High jinks and utter foolishness at the grocery

Excitement awaits you in the soup aisle

I know this probably sounds a little strange but visiting the grocery store can be a rewarding and educational experience and yes, it is a bit thrilling. I suppose that it helps to play these things up because in reality grocery shopping can be one of those elements of the daily grind that can really grind one up. It’s a boring chore of the mundane that can drive anyone crazy. Since I’m a mom to two growing teenagers I am forced to go food shopping on an a constant basis.

I pride myself on my shopping prowess and I am quite the shopping cart driver. I can turn on a dime and I am faster than you’d think so get out of my way. I am on a mission here. I have no time for doubt or indecision. Get what you need and go. I have no time for slow pokes blocking the aisles.  Long lost lovers reuniting, old people arguing about soup and especially the one’s who park right in the middle and disappear; leaving their cart to parts unknown.  Those are the worst. I try to carefully move their cart out of the way and if they catch me at it I get the dirtiest looks, its like I am molesting their produce or something.. I am tempted to throw small and expensive items like scented pine nuts and organic razor blades into their carts in hopes they are forced to pay for them.

I suppose at times I can get somewhat territorial and a bit hostile. It is a jungle out there. And It’s everyone for themselves. I have seen acts of desperation and cowardice. I myself have been victimized, my thick wad of coupons stolen from under my nose along with my grocery list to add insult to injury.  I have been hit up by crooked foodstampers who want to commit food stamp fraud with me, hit on by the Pepsi guy, insulted by the Cheetoes guy and screamed at by a small child who wanted my mint chocolate chip ice cream.

I have learned to be tough and ruthless. I have learned about double couponing and what happens when you bag up lavender scented snuggle dryer sheets with dove dark chocolate and, I have learned much about my fellow humans.

I liken it to a jungle and it is.  It reminds me of a wildlife safari.  Each part of the store is like a different habitat; each with its own ecosystem.  The frozen food wastelands: the habitat of the eternal bachelor. He is easily identified by his bulging cart of frozen pizzas, canned chili and beer.  The organic food section sprinkled with pale hipsters in their 30’s who bring their own burlap shopping bags with inspirational messages written on them.  The lemon-scented cleaning product section: the lair of the harried mom ( you can find me between the Pine Sol and the Febreeze) and one of my all time favorite places; the colorful and the sugary, the cereal aisle!  This is the place for everyone to embrace their inner child.  Hey the Froot Loops box says it has more fiber. Who am I to argue?

So many spontaneous moments happen in the grocery store. It is the perfect place to see a cross-section of humanity. The strangest scenes will play out in the aisles and believe I’ve seen it all. It seems some people liken the grocery aisle to their dysfunctional living room and they will act accordingly.

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I go to a chain store that advertises one-stop shopping. That makes it interesting because it causes some items to mix with others that should not mix;  Ortho Lawn Be Gone and Kraft Macaroni and cheese with chain saws, diapers and 12 different kinds of olives, for example. Throw in a Starbucks,  a deli, a bank, a optomistrist and a day care center and you have more than a store… you have a lifestyle.

It also makes for some interesting sights and it certainly can be a convenience for weary shoppers. Take furniture for instance; it is hard to turn down a nice soft sit down on a comfy new sofa showcased next to the Doritos and bean dip. It is a common occurrence to see shoppers sprawling out on the furniture.  I’ve seen people reading books, eating a sack lunch and playing games on their phone. I’ve seen old men napping and a young mother nursing her fussy infant. It seems the store not only approves of this but encourages it with big screen Hi Def T.V.’s tuned to The Sports Channel with cases of cheap beer a scant few feet away.

Food shopping can be quite the experience, every trip is a new adventure.  At the very least I’ll get the makings of tonight’s dinner and a wee bit of my money will be set free out there to swim with the others, reproduce and stimulate the economy.  So.. Happy Shopping! It’s the American way and remember Buy Local;)

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Strawberryindigo.

Busyness

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 What’s the rush?

It seems most people are in a hurry these days, always on the run. A blur of activity. Many practically live out of their cars.  Ferrying themselves and their children from here to there, from work to home, to school, to activities. What’s for dinner is decided in the drive thru of a fast food joint and eaten in the backseat by sleepy children after a much too long day filled to the brim with busy.

Sleeping with no deadlines...There is literally no time. No time for this or that.  No time to talk..”gotta’ go”.  No time to eat, let alone cook a healthy meal. No time to say hello, or good-bye. No time for family or friends, no time to read a book or take a walk.  No time for improvement or creativity. Or fun?  No time for love. No time to stop and smell the roses or appreciate a beautiful sunset.

No time to think, or reason or ask why. No time to see the man behind the curtain.

Time ticks by and every moment; every second is a miracle. It is a gift and most of us, myself included, just plow right through it.  Always in a hurry.   Always a full agenda.  It can’t be helped, you know..I’ve said this to myself.  People have responsibilities.  I’m swimming in them and my life is full.   Sound familiar?

