The Mind of Anne

Archive for the ‘Quirky’ Category

February 26th, 2016 Crabs and Marriage and Politics

Blue Crab

Blue Crab

I love my husband. I have admitted to many people that I recognize it’s not easy to be my spouse, my child, my parent, my sibling, my friend, my co-worker. I have a temper. My snarky threshold can either make you laugh with conspiratorial joy or make you so angry you want to scream. My thoughts and actions are what could be considered “quirky” at times and my husband, known as Nice Husband Bill on Facebook, is a master at interpreting and sometimes just tolerating what he recognizes is just “The Mind of Anne.” I suspect someday he will be canonized.

Nice Husband Bill and I are married a really long time (39 years in May to be exact). We’ve worked out how to manage our lives – who does what in running the house, who handles the finances, who gets to be couch commando in charge of the TV remote control on any particular night. He has his interests. I have my interests. We have our interests. And each of these gets equal time.

Nice Husband Bill & I - 1978

Nice Husband Bill & I – 1978

And fighting. Yes, we fight, we argue, we disagree, like normal people or one normal person and a quirky one. (Who is the quirky one changes depending on the issue and the day and maybe even how the planets are aligned.) One thing I observed was our alignment with something I read in a women’s magazine about 20 years ago or my recollection of the article anyway. I want to say it was Family Circle magazine but I can’t remember for sure (nor can I link to the article since it was, um, decades ago.) Anyway, the article provided observations about long-term marriages gathered by interviewing 50 couples who had been married 50 years or more. There were a lot of the typical statements, which I’ll spare you. The one that stuck in my mind was a statement made by an overwhelming majority of these 50 couples (I want to say 100% but I might be overstating). Whenever they got into a fight, no matter how serious, they never considered divorce as an option.

And there we are. Nice Husband Bill and I are particularly well suited. As I admitted to him quite recently, I’m not sure there is another human on the planet in the husband department who could put up with my crap, my quirkiness, the Mind of Anne. Since divorce is never an option, we have come up with some rather creative ways to make decisions that are best for our family, our future and us. One of these methods is to use humor. If we can find humor in a situation, the tension is quickly broken and we can get to the actual problem solving.

That brings us to this past Wednesday night. We had a lot to do that night for an appointment the next day. Nice Husband Bill had worked a very trying and tiring day so he was particularly irritable. He wouldn’t tell me what was bothering him. He was snippy and took offense or misheard everything I said. He even snapped at a few things I could have complained about but in fact, had not. And of course, I snapped back. We needed to break the spell we were under and fast.

Nice Husband Bill has been studying Spanish using a wonderful free app called Duolingo and he has gotten quite dedicated to it. I think he put himself in a self-imposed time-out that night to quickly do his daily Spanish lesson. I saw my opportunity.

Since I am noodling around with Duolingo myself, I asked Nice Husband Bill how to say, “crab” in Spanish. He replied, “cangrejo” and went back to his lesson. I pretended I hadn’t heard and said, “Did you say Guillermo?” (That is Bill in Spanish, BTW.) We went a few rounds of his “NO, cangrejo” to my “Guillermo?” with the most innocent face I could muster till it clicked that I was calling him a crab. With a wink and a nod, the tension was broken. We were able to approach our task with renewed focus and a common joke.

Bill&Anne

Me & Nice Husband Bill

Nice Husband Bill has since referred to himself as Cangrejo Guillermo a number of times. And on seeing a crab ingredient on Top Chef last night, he called it “Guillermo”. So with a fun little inside joke (not so much on the inside since writing a post about it), we could find common ground and solve the problem at hand.

My point of all this isn’t just a cute story about marriage, although if the shoe fits, use it. I think we, as a society, need to spend more time finding the common ground so we can solve the problem at hand. Whether it’s a personal relationship, a work issue, a confrontation with a stranger or even (and especially) a political disagreement, we need to work together since sometimes divorce isn’t an option there either.

January 1st, 2015 The Fury Inside Me

Raging Storm on Its Way

Raging Storm on Its Way

I recently took one of those Internet quizzes titled, “What Natural Disaster is Your Temper Like?” You would answer a bunch of silly questions and the quizmaster would give you an analysis.

I got Hurricane with this narrative: You are downright deadly. No one would ever try to mess with you. You are feared and rightly so. Once you get on the warpath, there’s no stopping you. People know to get out of your way as soon as they can. You only pick up momentum as you progress. You may calm down temporarily, but you always get a second wind. You’re one storm that takes a while to pass.

I could see myself in that description a bit but mostly I walked away with a notion to self-examine. I had always felt that I’m pretty even-tempered but I recognize there are the occasional explosive moments.

