Thursday, July 24, 2008

Tuesday, July 15, 2008


I have long lived with the understanding that forgiveness is a choice you make, rather than a feeling you hope for. Maybe that is why I thought it would be easy. You look someone in the eyes and speak the words and all is right with the world. Or maybe it’s because, for most of my life, I’ve had only small matters to forgive. Either way, I thought it would be fairly simple.

So the first time I encountered a real, grown up situation that tested my true aptitude for forgiveness, I had some unrealistic expectations.

A year ago, I said, “I forgive you.” Because you asked me to. Because that’s what you’re supposed to do. Because not forgiving didn’t seem like an appealing choice. Because I’ve been forgiven. Because it had to be better than the alternative. Because I knew that if I didn’t make a conscious decision, and instead waited for “a forgiving mood” to wash over me, I could be waiting forever.

It didn’t feel all that different from anger or pain. Not at first anyway. I wondered if I had done it right.

Someone told me forgiveness was a choice you had to keep making, an act of discipline, in a matter of speaking. Like exercise. Not easy, not painless, not an overnight cure. But productive and worthwhile. And I was promised I would see results one day. And so I made it my mantra.

Most days.

Six months went by, and I realized I no longer felt like throwing my cell phone at your head every time I saw you. It wasn’t like someone flipped the compassion switch on my heart. I just felt less. Less angry, less sad - less everything. I thought that meant my feelings had caught up to my words, and I was a little disappointed. I thought it would feel prettier, lighter… more like grace.

Now, a full year since I said those words, I find myself trying to define what it is I feel when I see you. I still don’t feel like launching projectiles at your head. I don’t feel angry. I don’t feel sad. But I don’t feel “nothing” either. Somewhere, with subtlety and stealth, a feeling has crept up on me that does feel like compassion and grace. It is light and lovely, and solemn and deep. It turns out, that’s what forgiveness feels like.

It feels like love.

Because it is.

It’s not to say that I couldn’t stir up those old feelings if I wanted to. Like resurrecting an old bad habit, its easier than not. Or picking at a scab. But I like this new feeling too much to give it up. And I really like my new cell phone. And, as you could expect with a year of consistent exercise, I find the discipline of forgiveness to be easier all the time, natural and fulfilling. A new habit. Like muscle memory in my heart.

People say, “I love you” all the time. And we should, undoubtedly. But it was three different words, the ones I said a year ago, almost to the day, that changed my life. In more ways than one.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

My Love/Hate Relationship with Consumerism

Its true. My relationship with consumer products is tenuous at best. The marketing forces that be simultaneously repulse and attract me, so I'm sorting through the rubble of our once productive relationship. (Productive primarily for the GNP) In the process, I felt the need to compile, just for you, a brief catalogue of products I love and pretty much hate. I'll open with LOVE because hating stuff is funnier, so I feel that I should close with that.


1. Method cleaning products. A little trendy, yes. But the packaging is attractive enough to leave it out on the counter, they smell fresh and not at all like cleaning products and they don't irritate my asthma in the least. It is definitely love.

2. Yoga balls, or whatever you'd like to call them. They cost about a third of what they did when they were gaining popularity a few years ago, so its not ridiculous to have one for the kiddo, who will love its relative hugeness, and one to actually work out with. Marketing dream come true that it is, its not hype, its an excellent fitness tool and it really is great to sit on while typing. I'm doing it right now. Okay, I'm not, but I should be.

3. ipods. What did we do before them?

4. The Samsung Instinct. Its a phone, and so much more. Its true, the sound is less than stellar, which is sorta lousy considering its primary purpose is to be a phone, and there's a bit of a learning curve when it comes to the right way to touch the screen without accidentally calling people or hanging up on them, but the browser really is fast, the qwerty keyboard is very convenient and one-touch access to movie schedules, followed immediately by reviews,etc., the voice navigation, the really decent camera, I could go on and on. I'm a fan. A big one.

5. The very cheap hardbound reprintings of classic novels. Sure, its a little like buying the store brand of milk, but who cares? A literary girl needs a library, but reading doesn't pay very well. Five bucks for Crime and Punishment, Anna Karenina, Jane Eyre - that I can do. Bring on the Sunny Meadow Farm Literary Milk.

6. Gazillion Bubbles. Moms, you know what I'm talking about. I don't have to hyperventilate to blow, well, a gazillion bubbles for my guy. If there was such a thing as Toddler Xgames, Gazillion Bubble Chasing would be the marquis event.

7. Maybelline Great Lash Mascara in Blackest Black. And how.

8. Brilliant Brunette Hair Care by John Frieda. A long and sorta inflated name for a drug store shampoo? Indubitably. But oh so worth $4.50 each for the shampoo and conditioner, for the scent alone, not to mention the hair shininess and the brilliant brunettiness.

9. Tiffany's. For all my anti-materialist posturing, I'm still a girl. And I loved Breakfast at Tiffany's, so its a natural extension.

10. Grocery store sushi. Its like sushi for dummies. Its yummy, inexpensive and like most things I really like, convenient. And you don't have to feel like an idiot ordering stuff you don't really know how to order.

1. Words written across the heiny on sweatpants. Whether its PINK or JUICY or the always apropos LOOK AT MY BUTT - its terrible. Admittedly, that last one would require a vast expanse of real estate, but in my experience, that only makes it more likely.

2. Che Guevara t-shirts. Seriously, 18 year old white girl, do you know who he is? I have one word for you: Wikipedia.

3. Attitude t-shirts in general, but especially toddler and small children's sizes. There's a blog in the works for this one, possibly a joint effort with Leaky Jar, so I won't explain further.

4. Bratz Dolls. I already had a few issues with Barbie, but in my effort to not be a feminazi, I tempered that. So some genius developed a doll with lipliner and unfilled lips, glittered hotpants and midriff baring tube tops, faux-lucite platform stilettos and every ghetto scandalous accessory you can think of. The boy dolls wear eyeliner in a very not Good Charlotte way, and, again, midriff baring tops. Basically, they look like a cross between 90's club kids and millennial strippers. I could do a list of the top 100 things I hate about Bratz dolls, but I won't because it is most likely preaching to the choir.

5. Abercrombie & Fitch. Soft porn catalogues filled with 14 year old girls, a fragrance assault just walking past the store, the size "double zero", $100 dollar shredded jeans with double popped-collar pink polo shirts. 'Nuff said.

6. Pink Polo shirts, while I'm at it. I saw Taye Diggs in one on some show, and it looked good. So if you look like him, go for it, otherwise: to Marshalls, please.

7. Oprah's Book Club. Sorry, but I'm sure her majesty would approve of me being "true to myself." There are notable exceptions, certainly, but I probably won't ever read them if they have her sticker on them. On principle.

8. Baby clothes with NFL themes. I don't know why, they're just creepy to me.

9. Women's underwear that looks like men's briefs. Also creepy.

10. The Baby Phat Brand. Everything looks like Bratz doll clothing for grown ups. Only worse.

I could probably go on and on, but I won't promise a continuation. I do that from time to time, ignoring the possibility that anyone might actually read it and then anticipate a second installment, which I am rarely able to provide, because the Blog Muse is a fickle creature. Fickle, but not much of a stickler for grammar, so we forgive her flightiness. Have consumer bipolar disorder too? What do you love and hate? I think I have a roughly 2% comment rate on here and I want to know what the other 98% of you think. Or who you are. Or something.