The Love-Hate Challenge

One of the bloggers I follow is Andrea at My Spoken Heart. Yesterday I read her post in response to The Love-Hate Challenge. I haven’t been formally challenged, but I liked the idea so much that I’ve decided to use it today.

The Love-Hate Challenge as us to write two lists of 10 items each: Things I Love and Things I Hate. I’m going to start with the hate list so that I can end on the positive note of listing things I love.

Things I Hate

1. Being around negative people

I recently wrote about ending a relationship with a narcissistic friend (scroll down to the question right before the bonus question). At that point I had decided that it was necessary for me to surround myself with only good people. My narcissistic friend didn’t make the cut.

A 2,100-mile retirement relocation gave me the opportunity to meet new people and make new friends. Most of the people in our retirement community are gems. There’s only one woman, whom I’ll call L., who is not. L. never stops talking, and she talks about only two subjects: other peoples’ shortcomings and her own superiority. I do my best, short of being downright rude, to avoid being near her. Most other people seem to have the same feeling, as no one ever voluntarily sits with L. at gatherings. L. is a constant reminder to me of how much better life is when I’m surrounded by pleasant, polite, caring people.

2. Brazen ignorance

All of us are subject to confirmation bias, the tendency to believe and remember information that confirms what we already believe or want to believe while at the same time denying and forgetting any information that contradicts our pre-conceived biases. A good many people, though, can look at something with an open mind when confronted with strong evidence and other points of view. It’s the people who stubbornly refuse to listen to any other points of view that I hate being around.

I also hate being around people who vociferously express opinions based on brazen ignorance. An example was a man, B., a fellow traveler on our recent European trip. After we had toured a Benedictine Abbey in Melk, Austria, that was built in the 16th century, B. sat across the aisle from me on the return bus ride. Here’s what he said to the person sitting next to him:

That was really something. Five-hundred years ago, when they were building this abbey, American Indians were still digging arrowheads out of the dirt. And in Africa they didn’t even have language yet. But look at what these Europeans were doing.

There’s nothing I can do but step away from such people.

3. Racist behavior

Someone might want to point out to me that this is the same as brazen ignorance. But this particular kind of brazen ignorance is so repulsive that it demands its own category.

4. Shoes that aren’t flat

Despite being short (5 feet, 2 inches), I have never wanted to wear shoes to make me look taller. Add to that the fact that I have a bad back, and you get my long-time refusal to wear shoes with any kind of a heel. If I can’t find a flat shoe appropriate for a particular occasion, I either don’t go or I go in inappropriate shoes.

5. Life without treats

cupcakesI’m talking about food here. I refuse to live in a world that does not allow for the occasional order of french fries, two-scoop dish of ice cream, or piece of cake with frosting. Or blackberry cobbler. Or blueberry pie. Or chocolate-covered cherries.

6. Hot, humid weather

For 40+ years we lived in St. Louis, MO, the nation’s capital of hot, humid summers. We turned the air conditioning on in April and didn’t turn it off until October. I was known in my neighborhood as the summer recluse because I almost never left my air-conditioned house to venture into the heat and humidity.

7. Bland white fish

When I was a kid, my mother would put pieces of cod in a baking dish, add about 1/2 inch of water, and bake the fish in the oven. She’d serve it just that way: not even a dash of paprika to give it some flair and flavor. To this day, the only kind of white fish I eat is swordfish, which I actually like a lot.

8. Getting up early

I hate it when people say something like “Get up early and get more accomplished during the day.” I am a night owl. Getting up earlier doesn’t make me more productive. It makes me more miserable.

9. Boring chores

These include vacuuming, dusting, cleaning up the kitchen, and folding laundry.

10. Forced socializing

When I was last in graduate school, we had to attend a five-day conference twice a year. We attended workshops together, ate meals together, and had more meetings and classes together after dinner. After a couple of days I felt frantic.