A friend noted that this reminded her of a story I had told years before. My then early teen daughter had been moody and disrespectful and obnoxious as early teen daughters are prone to be. We were arguing about something ridiculous as she headed off to her room. I followed, continuing the argument and when we got to the door, she slammed it in my face. I felt my temper rise, lost all control, and threw a rather powerful sidekick directly at the door. I must mention that I was training in karate at the time and had achieved the rank of brown belt. The kick was so powerful it knocked the door right off the hinges and it fell to the floor of my daughter’s room.

Fortunately, she was already sitting on the bed and was in no danger. I screamed at the top of my lungs, “Don’t you dare slam the door in my face when I am speaking to you!!” Her response, which completely broke the tension of the situation was, “If that wasn’t so terrifying, it would have been really cool.” To that we laughed hysterically as I do now even typing this. My husband didn’t quite find the humor in the situation since he had to fix the door.

Another situation where I blew my cool was when a contracted vendor completely usurped my authority on a really important project at work. Over a weekend, he had contacted all the principals involved and essentially edged me out of the project by directing all communications to him and him alone. He also blew the project budget out of the water to his own advantage. On Monday morning when I discovered what had happened, I had to undo all the damage and reel him in. The concept that he was working for me seemed to have been lost on him. My clients were confused and upset because they wanted to work with me. As I discussed the situation with him and what had gone awry and what he was NEVER to do again, I felt my temper rising.

I don’t yell at people at work. Nor do I allow others to yell at me. So it was a true Herculean effort not to scream. Coincidently (or I at least think it was a coincidence), a severe thunderstorm rolled in as my temper flared. The angrier I got and the more I pushed that emotion down so I could speak in a metered tone, the louder and angrier the storm outside raged on. I needed to be really clear of how he overstepped his position and how I would never allow it to happen again without dire consequences. Me screaming would have diluted that message.

As we talked, the storm got worse and worse. At one point, I remember thinking that if I didn’t calm the hell down, my house would start on fire. I also think I heard a little bit of Wagner’s Ride of the Valkyries in my head. That was the turning point. I laughed at myself for presuming my anger had caused the thunderstorm and actually made it worse.

So maybe that Internet quiz wasn’t off the mark by much. I recognize I have a mercurial temper that can reel out of control but I also have a sense of humor that is equally mercurial. I can laugh at myself almost instantly, right in the moment of my greatest fury or the peak of embarrassment. I’d like to think of my hot-and-cold emotions as assets, albeit opposing at times. I guess it makes me human with the ability to play hard, love hard, live hard. It also makes me grateful that I have a self-awareness of my mercurial nature and more importantly, people around me who love me in spite of my craziness. I wish the same for you.

July 24th, 2014 Now I See Flamingos

Now I see flamingos. If you haven’t heard about my affinity to see things that aren’t there, see this blog post: I See Penguins – Where the Crazy Is. But I think these were actually real. Just last week I was standing on my deck talking to my neighbor when, what to my wondering eyes should appear but a pair of flamingos. Directly. Overhead. They looked like the flamingo in this photo.

flamingo-flight-2
Flamingo in Flight – 10,000 Birds

I (who knows something about birds) was astounded as my neighbor (who knows nothing about birds) starting yelling, “I’ve never seen anything like those before!” And I started yelling for Nice Husband Bill (who knows everything about birds.) He had just stepped inside moments before but by the time he came back out, the birds were long gone. What a difference 10 seconds makes.

So now the conundrum. Do I say I saw flamingos on the New Jersey shore? (I think I just did.) Or were they actually swans or funny flying egrets with a perplexing pink and red undercarriage? Or just chalk it up to The Mind of Anne?

Nice husband Bill consoled me by revealing that some friends of ours who live just a few miles away claimed to have seen flamingos by their house. But that was years ago.

Then there is the joke about Birdsnap. If you don’t know about Birdsnap, it’s a bird identification app that uses facial recognition to help would-be birders identify birds that they spot. There is much debate in the birding world whether this app will create lazy birders on one hand or spur on more interest in birding on the other. I tested it out and for me there is no concern warranted for either camp. Birdsnap identified an English Sparrow on my feeder as a Wild Turkey and a House Wren as an Eastern Screech Owl. There is some work to be done there. It just hasn’t worked for us. But we’ve had great fun calling all the sparrows and wrens we’ve spotted by their turkey and owl Birdsnap names. (Someday a real birder is going to hear us and take away our birding privileges.)

