Karen’s Trip to Target

I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but I’ve seen yet another article that tugs at my last nerve. I know. Shocking.

In this blog article, the author, Jennifer, tells us about a trip to Target that she claims was ruined by a Karen. The article is riddled with hypocrisy, self-centeredness, and a generally unkind attitude towards a woman who suffered the loss of her child.

If you don’t want to read the article, the gist of it is that Jennifer goes to Target with her very young daughter, admittedly lets the child trail behind her and then turned a corner where the child is briefly out of sight, when a woman looks “at [her] as though [she] had done something wrong.” The woman says something along the lines of “your daughter is far away from you,” which (the author again points out) was said with “a tone that implied [she]’d done something wrong.”

Already, Jennifer is taking this woman’s actions as an extreme personal offense with an attitude that considers only one person (and spoiler, it’s not her daughter).

I will digress for a moment to say that Jennifer claims her daughter was only two feet away from her. I don’t believe that for a moment. Want to know why?  Jennifer explains: “I have the pitter-patter of her steps imprinted in my heart.”  So, she could hear her child, but not see her child.  Jennifer also states this about the woman: “…she could have simply watched her from afar to be sure she was OK and when seeing the child united with a parent, left it at that.” If the child was just two feet away, why would there need to be a reunion in the middle of Target?

To be clear, I’m not mom-shaming Jennifer (god forbid *insert eye-roll here*) but rather, just empathizing with the woman Jennifer encountered.  There was obviously reason for some concern. I also believe that’s why Jennifer was so offended at a stranger approaching her: she knew the concern had merit.

Once Jennifer hears the woman say, “I had a child who was taken,” her thoughts immediately bounce to, you guessed it, herself. She is overly concerned with her own emotions—not her daughter’s feelings, not her daughter’s safety, not this woman’s profound grief, but her own feelings of discomfort in the situation.

Then, she has the audacity to write that “if what she is sharing is true; silence is the kindest thing I can do in this moment.” Wow. Her invalidation of another human’s experience is automatic. And she truly believes that putting a hand in this woman’s face and saying nothing is the kindest thing she can do.

The blog ends on a note urging readers to “always be kind and sensitive” because her day was absolutely ruined by a stranger who she refers to as a “Karen.” The whole piece is meant to vilify a woman who lived through a parent’s worst fears—losing a child to abduction. If you ask me, there is a Karen in this situation, and her name is Jennifer.

As soon as she found out that the woman had her child taken and likely has PTSD from the horrific experience, the author could have shown compassion (as she urges her readers to do). Saying “thank you for your concern, I’ll keep her close” wouldn’t have been hard to do. In fact, it would have been ridiculously easy. Even taking one moment of consideration for this woman’s pain could have resulted in a very different experience for both parties. The concerned woman would have walked away feeling heard and Jennifer could have walked away feeling good about her day and how she helped a stranger to overcome an anxious moment in the middle of Target.

Instead, Jennifer felt violated that the woman “projected her PTSD” and “mom-shamed” her. She felt strongly enough that she needed to write this entire blog about it.

What is wrong with people these days?

It is so obvious that Jennifer is criticizing this woman for not showing compassion or empathy while at the same time failing to glance at her own reflection. If she were to see herself in the mirror for who she truly is, she would recognize her shortcomings in that department.

Instead of lighting a fire within herself full of distaste, shame, and anger, Jennifer could learn about practicing gratitude for her daughter, kindness towards others, and how to not take everything so personally. If she did that, there would be one less Karen in the world.

Grammar Rocks

Why can’t I say conjunction junction like a normal person?  It’s impossible for me to say these two simple words. I sing them. Every. Time. Even if I’m just thinking them… the words are thought in song.

No, I don’t know why this has come up now… it just has. It’s one of those days.

And if I’m being honest, I can never simply say sing conjunction junction. It’s the whole phrase or nothing at all.

Conjunction Junction, what’s your function?

There! You sang that, didn’t you!? You did. You know you did. You can’t fool me.

What is wrong with us?

 

 

My Day in a GIF

Did you ever have one of those days where everything at work is going just great and then, at the very tail-end of your day, when you think you’re safe, it just goes to hell?

