Blacky Blackiness: Adventures in retail on the craziest shopping day of the year.

 

 

spratt_rockwell_full thanksgivingI sit here tap tapping on my happy laptop. Stopping occasionally to take a sip of nice strong coffee and to gaze out the window. The house is toasty warm and filled with the comforting and enticing aroma of roasting turkey and dressing and yummy apple pie.

I am content. The house is quiet for the moment, only the faint sounds of traffic outside and the occasion caw from a crow.  I am glad to be able to take advantage of this lull before “the storm”

I admit I’m a tad bit apprehensive, anyone would be in my shoes. But mostly I am excited. Not the “oh I get to go to Disneyland” kind of excited or the “ooooh I have a dove bar” sort but more of the type you get when you are about to go on a trip to someplace exotic and far away, like the Twilight Zone or Never Never Land.

My newest foray into retail has given me the opportunity to experience my first Black Friday starting Thursday evening. Instead of being a crazed shopper I will be a crazed worker; manning a cash register with a scanner and smile at the ready.  

I know what you are thinking: Does she have adequate footwear?  I’m not sure on that, but regardless I am ready. Ready to face the stampede of maniac shoppers and gawkers of all shapes and sizes. I liken this to going into battle. It will be rough. It will test me and stretch me in ways I’ve never before experienced and by the time my shift is over and it’s time to leave I will have left stronger and wiser than when I entered.

If I survive….

stampede black friday
“OMG!!!” Cashmere-like sweaters for $1.99!

This night will separate the big girls from the little ones, the cats from the kittens and the serious hardcore bargain hunters from the mildly interested window watchers.

Have no doubt my comrades will be able to count on me to lead the charge!  I am not afraid! I will take that hill (whatever the hell that means) and I will charge up it!  Come on lads and ladies and follow me!

cat weird odd strange

I expect to get a battlefield promotion on this one. The whole store will throw me a parade in which I will be the grand marshal and the president of the company will fly down from headquarters and present me with a medal for bravery and a coupon good for half off any designer fragrance.  The mayor will attend and give me the key to the city and all kinds of cool junk too.

 

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Everyone will cheer and I will be a hero. Tales of my deeds will be told for a long time, days at least. In many of the departments: Menswear, shoes maybe even intimate apparel.  Oo la-la…

It is destiny my friends, there is nothing I can do to change it. You can say you knew me when.  (wink-wink)

stirlingblackwhip vintage woman

 

 It is like I have been preparing for this my whole life…

I will say now that I have never ever attended a Black Friday or Thursday shopping holiday free-for-all mob festival. I tend to seek peace and quiet and generally shun over-the-top consumerist events with large crowds of people.   It is ironic my first exposure will be as a worker not shopper.  I am however well versed in patience and stamina. I have been a mom for almost 20 years, this gives me special powers as any mother worth her salt can attest to.   I am unflappable and unstoppable. I have a will of iron with a peaceful core as soft as a feather bed but with nerves of steel.

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 H-E-L-P!!!

Who am I kidding?

I have all the exits planned out and marked in my head. I know of a supply closet I can hide in.  I’m no fool. I am bringing a thermos of coffee, ummmm Colombian…and a you guessed it, a turkey sandwich.. I will be bringing my “serenity now!” kit complete with a book of nature poetry , sandalwood incense and a portable miniature babbling brook.

Serenity now!!!
Serenity now!!!

Ha-ha…really, I don’t mind working on Black Friday and Thursday too.  There are advantages to the whole thing.  It’s an adventure. I’m a writer and I need to do that sort of thing, seldom does adventure come to me. I will have lots to write about after this. Expect the book, then soon after the screenplay.

Instead of spending money I don’t have I will be making money I can spend later on frivolities like food and fun stuff like mortgage payments and utility bills.  Most importantly this gives me the excuse to have Thanksgiving dinner a day early with my wonderful family in our warm home with turkey and stuffing and pie and everything else. We will all be together spending a glorious and very meaningful day creating new memories and savoring the old ones. We will be thankful for all of this and what does it matter what the calendar says?

vintage-thanksgiving-11

Yummy…yum, yum I’m starving...

