We’ve had a lot of rain so far this spring and our grass is getting out of control. We live in a condo, so the board hired someone to cut it for us. Except that the guy hasn’t showed up. For like weeks. It’s getting to be a jungle out there. Obviously, as responsible adults, we’re waiting for someone else to handle it. I’m just going to try a duck-and-run maneuver tomorrow when I leave for work. Hopefully the gang of tiny dinosaurs who have now taken up residence in the yard will miss me in their poor peripheral vision. I can’t be sure, so I’m going to wait for a small dog to walk by as a distraction.
This week I went to a work party to celebrate a member of our team. Every work shindig I go to is either at a bar or in our communal kitchen and this one was at a bar. I happen to prefer the ones in the kitchen because I can escape by going to the bathroom or feigning an important work task. Also, there are concrete posts that an extrovert would say ruin the flow of the room but function as a workspace blanket fort for introverts. A party in the kitchen also means that I can come back later and sneak away with the leftovers. I might look a little crazy, but I’m not too concerned about that when Dave and I are eating free pizza on our couch.
So I can handle the kitchen, but I’m not great in a bar. They start off relatively loud and crowded and only get louder and more crowded the longer I’m there. I inevitably end up next to someone I don’t know and then I have to talk about their boring job convincing people to give them money to argue with old people in the government. And I don’t drink much because I have a delicate composition. Like a newborn panda. I can’t even eat cheese.
Despite those challenges, I would call my participation in this week’s party a massive success. Granted, my gauge for success is relatively low compared to other well-adjusted people. Did I say something embarrassing about myself or someone around me? Not that I can remember. Did I trip and fall on my face? Nope. Did I laugh inappropriately at a serious moment? No, I did not. So that was a win in my book. It helped that I left at 7pm and went home to eat pancakes.
Today’s post is dedicated to a hardworking, smart nine year old named Hilde. She runs her own online newspaper, Orange Street News, and reports on local stories. She’s reported on vandalism, rabid skunks, and new businesses. When she was adorably discussing upcoming Taylor Swift concerts and mini-golf sessions at the library, no one had a problem with her paper. In fact, they used words typically thrown around to describe girls and young women who do things that are a bit outside gendered expectations but are generally non-threatening—words like spunky, sassy, and feisty. As a note, every one of those adjectives has been used to describe me. This is probably why I feel for young Hilde.
So things were going ok for Hilde and her local paper until she got a lead on a story with some serious consequences—a murder in her neighborhood. She found out at the police station, where she was attempting to get a statement about a vandalism case, that officers were on the scene investigating. She followed the tip and reported the story, as any good journalist would do. That’s when people started throwing fits. They said they were disappointed in her. They said she didn’t understand decency. The former mayor called her piece sensationalist. Totally understandable since she included such inflammatory quotes as “This is an ongoing investigation,” from an officer and “They told us we can’t talk about anything,” from a neighbor.
In a not at all surprising but still disheartening move, multiple people told Hilde that she should be playing with dolls and having tea parties instead of reporting the news. Because apparently nine year old girls should not be concerned with reality or truth or bettering their communities. Obviously, any self-respecting nine year old girl just wants to play house and drink imaginary liquid.
As someone who has no memory of ever throwing a tea party and who has been told by a lot of strangers what I should be doing with my life, I say this to Hilde: Let them talk. It will keep them distracted while you’re on your way to becoming even more awesome.
But, really, she doesn’t need my advice. She’s got this covered.
There’s been a lot of talk this week about the Panama Papers. I know that sounds like a whimsical local newspaper, filled with award-winning yuca recipes and the schedule for the Panama Canal locks. It’s not. It’s a record leaked by an anonymous source that gives specific details on the actions and clients of a large offshore law firm—Mossack Fonseca. This law firm helps rich people, past and present politicians, and wealthy corporations conduct business, avoid taxes, and store money in ways that their home country citizens would colloquially describe as “super sketchy” and their law enforcement agencies (the ones not being bribed with offshore, tax-free accounts) would define as “incredibly illegal.”
While it’s important that these documents were uncovered and exposed, are any of us really surprised? We shouldn’t be shocked to learn that rich, powerful people who feel untouchable are taking inappropriate and unlawful actions in order to get richer and more powerful. I wish it wasn’t true, but it is. And I’m not surprised one bit.
That’s not to say we don’t need to work to fix it. And the question, I guess, is whether we need to raise new people who are kinder and more thoughtful or tighten up enforcement and regulations to reign in the inevitable actions of less kind and less thoughtful people. I wish the first was enough, but I bet at least a few of these guys had really nice mothers. Mostly this makes me want to build a tiny house in the middle of nowhere and save my money under the mattress. Or invest in something with guaranteed good returns, like soup or beanie babies.
It’s Monday—the start of a brand new week. An arbitrary division of time, but that doesn’t make it any less real. Lucky for all of us, these weeks just keep on coming. Every time one disappears, another arrives. They’re kinda like cockroaches and glitter in that way. Hopefully more like glitter. Besides the fact that glitter can get in your eye and scratch your cornea, so it’s not really a safe craft supply. (At least, this is what my grandfather told me as a child. I’m not sure if it’s true, but the warning worked, because I always avert my eyes when looking at extra-festive birthday cards.)
If last week didn’t treat you so great, shed it the way a snake slips out of its skin. You think a snake cares about that paper-thin remnant it leaves behind? No, it’s moving on to the rest of its life. It’s setting out to scare someone in a field of tall grass or find a little mouse to eat. There’s not much reason to be envious of a snake, but I think they’ve got us beat in the moving-on moments of life. So take all of last week, strap it on a tiny worry-raft like a Viking funeral director, and let it float away. Maybe don’t try to catch it on fire with a lit arrow though, because it’s important to know these weeks exist and are out there somewhere in the world.
If last week was wonderful, remember what it gave you and put it on a safe shelf in your mind. You can look at it to remind you that sometimes life is amazing. Fill your good-week jar with the people that smiled at you and the warm cookies you ate straight out of the oven and the rays of light that shone onto your desk that one beautiful afternoon. Tie it up with a ribbon made of that compliment you got from a long-lost friend. Set it on your shelf and remember where it is, because in a few weeks or months or years, you might need it.
Today is Monday and its going to be great. Or maybe it will be less then great. But, either way, we’re going to get another one soon enough.