Finding Peace and Avoiding Stupidity

August 7th, 2010

I seek peace wherever I can find it. And I’m willing to try new avenues. So I made arrangements to attend a class in meditation. After all, meditation is touted as strengthening the mind; something which, as you all know, I’m all for, as a strong mind can easily combat and discard stupidity.

I took a few home study lessons which I enthusiastically embraced and deemed myself ready to practice in a group setting. A very large group setting. I know people travel to India to find peace. I like to think it exists in my own backyard and at no cost. Plus, after my course, I was feeling my heart swell with love for all humanity.

I arrived early with Husband in tow, who was happy to wait outside the Hall for me, as he had not taken the home study course and “aum” was not in his vocabulary. I took a seat off to one side, hoping to spend some time, at least initially, alone.

This brand of meditation requires inhaling quietly, then exhaling through the mouth, in two, audible breaths. However, in the Hall, a sign was posted requesting visitors breathe quietly, so as not to disturb others. I did so, as did the few others in the room. We closed our eyes and sat quietly, practicing our breathing.

Within minutes, a woman sat directly, touching distance, next to me. This despite the fact that I was surrounded by empty seats. I moved over, very nonchalantly, after accidentally throwing a pencil too far for me to easily reach. (I’m perpetually concerned about the feelings of others; even those who annoy me).

How I wish I’d brought earplugs! Her exhales could have come from a banshee just before the dreaded killer cry. In fact, I almost killed her. If anyone else in the room had opened their eyes and happened to gaze on me, they would have seen my head turned, not toward the front like it was supposed to be, but toward the woman next to me with an expression like this:

I stormed out of the room. Peace had eluded me yet again.

My husband listened to my complaint, and I debated leaving, as more peace lovers entered the Hall. Not a quitter, I went back in and took my seat, still empty due to the thunderous breather next to me. This time I gazed upon her with this expression:

Because of the rapid-fire, drastic change in my attitude, I no longer saw a stuper sitting next to me, but a weary looking, unhappy, somewhat desperate person wearing very unflattering rubbery sandals, that probably offered stupendous arch support, but were hard on the eyes.

With my revised, new-found attitude, I found that nothing disturbed me. I got through the meditation class without further incident. Her incredibly loud breathing had no effect on me. Really.

Attitude is everything.

Keep thinking.


Off the Leash Stupidity or Stupid Pet Owners Revisited

July 17th, 2010

I have a fairly decent reputation in my neighborhood, which means I am not labeled a stuper (short for an alarmingly stupid person). That is, until recently.

I often walk/run, usually by myself, sometimes with Husband and other times with a dog or two, who are always on the leash (Husband is let off the leash now and then). Neighbors, gardeners and small children cheerfully wave to me, especially one kindly, elderly gent with amazing copper hued hair. He proudly sits behind his Crown Victoria, flashes a bright smile my way and acts delighted that I crossed his path. That is again, until recently.

Here’s why I’ve become the subject of ridicule, disdain and possibly a police investigation. I present Exhibit A:

Her name is Cali. Her stuper owners purchased her last December as a Christmas gift for their children. Cali escapes from her yard on the regular. And follows me or anyone who happens to stroll past her home. Her yard is surrounded by a perimeter, three rail fence, but Cali easily slips through. It’s, as you may imagine, and this pun is very much intended, a no-brainer. Sometimes, Cali’ll take great pains to wipe her slobbery mouth all over my sweat pants or worse, my bare legs should I dare wear shorts, as she hops around me while I attempt to exercise.

 Once Cali abandoned me to chase an elderly woman walking her equally senior, leashed, and very annoyed basset hound, who by the way, looked more angry than sad. I grabbed Cali by the collar, opened the gate of her home, and thrust shoved gently pushed her inside.

In the beginning of these encounters, I thought, “How cute!” After the twelfth time of being stalked and used as a canine napkin, I took Cali to her front door. Her owners did not say a word. Please note, my neighborhood has an annual homeowners’ meeting. I’ve attended the last four. It always starts at 9 am and ends at 10 am. A few stragglers arrive a bit late, maybe by an embarrassing fifteen minutes. But Cali’s owner always arrives around 9:55 am and is utterly astonished that the meeting ends right about then. Yes, she is a blond, but her husband is a brunette and is her equal in every way,  however this is not a tale about hair color, natural or dyed.

