Alumni Directories & The Art Of Mischievousness

Apropos of a delightfully snarky conversation with a friend…

FRIEND HAS RECEIVED AN INVITATION to her college reunion this fall. She has no interest in attending, but has the opportunity to be included in the alumni directory.

She would like that.

To do this she has to fill out an online form telling ye olde university details about who she is now. The form will not be accepted unless it is filled in completely.

Friend, like me, graduated from a liberal arts university. Hers, Methodist. Mine, Lutheran.

Friend, like me, majored in something to do with words. Hers, Romance Languages. Mine, English Literature.

Friend, like me, graduated from college and never returned to her hometown, instead choosing to make her way in the big bad world on her own.

Friend, like me, received almost no career counseling while in college. Instead she’s had many jobs, but none that suggest a specific title showing the summation of her work accomplishments*.

• • •

As always, Calvin asks the important questions

• • •

THE PROBLEM, AS WE SEE IT, is that Friend is unsure about how to describe herself on this ridiculous form that will ONLY be accepted if she fills in ALL the blanks.

Does she take the dutiful route and tell this university, where she received a great classical education but had no help finding work, about ONE of the things she’s done? That is, does she say she’s an Interpreter, even though she did that briefly?

OR should she be more irreverent, feeling no need to divulge anything specific about her work history to this institution that provided no career guidance. That is, does she say she’s a Woman of International Mystery?

I relate to this problem.

I know that when I’ve been forced to fill in forms like the one Friend is dealing with, I waiver between saying I’m a Writer or a Kept Woman. Both are apt, more or less, and satisfy the nosy computer system.

So what say you?

IF you were in this situation wherein you only needed to fill in the blank as a means to an end AND you felt no loyalty to the university from which you graduated…

Would your answer be sincere or flippant? 
And why?
Do you consider yourself mischievous at times?
And if so, how does that make you feel?

* If you’re a doctor or a lawyer or a teacher or an accountant [or whatever], you’ve not had to deal with this situation. But for those who have wandered through life working at various jobs, contributing to the GNP in our own ways, this can be problematic.

You Decide: Behaving Hypocritically Or Showing Sound Judgment

~ • ~

I CAN SEE WHAT HAPPENED FROM TWO PERSPECTIVES 

On the one hand I believe people can change and that’s a defining characteristic of humanity.  As we gain experience and knowledge we are able to change, preferably for the better, as we go along.

But on the other hand I like to keep my distance from people who have demonstrated they’re irony-impaired and don’t have the sense God gave a goose, regardless of whether they may have changed or not.

Judge me as you will.

~ • ~

I WAS ON INSTAGRAM WHEN IT MADE A SUGGESTION ABOUT WHO I SHOULD FOLLOW  

When I saw the name I recognized it immediately and shouted “HELL NO.”

Literally.

Shouted those words out loud.

Then I started laughing because I hadn’t thought about this woman, Zelda, in years.

I met Zelda, an author wannabe, through a mutual acquaintance who knew that Zelda was creating her author’s platform which was to include a personal blog.

Our mutual acquaintance thought that I might be able to answer some of Zelda’s questions about writing a personal blog. And I did.

But I’m getting ahead of myself.

~ • ~

YOU SEE, ZELDA WAS GOING TO WRITE HER MEMOIR

It was to be about what she’d learned about how to get along with people while living on four continents.

She had stories to tell about her experiences while overcoming language barriers and adapting to the idiosyncrasies of the cultures around her.

There was a charming Kum Ba Yah hippy vibe to her thinking and Zelda was a wordy girl, of that I have no doubt.  She could talk up a storm about the book she had yet to write.

The thesis statement for her proposed memoir was something to the effect of: by taking time to listen and understand people you can connect on a deeper level regardless of your background. It just takes effort.

Being proactive, she’d started a blog for her author’s platform.

Oh yes she had.

~ • ~

BUT THERE WAS A PROBLEM

She couldn’t figure out how to attract readers.  She knew that as an author-to-be she’d need to be able prove to a literary agent that she had a loyal online following.

This was something that had not happened despite the time she was pouring into her blog;  she was clueless as to why this was so.

In an attempt to get to gain perspective on her problem I asked her which blogs she followed and commented on. She seemed baffled, genuinely confused.

