Wednesday, April 26, 2017

The Tough Cookie

Relationships are hard. Probably none are harder than the parent and child ones. In the early years, parents are your role models, they guide you and teach you. In later years those models are the ones you fight against or with as you gain your own identity and independence. I had many fights and stand offs with my mom through the years, especially after my father passed as I became the substitute for my dad.

Despite those fights there were truths and behaviors that my parents, my mom, taught me that became the foundation of who I am with some personal tweaks, of course.

When I was young, I was sick and spent weeks in the hospital undergoing tests and operations. My mom was with my through all the appointments and every night in the hospital while I got better. There were times during that ordeal that I was the one who had to comfort her – telling her I would be fine and that she didn’t have to cry.

When I was about to give birth to M, my daughter, I didn’t want her to come to the hospital with me because it was in the same hospital where my dad passed only seven months before. She was still so sad and frail. But she was there and despite my fear of her passing out, she held M in her arms in utter shock of how I made it through labor. I snapped at her and said “Mom, you did the same thing three times.” But she worried about me then and about us always and that’s what moms do. She worried up to the end. Some of the last things she said to me was to make sure that I put a hat on and to ensure that we all ate.

As most of you know, I am a big dog lover. This I did not get from my mom. Or, so I thought. When I was younger, I bugged my parents for a dog relentlessly.
My mom’s responses were – these are in translation and censored:
'Enough with the dog already.'
'Get out of here with the dog'
'When you get older, you can get one.'

Sure enough, when I was older, I got one. My mom was furious with me.

But over the years who was the one asking me to bring the dog over, who informed me we were having chicken for dinner because that’s what the dog asked for, who gave up her seat on the couch so the dog would be comfortable. She had a big heart and it seemed at times that it was biggest for the dogs.

It was also a very big heart for children. She often babysat and was a nanny as we were growing up and we got older. She often would tell me stories of what the children did and said while she was with them. She always had a sparkle in her eyes as she retold those stories. Often laughing so hard, she would gasp for air. She was very sweet and played with the kids. She did this with M too –singing to her, playing peek-a-boo and getting ‘scared’ just to hear her laugh.

She had a great sense of humor. Her sense of sarcasm was impeccable. She often tried to laugh or find humor in the smallest things. Both of my parents had that talent and I try to emulate that even through hard times.

What I am most grateful for is that despite only have a fifth grade education, she and my dad worked tirelessly so we could all go to college. We could have something that they didn’t. She rallied for both my and my sister’s education because she came from a country and a time where girls didn’t get to go to high school much less college.  She knew that education over here, in America, was the first step to a better life. Although she was physically here in the US, her heart and her thoughts were always in Italy. There’s a line in a song that goes ‘you cannot return to where you never left’. Every time I hear it I think of my mom. I probably won’t listen to that song for a while now.

She was a strong woman, ‘manufactured in a different time and place’ as many neighbors said. Through her rounds of chemotherapy, she never once exhibited the nausea or vomiting that we were told to expect. The nurses and oncologist always remarked that ‘she was a fighter – a tough cookie’. And she was. She fought hard in life, with me, with us and now she’ll go back to fighting with my dad. Dad, I hope you tuck your shirt in and that you have smoked your share of cigarettes while you had your break. Mom, say hi to my fuzzies and thank you for everything. 

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Promises to a Future Me

Instead of New Year’s Resolutions, I’ve decided to keep a list of things I promise myself that I will not do when I am older. I’ll periodically add items to the list but right now, let’s get started.

#1) I will not tell people around me to eat when I have not touched a single thing on my plate.

#2) I will not utter ‘eat’ to others when they are sitting at a table. Tables can be used for many purposes other than eating, like reading a newspaper, writing a letter, playing a board game. People do not need to eat during those activities. Tables do not always = eat.

#3) I will not answer the phone except in my own house.

#4) I will not dig through the garbage in other people’s houses and pull out things I think are still good. I will also not suggest that said garbage item might be good for someone. There’s a reason why it’s in the garbage in the first place. (Yes, one man’s garbage is another man’s gem but let’s just remember ‘garbage’ entered into the sentence at some point so let’s keep it there.)

#5) I will try to be grateful for what I have and those around me. I will remember to say ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ and not bark out commands to people who are hosting me.

#6) I will try my best to remember the mantra “If I have nothing nice to say, it’s best to keep my mouth shut.”

#7) I will try not to say “I want to die” to young people especially those under age of 12. It’s traumatic at some point.

#8) I will try not to pretend I have a medical degree and know more than doctors who have been practicing for years and who are specialists in their field.

