Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Life Lessons from Readers

Well, poppets. Spring has finally come to Scotland. The sun is shining and it is B.A.'s day off work, and I should rush out and join him outdoors. He has been out there with a cup of coffee for some time, and I am feeling like a Bad Wife. So I am leaving the job of unsolicited Single Life advice to you today.

Actually, it doesn't have to be Single Life advice. It could be something extremely practical to all states of life that you have discovered for yourselves, like how to get black ink out of a silk scarf or how to win arguments with Russians.

I am looking forward to seeing what you come up with.


Abby said...

I think having 'dtr' conversations (define the relationship) is a bad idea. It will either be heartbreaking when he says, oh I thought we were just friends... Or when he was planning to ask you out soon anyway. Dtr, in my opinion, is his job, when he either asks you out or doesn't. I think in extraordinary cases it is alright, but I think having it as the normal way to start a relationship is a problem.

Nzie (theRosyGardener) said...

Good thinking - I will keep that in mind, Abby. I don't think I have tons of useful general advice, but I do know a good deal about Russians/Russia, so...

If you want to have a chance at winning arguments with Russians you must know your facts and arguments extremely well. Russian schooling incorporates a lot of oral presentations and defenses, from about junior high on up. They also will ask challenging questions. As a priest whose ministry is in Russia explained to me, it's very hard for Russians who become Catholics because they're expected to have answers like an expert.

Also, Russian as a language is spoken in a way that can sound argumentative, at least to English speakers. A delightful Russian NCB whom I liked (and I think liked me) felt HORRIBLY guilty when I explained that all the Americans in the room at a Catholic youth conference in the far east needed peace and quiet after what we viewed as an argument. But Russian in the room had thought was an argument at all. So perhaps you think it's an argument, but they consider it just a conversation.

So, perhaps not the key to winning, but the key to holding one's own. ? I hope that's helpful for someone. :-)

Nzie (theRosyGardener) said...

Apparently I can't proofread. Above sentence should read: "But the Russians in the room hadn't thought of it as an argument at all."

Sarah said...

Use a mixture of salt and olive oil to get paint stains off your hands.

Stop shampooing your hair. I stopped using shampoo a couple months ago and switched to the method at the link below, and after years of trying to find good products, it's literally the best thing I've ever done for my frizzy, curly hair. (I initially got the idea from an interview I saw of Adele)

As for advice for the single life? I suggest living by yourself (no parents or roommates) for at least a little while. Previous to moving to Germany as an au pair, I lived in a beautiful apartment in the historical section of my town, 500 miles from any family, all by myself. It got lonely sometimes, and I didn't even have TV for months, for background noise, and I lived across town from all my friends and worked crazy hours, but I am really glad I did it. It proved that I can survive on my own and that being alone is not The Worst Thing. I have heard a lot of people-- even guys, but girls most often-- who say, "I could never live by myself," and I really think they're missing out and are more likely to end up married or in a long term relationship just because they're afraid of being alone.

TGWWS said...

(1) Ice takes out blood stains. Just put an ice cube (or a few) on the spot, and let it melt. (Not recommended for large stains--just the sort you get from papercuts, etc.)

(2) Read P.G. Wodehouse.

(3) Say the rosary in bed. You won't feel alone. If you're afraid you'll fall asleep in the middle of it, ask your guardian angel to finish for you.

(4) Never tell yourself "I wouldn't be single still if [I was holier, prettier, funnier, smarter ...]." It's not that you're not the right you; it's just that you're not at the right time.

Domestic Diva said...

Sometimes friends would encourage me to do things as a single person I might be putting off until marriage. I kept thinking, "I've bought the house; I've travelled overseas...what am I putting off?" Then I met some ladies who sew and knit, and we became a social group that crafted for gifts & for charity together. I realized I'd been thinking I'd do these things when I got married, and that I was missing not having this dimension of that life. It fulfilled some real longings...the longing for feminine companionship, the longing to be creative, the longing to serve others and make them happy, the longing to be domestic. Obviously, I still miss husband and children, but this piece of the puzzle helped me become a more seraphic single.

