Today a woman took a sweaty credit card from out of her bra and handed it to me. I was incredibly repulsed and simulteanously impressed with myself for only pausing for a moment before taking it, and for holding back my dry heave until I could hand her card back to her and walk away (straight to the handwashing sink, by the way). Customer service does things to you; it makes you do things you wouldn't normally do. Never, ever in any other situation would I accept ANYTHING that was handed to me from out of the warmth of a sweaty brazierre. I mean come on, lady. I would never do that to someone. Hey, touch this, I pulled it out of my underwear!! I mean....seriously?
Someone rhetorically asked me once, "You don't like anything do you?" Of course this comment thinly veiled as a question was in defence of something awful that they had produced that I had the audacity to tell them the truth about, but anyhow, this exchange this morning made me think that obviously there are some things that are absolutely okay to despise. The Bible gives us many examples of things to despise (Sin, vain thoughts, lies, 'false ways', etc.). Despising something in and of itself is not bad, but the object being despised determines the validity of the dislike. I am in no way attempting to equate the exchange between the sweaty credit card and I this morning with Biblical commands to despise certain things, but mostly I want to comment on the fact that I feel the culture I live in demands a false cheerfulness and a blindness towards sin, despair, and the reality of the fallen world. I feel like the message I get all the time is Just be happy with it! Don't let it phase you! Don't let anything get you down!
Isn't there a time to be a sad? A time to be "phased"? Shouldn't we allow ourselves to step back from time to time and evaluate? And isn't it the reality of a fallen world that at times upon evaluation we will absolutely find things that will get us down? Isn't part of being a joyful person knowing and dealing with sadness and sorrow appropriately?
Before you are tempted to think I'm a 22 year old miserable old bat, I find life joyful. And also, I'm almost 23 anyway. I find joy in sadness, but more than anything I find joy in truth. Because the truth is, if my joy were dependent on anything in this world, I wouldn't have any. The one true and Living God is the only source of true joy that there is. All else is temporary, vain 'happiness' that will only crumble over time.
So anyway all of this is why I feel not in the least bit slighted when I look around this world at times and have nothing to say but Ew. Sometimes it is freaking ew. Sometimes a lady will hand me her sweaty credit card from her sweaty bra and sometimes it will really boggle my mind. Sometimes I will be sad and sometimes I will let things phase me. But personally I think that's just life. I don't care to hear anymore "oh she's so negative" commentary, not that I have heard anything like that in awhile but it could just be that my detractors have given up because I don't listen to them anyway.
So anywho that brings me to the mind-terroristy snowbirds that are currently occupying the condo at the end of our row. Their constant presence on their patio practically quarantines me at home. At first, and this can be taken as a sign of optimism, I thought they were just sweet, old mid-westerners that came here for 5 months out of the year to get out of the snow and that they would just innocently soak up the sun and keep to their corner of the block but oh no. Oh no, no, no. There are two major misunderstandings between us and them. The first is that A) They are old and retired and haven't been busy in decades. We are young and work a lot, which means that when I am leaving my house it's not because I am out for my third afternoon stroll. It means I am going somewhere, it means I have somewhere to be and NO I did not leave my house twenty minutes early to make time to talk to you about the clouds and how cute your dog is. B) They believe that not stopping to talk whilst passing them on the sidewalk is rude. I know this because the man told me, "Your neighbors seem rude, they never stop and talk when they pass by." (Insert feeling extremely awkward here.)
So one day, the one and only day that week that I was coming home and truly didn't have anywhere to be for awhile, I thought....shucks I'll just be neighborly for a minute and maybe it will be enough to satisfy their need to hear their own voices talk to me.
Oh no. No, no, no. 20 minutes into this conversation of nothing I'm sweating. It's 64 degrees out but I'm carrying a bag with a mac, an ipad, a kindle, and an 800 page textbook. None of the contents of my bag were things I was willing to set on the ground and I'm standing in the sun. So I begin to attempt to wrap the conversation up. If you know me, you know I am not shy about these things. I'm backing away. Slowly. Talking about the things I need to go do. And somehow all of these indicators of my attempt to extract myself from the situation are not registering with these mid-western types. I literally did not walk in my door for another 25 miserable minutes, at which point I both needed a shower and a glass of wine.
That one encounter was enough to put the fear of Illinois in me. They want us to come over and play cards. They want me to read this book they just read. They want me to tell them where I'm going everytime I'm coming or going. It's to the point where I literally peek out my front door and down the way to see if they are there or not so I can brace myself to pretend I'm running or late or to stage another fake phone call. It is all becoming so exhausting--just coming and going--that yesterday I turned right out of my front door instead of left and walked around several buildings and five minutes out of my way just to avoid walking by them. And by the time I got to my car, which felt like a quick trip to Mordor later, they were standing in the parking lot with their dog. Who does that!!!!
I think I wouldn't struggle so much if he hadn't said it....if he didn't have to tell me how rude he thinks people are that just walk by. And I know this is ridiculous. I know that just going happily on my way is not rude and that his opinion should have absolutely no bearing on my comings and goings but it's like Martin said at the end of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo: "The fear of offending is stronger than the fear of pain", or in my case, the pain of walking an extra mile to my car.
Dear Illinois, please clear out the snow quickly.