There are several meanings of the word “grace,” and I'm not good with any of them.
There's the conceptual grace of religion and god and all of that, but I think job one would be, I dunno, totally believing in god. I think the all mighty fireball of power ain't shedding much of the old grace on me.
There's physical grace. I don't even walk so good. If grace is a swan, I am an ostrich.
I had an aunt Grace. I liked her. She seemed tough but fair and kind to me as a kid. You didn't mess with Grace, but she seemed cool.
Then there's what got me thinking about the word and the thing and the concept. Maybe what I really mean is graciousness, but grace-type stuff for sure.
Here's the thing. This summer M. and I have been inundating ourselves with visitors and parties and meeting people. M. even changed jobs, introducing more new people. It's been a melting pot, as the kids say, of old and new friends.
Comparisons are natural, if not always kind or useful. We're trying to figure out if the East Coasters just complain more than the Westerners or if it's simply the people we know.
We're mighty comfortable here. Fat, dumb and happy without a lot of angst or worry about what the other guy is doing or has. For sure, many of the people we know here don't spend a lot of time shitting on other people. Maybe we did a good job of vetting our Cali friends.
Some days I attribute it to the sunshine. If the sun is out, the waves are stroking the beach, and my belly is full of the kind of good food that makes locavores salivate, what do I have to bitch about?
Then there's begrudgery, which I've written about before, and I first heard from my uncle Jerry. Everywhere you go in Boston, you pretty much can find a character complaining about someone or something. OK, full honesty, you can find that everywhere. But Boston is really good at it.
There can be a humor to it all, and I love bitching and wallow in it. My brother walking down the street in my California neighborhood declaring every dude with a goatee or skateboard way too old for whatever he was doing is the grumbly part of Boston I occasionally miss.
(Apropos nothing, best part of my brother's visit: woman with parrot on her head, calling me a bitch in front of her kids for my pulling into the crosswalk too far.)
M. declaring that kids today are soft, because when he was the age of one of our friend's kids he was climbing coconut trees not whining, is the equatorial version of Boston's walking to school in the snow uphill both ways.
We still have some East Coast sensibilities. So maybe it's just the people we know who seem to complain a lot. Maybe we're just being bigots when we stereotype Massholes?
Afterall, as I mentioned to M., there are people like Dot, which brings me back around to grace. Dot is Massachusetts through and through, and I'm happy to report blogging again. She's from AHHlington on the Red Line and everything.
But that one, she ain't no complainer. I think for Dot to waste time trashtalking, you'd really have to rile her up good and proper. I'm pretty sure she even complimented the musical chops of one of those ex-boyfriends everyone has who ends up treating you lousy.
And, that woman, she writes thank you notes, and she's not nearly 80. A dying art the thank you note, but much appreciated. I've wanted to write a note back to thank her for the thank you note, but that could go on into an M.C. Escher meta loop forever.
Maybe she's just one of the good ones.
Probably the reality is we are all getting old. I'm starting to notice here from the vantage point of what I guess is young-ish middle age that choices have to be made.
A couple or several years ago, Norah Ephron gave an interview in which she was recognizing that life changes when you get older. She espoused the notion that basically you just don't know if you're going to get hit by a bus, so maybe you should go ahead with the doughnut today knowing full well it's not health food. She pretty much called it correctly for herself, enjoying meals today before her unexpected bus accident of dying from leukemia.
I'm not going nuts on doughnuts, and I like keep my treats slightly infrequent so they still feel like treats. (A year of working at Brigham's Ice Cream in the olden days taught me one thing — ice cream every day just makes ice cream, that wonderful elixir, ambrosia of the gods, nauseating.) But holy fuck, I want to waste less and less time with that which sucks and spend more time with the good.
In desserts and in meals and in friends, I want deliciousness. Good conversations, laughter, pleasure. For the inevitable nastiness and dark moments of our meager little human existences, I'd rather spend time with someone exploring a new cookie recipe or pretty much doing anything, as long as they are doing.
Anecdotally and tangentially, it seems to me that the folks who complain the most and criticize the most and can spend hours running down what's wrong in the world in their corner or globally, have little or no solutions. Don't tell me all of the stories about what is wrong without telling me what you are going to fucking do to fix it, make change, get the hell out or otherwise act.
Yeah we all long for people, jobs, adventures that are interesting. If you tell me someone is not interesting, though, you better be damn entertaining.
Victims and critics are fucking boring. And, who has time left to be miserable?