On Mold, Health & Charity

So I went to taste my new jars of sauerkraut last Wednesday and…they smelled like mold. Dammit. I knew it was a risk, because I was using cabbage that had been in the fridge for a few weeks, but I had hoped I’d gotten to it soon enough. Not so, apparently. I tossed those jars out, and bought a couple more heads of cabbage, and will try again one night this week.

No, I’m not giving up. Homemade sauerkraut is good stuff, and good for you – it’s got a lot of great vitamins & probiotics. I also bought carrots and fresh garlic – the very first batch I made included both, and was really fabulous (though the hubby wasn’t fond of the garlic). I plan to start two jars again – one with carrots/garlic, and one just plain. Fingers crossed…

Ironically enough, as I sit here typing late Sunday night, I’m not sipping my normal cup of green tea to go with my standard late-night yogurt/granola/maple syrup snack. No, tonight I have a glass of grape soda at my side, and I’m savoring every sip. Made with cane sugar, of course – because I’d like to breathe when I go to sleep tonight, and corn syrup does really bad things to my sinuses anymore. I used to be able to handle it just fine, but the healthier my diet’s become, the more I pay for the decision to have a standard glass of pop while I’m out and about (I buy Mexican Coke for that occasional at-home craving…made with cane sugar, so no allergy issues).

Truth be told, I really don’t even crave soda much anymore. I’ve been substituting with tea and water and the occasional pineapple juice for so long that one glass of pop will kill the craving for weeks before I want another “hit”. Which is pretty good considering I started drinking pop several times a day before I even hit high school, and kept that habit up until a good year or so after I graduated college.

Thing is, I’m highly motivated to avoid change and inconvenience – both for myself and to avoid creating it for other people. So the cancer avoidance thing is big with me. Obviously.

Last weekend I started making something called “Golden Paste” (seriously – they couldn’t just call it “Turmeric Paste”?) for the dogs. Murphy has a big open wound under the legging he wears most of the time, and I wanted to see if giving him turmeric with his meals would help that to heal faster. Turmeric needs oil and black pepper to be bioavailable, so golden paste is basically just turmeric cooked to a paste in water, and then blended with oil (I use coconut, because – healthy!) and black pepper. I started giving it to the dogs morning and night, and they both seem to be doing really well on it. Murphy’s wound seems to be healing faster – though I’ve tried several other things that I think might be helping to speed that along. I even put turmeric paste right on the wound for a night. It looked much better after that – and a honey/turmeric paste treatment this weekend seemed to hurry the healing up a bit as well.

In any case, turmeric is supposed to be good for a variety of healthy things for humans as well, and one common way to use golden paste for humans is to make “golden milk” (which sounds even worse, I know – seriously, what is *wrong* with just saying “turmeric”?!). Basically, a little golden paste mixed with warm milk and honey. I find it very tasty, and have been drinking just a small cup before bed. I have no idea if it’s doing anything good or not, but I enjoy that little treat while I’m reading before bed, and if it is doing anything good for my insides, all the better.

And that just got me thinking about which mugs I use, which makes me think about my teacups, and how I’m planning to do a post on the meaning of cups soon. Memo to self…

I did manage to get the taxes done this weekend too, and when Turbo Tax asked me about charitable contributions, it made me stop and think for a good long minute. I used to be good about donating here and there as money allowed, but I’ve been pretty tight with things lately. Maybe it’s time to loosen the purse strings a bit, and reinstate that zoo membership, and buy an art museum membership, and set up that ongoing contribution to our local PBS station. I’ll be paying off our second mortgage in another couple of months, so no reason not to put a little cash back into the community, eh?

In that same vein, I’m going to set up some donation links on the Friday Gone to the Dogs posts. People who like the posts and feel like doing so can toss a tip to the charity of either Mica or Murphy’s choice – the shelters that helped them both out when they needed a safe place to stay. Maybe we can give back a little that way too.