She replied, you mean I’m supposed to pay attention to other blogs?  

I said, yes, that’s the deal. That’s how you connect in the blogosphere. You pay attention to other bloggers, leave thoughtful comments, then those people become your readers. 

To which she said, why would I do that? I don’t care about those people. All I want is for them to pay attention to me so I can sell my book.

And therein was the crux of the problem for this author wannabe/newbie blogger who wanted to tell YOU what to do, but had no intention of making any effort to do so herself.

Go figure, huh?

~ • ~

NOW I GRANT YOU ZELDA COULD HAVE CHANGED

It’s been years since I met her, but looking at her IG account I saw no evidence that she’d written her memoir or that she had a public personal blog.

Instead I saw an Instagram feed with selfies– and not much else.

Knowing what you do now, would you want to follow her on social media? Hmmm? 

Am I being hypocritical by not allowing her the opportunity to show me that she has changed OR am I protecting my personal boundaries/sanity by not following her?

Discuss.

The Tale Of A Kind Young Doctor Who Was As Lost As I Was

I HAD AN APPOINTMENT FOR MY annual checkup with an eye doctor who’s part of a group practice. I’ve gone to him for at least 15 years. His office is in a building called The Clinic that is part of a large university hospital complex.

A week before the appointment I received a letter* from his office telling me that the free parking garage nearest The Clinic was closed. The letter explained in words where I should go for free parking.

I didn’t bother to double-check the directions online because I’m familiar with the area. The directions made perfect sense to me and they were spot on.

I got to the parking garage, no problem.

• • •

WITH LETTER IN HAND I DID as it said and exited the parking garage through the green doors, putting me at the intersection of two busy streets. At this point I was told to look for a particular building, presumably made possible by the generous donation of some rich people.

Let’s call this building THE LOVEY & THURSTON HOWELL III MEDICAL CENTER.

Standing on the corner I looked up and down the streets and I saw nothing that said THE LOVEY & THURSTON HOWELL III MEDICAL CENTER.

I mean, nothing.

• • •

I WAS ABOUT TO GRAB MY cell phone out of my purse when a kind young doctor crossed the street toward me and walked up to me. He asked me if I needed help finding something.

[That’s how lost I looked, a random doctor offered to help me.]

Waving the letter around I said, I’m looking for THE LOVEY & THURSTON HOWELL III MEDICAL CENTER.  

He said, the what?

I repeated myself.

We looked at each other. 

He politely asked, may I see the letter.

[I imagine he thought I was an older *confused* person.]

I said, yes and handed it to him.

He read the letter printed on official university hospital letterhead, looked up and down the streets, then said, huh.

We looked at each other. 

I shrugged.

He said, I’ve worked here 8 years and I’ve never heard of THE LOVEY & THURSTON HOWELL III MEDICAL CENTER.  

I said, I’ve gone to this eye doctor for longer than that and I’ve never heard of THE LOVEY & THURSTON HOWELL III MEDICAL CENTER.  

We looked at each other. 

[I’d stumped a doctor, which is kind of a memorable moment.]

• • •

BEFORE I HAD TIME TO SAY another word the kind young doctor pulled out his cell phone and started researching where the heck this building might be. This took longer than you might expect.

I waited patiently.

Eventually he looked up, smiling, and said, THE LOVEY & THURSTON HOWELL III MEDICAL CENTER is the original name for The Clinic.

We looked at each other.

Then we burst out laughing, turning our heads in unison toward the building directly in front of us on the other side of the street. The building we knew as The Clinic.

We looked at each other. 

• • •

I THANKED THE KIND YOUNG DOCTOR for figuring this out.

He said, your doctor is older, isn’t he?

I said, yes.

We looked at each other.

He said, I know him personally. The next time I see him I’ll suggest that for the sake of his patients, and other doctors,  he might want to NOT refer to The Clinic as THE LOVEY & THURSTON HOWELL III MEDICAL CENTER because no one knows it by that name anymore.   

I said, good idea. I’ll say something ** too. 

We looked at each other. 

And with a smile we went on our ways, better informed about the world around us.

~ THE END ~

* The doctor’s office had tried to email me but they had an out-of-date email address, so they sent a snail mail letter.

