here," says the psychologist, pointing to June, "this would be the perfect time to have at least 3 tests in a row.  Do you have anything new we can call these guys out for?"

"Oh, I'm sure we can think of something," says the Vice President, leaning back in his chair.  "Maybe say we have some new tires or bend a spoiler 2 degrees and then test it and say we don't like it so we have to bend it back."

"That's a good one," says the psychologist with a grin.  "No one will see that coming."

"Why do we need 3 tests in a row?" asks the scheduler.

The psychologist laughs manically.  "Because these guys are only getting one weekend off this summer.  We need to completely run them down and make sure their marriages are about to disintegrate so that they appreciate us for giving them those 2 days off."

Now, once the "final" schedule for the year is complete...that's when the real fun begins.  NASCAR executives meet for their annual dart game in March where they drink beer, pick little slips of paper out of a hat that have random events listed, and then throw darts at the calendar to determine when they will happen.

"Mid-April...change in springs," says one, taking a swig of his beer.

"End of July...shock test," says another.

"August.  Change in driver's cup holder," says the next, wiping tears of laughter off his face.

"September.  New knee pads for the over-the-wall guys."

"October.  Let's change the pavement somewhere."

"Like where?"

"Who cares?"

When the meeting is through, the executives make their way to their cars, their cheeks pink with pleasure.  They walk in the doors of their homes, shaking their heads as they greet their wives and inform them of their upcoming schedule.  Their wives lay awake all night, thinking of the "to-do" lists they need to put together before their husbands leave for the next 6 months.  And their husbands roll over and sigh with relief, knowing that they won't be home to do one thing on that list.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Cleaning Ads with Twisted Sister and Things That Make Me Feel Old

I've started feeling a bit old.  It has nothing to do with my upcoming birthday this month and very little to do with the fact that I am now the mother of a middle schooler.  (Although I will admit that seeing Twisted Sister on a Stanley Steemer commercial has me feeling slightly ancient.  But then a perverse part of me looks forward to the day when Justin Bieber will be advertising for Metamucil, making my kids feel the way I do now).

What has started making me feel old is observing the generation that's coming up behind me and thinking, "Wait.  They're going to be running the world some day?"  And then a little piece of me sinks down in despair as I fear for our future.

As a side note:  My sister has a different fear.  After she watched a special on how Legos are made, she developed an anxiety about someday being buried alive in small Lego pieces.

"They make 19 billion pieces a year!" she exclaimed.  "I live with 2 boys who are constantly losing Legos.  You know, those things don't break down and are probably half of what makes up every landfill in the United States."

So, basically her fear of the future has to do with waking up and suddenly wading through 4 feet of Legos as she tries to make her way to the shower.

Anyway, I'm sure that every age bracket has been through what I'm going through now.  I'm betting my mom, when I came home with the 5th hole in my left ear, began picturing a world where women CEOs wore cone bras (a la Madonna) to board meetings and the evening news was delivered in a Valley Girl accent.

And then she probably felt old.

My fear began this year when I went to my daughter's parent/teacher conference.  When I expressed my concern about her spelling, it was met with a dismissing wave of the hand and a, "She doesn't need to learn how to spell!  That's what spellcheck is for."

(I could hear my grandmother rolling over in her grave.  After all, the woman used to watch soap operas so that she could point out their grammatical errors.)

Visions of the future swam through my head as I pictured a world where no one spelled anything out (mainly because they didn't know how) and the president of the United States tweeting the State of the Union.

idk whats going on. no $$. this blows. #endofworld

The next generation will get less done because they will all be standing at sinks for a least an hour a day, waiting for them to turn on.  They will lose all ability to speak, preferring instead to text to each other over dinner, which will consist of a high-protein shake of indeterminate color and a Red Bull.  The women will all be stooped over due to a lifetime of carrying over-sized designer bags and the men will be preoccupied with how to faux-hawk their hair at different angles.  Everyone will be orange and on high doses of Vitamin D because of a heightened fear of sunlight and a love of spray tanning, which no one will notice anyway because they're all going to be too busy finding out what's going on in the world without really interacting with anyone in it and doing their make-up in their iPads (I watched a girl doing that yesterday on the plane and it made me wonder...what happened to just using a mirror???).

So, basically, we're raising a group of hyper, mute, Oompa Loompas with bad posture and weird hair.

