THE ENIGMA OF THE CHATTY INTROVERT, Part 1

Two main personality types, extroverts and introverts, have unique ways of being energized and stimulated, as well as quite a different manner in which they interact with the outside world. Interestingly, 50-74% of the population is estimated to be extroverted. However, there’s more to this than meets the eye.

According to an online dictionary, an introvert is someone who ‘tends to shrink from social contacts and become preoccupied with their own thoughts,’ while an extrovert is ‘a person concerned more with practical realities than with inner thoughts and feelings,’ that is ‘someone interested primarily in the physical and social environment rather than the self.’ Bull. I know quite a few extroverts, none of whom fits the description entirely. Just because you’re big-mouthed, forthcoming and laid-back, it does not mean you’re an emotional cripple, incapable of introspection. In other words, our outward expressiveness and social cooperation do not make us skin-deep, one-dimensional pricks lacking intellectual depth and thoroughness.

Now, before I go any further, I’d like to share with you the result of a 2012 study by a Harvard psychologist that I recently came across, according to which ‘people who identify as introverts tend to have larger and thicker gray matter in certain areas of the prefrontal cortex, a highly complex brain region associated with abstract thought and decision-making. People who identify as strongly extroverted, on the other hand, tend to have thinner gray matter in those same prefrontal areas—which hints that introverts tend to devote more neural resources to abstract pondering, while extroverts tend to live in the moment.’

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Alright, let’s start from scratch. In the course of my self-analysis, I came to discover I am an extroverted introvert, even though my talkativeness and outgoingness subsided with time as I learned to value the intimacy of close-knit relationships. Still, regardless of the fact that I haven’t been in the mood for people lately and opening my mouth like I used to, I am certainly not a loner in the long run. I don’t mind being alone, though. Quite the contrary. I desperately need alone time. I don’t need people around me all the time to validate my own existence. Anyhow, today I’m presenting you with a seeming paradox of a talkative introvert, which was the case of my research in the past couple of weeks.

You see, I used to be a real chatterbox; in fact, I rarely knew how to shut up. In my youth, I was a very gregarious and candid person who enjoyed living in a flock (or a herd). If you want to make friends, you can’t keep to yourself, right? I was open, enthusiastic, carefree and naive and believed that all animals were equal. Little did I know that ‘some animals are more equal than others.’ Anyway, before I got a baby at the age of 39, I was a real party animal. I enjoyed going out, hanging out with my friends, getting to know new people and attending social gatherings such as music festivals, dance floors, concerts, movie theaters etc. I was no stranger to the club scene and would often hit buzzing bars, kicking on until dawn (and beyond). Nevertheless, although I took enormous pleasure in being surrounded by people and talking to them and about them for hours, I would be quite selective about what secrets to share, and seldom confided about things which had been bothering me, which made an apparent extrovert actually introverted. Mystery solved. Or not that easily?!

The thing is, even though I have throughout my life more often than not thrived on being around other people, and enjoyed social events, I have never found time spent alone less rewarding, nor have I ever been bored when by myself, unlike typical extroverts. They usually reach out for their phones to text or call someone as soon as they are alone. Not me. I’d rather reach for a book or the computer. Besides, I get worn out by extensive small-talk, which might have to do with age, though. If I don’t feel like talking, I will even physically step away from the chatter and seek a quiet place for myself, preferably another room. This is precisely what my late granddad used to do, being a classic introvert. Back then, I found it out of the ordinary, to say the least, now, however, absolutely necessary. If we happen to be outside though, what I’ll most probably do is shut off entirely or simply be myself (read: put on an act), nodding and smiling, pretending I’m actually there and having tons of fun. So, while I obviously won’t be able to pull out, I’ll make sure I change into a sleep or hibernate mode after a few minutes of inactivity. My sensitive generator has a sensor which will, once I start to get bored and wish to spend some time alone (but can’t), shut off by itself so as not to overheat. I know it’s hypocritical but I’m pretty sure you do it too, choosing not to waste energy that easily but rather save it for the things which require your undivided attention, right?

