Resistance Is Welcome

Alf has surprised me with daffodils and purple flowers popping up this summer. My garden has never looked so colorful even though we have the worst soil on the planet. The Sahara has more chances of sprouting flowers than my front and backyards. It’s hard clay, that when broken up with toil and sweat, smiles at you for a moment, and then calls out to the clods and they come scampering back to form an impenetrable layer of steel that refuses all welcome to things green. 

Sort of like the attitude people have when confronted with the truth. It can be about anything. Health, food, books, religion, even where to take a vacation. Nobody likes to be told about something they haven’t thought of themselves. There’s an immediate revulsion. Never mind that what you’re suggesting is really good stuff, and will help them. That doesn’t seem to be the point. It’s being told something they have to do that makes them bristle. So I ask why the TED Talks are so popular, or the online seminars for turning you into a celebrity for 10 minutes garner thousands of likes on social media? Maybe the clue lies in this: if you appeal to a person’s ego instead of his well-being you stand a better chance of being heard.

There’s a word for that – pride.

Calvin says, “Hey, I run away when I hear the word bath.” 

Down the Hall

Things started off with a cliffhanger as I prepared to oversee a food event for 60 people.

The food distribution truck showed up two and a half hours late and parked a block away instead of in front of the house like they usually do. Then the driver came to the front gate, a Hispanic dude, and saw the six steps leading to the front door and announced, “I don’t do stairs.”
“What?” I said incredulously.
“I don’t do stairs,” he said a second time. “It’s against company policy.”
“Really? You guys have been doing stairs for 20 years with us.”
He whipped out his cell phone, took a picture of those nasty stairs, and said, “I’ve just sent this off to my supervisor for instructions.” Then he disappeared around the corner to sit in his truck. photo-4

I called my rep. “I’ll fix this and get back to you,” he said.
I waited.
No driver.
No rep.
No food.
No answers.

I called my rep again.

“I’ll call my manager,” he said.

The driver came back to the gate. “If we don’t solve this I’ll have to take the food back to the warehouse.”

By now the chef, two friends, a co-worker and I were on the street staring the dude down in a gunslinger showdown.

Suddenly my rep appeared out of the ether. “I was in the neighborhood,” he said out of breath. A short, wiry guy with consternation all over his face. I showed him the tables set and ready and the kitchen.

I showed him those nasty stairs.

Meanwhile the dude had disappeared and returned with his first load of boxes. About 25 of them. At street level.

We had no choice but to make an assembly line sandbag style and run boxes from the street, up the nasty stairs, down the long hall, and into the kitchen.

It took us almost an hour to check every box against the order sheet. The dude was now in the kitchen helping us identify the boxes. The rep stood there with  jaw open.

We finished checking the last item, signed the sheet, and the dude disappeared around the corner.

The rep said he’d make sure this wouldn’t happen again.

You bet. Because you’d just lost a customer of 20 years, dude.

Calvin says, “Cut the dude some slack. If you hauled boxes all day, everyday of the week, you’d be a dragon lady throwing your rights around, too.”  beagle

How To Enjoy Failing

There’s a saying on my wall that goes like this:

INEPTITUDE

If you can’t learn to do something well, learn to enjoy doing it poorly.

I love it.

If I’m honest with myself, I do everything poorly.

For most of my life, I wouldn’t go near things that interested me because I was sure I wouldn’t do them well.

I was a perfectionist.

But over the years I learned that perfectionism paralyzed me.

I had no fun.

I was a grouch.

So I took the plunge.

For example, cooking. I didn’t know how to boil water. That kept me away from a lot of recipes I wanted to make.

Now I boil water like a pro. Big bubbles, medium bubbles, and small bubbles.

The rest of the recipe, ask me another time.

Take painting. All my life I was told that to be a good painter, you had to learn to draw.

Drawing bores me. Too much attention spent on details. I don’t have the patience.

So I mess with watercolors on the best paper I can afford to buy. The paper produces some really good stuff, and I take the credit.

Writing. The ability to write a novel alludes me. I’ve tried so many times, only to get stuck in the middle with no way out of the maze I’ve created.

But I’m terrific at beginnings. Great characters. Lots of action. Compelling hook.

Anybody out there need an epic first chapter? Talk to me.

The truth is, I live with failure every day, but I don’t let it stop me anymore.

It scares me. I’ll admit that, but I’ve gotten used to being frightened.

I tell myself somewhere in all this mess, there’s a gem in there.

Most likely it will take somebody else to spot it.

Calvin says, “I see it. It’s the bone I buried under the chaos in your study.”

How To Do Your Real Work

Every so often I write about resistance. You know, the distractions we give in to that pull us away from our real work.

In my case, it’s writing. In yours it could be designing the next space vehicle.

Whatever your calling is, you’re familiar with the pull to distract.

Distractions allure you. Out of the blue you long to learn Latin. Or free-fall from an airplane. Or take tango lessons in Buenos Aires.

Maybe it’s not such a large vision that compels you to drop what you’re doing. Maybe it’s bull-riding lessons, finger painting, or singing with your canary.

Sometimes the distraction is even closer than that.

Facebook.

Twitter.

Pinterest.

Blogging. (Checking your analytics every hour)

Text messages.

Skype.

Video games.

I could go on, but you catch my drift.

The social media platforms are massive distractions! They will absorb you. Consume you. Smother you.

