Tag Archives: society

friend


friend n. a person whom one knows and with whom one has a bond of mutual affection.

friends

“True friends stab you in the front” – Oscar Wilde

The word “friend” is a loaded word for me. I am and never have been good at making or keeping friends. Perhaps it will be my life’s greatest challenge. Lately I have been thinking a lot about friends and friendships. Once upon a time in a world without social media you could just move on and forget your previous friendship failings or tragedies, but these days they linger in throwback photos that a “friend” posted online of that 5th grade birthday party that you weren’t invited to. Seeing your bully included in that photo instead of you can inflict quite a sting and bring back all of those insecurities and questions you once had about yourself…and justifiably didn’t want to deal with in adulthood having already triumphed over them.

I think I am a member of the majority when I say that I was a victim in a female trio friendship tragedy. Early in my life (Kindergarten), things were pretty copacetic. I never attended preschool so most of my “friends” were neighbors who stole my Barbie dolls and babysitters whom I idolized and watched Duran Duran videos with when my parents weren’t home. It should be this way as a child. Friendship should be simple and far from tragic. When I started Kindergarten I was pretty reserved, but I made friends easily. I got along well with little boys better than little girls, and that is still the case. Things were just great. I had a “best friend” and I was hers as well. She had another best friend who wasn’t really my best friend – and we tolerated each other. We were both in competition to be the only “best friend” but in the end it was mutually accepted that we would coexist…until around the 4th grade that is.

The 4th grade was a really turning point in my life. It was the year that my bully came to town. Being the new girl at a small, private school made you an instant celebrity – especially if you came from a street clothes wearing, bubble gum chewing allowed, public school. You were a rebel, the cool kid – automatically – even if you sucked. Usually the cool kid was indeed cool – or I just got along with them relatively well. But this year the new girl set her sights on my trio of friends and I was marked as the odd man out. She did all of the back talking, rumor spreading, “mean girl” things a bully does and the result was the end of my friendship. She sought to replace me and as 9 year old girls haven’t learned a ton about loyalty yet, she was successful – and I became the lone wolf.

Having been ejected from my first foray into friendship, I sought new friends and found some. They were never the same. The bond just wouldn’t form the way it had back when I was 5. They already had other friends and I wasn’t new or interesting enough to be an attraction. I spent the next 2 years as the third wheel, all while watching the girl who bullied me fill the space that had been meant for me.

The school closed and I ended up in public school, finally away from one bully only to find another. Being new in public school as a 12 year old was like being a leper at the Oscars. I was also pretty awkward and fat, so of course I was tortured day in and day out for being so. My new name was “meatballs” and I was called that for almost a year until I starved myself thin.

Things weren’t awesome in high school either. Being an athlete helped, but the connections I made never stuck. College was a fiasco which is worthy of a blog post of it’s own – until I met my husband who is the bestest friend I have.

When I think about this checkered past, I have to believe that what happened way back when left an indelible mark on my ability to make and care about friends. Having been hurt so early on, the fear is now an innate part of my personality. I’d like to think there are others in the world just like me.

When I was friended on Facebook by the original “best friend” I was hesitant to accept for the reason that I am writing about today. I questioned why this person wanted to add me to their list having rejected me so long ago. Could she have never known how painful it all was? Did she ever care? Then I saw the posted photos of the fun times without me…the group photos of the 3 of them where I should have been, and I felt hurt and hatred all over again. A thirty five year old mother with a successful career and loving husband reduced to an insecure 8 year old in the blink of an eye. So I’ve been thinking on it for some time, and here is my conclusion.

I have a handful of people that I can call true “friends” that I am convinced will be with me throughout whatever comes my way, and I with them. We don’t take a lot of group photos or give each other “BFF” embroidered pillows. If you look on Facebook you might not even see them – because they are real people and I don’t need to post them like badges on the internet to prove to the world I indeed have friends. Some of them might not even know I consider them so close. Sometimes we don’t talk for months – years even – and it doesn’t matter. We are not a fad or a trend. We are not cool or begging for admiration. They don’t abide by the rules of FIFO or seniority. We can connect on day 1 as well as 10 years from now. We like each other “as is” – warts and all.