Now it’s time to go make my turmeric milk, crawl into bed, and continue reading The Skin Collector by Jeffery Deaver. Interesting stuff. Especially for those of us who are tattooed…

On Social Oddities, Boxing & New Books…

*cautiously looks around, keeping a close eye on the shadows*

My last few Mondays haven’t been exactly stellar, so I’m approaching this one with a healthy dose of caution and skepticism (much like a normal Tuesday). But my weekend was good – very productive, and I’ve got my schedule and workload(s) back under control, which should help me deal effectively with anything that comes up (or goes down, which actually happens more often in my world, sadly).

In any case, something odd that I noticed about last Monday was the high percentage of red shirts being worn. We’re talking several of my co-workers, my husband, and more than a few people I saw randomly walking on the streets. Why did I even notice? Because I’d nearly reached for a red shirt myself (a color I rarely wear), and then decided against it because red is an aggressive, active color, and I didn’t want that sort of “vibe” around me for a Monday. I wore blue (calming, trustworthy), but I think I ended up dealing with the fallout of “red” by default, given how many other people in my immediate circle were wearing it that day.

It does make me wonder what was in the air, so to speak, to make everyone reach for a red shirt that morning (including myself)… *cue alien invasion music*

This weekend, of course, the big “thing” was a boxing match on Saturday night. I’m not a boxing fan…it makes me physically ill to watch two people beating each other to a pulp for nothing other than…money? Fame? Whatever. And yes, I’ve been informed that there wasn’t much actual boxing during Saturday’s match, which is a bit ironic, I think.

I can normally at least appreciate the intricacies of pretty much anything if I understand the underlying logic to it, even if it involves physical violence/danger, and even if I don’t necessarily enjoy whatever “it” happens to be. An old-fashioned duel for honor, for instance…still seems like overkill to me depending on the circumstances, but I get the underlying motivation, so I’m okay with it. Most serial killers, I get (I probably shouldn’t admit that). But I admit to being completely perplexed by boxing. I want to understand, and I do understand how a lot of people get into it, I just don’t get why people keep doing it, considering how high the percentage of giving or receiving a life-altering injury is. It…makes no logical sense. And yes, I know that makes me sound like Spock.

I always was partial to Spock, even as a little kid. Which is no surprise to anyone who knows me, I’m sure.

What else? Oh right! BeauTEAful Summer, the collected edition of three romantic suspense shorts I wrote last year is finally available (sort of a buy two/get the third free deal), and one of my alter-egos has a new book out today as well. My other alter-ego has a new audiobook out, so something for everyone – I’ll be setting up contests for free copies here and there this week…

And now, to bed (it’s 12:30am as I write this). I skimped on sleep every night last week, and paid dearly for it. Not going to make the same mistake twice (at least not two weeks in a row)!

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On Handkerchiefs…

I went through a lot of tissues in November – most of it for my watery eyes. When my eyes finally started feeling more normal again, I kept finding tissues in my pants pockets – remnants that I’d forgotten to toss out. Of course by last week I’d stopped carrying extra tissues again, so when the occasional watery eye happened (or when I was trying to put eye drops in at work), I wouldn’t have anything to blot the moisture with.

Which got me thinking about handkerchiefs. I started wondering why no one uses them anymore, except my grandpa (who uses bandannas, but same diff.), and one of the guys at work I occasionally see with one. I actually don’t think I’ve ever seen a woman using a handkerchief, not even at a wedding or formal affair.

Naturally, I did an internet search wherein I found all sorts of different answers to the question, but it seems like the main reason women don’t use them anymore is a fear of germs. Which is somewhat amusing, considering all the women I see pulling a disposable tissue out of their purse and then putting it back in after they’ve used it to blow their nose or that of their child’s. Seems to me like fabric would work a lot better at “containment” in that situation than thin tissue. And it’s certainly no worse to put through the wash than one’s skivvies…

In any case, here’s one of the links I found most interesting – read the comments to get the whole convo:

All things considered, including how much tissue I go through just for eye “stuff” and light allergy snuffling, I do believe I’m going to get myself some nice handkerchiefs and start carrying them regularly. If nothing else, I’ll always have something to clean my glasses with. Not to mention dealing with the whole eye drop mess without having to use rough toilet paper from the restroom to blot up the excess moisture. If I have enough to carry a couple each day (purse & pocket), I should be covered. We’ll see how it goes.

