Thursday, November 22, 2007

Sears' Wish Book

Today I was looking at the newspaper. You know the one. The one that comes on Thanksgiving with all the "After Thanksgiving" sales. It was huge. Sunday paper huge. But one thing that was not huge was the Sears sale paper with the toys. Sadly, this seems to be the replacement for the coolest book of all: The Sears' Wish Book for Christmas. I know, I know, there is an on line version, but this will NEVER replace the real Wish Book. When I was little I can remember when it arrived at our house by mail. Seven kids would breathlessly wait for their opportunity to study every single page and dream, really dream about the coolest things that Santa might bring. By the end of the week, the Sears' Wish Book was dogeared, but cherished.

But the Christmas Wish Book was not the only wonderful thing about Sears. I can remember going to camp and seeing that all the girls except me had bras. Though I had nothing to train, I remember coming home and asking my mom for a "training bra" which in itself is a really curious term. She dug out the regular Sears catalog, went past all the cool clothes (I find it weird that I thought their clothes were cool at one point in my life) and found the "unmentionable" section and handed it to me. I sat for hours and tried to figure out which bra I "needed." Sigh.

Then came the fateful Friday night. Back in those days we went to Sears on Friday night as a regular family outing. We all piled in the station wagon, fought for the perfect seat, made our brothers sit in the back (we were a bunch of tough sisters!) and headed out to the best store in the world! Sally and Grant (our beloved adopted grandparents) also went on the trip. We knew we were getting close when we could smell bread at the Tip Top Bread Company located nearby.

Our first stop was always the candy counter where nuts and candy were sold in bulk. We would stop there and dream about what we might get if Sally and Grant offered to buy us some candy.

We spent hours in hardware, toys, you name it; there wasn't a "boring" section of the store; it was ALL fun.

But on the "bra shopping" night, I can remember that my mom and I slipped off from the rest of the family into the "unmentionable" area. Wow. There was even a bigger selection that I had seen in the catalog! Choosing the perfect bra was going to be tough! Not. They had one style of bra for a flat chested pre-teen, and one style only. It was white, had stretchy cups, not an inch of support and worst of all, no extra help in the cleavage area. My mom bought me two bras and I was dying with anticipation of my movement in the world of adulthood. I even went into the dressing room and put on one of the bras so the training could start immediately.

We rejoined my family and I flexed in my arms so that the outline of my bra would show through the back of my blouse. I started noticing just how immature my sisters were. They clearly didn't fit into my new image of the world of WOMANHOOD. That lasted all of 5 minutes because we again hit the candy counter when Sally and Grant announced that we could each get 1/2 pound of our favorite candy or nuts. True to our ritual we circled round and round and invariably got the same exact thing we had gotten last time.

Back in the car, perfunctory fight over places to sit and we dove into our paper bags of candy or nuts with a lot of bartering taking place. However, my sisters and brothers didn't know that now they were bartering with a woman instead of a little girl. Sigh. Two thoughts entered my head: When would they EVER grow up? And even more importantly, when was my chest ever going to grow OUT? I also believe, looking back that I thought the big chest came with the bra. Yep, all part of the Sears' Wish Book!

Sunday, November 18, 2007

It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year--Not!!

Ooo! You look at the title of the entry and you might be thinking, "What is she talking about?" What I'm talking about, my friends, is that 25% of the population that fall into the area of preferring introversion. If you have ever taken the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator®, you may well have a sense of what it is that you prefer. In the discussion of Extraversion vs. Introversion (by the way, "Extraversion" is spelled correctly because the original spelling had an "a" instead of an "o") there are some preferences in what gives us energy and what leaves us like boneless chickens.

This entry is all about Introverts who might be looking ahead at the calendar and thinking, "Oh, Heavens, here comes all this togetherness at the holidays!" Actually it would probably be like this, "...all this togetherness." (with no exclamation mark, just a period)

Who are introverts? They are not shy people, my friend. We do them a huge disservice by confusing shyness with introversion. Shyness refers to degree of self confidence and introversion is more about needing time alone. In fact, time alone is not a luxury; it is a NECESSITY. In fact if these folks are with people ALLLL day long and then immediately go home and are with people ALLLL night long, and there is not 45 minutes to an hour of alone time built in, they will be STRESSED out.

