Monday, July 27, 2009

One Year Anniversary of Blogging

It's amazing how fast a year can come and go. The one year anniversary of my blog has arrived and I am making note of the occasion to reflect back on some of the year's activities.
The first post I wrote was "Ten Things I Dislike About Brad and Angelina". I haven't changed my mind about anything I wrote that day yet some of my cohorts were a bit taken aback by my vitriolic display of negativity. I guess one of my reasons for starting the blog was to have my own forum to say what ever I wanted and that is basically what I've been doing. You can't write honestly if you care too much what other people think.
I haven't been able to observe any trends or themes which I was somewhat surprised about really. There appears to be attempts at a sense of humor which probably took a bit of effort to compose. I'm not known for my spontaneous wit but there are times when I think I'm quite funny. My post about "License Plate Slogans" had some humor to it as did "Innies and Outies and "My List of Lists".
When I decided to initiate my blog the title "Confessions Of A Hope Fiend" was borrowed from Timothy Leary's book of the same title . I do see myself mostly as an optimist and wanted to express some of my thoughts, feelings, and ideas. It was never my intent really to write for anyone else except myself. If you start to allow yourself to get too distracted by what other people think about your writing it changes things. I think I've stayed rather true to that but admittedly my candor is more on the mild side and I haven't taken that many risks. This has lead me to consider starting a third blog and keeping that totally anonymous but already having two blogs seems like it takes up enough of my time already without devoting more of my free time to the keyboard.
There really is no difference between "gaf 85" and "Confessions Of A Hope Fiend" they could probably be consolidated into one blog but since they are separate I 'm just going to leave it that way.
I've met some truly nice people whom I admire, especially their creativity, and honest self disclosure. It takes all kinds and I have enjoyed reading a cross section of other people's blogs.I still visit other blogs randomly from time to time however most of my activity revolves around the other bloggers who read my posts and I in turn read there's, basically forming a loose group of associates.
To all of you I say thank-you for all your constructive comments and sincerity in your responses to my posts. I guess I'll keep doing this awhile longer until I get bored with it at some point.

Saturday, July 25, 2009


While I'm out and about doing errands one of my usual stops is Walmart. Many people criticize their business practices and employing people for minimum wage keeping them under full time hours and not having to provide benefits. This is not what this post is about.

I live in St. Lawrence County which is rather rural, off the beaten path, with individuals tending to be hearty souls who brave very challenging winter weather and then are rewarded with (mostly) amazing summers and the Adirondack mountains in their backyard. There are a few subcultures including old hippies escaping the city life in the fast lane and enjoy hiking and the outdoors. Many of the locals continue to maintain small family dairy farms. Unemployment is staggeringly momentous and many young people leave the area for college and upon graduation choose somewhere else to live due to the lack of jobs. There are a few colleges in the area which at least provides some culture and opportunities. We also have an extraordinary number of prisons. What better place to dump society's miscreants.

As I ramble on here and make my point, we have a large Amish population which most of the local people are used to seeing on a fairly regular basis and are very casual about their presence in the community. Motorists slow their cars down not so much to gawk but to give them a little extra safe distance to steer their horse and buggy down the road. For awhile they were patronizing a little convenience store a few miles away and the owner of the store asked them to shovel the horse droppings while parked in the lot. Apparently a misunderstanding developed and the poops were not picked up so the owner banned them from his parking lot. It made the local newspaper. I think alot of people thought the Amish should pick up their horses's crap.

Since I am a regular but guilty patron of the big box store known as Walmart the first time I observed the Amish in Walmart I was a bit taken aback. What could they possibly be buying? Let's face it most everything in the store reeks of consumerism and plastic which seems counter to their basic beliefs of rejecting modern society.Although curious, I kept a respectful casual distance, not making direct eye contact. There was a teenage Amish boy wearing a straw hat in the greeting card section checking out the wrapping paper and bows. What occasion could possibly warrant his interest? They don't observe any "English" holidays I am aware of so who knows what that's about until a little while later I encountered an older Amish women whose age I could not discern because her bonnet shielded most of her face and she was in the aisle looking at pain relievers, Tylenol and Motrin. So was I. I need my Tylenol Arthritis to keep some of my aches and pains at bay as needed. She did not seem unfamiliar with the products and knew what she was doing so I guess Amish people medicate with over the counter medicine.