So if I see you out there among the throng of shoppers wave a hello across the crowd, maybe we can exchange wisecracks or share a supply closet during a stampede. Just be sure to bring your visa card or at least a warm up on that coffee and if I don’t see you before the holiday…

Have a wonderful,  meaningful and blessed Thanksgiving.

Nancy

vintage thanksgiving kids turkey yum

 

 

Alice’s Restaurant – Original 1967 Recording ( A Thanksgiving tradition in certain circles)

 

The Worst Black Friday Disasters

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FEAR

 

“Here is the world. Beautiful and terrible things will happen. Don’t be afraid.”
― Frederick Buechner

 

Fear is insidious. It undulates and creeps around like a viper.  It whispers in our ears like the winds; howling and shaking and crying out. It demands our attention. It assumes control and commands there shall be no other gods before it.

Fear makes us think the unthinkable. It calls us to action at times and paralyzes us at others. It seizes all common sense and hijacks the imagination, forcing it to succumb to it’s will.  Fear is irrational. It claims to be all-knowing, all-seeing. It promises to share it’s insight for it insists it knows the future. It will take care of you. It will provide you with thoughts to think, things to do, and people to hate. It offers so much but leaves only emptiness in it’s wake.

Fear grows rampant in this crazy world. It’s no wonder since it has been used as a means of control since the very beginning.  Nothing motivates like fear and nothing can feed that mob mentality quite like it.

Throughout history there has never been a shortage of boogeymen. We have been taught to be afraid from the very beginning. Some of that fear has been benefical. Our early ancestors lived a life fraught with real life dangers, it paid off to be able to perceive threats and respond  quickly and efficiently. The physical effects of fear itself such as a quick dose of Adrenalin gives us quicker reflexes to be able to try to outrun that Saber-tooth Tiger or fight it off.

saber tooth tiger brave face the tiger

Not all fear is bad. Some of it is fun. We can get a vicarious thrill by watching scary movies. Haunted houses are popular at Halloween which is a major holiday in The United States. People go to amusements parks for that same thrill. Facing danger without truly facing it can be quite exhilarating. Science has proven our brains really don’t know the difference between a real and not so real threat. 

dracula pics-qDtU

There are forces in this world which feed off our fears. They distract us and manipulate our thinking. We don’t need them but they need us. It’s a new threat played out on TV, the internet, and in advertising and print media…everywhere. It is fed to us and it’s difficult to know who or what to believe. In times of doubt and uncertainty we tend to believe the authority figures we are trained to obey. Governments, the media, religion and even your 5th grade teacher and dear old mom have used the tactics of fear on us at one time or another. But we are all grown up now and ready to face the truth, whatever that may be, not what someone tells us it is.

Fear of disappointment
Fear of disappointment

  The only thing we have to fear….

Fear causes us to miss out on what is truly important to focus on the improbable. Most likely it will not be the object of our fears which will “get us” but something that hits from left field. If we have taken reasonable precautions in life there is nothing much more we can do to prevent that great unknown menace except for having a positive attitude.   There is no logical reason to worry. At this point any concern is counter-productive.

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That often quoted quote by FDR still rings true today maybe even more so.

“The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”
― Franklin D. Roosevelt

Fear-Mongering

Fear can hurt you literally. Fear effects our physical and mental well-being. The most common physical reactions are a rapid heart rate, increased blood pressure, sharpened or redirected senses and dilation of the pupils. Muscles tighten up and are primed with oxygen, in preparation for a physical fight-or-flight response.

Most of what we fear in this modern age we cannot fight or run away from. Many of us live with a certain amount of chronic fear, real or imagined. This weakens our immune system and can cause heart damage and gastrointestinal problems. Fear impairs the formation of long-term memories and causes damage to parts of the brain. This can make the impact so much worse because we lose the ability to regulate fear by rational thought.  We are more susceptible to intense emotions and impulsive reactions and our decision making processes are altered in negative ways.We are anxious, depressed, tired and old before our time.

