Sunday, August 19, 2012

Perfect is overrated

Being perfect is such a lot of work. I've been trying to be perfect all my life and this weekend I learned that perfect's really not all it's cracked up to be.

Take, for example, the definition of perfect. Webster's has a few:

a) being entirely without fault or defect;
b) satisfying all requirements;
c) corresponding to an ideal standard or abstract concept;
d) faithfully reproducing the original;
e) legally valid

As far as a) goes, I've got a few defects. And I'm rather attached to them. I have a birthmark on my right arm that kids (being kids) tormented me about when I was in grade school. My aunt Muriel told me to tell those kids that a birthmark meant I was kissed by an angel and that pretty much ended that discussion.

When it comes to satisfying requirements (b), I gotta tell ya that John Mellencamp wrote The Authority Song with me in mind. I will meet requirements all day long until I bump up against one that makes no sense. I can only do sense. I'm an ENTJ (Myers-Briggs type) and that's how I'm wired.

If c) could tell me whose ideal I must correspond to, I think I might have something to say about that as well. See b) above.

And d) makes absolutely no sense to me. If it's a reproduction it is therefore not an original and can't possibly be perfect. And who says the original is perfect to begin with?

Legally valid? If it's listed way down at the bottom of the list, I'm thinking it's just asking to be ignored.

Nope. Perfect is not something I want to be. Too restrictive, too dependent on other people's ideas of perfection. 

Now "colorful". That's something I could do.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

After Brittany

Brit with one of her many "bunnies"
I believe in an after-life. There, I said it. It's not anything traditional like a heaven in the clouds. It's a feeling more than anything else.

Sitting on my couch today surfing the net, my nose woke up as I sensed a dog in the room. It was unmistakable - the familiar doggie smell of a wet mouth that just lapped up the water in the bowl; a whiff of dog fur that is due for a bath.

My dog Brittany has been gone for a year and a half now. She was the best dog on the planet. And I told her that every day. 

She was my constant companion, even in the shower. She didn't like closed doors between us so I would leave the bathroom door partly open so she could come in when she wanted to as I showered.

I'd be in the shower lost in my to-do list for the day and I'd hear the familiar slamming of the door against the bathroom wall. Within seconds, I would look to the end of the shower and see a brown and white nose poking itself around the shower curtain. That was it. Just a nose.

That nose would disappear in a matter of seconds and I would finish my shower. Brit never needed to see me to know I was there. She connected with me using all of her senses.

It's lonely all day in my house without my forever pal. Sometimes I miss her more than I do my own mother. We had a great run, me and Brit. But like all great things, it ended too soon.

People ask me when Ron and I will get another dog. I often say that I'm not ready. That it's too much money and work and, ultimately, sadness. My life is focused on caring for an elderly parent now and I'm sort of caretaker-ed out.

The truth though, buried deep beneath the credit card statement and protestations, is that the only dog I want is Brit. She's here still and this is her home. 

Like Brit, I don't need to see her to know she is here. And I'd rather live with her spirit, full and strong, than diminish it with another's scent.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Our common experience

Once in a while I splurge on myself and get a spa pedicure. I only do this in the summer since I live in cowboy boots the rest of the year and no one sees my feet in public.

There's a place in nearby Chelmsford where I've been going for the past year. I like the nail technicians there and the owner is very customer-oriented.

Every time I go I get looks from other women who are having their nails done. At first I thought it was because I talk too loud while chatting with the nail tech over running water. Maybe people go there to relax and tune-out and I'm just a major disruption.

But there was something else that became more noticeable in my time there. No one but me (and my friend Jan who came with me once) spoke to the nail techs who were working on their feet and legs.

The nail techs and owner are Cambodian. Some speak better English than others. And although I don't think there is prejudice involved (though I am a bit of a Polyanna in that regard) I think people are uncomfortable communicating with those who don't speak English as their primary language.

The nail techs try to start conversations with their customers but the customers don't seem comfortable carrying on those conversations past the initial answer. 

The tech I had last week was a bright and ambitious young college student named Lin. We talked about school, learning English, her family, her dreams. We laughed a lot even though I had to ask her to repeat a sentence a few times because I wasn't understanding her. She was more than happy to speak again slowly and our conversation continued.

At one point, she spoke to her boss in their native language but immediately told me what they said and stated that she really doesn't like doing that in front of people who don't speak the language. It was incredibly insightful and respectful. I was so impressed with her and her desire to start her own business when she graduates.

The entire time I was there (40 minutes) I did not see one other customer even attempt to have a conversation with the person at the end of their feet. Noses were buried in magazines and cellphones.  

I wondered how you could have another human doing something so personal as nail techs do and not reach out in a human way. It was almost like the woman at the end of their feet was a non-being. 

Was it all about being uncomfortable as I suspected? If so, I hope that someday they make the effort to do the difficult thing and engage in conversation. 

I left Lin a great tip but that shouldn't be the only thing she goes home with. I hope others who were there stretch themselves next time and work through their inhibitions. 

How else are we to create a sense of dignity and commonality in the melting pot that is America?