Now, typical introverts are generally thought of as reserved and reflective people whose energy tends to dwindle during interaction. Like most introverts, I don’t confide easily (reserved is too strong a word to fit the description). I am reflective and often derive happiness and enjoyment from rather solitary activities, everything but fishing. I know it’s a way of life and all that crap and I bet it’s a gratifying experience when you take an active part in supplying food for the table, but those who know me also know that when I get hungry I have to fricking eat NOW. Not later, not in an hour, not in 10. N.O.W. If not, you’d better stay out of my way or I’ll bite your head off. And I mean it. I know it’s not your fault, but since you’re in my way, somebody needs to take the blame…So, you go fishing to eat that fish you have caught eventually (that is, if you’re skilled and/or lucky), and in spite of the fact that it took you 5 hours to catch your lunch, it’s still rewarding in the end, I guess. By contrast, fishing for recreational purposes is really dumb since you’ll end up eating canned fish in nature. Just swell! Long story short, NO, I don’t consider fishing a challenge or a getaway from the hustle and bustle of the city. It does not and cannot make me more focused, relaxed and patient. When I feel like eating fish, I go to the supermarket/fishmonger’s to buy fish. Dead. Okay, enough with the fish already. I got carried away, which is BTW another common trait of mine, getting worked up over irrelevant matter. But, at least I acknowledged it (this time). My point with the whole fish thing is: I do not like such pastime when time seems to have stopped. I think I’m too much of an extrovert for that.

However, like most introverts, I delight in reading, writing, working on the computer (everything but games), or hiking for example. Speaking of which, I’ve always loved individual more than group sports. Tennis over basketball. Or take cooking. I guess the majority of extroverts consider preparing food with other people a nice way to catch up with their friends prior to eating. It is wonderful, I agree. You’re sipping wine, listening to music, laughing, and telling stories. Not for me, I’m afraid. I’m not the type. You see, I’m very confident in the kitchen. I love cooking and enjoy eating. But, I don’t like when it takes forever. An hour tops is the time I can and will dedicate to it. So, while I’m preparing food, so as not to be bothered and distracted, that is to get over with it quicker than I would with people around, I prefer it to be me and me alone in the kitchen. Trust me, this has nothing to do with not wanting to share granny’s secrets. It means what it says: don’t help me out, don’t offer to help me out, don’t pass me the salt, don’t fetch me a drink, don’t ask me where I keep the cutlery, don’t ask me questions. DON’T. I’ll talk to you later. Is that so hard to understand? So, I’d appreciate it if you could get out of the kitchen while I’m in it. I’ll come and get you when it’s ready. Pretty much as you’ll get me when you’re the chef. Didn’t I just say I love individual sports more? I don’t mind you doing the dishes afterwards, though. It’s actually expected of you. Because if you don’t, I’ll get grumpy again.

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For more proof why I’m not a typical extrovert, why I’m not a typical introvert either and why introverts rarely talk, JOIN ME NEXT TIME. You’ll also get the chance to find out why we shouldn’t mistake introversion for shyness and how come many extroverts are actually shy. In the meantime, talk to me (I’m not cooking).

ODE TO WISDOM, Waltz No. 2

Remember our last chat? Dentists, last molars, wisdom. Does it ring a bell? In case you’re interested, I had my wisdom tooth examined, in the meantime. The pain has subsided somewhat, though I still feel minor irritation which I’ve been told can be relieved by rinsing with warm salt water (1/2 teaspoon of salt in 200 grams of water (7 ounces )). However, having medical doctors as parents has obviously marked me for life so I just prefer good old over-the-counter pain meds to alternative medicine. Anyway, we leave my tooth for now (does it mean I’ll be wiser?) and if it keeps causing lots of pain, gets infected or interferes with nearby teeth, the usual treatment is no treatment. We basically take it out. Please note that I have to be in great pain. If not, we don’t have a deal.

Now, the million dollar question was: Does age equal wisdom?

When I was younger, I looked up to the elderly. Like all youths, I was often at odds with my parents in my teens and since they were not what I’d call my real role models, my grandparents, uncles, and some teachers certainly were. Back then, I thought that when I came of age, I would, like all adults, magically know all the answers to life and that everything would suddenly start making sense. What a worrying and sad realization when it didn’t. Naturally, I didn’t automatically learn how to handle problems and conflicts nor was there a moment of clarity where everything turned intelligible. Although I had a few tricks up my sleeve, truth be told, I wished I had more.