 “Is it useful to feel fear, because it prepares you for nasty events, or is it useless, because nasty events will occur whether you are frightened or not?”

― Lemony Snicket

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Of course there are valid dangers in this world, much too many. It is within the realms of possibility, albeit a very slim possibility, I could walk out my front door and get hit by a meteorite. It is much more likely that I will proceed to my destination unharmed.  Most of our fears are the meteorite-type ones; dramatic dangers, hideous and terrible with the infinitesimal odds of ever happening. 

Credit: Jack Ohman
Credit: Jack Ohman

Most of us lead relatively uneventful lives and deaths. What are the chances of your typical average Josephine such as myself or you or anyone being killed in a terrorist attack, or from getting the “plague du jour”?  Not likely, but it seems the dramatics of the very possibility can supersede reason.

Being a person who has been afraid of most everything for most of my life I can testify to the needlessness of fear and how it can control you and keep you from living life to it’s fullest.  I can also say that it can be overcome. I know most have never been afraid to the extent of myself but I do know I can’t be the only one who has experienced this intense emotion. Any fear is valid because it feels that way to the one experiencing it and it’s difficult to step outside of an accustomed way of thinking. Face the dragon and the dragon will dissolve before your eyes. We are more powerful than we believe.

 Have a fearless day,

Nancy

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Warning!!

You are about to enter SBI’s Gallery of FEAR!

Enter at your own risk…

 

adam eve eden snake
Evil knowledge

 

el diablo devil vintage creepy
Scary Evil Dude. Boo!

 

1957---invasion-of-the-saucer-men movie fear vintage
Aliens!!

 

Cold-War-Ads-and-Propaganda-Main fear
Bad Communists

 

vintage fear invasion
Invasion!

 

Bad drugged out zombie people
Bad drugged out zombie people
Fear mongering: Probably the best-known example in American politics is the Daisy television commercial, a famous campaign television advertisement.
Fear mongering: Probably the best-known example in American politics is the Daisy television commercial, a famous campaign television advertisement.

 

islamophobia fear
Islamophobia

 

 References and related articles

 

Impact of Fear and Anxiety

Viral Outbreak – Fear – Chaos as Means of Control

The Bogeyman (Wikipedia)   Bogeyman-like beings are almost universal, common to the folklore of many countries.

How to Spot a Communist

“Daisy Girl” Rare 1964 Lyndon Johnson Political Ad -aired only once- 9/7/64 

Duck And Cover (1951) Bert The Turtle Civil Defense Film

Wisdom from Unlikely Places

I have found wisdom in unlikely places. In places some would say there is none to be found. In long dark hotel hallways at 3 am and brightly lit hospital corridors at seven fifteen. I have heard it come from the mouths of sweet innocent children and raving lunatic drunks…whispered by the howling wind, written in misspelled curse words scrawled on subway walls.

Wisdom can be hard-fought and long won over the ages. It can be found by standing on the shoulders of giants. It can be located in the deep dusty corners of one’s mind patiently awaiting attention. Wisdom can take flight into insight and explode into enlightenment. It can descend into fire and chaos and emerge like the Phoenix. Wisdom is golden. It is the light.

gold sunset ocean sea light glitter

 

Wisdom is like stained glass. Cracked and beautiful, letting the light shine through. Breaking into a million pieces…

 I carefully pick up the broken shards. Each one unique and beautiful in it’s own way. The truth is not always beautiful but the seeking of it is. I accept each begotten piece, judging them not but embracing them for what they are; glimpses of knowing and experiencing. Windows into the heart and the soul and oh yes. an open door to glorious understanding.

Credit: Copyright © Janet Hince and Heart To Harp, 2010 – 2014.

The truth does not question me, why do I question the truth? It remains in the eye of the beholder but I seek a more unblinking eye of logic and find none exists.  Whatever we are and whatever we do we cannot separate ourselves from our very human feelings and these feelings can cloud our vision and effect our reality, at times to our detriment. It’s easy to doubt the validity of a message due to the doubtfulness and dubiousness of it’s messenger but in all rationality can the truth cease to be the truth if comes from something or someone we dislike? Something bad or wrong or evil?

