Thoughts on the article “My Not Drinking Bothers Friends”

“My Not Drinking Bothers Friends”by Megan Knas was posted on the front page of CNN.com today. With a title like that, how could I ignore it? You can read it here, but I’ll give you the bullet points (aka direct quotes):

  • When I first quit drinking, having to say no to cute cocktails and slender-stemmed wine glasses filled me with bottomless shame.
  • I’ve since grown into my life as a non-drinker — a life without starting awake covered in sweat and wringing my hands as I fumble to recall what I said or did in the previous hours — and embraced my choice to abstain.
  • I sleep like a kitten. I feel clearer and calmer than I ever did during my decade-long stint with booze. I enjoy beautiful mornings. I don’t let secrets slip.
  • When you’re sober, especially if you want to stay that way, you have to be at peace with where you are.
  • You have to believe you’re already where you need to be.
  • If someone makes the difficult choice to quit drinking, it’s quite possibly to save her life, not a commentary on anyone else’s and definitely not an issue to be mocked or interrogated at a social gathering.

I can’t seem to support Knas more. It’s refreshing to find a successful writer such as herself (published on cnn.com, that’s a big deal!) and enjoying life. She mentions how much she enjoys dancing while being sober. Couldn’t support you more, sister!

Personally, I don’t drink. It’s just something that I do not enjoy, something that I don’t want to spend time doing. Plus one side of my family has a bit of a history with alcohol, so it’s something I”d rather avoid. Like Knas, I don’t judge people for drinking. That’s like when friends tell me not to judge them for eating potato chips. Silly.

Another bonus point she makes, on which I agree: What’s better than living in the moment, living in the now?

If the reality in which we live isn’t the reality that we desire, booze won’t make that reality better…it’ll only soften the edges or blow up our into more difficult problems, broken hearts, dissolved friendships. Tends to make you-know-what hit the fan, fast.

And that’s messy.

So I’m not saying booze is bad or drinking is the devil. We each have our own personal reasons for not engaging in certain activities, and I have mine for not drinking.  We are “allowed” to do what we want to do as adults, without peer pressure. Save that card  for middle school dances.

Baby Boomers and Technology

Last night I got a phone call from my dad asking me how to load his iPhone with music from iTunes. This would’ve been an okay request, if I wasn’t already asleep and if I hadn’t been working that evening on work-related stuff (i.e., pleasant” would have been an antonym of my mood). It also would’ve been a-okay request if he purchased his iPhone recently…but he’s had it for over a year. Or maybe he’s never used iTunes before? Wrong again. He purchased a shuffle THREE YEARS AGO and is very familiar with the system. Or wait. No, I know what it is! He’s one of those self-proclaimed computer “illiterate” and doesn’t “get along with technology”? Incorrecto. He purchased a black-and-white laptop when I was 4 years old…meaning, he was ahead of the curve (gosh I loved Math Blaster!)

Yesterday I was at a conference about childhood obesity. Out of the 5 presenters, three stated at the beginning of their Powerpoint presentations that they were “technologically challenged” and therefore needed help finding out how to start the Powerpoint. Start it. Like, how to begin the presentation. Initiate the ppt.

Now, I’m all for helping people with technology, being patient (patience, baby boomer grasshopper!) with the student, etc. I realize baby boomers did not grow up with computers like I did and did not have a Microsoft Office class in college. And I realize, yes, that there are people from Gen Y who don’t “work well” with computers.

But there is a tipping point. If these baby boomers can’t keep up with basic technology like Word and Ppt, how can they even function in the office? If those presenters I saw were at a sales meeting…BOOM! customers lost. People expect you to know how to use Office. It’s not even on resumes anymore because it’s just implied that you know how to use it. It’s sink or swim baby.

