August 2010


Sometimes people look stupid. Sometimes people could stand to lose a few pounds. Sometimes they’ve just dared to wear a skirt that was too short. Sometimes people do stupid things. Sometimes they open their mouths when they should have kept them shut. Sometimes people *gasp* make mistakes. Sometimes they can’t even see how silly their decision-making skills have become.

And that’s our cue to jump in and judge the hell out of them.

We may not even know someone. We may take one look and say, ‘Gawd that person looks ridiculous,’ or ‘What on earth was she thinking?’ and probably even ‘I could have pulled that off much better,’ or ‘I’d have NEVER done something that stupid (or mean, or cruel or hurtful or rude or selfish…).’

Then again, they might be our best friend. We laugh at their taste in music. We tell them they really ought to wear a belt with that outfit. We wonder why they haven’t got a real job already. Or if they’ve done something really dumb, we talk about them behind their backs. We re-evaluate our opinion of their character. We may even stop hanging out with them.

That happens all the time. To everyone. No one can do or say or think or feel anything without someone else passing judgment on it. It’s just the way of life. Get used to it.

Of course some people find themselves in a situation where they can’t even act anymore for all the judgment thrown in their direction. A mistake is made. Perhaps it doesn’t feel like a mistake. Perhaps it’s wrong and the person knows it but has no sense of how to stop the mistake. Sometimes the person is just out of control. These things happen to all of us at some point in life.

So why should anyone feel the need to publicly and loudly judge something another person has done? A person’s life isn’t art. For instance, I don’t do the things I do for public consumption. I don’t create a mistake and say to the world, “Here! Judge me!” My life isn’t a movie or a painting or a story that I’ve shared with the world in hopes that the world approves. It’s just my life. And I don’t get to distance myself from that. Ever. Well, not without taking drastic measures, at least.

And what’s to say I feel good about the mistake? Chances are, if someone else is looking at the ruins of my choices and seeing ruins, I’m seeing an effing sinkhole of despair. I know I’ve judged the shit out of some people over the years without once considering how miserable they must feel, or how stuck, or out of control, or perhaps just in denial.

Does someone feeling badly about their choices make a mistake okay? Heck no. Mistakes are valuable in a way, because we learn from them, but other than that, a mistake sucks. It sucks the good right out of a situation. It may hurt people. Badly. It may ruin lives. And someone who makes a mistake like that should feel awful. But our judgment accomplishes nothing. It may even make the poor soul on the receiving end of the judgment a little more empowered. Maybe they hear our judgment and say, ‘F you, world! I’ll do what I want!’ or ‘Well the damage is done now, it can’t get  much worse than this,’ or even ‘Who is (s)he to judge me?’

Obviously I write this from my heart and from a very personal knowledge of how this situation feels. Maybe your life is perfect. Maybe you have a special edict from God on High to pass judgment on your fellow sinful creatures. I don’t know. But I do know that my life isn’t perfect and I’m as guilty as anyone of judging others. But I want to say, from the perspective of someone who’s made some hurtful mistakes, judging is a pretty hurtful mistake, too.

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Both friends and people who wish me ill, I have news. I now have air conditioning in neither my car nor my home. And will not be able to have my air conditioning at home repaired until Thursday. If that. Because I can’t take time off of work to be there and apparently one has to be around for that sort of repair. Ugh.

Friends and people who wish me ill, it is extraordinarily hot and humid in the south these days. And that’s saying a lot, because August in Alabama is already known for its heat and humidity.

I have complained at length about driving around with no air conditioning. I believe I’ve written that subject right to death. You would think there wouldn’t be much to add to this topic of complaint in this extended form.

But no. I am very talented at the complaining. You shall see.

  • Walking into one’s home on a hot afternoon and expecting a blast of cool air in greeting only to get a blast of hotter air instead is an unpleasant and disconcerting experience.
  • And should be accompanied by much cursing.
  • When you see that the thermostat reads 88° but the temperature is set to 73°, you just about fall out. Somehow, you were hoping you’d just set the thing for effing unbearably hot before you walked out the door that morning. Sadly, that wasn’t the case.
  • It turns out being a girl is good for certain things but really crappy for others. No one ever thinks to teach you what to do about a broken air conditioner. Daddy or Hubby are there for that sort of thing. Turns out Daddy lives two hours away now and I’ve voluntarily parted with the services of Hubby (who we will soon have to rename, I suppose), so here I am, totally clueless and sweating profusely.
  • Turning off and on the unit does nothing. Replacing the air filter only reveals that your house is far dustier than you imagined. Randomly flipping breaker switches in your fuse box proves to be useless as well.
  • Having been advised by a friend of the masculine variety to fiddle with the fuse box outside the house near the air conditioning unit, I attempted to wade through my weeds and open the massive box on the wall and flip things at random. This caused the piercingly annoying noise emanating from the thing to stop and start again when flipped back to the ON position.
  • These efforts left me more sweaty and definitely still without air conditioning, and I was disconcerted again upon re-entering the house. It was actually hotter in there than outside.
  • I fixed myself a cold dinner, waded through the swamp-like atmosphere in my house to the bedroom, turned on my soap opera and ate. Oh yeah. I think at some point I lost multiple layers of clothing.
  • Still quite hot, I got the remaining Organic Vanilla Ice Cream from my freezer and consumed it quickly. Resisted temptation to rub it all over me as this would have been both temporary and disgusting.
  • Then I praised the Good Lord that I had thought to purchase water bottles at the store on Sunday because my ice maker still has not been put together. THREE YEARS after purchasing the machine.
  • I fully planned to take a cold shower after I caught up on TV and posted here yesterday, but after opening my bedroom windows (and keeping all lights in the house off to keep the heat down), I fell asleep with a bottle of water propped in the curve of my neck on my pillow. And forgot to set my alarm.
  • 7:20 came with alarming speed.
  • Don’t forget, I belong at my desk at 7:45.
  • I made it at 7:55.
  • I looked awful.