I think while I’m at it, I might move to cloth napkins for meals as well. Hubby doesn’t like them, but I could switch fairly easily, I think. The less paper tossed out, the better, since there’s no reason I can’t deal with a bit of extra laundry per week.

It’s early Monday morning (1:00am) as I type this, as usual, and I have a sick dog again, so I’d best schedule this before he needs to go out again. Who knows what he got this time – it’s absolutely amazing just how little it takes to make poor Mica sick. Thank goodness it’s warmer tonight, though still cool enough at 35(f).

Hopefully he’ll be sleeping peacefully soon so I can too…

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On Birthdays, Cold Temps & Hole-y T-Shirts…

I have one sister – younger than me by two years and ten months (she still gets mad when I round it up to three years). She’s one of those strange women who doesn’t like other people knowing her age (I really don’t think I’ll ever understand that), but I’ll be 40 this coming January, and her birthday is this coming Saturday. It’s not my fault if y’all know how to do math…

My dad’s birthday is also this week – and while I suppose I could make you do that math on that too, he won’t mind my telling you that he’ll be 63 on Tuesday – Veteran’s Day.

What does this mean for me (besides two slightly older family members)? An early Chinese dinner on Tuesday (it’s a federal holiday, so I’m off work), and chicken enchiladas at noon on Saturday.

Tuesday, of course, is supposed to be pretty cold (it’s snowing as I write this on Sunday night), with a forecast high of 9 and a low of 2. I was kind of happy I didn’t have to go to work, and when I subtly mentioned to my mom it was supposed to be that cold, I was not-so-subtly reminded that she still had to go to work that day (paybacks – she’s a middle school librarian, and I’m constantly reminding her that I have to work when she’s off on spring break or Christmas break or summer break or whatever). The implication being, of course, that I should buck up and get my butt off my cozy couch and out to Dad’s birthday dinner regardless of the weather. And I will, obviously.

If we could actually use the weather as an excuse not to do stuff up here, nothing would get done for at least a few months of every year. Still, can’t blame a girl for trying.


In other, sad news, several of my beloved t-shirts are starting to fall apart. Literally. Like, there are holes in them. I mean, it shouldn’t surprise me, considering I’ve had many of them since…um…actually, I think the one I’m wearing now I got in high school. Or college. My parents brought it back for me after a trip to Glacier National Park (pictured above). It’s incredibly comfy as only t-shirts that have been well broken-in are. *sigh* But it also has holes in the armpits and a few in other places as well – the sleeve, for one, and another near the hem.

A sadder one is my Super Novelist NaNo shirt from 2004 (10 yrs ago! – also pictured), which is getting holes around the front “superman” style logo, as well as other holes here and there. Dang it. I may cut out the logo portion of that one to keep. I really love that shirt…

In any case, I bought a dog rope toy at a craft fair this summer that is basically just a braid of old cotton knit material. And my aging t-shirts are…old cotton knit material. There are ways you can cut old t-shirts so they make one continuous strip of fabric, that can then be used to do whatever with….such as braiding into dog pulls, or crocheting into rugs and bags and such. Methinks maybe it’s time to retire some of these old shirts and give them a new life as something else…

But not until I get caught up with my NaNo novel. I’m way, way behind, and my plans to write Sunday didn’t ever really pan out, so…here’s hoping Tuesday will be my lucky day for lots of words.