Example: We see someone who usually lunches alone. We think to ourselves, "We feel sorry for that person." And then we proceed with a well-intentioned, "Come on, have lunch with me." And the introvert responds with, "Oh, that's OK, I'll just sit here and _____ (insert: read, pray, contemplate my navel or whatever)

We respond with, "Come on!" Thinking: "Poor thing, doesn't have any friends!" Not realizing that the person actually WANTS to be alone and doesn't feel a bit pitiful.

The introvert puts a sign outside his or her cubicle: "Working on project, please don't interrupt." Extraverts barge on in, thinking it must apply to everybody else.

The introvert shows up to work early, just to have some time alone, and the Extravert thinks, "Oh, goodie, this person is here early, just for my convenience."

The introvert gets up earlier than everyone in the house or goes to bed later than everyone else, trying to get some precious time alone. Keep in mind, it must be WAKING time and not sleeping. Sleeping just doesn't do the trick. And now the poor introvert is sleep deprived, trying to get some time alone.

The introvert turns on the History channel where some war is being played on a continuous loop (at least that's what it looks like to me) but is not really watching the T.V.; it is just "white noise" to get some alone time.

How did I get so smart? Because I am married to an introvert! When I first married John and he would disappear for hours right after dinner, I thought that he didn't love me or was socially handicapped. I really thought that after a few years of being married to me, he would get over this "problem." When I finally learned about introversion, I realized how I had trampled over his time alone. The big moment came when he was listening to "Car Talk" and I asked him a question in the middle of the show. He said, "Honey, I don't ask for much, but can I have this hour uninterrupted?" Yikes!! He was right!!

How have I reformed?
  • I get his running clothes clean every single Sunday so he can run everyday at the Y
  • I do a lot of work with his company, but I never intrude on his lunch time
  • I make sure that if we have a lot of company on the weekend, that I leave the house for a few hours on Sunday night so he can have time alone
  • I do not rush him home at night because I realize that he is probably having to play "catch up" after being bombarded with extraverts all day
  • I have taught our daughter about introversion and now she is worried about how he is going to get time alone when we are all on vacation together
  • I realize that the introverted family members will get worn out from all this holiday time together and don't need me to make derisive comments that they are being antisocial if they need to pull back for little while
That's why we have been married for almost 29 years. That's why I will make sure that during all this family time, my sweetie can escape so he can really enjoy the holidays. And that will be the best gift of all.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

I Want the Wish Bone

I absolutely love Thanksgiving. I know, I know. Part of the reason is that my birthday always occurs during that week (hint, hint :), but it is more than that. What's not to love? Food, family and fun.

And this is the time of year for the recycled stories. You know: the ones that family members recite to humiliate other family members.

I am going to tell these two stories for all the world so hopefully THIS Thanksgiving I can escape without having to relive them again. Let me lay down on the couch and tell all.

The first one occurred when John and I had received a smoker for a wedding gift. We were so excited! We decided to have my parents and John's parents over for a big turkey dinner. Sounds good so far, huh?

There is the matter of my housekeeping or lack thereof. Even though we only had a two bedroom apartment (probably all of 300 square feet) I was unsuccessful in keeping it clean. Nothing like the parents coming over to get me going to do the deep cleaning. I remember that I had asked John to take out the umbrella that the neighbor's cat had peed on. As I write this, I am beginning to notice the theme of cat pee in my entries. I digress.

John apparently forgot and I started crying because he didn't do the one thing I asked him to do. OK, probably the truth was that he had already done 500 other things to get the apartment cleaned up, but that would take away the drama. Great start for the family gathering.

