How’s the Weather Up There?

A blogger I enjoy reading mentioned she is on the shorter side. I was surprised; she writes with a comfortable confidence and lexicon. She bestows advice, sounds self-assured, and describes life events that intimidate me.

I had pictured her tall.

And, I hadn’t realized I pictured her as tall.

Also, I didn’t realize that I had yet again broken a personal rule: don’t judge another as ye hate to be judged.

I may not have made up the phrasing for that rule on my own, but it’s how I feel. Most of my life I’ve heard or felt or experienced opinions based solely on appearance. My sorest issue is age: “Oh, that’s because you’re young,” “You’re too young to have seen this….” “Wow. You’re so young!” Hardly something to complain of, I know; yet, it’s a way of demeaning me and my wisdom, experience, and perspective. I have felt a distinct shift in treatment after another woman learns my age.

Another box I hate being placed in is the female one. Because I have boobs I must automatically like Pinterest, have my nails done, watch ….(what are women watching these days?) The Bachelor?, read romance novels, enjoy the color pink, and not have a reasonable opinion about politics or mechanical objects.

The list continues, and is the main source of why I hate being categorized.

I forget that I turn around and apply the same principle all over the place with height. I probably forget this because I am usually taller than other women and enjoy a small level of not being bothered or harassed as much because of it.

That, and my RBF. …Something I also learned the term for recently, because my expression may have scared people away from enlightening me…

The point is that I simply did not know I was hypocritical when it came to height until I finally got some higher altitude, and shortly thereafter met my husband’s family. This initial realization came about around 18 years ago.

His family is mostly very intelligent and talented as he is …and is on the shorter side. His oldest sister barely reaches 5 feet tall with static in her hair; her husband just an inch or two over. When I first met this sister and her family I thought something like, They’re like cute, little hobbit people. I’ve also thought some sort of wonderment that they are whole, complete, extremely bright and opinionated peoples (their entire little family, including all six children they now have) and yet are so small.

Like, how rude is that?

The second time I distinctly noticed I had become a height-ist was when I met my only brother’s wife. She’s taller than I and I found the experience disconcerting. I realized I walked about the world acting like the pickup truck in a lane of sedans.

It’s true.

I mean, I am unfailingly polite to strangers. I am deferential to people like store clerks or overladen mothers or anyone approaching a door or the elderly. When I pay attention, however, I see others automatically yield the right of way. I am given a space in conversation. I am listened to when I apply myself. I had nothing to contribute to the #metoo movement and was confused by how many females had issues.

Is it really all due to height?

I’m certain it helps.

Way back when I took an acting class in college, we learned about rôles. We read that every single time a person interacts with another he engages in a psychological exchange; a battle, even. The result of this is an assignment of rôles and a placement of one person over the other. We learned it in relation to how we needed to act a scene, but I’ve found the idea revelatory in the real world.

Height or lack thereof places one in a higher or lower position, literally.

For my part, I can’t help it. I’m not going to chop off my legs or walk around on my knees. (Although I have noticed I slouch more around a room of shorters and stand more upright in tallers.) On the flip side, we’re not likely to give less-tall peoples stilts, either.

Instead, let’s remember two important things:
I can, and am willing to, reach the cookies on the shelf above the fridge for others.
And, shorter people live longer (according to my husband).

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A Little From Column A

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I’m fairly private about religion, political opinions, and social security numbers of family.

I keep the last item private for obvious reasons; the first two are more complicated. Mostly, I hate being categorized. My husband doesn’t get it.

“I love being put in categories,” he says. “I don’t understand why you don’t.”

I sigh. “Because I’m not ever put into good categories.”

My 18-40 white male breadwinner who works in the technical industry and has above-average intelligence looks back at me, confused.

From the limited mental capacity of over a decade of child-rearing, stay-at-home housekeeping, and intentional numbing; I attempt to talk expound.

Problem is, I have difficulty. Maybe it’s that limited mental capacity thing I admitted to just now. That, and I am nearly crippled at the idea of conversation. Challenges within conversation take out any other remaining limbs. Finish off with a general uncertainty and low self-esteem, and you’re lucky you caught the words I thought to type tonight.

I do not want to be categorized because of the limitations that puts on my character.

know that others’ opinions ought not to play into my self-esteem at all. I hear that I should just be me and everyone will love me for it. I think, sometimes, to try it out.

Then, telling the mother of an acquaintance that I think unborn babies preaching the gospel to spirits in heaven sounds wonky gets me labeled as anti-her religion. Asking a close friend to not disparage feminist viewpoints lands me in his radical/liberal/male-stabbing/unreasonable/lesbian camp. Suggesting that making one’s kids dress nicely for special events causes a sudden drop-off in the number of texts from the mother I suggested this to.

