Empathy

Awkward Silence vs. the Sound of Two Hands Clapping

My son used to have a band called Awkward Silence. But the funny thing about that band was that, as far as the rest of us in the family could tell, the band was — well — silent. Awkwardly so. In that it had no other members and no actual instruments. It was a band that existed only in the space between this creative child’s ears.

Since he’s since gone on to other creative pursuits that have tangible evidence of existence,

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Banishing Stranger Danger

“Stranger danger” is not relevant to me.  Oh sure, I’d avoid running off with someone who asked me to join a cult or threatened me with a weapon. But short of that, I love meeting new people and often get involved in conversations quicker and for longer than many of my companions would generally choose.

So a while back, I decided that in honor of all the cool people I met in my daily wanderings, I would inaugurate a “stranger of the week”

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Falafel & Tater Tots Together

Give me one good reason that I have to choose either falafel or Tater Tots. Can’t we all be friends?

When my proper Southern Baptist grandmother acceded to my request and took me to see Hell’s Angels on Wheels at the movie theater when I was a child, I loved sitting in the dark theater with her, my young cousins and a multitude of bikers in black leather. I felt safe and intrigued, and comfort in that dichotomy has become a reality of my life: I enjoy straddling multiple worlds. 

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Yo! Toby Keith and Me (Yes, Me, I, My)

Yo… yo… and yo again. A couple of years ago I was taking Spanish classes. There was a woman in my class who was really neurotic, blunt and funny.  We “advanced beginners” were working on preterite conjugations, and this woman (overwhelmed as she often was) said that she’d “decided to just stick with the first person singular because most people only talk about themselves anyway.”

I laughed.  Then I cringed.  Because I know that being self-referential is my default mode.  Anybody else?

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Cheerleading for Each Other

What if I left my house each day assuming that I’m surrounded by a bunch of walking miracles, truly amazing people?  The people I sit by on the subway, the clerks at the stores I frequent, the others at the communal table in the coffee shop with me, not to mention my friends who are (obviously) the most scintillating of the teeming masses on this spinning planet … these are one-of-a-kind specimens of humanity.  And often I forget to be awed.

What if I took the time,

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Love, Loss and What An Ex Kept

I’m a cynic about calling in to radio shows to express myself on the air. I don’t know why my opinion matters, and even if it did, I can’t imagine I’d ever get through the digital equivalent of a lit-up switchboard. Why bother, really?

So when I found myself pulling my car over to the side of the road recently to call D.C.’s MIX 107.3, I was surprised. I didn’t know the depth of loss I felt.

The topic was “things you gave your ex that they kept when you broke up.”

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It Takes All Kinds

Living in a biggish city, I love the variety of people that I encounter. How fun it is to have cross-pollination of the various worlds we inhabit; I do love that.

I often think about juxtapositions among my nearest and dearest. The fact is that within a week’s time:

  • I could have visitors who prefer  Bircher muesli and visitors who prefer Lucky Charms.
  • I could invite over the friends who grew up working picking fruit for pay in elementary school and those who counted their debutante year as the hardest “work”

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Truth or TMI?

Let’s say you run into an acquaintance who — naturally — asks you how you are. When is it okay to say how you’re really feeling — even if the answer is “I’m feeling sort of blah” or even “I’m ecstatic because I got a raise?”  When is it better to just say something polite and move on — vs. expressing what’s actually on your mind?

For most of us our conversational baseline is “How ya doin’?” followed by “Fine” or —

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