Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Beating The Spread

Dave bought peanut butter last March and has been complaining about it ever since. It was a Costco purchase, though, so at least we had a whole lot of it. He soldiered through it, sandwich after sandwich, griping all the while. Presumably we could have thrown it out or given it away or made bird food out of it but none of that occurred to us, because we both have Acquired Great Depression Syndrome. It's different from our parents' original GDS. For instance, I have no problem squandering a hundred bucks on a dinner, but I'll unfold dried used Kleenex and use it again. There was probably a generation brought up in the '80s that tosses stuff away willy-nilly, but now we have a whole new generation that is frugal out of necessity, many members of which economize on laundering.

Anyway, Dave finally got through the peanut butter sometime in September and no sooner was the jar rinsed and in the recycling bin than we got a little postcard in the mail. It was a recall notice for peanut butter purchased in March. Because of salmonella. "I knew I had a touch of being violently ill for the last six months," Dave said. Everything makes sense in retrospect, which is where most of us live.

It is an interesting thing about human beings that we grow up accumulating quirks and addictions and coping mechanisms, and then we spend much of the rest of our lives trying to solve ourselves. Maybe we're not nuts; maybe we just got into some bad peanut butter. Our storyline changes throughout the years depending on prevailing villains, of which there is a constant supply. That's it, we say. That's why I'm this way. It's because of my mother. Or wheat. Even if we can't fix anything, it feels better to have constructed a rationale. And it's easier to come up with reasons for being an asshole, say, than to just quit being an asshole.

By the time we're fully grown adults, we have assembled a whole instruction kit to go with ourselves, and we socialize by reciting it to each other. We read each other our own captions. "Middle child and a vitamin D deficiency," we'll say, shaking hands, and our friend will reply "dude! Undiagnosed Lyme Disease and attachment anxiety. Beer?" and the party is on. No matter how bad things are, we always feel better with a good explanation. It will evolve over time, as new discoveries present themselves and make the rounds in the talk shows and the internet. Chronic fatigue gives way to fibromyalgia, which gets pushed aside by food allergies. By age forty, most of us have a serviceable working narrative. We've pinpointed our positions on the autism spectrum and have located dietary culprits and genetic predispositions, and any unsettled foibles can be addressed at our next doctor's visit, because we've jotted down a number of pharmaceutical wonders that just might be right for us.

It makes sense to try to puzzle out the things that trouble us, especially if it leads to a plan to fix things. Every now and then we even achieve a breakthrough. But sometimes our habit of introspection does us in. We reanimate our own anxiety until it's permanently coiled up and ready to strike. It spins and it spins. A person can have all kinds of good reasons to be fearful but the fear itself rarely helps anything. We might as well let it go if we can, because it all spins out of the same place, and there's no fixing it. Sometimes things run smooth and sometimes crunchy, but we've all got only so much peanut butter, and then we're going in the recycling bin.


73 comments:

  1. Truer words were never spoken...we all end up in the same place..more or less..in the end. Since my dad died and I go to the cemetary I think to myself this is the only little real estate we ever truly own..this 4 by 8 little plot...you pay for it...then that is it..no insurance...no taxes...no nothing.

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    1. Well, unless you live in one of those places that charges rent, and shovels you out or puts someone in on top of you after twenty years or so. Like Spain. East Germany.

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  2. I already had a GSD. Now you've identified and labeled my GDS. Whoda thought?

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  3. I think I love you.

    "Hi. Pearl. First born, abandonment issues, and a need to be charming. Can I offer you a light snack?"

    Pearl

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    Replies
    1. Love you back! Because I am a Reliable Taker of Snacks.

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  4. First born.
    Needs to be the center of attention.
    A bit of a brat.
    Unapologetic.
    :-)

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  5. but I'll unfold dried used Kleenex and use it again.

    I do that!! And my better half thinks I'm insane. You've already used it! he'll say. But there's space left! I'll answer.

    Of course, this leads to the problem of my having pockets full of half used kleenex that end up in the washer...

    Baby of the family,
    Kleenex hoarder.

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    1. I'm also the baby of the family. It sure doesn't seem like something that should be associated with Kleenex hoarding, but...

