Position Paradox – Perfection?

During our last Cooperstown trip, we got to chatting about our “status”, as it were. We tend not to think much about this topic. We came from two incredibly hard-working, at times completely broke (financially) families. We have never found ourselves likely to snub anyone for any reason. It’s not that we have to work at keeping our attitudes towards others and their socioeconomic statuses fair and unbiased; we were simply not raised to even consider those differences. Besides, if you look at both of our career fields, bias truly is a four-letter word.
Art by Dylan Taylor – “I’m Better Than You”
But, while eating breakfast at one of our favorite cafes, a walking paradox showed itself to me in the form of several fellow patrons. “Holy crap! Are we like these folks? Do we think we’re better than others because we’re similar to these people?? Wait, do I think that I’m better than THESE people,” I thought. I found myself equally ashamed, repulsed, proud, and confused, simultaneously.

There was a mildly mixed bag of individuals as far as age and occupation is concerned. Local, hard-working folks. Green, obnoxious students. Sage, snooty professionals. Rustic farmers. Young parents raising self-righteous toddlers. 

While Dave and I work hard (I’d easily admit that he, simply based on the makeup of his job, is a harder worker), we’re madly lucky. He may get home later than some out there, but he’s HOME. It’s not like either of us has to travel or be away from family for months or years at a time. We don’t have permanent blisters or grime covering our hands. Our type of work is real, but not always hard. We’re lucky, but we don’t always recognize it. I guess everyone’s like that.

Well, maybe not. I looked at all these individuals. Usually, when I’m surrounded by people, I feel safe and warm, if not a bit socially awkward. I take for granted that every individual has some bit of good in them. I’ve always thought this and have even argued it (for example, what about a criminal? Hitler?). But, while sitting there, I felt anxious and uncomfortable. It’s my favorite cafe in the area, but I didn’t feel necessarily welcomed. The staff was wonderful, it wasn’t them at all — as a matter of fact, they seemed to have the same awareness about the ridiculousness surrounding them as I did.

It was the others. Most of them. The ones I remember; the parents, the older “smart” couple, the teens, the locals. They seemed completely in tune with who they were being and projecting it as if in a well-rehearsed play. It was strange, and I grew concerned that I had missed rehearsals.

But, then I asked Dave, out of the blue, what he thought. Were we like these folks? Do we buy our organics and use our reusable grocery bags and shop at farmers’ markets and try to conserve and live simply…to portray something? I’ve always known the stigma that comes from our life philosophies (live more simply, eat real food, buy locally), but found a way to transcend them. I always felt that our reasons were as pure as anyone’s; that we could easily be questioned on them and defend politely. Suddenly, I fell face-first into them, and it smelled like manure. And not good manure for fertilizing.

We discussed this, and I’ve thought on my own about it further. I think that I’ve made clear in my posts and my conversations with others that I’m not perfect. No blogger or HUMAN really is. We do our best to portray enough perfection to appease our friends, co-workers, bosses, etc in order to make it through life. We try to make the perfect choices. Pick the perfect mate. Choose the perfect turnip. Buy the perfect house. Raise perfect children. But, all in all, we’re none of us perfect. And none of those coffeehouse individuals were.

Now, I smile to think about the nameless, seemingly class-less folks that I failed to study enough in that coffee shop. The two middle-aged ladies who politely fought over which would pay for their coffees and scones, who sat nearby to us and didn’t stop smiling or laughing together from the moment they stepped in. The woman in an old ragged sweatshirt and jeans who went out of her way to greet that snide mother, whom she clearly knew, and after being snubbed just grinned to herself and returned to her coffee and no one else. The quiet old man who watched everyone intently, getting as much news from his surroundings as he was getting from the local paper in front of him.

I think that I will go back. Besides, their muffins are the size of your head, and I didn’t get to try one. And since I’ll be with Dave, he already knows I’m greatly flawed. No need for pretense, as usual.

Observational Anecdote

Just a short anecdote. Ha, me, short? Seriously, I’ll do my best. This encounter was overheard while in Cooperstown sipping a latte at our favorite Coop-cafe. I’ll let it speak for itself.

