Sunday, January 20, 2019

A Full Jar of Marbles, Gun Goals, Depression Beat-Down

This week, I have been reflecting on trust and its role in my life. Speaker and writer Brene Brown has a theory that trust is akin to a jar of marbles. She explains that her daughter’s teacher keeps a jar of marbles in the classroom. When the students are behaving and being kind to each other, the teacher adds marbles to the jar. When the students start acting like little jerks, she removes some marbles. If and when the jar gets filled, the class gets to have a party and celebrate their awesomeness. Brene says that the marble theory also is true of people in our lives—they earn metaphorical marbles by gaining our trust through right action.

I have come to the realization that the blessing and the curse of my being is that with me, everyone starts with a full jar of marbles. It’s automatic. Here, you get a full jar and you get a full jar, and even you, who I have doubts about, well, what the heck, you get a full jar, too. I just go around handing out of full jars like they were candy. Others are more judicious with their marbles. For example, when I explained my marble methodology to Mr. Typist, his eyes narrowed and he said that with him, people might start with a quarter of a jar of marbles…at most. I know some people, many in fact, who give out only empty jars and expect others to earn every marble they get. But not me, nosirree Bob--with me, if you want marbles, you got ‘em. And the odd thing is, I think I’ve pretty much come out even on this. There have been some outliers, but by and large, most of the people in my life have lived up to their full jar of marbles. I realize that this is reckless of me and that it probably reflects badly on my character to some degree—it speaks to being overly-agreeable and lacking in a certain circumspect mindset, but in the end, its worked out, and it’s saved me a lot of time.

After months of me carefully practicing gun range avoidance, Mr. Typist has inspired me to get back into the game again by showing me a photo of a .38 revolver that he thought I might like. I am very excited about the .38 and really want one of my own. I’m going to take one of my much-piling up vacation days some time this month, head off to the range, and practice on a .38 to make sure it’s what it I want—then take the plunge into purchasing one for myself. I’ve decided to stop feeling bad about preferring revolvers over semi-automatics. Most of the Youtube gun ladies make a lot of noise about how women should never allow a gun store clerk to steer them towards revolvers, because it indicates that they don’t think your delicate lady-hands can handle a semi-automatic. But the fact is, I truly love and prefer revolvers. They are far more beautiful and elegant than semi-automatics, I like the old-school look and feel of them, and for a gun novice like myself, I just feel a lot more comfortable with them. Frankly, I’ve been pretty depressed lately, and it feels nice to have a goal, even a small one like purchasing a revolver.

Well, I’m off to the pool to shake off my doldrums and get my blood pumping. Depression will not win! In the meantime, enjoy this clip of Brene Brown, and if you are so inclined, check out her other stuff, too—her talks on vulnerability are very good.  

--Kristen McHenry

Sunday, January 13, 2019

I Like Big Soaps and I Cannot Lie, The Burden of Lunch, Gray Cat Update

A little disappointingly, FEMA school was canceled this week due to the government shutdown, so now the onus is upon me to show up to work as usual (yawn!) and get a proper blog post up. So here goes: The big excitement in the Typist household over the weekend was a tiff over soap. I had dutifully trudged off to Local Big Box Grocery Store to buy sundries and things for us to eat, and when I got to putting the soap away, I realized that we already had a fair supply of it, as I had neglected to check the bathroom before I left. I made a casual comment to Mr. Typist about our surplus of soap, which he immediately used as a launching pad to go off on a tirade about how I keep opening new soaps when there are admittedly thin but perfectly good soaps still in the shower. He further opined that he has suspected all along that I have a “thing” for big soaps, which unfairly places the burden on him to mash all of the thin soaps together into one soap large enough for me to deem worthy of use. He is completely correct, of course. I like big soaps...thick, blocky soaps that fit in my hand well and lather up like a boss. I have confidence in big soaps, whereas I am suspicious of the ability of thin, brittle, worn-down soaps to do the job to my standard. I do not view this as a character flaw, and I refuse to apologize.

