Wednesday, August 25, 2010

What's "Grateful"?

I got to thinking about the word "grateful" this morning. Most everyone uses it. "We're so grateful for this," or "I'm so grateful for you." I'm not sure I have a grasp of what this word means. Does it essentially mean the same thing for everyone? Should it? If not, how does that affect how we communicate? What does it mean to be grateful? Is there an action required here? Is it a mere emotion, attitude or state of being similar to boredom, anxiety, curiosity, giddiness, etc.? When you are grateful for something or someone, who are you grateful to? To the person who brought you whatever thing you are grateful for? To yourself for identifying and accepting the thing into your life? To your god? Can you define/explain/express gratitude without bringing religion into it? I am particularly interested in this last question.

So, what do YOU think? Anyone have any insight? I know we all have an opinion. While I keep "insight" and "opinions" distinctly separate, I have a strong interest in both!

Friday, August 20, 2010

Our "Minister"

Andrew and I met with the lady who is going to marry us a couple of weeks ago. She wants to get to know us a little before the ceremony and I appreciate that because then she can tailor the ceremony to us. I don't want the same stale wedding vows everyone else recites but doesn't really contemplate the meaning of. Don't get me wrong. Many people say the classic vows and do understand them, do mean them, and do feel they speak to them personally. I don't feel that way. So, if I were to say them, I wouldn't feel they had any meaning. We want to do what has meaning to us. One set of vows we are considering says something like this:
"This ceremony confirms for everyone else what we already know to be true"
WOW! Is that perfect for us or what? I mean we've been together for 10 years now! We keep getting the advice, "It's a bit different, living together married vs. not married." We get that advice from people who were together for only a few years before they got married. We've got 10 years behind us. Nice try, but it's not quite the same!

Anyway... the lady marrying us is non-denominational minister. I prefer to refer to her as our "officiant" however because the term "minister" is quite misunderstood. It's often associated with Christianity but it certainly doesn't refer to only Christian leaders or even to just religious leaders (i.e. "Prime Minister"). But Christians think they own everything (including marriage and a 2-block radius around ground zero) so I try to be careful with the term. Especially after Andrew's mom's reaction to the word, "Did you say 'minister'? I thought you guys aren't religious? Why are you using a minister?" I quickly set her straight. I really don't know why people jump to conclusions so quickly. Andrew's mom knows us pretty well. She has a pile of evidence as big as her house that tells her Andrew and I are not religious. But she flinched at that 1 word and that made her question us and ignore everything she already knows to be true. I don't know what it's like to have such little self-assurance and I don't want to know. Plenty of people do the same thing, not just Andrew's mom (I don't want to pick on her all the time).

I am really happy with who we chose as our officiant. She respects and supports all faiths and doesn't believe one to be more or less true than another. When she says the word "god" she's talking about an idea, not a person, being, or thing (which is why I personally choose not to capitalize it). She has similar feelings to ours about organized religion, although I think Andrew and I lean a little further in one direction. She told us about a very interesting couple she married recently. They were young, only 23 years old. The guy went to West Point. He has strong negative feelings about the military. I think he went to West Point to learn more about the military so he can challenge it and perhaps promote change one day. He's also a devout atheist. Just before he got married he was given some lifetime achievement honor (at only 23). His achievement? He has read each and every book about war that has ever been written. In his reading, he found religion at the heart of every single war. Not surprising. But nice to have it confirmed by a competent source. I really liked that our minister found this guy interesting and respectable. I'm sure she told us that story to deliver the message, "I keep all kinds of company and respect all belief systems, especially the well-informed ones." Message received. We made the right choice!

Monday, August 9, 2010

Drive-Thru Fun!

I go to drive-thrus often enough to know the routine...
Roll my eyes, settle in, put in a nice audio book or something if I'm behind a big-ass SUV or minivan cuz that order is probably going to take a while to place, and then even longer to make. If said big-ass vehicle is filled with children, I will probably park and walk inside, then (ignorantly) congratulate myself for having no children (yet). Momentary ignorance born out of frustration is forgivable, I've decided.