Things are moving steadily along all morning and then you hit that personal high round about late afternoon when you realize hey, I’m getting everything on my to do list done! I am on a roll! This is an awesome way to start the week!

And then, just when it’s about time to go home, the office gremlin (à la Twilight Zone) says: No! We will create an unsolvable problem for you to solve that must be solved before you leave!

Well, I mean, it is Monday…

my day in a GIF

Let It Glow

Happy Holidays and Merry Christmas from my family to yours!  We may be celebrating a little differently from past years, but I hope this holiday season (and the year to come) sees you all happy, healthy, and loved.

“Let It Glow” by Michael Humphries — When I first saw this artwork, it made me smile. In fact, every time I go back to look at it, it makes me smile.  I love it. He’s such a happy little snowman and it makes me happy just to look at him. I wanted to share that small bit of joy with you.                      Check out the artist’s other work by clicking on the photo.

 

Spark of Hope

The Winter Solstice comes on December 21 at 5:02 a.m. EST. Marking the Northern Hemisphere’s shortest day and longest night of the year, it is also the start of Yule, a celebration of light and warmth rejoicing the return of longer days and more sunlight.  May the coming days shine a warm, comforting light on us all.

Happy Winter Solstice and Blessed Yule to all.

photo credit: Esther Remmington

The Giving Spirit, or Would You Like Fries with That?

Did anyone else see this CNN headline where “Over 900 cars paid for each other’s meals at a Dairy Queen drive-thru”? The article is all about this act of kindness, and one person even says that it restored their faith in humanity. Sure, it is a nice gesture, and I don’t deny that paying it forward is a nice thing.

And here’s the but. You knew it was coming, right? BUT I don’t really believe that it’s a true act of kindness. There, I said it. Everyone in that Dairy Queen line planned on purchasing their own meal with the money they had in their wallets. Presumably, they could spare the money because, you know, they were in line at Dairy Queen. They also didn’t go out to DQ with the intention of helping others. They just wanted ice cream. Or a hot dog. Or whatever.

So, I ask you, is a trail of strangers paying for each other’s meals because they’re afraid to “break the chain” really an act of kindness?

During the holiday season, we see stories like this all the time. And I always wonder, is it really kindness that motivates these people? Or is it the satisfaction of feeling like they did something kind? It might just be my holiday spirit of cynicism (just kidding, I have that all year round), but this so-called kindness cost them nothing. There was no serious outlay of funds, no work, and no effort. And arguably, it did nothing to better the world, nor did it — and here’s the kicker — even impact the people in the Dairy Queen line.

Sure, the first person in line had double the bill because they paid for their own ice cream and the guy behind him, but the 899 people after that paid for just one meal. An expenditure they had already planned on, um, expending. Granted, it might have been more than they bargained for because they didn’t know what the car behind them ordered. It also could’ve been much less than they were expecting. But generally, it likely wasn’t much different than they would’ve spent on their own meal. I mean, it’s Dairy Queen after all.

Wouldn’t a true act of kindness or, rather, a further-reaching act of kindness contribute to individuals who need it the most? Like people who can’t afford Dairy Queen in the first place.

Instead, wouldn’t it be kinder for each of these 900 people to donate $10 towards feeding the homeless, supporting the traumatized and abused, or helping an animal shelter? That would be $9,000 and let me tell you, that adds up to some serious help for those in need during the holidays.

Sure, these people are helping out strangers. I guess. I mean, the argument has been made. That’s great. But they’re not really giving much, if anything, to the person behind them because that person then pays the same amount — or close to it — that they would’ve spent anyway, except now it’s on the family in the Chevy behind them in line.  This whole exercise in kindness seems moot if you ask me…. and yeah, yeah, I know you didn’t.  If anything, they’re giving themselves the satisfaction of feeling like a good person. Think about it. If they just said thanks and drove away, they’d feel like guilty grinches!

I’d much rather see a story where 900 people pay for a stranger’s meal at a restaurant that pays it forward to the homeless. For example, some restaurants take donations (the cost of a meal) and issue tickets to keep on hand or tacked up to a board or whatever. Then, when a homeless person is in obvious need of sustenance, the restaurant can offer a hot meal based on someone’s week-old kindness. This kind of difference would be much more meaningful.

And you would know that every person who donated did so because they wanted to — not because they felt like they had to or because someone else did it first.

