Archive for March, 2009


Here’s one for you - you wanna piss me off?  Tell me to smile.

Say you see me at the coffee shop, the pub, a club, at my desk, or wherever we happen to be.  I don’t care what my face is doing, do not say “smile.”  You mean well, sure you do, but shut it.  Seriously.

If you know me, you know I’m overall a happy person.  Look at the name of my blog for crying out loud!  So I don’t happen to be smiling.  So what?!  You don’t know what’s up.  I could be deep in thought.  Something awful could have just happened.  Some bad news might have come my way.  Maybe I’m thinking of an answer to a trivia question.  You can’t know from just looking.

I’m more aware of the expression on my face than most people probably are.  I make a concerted effort not to give people on the street dirty looks or even looks that could be interpreted as dirty.  I would like my face reflect my open mind.

And by the way, lack of SMILE doesn’t equal frown.  You wanna see me frown?  Tell me to smile, I dare you.


I can’t recall if I’ve mentioned here that I’m going to write my own book (maybe an extended pamphlet-sized bound product) on modern etiquette.   Etiquette, the classic tome by Emily Post was updated fairly recently to figure in more up-to-date social mores and practices, so I gave it a look at the bookstore.  Not only does it have the size and bulk of an encyclopedia, to my mind it’s a little quaint.  It’s not wrong in any way, it doesn’t give bad information, quite the contrary.   It just doesn’t address the subjects I want addressed, for instance how to comport yourself in a heavily-populated urban area.  I found no mention of cellphone use or conduct on public transportation, subjects I would like to give attention.

The bag maker extraordinaire Kate Spade put out a sweet, wee book called Manners.  Frankly, when I first saw it at the bookstore I got pissed because I wanted mine to be an original idea.  It’s very Kate-Spade-cute, though, and it’s good enough that I bought it.  Think I’ll use it as an outline or guide for my own book called “Essential Civility” which will be longer and answer even more questions about how to conduct yourself in public.  (I may include a subtitle like “courtesy in the city” or something.  OOH, I just came up with that and me likey!!)

Some of you may already know about this title and book idea because I came up with it about two years ago and it has inspired some heated discussions with friends.  Not heated as in we argued, but heated because we worked ourselves up in a froth describing the rude and thoughtless people we seem to encounter every day.  I swear, when I allow it to bother me I get the pedestrian equivalent of road rage.  What am I supposed to do with that?!?  No horn to honk and no car in which to remain anonymous as I do so.  I either confront this rude rube and risk who-knows-what or swallow it down and begin work on an enormous ulcer.

Since I can’t live my life a furrowed-brow and clenched-jaw away from a heart attack and I certainly can’t spend all my time on the whys and wherefores of retarded social behavior, this will channel my energy creatively.  My hope is that focusing this rage into a book will help me avoid the ulcer option.

I’m thinking as I write I’ll post bits and pieces here.  I’ve no doubt that I’ll receive comments that disagree with me on one point or another, but that’s fair.  If your arguments or suggestions sway me or give me ideas for chapters or topics you’ll get listed in the credits of the book.  Win-win!

Now please wait for me to exit the train before boarding and give me three more inches of personal space in line at the supermarket, mmmkay?

spring in new england

March 20.  The first day of Spring.  Crocuses, daffodils and tulips poking their noses out of the ground testing the air, checking if the time is right.  They’ll come on out no matter what, of course, they have no choice.  Their blooming must stick to a pre-determined schedule, snow on the ground be damned.

We humans have the intellect and tools to determine the temperature, wind-chill, precipitation amount, etc,…  Ergo we can choose our outfits according to the weather.  People don’t go out in jeans and a t-shirt without a jacket if there’s snow in the forecast, right?  Or do they?

Yes, it’s the first day of Spring, but come ON.  As I left the T at State Street station I was greeted by a bitterly cold wind.  Looking around I saw relatively scantily-clad ladies and gentlemen whip by me in the blowing air wearing nary a scarf or coat and looking none-too-happy.  This is not to say that no one I saw was dressed properly for the cold, but my eyes were drawn to the ones who weren’t, and there were plenty.  My mothering side was aghast and in my head I admonished them all with a “what were you thinking?!” and “put on a hat, fella, you’re gonna catch your death!” and “don’t you watch/listen/read the weather forecast?”

That last one there reverberated inside me as I realized not only do people not pay attention to the forecast, but even if they had, this is New England and if you want any confidence in the forecast you can only pay attention to the last one before you open the door because they change as fast as you can turn around and say “abracadabra.”  Not to mention the fact it seems as though every radio station, tv station and newspaper has a different idea of what the day’s weather holds in store.

But there’s more to it than that, and in my opinion a large percentage of people dress for the weather they think it should be instead of what it is.   First day of Spring is ideally sunny and warm, sure, but this is Boston.   That’s just not gonna happen.  In truth it cracks me up to see dudes in their capri shorts and flip flops and girls in their sundresses when it’s no more than 38 degrees out.  The word March or April in the date must = beach day! to them.  It’s as though they think they’ll collectively will the weather to warm up and do their bidding if they just break out their summer gear.

I’m learning to fight my motherly instincts now as I observe these poorly-attired, sadly-optimistic souls shivering and shaking at their bus stops and hugging themselves tight as they lean into the wind.  Frankly, I feel much the way I do when faced with someone’s undying belief in an almighty god.  I just laugh.  HA!  You can’t win.  None of us is going to win.  And I can’t help you, so I’ll watch you from my cozy hat, coat and boots-wearing perspective and let you go off on your merry way.

dangerous precedent

Here’s the thing: I’ll write out a To Do List and get excited by the idea of accomplishing tons of stuff. In no time, subtly and without warning, To Dos become tasks instead of things I merely wrote down to remember I wanted to do. These things hang over my head and if the list isn’t completely crossed off in a certain amount of time I beat myself up (you’ve seen the bruises… ha!).

This kind of self-imposed expectation can be quite the personal hurtle. And it doesn’t just affect me. If you know me you know there are times it takes me forever to write back to you; extra-specially if you’ve sent me a long email/letter. To my mind, I must respond in kind, meaning if you wrote me a long note, you deserve a long one back. But you don’t care about that, do you? That’s the way my walnut wobbles. But so even though I love writing and look forward to it, I subconsciously (slightly consciously, obviously, since I’m aware of it) sabotage myself by turning it into a “work-job,” as my mom called our weekly chores. The result is you don’t hear from me for a while.

Clearly this is affecting my blog as well. I’ve made it a chore, which it definitely is NOT. I’m constantly and consistently struggling with what I believe comes down to poor time management and procrastination. I feel as though when I write long entries here I’ve set a dangerous precedent, but I am beginning to realize it’s all in my head. My wee little noggin.

Here’s the plan: Write more often, whether it’s a five-sentence or a five-paragraph entry. Habit must be re-established or else I’ll languish and lose what slight hold I have on vocabulary and grammar. Zut alors!!