Try Listening

I know a guy who talks so much that people actually scatter when they see him coming. He’s a nice guy. He means well. But he can suck, literally, hours out of your life as he holds forth on whatever he has chosen to blather on about on that particular day. And you’re expected to just stand there and say, “Uh huh.”

I doubt, even after all this time, that he knows much of anything about me. I can’t get a word in edgewise. And he doesn’t seem the least bit curious about anyone else. He never asks questions.

I think this is really sad. I personally would be bored silly if the only topic I was willing to discuss was me, me, me. I know me. I’ve done me. I’d much prefer to learn something new, or experience a unique perspective. This guy isn’t capable of that. His life seems very limited.

He also seems rather short-sighted. He doesn’t seem to notice people running away from him. I’ve seen people who have had to get rather rude to shut him up. One guy started his leaf blower right in the middle of a story. Mr. Talky-Pants didn’t even seem surprised or insulted. I bet things like that happen to him a lot. You’d think that someone who is that inwardly focused would be more aware of insults, but he lacks that quality.

When you are talking to someone, try listening as well. Every once in a while, check in with yourself and say, “Am I learning anything new?” If not, ask something. Show some interest in those around you. Keep doing that until it comes naturally to you. People will most likely be charmed by your sincere curiosity, even if it does take practice.

That, and knowledge is power.

A big rule of thumb is that if people are running from you, you are either too big of a proponent of open carry, or you most likely aren’t a pleasure to be around.


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Delayed Gratification

I have an 820 credit rating. I’m rather proud of that. I think that’s because I absolutely HATE paying interest for anything. You might say I have no interest in interest. To me it sort of feels like taking that money and setting it alight. Poof. Gone. And nothing to show for it.

So whenever I want to buy something, I put off getting it until I have the cash. I try not to charge anything unless I can pay it off that same month. Of course there are exceptions to that rule. Emergencies, for example, or things that are time sensitive. But my absolute goal in life is to not be in debt. Even a small amount causes me undue stress.

You will never see me rent to own anything. If I need a flat screen TV that badly, I’ll wait until I’ve set aside enough money rather than winding up paying two or three times its actual value just so I don’t miss the season opener of House of Cards in high def.

I seem to be the exception to the rule in this credit-loving society. I give my mother credit for that (pardon the pun). She got me into this habit at a very young age, long before I was old enough to qualify for a credit card or buy a car. It would probably be much harder to adopt this practice once you’ve taught yourself that you don’t have to wait for anything.

Delayed gratification is very gratifying in the end. If you can’t embrace this philosophy yourself, at least try to teach it to your children. They’ll thank you for it someday.

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Love Me, Do.

Recently I spent time in the presence of someone whom I can’t even look at without getting butterflies in my stomach. He makes me blush. I feel like I’m in junior high school. And he knows I have a crush on him, because I told him.

He gives me mixed signals. Sometimes he flirts, sometimes he doesn’t. We make vague future plans with no specifics and as yet no follow-through. He puts his hand on the small of my back and I nearly melt.

He has a full life, and we’re not kids anymore, so even if he were interested, I suspect this would not be a rush job. And I get the impression that he’s very humble, and genuinely has no idea the affect he has on people. He may be a bit slow on the uptake. But hitting him with a brick would be counterproductive.


COME ON!!!! What’s taking you so long? I’m a wonderfully interesting, passionate, intelligent and fun person.

This never used to be so difficult. I never had to work this hard. After a certain point one begins to feel pathetic. This is a game I’m not sure I have the energy to play at my age.

But it is nice to feel butterflies again. It’s been a while.


Other Dimensions

I used to know a guy who was really, really into fishing. Good on him. It’s great to have a passion. But what made me feel sorry for him was that it was his only passion.

He was really hard to talk to, because fishing was his only topic, and if you weren’t into it (and I’m not), conversations with him quickly became extremely dull. If you tried to discuss current events, he had nothing to contribute. If you tried to be playful or in any way abstract or imaginative, he would give you a blank stare. Talking to this guy was a study in awkward silences. I used to think, “I know you’re in there… somewhere.”

I much prefer the company of more well-rounded individuals; people who are curious about the wider world. I enjoy not being able to predict the direction a chat will take. I like to banter. In that context, I might even enjoy talking about your piscatorial pursuits.