 

eye evil dark scare fear

 

Can we learn from wickedness? Can a exquisite flower spring up from frozen lifelessness? Can a seed of understanding be gleaned from a stark and abandoned field? Can adversity, fear and pain teach us anything? What about dark and horrible things? What can beauty learn from ugliness?

flower snow crocus purple

Some of the most beautiful people have suffered and they understand; knowing firsthand the power of love and compassion. Being in the position of having to rely on the kindness of strangers is apt to make one a kinder stranger…a kinder person…

Rose Meaning quote thorns

As so it goes. All we can do is gather our pieces of wisdom, saving some for a rainy day or to chew on later on some idle Tuesday. We can store them in forgotten boxes under the bed or we can bring them out and use them for the good and betterment of us all.

Stuff to ponder I suppose…

~Nancy

 

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Stephane Grappelli & Michel Petrucciani – Misty

Cavorting with Nature

 

 

 

It happened so quickly: a flutter of wings, a white flash..and then I saw them…two cavorting butterflies, cabbage whites, I think.  Fluttering all around me; my head and legs, coming so close I can feel the gentle breeze on my face created by the fritterings of their little wings.  I sit as still as I can and take in this surreal and glorious moment. Then just as abruptly as they appear they flutter off together into the blue October sky.  It was quite a moment and strange as it sounds I got the idea they were thanking me for something. A place to cavort perhaps. A resting place amid the growing greenness in this nondescript urban oasis that is my backyard. A wildish place of ordered chaos. A pesticide-free zone with a little bit for everyone. Native plants and more. Providing nectar and seeds and shelter and safe spots to forage with berries and tomatoes and lots of tasty bugs and worms.

A respite from the lifeless urban jungle of hard concrete and indifference.

 

 

Hummingbird and Pineapple Sage
Hummingbird and Pineapple Sage

 

These moments bring me such joy; my encounters with the urban wildlife that visit my garden.   There are  the squirrels who compete for nuts with the squawky jays. They are beautifully blue and like to fly from rooftop to rooftop swooping down in the yard hunting and catching insects.

Along with the white butterflies, there are bees galore, buzzing from here to there, intermixed with hover-flies which seem to defy gravity. These beneficial insects love the sweet asylum that seeds itself freely and grows every summer against the southern wall that borders the driveway. This once barren slab of cement now teems with exuberant life. The other side is filled with a hodgepodge of annuals and perennials.

It resembles more of a science experiment than a tidy yard. I’ve never been a very tidy person but the urban fauna doesn’t seem to mind.

And as the season progresses and as October turns to November my time in the garden has decreased in fact admittedly, it has been nearly a week since I have been back here.   I take advantage of a much needed sunny day and plan to spend some time working and appreciating. All the work I do know will pay off next Spring.

Of course I leave much of the wildness for the urban wildlife who will winter here.

 

All the remain of the once vibrant yellow Susans are the jet black seed pods which the chickadees and finches have been devouring with a flourish. 

 

goldfinch-eating-black-eyed-susan bird
Goldfinch on Black-eyed Susan

I am always reflective this time of year and I do much of my reflecting back here. The fuchsia is still blooming and the Pineapple Sage is in it’s full glory. It’s scarlet spires provide nectar to the hummingbirds which still visit as the season progresses and progresses it does. The leaves have changed and many have fallen to the ground. I can hear them crunch under my feet. My mind goes back to the white butterflies and my brief encounter with them just a couple weeks ago. I haven’t seen any since.  Our next meeting will have to wait for Spring when they return. And so will the Canada Geese that I hear flying overhead, their distinct honking flooding the sky with such riotous sound. This brings me back to Autumn’s past. It is these living harbingers of winter who make me sit and pause and reflect upon life and time.   It will be the Geese again who will prompt the same reflection upon their return.