MaryJane said...

Ok, I have a very practical question that everyone can chime in on: how do you go about making new friends in a new place where you don't know anyone? And add to it that doing "church-y" things is limited because you are involved on the giving/teaching/organizing end and not on the receiving/learning/attending end of things.

If you see someone at Mass, or the coffee shop, or the library, that you think you could be friends with (a fellow woman, not a man), do you just strike up a conversation and ask her to join you for coffee sometime?

Any thoughts?

theobromophile said...

Ok, I have a very practical question that everyone can chime in on: how do you go about making new friends in a new place where you don't know anyone?
Volunteer at a pro-life crisis pregnancy centre. You'll meet a lot of women, everyone there believes that human life is sacred, and everyone there has a somewhat/very active social life. Plus, you get to help young women change their lives for the better.

Jam said...

MaryJane, that is the million dollar question. I don't want to be a downer but the first thing I've learned about this in my life is that in some places and situations you have to work harder to make friends and create a social life, and in others it will happen more naturally and easily. I lived in [City A] and after 6 months I had a more spontaneous and lively social life than I did after 3 years living in [City B]. So if you're feeling like things aren't happening, don't get too down on yourself. Sometimes you have to spend months going to book club meetings and knitting group and young adult bible study etc etc before you meet some people you like enough to hang out with outside of a formal event. And when you do meet them, be outgoing enough to be the one to say "let's go for breakfast after mass this weekend!" or "come to my place and watch the game!" or what have you.

One thing I did to try to jumpstart things in [City B] was make a rule: always say yes to things unless you truly can't do them. The movie might be cheesy, you might be wary of trivia night, but going along keeps you in the group. (Literally; I didn't attend a party in my first year of grad school, my fellow students thought I just wasn't interested, and I got deleted off the email list for months!) If you're really not having fun, either tough it out or make up some reason why you have to leave early; but I think it's better to go and give it a try.

Jam said...

PS, I haven't read this book, so buyer beware, but I saw a review for "MWF Seeking BFF: My Yearlong Search for a New Best Friend" by Rachel Bertsche when it came out and it might make for sympathetic reading.

Bernadette said...

Life lesson #1: Do not try to understand what is going on in a man's head. It will only drive you nuts, and you'll be wrong anyway. The ONLY way to know what is going on in a man's head is to ask him to explain clearly and slowly, and even then you have a 50/50 chance of misunderstanding.

Life lesson #2: Do not indulge the drama.

Life lesson #3: You can cook frozen vegetables by microwaving them right in their plastic packaging. No stove or extra pot needed.

Life lesson #4: Back up your hard drive.

Steph said...

Making friends in a city where you know no one can be an awfully intimidating endeavor (especially for an introvert) and an exhausting one too, because you feel like you're always putting yourself out there. 14 months ago I re-located to a city on my own, and it's been rather difficult to make friends despite going to Catholic young adult gatherings, book clubs, joining a gym, attending local concerts and events, etc. I would suggest seeking out a Catholic Worker if there's one near where you live. I've always met interesting, eclectic people in CW communities and the people are always very hospitable. Making friends is so difficult, though, when you're not in college or working at a job with others who don't share similar, non-work related interests. I haven't come up with a good solution to the problem myself except to keep praying that God will provide a kindred spirit in good time. I too would be interested to know how others have managed to develop friendships in new cities.

Steph said...

p.s. Speaking of the Catholic Worker, I'd recommend Dorothy Day's "The Long Loneliness."

Thalia said...

Philosophical life lesson:
Patience helps to get through The Waiting Place (from Dr. Seuss’s Oh, the Places You’ll Go!) …not saying it’s easy to have patience or easy waiting in The Waiting Place :) , but I work at it and it helps me feel more peaceful. And reading this book is always fun :)

Practical life lesson:
Yay baking soda! I loved washing my hair with baking soda because my scalp was sensitive to regular detergent-based shampoo and my hair suddenly started falling out more than usual, and so switching to baking soda helped my hair fall out less and get back to normal. But then I realized my scalp was sensitive to baking soda, too, because my hair is too thick for the baking soda to clean it and get washed out. So for those with a sensitive scalp, I recommend using a soap-based shampoo (I use Aubrey Organics Blue Camomile Shampoo – it lathers really well and washes out clean), then rinsing your scalp and hair with about a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar in an empty shampoo bottle filled the rest of the way with water (how much vinegar to use depends on how greasy your hair gets – experiment with the proportion), and then whatever conditioner makes your hair soft applied just to the ends …and, no, your hair won’t smell like vinegar once it dries! :)

sciencegirl said...