If you want more people to delight in your company, make an effort to expand your horizons. Become a bit more three-dimensional. Depth is important, as well as length and width.

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I Need an Ad Exec

Everywhere I go in my new city of Seattle, I seem to practically trip over attractive men in my age group who at least appear to be straight and single. And they’re all very nice when I interact with them. These are all good signs.

The thing is (yes, there’s always a thing) they are oblivious, usually, to my interest. I’ve seen this in male friends my entire life. I’ll say, “Couldn’t you tell that girl was hitting on you?” and inevitably they reply, “She was?” Clueless. As dense as a London fog.

Of course, there is the possibility that every single one of them isn’t the least bit interested in me. But if I believe that, I may as well throw in the towel right now. And then I’d be without a towel. That would never do.

I think what I need is an ad executive. A professional who will come up with creative ways to put my intentions out there. Find a way of saying, “Hey! Don’t just smile and jog past! There’s potential for romance here!” “Hey! I appreciate you holding this door open for me, but I’d rather you stop and actually talk to me.” “Hey! Thanks for the advice on fun places to see in Seattle while exchanging meaningful eye contact, and thanks even more for drawing me a map on how to get to these places. Now ask to come with me.” Or maybe I should start with simply, “Hey!” Because I don’t even seem to be getting that across without help.

I’m thinking of getting a t-shirt that says, “My dogs love me. You would, too.”


The Best Advice You’ll Ever Get

A friend of mine posted a meme on her Facebook wall that said:

“Teach your teenagers how to handle money NOW or they’ll be living in your basement when they’re 30.”

Truer words were never spoken. I was lucky to have a mother who knew the importance of teaching such lessons. As a matter of fact, at the age of 10 she had me start a business, growing houseplants and selling them at the local flea market, and that taught me much.

But the best advice she ever gave me was when I was a freshman in college. She understood it was important for me to get a credit card so I could build up a credit history, but, she said, “Never carry a credit card balance. Ever.” And she meant never, ever, EVER. To get me into the habit of thinking that way, she had me put cash in an envelope whenever I charged something, so I’d be sure I’d have it to pay off the credit card bill COMPLETELY at the end of the month. I did that for years.

Eventually I was so used to thinking of a credit card as a pay-as-you-go proposition that I no longer had to put cash in the envelope. I just got into the habit of knowing that if I couldn’t afford to buy something outright in any given month, then I couldn’t afford to have it.

If I needed to make a major purchase, I’d save up the money beforehand, and only THEN charge it. Delayed gratification isn’t as bad as you’d think, when you realize you don’t have to cope with the stress of credit card debt.

So here I am at age 48, with the best credit score you can possibly have, and all because I have always paid my credit card bills off in full whenever they arrive, even if it hurts. I’m not going to lie; I’m struggling financially. Times are extremely hard. But I could have easily made it a lot worse on myself by having to pay massive amounts of interest. At least I can say that any financial woes I experience are not due to a lifetime of poor judgment.

If my mother were alive today she could rest assured that her basement would never have to be converted into an apartment for me, and I take great pride in that fact.


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There’s a streak that runs through my family, and it’s as wide as the Mississippi River. For lack of a better word, I call it “enthusiosity”. It’s curiosity mixed with a great deal of enthusiasm. My mother had it more than anyone else. She’d get interested in a topic such as Australian History, and she’d read every single thing that the library had on the subject. Then she’d move on to something else, like Anasazi basket weaving. She was an amazing woman, my mother. One of those people who could walk into a room and suddenly the lights would seem brighter. She loved to talk to people. She loved to learn.


I love this picture of her. You can see the “enthusiosity” written all over her face.

She would have chewed up college like locusts in a field, but her father, who intended to send her to school, unfortunately died in WWII when she was 17. I often wonder what her life would have been like had he survived.

She never lived to see the internet, and that’s a shame. If she had, we’d have been hard pressed to get her off line each night. She’d have been constantly saying things like, “Oh! Look at this! They’ve found a new species of lobster with HAIR!”

I think of my mother every time I go into a library. I remember her telling me one time that libraries were the most amazing places, because when you went inside, you could go anywhere in the entire universe. To this day, I get butterflies in my stomach whenever I enter a library, not unlike the kind other people would get by going to Disney World for the first time.

If you never lose your “enthusiosity”, if your mind is always open to learning new things, you will have riches beyond measure.