Cali became a fixture on my walks, always hopping around me and unflinchingly trotting out in the middle of the road every time a vehicle approached. This was why instead of cheery waves by my neighbors, I started to receive dirty looks. My elderly, friendly, copper haired gent, holds down his horn as he drives by now, once causing me to jump so high, my head nearly banged against the branch of a sturdy oak tree directly above. Then the kindly gent gave me the finger and a nasty snarl. These people assume the naughty and irrepressible Cali is my mutt.

Finally, a few weeks ago, Cali’s stuper owners, tired of so many neighborly visits, reinforced their fence with chicken wire so Cali could no longer slip through. They live on five acres, so as you may imagine, such reinforcement was not cheap. But stupidity is not fought off so easily, my friend.  Cali is still on the loose. I present Exhibit B:

Yes, this is a photo of Cali’s front gates, wide open, after the fencing fortification. How else could Cali escape and annoy the neighbors?

And Exhibit C:

Regarding this last exhibit, I can’t imagine how Cali’s owners dented this fence sideways, as it’s usually shut, but stupidity is funny that way.

Today, as I walked, I was surprised to see someone leading a dog at Cali’s front gate. The dog was Cali, barely recognizable on the leash. I realized the weary woman holding the leash was not Cali’s owner, but a neighbor attempting to return the happy wanderer.

Stuper spelled backward is moron.



Trying to Provide Assistance to Stupid People

June 27th, 2010

Working in a non-profit, legal organization means I receive a hefty amount of phone calls, many of which, I regret to report, are from stupers (short for unimaginably stupid persons). I received one such call from a woman who, at first, sounded like you and me. But then she rapidly showed her stuper stripes. This was not my first encounter with “Stella.” She’d called before, asking me to “research and locate” three attorneys for her that had been recommended by a postal worker, who evidently used lawyers regularly, but had difficulty remembering their names or much else. The only clues Stella provided me were these:

Stella: The first lawyer’s initials are either ESB, BSE, DBA or TBA. The second Lawyer has an office on State Street (take note, dear reader, there are about 185 legal offices on State Street), and the third lawyer carries a Louis Vuitton briefcase. I think she’s a woman.

You might find this a bit bizarre, but believe it or not, I receive many requests from people searching for particular attorneys located in my county, and the only helpful information they provide goes like this:

“He wears Hawaiian shirts a lot” or  “His name is John” or “She’s petite and pretty.” I swear.

I’d like to think these callers have heard of my astute, private investigator type and even telepathic capabilities. Only I don’t have any.

Stella, however, was deeply impressed with my sweet skills because I found her an attorney with the initials “ESB” who had an office on State Street and who carried a Louis Vuitton briefcase. But in the end, Stella decided the attorney I’d unearthed really couldn’t help her after all. She elaborated:

Stella: I need a lawyer who has experience in the Federal Courts.

Me: I only know of one such attorney, and his experience is with military bases.

Stella: My case is indirectly related to the military.

Me: He can’t help unless it’s directly related.

Stella: Well, my case is indirectly and directly related.

Me: What’s your case about?

Stella: It’s about family law, criminal law, civil rights, bankruptcy, social security, personal injury, real estate, defamation, intellectual property…. (I had time to run out of the office and across the street to Nordstrom to buy a pair of running shoes, which I knew I’d need after this conversation, as running is excellent therapy; I returned, not having missed any of her conversation)…animal husbandry and maritime law.

Me: (slightly out of breath) Sounds like a complex case. Too complex for us to handle.

Stella: I need a prosecutor and a defender. What does the guy do that you mentioned who practices Federal law? Is he both of those?

Me: He’s a negotiator.

Stella: That’s exactly what I need. Give me his name.

I rapidly considered excuses to get off the phone. Before I could spit one out, she continued:

Stella: Hold it. I’m talking to you from a disposable cell phone because I thought it was safe.

Me: (to myself) Aren’t throwaway phones only used by Al Qaeda, the CIA and those with a tendency to drop cell-phones down the toilet or to throw at stout, Wal-Mart type workers and paparazzi?

Stella: Gosh darn it! I’m not safe here, after all. Some guy wearing dark, mirrored sunglasses is watching me. They’re watching me all the time. Just hold it. I’m being followed again. I’ll have to talk to you later.

And that was that.