The cafeteria at my place of work was recently closed down, which has left me with the burden of bringing my own lunch, as restaurants in my neighborhood are now far too pricey and I can’t afford to eat out very often. I had known this was coming for a while, but I’ve been conveniently in denial about it. I finally bit the bullet last week and half-heartedly purchased some bread, some overly-salty lunch “meat” and an insulated lunch bag. I assembled a little sandwich making kit each morning and tried my best to put together a sandwich on the few square inches of desk space I have available to use as an ad-hoc food prep area. This lasted three days until I gave up. The whole operation was just too burdensome and involved. I had to clean my utensils in the bathroom sink that only has intermittent warm water, make sure my little thing of mayo stayed properly cold, clean all of my plastic containers, remember to bring my lunch bag home…it was all too much, when I was used to being able to just sweep into the cafeteria and grab something to go that I could eat at my desk. So now I need a new lunch plan. I think my lunch plan may just be to skip lunch and go for a walk instead. How long that genius scheme will last will depend on how hungry I get.

I arrived home the other day to find Buddy’s nemesis, Giant Gray Cat, aka Miles, curled up on our porch, snoozing peacefully. I said hello and gently petted him. He stood up and sniffed me and was very friendly and gentle. He looked me in the eyes with curiosity and sniffed my bag and rubbed his fur against my legs. I’d never seen him up close before. He is really quite a beautiful cat, with big orange eyes, soft fur, and a royal bearing. I wish Buddy would just give up the rivalry and be friends with him. But I don’t think that’s going to happen, as the minute I walked through door and Buddy smelled a whiff of GGC on my hands, he glared at me suspiciously and immediately went to his scratcher to sharpen his claws.

Here is a silly blast from the past, because sometimes we need a little divine silliness in our lives:

Sunday, January 6, 2019

Today: The Sads, A Flood, A Poem

Today, I’m sad. I went to the memorial of my young nephew Michael yesterday. It was a beautiful service, and many, many people came to mourn his passing. There were prayers and songs and poems and bible passages and speeches. There was an enormous amount of love in the room. One woman, who didn’t know Michael, came just to be of support to his mother, because she had lost her 22-year-old daughter a few years ago. I am trying to focus on the love and all of the beautiful souls who came to pay homage to Michael and to support his family, but the sadness lingers.

In addition to being sad, I’m also jumpy and distracted because there was an epic flood in my bathroom today, and I’m trying to get ready to go to FEMA school next week and my incipient airport anxiety is rearing its ugly head already even though this is all locked-down and government-run and smart, efficient people will be there to help. All of this to say, I just don’t have a blog post in me this week. Instead, here’s a (very old) poem of mind for the new year. I’ll be back in a few weeks with tales of my emergency management training adventures!


Shows up during lunch rush at the Deli Express.
Slips beside me into the booth, a chummy ghost
As I eat cheese toast and gulp acidic coffee.
It happens so fast I don't notice him at first,
He smiles at me, as soft as laundered flannel,
Then he's humming in my heart like a blue lotus.

And just like that, it's done.

After the years of sour cramping in my throat,
The perpetual grit of rage that dimmed my sight,
A lit novena for each tendril of revenge:
God, lead me to forgiveness; please God lead me out
Of this black canyon that echoes only pain.
(But not today, not just yet, let me linger still).

Next, the neatly-typed, imaginary papers
Stating: “I forgive, I forgive”--those stern contracts
That somehow never took; non-binding, useless screeds
Thrown out of court for lack of a credible witness.
The fresh herbs and tinctures did nothing, either
Though I longed to swallow forgiveness like a seed.

The fact is that in the end, it came on it's own
With such ease, and through the tiniest of spaces.
I knew then the difference between choice and grace.
Outside, the rain continued on, and the people.
Inside, my coffee tasted just as bitter,
But I drank it in a different universe.

--Kristen McHenry