Have my own order ready to go for when it's my turn up at the window. I don't want to be a hypocrite, after all. And come on, will the Wendy's or Taco Bell menu ever change ALL THAT MUCH that I'll be so perplexed and awed by it, I'll have to contemplate my order for another 5 minutes? No. No, it won't. Not ever. If I know where I'm going, I think about what I want on the way there. It aint rocket science.

If I'm a picky orderer (sometimes I am) I'll just order my sandwich plain... that saves me the worry of them forgetting I don't want just the pickles, and saves them the time of thinking about each and every item. It's quick and easy to leave everything off.

I get my money out as I'm driving up to the window... for obvious reasons.

I don't take forever to look in the bag and check to make sure my order is right. I don't need to man-handle and get to second base with my sandwich before I drive away. It's common courtesy!
More about ordering... I typically tell the drive-thru attendant every detail about my order without them having to ask, in order to speed things up. However, I find that more and more these days, that courtesy is completely useless! Here's how my typical ordering goes (x=drive-thru attendant):
C: I'd like a small #1 with curly fries and a diet coke
X: A number 1.... what size?
C: [sigh] small

X: and what to drink?

C: [shake my head] A diet coke. I wanted curly fries with that too.

X: Oh, curly fries? Okay. Pull forward.

C: Oye!
I hate that routine. I hate it with a passion. It's the little things in life! We have breakfast burritos downstairs at work. The 4 different kinds are: The Works, Veggie Lovers, Classic with Bacon and The Classic. I always order the classic (eggs, cheese and salsa). Here's how that goes:
C: I'd like the classic, please

X: Classic with bacon?

C: [No, dude! If I wanted "Classic with Bacon" I would have said, "Classic with Bacon!" They're 2 separate menu items. When I order, "Small turkey sandwich, please" you don't ask, "Turkey and ham?" WTF????] No, just the classic.

X: With salsa?

C: [finding this question less annoying] Yes, please
I cringe if I walk up to order my breakfast burrito and 1 particular guy is working. He does it all wrong. He puts the tortilla down on the grill, puts the shredded cheese on the tortilla (so far, so good), then puts the cold salsa on top of the warming tortilla and melting cheese. Problem! The coldness of the salsa and acidity of the tomatoes stops the cheese from melting, then separates it. I am then left with an egg, salsa, curds and whey burrito. No bueno! I want to correct him so badly! Tell him, "Please put the tortilla down on the grill, then the cheese on the tortilla, then the eggs on the cheese for some hot, steamy, melty goodness, then the salsa on top of the egg!" But then I feel stupid and petty for wanting to ask him to do that. So I don't. Lame!

This weekend I had a fun one at the drive-thru:
C: Small #12 please with curly fries and a diet Coke

X: How many #12's?

C: [WTF?] I said a small #12 with curly fries and a diet coke

X: You want 4 #12's?

C: [Holy fuck] No. Just 1 number 12.

X: What size?


X: What do you want to drink?

C: [Good lord. A diet fucking coke!] Diet coke, please

X: Is your order right on the screen?

C: No, I want curly fries with the combo [for the third time!].

X: Oh, okay.
I did have one victory at that same drive-thru a week or 2 ago. I pulled in behind the dreaded minivan. I had my window down already so I could hear the lady ordering. And she took out a coupon flier. She had lots of questions. More questions and coupons than I had patience. I put it in reverse, ran over only 1 small child (kidding, relax), parked, went in and ordered. I could hear her ordering from inside the restaurant. "I have a coupon for buy 1 get one free for that." "I have a coupon for free fries with that sandwich." "I have a coupon for 20% off that came with my labotomy." My joy arose as I was handed my order, got into my car, and left faster than the minivan made it through the drive-thru. Victory! Woo Hooooo! I was happy for the rest of the night. :D