 

Repository of Useless Information

Do you ever think about all the useless trivia you’ve got floating around inside your head? I do. All. The. Time.

I could tell you every single lyric to Saginaw Michigan, a country song released in 1964 by a man known as Lefty Frizzell. I also know the words to All About That Bass, 9 to 5, and Amazing Grace. Go figure.

Anyway, do you know why flamingos are pink? Their bright colors come from their diet. They eat a lot of pink shrimps. How do I know that? I’m not entirely sure.

What else do I know?

Well, I know that the ZIP in zip code stands for Zone Improvement Plan.

I know that Frank Oz voiced the original Miss Piggy—and the original Yoda.

There’s a right way to pronounce Samhain, and it doesn’t sound like “sam-hane.” It’s “sah-win,” for your information. While we’re at it, forte is pronounced fort, not FOR-tay. No, really. Do I pronounce it fort? No. No, I do not.

Gruntled is a real world. No, not disgruntled—gruntled. It means pleased. I’m gruntled that you now know what gruntled means, but quite disgruntled that the word gruntled is rattling around in my brain.

Supposedly cats can’t taste sweetness. It has to do with their genetics, but I know from experience that my cat loves sweets, especially whipped cream. I’m not entirely sure where to stand on this one, but I want you to know that I think about it. A lot.

What’s your favorite movie? I’m bound to know the most trivial facts about the actors from the star right down to the eccentric character actor who had less screen time than it took me to type that out. For example, the main actor, he was in another movie with another actor who is actually the brother to the actor in that one movie, you know the one, and that actor was married to an actress who performed in a TV show with the main actor from the first movie. Crazy small world, huh?

The fact that you still have that cool tattoo is all thanks to your immune system trying to rid your body of, well, the tattoo. Because your immune system, and specifically your immune-response cells, is so good at its job, that black cat surrounded by barbed wire you got on your bicep 20 years ago should stay with you forever.

Do you know about the creation myth? Well, there’s more than one creation myth, and nearly every culture/religion around the world has a similar creation myth that they believe… one involves a turtle. Maybe there is just one original story, but people twisted it up a bit through the years like an old game of telephone. There’s a lot more that is similar in the various myths than there is that’s different. If you want to get into it, we can talk more about this one someday. Right now, though, that turtle is taking up space in my head.

Oh, and beer isn’t vegan. Well, not all of it, anyway. Most beers use an ingredient that comes from fish’s swim bladders. Yes. You read that right. Fish. Bladders. It’s not uncommon for beer brewers to add animal products like gelatin or isinglass (the fish bladder stuff)—and Guinness especially is known to use this technique. I know, right!?

The Catholic Church declared beavers and capybaras fish so that parishioners could eat them during Lent. No, seriously. Hippos went the same route. Since they spend most of their lives in the water, they’re fish. Who knew? I know this has more to do with the Church’s never-ending quest to convert all and sundry to Christianity than science, and that sometimes, it’s just easier to let the newly converted have their hippo meat. Nonetheless, it was apparently an easy decision. Since they all swim so well, it wasn’t a leap to declare these animals… um, I mean, fish… worthy of mealtime at Lent.

Who even thinks about this kind of stuff? I do. Quite often.

Do you need someone to help you win trivia night down at the pub while we throw back some Guinness?  I’m the queen of movie trivia—hit me up, and I’ll be there.

Were you wondering about that beyond obscure footnote that’s nearly been lost in the history of the world? I’ve got you.

Struggling with a crossword clue? Call me. I’m on it.

All of us stuff our minds with information of one sort or another, and most of the time, that’s seen as a good thing, right? Straight A students, engineers, mathematicians—there are plenty of people who need a brain full of facts. But what about when it’s stuffed with useless trivia?

I mean, don’t get me wrong. I am a whiz at trivia board games like Trivial Pursuit. Even the aforementioned pub trivia contests.  You’d definitely want me on your team. But I’m not good enough to win Jeopardy. If I was, I would have won by now, and I’d probably be sitting on a beach somewhere instead of going to work every day. I’m telling you, useless trivia. Keyword: useless.

As it is, I’m just the crazy kook you might meet at a party who rambles on about Alan Rickman, the origins of Christmas, interesting traits about dog breeds, and hippo meat.

