Pet Peeves . . . And Other World Problems.

Public service announcement: your pet peeves are meh. Shocking, I know but most things are relative and sometimes even our riffs with relatives don’t register on life’s Richter scale. My son, brilliant, handsome guy that he is, (but I’m not prejudiced) nailed it perfectly one day when he termed offhanded laments about the obvious lack of beautiful weather as ‘first world problems’. Duh. That term alone puts a lot of things in stark perspective.

The Urban dictionary defines first world problems as those “trivial or minor frustrations from living in a wealthy, industrialized nation that third-worlders would probably roll their eyes at.” Point taken, especially when you realize a British survey listed a runny nose as tops in the peevish category. When you envision all the outpost clinics in third world countries where children still die from such things as cholera and measles, a runny nose is a pretty benign annoyance. Yet, our list of every day annoyances seem valid, right? They still tick us off, still irritate and prickle our days. Hey, why wouldn’t you get annoyed with:

  • Finding no toilet paper in a public bathroom stall.
  • Uber annoying year round postnasal drip
  • Spam callers, spam mail and okay, spam period.
  • Drivers who somehow can’t find their turn signal
  • Spam calls
  • No WiFi. Phones that run out of charge. Password amnesia.  Boohoo.
  • That kid who kicks the back of your plane seat.
  • Papercuts
  • Friends who are late . . . for the 300th time.
  • People who don’t cover their mouths when they cough, or shut phones off in a theater.

We each have our own, plenty in fact. On any given day, our list of peeves could fill a spiral notebook. The incendiary political climate alone these days can easily send blood pressures soaring. If we’re lucky, though, we remember: Life. Is. Short. All of us who walked through that long valley of grief, know that fact all too well yet even we get sucked into the vortex of every day detritus. Continue reading

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Live the Dash

DASHBorn. Died. He was here – and then he wasn’t. For every name in the cemetery, what separates the dates of birth and death — is a dash, a line that connects all the living in between. A dash not only separates a whole bunch of years but also connects all we were meant to be. At least that’s what we hope for anyway.

A dash says ‘you were here’. You toddle around in diapers, go to school, run headlong into becoming an adult. And then what?  Dates of graduation, wedding, children born are markers that all fall into the living. Jobs are listed on resumes, annotated with a succession of start and end dates. Even vacations are hyphenated periods of time we set aside to explore and relax.

How about marriage? The years spent with the person we marry carry their own dash. Sometimes they stretch far into the horizon; other times years can only be the length of an eyelash. However long or short, the dash attaches pieces of our all parts of our lives. Fortunately, even though my husband and I didn’t get much mileage out of the dash that strung our marriage years together, we had a small but pretty cool chunk of the ‘before’. Now the dash is in my court.  And, at the moment, I can’t predict what it will say about me. Continue reading

Turning Over a New Leaf (reluctantly)

dsc_0093“Autumn is the year’s last, loveliest smile”    William Cullen Bryant

My lone maple tree in the front yard is doing its thing. As all of nature, it meekly obeys the laws of the season. With branches exposed, leaves going, going, gone, I can easily picture my grandboys climbing upwards with the helpful boost of their grandpa, while my heart was in my throat. It’s the same tree I laughingly watched, many springs ago, as my sweet neighbor deftly dug up my perfectly placed impatiens, replanting them in her own garden. (To be fair, she did think they were planted by community landscapers; thus fair game)

I know my proud tree will soon become a snow laden skeleton and spring buds won’t emerge until another season of bloom. But right now, its leaves are dying a Technicolor death. Others will grow and follow in another year, another season, but these particular leaves, who’ve shaded the grandsons throwing Frisbies – will be gone forever.

Like those we love, like we ourselves – to everything there is a season. The season our husbands, our wives, our mothers, fathers or siblings shared with us has been swept away along with the stunning foliage that was theirs alone. To us it’s never the right time or season for leaf loss. We don’t care that they become merely crinkled and aged shadows of their neon green selves. We don’t care that they’ve reached the end of their season with nowhere to go but the ether. We just want them – there. When the tree is no longer lush, barely able to still shade and shelter, when fall’s brutal winds remove the leaves and bare sad, naked branches, we want to hold on to the season. We want to grasp spring buds and  fall’s kaleidescope tightly, thinking we can save them from morphing into winter’s stark silouettes. Ha!  Just like all of life, autumn . . . leaves. Continue reading