Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Judging Covers

Appearances can be deceiving, or never judge a book by its cover.

Recently Darlena Cunha (who writes for “The Huffington Post” and Thought Catalog) wrote about her experience driving to pick up her WIC vouchers in her husband’s Mercedes. The article itself is about how she felt doing it and considering the judgmental backlash she received, I can understand her consternation.

In finding this article, I also found an “Onion” article about an all knowing woman named Carol Gaither. The tongue in cheek piece details all the situations in which she knows those around her are making errors in judgment, most specifically her assessment of how people spend food stamps, including describing buying TV dinners instead of the stuff to make dinner from scratch.

I also saw a Facebook post about a campaign in Florida to put a different face on homelessness by having homeless people hold up cardboard signs saying something about themselves. They included college graduates, computer geeks, those fleeing abuse and the gainfully employed. All had a story how they ended up there, but not one you could see looking at them.

So now my opinion. You can’t judge a book by its cover and appearances can be deceiving.

Darlena admitted she’d used her husband’s car because her Honda wouldn’t start.  So next time you see someone at WIC or the welfare office driving a fancy or nice car, think it may be possible they’re borrowing a friend or family member’s automobile, the reason doesn’t matter.  And don’t judge Darlena’s husband for keeping the fancy auto. Consider how much more you’d spend each month with a car payment and the additional insurance required when you don’t fully own it. Personally, having a car costs me more each month than keeping a roof over my head, because I have a car payment.

I smiled at the “Onion” article. I’ve bought the pop, chips and TV dinners with food stamps. I’m no longer eligible for welfare, though I don’t buy such things anymore often. Not nearly enough to please my kids anyway. For all you people out there judging what others choose to spend their money, or food stamps on, try eating home cooked meals every single day, with little variety because you can’t afford much. Everybody needs a treat once in a while and Banquet TV dinners are less than a dollar each, plus each of my kids can have something they want without the daily argument over what’s for dinner. True, I’ve known people who bought all the highly processed, pre-prepared foods they could and then complained about not having enough to get through the month, nevertheless it doesn’t mean everyone who happens to buy those types of foods always purchases them.

And homeless?

I ended up between homes and in a shelter once. A situation beyond my control because we’d moved from one state to be closer to family and had difficulty locating housing. It didn’t last long, however you never know how or why someone ends up there.

So what you see in one brief encounter doesn’t give you the whole story. Seeing a homeless person on the corner doesn’t tell you anything more about them than they have no home. Noticing someone buying candy, pop or TV dinners with food stamps may tell you they don’t know how to budget, or maybe they can’t cook, or it might mean they’re tired or fed up and just need a treat or something fast and easy for dinner. That woman arriving to her WIC or welfare appointment in an expensive car may have borrowed it because she didn’t have one, or hers broke down. Or maybe, just maybe, she paid for it in full before her finances took a nosedive. Since you can’t judge a book by its cover, you don’t know the story and appearances can be deceiving.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Dumb Question

Some time ago, I forget how long, in an issue of the Reader’s Digest there’s a comment about stupid questions. The guy is asking if there is no stupid questions, then what kind of questions do stupid people ask.
My first response was to repeat a quote from my high school trigonometry teacher, who said, “There are no stupid questions . . .”
Then I remembered an event during my junior high years.
My family had just moved to a house out in the country and it was our first day on the bus. My twin sister and I were sitting together when a high school boy sat on the seat in front of us, faced us, and said, “You two look a lot alike. Are you related?”
“We’re twins,” I said. Duh! We’re identical.
“Oh, really! Wow!” he said then looked me in the eye. “What’s your name?”
I gave both my sister’s name and mine, knowing she’d be uncomfortable answering, since everyone on the bus was paying attention by now, even the driver. The high school boy thought that over a second then, still addressing me, asked, “Where you born?”
I answered.
He then turned to Konnie and asked her the same question. She answered then he turned back to me and asking, “When’s your birthday?” while snickering started around us.
I answered again.
He again turned Konnie repeating his question. The snickers turned into giggling. Once she answered, he turned to me and asked, “How old are you?”
I answered yet again.
Then he again turned to my sister, opened his mouth, and asked, “And how old are you?”
I think he was glad the bus driver had pulled up to his stop at that point, because everyone broke out in loud guffaws. And I doubt he’s ever lived it down, since his sister was still laughing as she walked into their house.
I’d try to make him feel better by saying he’s not the only one, but I’m afraid, people are more apt to make the same stupid wisecrack about there being two of ME, than they are to launch into a ridiculously stupid duplicate third degree.
That isn’t too say I haven’t received other queries about my twin-ness, I’m just saying no one else has been so stupid as to query both us about our shared stats.
The most frequently asked question has always been, “What’s it like to be a twin?”
Unfortunately, they never like my answer, but that’s another topic. J
Anyway, maybe there’s only one person stupid enough to voice a stupid question, and I was present to witness his downfall. J

Or do you know of any others?