I’m an introvert. I need periodic time alone to process what’s going on around me and to recharge my batteries. I’m more comfortable with three or four people than with 150. I’m also a highly sensitive person (HSP). Too much stimulation—crowds, noise, movement—also makes me crazy.

The world is run by extraverts who think that we should all love getting together in large groups. And corporations favor group projects so much that schools now insist on teaching kids to work in groups. The world is not kind to those of us who require periodic solitude and quietness.

Things I Love

1. Spending time with family and friends

I’m sure this tops everyone’s list of things they love. But really, what would life be like if this weren’t true?

2. Reading

books03Reading has been my favorite activity ever since I can remember. I’m always fascinated when somebody says something like “I started reading at age 3.” I have no idea when I started reading. I just can’t remember a life when I couldn’t and didn’t read.

3. Book groups

The joke about book groups is that they’re often an excuse to get together, drink wine, and talk about life. But if you can find a good book group, one that actually talks intelligently about the book, there’s nothing better. I was fortunate to be in two such groups for several years, and I found most of my closest friends there.

When I moved from St. Louis, MO, to Tacoma, WA, one of the first things I did was to look for book groups. I was appalled to learn that the entire Tacoma Public Library system sponsors exactly one book group, which met at a time and place inconvenient for me. I tried a group run by one branch of the Pierce County Library system, but none of the people there were close readers who could talk about anything deeper than “I liked” or “I didn’t like” the book.

Finally, I found a classics group that meets at my local independent book store. The members of this group are informed and interested in the books. I’ve been attending this group for about 15 months now and have learned a lot.

4. Purple

Deep purple is my favorite color. I always wear something purple (although you might not always be able to see it). My nails are always purple.

Purple clothes go in and out of fashion, so, on years when purple is in, I buy whatever I find that I can wear. That allows me to weather the times when there isn’t a purple item anywhere in sight.

5. Being “of a certain age”

When I turned 50, I decided that I was old enough to speak my mind. So I’ve been speaking my mind for quite a few years now, and I feel a lot better, thank you very much.

outrageous older womanThis is my favorite shirt. Notice that it’s purple. I like it so much that I own two.

And there will be no facelift for me (although anything in a bottle, tube, or jar is fair game). I’m proud of these wrinkles. I endured a lot to get them. I’ve earned every one.

6. Having short hair

Really, life is too short to spend time fussing with my hair. It’s wash-and-go for me.

7. Writing

typingI’ve always loved writing, and I’ve always been pretty good at it. But I haven’t thought of myself as “a writer” until recently. I have challenged myself to write a blog post a day in 2015 to establish the habit of writing daily and to convince myself that I am a writer.

8. The Pacific Northwest

"West Coastin'" shirtMy husband and I lived in St. Louis for about 42 years. Our daughter was born there. When it came time for her to choose a college, she chose the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma, WA. She loved the area so much that she stayed.

Since she is our only child, it made sense for us to move here when we retired. We had been visiting Tacoma for about 15 years, so we knew we liked the area. As retirement approached, we became more and more eager to move out here.

Now we’re here, and we love it. We particularly like the more moderate climate. Also, we live near the city’s largest park and can walk to the zoo and aquarium.

9. Facebook

I know many people complain about Facebook, but I’m glad it exists. It allows me to keep in touch with friends we left back in St. Louis. It has also allowed me to reconnect with several of my cousins whom I had lost contact with over the years.

Perhaps I don’t get as annoyed as other people because I have a very small number of friends on Facebook. All these friends really are my friends or family, not some mere acquaintance I casually interacted with somewhere. I’m also careful about the kinds of information and photos I post.

10. Going to the farmers’ market

Most Saturdays during the summer we travel down to Puyallup, where our daughter lives, and go with her to the Puyallup Farmers’ Market. The Puyallup River provides a fertile growing area, so there is a lot of good local produce available there. This routine also allows us to see her at least once a week, which is, of course, the real reason we do it.

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