Maybe the heat of summer is addling my brain, but trying to settle on what to share is like looking at a garden full of butterflies. As soon as I focus on one idea, it waggles its wings and flits to another flower. I need a butterfly net of sorts: a fine-mesh cerebral strainer. I could toss everything in, run water, and see which thoughts dribble away and which settle to the bottom of the basket. Or maybe I just have undiagnosed ADHD? (D votes for that one.)
I thought about discussing the absurdity of summing someone up on the basis of their age or the size of their home, rather than their intelligence or the size of their heart. Or we could compare notes on how hurtful it is to be shut out by a “friend” because of one miss-speak or misjudgment. That line of thought started the wheels turning to the emotional drain of trying to live up to everyone’s image of whom they expect you to be. If the paint on the picture of expectation shows even one smudge, judgmental faces darken to unforgiving disenchantment. These unforgiving types are often the same people who demand unconditional acceptance from you.
My thoughts skimmed the surface of life with dogs, specifically travelling with dogs. Their uninhibited joy when they realize they’re being included makes any related inconvenience inconsequential. Which led to the black cat who got left at home. I have endless anecdotes about said much-adored cat. At the moment he’s hanging out on my desk, rubbing his head against the monitor and batting at loose pens. And of course, you know that a discussion about whether animals have souls and feelings is a non-issue for me. I see more depth of feeling in the eyes of most dogs and cats than I do in the eyes of far too many people. Like my father used to say, “If dogs aren’t allowed in heaven, I’m not going.”
I considered sharing my passion for books/stories based on Asian culture, especially that of China. There are some great titles in my collection. My fascination began with a book of my mother’s by Pearl S Buck. I was about fourteen when I read it. My own books include nonfiction, but there is nothing like good fiction--well-researched fiction—to broaden one’s awareness of human nature\, and to deepen one’s understanding of cultures and different time periods. When someone declares that they read only nonfiction, it makes me flinch. I see this as intellectual snobbery: not an attractive quality.
That got me thinking about those individuals—we’ve all met at least one--whose entire identity revolves around their PhD. They’re the ones who won’t waste their conversational breathe on anyone with less than a Master’s degree. Their loss. A little Life-101 WD40-chat might be exactly what’s needed to spring open those creaky door hinges in their pretentious brains. How can they not know that everyone has a story, and be curious?
Our connection to nature is always a running theme for me. We all benefit from a little garden soil under our fingernails. What can be more awe-inspiring than the wonder of little seeds popping through the soil, soon to become the plants that treat us to the astonishing beauty of their blossoms or bounty of their fruits. Nothing we humans can create compares.
But instead of writing about any of this, here I am, post-wine rambling and talking about nothing of any consequence, much like an episode of Seinfeld. Sadly, my maze-like rambles won’t justify themselves by bringing in mega $$$. Maybe we could just all hang out, musing about life, over a couple of minty Mojitos. Enough Mojitos, and none of this matters anyway. So, who’s buying?
“So what’s she on about now?”
Well, if you must ask, packaging, and let’s not forget, warning labels: my pet peeves of our modern world. Our government’s attempt to protect us from ourselves, and to protect manufacturers from law suits, has far exceeded an acceptable level of ludicrous government bureaucracy.
Let’s start with shrink wrap. Take the 11 x 14 frame I just bought. It was so tightly wrapped in impervious layers of plastic, I couldn’t fit the tip of my pointiest knife under the wrap to make a hole big enough to fit the working end of a pair of scissors. Said knife, however, had no problem jamming its sharp self into the palm of my hand. Once I finally cut a small rip in the wrap, the wood was scarred. Maybe I can pass it off as distressed? I sure as hell know I was by the time I freed the frame. Who needs this kind of aggravation?
See that little item pictured on the upper left. You might think it’s an old-fashioned nut cracker—maybe—but at my house it’s the Super Tool of the century. This handy-dandy gadget saves our landfills from piles of discarded, impossible-to-open, newly purchased bottles of beverages. When ordinary human strength fails, just capture the cap of the bottle in the teeth of this superior device and, you'll twist open bottles of sparking water that even the braggiest muscle man can’t budge.
Moving on to the layer of graphene-like strength, plastic molding jammed around every little bottle and jar of something I really want (like industrial strength face cream). The person who develops a tool to break through this stuff gets nominated for the next Noble Prize. Next up, industrial strength staples, the kind used to keep the wood framing of a couch together. And where do these delights show up? Try the kitchen utensil aisle at your favorite big box retail store. You’ll find them attaching that new kitchen serving spoon you’ll never use to its section of display cardboard. And why will you never use said spoon? ‘Cause you ain’t never gonna get that puppy cut loose, but you sure as hell might end up in Urgent Care trying.
So my point here is, if fear of shoplifting is an issue, then let’s go back to catalogue show rooms where you point to an item and the retail worker has it sent out on a conveyor belt, loose, free, and available. And as far as safety goes, if one has to be told not to eat the oven cleaner, or warned not to stick a drinking straw in their eye, maybe we should drop the protections and just let the national IQ rise, as those blessed with an overabundance of stupidity fall by the wayside.
If you’re still hanging in there with me, the following poem is a version of one that arose from the ashes of my frustration a few years ago. A contest judge gave it a “Commendable”, not because it was well-written, but because it provided needed comic relief during his day of judging serious poetry. Here it is
Push Down and Twist
There’s a tamper-proof top, on the jar I just I bought.
I sigh and I glare, then slash, hack, and tear.
But buyer beware, it’s no worse for wear.
I push down while I twist, nearly spraining my wrist.
It slips from my hand, only to land with a crash.
Now the glass is all smashed.
So I clean up the mess, feeling rather distressed.
It can’t just be me, who can’t seem to free,
things that are trapped, in protective shrink wrap,
which teases and taunts, flaunting stuff that I want.
A new movie might soothe, get me back in the groove.
But my new DVD’s sealed in plastic, I see.
I grab something sharp, to rip packaging apart,
but I stab my own hand, drop the knife, and it lands
sticking into my toe. And, what do you know?
The DVD is now bent, and my energy’s spent.
My head starts to ache, must find aspirin to take.
The new bottle is sealed. This is too damn surreal.
So I prod, poke, and pry. No matter how hard I try.
I can’t open the top, can’t get the seal off.
I twist and I turn, until fingertips burn.
The wrapping’s too tight. It puts up quite a fight
&the pills are still sealed. Wait! A hammer I’ll wield!
Damn--I just broke my thumb, and my hand’s getting numb.
Does my blood pressure count, when irritation mounts?
Or will that just be spurned as a safety concern?
Will no one agree, to please listen to my plea,
And stop protecting me to this unreasonable degree?
Lynn Nicholas - AUTHOR oF Dancing Between The Beats
My blog is a window into my world. My slice-of-life narratives are triggered by life's