Why bother to have a conversation?
January 30, 2016
The other day I asked Darrell if he thought I was jealous of someone. At least once a month I’ll make a reference to how everything she touches turns to gold, fascinating if only because I find it boring. “Is that the appeal?” I wonder, before scouring the latest to see what I can learn from it after all. Something about it works.
Darrell’s answer to my question was a hearty, “No.” I loved the reassurance I gave off the magnanimous vibes I felt.
Then he chirped, “She doesn’t have me.”
Isn’t that hilarious? That he’d even tease me he’s God’s gift to women?
It reminded us both of me teasing him on the show recently. “Why do I bother to have you around?” I asked. “Eye candy,” he fired back.
Never thought of that! But, sure.
Twenty-two years in, and we have more fun talking with each other than we did on our first date. “Why is that?” I asked. “Why are you only now wondering?” he countered.
I don’t have the answer to the second, but I have a guess for the first. Darrell’s willing to change his mind -- on everything from religion and politics to farming.
I got me a good one, I know. If you’re still looking for that special someone, you could do worse than putting “open-minded” on your list of nonnegotiables.
What did you love to do as a kid?
January 29, 2016
I don’t know if it was an assignment, or something I dreamed up for fun. But I can still remember being in the eighth grade, giving a speech on milk -- with a glass of milk as a prop. I really got into it, the benefits of being a milk drinker and all. Word got around. A favorite teacher -- who hadn’t heard the original presentation -- heard how well it had gone and made me give it in study hall.
Everyone laughed all the way through it -- both times. They weren’t making fun of me. They were laughing because it was funny. Believe me, I knew the difference. I’d suffered my share of humiliation by then. In a different class a few years earlier I’d shared a story about something that happened at home, and called my dad “Daddy.” Apparently we were too old to be doing that. I can still feel my face, hot with shame, as the laughter took what felt like forever to fade.
That I had the nerve to give speeches to what was, for me, a difficult crowd? Wow. That I found the challenge of entertaining as well as inspiring as much fun as I could have? It makes the person I became less of a mystery.
What did you like doing when you were a kid? In my lifelong quest to get to know people whose lives are working, it’s eerie how many of them are doing exactly what they found fun as children.
You don’t have to dwell on the past. But wouldn’t it be a shame not to mine it for the treasures?
Are you blaming the wrong thing for your unhappiness?
January 28, 2016
“My kids are less annoying when I put my phone down.” That observation from Sam Deane Mavis reminded me in a whole new way that while phones, while not the root of all evil, are certainly the root of a lot of it.
Let’s assume you survive the evening commute despite the number of texting drivers on the road. How are you going to reward your kids with your presence? By making sure they know how important they are to you, assuming your phone doesn’t ping before they finish asking their questions?
One thing at a time. Multitasking was always a myth.
Are you making things too complicated?
January 27, 2016
One thing I love about the way I eat is how simple it is. I have a list, and I stick to it. The end.
One thing I’ve noticed about other diets is how complicated they are. Which is okay, too. It might even be great. The complications are a distraction. Make them all-consuming, so to speak, and you might have something that works really well.
But if you’re anything like me, you already have plenty of distractions.
I wanted something simple, and I found it. I don’t worry about portion control. I don’t count calories. No meetings to attend, no membership dues.
I don’t even have special recipes. I often mix whole wheat pasta with vegetarian chili, for example, and call it chili pasta -- but it hardly counts as following a recipe.
I’ve streamlined this part of life in a way I didn’t think was possible, and it’s changed everything.
Don’t let anyone tell you it has to be difficult.
Are you bored or are you boring?
January 26, 2016
I’m not used to playing second fiddle when it comes to interviewing. There’s nothing sinister in that comment, by the way. It’s just that Darrell finds it difficult to get a word in when we record the talk show, and he’s fine with that. The better my guests -- and they’re rarely duds -- the more we both want them to shine. We only have a couple of hours, after all.
I was with Darrell when he knocked off several interviews in a row for his radio program. I’d been in that situation before, and it’s the only time I’ve ever been tempted to work a crossword. I don’t find farming fascinating.
