Thursday, May 28, 2009


The cafe this morning was filled with past gold star recipients. It is beginning to feel like a club, one created organically rather than one in which people pay to have their ass kissed. I love it. There is no better way to start the day, in my mind, than with good strong coffee and a sea of faces with whom you have connected and are likely to again, imminently if you so choose.

I chatted first with the therapist and her antiques-dealer husband, mostly responding to his comment to me that I was argumentative, after I had ribbed him in line. For the record, I do say provocative things, but not necessarily on purpose. I say what I think. What comes out is only provocative when the listener doesn't want to think about what I think about. People who don't know me may not be aware of this trait in me, and, in getting sucked in to my world unwittingly, like in a line for coffee, for example, might be surprised by my wicked ways. But anyone who has known me for even a little bit of time knows that to ask me a question is to get a real answer, what I really think, not, usually, what I stop to measure and rephrase in a way the particular listener might be able to handle. Good or bad, it is what it is.

My architect friend at the cafe knows this well, is on to me and tries to keep me honest when he believes I go too far. Today, I was talking to him of my new ability to focus, which has helped me over hurdles I thought I couldn't clear, like headstands and skipping stones and, I dare say, keeping my marriage alive, and well.

"When you focus," I said, "you can do anything you want to do."

"Well," he said, shaking his head, "probably not anything. But that's you. You make broad, sweeping statements that couldn't be true just to prove your point, to be provocative. I, on the other hand, hedge." He called himself a realist then, I think, or a pragmatist, I can't remember. Either way, I told him it was a cop-out.

"The problem with hedging," I said, "is that then you can always give yourself the out. If you tell yourself you can do it, no matter what it is, if you don't give yourself the option, you'll do it."

I gave him the example of my husband, putting up the tent for my son's birthday last week. He started to get nervous that he couldn't do it and said something along those lines. But it was the night before eight 8-year-olds had been promised they could sleep in a tent in my living room. Not doing it was not an option. Instead of getting angry, like I usually would when he cowered in the face of a physical task, I told him just that. "It's not an option. You have to do it, so you will," I said. He rose to the occasion and did it, as I knew he could, and he felt great, like we all do when we do something we almost bowed out of out of fear. Like I did when I taught Eli to ski when it scared the shit out of me to even try.

The architect looked down, in thought, and nodded, gesturing to his little angel, a dead ringer for a young Shirley Temple. He told me how he prompts her often to do things when she thinks she can't. "Right," I said. "You can't hedge with kids, can you? You have to tell them they can do anything they set their mind to, right?" He had to agree.

I don't rest until I bring him around to my way of thinking, my truth, THE truth...Ha! I can tell just by his body language that sometimes he wishes he had skipped stopping by the cafe where he is sure to see me, to be dragged into controversy even before finishing his first cup of coffee. Sorry:(

I myself needed a little respite from me, a little yoga. As I headed out, Super Super was heading in. I was so tempted to stay and chat, but I was bound and determined to show off my headstand in class. Even our brief conversation was cathartic, though. A woman trying to get by us on the sidewalk with her stroller was clearly annoyed, as if her rights trumped ours, and we just looked at each other and laughed.

I told him of an incident yesterday where, coming up the stairs at the Y, I remembered something and said aloud, "Shoot!" A woman ahead of me, carrying a small child, turned around angrily and demanded, "Be careful with your mouth, there's a baby here..." I was perplexed. First of all, I'd said "shoot," which I reiterated to her. "Oh," she said, "I thought you said s-h-i-t." As if whatever word I used was any of her business, as if she had the right or the capability to control the world around her and her precious progeny.

There is nothing I hate more than people who think everything revolves around them and theirs. Super Super agreed wholeheartedly. I had the inclination, I told him, to shout out every foul-mouthed word I knew, just because I could and she couldn't stop me, but I kept it in, lucky for her. See, I don't actually go looking for arguments. They, so often, find me. And sometimes I refrain from engaging. Not often, but sometimes.

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