(At a nearby table: Two hyperactive, highly intelligent, borderline TOO confident teen girls are sitting trying to pry information out of a smaller, much quieter, normal teen male. Guessing they didn’t really know each other.)

Ring-Leader Girl: So, like, was your mom a big hippie back in the day? Because, like, our parents…
Boy (trying to answer the question): She. Actually. No.
Girl: Oh, really? Seriously. Do tell. Fascinating.
Boy: Actually, she was pretty normal. She went to Julliard, but she didn’t have much money, so it was really hard. She had to work…
Girl (interrupting): OMG, are you for real? Julliard? Seriously??!!
(girls squeal simultaneously)

           At this point, Dave and I are pretty impressed that THEY’RE pretty impressed by the Julliard fact. Hell, I was.

Other Girl: That is SO where Lady Gaga went!!!
Boy sighs deeply, shaking head.

I couldn’t stop laughing to the point where my husband, with a huge grin, insists that we leave immediately. I’m sure I was probably attracting attention, but GOD.

Oh, and I did research. Seems she didn’t go there. Aw, nuts.

Free Shopping

One of my favorite things about the Internet is guilt-free window shopping. It’s helped with my wedding (although, with so many options out there, it’s made decision-making harder) and to check reviews before making a big purchase. It helped get me through the terrifying wait a year ago while buying our house; it was a foreclosure, and there were lots of delays — so, Lowes.com was a great calmer and made me feel productive, strangely enough. And, we’re still being “lurkers” in terms of the Foodshed Buying Club; none of our necessities have come up yet.

But, on days that I allow myself to be lazier than I’d like to admit, I let my browsing fingers tap the less practical side of my brain and look into the prices of dreams, ultimately researching possible nothings or hopeful somethings. That sounds confusing, so let me elaborate — mind you, these are things that many of our friends aren’t even aware that we discuss.

1. I found some web sites today that got me pretty excited about a prospect Dave and I have discussed numerous times. Dave has always complained that we don’t have a good cafe in our area. You have to drive to Domenico’s in Utica for a decent place to get creative, meet friends or…dare I say…enjoy a good coffee or cappuccino. We have one small joint in Little Falls that could possibly be considered hippie enough to fit this, but considering that Herkimer is a larger town, it’s downright disappointing. There are 2 Dunkin’ Donuts stores a stone’s throw (seriously — one at Walmart, another 1 1/2 blocks away) and a Stewart’s every other town or so — but both places feel franchisey and sterile (when actually clean) and just…not like a “cafe.” So, we’ve considered it as a career/retirement project later in life — or whenever a cheap property rears its head. We both have coffee experience (my own being a few years at said Stewart’s shop) and good customer service knowledge…aaaaand not much more than that! I’d like to do some baking to sell with coffee early in the morning and come up with panini recipes for later in the day, and would prefer keeping the place as green as possible — check out THESE cups and things — but still have refined sugar and “normal” options for our less conscientious clientele. But…again…this is all just a dream, so it may never happen — but wouldn’t it be neat?!

2. If the second dream were to happen, the first one definitely couldn’t (at least, not in Herkimer). I use homes.com to search for homes in other areas that are more eco-friendly and less economically depressed (hopefully with more opportunities for us and the “future kids”). I’ve looked throughout New England, “shopped” for jobs in London…hell, I’ve looked everywhere. And, clearly, nothing much comes from it, but somehow it makes me feel better about the future and where we might be going with it.

3. Speaking of “future kids” — yeah, I’ve done free shopping for them, too. More just getting ideas as to whether it’s worth it to be so eco-friendly to give up disposable diapers, and learning about the cost of things. No big whoop. But, it’s still dreaming since we’re not even hitched yet.

Luckily, my guy and I get to do some REAL shopping tomorrow — which may be dangerous since I just got a chunk from my “end of year” check. And this ain’t just ANY shopping! We’re re-visiting the Cooperstown Farmer Market tomorrow morning, this time with cash in our pockets, a cooler in the car and an un-stocked fridge — meaning we can actually BUY AND USE what we get, rather than the last time we went (I’d done some grocery shopping that week…blah). CAN’T WAIT!!!