I didn't mean for this to bring you down.  Again...I'm sure our parents all had the same worries, just as their parents before them.  I bet our grandparents all worried that the world would someday be run by a bunch of people with bowl cuts who, when asked about the state of affairs, replied with the word "groovy" and then started dancing like bobble-head dolls.  And I know that my parents, when I walked downstairs with zippers in my ears and all of my clothes looking like Freddy Krueger  was my best friend, probably had concerns that someday everyone walking the planet would be bald thanks to an overuse of Aqua Net.

But as I look out of my car window and see girls standing on the corner with at least one ass cheek showing, bent over their phones and twisting their nose rings...I can't help but feel a little ancient because I'm now part of the generation that doesn't understand the next one.  And then I look at my own children sitting in the car and smile a little, wondering what will make them feel old when their time comes.

& that mks me feel better. #gettingold

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Yes, Actually. This IS My First Rodeo.

I have spent the majority of the day envisioning myself as Little Catherine on the Prairie.  It all started when I watched The Pioneer Woman on the Food Network this morning where she made a Spicy Pulled Pork that looked amazing and an apple pie that I could practically taste through the screen.

"I could do that," I thought.  "I could make delicious lunches on my Viking stove in my cute Le Crueset blue pot while my children and man folk go rustle something.  Peaceful, country living.  Maybe that's what we need."

I spent the morning picturing my children in various Western wear and trying to decide what kind of straw cowgirl hat might look good on me.  And then I got myself dressed and ready for our Sunday family event.

The rodeo.

Now, I've never been to a rodeo before.  That's right.  Thirty-six years old, lived in Colorado most of my life and have never been to one before.  And it wasn't until I told my parents that I'd bought tickets for the kids and me...that I found out why.

"You're going to the rodeo?" my dad said as he burst out laughing.  "You're kidding."

"Why do you find that so funny?" I asked a little defensively.

"Because when you were in elementary school, the entire school went to the rodeo to celebrate some sort of anniversary.  But you absolutely refused to go.  Said rodeos were cruel to animals.  One teacher from the school actually had to stay behind with you that day while all of the other students went."

I have no recollection of this what-so-ever, but of course my parents remember every detail.  I picture them quietly laughing with each other after my firm, but apparently fleeting, 3rd grade stand on animal rights saying, "Let's remind her that she did this when she's thirty-six.  He he."

"Don't worry about it," my mom said when I confirmed with her that this whole thing actually happened to me and not my sister, the one who has always disliked anything "western."  "I was actually kind of proud of you for having such strict principles at 9-years-old and sticking with them."

And that made me feel guilty that not only did I not recall this event, I was backing down on what was obviously an important point to me in the 3rd grade.

I took my kids to the local rodeo in Elizabeth, CO (I have a policy that when trying something new for young kids...don't go to the "big show," go to the local something that costs half as much so you'll only feel half as bad if they ask to leave halfway through.  This also works for performances of The Nutcracker and any sporting event. Just a tip).   Anyway, I got us all ready to get out there and get dusty and as we drove out there, I had visions of my kids begging me to buy a farm at the end of the rodeo, promising that they would get up at the crack of whenever to milk whatever needed milking and feed whatever might be hungry.  I should have known that that wouldn't happen when I caught my son trying to sneak his DS into the show and the only time one of them really got into it was when my youngest would exclaim every once in a while, "Hey!  This song is on the Wii!  It's on Just Dance 3!"

But I enjoyed it.  It was entertaining and a break from our norm.  As I stared at the manly men, sweating and dirty, riding around roping things that looked pretty harmless and defenseless to me (that's the 9-year-old in me saying that), I reminded myself of that line in Something to Talk About where Julia Roberts' great aunt says, "It's just a man on a horse, honey.  Just a man on a horse."

Well, that may be.  But somehow that horse makes just about any man look a little more attractive.

The kids didn't beg me for a farm, which I guess is just as well.  I mean, I've been a mother long enough to know that they'll say they'll get out there and do the milking, but it would have ended up being me, apologizing to some cow for being a human breast pump every morning.  I don't think Mike would be on board after breaking his back years ago and then having his femur bone rebuilt with pins, needles, and cement last year (I'm just trying to picture the look he would give me after I asked him to "get out there and rope that").

And now that I think about it...I don't want to live all that far away from civilization.

I think the Marshall's about 15 minutes from my house has that Le Creuset pot and Nordstrom has some pretty cute hats.

Problem solved.