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During a Pentagon news briefing in 2002, then-Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld talked about the lack of evidence linking the government of Iraq with the supply of weapons of mass destruction to terrorist groups. So let’s put aside my subjectivity and what I really think about the guy and concentrate on what he stated on this occasion:

‘As we know, there are known knowns; there are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns – the ones we don’t know we don’t know. And if one looks throughout the history of our country and other free countries, it is the latter category that tend to be the difficult ones.’ I would add that this could be applied to both our professional and personal life. The only thing I know for sure is that I really know nothing.

I watch my son grow, I teach him, he learns but the real question is: Who is the teacher here? I like to think I don’t teach him but, as Einstein put it nicely, provide the conditions in which he can learn. While he learns understanding of concepts, all the activities he engages in, whether self-motivated or not, whether goal-oriented or not, are done with sheer pleasure and enjoyment. At this age level, even when he uses gestures such as pointing rather than naming things, his language is clear and comprehensible. By contrast, adults frequently fail to deliver an accurate message and are unable to express opinions precisely or verbalize real feelings. Additionally, while we enable children to be more active participants in life, we often turn into passive observers ourselves. It seems we still have a lot to learn. Sometimes I feel I know so little, despite formal and continuing education and the books read. I know for sure I should have more money coming in than going out and that I shouldn’t wear flip-flops and tank tops showing my cleavage and belly to a job interview and that’s about it. So many known unknowns, and God knows how many unknown unknowns there are.

Now, back to folks in later life. I mean later. Over 70 (i.e. septuagenarians, octogenarians, and nonagenarians and centenarians if they are still around). Science has proven that older people develop greater insight and are less likely to be hot-headed although their brain slows down with age (source: Daily Mail). According to a study, as opposed to young people’s brain which is driven by the chemicals fueling emotion and impulse, the aging brain is less dopamine-dependent. Therefore, slower responses of the elderly result in thoughtfulness and wiser judgments.

Since I hate generalizations, I’d say some of them because others are equally stubborn at a late age and not so perceptive as expected. Negative feelings and relationships, when nourished for a long time, harden our hearts, which is why some people continue holding a grudge or engaging in fiery quarrels till death do them part. Yes, the gray-haired might too pull a boner as if their experience hasn’t taught them a thing.

The point I’m trying to make is that we can’t and shouldn’t discredit someone just because they’re young but we cannot call them wise either. Their understanding of the world simply shows a different level of understanding. The bottom line is we can grasp some things only at a certain age. Wisdom comes (should come) in the maturity of old age when the immense experience and knowledge acquired throughout life leads (mostly…hm…sometimes) to good judgment. I’d like to think positively for once in my life and this is the most positive you’ll get from me. I retain the right to remain skeptical though.

I believe that people of different age groups could and should learn from one another. I am constantly learning from both my two-year old son, things I’ve forgotten or haven’t known I possess, and the elderly, things I have yet to learn. I need both in my life. Maybe that’s why I have friends from different walks of life and of different age groups. Without them I am like asentencewithoutspaces.

ODE TO WISDOM, Waltz No. 1

Toothaches. Painful, unpleasant, boring, irritating toothaches. Over the course of my life, I’ve changed dozens of dentists, all of whom were pretty moody, now that I think of it. Imagine looking down in people’s mouth all day long. Who wouldn’t be? My teeth have seen many a dentist maturing, getting divorced, sending their kids to college, marrying them, becoming grandparents, growing old, retiring and all they could say to the departing ones was: ‘Fill me in when you get back.’ I brush, floss, have my teeth checked and cleaned on a regular basis but it’s no use. I’ve had it all: dental infection, cavity, gum disease, braces, plaque, cracked teeth, poorly placed fillings, loss of a tooth, tooth extraction and, last but not least, a crown, though I need to have it replaced. I surely know what’s it like to be a queen. The only thing I haven’t had is tooth problems during pregnancy, which left me wondering to this day why the hell not. Due to fluctuating hormone levels, pregnant women are prone to gingivitis and tooth decay. Naturally, I got a bit paranoid and had my teeth checked more often than I usually do only to be told everything seemed to be in perfect order. Given my dental history, I would greet such statements with great dismay each and every time.