Where are all these people who will like me for who I am? Are they hiding in their own categories somewhere?

How can I expect to enjoy the sensation of being stuffed in a box when I’m left to sit uncomfortably, in the dark, and listen to the retreating steps of the one(s) who put me in there?

Picture Source: Pixabay

Petites Boîtes

When I was but a francophiliac teenager, we learned a song titled “Petites Boîtes.” The first stanza of lyrics is as follows:

Petites boîtes très étroites
Petites boîtes faites en ticky-tacky
Petites boîtes, petites boîtes
Petites boîtes toutes pareilles.

Translated back to the English version written by Malvina Reynolds from Graeme Allright’s fun-sounding word-rhymes, it says:

Little boxes, on the hillside
Little boxes made of ticky-tacky
Little boxes on the hillside
Little boxes all the same.

The obvious gist of the song is that everyone goes through life staying in these boxes that look the same, that they’ve always been in: growing up in the same neighborhood, attending university, making children, their children follow exactly the same path; we even die and are put in boxes in the ground.

I hate boxes.

When I converse with people, I begin squirming at social categorization. Ironically, I have (of course) already placed the other person into neat little groups in my mind. Ah, he’s wearing a camouflage coat and just got out of his jacked-up pickup truck. As he strokes his mustache and stubble, I can tell he must be in favor of: hunting animals, no gun control, and (perhaps) being suspicious of all authority figures.

Meanwhile, I feel like parking down the block so no one sees that I came by minivan. I dislike discussing religion or politics. When asked about favorites, I sweat.

Thing is, I may fit into many of these boxes (petites boîtes -it’s so fun to say!). I just don’t like the idea that someone places me immediately into one, only one, and assumes I’ve all the associated characteristics of someone else who also might behave in a way that places him or her in there.

So… I tend to introduce myself in a way that shakes up typical introductory patterns. “Hi, I’m Chelsea and I can write with my toes,” or “My favorite food? Good food, definitely.” Or, most often, I’m going to just sit and nod and pretend I also like what’s-her-name-Gaines and that I actually watch TV and so they assume I can hang out in their little corner of interests.

Mature, I’m sure. Perhaps you, the reader, have a better approach.

In the meantime, I’ve got to get into my mom-van and pick up children from school, as part of a carpool. I’ll be listening to alternative music on the way and acting like I own a much different vehicle.

I’ve always wanted a lifted pickup truck and camouflage jacket…

Raindrops, Roses, Packages, String

Rose Rain

People ask about favorite things as a way to categorize others.

I can’t help but feel the ensuing pressure of this demand: I must say something recognizable, not too questionable, that I actually do like, and that is impressive.

Take books, for example. I take books quite often -or, I did when I had more free time. As a child I had very definite favorite authors; but, more so, I had favorite pieces of specific works I enjoyed.

In truth, that follows for nearly all creative works I encounter. At moments of life or in viewing or listening or feeling art in its various forms, I fondly recall a certain passage I encountered before.

No, those passages are not always from impressive works.

I find I think of them because, at that moment, the creator was able to express what I am feeling or thinking.

Given the limitations of language and art, that is a difficult feat.

I’m sure the questioner of a conversation does not intend to incite such anxiety in the responder. I can’t help but feel on the spot, however -that here is my one job-interview-type chance to connect with another.

Since this is a fairly impersonal medium, I began this post intending to list a few favorites. Given the hesitations I admitted to; you, the reader, have been treated to my explanations and apologies initially.

Now that we are more properly acquainted and thoroughly derailed off topic, I will return to the original idea.

Once, in high school, we were assigned to list all the things in life we loved. I cannot remember the exact parameters of the instructions, but I thought deeply about what things evoked a very specific, excited response.

There were, of course, feelings associated with intimate relationships or enjoying a thrilling amusement park.

More so, however, I focused on a sort of happy bubbling deep inside that occurred when I spoke or thought of a thing.

These are what I am most interested in listing. I’ll address books or movies at a later date.

Today, my favorite things would include the following:

  1. Blanketing snow on a cold, winter morning.
  2. Happiness lighting a child’s face.
  3. Finishing a challenging exercise.
  4. Coming home to a tidy house.
  5. Appreciation for my writing or art.
  6. The morning after rain.
  7. Running in the rain.
  8. An impending storm.
  9. Rich, delicious chocolate.
  10. Giving someone a gift s/he really wanted.
  11. Contrasts of color painted by Nature.
  12. History, particularly in old buildings or artifacts.
  13. Driving to a new place.
  14. A deep conversation with a good friend.
  15. Sprinting.

Whether you list it or not, what makes you happy? What events, thoughts, or experiences elicit a happy bubbling inside you?