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Monday Musings: On Long Distance, Cell Phones & Changing Communication Methods…

One of the major things on my to-do list last week was to schedule a hair cut. You’d think this would be an easy enough task, but my stylist has a cell phone with a long distance number, which actually adds a level of complexity that most people wouldn’t even consider.

See, when I moved out of my parents house around 15 years ago, and got my own landline, I never bothered to have long distance service put on it. It was an extra expense, and while I did have one friend who lived out of town that I called occasionally, I never needed it otherwise, so it was cheaper to just use a pre-paid phone card. When I got married, my husband had no need for long distance either, so we left it off at the new house too. Keeps our landline bill at around $32 a month.

Yes, I’m a bad relative. I never call my out of town relatives (my parents, sister, and in-laws all live here in town), and now virtually everyone has email and/or facebook (and my grandma writes actual hand-written letters). Businesses generally have a toll-free number to call, or better yet, an email address. So I still have no real need for long distance phone service. The salon my stylist used to work at always had someone there to answer the phone and make appointments, so I could just call the salon.

Not so this new salon. You must leave a message, and if you are lucky enough to catch someone, they can’t make an appt. for another stylist. So the best way to make any appt. is to get a hold of your stylist directly…and mine has a long distance cell number. I don’t think many people even think in terms of “long distance calling” anymore, do they? Since cell service generally comes with unlimited calling everywhere?

You see my problem. I do have a Google Voice number for IP calls, but they still cost money so I…don’t. And considering the rumblings on Google trying to fold Voice into hangouts, I’m hesitant to give that number out for much, though it is handy for free texting via my cell-with-no-voice-service. My family *loves* the fact that I can text now. It is pretty darn convenient at times…

I finally did get a hold of my stylist Friday at the salon, and miraculously, she had time to fit me in on Saturday. I reminded her once again that I can’t call her cell, and then it occurred to me that I *could* text her…and asked if that would be okay. She said yes, so now next time I need a haircut, I’ll text for an appointment. Crazy how times change…

I told my husband it’s becoming increasingly difficult to get by without a mobile number – even my bank wants a mobile number to text confirmation codes and web site pins to before they’ll even let you get into your accounts (I complained before I was able to get texts, and they came up with a way for us luddites to get one through our landlines, but it’s still a pain in the butt). Thing is, it isn’t difficult at all for him, because while he may work in tech, he doesn’t do anything online but surf, shop & play games, so he doesn’t run into the issue.

Interestingly though, it’s been easier for me to sort of “keep up” with the changing way that people communicate just by getting a cell phone – even though I don’t have voice service. A tablet is too unwieldy to carry in a pocket, so it’s still not optimal for “always on” communication. But I can take my cell out of its case and put it in my pocket, and get texts from my family or FB messages from people who need to contact me in “real time” (like people who are dropping by to pick things up that I’m giving away or selling, or publishing contacts) while still being free to move about and do whatever. People can contact me through FB messenger (the app everyone loves to hate – I happen to love it) even if they aren’t friends with me on FB, and it doesn’t get shunted off into some “others” folder like it does on the web site, it just comes straight to me, which is handy.

In any case, I’m slowly being lured into the cell phone culture, but my husband’s main point against getting full cell service is well made – it’s extraordinarily rare for me to actually talk on the phone. Last week was an exception, as one of my dogs was very ill and I had lots of conversations with the vet’s office (he’s much better now, thanks – and my wallet is much lighter), but otherwise, I use the phone pretty much once a week to chat with my mom. Other than that, I really have no need of actual phone service. So it would be stupid of me to pay for a service I’ll use so rarely – especially when I refuse to give up my landline (in case of major, catastrophic emergency…the landline works even when the power is out!).

But the idea of unlimited messaging to go with my data access is rather alluring. Even though I really don’t text all that much either. Honestly, I don’t *need* anything more than what I have right now, which is 4g data access and free texing/FB messaging. But the gadgety goodness aspect of it all is getting harder to resist…much to my poor hubby’s chagrin.