In my stupidity studies, I’ve learned that a necessary component to battling stupidity is nonresistance. The Chinese say that water is the most powerful element on earth, because it is perfectly nonresistant. It can wear away a rock, and sweep all before it. I think it’s often a good idea to make like water when confronted with stupidity.



Stupidity, Suicide and Obesity

May 28th, 2010

Yesterday on the way to a meeting, I almost committed suicide. It was all because of my pilgrimage to the Ladies Room in Macy’s.

I was slightly early for my meeting, so I took an uneventful stroll through Macy’s to the restroom. When I entered, my eyes fell on something that caused me to lapse into a state of unparalleled trauma; I searched for the nearest sharp object to plunge into my chest to divert my attention from what appeared before me. All I found was a discarded Macy’s catalog and a small child waiting for her mother. The small child ran and hid behind one of the lounge chairs.

What turned my usually cheerful nature into that of torment and hopelessness was a person, or what was once a person, who stood before a full length mirror, not to brush her hair or perhaps apply a coat of lip gloss, but to reach a meaty hand down into her onion-skin-thin, black leggings to adjust who-knows-what on her Jupiter size butt.

Yes, she weighed about eight hundred pounds and her top portion was stuffed into an equally thin, black, you-guessed-it, tankini.

It was too much for a delicate person such as myself. There was an oversize stall for the handicapped, which was unoccupied, but stupers (short for unsurprisingly stupid persons) do not mind displaying stupidity in public.

As you may imagine, I stumbled out and onto the street.  Due to my sudden post-traumatic stress disorder, I lost my way to the meeting. I could not remember the block where the office building I was to go to was located and found myself lost in the red-light district of Santa Barbara (now, I know that those of you who have visited Santa Barbara are thinking: there is no red-light district. In fact, as one walks on the main drag towards the posh hotels and the beach, there is an adult book store on the right hand side as well as a sketchy Thai food restaurant).

I finally came to my senses and made it to my meeting, three minutes late. But really, do we not think before we dress ourselves, at least when we step out in public?

Admittedly, I once went out in public, wearing my shirt inside-out, but in all fairness, it was at the break of dawn and one of my children was rushing me.

When we are slim, we should think before we dress, and the same goes for the times we put on weight, no matter if it’s five or five hundred pounds. And please don’t adjust your privates in an open space of any kind where there are others present.  I’ve read that even the heartiest plants wilt under such conditions. Let’s keep stupidity hidden to the extent we can.

Please think.


Me, Myself and My Stupidity

May 16th, 2010

Once again I found myself embroiled in an act of singular stupidity committed by yours truly. One that never should have happened in the first place or any place.

I stood by the back entrance of my office building after work, late Friday afternoon, waiting to be picked up by Husband. I spoke on the cellphone to my mother for a few minutes and continued waiting.

I carried my usual Rhode Island size handbag, along with a large satchel, which I carry instead of a briefcase because it’s far more fashionable and attractive than an ordinary briefcase filled with boring papers and colorless files. My satchel houses lip gloss, hairbrushes, coupons, post-its, a small book of quotations, my recyclable lunch bag, a reusable, 32 oz. water bottle, and a pair of running shoes and socks for those beautiful afternoons when one must stop working and take a walk. Oh yes, and a few files now and then.

I got off my phone, all the while standing in the same spot. Five minutes later, I decided to call Husband to tell him I was going to wait across the street for him. That’s when it happened. My stupid moment. Because suddenly, I discovered I’d lost my phone. Without having moved an inch.

Okay. I may have moved an inch or two, but not far enough to lose my phone.

I didn’t exactly lose it; I just couldn’t find it. I searched my purse and satchel. No phone.

While pondering the fate of my phone, I briefly considered the various missing sock theories.  These theories are based on the fact that a matched pair of socks goes into the laundry or maybe even into the sock drawer, and one of the mates disappears, often never to be seen again. I didn’t take any of the explanations seriously. Come on, the Black Hole? Aliens? Time travelers? Sand men? Besides, my phone did not undergo any type of wash and rinse cycle. I decided to cross the street while taking deep breaths (inhale for 7 seconds; hold for 7 seconds; exhale for 7 or whatever number suits your fancy and lungs) to ponder the fate of my phone.

Upon my arrival, I recommenced searching. Drawer socks typically get lost due to overcrowding and agitation. My phone likely got lost thanks to those same factors as well. My mind was cluttered and agitated with end of the week and end of the day office thoughts, and it didn’t help that my satchel and purse bulged with all of my so called necessities. Did I really need to carry around two hairbrushes? Couldn’t my Pumas remain in my office? And out of the shoe box? How about that curling iron?

