On the Periphery

Things change. Life throws us curves and changeups. It's good to have a place to vent.

Friday, October 30, 2009

When I moved from a small town to a city suburb, I was shocked to discover that it takes at least twice—often three times—as long to get anywhere as it did back in the country. More, I have discovered a part of me I don’t really like—ROAD RAGE. When I am in a rush to get somewhere and traffic is keeping me from my appointed rounds, I can feel my heart start pumping faster as my hands ache from alternately clenching and pounding the steering wheel. I have even discovered the efficacy of the “F” word (yes, my children, even I). Still, I keep my rage safe within my car: I have never flipped off another driver, or yelled at one (well, almost never) through an open window, or even made eye contact. At one time, I would have credited my innate niceness for this enormous self-control. But then I realized there was another reason for my unwillingness to engage with other drivers.

I am afraid.

Yes, I have faced the realization that this is not a safe world. Drive-by shootings are common, and who’s to say the guy I insult won’t pull an uzi on me across the lanes, or even follow me home? It’s happened. Isn’t that a shame—that a person might be pleasant or patient not because of decency, but because of fear? Some might say hey, polite is polite, but I don’t know. It seems to me that fear is not the best motivator for civility or self-discipline. Maybe I need to delve deeper into myself to purge that fury. Maybe I just need to allow more time to get somewhere so I can relax and enjoy the ride. After all, life is a journey, too, and I’m certainly in no hurry to reach that end.

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Friday, October 23, 2009

Well, it's flu season again, and again panic has taken over. I haven't gotten my flu shot yet, and I am debating whether to even get one this year--I never have, and I have never had the flu, that I know of. I have had upper respiratory problems, mainly colds, and never to the extent where it would be called the dreaded "flu." I get a stomach virus every few years, but that's it. Even when I was teaching, no matter how many kids were out sick, I almost never missed a day from sickness. In fact, my illnesses were so few and far between I can remember each precisely. (There were two. Each time I passed out when I stood up, and figured I'd better not drive to school.)

So why are some people more immune than others? I tend to attribute my basic health to the fact that I grew up on a farm and "ate a bushel of dirt" as my mother put it. We ran barefoot outside, swam in a really polluted lake (it's since been cleaned up), and pretty much ignored most health rules. We let our dogs lick our faces and never washed with antiseptic soap--in fact, we never had antibacterial anything. We didn't wear latex gloves or face masks when collecting eggs or handling farm animals, and cuts just got a washing and a dab of mercurechrome that cast an eerie orange shadow along the wound. I wonder now if all that dirt didn't help build antibodies. Nowadays we obsess about cleanliness, but our kids seem to get sicker easier, and stay sicker longer. Something's not right.

Of course you know, by writing this I will no doubt come down with a horrible case of the flu. My mother would have called it an "einhora," saying I tempted the evil eye. Maybe I'd better go wash my hands after typing this, or spritz some antimicrobial on my keyboard. Not likely.

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