This time I pretended I did, and you know what? It was! Well, not farming. Not so much. But I wondered how anyone could be that over the moon about a new herbicide, what made someone else think his precision ag company was different enough from the existing precision ag companies to get enough customers to stay in business, and whether anyone had told an ad agency rep he looks exactly like Matt Nathanson.
I’ve been making a habit to find meaning in the mundane. I don’t even mind doing the laundry. I’m lucky to have someone who appreciates that, who knows how to fix the washer when it breaks again, and who gives me something to look forward to when the chores are done and it’s time to plan the next big adventure with the kid.
How well do you take care of yourself?
January 25, 2016
When we set off for Europe shortly before Katie set off for college I decided I wasn’t going to spend the better part of two weeks looking for food. Food I’d been eating, that is -- good food, whole food, not a bit of junk food. I was going to take a real vacation, and enjoy the same culinary delights as my sweethearts.
Which I did. I’ve joked I fell so far off the wagon I couldn’t find “wagon” in the dictionary anymore. I fell asleep in a sugar coma before I got to the W’s.
I hadn’t had a lick of butter or a single potato chip or even one M&M in almost four years. Now, suddenly, I was eating ice cream and croissants -- and chocolate croissants! -- and cheese and ice cream. Did I mention ice cream? No salads for this gal. I got plenty of those at home. “Another croissant, ma’am?” Oui!
We had four days after we got home from Europe before setting off for NYU. That’s when the trouble started. I hadn’t been sick for years. But on an oh-so-critical evening when I was supposed to be helping Katie pack, she went out with friends and I went to bed.
That was the start of a hellish several months, and not just because I missed Kate. I’ll spare you the details -- but I was really, truly, seriously sick.
Eventually I recovered, but we never figured out what had happened. Had I contracted something in Europe Darrell and Katie hadn’t? It seemed unlikely.
I’d forgotten about it for the most part until Darrell read The Hidden Half of Nature. After hearing how that book changed his mind about so many things -- some aspects of farming, even -- I couldn’t wait to dive into it myself. We both drew the same conclusion about Europe. Darrell and Katie were well-equipped to handle the dietary decadence. It wasn’t, if you’ll forgive me, foreign to them. It was to me. My system hadn’t been asked to process anything remotely decadent for years. It simply didn’t know how to handle it.
We’ve entertained the thought of more overseas travel -- but I won’t be eager to veer into adventureland, foodwise. Oh, sure. Sprinkle some parm on that salad. But if you’re asking about dessert, just give me a sliver of pie. And hold the ice cream!
How charitable are you?
January 24, 2016
Once upon a time I was at lunch with a girlfriend, swapping secrets. I told her something about myself I wouldn’t share with just anyone. I’ve since learned, as afflictions go, this one’s pretty benign. Not to hear her tell it. Her response was swift. She didn’t approve.
Of what? Of me having it?
It didn’t occur to me to ask. I was too busy for the moment marinating in shame. Not for what I’d shared, but that I’d chosen to share it with her.
And you know what? We stayed friends for years. Maybe not best friends, but close friends. I couldn’t believe what had happened, and I must’ve done a pretty good job of pretending it hadn’t. Because it was only recently I shared this story with Darrell.
Yeah. Never even thought to pass it along to him at the time. That’s how summarily I blocked it out before I even got home from lunch.
Have you heard the expression that if you give someone enough rope they’ll hang themselves with it? I give people so much rope they hang me with it.
I used to, that is. Now that I’ve identified a pattern I can do something about it.
What time do you stop working?
January 23, 2016
It doesn’t matter how tired I am. If I don’t do something besides work up until bedtime, it’s difficult to fall asleep.
You need a buffer between work and sleep. An exit ramp, of sorts. A book’s great.
I didn’t have a book handy a few months ago so I dug into my notes and mined them for more of #TheKaOfKatie. That’s when I found what you see in this image.
It’s our favorite way to wind down, with giggles. And it doesn’t hurt our chances of having sweet dreams!