As I uncluttered and calmed my mind and my satchel, I found my phone. Resting inside a running shoe. I’d dropped it in without a thought, hence effortlessly transforming myself into a stuper (short for a hopelessly stupid person). My ensuing frustration only enhanced my stupidity. That’s why it took so long to locate the gosh darn phone.

We must cast aside all mental burdens and unnecessary clutter to avoid self-inflicted stupidity.

Think first, last and always.


Stupidity Proofing Your Mind: Keep Stupidity Away

May 2nd, 2010

Although I believe I’ve become pretty good at defusing stupidity, I still need reminders now and then in order to keep a positive attitude and to keep the stupers (short for startlingly stupid persons) from getting my goat or taking my peace away from me.

I’m going to let you in on a little secret I personally use to maintain my sanity during the days when the stupid among us raise their empty, thought-deprived heads high enough for me to view them: I wear a dandy little bracelet, made of string, around my wrist that looks something like this:

This lovely trinket is not an exact replica of my actual string bracelet (which I’m currently sporting); mine is homemade and spun of exactly two hastily twisted together threads, in eye-catching colors, and slips off my hand now and then, but only when I’m not paying proper attention, in the shower, or changing clothes. This slippage is appreciated because it constantly reminds me of the purpose of the bracelet which is to stay aware, keep a positive attitude and think.

Of course, such bracelets are not for everyone. Perhaps this may be better suited for some:

This emerald ring by Cartier is a good deal heavier than my bracelet, so slippage would be a non-issue and its dazzling, sparkly color may be just what one needs to make the stupers and their idiotic antics pale in comparison. If jewelry is not your thing, how about this:

A castle with surrounding moat, (piranhas optional). This type of real estate is a surefire method to keep stupers away. Unfortunately, there are no guarantees once one leaves the castle to go grocery shopping or to the post office or other popular stuper-infested destination spots. Idiots are at large in most public arenas.

Gentlemen, I have a suggestion for you also which you may use as a reminder:

Sapphire and diamond cuff-links that decorate the end of one’s sleeves are enough to grab and keep your attention and remind you to think, not so much, “Did I actually spend almost $3000 dollars for these stunning, vintage (1940s) collectible links?”, but “It’s a good thing I bought these rare, authentic cuff-links. They remind me to appreciate the good things in life, like thinking and a positive attitude.”

And finally, for those of us who need an “in our face” reminder, by all means, try driving this:

Turbo Carreras, and similar luxury vehicles, easily take your focus off idiots, especially when in red.

These are all examples of little things we can do to remind us of the importance of keeping our peace and maintaining our sanity.

Just think why don’t you!


Stupidity and the Quiet Among Us

April 18th, 2010

I’ve discovered, in my ongoing study of stupidity, that stupers (short for regrettably stupid persons) have zero tolerance for quiet people. By “quiet” folks, I’m not referring to the creepy types who likely end up as stalkers, cult leaders, serial killers, Al Qaeda members or Sears appliance repair technicians.

During a meeting with a handful of executives last week, I heard complete and utter idiot, Sally, whine,

“Do we have to keep Quinn on the Board of Directors of XYZ Organization? I’ve never heard him say a word!”

“Never” in Sally’s meager mind referred to the past three Board meetings, two of which Quinn was not even present. Sally caught Quinn exercising quiet time during one meeting and that, dear readers, in the thimble size mind of the average stuper, means its time to push the eject button. And take note, it didn’t matter what others heard, but only that Sally had noticed Quinn’s silence. Stupers are notoriously self-indulgent in public.

I met “Quinn” for the first time a few months ago. He is soft spoken, pleasant and a gentle soul. Naturally, I took an instant liking to him. I see now that my initial impression of him was accurate. Resident stuper Sally found Quinn annoying and unfriendly. Because he chose to stay quiet during one lackluster meeting.  Background on Sally: she’s a bitch moron. And slightly deranged.

At our last Board of Directors meeting of XYZ Organization a few days ago, both Sally and Quinn were present. When volunteers were needed to assist with a task, Quinn spoke. He volunteered. With a smile, no less.

Sally was too busy watching the paint peel on the ceiling to notice (the building is historic).