#9) I will listen to said people in #8 as they likely know more than I do about health-related matters.

#10) I will not blame others for situations where I am a key participant. It takes two to tango in most situations and likely I have done something to contribute to the bad as well as the good in most things.

#11) I will remind myself of #5 repeatedly, even if I feel horrible and hate being old. 

#12) I will take a vested interest in understanding basic Biology and how my body functions or what could happen when it doesn't function well anymore. 

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

The Tea Party

Out of nowhere my daughter got the idea that she wanted to have a tea party with her Nonna (grandmother) this weekend. It was a cute idea. Except that I wasn't sure from where the thought came. My daughter always looks at me with mild disturbance and disgust when I tell her I am having a cup of tea. The one time I let her try an herbal tea, she informed me, “When I grow up, I might like it.”

Friday evening she notified me that she would like to have a tea party with Nonna. When we woke up Saturday morning, after telling me ‘good morning’, she reminded me that we needed to get ready for the party. We walked to the store to get some cookies and crackers. I informed her that a staple of tea parties were tea sandwiches. She looked at me like I was inventing this information right out of my head. She attempted a compromise by saying ‘we could have cheese on the crackers’. I will never say no to cheese and crackers so I said we would try that this time around.

We made our way to Nonna’s house. We told Nonna we had come over to have a tea party but Nonna wasn’t really up to it. So M turned to her aunt and said ‘Well, you could come to the tea party!’ Auntie seemed thrilled to be included.

I cut a few apples and pears (I was trying to have some healthy food). I put out the cookies and the crackers. I slices a few pieces of cheese while the water boiled. I parsed out the hot water into mugs (I didn’t have tea cups!) each with a tea bag. I let M’s tea brew for only a few moments while the other mugs sat the full time.

Apparently while I was preparing all the food, a few guests arrived. My daughter’s entourage of My Little Ponies and Care Bear figures were sitting at the table waiting for the snacks. They were not the most polite group. They did enjoy the cookies but thought the tea was a bit bitter. I could see they were having an influence over my daughter. She sips a tiny bit of the tea and made a face as if I had served her sewer water. Oh well, I tried. She ate all the pear and a bunch of crackers. The party posse decided that they would rather fight criminals and show their super powers so they didn’t nibble on much.

The day after the party my daughter said we should try to have a tea party again soon and invite some other friends. “Hey! Why not?” I told her. I’d be happy to have some other human interaction while enjoying some tea sandwiches the next time around. 

Monday, February 27, 2017

The Problem of Parenting

I love my daughter. I think the world of her and always want to be a model to her. But there are days, like today, where I really hate being a parent.

I accompanied her into her classroom and she walked over to her table. Her chair had been moved from where it was usually placed. She asked me why and I responded by letting her know that it was probably moved to allow all the kids to put their rest mats into the space behind her chair. She seems satisfied with that answer and began to do her morning work. I walked over to the cubby holes to put her back pack and jacket away. When I returned to her table, I saw that her table mate was pushing her chair, with her trying to sit in it, away. Of course, my daughter began to cry. This was a very obvious sign of bullying and of her table mate being shitty jerk. I went over to her and told her that we could move her chair so that there was space between her and her class fellow. She cried into my shoulder.

I told her that it was not a nice thing that had happened and she had every right to cry. But that she was a strong and smart girl and she had every right to be at the table. That she needed to continue to do her work even if her table mate was not nice to her.

As I heard these words, “lessons”, come out of my mouth, I felt fake. And I was enraged. I wanted to tell her to punch him. And if she didn’t do it, I would. I wanted to give that boy a verbal lashing that would remind him for years to come that he was a selfish and inconsiderate moron. Why was I teaching her to be docile and submissive when I didn’t feel like it made a single difference in the world? When I have learned that being ‘nice’ is code word for ‘we can treat you like crap because you won’t say anything’?

Of course I was projecting my anger onto this situation but why shouldn’t I? Here was a perfect example of someone making my daughter feel small and weak. Hadn’t this been the way things happened over the centuries. Treat those that are kind and nice in a bad way. My daughter has a big heart. I love her for that. She always shares with others. She often points out when others need help from teachers or adults. She is kind and attentive to others. But shouldn’t she be a little selfish and attend to herself first? What exactly was I trying to teach her by taking the high road? How had that worked for anyone in the history of this country, in the last few months of this world? NOTHING!

As I walked out of the classroom, I notified the teacher and the assistant of what had happened. They noticed that my daughter was crying but didn’t know the reason. So I informed them. You know what? If I can’t punch this kid in the face, I’ll report him to the authorities. Isn’t that how whistleblowing happens? After all, isn’t there an advertisement in the subways that says “if you see something, say something”? I felt slightly vindicated by my actions.