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reverence


reverence n. a gesture indicative of respect

Reverence

At the end of a ballet class, the dancers pay respect to the pianist and teacher by performing a series of curtsies, bows and ports de bras known as reverence. It is a physical manifestation of deep respect and honor. Several weeks ago I came upon reverence when searching for a word that could capture my feelings and thoughts regarding a recent tragic event. I have been struggling back and forth about whether to write and what to write about it because I don’t have confidence that my writing here will create an appropriate reverence for those who have suffered and lost.  There are writers and artists far more eloquent and talented than I who have and will create tributes of much more profundity that I can express with my dictionary words. I’ve decided that instead of writing about how sad I feel about the whole thing, I would attempt something more reverent.

The world would be a better place if we were all ballet dancers and could perform reverence when needed. Imagine at the end of a business meeting everyone standing up and performing a 3 minute reverence as a gesture of respect for what was just discussed or planned – or just for the whiteboard on the wall, comfy chairs and overhead projector. Having attended quite a few meetings in my life, reverence would add some much needed civility.

As a reference, here is what reverence looks like:

Obviously this is not a realistic practice to propose, and unfortunately in our current world, the beauty and constraint of reverence would most likely be perverted into some sort of vulgar flash mob in Grand Central station – which would make it most irreverent.

In the here and now, the word reverence seems quite archaic. So few things in life are truly respected and honored these days. As a society we seem to want to flock to the center of attention and when the spotlight has moved we flee to another center elsewhere. In the perpetual chase to the “next big event” we become more and more numb, never taking the time to pay respect or to really absorb the gravitas of the thing that has just occurred; always searching for the next thing that will restore feeling or emotion. Perhaps it is because we don’t really understand “reverence” any longer or we feel the appropriate reaction would be to mimic what Hollywood tells us is sorrow or grief so that others will be sure to know we are suffering – like actors on a stage. In the case of Newtown, I feel this type of behavior is truly saddening and disrespectful.

The other day I was watching MSNBC and a talking head named Ashley Banfield was speaking about the tragedy. With a flip of her perfectly coiffed, shoulder length hair, mascara coated lashes clearly fluttering with feigned emotion, she said that “Newtown would probably never recover.” Her comment saddened and angered me and I wondered to myself if she ever listens to the words that come out of her mouth while she is on television. If she had any idea that her words were feeding a media fire, painting a picture of a town that deserves so much more respect. Or if she merely needs to boost the ratings for her paycheck.If Ms. Banfield had ever visited Newtown she surely would never have questioned whether it would “recover.”

26 people, some children, died in Newtown, Ct – undoubtedly one of the most horrific event that has occurred in in this country. But if we choose to dramatize the events and squeeze out all of the emotion and cinema, we are truly doing a dis service to those who were lost. The people that died in Newtown also lived in Newtown. There are far more happy memories shared at Sandy Hook Elementary than the one horrific event that occurred. For the parents that lost their children that day, it is in those memories that their children live. It is a place where teachers loved their students so much they ran in front of bullets to try and shield them as if they were their own children. Where neighbors took in children that fled the scene and people gathered to support each other in the aftermath.

It is a place where babies will be born, children will ride bikes in the streets, lovers will be married and families will celebrate memories. Newtown is a rare example of family and community, far too beautiful and strong to be destroyed by this terrible event. It is the type of town that Newtown is that makes what happened all the more tragic. A community strong enough to endure and pay reverence to the memories of the heroes and children that died that day.

A Psalm of Life

by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Tell me not in mournful numbers,
Life is but an empty dream!
For the soul is dead that slumbers,
And things are not what they seem.

Life is real! Life is earnest!
And the grave is not its goal;
Dust thou are, to dust thou returnest,
Was not spoken of the soul.

Not enjoyment, and not sorrow,
Is our destined end or way;
But to act, that each tomorrow
Find us farther than today.

Art is long, and Time is fleeting,
And our hearts, though stout and brave,
Still, like muffled drums, are beating
Funeral marches to the grave.

In the world’s broad field of battle,
In the bivouac of Life,
Be not like dumb, driven cattle!
Be a hero in the strife!

Trust no Future, howe’er pleasant!
Let the dead Past bury its dead!
Act, – act in the living Present!
Heart within, and God o’erhead!