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Monday Musings: On Stories, Concerts, & Speechlessness…


It’s 5 minutes to 1am, and I am about done for. Physically, mentally…it’s been a busy, trying weekend all the way around and I still have a load of laundry to take out of the dryer, and another one to dry before I sleep. So if I ramble a bit more than normal, well…you should be used to that, actually.

It all started Friday night, when I made a last minute decision that hubby and I should move the couch we were giving away out of the basement and into the garage ourselves, rather than having strangers come in to get it. The couch weighs a million pounds (you think I jest…but seriously, it’s an old couch from the 70’s, with a solid metal frame for the sleeper part), and we wrestled it all the way across the basement and up a flight of stairs. Neither of us being professional furniture movers, we knew it was going to hurt the next day, just not really how *much*, or where.

Of course this put me into “superwoman” mode, and while I’d previously decided to leave the office cleaning/reorganizing until a less-busy time, I decided to go ahead and start on Saturday. As you can see from the photo above, I managed to get everything taken out, two tables and a chair sold on our local FB rummage page, and the new writing booth put into place. Unfortunately, my living room & dining room are still covered in old office remnants that need to be gone through and either tossed or put in a new home.

In any case, I spent a lot of time waiting on people to come get stuff this weekend too – that couch and the other office furniture. Last weekend, I bought my writing booth off the rummage sale, and had it delivered. A few weeks ago, I freecycled some old aquariums I had sitting around. And you know what the one common thing I noticed with all but one of the people who stopped by for one reason or another?

They all wanted to tell me a story.

We use stories to relate to each other, so really, what they wanted to do was connect. And for the most part, I enjoyed listening, though I did wonder how many of them would be so talkative if they’d known I’m a writer. Not that I’d tell anyone else’s story without obscuring names, places, etc.

As if the office project wasn’t enough this weekend, hubby and I also managed to squeeze in two concerts at the county fair going on this week. Train on Saturday night, which was incredibly popular and thus crazy-full of people, and Adelita’s Way and Pop Evil on Sunday night, which was…decidedly less popular, but the better of the two, IMO. Part of it is the acoustics at our local entertainment arena – they’ve always sucked, and they still do, so unless you sit in the “sweet spot”, it’s nearly impossible to hear the vocals of any band.

In any case, I was once again interested in the different demographics for each concert as well as the personalities of the performers, but that will have to be a post all on its own. Suffice it to say, communication is a fascinating thing, and so is relatability.

Last but certainly not least, I was struck nearly speechless this weekend, which as you might imagine, doesn’t happen to me all that often. Words are an interesting thing, really. Sometimes you just skim them and maybe something catches your eye that makes you want to read deeper, and sometimes not. Too often not, actually.

But sometimes you read something that speaks to something in you personally in a way that you really can’t put into words. Or you could, rather, if you gave it a lot of time and effort, but to do so feels like it would cheapen that sense of deep meaning you got from it. I read something that hit me like that this weekend – a poem written by a writer friend that really struck just the right chord with me to resonate so deeply I didn’t even want to really analyze it further, I just wanted to let it…be what it was, without comment. Even now, I really don’t want to tell you anything else about it, because I don’t want to fall into analytical mode and somehow lose the way it makes me feel in lieu of actual, coherent thought.

So, since it’s a public FB post, I’ll simply link to it, and perhaps you’ll get the same feeling of depth that I did (and if not, I’m betting you’ll still enjoy it).

The Unsmashed Pumpkin by Ford Forkum

Now it’s 2am, and I have to be up at 6am. So off to bed I go.