How can anyone possibly improve him/herself when they are busy keeping their eyes on the behavior of others? In the case of Sally, rest assured that during the nearly one year time that I’ve been acquainted with her, no progress has occurred. She remains a Class A stuper.

How should we behave around Class A stupers? My initial reaction, as most of my devoted readers know, is to commit bodily harm. However, typically this impulse disappears within weeks, days, a few hours, thirty minutes at most, several minutes, as I tend to come to my senses and realize that beating up idiots like Sally does no one any good. Plus, it’s hard on the knuckles.

Once not long ago, I did commit a beating, not on Sally’s person, but in the form of a brief, verbal assault. It did give me satisfaction, but not very much. And Sally continued pursuing stupidity with her usual fervor.

I don’t know what’s happened in the past experiences of people like Sally to compel them to act unkindly and without compassion or understanding toward others. But I do know that since walnut-size minds cannot be changed, we must change ourselves in a way that expands our own minds and forms a barrier so that morons can’t affect us (try as they might on a daily basis especially where I work; I hear from Sally practically every, freaking day).

I have to believe that it’s the consciousness of one’s own inferiority that makes a person hide behind or choose to act stupidly. We should share our goodness with people of inferior qualities. By exercising kindness toward them (unless, of course, you strongly feel a beating would be highly effective), we maintain our sanity and enhance our own well-being. Just a certain steadiness by the thinking mind can do wonders. In this way, we expand our own hearts and minds. And form a shield that stupers can’t penetrate.

Why not think?


Chuck, Buying Office Supplies and Stupidity

March 28th, 2010

I visited my local office supply store, not because I felt like seeking out stupers (short for incomparably stupid persons); I can do that just about anywhere. I went because I actually needed office supplies.

My company has an account there. I usually bring a copy of the paperwork that confirms our account, and no warfare, or cash output by me, is waged. It’s worked well. Most of the cashiers know me, and we get along splendidly. I pull out my driver’s license, proving I am the person whose name is printed on the paperwork, and peace reigns. However, last week, I decided to confidently stand in line and be waited on by a new cashier, one whom I didn’t immediately recognize as a stuper.

I had my reason: the guy behind the cash register bore a striking resemblance to the actor who plays the lead role in Chuck, one of the few television shows I actually watch, being a fan of goofy, comic, spy capers. And I really like the lead actor.

Big mistake. My paperwork wasn’t good enough for the cashier; neither was my driver’s license. Or that he resembled a talented lead TV actor. Or the fact that I knew most of the employees by their first name and whipped out all my prior receipts (8 in all) proving my loyalty and capability of making purchases in that very store, including one I’d made just that morning. Or that I am a stupidity specialist.

“Rules are rules,” the cashier insisted.

“What rules are those?” I asked sincerely, since this new found rule of calling the manager to verify I was who I am (keep in mind, I’d never met the manager; all she did was call headquarters and explain that my driver’s license matched my name on the paperwork, and um, was that okay? To which they heartily responded with a yes).

I briefly considered jumping lines and getting into the one next to me, but that equally idiotic cashier was reading the directions on the box of a printer to a waiting customer as if it was something out of King Lear, complete with British accent and gestures. I was stuck.

I understand about rules and the penalty for impulsively choosing to be waited on by people resembling one’s favorite TV actors. But I don’t understand why rules change depending on the moron,  idiot employee, person behind the counter.

In situations such as these, the only way to maintain sanity is to pull out all the plugs and let the patience flow or immediately exit the store if there exists an overriding inclination to detonate.

Why not think?


Stupidity is on the Rise

March 20th, 2010

I rarely watch or read the news, preferring instead to grind my own flour or take the neighbor’s twin pit bulls for a stroll, but for the sake of my dear readers and to prove a vital point, I read today’s headlines: “Germany’s Pedophile Priest Scandal” “Final Healthcare Push” “Lady Gaga is Sued”. Take note, that nowhere does there appear a news report or headline that involves a matter of vital importance: “Stupidity Has Reached Epidemic Levels.

Last week, my office received no mail. Granted, we’ve just moved to a new location. However, the first two weeks after our move, the mail arrived without interruption. Last Monday through Wednesday, we were mail-less. I spoke to three different post office representatives who offered these vastly differing explanations,

Representative #1: “Oh, yours is being sent to Ventura.” (Ventura is a nearby city separated by a very long ocean stretch of highway, with a few other towns in between; perhaps some one could argue that the name “Ventura” is slightly similar sounding to “Santa Barbara” where my office is located, but only if that some one is a stuper [short once again, for a terrifyingly stupid person]).