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Being Unique

Lately I feel like a broken record. “No two people are exactly alike.”

It’s an old saying. I’ve heard it since grade school, at least, which was a number of years ago. I know it’s true, from personal experience.

As our one time blind high school counselor pointed out, my sister and I walk and talk alike. Anyone looking at us can see we look the same. A fact I’m reminded of whenever I glance in a mirror. Physically, in more ways than not, we are identical.

Yet we’re not.

I’m not talking about the length of our hair, which has switched several times over the years, or the style of our clothes and glasses. I’m not even talking about our family situations, which are clearly polar opposites right now. I’m talking about who we are.

My clearly and completely right handed sister has little or no sense of humor and a hot temper. She always did well in English, however struggled with Math and don’t ask her about Biology (she never got mitosis and meiosis). She also aspired to be a lawyer. I think she’s persuasive enough she could have too.

I’m her mirror, therefore, I’m a lefty although raised in righty world I’m now ambidextrous. (Hence the mirror exercise she mentioned where our fingers touched, her right, and my left.) I always managed English and did fine in Math. I found Biology fairly easy. (Mitosis and meiosis, yeah I got it the first time.) Lawyer? Are you kidding? It requires talking, to lots of people. Never happening. I also have a sense of humor. As for the temper, well I have one. Considering how infrequently I explode, when I do, watch out!

We do both write, however even in that we’re different, our word choices, sentence lengths, and structure, all distinct. We both write romance with some similarities, yet she doesn’t do fantasy or sci-fi (unless you count the one story, but it’s more romance). She does poems, something I’ve never really mastered. Her writing’s been published before.

Some of our leisure time activities might be the same, or at least similar, though others are not.

Her late husband did Rendezvous reenacting, and she joined him, including hand beading his hat band for him. She made period clothes for them too. You’d never catch me camping, let alone doing so like the early frontiersmen, and trappers did in the American West. Considering her issues with math, I don’t think you’d find her doing Sudoku, something I enjoy.

Another old saying is “Don’t judge a book by its cover.”

With people this is especially true.

They may look, talk, and walk alike, but under all of it, they’re not the same person. Every individual is unique and deserves to be recognized and accepted for their individuality. And perhaps that’s why I sound like a broken record, because I can remember being Jacki’s little sister’s twin.

Stand up. Be counted. Be unique. Be yourself. Because everybody’s different and this world would be a boring place if we weren’t.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Choosing Twin-ness

You can choose your friends, your outfit for school and what you're going to have for lunch -- but you can't choose "twin life," as this witty (and collaborative) yearbook quote points out.
Posted by Reddit user Some_Random_Guy_, the following senior quote printed in a yearbook was so good that it was meant to be shared -- by twins, that is.

And here is a twin quoting it!
You don’t choose being a twin, that decision was made at some point inside your mother’s womb when her body released two ova or for some reason the zygote slit in two. Either way, it wasn’t your choice to share the womb with another human being.
It is, however, your choice about how you choose to live that life — whether you ignore that or celebrate it.
Of course, I have no idea how fraternal twins feel, because I am not fraternal, quite the contrary.
To illustrate just how alike Konnie and I are, let me tell you about something that happened to us way back in high school.
One day, after school, we attended a drama club meeting, and the advisor (a fellow we called Mr. T at his request because his last name was hard to pronounce) instructed us on how to preform what he termed the mirror exercise, in which two people faced each other and one lead while the other followed. The object was to become so in tune with your partner that it appeared as though you were moving at the same time.
Then Mr. T had us pick partners. It wouldn’t be hard to guess whom I picked, considering we were new at the school. Anyway, we set to work doing as he instructed along with everyone else present, however, after a few minutes someone in the crowd noticed how well Konnie and I were doing, and everyone stopped to watch us.
Seconds later someone noted that if an empty frame were hanging between us, it would look like there was only one person there, just looking in a mirror, which got the whole group talking about just how identical we were — our attire, hairstyles, and glasses being the only differences.
That’s when Mr. T chose to ask which one of us was leading. Each of us pointed to whom we thought was the leader and our fingers touched!
The differences they saw in us then are the only differences you’ll see in us today, though you have to add in now our different family situations.
I’m clearly not Konnie, because I don’t have a home in Vegas with a husband and five kids (four of which still live at home), and she’s clearly not me — a childless widow residing back in our hometown.
Living so far apart now, the last time anyone got us confused was at my husband’s funeral and some of my husband’s friends, who hadn’t seen me in a couple years and didn’t know I was at the time dragging around an oxygen tank everywhere I went, let alone that I’m a twin. That is until Konnie told them she wasn’t me.
Our various family members were the only people there not surprised about how much we looked alike; all my husband’s friends were doing a lot of double takes.

But we didn’t choose to be mirror twins; that’s just part of our genetic makeup. We do choose to be writers, we do choose to help each other with that, but everything that happens to us because of our twin-ness, we don’t choose, it’s just something we have to deal with just as we deal with our nearsightedness and our shortness. It’s just life.