Busyness

How many times have you asked someone how they’ve been doing and your query was answered with “busy”  How many times have you said that?  I know I’ve said that.

It is the correct answer, most of us are busy. With jobs and families and everything else in this ever-changing ever evolving world.  Our society becomes faster paced and more complex.  The bar is set higher and higher and you better run faster and jump higher than the next guy because it’s a jungle out there.

BusynessEven when we are not busy, most of us say we are. Idleness is looked down upon. Busyness is related with importance.  An important man is a busy one and his time is more valuable than yours, so you wait.  The poor and insignificant spend a lot of time waiting.

Busy people are needed and wanted.  Busy people are in high demand. It is those that are the movers and the shakers in this world. It is the busy ones that get things done. The busier you are the more important you are and the more valuable your time is.

In Praise of Slowness

There is much to be said for slowness in our fast-paced society.  The fact that  the very concept of “slow” is seen in a negative light shows our need for the benefits that slowness brings.  It’s difficult to see clearly when your life in always in motion. Growth can only come with examination and reflection.

Life is not a road race or a competition. It’s the journey not the destination. Life is meant to be savored. The people in our lives are important, our children are important. You can do more for your child’s development and future success by talking and spending time with them rather than dragging them to a million activities and “enrichment” classes. Time spent together is essential.   Years from now when we are old and running out of it time will any of us look back with rue and regret about how we didn’t spend enough of it at Busyness?

 

Strawberryindigo.

Happiness is a warm teacher

School

I am fresh from a round of parent teacher conferences, between my two wonderful teenagers, I have now attended 19 of them during my continuing career as involved parent.  The last few have been “arena style”.  This style has come into vogue as of the last few years and I believe it adds to the surrealism of the event.

Imagine a large space, perhaps a cafeteria or gymnasium.  You are in the middle, surrounded by rows and rows of tiny desks.  At each one is seated a teacher.  Most are engaged in discussions with worry-faced parents.  There is an air or solemn soberness.  Most voices are hushed and not a wisp of laughter or small talk that usually accompanies large groups.  No, this is not a social event, like Back to School Night.  Like war, this is serious business and like war it is filled with short bursts of excitement mixed with long stretches of anxiety and boredom.

Every conference is unique unto itself and as the years pile on I have come to expect one thing; the unexpected. It is interesting to see your child, your beloved “perfect” child through the eyes of another.  It can surprise you and as one who has been surprised a number of times, I can attest to that wholeheartedly.

These surprise have been varied and thankfully never life-threatening.  Some in fact, a good number of them have been pleasant surprises.  I am blessed with  fantastic kids who have  given me many occasions to swell with parental pride.  However, I have experienced a time or two when I wanted to just sink right through the chair and  disappear into the  freshly polished checkerboard floor.

 It is on these occasions that the past gets the bite on me and I am transported back to the 80’s, back to the days of big hair and bad taste.  Back when I was a punky teen with an attitude and poor grades.  It feels like I am getting “busted” for something and all I want to do is run.

But I cannot run, I am a “responsible” adult and I must face the fire.  The fire being a stressed teacher with legitimate gripes about my child.  I smile.   I say all the right things, seemingly passing an untold test on the proper reaction to the given circumstances.  I have always been cooperative and I have tried to not take any of this too personally but, at times I have felt the sting of the hot lights of interrogation which upon reflection, seemed a bit much.

I try to put things in perspective but it is at these worst of times that stick in my worried mind and anxiety tends to creep in every year at conference time.  I have tried many methods to calm my nerves but really, all I can do at this point is to hold my breath, cross my fingers and hope for the best, and help pick up the pieces later.

 I vowed to make this year different.  I have found myself a bit more reflective since I have been writing in this blog these last few months and I’m realising that perhaps I have been projecting my old latent fears and struggles with school and authority figures from the past into now.  This is coloring my attitudes with regard to my role in these conferences.

Usually one’s unfounded fears never materialise they way they are expected and this current round of conferences proved to be no exception to that.   I took them for what they were, which was not so bad, really.  I guess that holding my breath and crossing my fingers paid off, not to mention the hard work by my kids with a lot of nagging by me.

 Number 18 went as smooth as can be.  No interrogation or hot lights.  The arena  had been abandoned for a more intimate setting in indivdual classrooms.  The report went well with progress made and hope for the future with an actual “A” mixed in….I was walking on air all the way to the next school and my date with number 19.

It was the end of a long morning, the sun shone through the cafeteria window drawing a bright beam of light across the stained linoleum.  The teacher smiles and offers me a seat.  We  exchange pleasantries. He tells me that my daughter is self-directed and motivated and that she too, has shown  progress.  We spent the rest of the time having a pleasant conversation about books.  Just two people; an energetic enthusiastic teacher and an involved parent having a talk about a mutually beloved subject.

  It will be these conferences I will endevor to remember  when it’s time for the next round.   (with some finger crossing too.)

 Wishing you blue skies and a happy day!

Strawberryindigo.