So we have a turkey smoking out out on the grill and John has to go to the store. When left alone, I usually start talking to myself. One of the questions I asked, but didn't have an answer was, "How does one know when the turkey is done?" OK, it probably wasn't asked
exactly like that (who uses one anyway?) Anyway, I dug out the booklet that came with the smoker and found the handy-dandy chart. Ah, there it was: TURKEY Leg moves easily 180 degrees

John was gone, it was just me and Buster (yes, I had a habit of naming our turkeys) Soooo, I thought, hmmm, leg moves easily, 180 degrees. I had to lift the lid (even though that was against the smoker code of conduct) I had to move the leg. Yep, I was right--it DID move easily! And more than 180 degrees! I also tested the other leg just for good measure. The lid was quickly replaced. No harm done! Right?

So John returns and after checking the gauge, according to the smoker code of conduct, to see if it was OK. He lifted the lid, fully expecting to see the Butterball picture with Buster in the legs back position, all golden and pretty. Instead, what he found was a bird with gnarled leg joints, each leg jutting in different directions. John, knowing full well that I was the only one left at home with Buster, demanded to know what happened. I pulled out the chart and showed him just how smart I was to make sure Buster was ready for the parents. "See?" I asked. "TURKEY Leg moves easily 180 degrees" John, not to be outdone, pointed out to me that it also had a ham listed and that there was nothing to twirl on the ham to test whether it was done. He said, "Sharon, that is not the degree of movement, it is the internal temperature!" Yikes. Gone were the dreams of pulling out the turkey and showing it off to our parents. We had to act fast. John got out our electric knife (another wedding gift) and assumed the scrubbed surgeon position and cut ol' Buster up as fast as he could.

I quickly got the broth and whipped up the gravy. Whew. All in time before the parents arrived. We presented the turkey in all of its sliced glory. No one was the wiser. Except one thing: don't ever make gravy with smoked broth. It is seriously nasty. Busted by Buster.

Story number two: Just a small assignment. Bring the LeSeur peas. Not Del Monte. Not any other brand. LeSeur. Got it? 5 cans. Tough assignment, huh? Go to Costco, get the little case which costs about 4.89 for 8 cans. Purchase made. Peas in the bag on the counter.

We get to the family gathering. The whole family is looking forward to the peas. The LeSeaur Peas. Not Del Monte. In the bag on the counter. At our house. Not at the family gathering. Yikes. Did you know that NO grocery stores are open on Thanksgiving? What's with that? John had to drive around and he finally found a gas station with a convenience store attached. Yep. They had them. 1/2 the size of the regular cans. And four times the price. No kidding. John had to buy 10 cans to equal what we had at home at a whopping $2.63 PER can. Yikes. $26.30 for peas. Cans were dusty and even a little rusty on top. The gas station owner was probably really giving thanks for people who can't get their act together on Thanksgiving. Glad somebody was happy.

OK, now you know my dirty cooking secrets. No need to be retold. I'm hoping for a pass this Thanksgiving! Pass the Constance (this year's turkey's name). Yes. We are bringing the turkey this year. I can guarantee no whirlybird legs. Just say a prayer that we don't forget to bring it!

Friday, November 2, 2007

Help! My Grandmother is Using My Body!!

My grandmother was the type who got on to everyone. You had to watch out for Mrs. Jones. She was barely 4’ 11”, but she could be so tough. I can still remember her behind the wheel of her Dodge. There was absolutely no talking or playing the radio. She made it clear that when you got in the car with her we were to be perfectly quiet. She was also the one who would grab a girl in church if she did not have a prayer cap and take out a Kleenex and a bobby pin and pin the tissue to the poor girl’s head. Yikes! She was definitely the original church lady.When I look back on family pictures I cannot find one picture of her smiling. She has been gone for a long time, but there are times in which I feel like she is using my body to keep everyone in line.

True story that occurred many years ago when my daughter was in grammar school: There was a dad who was coaching my daughter and several others in volleyball. One of the moms was yelling at the coach about her daughter not getting played. I pulled her aside and said, "I didn't know you were going to coach next year..." She replied, "What do you mean? I don't want to coach." I said, "Wow. I find that hard to believe since you are yelling at Bob. He has made a commitment to play all the girls and is giving his time to make our girls better. Have you ever thought about how your comments are undermining him and his efforts?" She didn't say another word the rest of the season.

I hope my grandmother is resting in peace knowing that some days (ouch!) I am on the job. Amen.