So let’s teach a (wo)man to fish here. Go to a continuing ed class. Get your unemployed college student to show you how to use these “dern computers that have a mind of their own.” But don’t expect to stay afloat in the rapidly developing work world if you don’t know that F5 STARTS THE POWERPOINT EVERY. SINGLE. TIME.

Rant. Check.

“Oooh PEOPLE”

Sometimes when someone makes an unsolicited comment about something, all you gotta do to survive the situation is take a deep breath, say “oooooh people,” and laugh. I probably do this exercise about once every other day and it gets me through!

Some examples:

1) Handing out surveys in the employee cafeteria, asking people to fill them out.

Man: “I don’t want to fill that out.”

Me: “But it’s for customer relations, so we can improve the food for you, the customer.”

Man: “I still don’t want to fill it out. But what I will tell you is this…the food SUCKS on the weekend.”

What’s my internal response? Oooohhhhh people.

2) Starbucks…a female customer with an unsolicited opinion at Starbucks, several times each a lovely, considerate, and joyous event

Woman: “Could you guys go any slower making my drinks?”

Woman: “By the way, I’m the woman who comes through the drive through with the really picky orders. In case you didn’t know.”

Woman: “Oh, my drinks ready? Betcha you guys got it wrong. Pssh.”

Alright. Those are the only instances I have on record right now. But I assure you, oh people happens multiple times a day.

Love me some good people.

The Power and Art of the Compliment

I didn’t realize what role compliments play in my life. Not that I need constant praise to function, but there is a time & place, ya know? I never complained when I got a “cute SHOES!” or a “You got that at Anne Taylor, right?” from my sorority sisters. You never know how much a compliment can cheer up someone’s day (even if it is about something worldly like clothes or shoes).

And since I know how uplifting compliments can be, I try to pass them along to others. I mean, impacting people in a positive manner is something that I am all about (hello Dietitian and positive change!) and I like bringing that compliment/positivity aspect wherever I go. It’s hard NOT to give compliments, I just love giving!

But I don’t think people realize how powerful compliments truly are until those positive words are gone. Course, you can only realize this once you’ve been away from a familiar environment, without close friends and family members nearby. Some people choose not to step out in the light of change and growing older, changing environments, states, whatever you want to call it.

Obviously this topic came to mind because I am feeling some sort of lack of praise lately. The only non-family member source of compliments has been in my cycling class today with a “keep it up!” or a “you can do it!” Again, not that I need recognition, but it doesn’t hurt to have it. Otherwise, I am living in this sort of world where I just hop from project to project, with constant editing and some sort of future final project. I do love me some completion of projects though. Can’t wait. Sidebar.

Recognition is a motivator for some people (along with salary, benefits, flex-time, etc) and I never considered myself one of those people who lived on recognition. But I think, to some extent, positive feedback is necessary for human survival.

Another reason why I could never live alone on an island. Or in a bunker when 2012 kills the majority of humanity. Though the conversations between myself and I would get super cra-zy funny. But literally, crazy.

Something to think about!

All nerded out

As if it wasn’t evident already…what with the LOST fetish, a slightly more advanced knowledge base about Star Wars (original) than the generic 22 year old female, and a desire to know all that is computers and technology at CNET, I’d say that I pretty much nerd out the apartment complex for the median aged 32 year olds (and 2.3 kids).

But my newest nerdy thing is…and don’t say “I didn’t see this coming,” because you totally did…

NPR.

That’s right. Get used to it.

I got some super cool podcasts like All Things Considered and Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me  along with a few from non-NPR sites like howstuffworks.com and The Moth. I listened to the JAX NPR today which informed me that in February there will be a special on the early days of surgery…what surgeries were totally botched and how they got to the modern operating table.

Maybe it started with watching a special about Louisa May Alcott (author of Little Women). Or maybe with (begrudgingly) watching Antiques Roadshow with my mom. No es importa.

So now what’s an out-of-the-closet-nerd to do? Embrace it.  Wear spandex around the condo to keep warm and use earplugs at night to block out sound. Listen to NPR on my 6 minute commute to work.