1) Don't cut vegetables in your hands. Use the cutting board.

2) Have a very well stocked First Aid Kit that you can take with you on trips. Whenever you end up needing to buy basic supplies, including anti-nausea medication, add some to the kit as well as your cupboard. Then grab it and take it with you if you go abroad.

3) Your laundry will smell better if you add some white vinegar to the wash. You can use dish detergent to handwash clothes.

4) Go to Mass at the least-attended Mass at your parish. If it is an EF Mass, so much the better. Go regularly and stick around after Mass. Talk to the old people. They are your gateway. Then (hopefully) when the families ask you out for lunch, say yes. These people won't be best friends right away, or maybe ever, but it is always good to have acquaintances who cheer you up.

5) Be the Big Sis to some girl you know, whether from work or church. Occasionally invite her to do things with you.

6) If you are lonely, say "Yes" to pretty much all invitations that are entirely social. Say "No" to invitations that will spark months of volunteer work that you can't see yourself loving for the next few years. It sounds counter-intuitive, but if your schedule fills up and you end up still feeling lonely, it's going to be hard to drop a responsibility to go party, movie-watching, or camping with some new friends. Give yourself at least 3 months before signing up for anything open-ended. If you are not lonely, say "Yes" every other time to various groups of people.

7) Take yourself out to dinner and eat by yourself. Go out to the movies by yourself. Learn to enjoy things in solitude as well as company.

Seraphic said...

Ah....! Thank you, ladies! How wonderful that I can leave my combox unattended all day, and it just fills up with niceness!

MorganLaFey said...

Life Lesson: Start a savings account in high school and keep at least 8-months wages in it. You will always be able to leave an apartment, a job, or a man when you need to.

Catherine said...

@MaryJane, and others who have expressed distress at finding friends in new cities - I hear you!! I moved to [City B] almost two years ago and still don't socialize with anyone besides my coworkers (which is sad because none of them are even remotely Christian). And this is not for lack of trying. I have attended young adult Masses, young adult groups, joined a gym, gone to movies and dinner and coffee shops and farmers markets by myself... to no avail. Meeting people is HARD, once you're out of the bubble of University where everyone is in the same boat, so to speak. It's nice to know I'm not the only one who struggles with this!

@Thalia - To add to your baking soda suggestions: many people know that an open box of baking soda in the refrigerator gets rid of strange odors. But did you know you can also...
-Sprinkle it in shoes to make them smell fresher?
-Mix it with water to form a paste, then brush your teeth with it for a whitening effect?
-Scrub dishes with it to get off stubborn food grime?
-Freshen a musty water bottle, Thermos, tupperware, etc. by filling it with baking soda & water, shaking, and letting it sit for a few hours?
-AND, mix it with vinegar and red food dye to make your own kitchen-sink lava! :)

Some more life lessons from my personal experience:
1. Make a point, every so often, to remind yourself how awesome you are. Humility is a beautiful virtue, but part of that is acknowledging and being grateful for one's gifts and talents. Don't wait for validation from a significant other that you don't have - validate yourself! Simple things, like: "I'm a great singer" or "I like how I always smile at strangers" or "I am really good at my job."

2. Don't take it personally when friends drift out of your life. It hurts when people who were once so important to you suddenly become cold, apathetic, and distant, or even (inexplicably) outright tell you they don't want to be friends anymore. But you'll save yourself a lot of grief if you can learn to just let those things go. There's a difference between trying to resuscitate a struggling friendship, versus getting dragged down by people who don't care about you.

theobromophile said...