Anyhow, I’ve been having a toothache for a few weeks now. It’s the irksome wisdom tooth again. The gum in the back of my mouth is swollen and I have difficulty opening my jaw. I can’t even eat properly since I’m in pain when chewing and biting. But, don’t you worry about me. I’m a tough cookie. As for my tooth, same old, same old. The condition is probably (not) critical but, whatever the case, I’m not expecting it to pull through.

 

Let us sneak a peek at my next follow-up appointment with the dentist seasoned with a likely resolution of the crisis:

Dentist: I’m afraid I’ve got some bad news. You need to leave.

Wisdom Tooth: Why?

Dentist: I’m not quite sure why you’re there in the first place. There’s no way to say this nicely. You’re good-for-nothing, an unnecessary evil.

Wisdom Tooth: (sobbing) I used to be wanted and loved once, you know. You wouldn’t have survived if it hadn’t been for me. My three best friends and me were lifesavers.

Dentist: That’s only an assumption. Our great great great great great-grandfathers used to eat difficult-to-chew food and were rather susceptible to tooth decay.

Wisdom Tooth: I did learn the importance of oral hygiene in the meantime. I brush myself every day.

Dentist: I bet you do. If we ignore our teeth, they might go away. However, this has nothing to do with To brush or not to brush. You can prevent cavities by brushing and flossing, which isn’t the case here. You got run over by evolution. You’re not contributing much, not any more. There’s no longer enough room in the jaw to accommodate you.

Wisdom Tooth: I’ve been trying to move into a new position but it doesn’t work.

Dentist: Of course it doesn’t. Other teeth are in the way.

Wisdom Tooth: I’m having an identity crisis here. I don’t know who I am any more.

Dentist: Listen, you’re bad. You have to go. It’s nothing personal. It’s something we have to do, like putting the toilet down. You may know history, but I know dentistry. I’m telling you, it has pretty advanced.

Wisdom Tooth: A dentist always gets to the root of the problem.

Dentist: Don’t get smart with me.

Wisdom Tooth: Will I get to see the tooth fairy?

Dentist: I don’t know. The money she leaves is pathetic anyway.

Wisdom Tooth: Can I at least have a hug?

Dentist: No! No offense.

Wisdom Tooth: None taken. I get the point. When you gotta leave, you gotta leave.

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I honestly thought I’ve got rid of all four by now. Just when your least expect it, the third molars strike back. As far as I recall from my biology classes, the bastards usually appear in our late teens, that is early twenties, which is basically the whole point of having such a weird name, since their eruption coincides with entering adulthood. This is depressing. It means I could practically be a mom to this wisdom tooth so why the heck is it coming in so late?

Now, what is the point of my talking about my wisdom teeth? It’s to try to answer a question that has been going through my head for some time: Do we get wiser with age?

Being almost 41, I don’t consider myself old. 40s are the new 20s (thanks George), which makes 50s the new 30s (right, Tom?) But then again, I’m ancient for the jerks to be bugging me now. So, I’m not old, yet a peer called me wise recently, which isn’t really like being told you’re intelligent or well-read. Wisdom comes with age and consequently experience, as we become more educated, knowledgeable, accomplished, adept, rational, pondering, even cautious, if you will. Proper education is important, but we shouldn’t neglect the lessons one receives through informal education obtained by learning from one’s experiences, both good and bad, rather than a formal educational institution. Quite a few people didn’t have papers marked 100 and tacked to the wall or A’s on report cards; some might not have made it past grade school, but still they could have learned more from the school of life than some of our professors. Their shrewdness, sharp-wittedness, and farsightedness coming with age is what makes them wise.

In a nutshell, I wouldn’t call myself wise yet since I’m not old enough to meet the criterion. On the other hand, when compared to an 18-year old, I am definitely more experienced. I’m not sure about being wiser though. Does it mean that my tips have more weight than those of a person half my age or not really?

Are we supposed to measure wisdom with the scale of age and why do we give age so much credit? I’d like you to think it over and I’ll meet you same place to discuss more. Soon (I promise).