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Monday Musings: On Baseball, Crowd Dynamics & Apple Pie…

Billings Mustangs

The Billings Mustangs at Dehler Park in Billings, MT

Last week hubby was offered free tickets to a local baseball game, and since it was on my “get-out-and-be-more-social list” to attend a baseball game this year, away we went. I hadn’t been to the ball field since they tore down our old Cobb Field stadium, so I was curious to see the new Dehler (pronounced “dealer”) Park, and obviously I hadn’t been to a baseball game in…well, more years than I can remember. Aside from a few years in grade school when I remember proclaiming myself a Dodgers fan (not sure what I was thinking there – a California team? Really?), I’ve always found baseball kind of a boring sport to watch. Then again, I was always bored with golf until I married a golf fan, and now I watch enough that I know the main players and actually find it interesting (when I’m not rolling my eyes/yelling at the idiotic commentators, that is). I can generally enjoy nearly any sport if I know enough about it…the major exception being boxing, which I just cannot handle (turns my stomach to watch people beating the crap out of each other – and I have a pretty strong stomach…I think it’s mostly the head/facial trauma that does me in).

In any case, I wanted to give baseball another shot. It is the quintessential all-American sport, after all (don’t get me started on football – they lost me when players started switching teams every frickin’ year – and I was a Broncos fan through an insanely long losing streak and years of subsequent mocking).

Our minor league baseball team is the Billings Mustangs in the Pioneer League, and they’re a “farm team” for the Cincinnati Reds. I suppose that means if I were to watch Major League baseball, I’d be sort of obligated to be a Reds fan, eh? Except according to my husband, Pioneer League is pretty much the bottom of the barrel, so it’s a tenuous thread, and…Cincinnati, Ohio? Yeah, no. Even if they do appear to be fourth in their division. I say “appear” because I just spent far too long looking at baseball stats and rankings on the MLB site, and I’m still not completely sure I understand how it all fits together. Men say women make things too complex, but seriously…have you ever looked at how sports are “organized”?!

Incidentally, I noticed that the White Sox are playing the Red Sox tonight. Does that turn the field pink if it rains?

Yeah, yeah. I see your eyes rolling…

ANYways…back to our local ball park. It’s been unseasonably cool here, so we weren’t able to stay for the entire game, and left during the 7th inning stretch. But I have to say, I really enjoyed the whole experience, and a big part of that was just the general ambiance of the crowd. It’s the first time in a long time that the majority of people were *not* checking their cell phones every three seconds. In fact, I saw very few phones in hand, even among the teen contingent. It was refreshing. People were talking to each other, watching the game, watching kids run around (and the free-range kids really weren’t bothering anyone…no real whining or screaming, just laughing and busy), and just having a good time.

It actually made me think of my childhood. It felt like a small town rodeo crowd…something I do have a lot of experience with (when you grow up in Montana, rodeo is the prevailing live “sport” to watch). Everyone’s relaxed, laid back, and friendly. I was far more comfortable at that baseball game than I often am in a crowd these days, which was a nice change.

And for the ladies…baseball uniform pants are…thin. If you need a cheap thrill, you can probably find one on the field. Just sayin’. You’re welcome.

We had reserved seating, but we opted to sit on the general admission bleachers instead, since the actual chair-seats aren’t all that comfortable for my husband. Errant balls have a tendency to fly into the section we were assigned as well, and while I know people like to catch balls, I was just as happy to be out of the normal line of fire. We had a great view from where we ended up – both of the field and the crowd – and I was quite surprised to find myself actually enjoying the game itself, rather than being bored. I still can’t tell the difference between a good and bad pitch, but I never could, and that’s what umpires are for. For the most part, I kept up just fine, and it’s always fun to watch a local team because the whole “who to root for” question isn’t one at all – the home team is “yours”.

We had hamburgers on the company that gave us the tickets, but hubby also bought me nachos, which are my go-to concession food at any event, so that was fun. And I was actually kind of bummed we had to leave, even though my feet didn’t thaw out until several hours after we got home (and yes, I was wearing socks and tennis shoes – the first time I dug my birks out this year was July 4th). I’d like to attend once when the weather’s nice enough to stay out the whole evening comfortably.

Believe it or not, when I got home, I was actually craving apple pie. Which is totally cheesy, but it sounded like the perfect end to that particular evening. Maybe because in high school and college, that’s what we’d do after going to something fun like that – hit Perkins for pie or a chocolate chip cookie sundae, and I was already in that nostalgic frame of mind.