Life Lesson: buy a bar of soap and an inexpensive nail brush. Whenever you have a horrible stain on machine-washable fabric, put the fabric under running water with the bar of soap on the underside, and scrub away with the nail brush. It gets everything out in about two seconds flat.

Meeting people in a new city: alumni groups. Young professional groups. Political groups. Volunteering (and not just in church). Say "yes" to every social invitation that doesn't involve something immoral, totally unaffordable, or that which would require you to skip work.

Love: understand the difference between having your feelings (or ego) hurt and dealing with a real whack job. Do not treat one like the other, either in your own life or in your friend's lives.

MaryJane said...

Thanks for all the advice. I figured that I wouldn't be the only one wondering about making new friends in a new place. I guess the main theme is to say "yes" - very Marian and all!

The Sojourner said...

If you live alone or with one or two other people, absolutely still buy the "family packs" of meat when they go on sale. Then when you get home, IMMEDIATELY separate them into single-meal portions, put them in baggies, and chuck them in the freezer. Then when you want to cook something it will be very easy to pull out a baggie and defrost. If you're anything like me, the last thing you'll want to do after a shopping trip is handle slimy raw meat, but it really will save you immense amounts of difficulty later on and probably some money since you won't have to buy your meat in tiny packages.

(It is possible that there are people at the meat counter in the store who will do this for you for free, but I have not explored that option.)

Morgan said...

This list makes me really happy. I love the enthusiasm for baking soda and vinegar! I've found it's great for cleaning out forgotten tupperware, to-go cups, etc. -- anything that has a weird smell. It also gets mildew out of bathroom grout if you make a paste and scrub.

When you're new to a city, be willing to have coffee/dinner/a drink with anyone who's a friend of your friend/family/former classmate/old neighbor. You might not end up best friends, but it keeps lively and in the habit of meeting new people and making conversation. And when you've been in your city for a little while, be willing to return the favor for newcomers, even if your social life has picked up and getting together with a stranger sounds like something you don't need or want to do out of loneliness.

Other new city advice, to echo earlier comments: go to things by yourself -- find the cheap tickets to concerts and opera and movies. When you do have friends to go with, you'll have lots of ideas of things to do (and will know how to find the deals), and you won't feel like you've put your life on hold for lack of companionship.

Miss Doyle said...

Yes, yes, yes! I can't recommend doing things by yourself enough!
I had very strange looks when people asked who I went to that nice restaurant with, or who came to a movie with me - and I had gone by myself.
Why the heck not?! It's not like you get to talk during a movie anyway - or you shouldn't!
Don't be that clingy girl who looks like she needs to be physically attached to someone else when she goes out. It's actually not that attractive.

Caitlin said...

Second the prescription to read Wodehouse! One can never feel lonely when laughing at the antics of Bertie and Co. 'Father Brown' stories are a similar antidote (particularly on rainy days) but if all else fails, 'Bridget Jones' will add company to misery. Mimicking the actions when Jamie O'Neal's 'All By Myself' strums its way onto the screen is wondrously cathartic.

bolyongok said...

Life Tips:
1. Pick a reasonable sum of money for your bank account. It should be about a month's worth of all expenses. Whenever your bank account exceeds this, move the excess to your savings immediately and do your best to forget it exists.

2. You have hidden reserves of energy, awareness, and ability. You may not like the state you are in where you're reaching for these hidden reserves, but believe it, they do exist.

3. An excellent coffee is made more excellent by the addition of amaretto and Irish cream.

4. If you don't already know how, learn to read and use a map. You never know if/when your GPS will fail so carry backup maps with you in your car at all times.

5. A large padlock attached to your keychain a. makes it easier to find and/or notice if you haven't got it in your purse, b. means you will always have a lock if you need one for the gym/work/hostels/whatnot, c. is a +2 to use of your keychain as a melee weapon in the event of anything unfortunate, d. All of the above.

LAURA said...

Avoid the anti-dowry at all costs... If you see yourself as a stay-at-home mom, only go to college if you can do it debt free.
The p.c. term for student loans when entering into marriage is an "anti-dowry". My wonderful husband pays mine. It's been a hardship.