short excerpts...other writings...upon occasion or as prompted...
The tiger in the water? A representation of my life -- spirit and environment!


Saturday, June 11, 2011

Laugh Off the Humiliating Events

One can worry about one's dignity and have dark days and dark spots in one's life, or one can laugh at oneself along with everyone else. The latter attitude usually results in a smoother ride through life.

My oldest daughter, Lizzie, learned this lesson well not long ago when she found the "Oy!" in Illinois. All dressed up pretty for a very important interview at the University of Illinois, the graduate school she wanted to attend, she arrived on campus early, found the building where she was to attend a meeting, then promptly fell down a concrete staircase, ending up with scratches, bruises, a dirty suit, and a very swollen nose.

being the pragmatic type, instead of running away in disgrace, she decided to skip the attempt to wow folks with the first impression and continue on with life as normal (which, admittedly, for her, with trouble hanging over her shoulder most of the time, is not quite the same as it is for most people).

For those who are wondering, she did get admitted to the program. She continues to be nipped by trouble and to laugh off what she cannot change--and thus garners sympathy and friends.

Lizzie may come naturally by this tendency to have embarrassing things just happen to her. My grandmother once related to me the story of how, in the days when women's panties were held together by safety pins, she walked out of a theatre onto a public street, where suddenly the pin broke and her panties fell to the ground. With nary a worry, she stepped over them as if they belonged to someone else and kept on walking!

Similarly, when my children were small and I was working in the nation's capital while my husband was still living and working in Pittsburgh, I was often overwhelmed with the heaping mound of details that I had to manage on any given work day. Usually, I accomplished everything just in the nick of time. One morning, however, I was a bit ahead of the curve. With all four children bathed, dressed, fed, homework checked, and standing in line with lunch boxes in hand, waiting for the school buses a full ten minutes early, I leisurely dressed myself for work. Pleased with my unharried moment, I set off for the bus stop. There, a woman who often rode the same bus with me looked at me a little peculiarly and asked, "Didn't you forget something today?"

On such a well organized morning, I could not imagine what that might have been. I did a mental check: purse, briefcase, umbrella. What else could it be?

"What about your skirt?" she asked.

That incident could have become buried in the annals of moments one would rather not relive. However, I found it as amusing as others did and have used it in books and lectures about people with certain learning styles who tend not to pay attention to details--and about harried mothers in a working world.

My propensity for such absent-mindedness has not changed with age. More recently, I was walking across the NASA campus at Johnson Space Center en route to work when it started to rain. I was used to the fact that in Houston rain begins without warning and can be quite heavy, so I was prepared. Although I was lost in thought at the time, I automatically reached for my umbrella and whipped it open. I was brought out of my reverie when out of the corner of my eye I noticed all the other pedestrians standing still and staring at me. I was walking through a sprinkler. With a little chagrin, I stepped out of the way of the sprinkler and put away my umbrella, smiling and waving at the onlookers.

From that event, a number of people I would not otherwise have met or remembered certainly remembered me, including one of the guards. He began to talk to me each time I came on post, and when I took a business trip to Russia, I brought a Russian chocolate bar back for him. He was so delighted, you would have thought I had given him a bar of gold. I suppose in some senses of the word, I had.


Excerpted and adapted from a collection of vignettes I published, copyright 2003.

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About Me

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I am the mother of 4 birth children (plus 3 others who lived with us) and grandmother of 2, all of them exceptional children. Married for 42 years, I grew up in Maine, live in California, and work in many places in education, linguistics, and program management. In my spare time, I rescue and tame feral cats and have the scars to prove it. A long-time ignorantly blissful atheist converted by a theophanic experience to Catholicism, I am now a joyful catechist. Oh, I also authored a dozen books, two under my pen name of Mahlou (Blest Atheist and A Believer-in-Waiting's First Encounters with God).

My Other Blogs

100th Lamb. This is my main blog, the one I keep most updated.

The Clan of Mahlou
. This is background information about various members of the extended Mahlou family. It is very much a work still in progress. Soon I will begin posting excerpts from a new book I am writing, Raising God's Rainbow Makers.

Modern Mysticism. This blog discusses the mystical in our pragmatic, practical, realistic, and rational 21st century world and is to those who spend some or much of their time in an irrational/mystical relationship with God. If such things do not strain your credulity, you are welcome to follow the blog and participate in it.

Recommended Reading List

Because I am blog inept, I don't quite know how to get a reading list to stay at the end of the page and not disappear from sight. Therefore, I entered it as my first post. I suppose that is not all that bad because readers started commenting about the books, even suggesting additional readings. So, you can participate with others in my reading list by clicking here.
I do post additional books as I read them and find them to be meaningful to me, and therefore, hopefully, meaningful to you. One advantage of all the plane traveling I do is that I acquire reading time that I might not otherwise take.