Lives of great men all remind us
We can make our lives sublime,
And, departing, leave behind us
Footprints on the sand of time;

Footprints, that perhaps another,
Sailing o’er life’s solenm main,
A forlorn and shipwrecked brother,
Seeing, shall take heart again.

Let us then be up and doing,
With a heart for any fate;
Still achieving, still pursuing,
Learn to labor and to wait.

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voulu


voulu adj. lacking in spontaneity; contrived

How many words do you know that end in a “u” like this one? I don’t think I know any others, hence the reason I chose it.   Voodoo ends in an “o” but that doesn’t count. It’s the “u” that makes this word special. For some reason this word makes me think of the Lululemon shopping bags they give out – because spending 80 dollars on something you are going to sweat in should come with a little free inspiration. So in the spirit of spontaneity, I am going to ponder some of these sayings from my shopping bag as an exercise for today’s post. Now some of these quotes are well known and wise, while others sound like they came out of the mouth of some type A, female, yoga freak psycho…so I’ll include both varieties.

Do one thing a day that scares you.” – Eleanor Roosevelt

Okay. I think have this covered. I wake up and deal with a screaming child that’s usually covered in urine and jumping on a crib mattress. I also face several different kinds of poop – baby, dog and if I’m not careful, some other kinds when we go to the mountain for a walk or run. Poop is very scary. I don’t know if Eleanor got the verb in her quote right though. Am I supposed to drive the wrong way down the highway or drink bleach? I suppose in the Lululemon yogaverse I’m supposed to do a head stand in class and be in the moment while fearing that my $80 tank top will flap down and expose my flabulous belly…

“Salt + High Fructose Corn Syrup + Butter = Early Death”

What if I dip a carrot in it?

“Friends are more important than money.”

Does this hold true if you go shopping with friends? I would think that the two would cancel each other out. What if you wanted to buy a special present for your friend and you have no money? What if the friend is dying and it’s the very last thing you can do for that person before they expire? What if you and your friends have no money and you can’t buy food? No, wait. What if you and your friend have no money and you need to eat but the only way to get money is to not be friends anymore? What’s more important then? Gotcha Lululemon.

“This is not your practice life. This is your actual life.”

Shit. I thought we were just practicing and I’m already sucking at this. Well, I’m going to stay in bed and eat donuts all day since I’ve already screwed this up.

“Visualize your eventual demise. It can have an amazing effect on how you live in this moment.”

So this morning while munching on half of a banana I visualized my death. Hm. Now let me go do something that scares me. Hand me the bleach and a donut because this ain’t practice. Tootles! I’m going to drive the wrong way down the highway now!

“The world moves at such a rapid rate that waiting to implement changes will leave you two steps behind. DO IT NOW, DO IT NOW, DO IT NOW!”

This is the last quote because the bag is yelling at me now. Unfortunately, I know people who live like this – many of them. I had never really met anyone who was like this until I moved to NYC and worked on 5th Avenue. They are the perfect young ladies in the Chanel boots with perfect teeth and pencil skirts. They carry their lunch in little Lululemon bags and talk about their Wall Street boyfriends and where they ate dinner last night. They can take you down with one swipe of their perfectly manicured paws in a meeting and then pop 3 Aderalls in the ladies room 30 minutes later. They are on top of their game all of the time – except they are ALL THE SAME. Like little fembots from an Austin Powers movie waiting to shoot you with their boob guns.

The thing is, if you are constantly forcing yourself to change, eventually, you will not be the same person. Change is good on a small scale. No one is perfect and I think trying to be a better person or eat less fat is a fine thing to strive for. It’s a matter of what you are changing and for whom. So DO IT NOW is a dangerous thing. If anything, Lululemon should be a little ashamed of this quote on their bag. Yoga is about being in the present, meditation and self acceptance – at least when you are doing it right. This element is important even in Bikram, which is pretty intense.

So here is a quote that would be more fitting to be on a yoga bag:

“You must be the change you wish to see in the world.” – Gandhi

The world would be a better place if we spent less time on changing ourselves and more time trying to change the world around us through our deeds and actions. This is the change we should DO NOW.