EVERYTHING YOU ALWAYS WANTED TO KNOW ABOUT SANTA (BUT WERE AFRAID TO ASK)

The New Year’s approaching. Holiday hassle, shopping for gifts, getting in the Xmas spirit, invitations, hosting guests and cleaning up after them. No thanks, I’ll pass.

Creating fantasies about what the next year will bring. Now you’re talking!

Making a TO-DO list:

1. Stay realistic. No, please don’t. I’m sick of your realism. Dream more, let others dream, don’t interrupt them in the middle of their unrealistic dreams only because they are unrealistic.
2. Send greeting cards: appreciation and congratulation messages, birthday wishes, baby wishes, wedding anniversary wishes, new job wishes, holiday, thank you, get well and good luck cards, motivation, encouragement and retirement letters.
Best of luck. Many happy returns. May your pockets be heavy and your heart light. You will definitely win the race. Wishing you a lifetime of love and happiness. May the year ahead be filled with joy. Pathetic?! So I thought.

* Get better soon or I’ll break your legs again.
* One year older. You think age is a funny thing?! Wait till you look at yourself in the mirror.
* You made it another year without one of you either ending up dead or in jail. I call that a win.
* I hope your precious bundle of joy doesn’t grow up to be a serial killer.
* Congrats on your retirement. You’ll be one more person who’s happy on Mondays.
* I wish you love and happiness. Blah, blah…screw that! I wish you lots of sex, booze, orgasms and hope you win the lotto!
* If you got stung by a jelly fish, I’d totally pee on you.

3. Write to Santa. Don’t be modest! Wish big wishes. Look at today’s kids. Sure they want a baby kitten or a puppy, but they would also like a Nerf gun, a Monster High doll/four wheeler, an iPod, an iPhone, and a lap top.

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I tear up 2 pages, grab a pen and start writing.

 

Dear Santa,

I hope you are doing well.

Is it very cold at the North Pole?
How do you get your reindeer to fly? How are the elves?
Is there Mrs. Claus?

I’ll leave you some milk and cookies, just so you know (or you’d rather have a hamburger and Pepsi?)
I hope to get some gifts in exchange. I’m not really into gifts but this year I changed by mind. I wouldn’t like a surprise in a box. I hate surprises.

 

I hear sleigh bells ringing. Jolly laugh seems terribly familiar.

Crunch, crunch, crunch. Bang! (somebody’s coming down the chimney) Could it be burglars?

A moment later, I see a portly, joyous, white-bearded man wearing a red coat, white-fur-cuffed red pants, a black leather belt and boots, and carrying a huge bag in his hand.

Ho, ho, ho.

 

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Santa: Ah-choo!

Me: (taken aback) Bless you, Santa. My, oh, my, who would have…Can I call you Santa?

Santa: Thank you. You can call me Santa Claus or Saint Nicholas, Saint Nick, Kris Kringle, Father Christmas, Santy or simply Santa. I hope you were good this year.

Me: Well…………That’s a loooooooong story. Aren’t you in a hurry? You came earlier this year. It’s not Xmas day yet. I didn’t expect you so soon.

Santa: Yes. I have lots of presents to deliver. (burp) Sorry about that. Indigestion.

Now, let’s get down to work. We need to hurry up. Ahem, what would you like, my child?

Me: Untold riches, six-pack abs, a boob job, makeup storage, a back-lit shoe closet, a built-in hammock, a basement swimming pool, cool stuff for cool shit, a red convertible with the best satnav on the market, the ability to breathe underwater, turning back time, being forever young, and a chance to run my fingers through Mads Mikkelsen’s hair?

Santa: What do you say we try something more realistic, shall we? What wouldn’t you like?

Me: Six-pack abs, a boob job, makeup storage, a back-lit shoe closet, a built-in hammock, cool stuff for cool shit, a red convertible with the best satnav on the market, the ability to breathe underwater, turning back time, and being forever young.

I think I can live with untold riches (a pool comes as standard). I’m keeping Mads as well.

Santa: (mildly disappointed) Aw…Well….(he turns red and starts stammering)… I’ll see…what I can do…. It might take a while though…Burr, it’s so effing cold today. Almost feels like back home. Oh, dammit! I forgot my flask. You don’t happen to have some booze in here, do you?

