September 04, 2011

Meeting My Younger Self: Part II

A year ago, I stumbled on to this little writing exercise on a couple of writer's blogs. I love writing and examining life so I jumped right on it. Revisiting my blog I thought I would do this exercise again (is that against the rules, were there any rules?)

This time,I would go back to have a long talk with my 10 year old self; The following are the questions and answers.

Would your younger self (YYS) recognize you when you first meet?

I would hope that my younger self would recognize me intuitively, but she would definitely see a family resemblance. The 10 year old me was incredibly open and naive, she would believe me when I introduced myself.

Would YYS be surprised to discover what you are doing for work?

No. I've always loved art and writing and children. Though, little Toni would probably be a little disappointed that I hadn't flown through Outer Space or won a Noble Peace Prize or dug up any dinosaur bones in Montana, and that I didn't own a herd of horses.

What piece of fashion advice would you give YYS?

Fashion advice! Really? I think I would tell her to believe in herself and never let fashion define her. I would tell her that the larger world of Fashion is about making women feel bad about being natural and comfortable with themselves. I would tell her to ignore the pictures of celebrities in magazines, they are manipulated images that have turned women into fiction.

"Do as you always do, little Toni. Brush your hair every day, wash your face and brush your teeth and let the You on the inside shine through. Don't invest in all those Raider's t-shirts because in 1972 Al Davis is going to rewrite the general partnership papers for the team and award himself almost complete control and he is going to single-handedly drive our Raiders into the ground. Stick with the Broncos or take a good look at the Steelers. Invest in Loreal!!!

What do you think YYS is most going to want to know?

I am trying to remember what 10 year old me really wanted to know the most. Will life in California be as good as it was in Colorado? I would assure her that life is good but she would, indeed, miss family as much as she thought she would. I would tell her that cousins and grandparents are one of life's greatest blessings, don't let them slip away.

Don't let anyone or anything, but mostly, any one (Anyone, are you listening, little Toni,) Don't let ANYONE stand between you and your family! Write those letters, send them yourself. Make telephone calls and pay the consequences for in the long run you will be blessed. Don't lose track of your cousins. They help you remember where you are from, they help ground you and remind you that you belong.

I would tell her that the drawing of her dream home was fantastic and the ugly comments made about her white picket fence and yellow curtains in the window were not about her drawing and dreams, they were not about her. Don't put your pencils and chalk away, little Toni. Don't let ugliness and resentment affect your life.

Of utmost importance, I would tell her that under no circumstances must she ever, ever, ever go anywhere with her dad's sister. "Keep your eye out for her around your sister and the other cousins, too." I would tell her that when that aunt has a baby girl try to convince everyone, everywhere that the baby needs to live with us, or anyone, other than her crazy-ass mother. (though I wouldn't say "crazy-ass" to little Toni...well,, no I wouldn't).

What is something that you probably wouldn’t tell YYS?

I would not tell her about deaths or divorces, I would not tell her about broken hearts except that when her heart gets broken she will come back stronger and braver. That she will eventually find the love of her life. "Don't let the moments of true happiness and bliss pass by unnoticed, Little Toni. Close your eyes and commit those moments to memory. Definitely, remember the smells because when those scents flutter by in the future you will immediately be transported back to those wonderful moments."

What do you think will most surprise YYS about you?

That is a hard question. If she was older, she might be surprised that I outlived my grandmother, but she doesn't know yet that Grandma died, it will still be 4 years before Grandma Rose closed her eyes and didn't open them again.

Maybe what would surprise her the most is that I have learned to stand up for myself and protect myself. Maybe she will be surprised that it took me so long.

At this point in your life, would YYS like to run into “you” from the future?
NO, I don't think so. I look forward to the surprises, the aha's. I don't want to know about the losses.  The future me could leave me a note under my pillow though and tell me if my knee ever gets fixed!!!

What about you? What age YOU would you visit? What would you say? What would you take back?

September 01, 2011

A Character, Better to Lose Than To Find

Have you ever met someone who was just so shallow that you felt sorry for him?

My husband works with just such a boy. I'll call him Boy-Wonder, not because he reminds me of Batman's sidekick, Robin, but because at his age, it's a wonder he's not more of a man than a spoiled adolescent.

This boy is probably late 20', maybe early 30's.  He must be very wounded and that is sad, to start out life under the ladder, having to struggle and climb just to get to break even. 

Customers have often complained to my husband that this boy talks down to them.  One customer in particular, a professional photographer, won't even go in the store any more because of the condescending attitude of this boy. 

The store my husband works for is very well known for the quality of their photo processing. That has truly been their claim to fame. The BEST, absolute best quality photos come out of their lab. A major part of that has been the expertise and dedication of one employee, a young woman who had worked in that lab for the past 16 years. Last month, this woman passed away in her sleep. 

Everyone was devastated. My husband was paralyzed with shock when I told him about the phone message his boss had left on our phone. She was so young, just turned 50. A vibrant, healthy person, gone.  

Every employee in the store was in a state of bewilderment. How could she be gone. She was there, every morning when every body else arrived. Many of the other employees didn't know of a time when she wasn't there when they came to the store.  She was their friend. She was a vital part of the store....a VITAL part of the store.

The store hadn't been open two hours, all the employees standing in a haze of shock, when Boy-Wonder walked up to my husband and another employee and said, "Hate to sound morbid but this really gives us the opportunity to hire someone new for the lab!"

My husband simply walked away.  "Is this vomit or disgust rising up my throat?" he was thinking.  Probably a little of both, my love.

What happens in a person's life that corrupts the soul so much?  How does one become so shallow that life and the loss of life means so little?  What happened to you, Boy-Wonder?