Tuesday, April 5, 2011


I am hard on myself. I know this. I was raised not to be proud of myself, and it shows. I am not proud of myself. A neighbor down the road came into the store last night. I waited on her politely, but there was no conversation. She does not like me. We've never spoken, but she's got strong opinions. She bases them on what she's heard. It bothers me, but I also know that I can't change her mind. She'll think what she thinks. I also realize full well that I wouldn't even try to change her mind. What's the point of it? She's not anyone that I could ever call a friend. So I wait on her, and she says nothing, and I say nothing but the necessary words. And then she grabs her bag, as she always does, and says in a voice that drips sweet sarcasm, "You have a good day!" and she stalks out of the store. It doesn't faze me now. I simply turn to the next customer in line, and invariably, they are nice folk and we find something to laugh about.

So, I've been thinking about encounters.

Yesterday, I went into the office to get an assignment that we'd been given in class some time ago. We actually began it in class. Someone was talking about it, and I thought, "Oh, yeah, and then went through my pending assignments and realized that I no longer had it. I was embarrassed to go in to the office and confess that I'd lost it. Understandable really. I've got a dozen assignments all assigned weeks ago, with different due dates. We cannot turn things in early, so there's always that possibility that something is going to be lost in the shuffle. Especially when you are me. I confessed to the teacher, and she cheerfully went into her file and printed out a replacement. I apologized for the inconvenience and turned to leave. She said, "Oh, don't worry about it. You're right on top of things. I can tell." That surprised me. I wondered about that. She sure sees me differently than I see me.

I got a letter from Cara the other day. She said that she wished that I could see myself as she sees me. She goes on to list the things that she remembers about her childhood. The fact that I worked more than one job, but still stayed up late with her to read "Ramona Quimby". (If you have a little girl and have never read them, do! They are such fun!) Little things, but they meant a lot to me. I will keep that letter forever. I am very glad that Cara sees me differently than I see myself.

Today in Anatomy and Physiology class, Butthead Boy began going on loudly like he does, but this time, his story winds up being about some television program, "where these young 'hot' girls are stuck with this old guy and they are looking for young guys to f*** them," and although it wasn't my business, he's just so ignorant that I burst out with, "That's completely inappropriate for a classroom." I stared at him, and he stopped, shocked. "I'm sorry," he mumbled. But then he seemed to think better of it. "If she complains about me again, I'm out of the class. You all are my witnesses. This did not happen in class. It happened before class" And he stormed back to his seat, passing me and saying loudly, "Some people need to grow up!" and I looked at him and mildly said, "Yes indeed they do." I'm sure not the prudish old woman he seems to think that I am.

I went to the local library after class. I had to find a children's book for an activity at the Head Start tomorrow. The letter is 'G' so I was looking for a book about a gardener. I was supposed to be doing a gross motor activity with them during circle time, an indoor activity. So we will read our story and then we will be gardeners. We will pantomine digging with a shovel, hoing, planting. There will be the sun and rain, with the appropriate hand motions. Then we will become the seed, and pantomine growing from the ground. Then we will pick our tomatoes, and our corn and we will dig our potatoes. Lots of motions but nothing dangerous or too wild for the classroom setting. Anyway, it took me a long time to find a picture book about growing and/or gardens. I tried to find a topic using the computers, but failed. I asked a mother there with her young son if she had any suggestions. An elderly lady, a former librarian, was there reading with her grandchildren. She pitched in. Then the librarian for the children's room came back, and there were four of us at work on this. Soon I had a good half dozen books to take home and decide on. Everyone was so nice, and I thanked them and headed toward the circulation desk to check them out.

The nice woman there was halfway through my books when she looked up and said, almost shyly, "I love your articles." Surprised, I said, "Gee. Thanks," and she said, "All of us here read you." Always awkward when complimented, I dumbed around. She said, "You write like you love to do it." Finally, I got my tongue back. "Yes," I said. "I do love it, and I'll never cease to be amazed when someone tells me that they love to read what I love to write." I paused. "You know, men like to read along too. I'm just now discovering that." She laughed. "Before I moved back here, I became acquainted with your writing. My uncle was always cutting out your column and mailing it to me, and telling me that you sounded just like me.

I've been thinking on things. What am I? Who am I? I don't see myself like everyone else seems to see me. I find myself wondering on the way home if I fall square in the middle of all of that? What if I'm better than I think I am, but not as bad as some might paint me? What if it turns out that I might not be as great as some people think, but I'm not as bad as I think? I don't know, but it sure is nice to think that it might be true.


Kelly said...

I know I don't know you in "real life", but from my viewpoint you seem to be an awfully nice person. Somehow I don't think I'm wrong in how I see you, either.

Anonymous said...

I know Debby in real life, but only from going into Tractor Supply. If Debby's mannerisms at work are any indication of how she is away from work, I'd have to say she would bend over backwards to help someone and that she is sweeter than molasses.

A Novel Woman said...

I only know you from your writing, but to quote Mark Darcy in Bridget Jones, "I like you. Just as you are."

Ro said...

It's the old 'look beyond the outer facade' or don't judge a book by the cover.

Debby said...

Gees. I just realized that this might look as if I'm fishing for compliments. Sorry. It's not. It's just amazing to me how we (me?) view our (my?) self so differently. People look in and they love us. Or they hate us. And we sit on the inside looking out and we see a whole different picture. Who am I? Am I what I see? Am I what others see? And the answer is that I am all of these things. It is also that I am none of those things. Probably makes no sense at all. On that bright note, I will take myself to bed.

Redlefty said...

I was actually going to say that you are all of those things, and none of those things. And things nobody has noticed yet.

But then you said it first, so either we're both pretty smart on this one or we're delusional together!

Debby said...

oh, gees, Red! I was scared I wasn't making sense. Nice to know that if I'm not, there's other people that don't make sense just like me.


Really. I have to get to bed.

BUSH BABE said...

This is great - I think it is the inner conversation that many/most of us have at some stage. I often wonder the same thing. I know (from feedback) that to some people, I am a sweet and gentle soul while others' may see me as a complete bitch - I suspect that I am somewhere in the middle.

With respect, I think when you get a skewed start on life, that the mirror gets pretty warped though. Yours is just beginning to straighten out and it's good to see that you don't really mind what you are finding. There is no excess pride in seeing that - and from first-hand experience, I can tell you that you are EXACTLY as you seem on this blog. Smart, warm, funny, witty, REAL.

Anonymous said...

Good for you Deb for speaking out when butthead mouthed off. Maybe he has not been told before outright? If he is also studying for the same course as you pray for those that get him. I'll bet just about everyone else was cheering you on. I would have.

I am so glad Cara wrote to you. She certainly sounds like a lovely daughter too...a bit like you really....

Keep on keeping on. You are doing just fine in my eyes Barbx

Pencil Writer said...

I hope one of those books you found was Growing Vegetable Soup by Lois Ehlert. I really liked that book. When I was working in Kindergarten as a teacher's aid, I read that book to the class and we actually planted vegetable seed and watched them grow. Then I brought my crockpot and all the vegetables from the story and we made vegetable soup. It was lots of fun and the children really seemed to enjoy the whole thing. (No, our little vegetables plants weren't great, but they got to be involved in the process and see that various seeds make different looking plants. They certainly didn't grow to maturity!) But it was a fun, long range project.

Debby, you are talented, have a good heart, and you connect with people. You're fine. Keep on being you.