Me: Sure I do, Santa. You’ve come to the right place. How about some home-made plum brandy?

Santa: Why, certainly! (takes a sip and smiles contentedly, turning up his long gray mustache.)

Me: As for the gift, noooo problem. I can totally wait, though I’m not the most patient person in the world.

Santa: I have to dash now. I locked the elves in the workshop. They were punished for not getting the job done. (takes a few more sips) Ungrateful brats! I should have left them something to eat though.

Me: Isn’t there Mrs. Claus?

Santa: She left. Met some sailor and eloped with him.

Me: To the South Pole?

Santa: God no! It’s twice as cold there. She took off for California. Says she finds the weather there much more agreeable…(looking away) I wish I was I bird so I could fly over certain people and shit on their heads.

Me: (awkwardly) Oh…Want some chocolate?

Santa: Always. Chocolate doesn’t ask silly questions. Chocolate understands.
(with his mouth full) Life is like a penis. Simple, soft, straight, relaxed and hanging freely (crunch, crunch) Then women make it hard.

Me: Santa…(hiding chocolate) may I ask you something? How do you get your reindeer to fly?

Santa: I’m afraid I can’t tell you that. It’s a SECRET. But I’ll give you some hints.

Me: Is it elf magic? Or magic dust?

Santa: (glug glug) No, nothing like that. I’m too old for that. It’s not time warping either. That was before. (whispering) I’m using drones and hoverboards now. It’s more convenient, don’t you think? Shhhhh. (turning around to check nobody else is there)

(hiccuping) Mind if I get some more of that exquisite liquor to go?

Me: Slivovitz? No, not at all. Why don’t you take the whole bottle? We have enough supplies for the winter.

Santa: That’s awfully kind of you. How can I turn that generous offer down?

Me: You can’t and you won’t. Goodbye Santa. Take care.

 

I’m standing by the window, watching him stagger to his feet, swaying a little. Rudolph’s all set to lead the sled.

Me: Santa, don’t you think you need to sober up first? That’s called driving under the influence.

Santa: Ha-ha. Don’t worry about me. I’m an expert at making the rounds.

(waving and shouting)

 

Merry Xmas and Happy New Year everyone!

Hope you get everything you wish for.

 

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NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTIONS