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    2. It isn't the half-used kleenex in my pocket that makes my husband shake his head in disbelief - it is the ones that look like tattered lace that I can still manage to find a corner to use. He, on the other hand, hoards tools, even after they break. Both oldest child, both with control issues. Life is never dull in this house. Party on!

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    3. I once observed my niece, as a youngster, go through a cold using one Kleenex per blow. I was horrified. I happen to remember my thing started in fifth grade when I had a terrible cold and only one Kleenex. I kept sneezing huge quantities of goo and my Kleenex was completely saturated. It wouldn't even mop. But it's all I had.

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  6. You can not, for goodness sake, throw away perfectly good peanut butter! Make cookies with it. Share them with the neighbors. Then everyone can have a touch of being violently ill. Anyhow, a little salmonella just gives your immune system a good workout. And if the salmonella wins, well, you'd have died of something sooner or later. And at least you didn't waste any perfectly good peanut butter.

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    1. And that's what I'm going to have smeared on my tombstone.

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  7. Oh, thank you, thank you for the laughs this morning. The whole peanut butter/salmonella things gives me the willies, especially as I make my daughter's lunch and wonder. And it's a very fine line between thrifty and pack rat, isn't it?

    Oh the narrative. It's my mother. Or Wheat. Priceless. Here goes:

    Low birth weight incubator baby, not properly socialized from the get go.

    Middle child with all the requisite mental issues.

    Cranky old lady due to chronic fatigue likely caused by lack of sleep, no thanks to menopausal mayhem and arthritis. And possibly undiagnosed Lyme disease, fibromyalgia and sundry autoimmune disorders. Self diagnosis by Google ongoing.

    Definitely autism spectrum sprinkled with OCD and ADD with serious midwestern vitamin D deficiency.

    So lovely to meet you. :)




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    1. Oh man, you're going to have to narrow some of that down or you'll be no good at parties. Do you have an Elevator Narrative? At least until you get someone cornered and have all night to expound.

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  8. Hey Murr!

    I'm a twat!

    Damn, that's not an excuse, is it?

    Indigo

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    1. Does that mean something different in England?

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  9. It's been a while since I had peanut butter, but now I'm afraid to buy some. I guess I'll stick with something safe, like those genetically altered salmon (frankenfish) I keep hearing about.

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    1. Right! The giant fish with the sides scraped off from trying to navigate the Columbia!

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  10. Jeez, I'm a social misfit. I don't even have a list. May I adopt/adapt Dave's list to "tall woman in a short world", and throw in "geek brain in an illogical world"?

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    1. Gee. Might as well pare it down to "Opposite of Murr in Every Way!" You probably don't even tip over much.

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    2. I try not to. It's a long way down. :-)

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    3. YET another thing that is opposite me.

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  11. If you really have it, it is Lysdexia and CDO. To be sane in an insane world is incongruous.

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  12. I once knew a very nice woman who washed her plastic sandwich baggies in her dishwasher, but she's dead now. I suppose there's a lesson somewhere in that story, but for the life of me, I don't what it is. I blame my mother for my lack of insight.

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    1. I'm just hoping there isn't a causal relationship, because I would totally wash my baggies in the dishwasher and I'd like to think I have a few years left.

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  13. "Dave finally got through the peanut butter sometime in September and no sooner was the jar rinsed and in the recycling bin than we got a little postcard in the mail. It was a recall notice for peanut butter purchased in March. Because of salmonella. "I knew I had a touch of being violently ill for the last six months," Dave said. Everything makes sense in retrospect, which is where most of us live."

    WHAT? OMG!!!!!!! That's terrible!

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    1. Oh heck, don't worry about Dave. He will never die. I know this from experience.

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  14. My brother and I both suffer from the "only child" syndrome. Beat that.

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    1. A little age difference, there, or narcissism?

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  15. Introvert with fibromyalgia and adult-onset exercise deficiency syndrome. I rarely waste an inch of Kleenex, but I no longer wash out plastic bags. Go figure.

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    1. There has to be something really wretched in my plastic bag for me not to wash it out. The Ziplocs, anyway. Old crab. Motor oil.

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  16. Delightful post! "It's because of my mother. Or wheat...it's easier to come up with reasons for being an asshole, say, than to just quit being an asshole."

    Thank heavens it's not my mom's fault, or wheat.