Namaste:)

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osculate


osculate verb kiss

My son just recently learned how to kiss on demand. He opens his mouth wide and suctions it to your cheek with a loud “mmm—ahhh” sound when you ask him for a kiss. It is my favorite thing in the world. When I was kid I used to dread family occasions or holidays when people were over and I was forced to kiss or hug people. I remember I would run and hide when I heard the doorbell ring just to avoid it. I come from an Italian family so the formality of kissing friends and family is important and one is considered rude if you do not do so. I suppose the main reason I clam up is due to being shy – an attribute I truly believe I was born with.

The world can be very cruel to people who are shy. It is not a trait that the majority of people find endearing. Shyness is often misunderstood and in our extroverted culture, not something that gets you very far. I have been shy since as far back as I can remember. You probably wouldn’t tag me for this trait these days as I most often disguise this aspect of my personality.  There are still clues to it but I fear that most people mistake it for weirdness, snobbery, or pretension – which is most unfair.

It seems most people stereotype shy people as being sweet and mouselike, hiding in corners, timid and shaking. But that is not the case at all. Shy people have opinions and passions just as strong as extroverts. Just ask someone who is shy and I am sure you will get an ear full – once they get to know you. I don’t know if all shy people are this way, but I just enjoy observing and not participating. I’d rather take in everything and make a story about it than participate. I don’t enjoy making the first move. I like to go slow and ease myself in when I think it’s safe and when I’m ready. There’s nothing wrong with this in my opinion. And shyness doesn’t mean that one has to be a wallflower either. Shy people are like little secret packages waiting to be opened.

I have always channeled my shyness through writing. The first time I did this was my senior year in high school where I wrote an article in the county paper about not going to the prom…and about how happy I was not to go. I received many cheers and jeers from it, but for once I had a voice and I didn’t have to speak to put it out there – and people listened. In college, I wrote for the newspaper for 4 years in the commentary section, no less. Unfortunately, upon graduating in a bad economy, I wasn’t able to work as a journalist as I had planned and gave up my voice for a long time…until most recently with this blog. My writing has become an extroversion where my everyday life is lacking.

My shyness makes me fear being the center of everyone’s attention, yet long for it with all of my being. I believe there are many people like me. Instead of overcoming or ridding our lives of this attribute, we find a different language – writing, dancing, singing – that releases our voice in a different way than just playing a role at a party and keeping up conversation.

Shyness is at the core of creativity, grace, humility…all of those traits that people find lacking in society and that most people strive for. Perhaps they are so rare because most people misunderstand them as negative attributes…the way the world mistakes shyness for so many other unsavory things.

 

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rodomontade


rodomontade n. boastful or inflated talk or behaviour

Dorothy Parker is one of my favorite poets because of her sarcasm and cynicism. She has the ability to wrap these two qualities into a rhyme. This word reminded me of her poem ‘Braggart’…

Braggart

by Dorothy Parker 

The days will rally, wreathing
Their crazy tarantelle;
And you must go on breathing,
But I’ll be safe in hell.

Like January weather,
The years will bite and smart,
And pull your bones together
To wrap your chattering heart.

The pretty stuff you’re made of
Will crack and crease and dry.
The thing you are afraid of
Will look from every eye.

You will go faltering after
The bright, imperious line,
And split your throat on laughter,
And burn your eyes with brine.

You will be frail and musty
With peering, furtive head,
Whilst I am young and lusty
Among the roaring dead.

Rodomontade is one of my least favorite things in the world. I find braggarts to be the most insufferable of all individuals. I like the poem above because it captures the caustic emotions that one feels having to listen to a rodomontade.

In pondering the act of bragging and its relation to narcissism, I’ve come to thinking upon self esteem. Every one these days talks about how self esteem is so very important to living a happy life. Attending Catholic school in my younger years led me to believe that self esteem was very similar to pride…even hubris if taken to extremes. I was taught to avoid too much of it and to strive for humility. However, too much humility can make you a pretty sad kid, unless of course you are a saint (which is rare.)

So how much self esteem is the right amount? It’s not a good thing to have none at all as you become a door mat and most likely depressed. Having too much makes you an insufferable narcissist. Like everything else in this world, we have to walk a fine line and find the balance. The world needs braggarts and narcissists as much as it needs martyrs and saints. Without the contrasting personalities we would not be able to appreciate the truly good and the shockingly evil. Everyone needs both the angel and the devil on their shoulders.

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