 

Canada Geese flying in V formation
Canada Geese flying in V formation

 

And now it is my turn to say thank you to the fantastic world around us. From the smallest proton to the largest supernova…from the tiny microbe in the soil to the hummingbird to the black and white house cat to the awestruck and humbled human. We are all connected and what a beautiful thing is that.

 

Have a fantastic day!

Nancy

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“…Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting –
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.”

Mary Oliver

goose-picture-3

Frank Sinatra – Come Fly With Me

YOU are not alone and neither am I

 

shadow woman waiting dark

I have wasted too much of my life being afraid. Afraid of sharing my unique self with the world. Keeping my little jokes to myself for fear of someone not getting them, not getting me. Afraid to speak up, afraid to say anything at all. I blended into the background as best as I could. Trying not to be “discovered”.

I kept in my own little world for fear of living in the real world. And that is what that fear was doing to me; it was preventing me from living at all. I responded to events, I never initiated them. I never tried my best at anything for fear that my best wasn’t good enough.

Fear is isolating. It self perpetuates; feeding on doubts and insecurities. My fear kept me away from people, from getting to know anyone. Even my own family. I would don a placid and vaguely pleasant mask that I wore for the social events I couldn’t get out of.  I was labeled shy and thus ignored, and I liked that for a time… but as my life passed and I found it more and more difficult to convince myself that I enjoyed being alone in a crowd; never sharing my thoughts, my hopes, my dreams, my opinions. It never occurred to me that others could feel the same. I think loneliness has a way of making one think they are the only person in the world who has ever felt the way they do.

stars shadow lake night

Perhaps it was my loneliness which caused to to reach out.  I have discovered that loneliness is quite common, many of us are lonely. Some hide it well but it shows in the eyes. It shows in the constant seeking some people do; the restlessness, the looking for that something they can’t seem to find.

I have found that something and that is this glorious truth;  by reaching out to others, others reach out to you too. I have been encountering such beautiful souls…wonderful people who shine like the sun. Some of them don’t think they shine at all but they do and that light warms us all in this cold world.

We need more of this. This world is dark and cold and we need those special people out there, the quiet ones out there in the shadows, hiding…waiting perhaps for someone to notice them and beckon them out into the light. I understand you. I am one of you and you are not alone.

 

Contemplation

Part of me wants to shout out from the rooftops: I am here!  I exist!  I yearn to make a difference in the world!

(Another part of me wants to run and hide and blend into the background.)

This time I won’t allow it.  I will wear my heart on my sleeve and I won’t give a damn what some may think or say. I won’t let fear run my life, rule me. I won’t be afraid of opening my heart, my mind, of freeing my soul to something wonderful that I cannot yet see. I will free myself from fear…those of you who fear like me, you can too…

You can. Take my hand… We can come out into the light together and together we shine like a million suns…

 

shadow kids-in the sunset

 

Thanks for being there and listening. Thanks for reading my blog and for commenting. Thanks for accepting me as I am. My confidence grows daily.  It is through my writing and because of it that I can come out into the light and be the person I’m meant to be.  

 

~Nancy

*

The Beatles – Eleanor Rigby

The Comfort Zone

 

gif water flow

 

Change comes in starts and fits; it ebbs and flows along the river of life–always moving, flowing along…each moment bleeding into the next . The seasons change. Exuberant Spring quickly turns to lush Summer and then is gradually replaced by the deepening beauty of Autumn. I feel every part of it; this cycle of life.  It seemed there was a time not very long ago when life was eternally young. I was always in a hurry to get on with things. It was always “what’s next?”.  It wasn’t until I grew a bit older and became a mother; when I was able to see life vicariously through a pair of newer but different eyes, that’s when I realized the significance of these small seemingly insignificant moments.

Being a parent changed me like nothing else. The experience has shown me the importance of being there for someone. It has shown me the strength of love and the power of devotion. Motherhood made me strong where once I was weak. It was on a Winters day back in 1994 when I gave birth to my son, that was the day I began to become who I am today.