Oh, well.

By the way, did you know that Johnny Depp is terrified of clowns? You do now.

A Treacherous Tale, or The Infamous Grocery Store Run

These days, a day in my life is pretty uneventful. With quarantine keeping most people, including me, at home as much as humanly possible, I only leave the house for the bare essentials. And even then, I try to get things delivered to my house when I can.

Over the past several months, I’ve become accustomed to doing my grocery shopping online and opting for curbside pickup. When I’m feeling extra lazy, I have them delivered. Whoever thought up free grocery store delivery is a freakin’ genius. At first, I was skeptical about having other people pick out my produce, but it is seriously the best idea. If you haven’t tried it yet, you should.

I’m telling you, when I opt for curbside service I get my food with minimal or no human interaction. That’s great for me as someone with social anxiety. Being in crowds makes me excessively nervous, and my crowd anxiety has only worsened since COVID-19 started. Oh, and it’s super convenient. I love it. LOVE. IT.

Well, with the holiday season upon us, a lot of people must be treating themselves to the relaxation and relief that comes with not having to do the weekly shopping. I assume this is the case because no curbside appointments were available anywhere, and I was forced (forced, I tell you!) to go to the store and actually do my own shopping last week. Can you imagine!?

I hadn’t picked up an item off the shelf in who knows how long. Did I even remember how to shop? I wasn’t entirely sure.

Back in the day (aka before quarantine), I used to organize my list, create a plan of attack to be as quick as possible, and execute my shopping trip with stealth and speed. I would even draw out a rudimentary map of the specific store I was visiting to make my visit that much more efficient. My grocery shopping skills today are a bit rusty.

As I prepared to leave the house, I realized I might not be ready. When I arrived at the store, I realized that I may never be ready to shop in person again. As I searched for parking, my anxiety turned to irritation. There were no spots. When I found one, guess what was there? A collection of rogue carts.

Finally, I found a place to park my car. As I headed into the store, I saw that my list was a mess. I hadn’t organized it because I never have to when I picked up my groceries. Frozen foods, produce, snacks, and canned goods all fell on the list willy-nilly wherever they felt like it. It would have to do — it was too late.

The store was packed with people, which is the worst possible scenario if you ask me. I can spend an hour max in the store (or in any crowd for that matter) before my patience runs out. Forty-five minutes if I’m being honest. Okay, fine, thirty minutes tops and then what I euphemistically call “my window” has slammed shut.

This trip was also the worst. It seems that I hadn’t been to the store in so long that they changed all the aisles around. I mean, why? Just why? I had no clue where anything was. On top of that, it seemed like the ‘COVID-19 panic’ of 2020 hadn’t subsided because basic items were out of stock.

Settling for the worst choice dish soap is one thing, but not having any toilet paper is another. As an aside, what the hell is up with hoarding toilet paper during any and every crisis from snowstorm to pandemic? I mean, come on, people!

Halfway through my trip, one of the wheels on my cart started to stick. Pushing the cart became such a pain that I abandoned a quarter of the items on my list. Although to be completely truthful — that wasn’t the only reason.  When I ended my trip in the dairy aisle, it seemed as though I had missed all those items along the way.

See, you laughed earlier, I know you did, but this is exactly why I always have a rudimentary map and plan of attack. Except this time. This time, admittedly, I was wholly unprepared for the grocery store chaos. My trip was now approaching that hour threshold, with not much to show for it, and I was not about to walk back and search for the errant foodstuffs on my list.  Any recipes with those ingredients would just have to adapt.

Luckily, I found a somewhat short line. But there must have been some trouble with the register or with the customers (spoiler alert, it was the customers) because it seemed to take an eternity. My anxiety became even worse as I stood in line listening to the monotonous beeps, chatter, and rustling of the grocery store.

Once I could finally escape, I pushed my wonky cart out into the open air — and rain. Great.

As the raindrops pelted my groceries, I hoped that the water wouldn’t ruin any of my paper-wrapped products and booked it across the parking lot as fast as I could with my wonky wheel.

After lugging all my groceries into my condo, we were all pretty wet. It seemed an appropriate ending to the day.

What was for dinner, you might be wondering. I’m glad you asked. Cereal.