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    1. I love that you go by Geo., by George. My dad's name was George and he signed his name Geo. Seems like such an odd thing to abbreviate. And how many syllables are in George, anyway?

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  17. Love the peanut butter analogy. So true that we're all a bit nutty. Dave makes a great model for your blog.

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  18. Most wickedly accurate comment: "it's easier to come up with reasons for being an asshole, say, than to just quit being an asshole." Man, I hope that's not what gets smeared on MY tombstone . . .

    Thanks, as always, for your great writing!

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    1. Getting buried is another way to quit being an asshole. You are most welcome! Thanks.

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  19. Another kleenex hoarding bag washer here.
    First-born introvert who hates parties.
    Cranberry/almond/raisin/cashew trail mix? Or some lovely dark chocolate?

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    1. I'm not sure what that question is about, but I know the answer is yes ma'am.

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    2. Oh...thought folks were mingling with Hello My Name Is lables on, handing out nibbles.

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    3. Ah! The answer is still yes ma'am! (I swear, I forget what I write.)

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  20. Replies
    1. Well. I have a simple philosophy. Shit happens: get over it.

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  21. And here I thought I was crazy for forcing myself through a bottle of less-than-great wine, just because I had paid good money for it. "I'm going to enjoy this, and if it kills me."

    At least now I know you are crazy, too.

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  22. You not only get your money's worth from your peanut butter and kleenex, you also get pretty fair mileage from your analogies :)

    Enjoyed!

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    1. Good! All my analogies spring from a mind wandering far afield and then trying to follow the bread crumbs home. If I don't make it home, it doesn't get published.

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  23. Omigod. I refuse to try to be funny....just grateful.

    I love your mind, your thoughts, your words and YOU.

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  24. First and only child of second marriage. Simultaneously first and last born. No wonder I am confused. And perhaps confusing.

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    1. I think you get to be the middle child too!

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  25. Wonderful!

    I tried to use your "Share this" button to share it on Facebook, but the button doesn't work.

    Could be a Blogger issue which will fix itself in a day or two. I'll check back later to see.

    Meanwhile, I posted it to Facebook manually; it fits perfectly into various family discussions we've been having there.

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    1. That stupid share button only worked every tenth time I tried it, at first, but now it seems to work most of the time. I sure appreciate your extra effort.

      Delete
  26. Son of depression-era parents. When they came to visit me in Manhattan long ago, their takeaway was the tragically high price of green peppers. My spending decisions stunned them into head-shaking silence, but I can't throw away any type of fastener. At 70 I have given up trying to understand or explain myself, which is a big relief. Great blog.

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    1. They say wisdom comes with age, and I'm beginning to think that it's more that we quit asking the questions than that we have the answers.

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  27. The Share button is working again. Blame it on Blogger.

    ReplyDelete
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    1. I'd be thrilled to have something to blame it on. I always think it's me.

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  28. First born, much-expected-of; hypercritical mother; now, finally, old and confident enough not to give a sh*t about what anybody thinks about me. Pleasedtameetcha.

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    1. Ditto except I'm not yet sure I've fully reached the not-give-sh*t stage. But going birdwatching, gardening, or paddling locks all that back in the past for a while.

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    2. I really think I scored as the late, unexpected, very last baby. They were all worn out and just let me be.

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  29. By the way, the sign Dave is holding is awesome: dylsexia, indeed :)

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  30. Thanks, Costco, for your timely warning on the deadly peanut butter.

    So much has been blamed on wheat lately that I can't even keep up. And dairy. Red meat. Gluten. When I go to a potluck these days I just take an empty pot.

    What's Amblyopia? Never mind, I don't want to know.

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    1. They used to call it Wandering Eye, which usually means something different in a 60+-year-old man than a child.

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  31. Such a well-written post. I have a little bit of peanut butter almost every day, and I'm happy to say these words will give me reason to pause and do some deep thinking next time. :) Happy weekend!

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    1. Maybe I should read my own shit, because I never think about anything I eat. It gets in the way of the hoovering.

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  32. I deal with people's need to label and define themselves every day as a therapist and yet... my position is that ultimately it doesn't matter. I mean, the "why" of it doesn't matter. The question is, what are you going to do about it to make it better? All the insight in the world is useless if nothing changes.

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