Tuesday, July 29, 2008
Hanging DirectionsBe forewarned: this is really a very weird use of my blog this morning. But I need to know. And I need for you, whoever is out there, to give me some information.
I really had the wind knocked out of my sails this morning when I was confronted by a Whole New Thought. I won't go into details how it came up, but it was brought to my attention that some people hang their shirts with the buttons facing to the left (as it hangs on the pole in the closet) and some hang their shirts with the buttons facing to the right. I, personally, am a right-facing kind of gal. And the person I was calmly and rationally discussing this with is, as it turns out, a left-facing kind of guy.
Which is fine.
I'm OK with diversity of thought.
But, being me, I have to be, well, right. I mean, I have to do some research to prove that my way is better. Well, OK, not to prove. But more to find out if I've been some freak of right-facing nature my whole life, or if I've got company. And let me make it clear, that clothes-hanging is the ONLY place in my life that I prefer the right to the left. It's not a political statement, by a long shot. Actually, I'm just really interested in seeing if this is a gender-based preference (as he asserts) or just habituation.
So I started asking around. My data set, at this moment, consists of two people. One of whom laughed outright at the thought that anyone would even GIVE a shit and was pretty much happy when most of the clothes ended up mostly on the hanger, and the direction the buttons were facing was utterly and completely moot. (She also said, I believe with a hint of sarcasm, that I deserved someone in my life who was as preoccupied with button-facing as I am.)
Another friend looked at me like I was crazy (I'm suspecting I'll have to get used to that), without any comprehension of what I was talking about, until we determined that his pole stuck straight out (in his CLOSET, god!) so the way his buttons faced was kind of moot as the hangers were all facing him straight on. He did make a good point though: that when he gets his shirts cleaned at the cleaners, they are put on the hanger in such a way that the buttons WOULD face left if he had a pole that went sideways (in his CLOSET). So, OK. Maybe the cleaners have a point. But I'm not giving this up without more stats.
So, now I'm really curious. I'm curious about all sorts of things: which way buttons should face, if button-facing is anything that anyone cares about, if this is a gender issue, and (of course) which way people's poles face (in their CLOSET).
I'm glad you waited almost a month to see what new profound thing I'd come up with in this blog. All of you with RSS feeds (you know who you are) who were momentarily elated to see me post something... well, sometimes ya get what ya get. I DID write a pretty good post at www.theDHX.com the other day, so if you really need some dark profound shit, you can procure over there.
For me, today, it's buttons. Buttons and which way your poles face.
Please comment. Inquiring minds want to know.
# posted by Katherine Doughtie Nolan @ 9:50 AM 12 comments
Sunday, July 06, 2008
Interdependence is and ought to be as much the ideal of man as self-sufficiency. Man is a social being. Without interrelation with society he cannot realize his oneness with the universe or suppress his egotism. His social interdependence enables him to test his faith and to prove himself on the touchstone of reality.
The 4th of July has always been my favorite holiday. It doesn't involve mandated gift-giving, it usually involves beer and hotdogs, and it ends with fireworks. What is not to love about this day?
For many years I found myself in Boston on the 4th, camping out with friends on the Esplanade the night before, and spending the hot muggy day alternating between taking shifts on the blanket to maintain our stakehold, and wandering around downtown looking for ice, or beer, or a cool building to stand in. At night we'd heave a collective sigh of relief when the Boston Pops would take their chairs -- as much because the event itself was about to start as that the marathon was soon thereafter to be over. They would play and we would lie down on our weary backs, waiting for the ultimate final set to begin. And when they'd play the 1812 Overture, with the fireworks over the Charles, and the cannons blasting from the Cambidge side ... it was a transporting experience. All the forces converged at once: the cameraderie of being with friends in a yearly ritual, the banter back and forth, the swapping of stories from previous escapades coupled with the power of the music, the cannon blasts thumping our bodies with their sub-aural percussion, the piccolos slicing our inner ear with their achingly sweet high beauty, and the fireworks arcing high overhead.
I always remember those nights. I also always remember a 4th spent in Singapore, at the American School. It was 1979 and my friend Dee and I had been traveling the world for about six weeks. Dee's sister-in-law was a teacher in Singapore and we took a much-needed week to stop and regroup. We were happy to find some fellow Americans to spend the holiday with. From that vantage point, so far away from home, I could finally see that we were really only one country on the planet after all. That the world was not skewed in a way where the US was 95% of everything and the rest of the world kind of scrambled to fit in the remaining sliver of influence and importance. From that spot on the athletic field thousands of miles away, I felt at once diminished and rightfully in perspective, for the first time in my life. Home was a distant spot, far away from our horizon. It made the United States seem a precious, and relatively very small, place.
And yet, with all the exotic 4th's I've seen, this one just past was, I'm pretty sure, the best I've ever had. My last thought of the very long day was that if I could come back and re-live any one day of my life, a la "Our Town," this was a day I would gladly revisit over and over for eternity.
We did all the usual stuff -- the utterly charming South Pasadena parade and the fireworks at the high school at night. And in between we had a party with the obligatory hot dogs and beer and a blazing sun. But what made the difference this year was that I didn't end up celebrating my own independence as I usually do. I found myself reveling in interdependence. And the realization that that was in evidence on all fronts made the day sparkle with fireworks for me long before the sun even set.
Wikipedia defines it thusly:
"Interdependence is a dynamic of being mutually responsible to and sharing a common set of principles with others. . . . Some people advocate freedom or independence as a sort of ultimate good; others do the same with devotion to one's family, community, or society. Interdependence recognizes the truth in each position and weaves them together. Two people in a good relationship are said to be interdependent.It can also be defined as the interconnectedness and the reliance on one another socially, economically, environmentally and politically."
The party was a lot of work. There was shopping to do and a backyard to set up and food to prepare. I put the kids to work cleaning up the treehouse, sweeping and dusting the house, and they were willingly at the ready to pitch in with anything we needed. They were great. I also had my friend, my co-conspirator, around. I had always wanted a good guy to share the parade and the fireworks with, but his involvement went way beyond what I'd ever hoped for. He and I ran around Smart & Final comparing prices of beer and paper plates. We got out the drill and fixed the tree house steps when he found out (the hard way) that the wood was completely rotten. He helped me lug patio furniture around and ran out for ice and beer when we ran low. At the end of the day, the boys help me clear out the backyard and throw out all the trash. All of us were interconnected and worked together -- moving towards a common cause without sacrificing our identities or needs.
What I realized was this: it's not about independence any more. It's not about being free and a solitary soldier and heaping all the work upon myself in order to maintain my sacred uncompromising isolation. And it's not about being taken care of and sitting back to allow decisions to be made around and about me. It's about both. It's about allowing the breathing room to flow between people, where individual needs are met at the same time as the collective goals are being pursued. It's about a kind of trust. A trust that will allow changes to the plan. That will allow for better ideas to float up. That will allow for me to be taken care of at one point, so that I can better take care of the other person later.
Last Friday was truly a harmonious collective endeavor. The conversation flowed, the food was good, the day was leisurely and the sun charted its course across the sky. And when we sat exhausted at the end of the day on the new football field and watched the fireworks explode overhead, this time it was a celebration for me of being intertwined within a family I love and cherish. Instead of looking from a vantage point thousands of miles away, I was able to see it from within, and know that I was finally home at last.
# posted by Katherine Doughtie Nolan @ 10:45 AM 1 comments