Tag Archives: life lessons

The Very Incomplete Life Tips of Everett D. Maroon

At long last, Twitter has a feature for downloading one’s entire tweet history. As I have more than 27,000 tweets out there (think of all the wasted time, people), this took a little while to get on my machine. But I’ve been wanting to grab my tweets for a few years now because I wanted to see what the full list of “life tips” that I’ve written looks like.

Indeed, it borders on pithy, even if a lot of these aren’t useful to people. Here is the full list:

Life tip No. 4: People who like to tell you what’s morally pure usually aren’t.

Life Tip No. 9: No matter how appealing, never try to catch a falling knife.

Life Tip No. 10: Avoid thunking your infant’s head into the overhead compartment for a smoother travel experience.

Life Tip No. 19: Never rub your eyes after eating buffalo wings. Ditto for picking your nose.

Life Tip No. 20: If you have six chocolate chip cookies for breakfast, prepare for a mid-morning snack of heartburn.

Life Tip No.22: When everything and everyone around you suddenly start annoying you, consider that it might just BE you.

Life Tip No. 23: Whenever someone introduces their remarks as “Straight Talk,” know that it’s going to be bullshit. Read More…

Lessons from Walla Walla

walla walla balloon stampedeNearing the end of our initial stint in Wallyworld, I feel it only appropriate to take stock of what lessons I’ve learned thus far, as part of what I’ve tried to do while living here—otherwise known as how to carry on when lots of things in one’s life have gone awry. Through a torn ACL and meniscus, the free-fall of the world’s strongest economy, 30-some-odd inches of snow, for which our passengers tires were completely insufficient, and the sudden adjustment that accompanied moving from a town in which 70 percent of the residents were registered Democrats to a town that went 57 percent for McCain in the last election, I’ve tried to keep up, somehow, with my new reality. And along the way I’ve picked up a few things that I promise to take with me as we start our road trip and half-year sabbatical. These are, in no particular order:

  1. There is nothing that being in a hurry makes better, except possibly catching a ferry. I spent a lot of time in DC rushing around, and now I wonder why.
  2. Listservs just aren’t as good for meting out advice as real people. Sure, I appreciate the community list, but asking my local pharmacist who they recommend for something, even when it’s unrelated to pharmacy, helps get me information they feel attached to, and thus, it becomes better information. This is how I found the second dry cleaners in Walla Walla. For the record, there are two dry cleaners in Walla Walla. The first was cheap but a bit brusque, if anyone cares to know such things.
  3. It’s not what you do, it’s who you are. This was a hard one for me. Career was very important to me before we moved; it was something I worked hard for, found accomplishment in, and that I could appeal to when I asked the question “why.” I also quite enjoyed the salary I eventually made, but again, I worked damn hard for that salary, including working at 3AM on a Saturday for a company vice president who was just about completely incompetent, and having a report thrown at me because the president didn’t like how much it had cost to produce. Fast forward to today and I’ve now been out of a job for 19 months. As long as I was focused on what I didn’t have, I tasted my own bile with the level of frustration I felt. But in the meantime, I’ve mentored people who really needed someone to listen to them and encourage them, I’ve helped out a mom with her newborn when she needed a sitter, I’ve tried to help people just this side of lonely make new connections to others, and I’m currently working on shining a spotlight on the emerging Walla Walla food culture/community, and I think those are all good things. None of them has made me a penny, and in a way, that’s very liberating. My sense of self has shifted from me inside an office to me beyond an office.
  4. Sometimes you just need a nice glass of wine at the end of the day. Or if wine isn’t your thing, iced tea. Or some other refreshment, so long as there’s a moment to decompress from the day’s activities. And if chocolate could accompany this moment, all the better. But remember, we have to breathe before we take the next step.
  5. When faced with an opportunity to do something unknown vs. already experienced, go for the unknown. I suppose this is another way to say nothing ventured, nothing gained, but damn, that phrase is old and worn out. We could have stayed in DC and not come to Walla Walla, sure. And Susanne would still be teaching as a part-time instructor and I would still be working for the government. And I would not have found the time yet to get to my writing. This would all have amounted to limbo as humans live it. So even if this writing thing is a pipe dream, I’m glad to be doing it, and not a week goes by that I don’t hear at least once that what I’ve written has meant something important for someone. All because I arranged pixels on a screen. That is really touching to me.
  6. The more you make your life about learning Important Things, the less you’ll really know. Another hard one for me, since I’ve been all about the learning and growing my whole life. But I see now that I’m not less of a person for not knowing rocket science. The beauty of this position is that I can learn constantly, just by being aware and being principled. This drives me to keep picking up other people’s stories, because I can’t live everyone else’s lives. So the next best thing is hearing them, asking questions and paying attention. I aim to walk a whole lot of miles in other people’s shoes and spend less time fretting about what I don’t know.
  7. Having a sit-down supper most nights is a great excuse for talking. I know, this means I need to close my laptop. I’m okay with that, because on any given night, it could be cheese grits with asparagus and seared pork chops, or curried chicken over rice, or smashed red potatoes with roast chicken and wilted garlic spinach. And I wouldn’t want any of those things to get in between the keys. I also like recapping the day and enjoying another person’s company while having tasty treats.