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  1. Be honest with others. (Gwen, I have to break the news to you. Warning: It’s upsetting. I HATE Jane Austen.)
  2. Stop kidding yourself. (You’ll never stop being bitchy and waking up grumpy.)
  3. Try not to overwork too often. (Your brain has every right to yell – Fire! (me.))
  4. Let yourself get distracted for a change. (You’ve done the hard part, i.e. staying focused. Now comes the easy one – losing focus.)
  5. Put off until tomorrow what you can do today. (It doesn’t make you lazy. You’re just on energy saving mode.)
  6. Don’t be such a perfectionist all the time. It’s soooo tiring. (Nobody’s perfect. Deal with it. Alternatively, close to perfect will do just fine. Find a shortcut, like you’re doing with annoying house chores.)
  7. Stop being a bad cop because someone has to. (Let others do it to introduce variety. You’ll find being a good cop much more fun with time and consequently less exhausting.)
  8. Don’t be like your mom, defending your kid when no one is attacking him.
  9. Be more like your dad. (Pretend you’re a good cop by neither attacking nor interfering. People will love you more.)
  10. Avoid the drama as much as possible. (I know it’s your favorite genre. Cool off! There are some pretty good comedies you don’t know of.)
  11. Try not to overthink and overcomplicate all the time. The basic idea is quite simple.
  12. Learn from mistakes for once in your life. (If you had, you could have been a rocket scientist by now.)
  13. Stop being so pig-headed. It doesn’t suit you. (I’m not stubborn. I’m right…When you start arguing and realize the other person’s right.)
  14. Think before you speak. There’s no rehab for stupidity.
  15. This one is such a cliché, but honestly, say I’m sorry and Thank you every now and then. It won’t kill you.
  16. Stay away from braggarts, one-uppers, soul-suckers, and no-no’s.
  17. Try to channel negative energy into something positive more often. (Drain the standing water away from the foundation of the house.)
  18. Stop blaming people for doing something, for not doing it or for doing it badly or wrongly (read: not according to your standards) and feeling guilty about it afterwards. (Isn’t it adorable when you blame everyone but yourself?!)
  19. Stop nagging. (You call it nagging. I call it – Listen to what I fucking said the first time.)
  20. Try to be optimistic at least once a week. (See the opportunity in every difficulty instead of difficulty in every opportunity.)
  21. Pamper yourself more. (For girls eyes’ only: Treat yourself with a spa day. Try aromatherapy. Have regular facials. Get your nails done by a pro. Schedule a full body massage TODAY. Soak in a hot bath ALONE.)
  22. Indulge in a treat you wouldn’t normally. (Celebrate your birthday for a change.)
  23. Try walking in someone else’s shoes. (This gives me an idea: a nurse, a stewardess, a maid? HM…I know at least one person who would know how to appreciate it.)
  24. Catch up on some lit. (2018 Essentials: The Price Of Inequality, Germania, The Tibetans, The Tibetan Book Of Living And Dying, Why Marks Was Right, Capitalism: A Short History, The Deposition Of Father McGreevey, And The Weaker Suffer What They Must, Adults In The Room: My Battle With Europe’s Deep Establishment, No Is Not Enough.)
  25. Get back into meditation. (Allow yourself to mentally decompress.)
  26. Practice breathing exercises. (You’re tense.)
  27. Start working out again. (You’re a doer, not a procrastinator, remember? A moaning doer, but still a doer.)
  28. Get that Swim Pass already! (Stop using your kid as an excuse for everything.)
  29. Get offline, go to bed early (or earlier) and catch up on some much needed sleep. (That thing I did 20 years ago was really dumb!)
  30. Pamper your heart like your pamper your mind. (Open your eyes wider. Try actually being there.)
  31. Try not to hold a grudge too long. (Slash some tires and call it even.)
  32. Practice some self love. (Look in the mirror and say: What’s with the grim? It’s so ugly! Even mosquitoes find you unattractive.)
  33. Save yourself. Don’t be such a masochist. (Others are perfectly capable of cleaning up their messes and picking up where you’ve left off.)
  34. PRACTICE, DON’T PREACH.
  35. FIND TIME.

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What’s been on your mind lately?

 

JOURNAL OF A MOM – BABY SHARK

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Where are you headed? Hold your horses, mister. I gotta clean your nose. B’s around the study area. What can I grab? If I stretch up high enough, then something new. This one. It’s long and thin. Looks funny, if you ask me. Mom shows me how it can write. She draws lines and circles on a piece of paper. Whatever. I want to shake it or just hold it. Mom takes it away from me, giving me a thick marker instead. I protest. I don’t want it. I want the skinny thing back. It’s mine. Give it back or I’ll… Mom is stubborn; I am more stubborn. I throw a tantrum. I know just the right thing to do. Mom has a soft spot for me. I bang my head against the wooden floor, screaming in pain, distress and grief. Mom utters a shriek of despair. I’m back in her arms. She’s holding the thing, letting me touch it. The music starts playing again. I can’t take my eyes off the screen. One of my favorite songs – you put one hand in, you put one hand out, you put one hand in (B. is all ears with his left hand ready; we wonder if he could he be left-handed, hubby and me) and you shake, shake, shake, shake, shake (he shakes his little hand). The pen’s fallen on the carpet. I take it. He notices it but couldn’t care less. He’s shaking, turning and clapping. Way to go, honey. I snap my fingers. He finds it amusing.

I head for the bathroom. B. is following me. Why is it so damn hot inside? Ah, the heating’s on the highest setting. I thought he stopped doing it, little rascal. He must have caught me off guard last time we were hugging.

He spots the laundry basket and begins to empty it. Our dirty socks, underwear, pillow cases and towels are flying all over. Some land in the bathtub, some in the lavatory, some he’ll be dragging on the floor or spinning in circles with one hand for hours. My head starts spinning. The whole apartment seems to be spinning. Next, he fills the washing machine drum. In, out, in, out… In the meantime, I add the laundry detergent in its assigned spot. Seeing me, he jumps up, closing the small container so forcefully that it pinches my fingers. I let out a howl of anguish and startle him. B. steps back. I get down to my knees to comfort him. We both smile. We load the thing together. It opens its mouth patiently. He then unloads it, putting his head inside to check everything’s ok.