And I survived the composition of this post by strategically placing unopened PopIce sleeves under and around me. Girl gets creative in heat like this!

Almost a Hugh Grant movie, right?

This weekend was one of the more emotionally turbulent of my existence. Rarely have I experienced such desperate lows and such jubilant highs all in one day.

My grandmother’s funeral was on Saturday.

That was tough.

She was an inspiring woman I will never ever forget. I can’t imagine one situation in my future that wouldn’t be improved by her being around for it. Not one. I don’t want to think about her being in a better place, though I know she is. I want to think that this place was better for her being in it, and my own selfish heartbreak over the whole thing is clearly paramount to all.

The service was in one of her favorite places, Wilson Chapel in Roebuck. She helped make that church what it is today and every element of the environment honored her. It was also evident that she was loved in the community. She moved to Columbus, Georgia about four years ago and STILL so many people from her life in Birmingham took the time to come to her visitation and funeral.

Needless to say, this comprised the lower parts of the day. Of course I got to see my extended family for the first time together since Christmas, and there were also celebrations to be had. Two of my cousins have recently proposed to their (then) girlfriends. Congratulations all around! Best wishes to all! These lovely ladies are most welcome to the family. And the best part is, it was really nice to have something to be happy about at this occasion. Very nice indeed.

From the graveside, we returned to my parents’ house for food and more family time. Emotions were elevating by this point. We shared stores of Miss M, of our years so far, etc, etc… it was fun and relaxed.

I went from there to a dear high school friend’s wedding and reception. Beautiful in every respect, and really good fun. The band amazed me, and it was the first wedding I’ve attended where people actually danced. A lot. With wild abandon. And I danced! With some of my favorite people from high school. Gosh it was fun. I got to let go for a little while, which was nice considering my life as a whole at the moment.

All I needed was a dashing British man showing up at each of these functions being flippant and witty and forward. Meh. I think I did alright with out him 🙂

My hair is easy. Wash. Dry. Or maybe not even dry. Allow to dry. I like to think that it looks vaguely presentable almost all the time, for at least the first five or six hours post washing. 

Then there are the inevitable days that come around every now and again where I want to do something different with my hair. I get all nostalgic for the perfect Shirley Temple curls I managed to create on my head for one magical evening when I was 18 and about to attend my senior prom (see photo). This was a miraculous occurrence. Never before or since has my hair looked so pristine and perfect. Despite many, many attempts. 

Senior Prom Hair

One such attempt took place this very morning. I woke up a good twenty minutes early (already asking for trouble) for the explicit purpose of having enough time to create that ringlet effect with my rather stubbornly thick and frizzy mess of hair. Things started out well. The first few ringlets were quite reminiscent of the soft curls I once managed to sport to my own tremendous pleasure. But they went south fast. 

It began to look as though I was creating a nest on my head. Also, I couldn’t always get the curling iron around the bits of my hair in the back so in the end, the back of my head was a mess of ringlets, natural wave, and board straight from the blow dryer. And I burned my ear somewhere along the way, cursing vehemently. 

Okay, but LizHarrell is nothing if not resourceful in a pinch. So I thought of it in terms of survival. My options: 

  • Re-shower.
  • Run a brush through the mess and hope for the best.
  • Pull it back as much as possible.
  • Keep fiddling with the curling iron until I have no choice but to leave for work.
  • Call in sick.

Easiest option was to pull it back, so I tried it. To my distinct surprise, it didn’t look so bad. I left a few tendrils hanging in the front. Rather whimsical and sweet. 

Still, it wasn’t what I’d been going for. I kept repeating the phrase, “This was an ill-conceived idea and was poorly executed,” as if I was critiquing myself on The Next Food Network Star or something. I berated myself all the way to the gas station where I absolutely HAD to stop for gas. It was at this point I glanced up into the rear view mirror. What the heck? My pretty, whimsical ringlets were board straight. No, I take that back. They were weird wavy. And hanging right in my eyes. Fantastic. 

The curse of the poorly ventilated vehicle strikes again! That, and humid July weather that is hot and damp at 7 AM. 

And trust me, I didn’t stop thinking about the epic failure of my hair all day long. I ran to the restroom just to ponder my reflection more than once. 

It wasn’t that it looked that bad. In fact, it looked alright. But it wasn’t at all what I had been going for this morning. Not even remotely close. And I was disappointed. Still have no idea how I managed to pull off the ringlets the first time around (nearly ten years ago now), but there really was something magical about the way it all came together that night. For once, when an amazing hair day would be exceptionally useful, it worked out. 

Ever since then, however, my attempts have just left me with a worse-than-normal hair day. I think the moral of this story is, don’t worry so much about your hair. It’ll make you crazy. And it’s really quite vain. So stop. And if that doesn’t help, just look back at those senior prom pics and realize that really, your hair kind of looked like a fro. Then you won’t care so much. I promise.