These weren’t the lessons I sought out when we moved here, but these are the ones I’ve run into. And I recognize that the edge of interesting and trite is razor-thin, so if anyone has puked on themselves reading this, my sincerest apologies. But at the end of the analysis, these have turned out to be important to me. It’s not that they weren’t important before August 20, 2008, but they were just hard to hear through the din. I would genuinely love hearing other folks’ life lessons, so feel free to add them in the comments to this post.

Cows on the wrong side of the fence

There’s nothing like reading the newspaper of a quiet farming town to make one feel like their own tiny city is a bustling metropolis of activity. The rag in Dayton, Washington, for example, seems to have composed its crime section from the entirety of phone calls to its police office. The headlines read like some bizarre melding of David Lynch and Dave Barry:

Lotion Squirted on Car, No Suspects

Dead Skunk Still Lying on Patit Rd

Cow on Wrong Side of Fence

If I lived in Dayton, I’d be tempted to pull my own pranks and then call them in as complaints.

“Hey, those crazy kids dumped a mess of cow manure on the mayor’s truck again.” *click* And a few days afterward, I could scour the paper to see if I’d made the crime section.

My other idea is to replicate some of the news bits over here in Walla Walla, picking up as many of the details as possible so the police force won’t suspect a copycat. But maybe it would be like all of those television crime dramas, and I’d be foiled either by confessing to the drone of some low, ominous cello, or I’d like, use the wrong brand of lotion.

“We left out that the lotion used in Dayton was Avon Skin So Soft,” the detective would growl at me. “You used Aveda rosemary mint, so we knew you were just trying to fool us. The question is . . . why.”

Okay, who am I kidding? This county doesn’t have enough money to drive the plow it owns to clear 30 inches of snow from five main roads in town, they’re not going to do some molecular analysis of skin lotion.

But hey, good cops would know to use their noses.

My ruminations aside, I have learned a few lessons this week, one of which of course is not to commit crime. Okay, perhaps I learned that lesson at 7, when I stole a remarkably cute stuffed animal from a Hallmark store and my mother caught me in the parking lot and made me take it inside to tell the proprietor that I was a thief. Three or four bats of my big brown eyes and she crumbled, saying I could have the little orange donkey if I wanted it. My mother was outraged. How was I going to learn this important life lesson if I could just flirt with older women and get away with anything? And thus it was that I determined that the life lesson was to flirt with older women to get away with most anything.

It’s Friday and I’m rambling. My point is, I’ve learned a few things this week. Specifically:

1. No matter how much it annoys one, one should not attempt to remove overly long nose hair with needlenosed pliers or superiorly sharpened scissors.

2. No espresso drinks after 2PM.

3. Be careful when teaching one’s friends’ children cute little sayings. For example, teaching a child of 22 months to say, “Oh, snap!” may in fact result in the child enunciating “Oh, shit!” (Apologies to my friends’ children’s playmates’ parents.)

4. Be aware that the older the man, the more dedicated he is to his science fiction hobby, and the far less he is to his own personal hygiene. This is especially useful to remember when attempting to look for books at a local organization book sale.

5. Lots of food tastes great going down but makes one miserable later. It’s helpful to know which foods are on one’s own list, so that when out in public one can at least plan for sudden moments of abdominal pain and wincing.

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