Representative #2: “You haven’t received your mail in three days? You moved in the building 3 weeks ago? Well, I wouldn’t complain if I was you. Some of your neighbors have been there over ten years and they’re not gettin’ theirs neither.” (I find double negatives a form of blasphemy, FYI. If triple negatives are set loose, I pull out the hand grenade).

Representatives #3:”We don’t recognize your suite number.”

To this last explanation, I replied, “How is it that my suite number was recognized the first two weeks of our occupancy?”

Dead silence ensued, and I finally hung up the phone. I’m thinking complex questions sent the postal worker into a catatonic state.

Finally, I paid the post office a personal visit. I eyed the workers stationed behind the counter. They appeared friendly; even able-minded.

“I would like to pick up my mail, please, ” I asked in my usual polite manner.

By my carefully honed nature, I prefer to be kind. It’s true; I do carry an arsenal of assorted weapons in my oversize handbag. But I rarely use them.

The postal worker disappeared for a few minutes, then returned with my mail.

“Why?” I asked her in desperation.

She shrugged her shoulders and smiled, “Have a nice day!”

My mail arrived for the rest of the week.

Most of us do not even realize that we live in unsafe environments. There are stupers posing threats to our sanity everywhere. All the more reason for us to exercise a cool, calm, determined, increasingly steady and smooth flowing effort of attention toward attaining the definite goal of thinking. Imagine the possibilities.

Think first, last and always.


Stupidity and Blurting Out Phrases That Are Better Left Unsaid

March 7th, 2010

Since my last post, my office has moved from a dismal and drab location to a near match for Fifth Avenue, and I’ve been busy packing, unpacking, organizing, working and suffering from a sudden attack of IM syndrome: Idiot Mouth syndrome. This commonplace malady strikes regular people, like you and me, especially me, and causes words to uncontrollably tumble out of our mouths before we realize we should have pulled the emergency brain brake and exercised thought prior to speaking. This idiotic impulse can potentially lead to disastrous consequences and/or immediate branding as a stuper (short for an unbelievably stupid person).

I attended a noon hour meeting, in a room full of attorneys. There were two problems: no lunch was being served, and I’d not eaten anything. Everyone who really knows me is aware that when I go hungry, say for a period of 90 minutes or more, my usual gentle, sweet demeanor peels away and the Attila the Hun in me is let loose. Arrrggghh! To add to my crabbiness during the meeting, my stomach growled so loudly, I shouted to be heard over the din; the hard-of-hearing didn’t stand a chance.

I was the new kid in town, thrown into a close-knit clan. After listening to idle gossip for ten minutes, I introduced myself and received a slew of non committal, disinterested stares which, along with my hunger, only enhanced my foul temper. I suddenly blurted out, “I haven’t practiced law in almost twenty years, and I’ve loved every minute of it.”

Those who placed high marks on honesty and candor might have applauded my statement. As you may imagine, the room fell silent… except for my growling stomach which competed with the ear shattering thunderstorm outside.

I immediately realized my gross error and tried to induce blindness and perhaps rapid onset amnesia with a dazzling smile. Alas, they didn’t fall for it.

I wiped away all traces of saliva that appeared after watching the fellow next to me devour his chicken pot pie, and forced myself to perk up. I re-focused, not on the roar of my empty middle section, demanding as it was; I ignored my Attila-like tendencies, and directed my energies on the issues being discussed. I tried really hard…and almost made it. I suddenly interrupted a discussion about judges with,

“When I was Business Affairs Counsel for XYZ Motion Picture Studio….”

Fortunately, I was able to switch direction quickly, realizing that these lawyers cared as much about what I did in a previous life as they did about my having had a super grand time staying at home, raising my family instead of working. I needed to focus on the here and now.

We all know that awareness is the first step to changing displeasing habits and/or characteristics. I am exceptionally aware of what hunger pangs do to my typically charming, mild-mannered personality, and I usually carry around a snack or two in my swimming pool-size handbag for that very reason. Except I forgot that day. Instead, I shoved a large slice of humble pie down my throat, reminding myself that I’m a whole lot happier when I find ways to help others instead of focusing on myself.