Perhaps I am the human version of Birdsnap – seeing flamingos that in reality are something quite different. But I was so very sure. So for now, I hang out on the deck, eyes to the sky waiting for another chance, hopefully this time I’ll have a camera in hand or at least have a more reliable witness nearby. After all, I see penguins and now flamingos where they couldn’t possibly be.

PS – After I wrote this I took a break. I heated something in the microwave while rinsing out the sink with the sprayer. I inadvertently caught the faucet with the sprayer hose and turned off the water at the same nanosecond the microwave stopped. My brain went straight to the assumption that I must have tripped a circuit breaker causing both events. Yes, that would be electricity and water. My husband saw my confusion and I confessed where my brain went. He just shook his head in disbelief. Any semblance of credibility I had with that man is now completely gone.

March 6th, 2014 I See Penguins – Where the Crazy Is

Penguin

I’m getting an MRI of my head tomorrow morning, presumably for an inner ear thing. I told my darling adult children what was going on and the immediate response from my lovely daughter was, “Oh they’ll get a good look at where the crazy is!” And my son, whom I lovingly call the Pirate, cannot stop laughing. Nice kids!

I’ve always been a little bit quirky. Those who know and love me just shake their heads and accept the mind of Anne. I often tell people about the ridiculous things that are going on in there regardless of how embarrassing it is or how stupid or crazy it makes me appear. Mostly because it’s funny. Then there is the penguin.

Nice Husband Bill and I row a double sculling skiff up and down the river all summer for exercise. We also get great joy at spotting birds and animals. So it was perfectly natural when I glanced off my port side shoulder and saw a penguin. Yes, a penguin. Penguins are not indigenous to our area. Nor are they normally found within thousands of miles of us except in zoos. Yet that is what I saw.

Upon taking a closer look, I realized my penguin was actually a small boat buoy – white on the bottom, black on the top. The mooring eye where you would normally attach a boat line was bent way over so it looked very much like my penguin’s beak. I could have kept it to myself but I told Nice Husband Bill so he got a chuckle too.

Then I couldn’t stop seeing that penguin. Even knowing that buoy was there, every time we rowed upriver, I’d glance over my shoulder and think, “Oh, a penguin!” as I jumped with surprise and almost dropped my oar. Time after time, season after season.

Nice Husband Bill just got used to me losing my mind for a moment as we passed the penguin. He used the penguin as a navigational marker – “Do you want to turn around at the osprey nest or cut it short at the penguin?”

Then one day the penguin was gone. The people who owned it replaced it with a round red-and-white buoy that looks nothing like a penguin. The magic is gone. We lament the demise of the penguin but anyone who knows will never let me forget about it. And that’s OK. I embrace the crazy.

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November 5th, 2013 The Mind of Anne – from the beginning

Kafue National Park, Zambia

Kafue National Park, Zambia

I know the mind of Anne is at times quirky and the rules of logic often do not apply. Yet I think it’s more of an attitude than a character flaw (or maybe a little bit of both.) I believe my self-awareness started during an incident in Kindergarten.

I went to Kindergarten in Bayonne, NJ and since it was a city public school in the 1960s, we did a lot of coloring. We were given a tin orange juice can filled with broken pieces of crayons and a piece of newsprint paper and off we went to create art. On that fateful day I did my thing and then went off to do whatever we did for the rest of the day. (I was five. I can’t remember what that was.)

Some time passed and my teacher, Mrs. Bonnet, called me up to her desk. She had a very concerned look on her face as she showed me a crayon drawing. There were houses and trees and birds and dogs but up in the sky was a solid black circle. Mrs. Bonnet was clearly agitated as she said, “Anne Marie, why did you color the sun black?” What followed next was a litany of questions trying to get to the bottom of my malady. Was I was having trouble at home? No. What did I eat for breakfast that morning? Cereal. And on and on. (Damn that pop psychobabble.)

I had to think of something to say or I was going to be there forever or so my five-year-old self thought. Frankly, I didn’t even remember drawing the black sun, let alone why. Out of my mouth came, “I didn’t have any yellow crayons.” I could see the relief on her face as she realized I might not be the psychopath she feared I was. But then she said the most disturbing thing, so disturbing that it haunts me all these decades later – “Next time come to me and I’ll give you more crayons so you can draw it RIGHT.”

OMG. I thought my head was going to explode. I didn’t say a word and just went back to my seat. How dare she presume to have the corner market on what was correct when it came to what I wanted to draw. Who did she think she was that she felt comfortable assuming what was going on in my head? Or that she had a right to judge me according to her narrow criteria.

From that moment forward, I chose my own path. My opinions and actions haven’t always been popular but they’ve always been mine. I kind of like the quirkiness.