Where once I was a rebellious teen I become a resilient adult. I have never lost the ideals of youth. Sure, I have tempered my dreams with reality but I’ve never given them up and I never will. To stop dreaming is to stop living. And I plan to go on living for a long time.

fantasy bed forest nap Photo by Ditte Isager

I suppose one could call it hibernating; what I’ve been doing. I’ve stayed away from blogging and writing in general. I have been engaged in the “Art of Living”.  The day to day. The grind. The moment. I have taken a side job selling men’s clothes in an well-known upscale department store for the upcoming Holiday season. I’ve never done retail before and  am finding the change refreshing. It’s nice to get out of a lonely two-person office and out into the world of rampant consumerism.

Gone is the long commute of last year and replaced by a short 15 minute drive. Yay!  Time is too valuable to waste on a insane commute of 3 hours a day. My pay is less but I am much happier. For so many reasons I am much happier.

I am finally facing myself; my demons, my weaknesses, whatever you call them. I am finally getting my birdbrain out of the sand and I’m opening my eyes and looking around.  I am forcing myself to peek out from my hazy pools of imaginative avoidance, past the fairies and unicorns and the happy talking trees to the playing field below; the hard turf and rugged terrain of reality.

 

 Yikes!  But I am seeing the challenge and rising to it.

 

 

autumn mountains cloud sky by Lars

I gallop along; riding far beyond my enchanted kingdom into the dreaded realm that ‘s called “out of my comfort zone”. I’ve been visiting this place quite regularly and every time I do  I grow stronger and stronger.  It’s amazing what a little white-knuckled courage will do.  I have found through trial and mostly error that life forces one to foray beyond this zone. I would rather choose the circumstance instead of the wilds of fate deciding for me. This is the downfall of the procrastinator–something I know too well.

On my dresser sits a 3×5 card. On it I have written a quote by Marcus Aurelius, a Roman emperor and philosopher who opted to write his book “Meditations”  entirely in Greek and for his eyes only. It’s funny how at times the words you need to hear most come at exactly the right time you need to hear them., even when they were written two thousand years ago. Knowledge is timeless. But we mortals are not.

 

Remember how long you have been putting this off, how many times you have been given a period of grace by the gods and not used it. It is high time now for you to understand the universe of whom you constitute an emanation and that there is a limit circumscribed to your time–if you do not use it to clear away your clouds, it will be gone, and you will be gone and the opportunity will not return.”~Marcus Aurelius

 

 

These words and others have changed me bit by bit. My current course has altered and is flowing to what are  hopefully greener pastures. This growing up stuff hurts but it’s worth it.   Don’t get me wrong; the fanciful Nancy. The whimsical silly person who has fun wherever she goes lives on. The bubbly person that I have allowed to gradually blossom currently still runs the show.  I am still cultivating “magic” and throwing it up in the air like all that pixie dust. I, in fact, endeavor to increase the dosage.  The world needs it and frankly so do I.

 

sara and nancy halloween 2
My daughter Sara and I spreading some Halloween “magic”

 

sara halloween scary face

 

nancy butterfly halloween profile pic

 

I have taken it as my mission to appreciate not only every moment but every interaction with every soul I meet.  This sounds daunting and will require going out of my comfort zone more and more but as I do this comfort area will get larger and larger until it encircles the world…well, in theory anyway.  I will try. I will fall down and I will get back up, that’s all any of us can do anyway.

We have a new edition to the family. Spotsy came to us by a quirk of fate, by design or whatever.  He needed a home and we needed an extra cat so it all works out.  My daughter has taken it upon herself to see to his upbringing and Mario and I still have time for our long and reflective discussions.

Spotsy
Spotsy

 

I’ve started a new blog! Ta-da!  It’s all SBI but newer and edgier and more compact. It’s silly trippy fun. No long-winded dour reality here. It’s all for fun and it can be found here.

sbi serendipity

 

Go check it out and sign up for a dose of the lighter side of SBI fresh in your inbox. 

😀

I am looking forward to catching up with you so don’t be suprised to see me pop up over at your place. I have missed my blogging friends and I am glad to be back.

Nancy

bill the cat

 

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