Wait, did I just lose a bunch of friends?

I don’t wear glasses, have a calculator on my person at all times, or headgear at night (does a retainer count?). But my name is Christine, and I am a nerd. So there.

Breaking the habit of looking for “the ring”

Not sure who Kathleen and William are, but I wish them the best!

I went to a coffee shop last night with my roommate and an acoustic singer guy was playing there. It was the kind of charming coffee shop where the wood beams are exposed and has old brick walls with a hardwood floor. The kind of place where an acoustic singer plays music while you sit and chat about life’s deeper meanings. The kind of place where you people-watch at cute little babies who watch right back at you.

But I couldn’t get it out of my mind…Baylor trained me to always look for the wedding ring on a guys hand. Maybe it wasn’t Baylor, persay, that trained me to do this. Maybe it was the culture, who knows. It feels hardwired. Like, as soon as I met a male, my mind hones in on the ring like a heat seeking missile.

The guitarist sang/played at least 7 songs that I knew well…like “Chasing Cars” and “Run” by Snow Patrol, “Falling Slowly” by Glen Hansard, and “Volcano” and “O” by Damien Rice…AND he was cute and really normal looking. It’s like all these things were aligning and then *BAM!* ring.

At first I was disappointed. But then, almost as quickly, I immediately reflected back to so many conversations I’ve had with sorority sisters about marriage, long term relationships, etc on the phone, on Skype, and on Bear Trail walks. About how it’s okay to be single, okay to not have a boyfriend/husband in our early twenties. Look at the rest of the United States and it’s different, the average marriage age isn’t 21 (*cough cough BAYLOR*), so what’s the rush? Why feel guilty for being single and enjoy being unattached to a significant other? Not that it’s bad to be married or attached at a young age if you’ve found the right person of course and don’t feel pressured to marry solely because of Ring By Spring rule. And yes, it is a rule.

And then I started thinking about the Feminine Mystique and the I-AM-WOMAN, stop-pressing-me, do-your-OWN-laundry, liberate-the-female mindset.

And then I just laugh at myself and say “oh Baylor.

Why natural disasters are good

Woah woah, hold up. Don’t beat me down with a bat just yet.

Pretend that the Haiti “situation” didn’t happen yet…. Ok, now read.

Natural disasters are great. I’m not exactly busy prayin’ for natural disasters to strike, but they are good because they highlight areas of the world that were already devastated from poverty, civil unrest, and famine (I’m not going to refer to Hurricane Katrina/New Orleans but you could totally go there…if you wanted). They don’t make the impoverished live better lives, no. That’s not what I meant. But natural disasters allow the outside world (those that aren’t living in the devastated area) to physically see it on the news or on the internet and gives them the opportunity to do something about it right then.

So why are natural disasters good? Because the most developed species on the planet (um, humans!) can chill out, take a few minutes out of their pre-scheduled, iCal-maxed-out lives to contemplate how other humans are suffering in the world and respond to this suffering by financial, spiritual, or a mental-ponderings-type donation.

I guess thinking about the problem is the first step to acknowledging it, though praying, donating, or physically doing something is better, in my opinion. And then doing usually follows thinking.

Don’t get me wrong, the events in Haiti are horrific. Absolutely heart wrenching. It instills pain in my heart.

But part of me wants to tell you that if you didn’t know Haiti was bad before the earthquake…well…I don’t know. Or if you chose to ignore the civil unrest (under-state-ment) in Africa, before it hit the news…well…then, I don’t know what to tell you. Or if you didn’t know there are huge disparities of wealth in most all major cities in the U.S. causing homelessness, gang wars, rapes, and illegal drug distribution…well, then, again, I don’t know what to tell you.

We can choose to ignore that parts of the world are in trouble. People are suffering, dying, not living lives as the human race was designed to live. Or we can choose to do something about it.

Which will you be?