They  also:

Stall you.

Numb you.

Suck your energy.

They’re only a worthwhile investment when you’re building a posse of fans for your work.

Otherwise it’s death to your creativity!

Go on a diet.

Make a pledge to look at these platforms only after you’ve done your work.

Tell a friend to hold you accountable.

And then notice your productivity and creativity soar.

Calvin says, “Yep, when I get pulled off a scent, I end up in a ditch with thorns up my butt.”

 

 

 

 

A Vicious Review

My friend, Sabrina and I were nibbling on a canoli. We had finished a pasta lunch at a new Italian restaurant that opened up along the pier. It prided itself on authentic Italian fare. I always judge the authenticity of an Italian restaurant by its canolis. This one wasn’t getting past me. It was soggy.

I put my fork down and took a sip of my espresso.

“Not a four star by any means,” I said.

Sabrina had smeared her side of the plate with the cream cheese filling. She wasn’t a dessert gal.

“Paul and I are communicating better these days,” she said. “I suggested yesterday that he should pursue me more.”

“Oh,” I said.

“Do you know what he said?”

“No, tell me.”

He said, “‘Why?'”

“Oh dear,” I said.

“So I said I thought it would be good for our marriage.”

“How did he respond?” I said.

“‘You don’t like my ideas,'” he said.

“Oh dear,” I said. I had learned not to be wordy when Sabrina was telling one of her stories.

“Then I said to him, ‘What does pursuing me have to do with ideas?'”

“‘Everything,'” he said. “‘I don’t plan. You want to know where we’re going. I like to try new restaurants, you need to know what the food will be like. I like new things, you stick to what you know.'”

“I hate to admit it, but I had to agree with him. I am an idea-buster,” she said to me.

“That’s not true. We’re here, aren’t we, trying out a new restaurant,” I said.

“That’s different,” she said.

“How?” I asked finishing my espresso.

“It was my idea, not yours, so I didn’t bust it,” she said.

“So it’s really a control issue,” I said. As soon I said it, I regretted it.

“What are you saying, that I like to be in charge?”

“Er…yes?” I said.

“Well some friend you are.” She threw her napkin on the table, stood up and stormed out.

I was left paying for lunch and the soggy canoli.

I went home and wrote a review on Yelp. I gave the restaurant minus zero stars. For busting up a friendship.

Calvin says, “What a mess. Never try a new restaurant with an old date.”

This Way Please

Moonstruck is sixty-five. A throw-back from the 60’s. She gulps down bags of vitamins every morning with tea from the Amazon jungle before she begins her shift as a floor manager in the steak house restaurant. She wears her grey hair in a bird’s nest do and sports chandelier earrings with every outfit. You notice the earrings across the room before you notice Moonstruck.

On her days off she traps stray cats and has them neutered.

“Moonstruck, you need to be tough with the people you manage,” her general manager, Michael said. Moonstruck was having trouble keeping the wait staff in line. They were coming in late for their shifts, getting tipsy on leftover wine, and not giving her the respect she deserved.

“I can’t. It’s not my nature,” she said.

“But that’s part of your job,” he said.

“I try. Really I do. But it doesn’t come out well,” she said.

“Another job then?” he said.

“No.”

“What about being a hostess where you greet and seat people?”

“No,” she said rolling her eyes. “Not that job again.”

It was no use. He’d have to devise an alternative plan and make her think it was her idea.

Calvin says, “Suggest she start a non-profit cat trapping business. I’ll fund it.”

Very Rare

“I told Paul last night, ‘I can’t sleep your sleep, think your thoughts, or eat your food. Marriage is such an impossible state of being. It demands a oneness when all you really want is to be left alone.'” Sabrina said this as she sipped her champagne cocktail. We were having brunch outdoors in her favorite restaurant. She had called me and said she needed to talk. Sabrina rarely did anything unless there was food involved. The last time we met, it was for dinner in a new bistro. She needed an excuse to eat and talk.

“So how did Paul respond?” I asked. I poured some Pelegrino into my glass.

“Not well. He said I sounded like I wanted out of the marriage, which wasn’t what I meant at all, I was just voicing an insight I had, and needed to get it out in the open,” she said.

“And you explained that to Paul,” I said.

“Oh yes, but it left him with the doubt. Now he’s brooding over the whole incident.”

The waiter arrived with our salads and french fries and placed them in front of us. “Will that be all?” he said.

“Bring me a steak. Very rare,” she said. Then she turned to me and said, “I need to chew on some flesh. I feel angry. Every time I try to be real with Paul it backfires. I end up feeling guilty. Then I wish I never opened my mouth.”

I pierced a cherry tomato and it squirted onto my blouse. I rubbed the stain with my napkin. That smudged it even more and turned it pink. At least it matched my lipstick and earrings.

“Give Paul a few days. He’ll come out of it,” I said.

“Maybe. I swear, I’m not going to expose what I’m thinking to him any more. He clearly can’t handle it,” Sabrina said.

The waiter arrived with a very large steak on a white plate and put it down in front of her. “Will that be all?” he said.

Sabrina waved him off and dug in. Blood oozed out in all directions. She cut the entire thing into bite size pieces and then put her knife and fork down.

“That was better than therapy,” she said finishing off her drink. “Let’s get out of here.”

Calvin says, “What a tragedy! At least ask for a doggie bag!”