Not having any pie, or the wherewithal to make a pie at that hour, I settled for a cup of warm apple cider, which pretty much hit the spot. Next time, I’ll be sure to have pie at the ready. Or convince hubby to stop for some on the way home. Perkins is right across the street from the ball park, after all….

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Monday Musings: On Small Talk, Being Social & Community

Like most introverts, I’m not overly fond of small talk. Mostly because I feel like I’m wasting time and energy on something that doesn’t seem to matter much – just noise to fill the void (which I rarely feel needs “filling”). Either that, or it feels like verbal jousting – tossing random sentences at each other until someone either scores a hit or drops the lance. Sometimes that’s fun, but often it’s tedious.

But on a sociological level, I know it does actually matter. It’s not the words so much – that’s why it’s called “small” talk, but when you commiserate/celebrate with someone about the weather or the baseball game you’re watching, or the play/concert that’s about to start, or even point someone in the direction of your favorite restaurant, you’re making a connection. And all of those brief connections add up to what we think of as “community”.

Even most introverts are happier when they feel like part of a community. Being introverted doesn’t mean you don’t need people, it means you need a lot of time to yourself. This past weekend, I really, really wanted to go to our local Renaissance Festival (and I went, and it was great fun – photo above from the jousting demo), but I paid for it too. Just being out and being around people on Saturday meant I had very little “social energy” left over for the family dinner we needed to be at on Sunday. By which I mean to say, I was pretty crabby Sunday and needed some space badly. The fact that I work in an office Mon-Fri leaves me with limited social energy on the weekends anyways (depending on who/how many people I have to interact with during any given week), and while I can normally handle one weekend day of “people” just fine, two days is too much.

Yes, I know. Sounds wimpy, but it just is what it is. Personality quirks like that aren’t something you can just change…you just learn to live with them and work around them whenever possible.

In any case, I’ve been making more of an attempt to engage in brief bouts of small talk this year. Not to annoy people (I hope – I don’t really have the stamina for long convos with people I barely know, so we’re talking a few sentences, if that), but to be “friendlier” and to make connections, however brief. And I’ll freely admit, I mangle it all too often, just because…well, I am who I am, and my particular form of sarcasm/humor/wry commentary isn’t always appreciated or understood. When you’re standing in the checkout line and the woman ahead of you says hi and how are you, and you realize she’s a nun (due to the name tag), and the first thing that comes to mind is “why would someone so young have given up on sex so early?”…yeah. Small talk is a bit awkward when trying to engage the brain around that comment while keeping it from slipping out.

And certain people just make me more nervous than others (read: they make me stupid, which is insanely embarrassing)…it’s a chemical thing, and I still have no idea how to deal with that, really. Fight through it or move on quickly are the only options, it seems. The only real “cure” I think is to get to know those people on a deeper level, and that’s…difficult/impossible with someone you see once or twice total in passing, and sometimes even ill-advised, depending on the circumstances.

I’ll freely admit to being annoyed by those people who, once they have your ear, will tell you their entire life story and then just keep going…but that’s not small talk. That’s what you inflict on your friends & family (or people who connect with you on social media, implying they do actually want to know more about you)…people who already know you, and like you well enough to be interested in your rambling diatribes. A complete stranger isn’t going to appreciate that, on average.

But overall, I do find that connecting with people even on a shallow, two-sentences-in-passing type of level actually *does* make me feel happier. More like part of the “whole”, which is kind of nice, considering I’ve always been (and probably always will be) more of an outsider in general.

Do you initiate small talk with strangers? Or are you more the type to ignore those around you and just go about your business? What’s your reaction when someone initiates a brief conversation with you? Do you get irritated, or do you appreciate the attempt at a social connection, however brief?

Article of Interest: Master the Art of Small Talk with Strangers to be Happy