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Loading, unloading, loading…I wait to select the cycle until after I’ve closed the door. Ready, steady, go! The party can officially begin. It’s going to be a big splash. As the water pump begins to circulate water, he’s on his knees, pressing his face against the window, touching it, licking it and looking at it very closely. Once the strong rotating currents commence, he’ll move backwards and holding onto the edge of the bathtub continue examining it as if to check it’s working properly or discover any potential flaws. Closely pressed together, we’ll be staring at it hypnotically for a very very long time, listening to it gurgling, buzzing and murmuring. It has a soothing voice. B. opens his mouth, inhales deeply, and slides off my lap, staggering unsteadily to the door. It’s nap time.

JOURNAL OF A MOM – HOT & SOUR

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It’s tea time. Let’s get you some tea with lemon and honey, darling. Yummy! Hand in hand, we walk to the kitchen, my son B. and me. He takes a sip from his bottle, puckering his lips. Shall we try the old sippy cup again? He shakes his head. For some reason, it never grew on him. He prefers the new one. But this time he wants the one I drink from. I take the lid off, giving him his plastic cup back. He’s holding it. I’m assisting. Smiling reassuringly, he takes a couple of sips but starts to cough. I tap his back gently as he throws the cup down, watching it hit the ground with a thud and roll across the kitchen floor.

He runs away. He wants me to chase him. We chase around. I run after him, hiding my face behind my hands and peeking out at him when he least expects it. I see you, Peekaboo.

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Hide and seek, don’t you peek, count to 10, then we’ll see if you can’t find me. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5…He hides under the drying rack, nearly knocking it over. It startles me but luckily I’m close enough to catch it just in time. It’s potty time. I turn on the music – our Super Simple Songs. He loves them; mommy and daddy do too. While seated, he’ll play with his toy cups, nesting one colorful cup into another. He’s been sitting still for a quarter of an hour. The potty’s empty. The time’s not right. Later, in his diapers, where it’s nice and warm.

I’m hungry. I put the cheese spread on the cracker. B. wants some. He spits it out. I clean after him. I go back to chewing. He keeps looking at me with his big brown eyes, squealing like a bunny. Surprisingly (or not), this time he’ll eat it up. Would you like some jelly? Yuck! He puts his fingers in his mouth, wiping them against his newly washed T-shirt. Oops! I forgot the bib again and we’re short of hankies. I wipe his mouth with my hand. B. hates having his face wiped. He glares at me, his cheeks flushing. I take him by the hand, humming a nursery rhyme as we enter the bedroom. We take off his shirt together. He begins to fidget. He needs some cuddling. We share a moment. Closing my eyes, I sniff him as the mommy bear sniffs her cub. I love how he smells. I put my arms around him and cuddle him close. He’s warm and tender. I caress his head and kiss his neck. He opens his mouth wide as if for a bite. We’re overjoyed. We change his clothes and diapers; he cooperates.

Back in the kitchen, I’ll put away the dishes. What do you have in your mouth? B’s frowning, looking rather perplexed. His face changes all the colors of the rainbow. He runs into the living room and back into the kitchen. My hands are wet. I am putting my index and middle fingers inside his mouth, moving them around, feeling his teeth, his tongue and palate. Something tiny is stuck behind his lower central incisors. I take it out. It’s a chili pepper seed. A moment of recollection: I am eating dinner. I take a good bite of a red hot chilly paper; it’s so juicy that it bursts open. I see a small seed fall down. B’s sleeping. I’ll pick it up later…

I give him water and honey. It’s no use. Cookies. Jelly. More jelly. He sheds a tear. I tickle his stomach lightly. Though causing discomfort, he is smiling. A moment later, he opens his mouth as wide as he can and bursts into tears. Hey, hey, it’s ok baby. Everything’s gonna be ok. We’ve gone to great lengths to get that smile going. My positive mood is still on. It needs to be. He starts laughing. We’re good.