I wonder if they scoop their horse's poop out of the parking lot while visiting Walmart or if some young kid who chases the shopping carts has to go out there with a shovel and perform the task? I bet the young kids who take turns out in the parking lot fight over whose turn it is to remove the equine droppings?

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Everyone is from somewhere

There are a multitude of reasons why people move from one location to another just as there is a myriad of reasons some people choose to live close to where they were born. Society of course is now much more mobile and international involving patterns of migration and immigration. Oops, we're talking about humans here not animals.

I grew up in the suburbs of Boston, Massachusetts, which while a kid I assumed was the center of the universe. I lived within a small community which was rather homogeneous with few visible signs of minorities, religious, cultural or otherwise. I was aware that certain ethnic groups had their predictable stereotyping, however grew up somewhat insulated within a Catholic upbringing where most people were of European descent. It was only later in life that I began to realize how self reinforcing it can be living amongst the same type of people as myself with only small amounts of variance. Middle class people living in a similar environment can be rather featureless in the larger picture of things.

When people make a decision to move away from what's familiar to them they take the inherent risk of experiencing something different than what they might be used to.It may involve a job opportunity somewhere else, moving to a different climate, or being near (or away) from family.Relationships may also be a factor, wanting to live near someone we love or the hope of romance and socialization.

Such a melting pot our country has become, although I'm fairly certain there remain some isolated areas that do not experience much change. When moving into a new community it is an adjustment trying to figure out how the locals do things. I'm a dead give away because of my accent. I often get comments "you're not from around here are you?" When I encounter people who grew up in the south I often have a difficult time understanding them if they have a thick accent. I think it is probably challenging for southerners to move to other areas of the country without being noticed as talking different. I think I kind of know how they feel. It must also be rather noticeable when a "Yankee" moves down south.

Do people ever develop that deep sense of loyalty and identification to a region they move to in adulthood after growing up somewhere else? Although I have resided in northern New York for 24 years I still feel like a transplant and unless you were born and raised "here" you'll always be considered an outsider by people who have generational longevity. So when someone asks me where I'm from I say I live in northern New York but grew up in the suburbs of Boston.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

A Rant About Shopping Etiquette

I usually enjoy going grocery shopping however there are times when my patience is tested by other patrons who are not aware of supermarket etiquette or how to behave in public. Maybe I just have my own rules but then again what I think is proper decorum is not always shared by others.

I have some acquaintances who are anti Walmart and they are probably right about the "big box" stores squeezing out the smaller businesses in the area.When I shop at Walmart I have to adopt an approach of let's go on a safari. You never know what your're going to encounter there. Without sounding overly snobbish, some of the shoppers have issues regarding how they behave and also how they supervise their children. I figure half the time it's okay for me to be the one to yield right of way with my shopping cart so that would mean the other 50% of the time other people should do the same. I seem to run into a great deal of difficulty with this theory because apparently I'm the only one who values politeness and civility. I'll even joke with people when we almost collide, but for heaven's sake please get out of my way and pull your shopping cart over to the side so I can get by, thank you.

I also must comment on people's general appearance while out shopping.When I leave the house I give myself the once over making sure I don't look too bedraggled but I admit I'm probably a bit obsessed about always appearing presentable. You never know whom you might run into, so rather than be embarrassed I make sure my hair is combed, no large stains down the front of my shirt, and I have a bra on. I can't make other people care about how they dress but what about cleaning up a bit when you are going out in public to a store and wear enough clothes so everything isn't hanging out all over..... And would it be too much trouble to pay attention to your child who is misbehaving causing a scene about wanting chips or a soda and while out of control smashes into me and then the parent not even uttering "I'm sorry" or acting the slightest embarrassed by the child's temper tantrum.
( By the way I raised two of my own children and they will testify that at times I stopped taking them into stores when they couldn't behave themselves. I'm so mean.)

While I'm ranting about this, let's not forget to mention that giving people a few inches of space when you are in the same store aisle and it appears you might be both looking at the same item that it's okay to step back and occasionally acquiesce. Take a moment to be polite, someone like me might appreciate it or we can both laugh, but do not reach over me or try to budge into my space.

Did I just make up these rules arbitrarily? No, I really don't think so. Maybe how one is brought up may at times dictate how someone behaves in public. We all have different values and that is apparent. Maybe I should just stop shopping at Walmart however I think these crimes probably are quite prevalent in other shopping venues as well. Leave your kids home, put on some decent clothes, smile and try to be polite to other shoppers and I will try and do the same.