** I never said anything to my eye doctor because when I got to his office my mind wandered, distracted by two relaxed Federal prison inmates, in handcuffs + shackled ankles, surrounded by two stern guards. The foursome was sitting in the waiting area for appointments with some doctor in the group practice.

A Neighborhood Update: I’m Not Nosy, They Are Noisy

NOW that we’re beginning to have a few warmer spring days, I’ve been opening the windows in some rooms.  The sounds of nature drift into the house.  Often it’s birds.  In fact we have a loud hoot owl that does his thing late evening, early morning.

Totally expected.

AND we’re hearing our young neighbors again.  Kids playing on a jungle gym, for instance.  Kids bouncing basketballs.  Kids riding bikes up and down the street while talking or singing.

Again totally expected.

PLUS there are two new February babies on either side of our house.  A boy on one side, a girl on the other, both with well-developed lungs and a tendency to be unhappy in the afternoon. I know this to be a fact– and I’m sure their parents know this as well.

So there’s that.

BUT the biggest news vis-à-vis noise around here is that Crazy Bird Lady, a fifty-something woman who lives across the forested ravine from us, is no longer standing on her deck yelling “f*ck you” at the birds.  And she’s stopped hitting a metal soup pot with a metal spoon while cursing at them.

I don’t want to sound judgy but I believe this might be a good thing.

Instead of the loud cursing she has taken to dancing what I’d describe as the Flamenco on her deck.  This involves her stamping her feet in a rhythmic way while clapping her hands over her head.  She swirls around, kind of hums a tune, then yells ¡Olé! every so often.

I’m mesmerized by this woman’s eccentric behavior, I admit it.  Which brings me to what I want to ask you, my little cherry blossoms:

Who’s the wackiest person in your neighborhood?

Now that spring [Northern Hemisphere] or fall [Southern Hemisphere] is here what’s going on outside your windows?

Any fun plans for the weekend?

~ ~ 🌸 ~ ~ 

Pondering: If You Tell Me You’re Independent, What Does That Mean?

Something pretty to enjoy while pondering…

Shortly before the pandemic began 2 years ago this month, I was at a social function with Z-D.  It was for his work.

I was seated next to a 70-something woman, a delightfully chatty child-free extrovert, who was [and I hope still is] the wife of a man who used to work with Z-D.

Thanks to many social business events we’d endured together I knew this pleasant woman as a casual acquaintance so this was good.  From previous conversations with her I knew she was a Joiner with a capital ‘J’.

To wit, over the years she’d told me that she was in a garden club, a book club or two, a dog breed club, a bicycling group, a music guild, a Bible study group, a travel club, and she was a member of a country club.

She went on a *sisters only* cruise every year and hosted parties for her nieces who were involved in multi-level marketing schemes.  She always had a family Thanksgiving dinner at her house.  Plus at one point she had worked full-time and socialized with her workmates, seemingly every weekend.

• • •

We had a lovely time chatting, which is to say I mostly listened and she mostly talked.

As we were getting ready to leave, perhaps sensing this would be the last time we’d see each other [and it was], she leaned over to me and said in a confidential tone: “I’m independent. I need for you to know that.”

INDEPENDENT?

NEED for me TO KNOW?

SAY WHAT?

I had zero idea what she was getting at and because of the circumstances I didn’t get the opportunity to ask her any, shall we say, clarifying follow-up questions.

Over these last two years I’ve thought about that comment often and have talked with friends in real life about what it could mean.  Without context it can be interpreted in a variety of ways.  Here is what we’ve come up with:

  • I’m independent because I have money of my own.
  • I’m independent because I am free to choose which groups I join.
  • I’m independent because I don’t have children.
  • I’m independent because I’m retired and so is my husband.
  • I’m independent because I grew up as a second-wave feminist.
  • I’m independent because I haven’t declared myself to be aligned with a particular political party.
  • I’m independent because the church I go to is outside the mainstream, not part of an established protestant denomination.

So what say you, my gentle readers?  

Do you consider yourself to be independent? And if you do, what does that mean to you? Also, do you need people to know you’re independent?

Please share your thoughts in the comments below.  This can be an interesting conversation.

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