I seethed as I walked to the subway. I really wanted to punch someone. Hopefully, my desire to inflict physical pain on someone will subside. But the lesson I learned from today’s incident is that I will have to speak up more to the ridiculously cruel and inconsiderate behavior that has been so prevalent in recent years. Only if we point out cruelty will there be a hope of it stopping. So what if I become a tattle tale? Aren’t there really powerful people out there who have been whistleblowers? I’ll consider myself one of them.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

What's in a Name (Part 2)

My 7th grade teacher preferred to call every student by their last name and the title of either Mr. or Miss depending on their gender. It was disconcerting at first but became a joke to all the students thereafter. We spent most of the year calling each other by our last names whenever we were not in the classroom. Good fun, I can assure you.

By the time I went to college and studied abroad, the Miss My Last Name phase had already worn incredibly thinly on me (Thank you, 7th grade!). However, there I was in my advanced French grammar class with a seriously stern and strict French matron. She believed in the memorization of regular and irregular conjugations, correct pronoun usage and agreement and using the subjunctive. She was scary but with lovely skin and an awesome black wardrobe that was highly enviable. The sole difference with Madame B was that she didn’t call me Mademoiselle My Last Name. She just called me by my last name. All the time! Meanwhile she called everyone else by their first name.

I found myself in a quandary. How did I approach this professor and correct her when really it wasn’t that offensive? How do I tell her when I really didn’t want to get more difficult homework? I was doing well in her class, what if my confronting her made her hate me? After all, she was French and they were still mysterious to me culturally. Was this going to be the faux pas that sent me back home to the United States interminably? (Mind you, my friends loved that she called me by my last name. So much so that still to this day they call me by my last name as a joke to the past.)

Biting the bullet does not entirely capture my plan of attack. I decided I would wait after class and inform her that my last name was not my first name. As class was dismissed and people dilly dallied to leave the classroom, I waited in the back until everyone filed out. I walked up to the professor. Gave her an enormous smile and straightened my posture. I took a deep breath. She asked me if I had a question and I point blank posed, “Why do you call me by my last name in class when you call everyone else by their first name?”

Her facial muscles poured over her chin. I wondered if I raised the question in the correct French format because I honestly wasn’t sure what had popped out of my mouth. She picked up a piece of paper which I quickly realized was her class roster. She asked me “Your name isn’t A. A.?” I told her it was but that the second A was my last name and the first A was my Christian name. She understood immediately that the way my name was presented in the roster was the opposite of what it has been with the other students. My name for some bizarre reason was presented in the European fashion, last name first and Christian name second while everyone else’s name was presented with American way (first name followed by last name). She thought they were all on the paper in the same fashion. Immediately she profusely apologized for her mistake. She then added, “Both of your names are very pretty!” I thanked her and she said she would not make the mistake again. “Incidentally, you are doing quite well in class. You should have told me earlier. Of course now that I have your name correct, I will pick on you more in class!” This is exactly what I wanted to avoid! But oh well. Always be wary of what you wish!

Thereafter, she did call on me repeatedly to answer. The difference was that I didn’t feel awkwardly singled out because of my name but because I had the right answer. I also often asked questions in class to clarify grammar rules because I could see people were perplexed. By posing my comments, it helped me get fewer questions about English grammar. I saw a direct correlation to my understanding of English grammar and how that solidified my French language education.

Standing up and asserting myself instilled a confidence in me that I didn’t have before that event. It showed me that I could express myself thoughts in another language and be understood. Madame also seemed to push me harder and appreciated my confronting her. It seemed as though I gained her respect (Seemingly because who really could tell at that point).  In hindsight, I believe it did but in the moment, I was just as perplexed by her after the incident as I had been when she called me by my last name.

Oddly, once I started in the working world, I found that people often called me by my last name instead of my first name. In this regard there was no roster mistake, it showed me people don’t really care or pay attention. Often when I point out people’s mistake, they don’t even notice it. I have to explain a number of times where their error is. Sadly it’s happened numerous times – so many that I have lost count on all my fingers and toes. My retort is different these days. Instead of bothering to explain their mistake, I call them by their last names first. And when they correct me, I smarmily say ‘oh well, you have been calling me by my last name first that I thought that was the way we were communicating.” It’s impertinent but it goes both ways. If you respect me, I’ll respect you. Perhaps the reason I pointed out my teacher’s mistake was due to my respecting her or was it about respecting myself? Maybe as the years progress, I’ll figure that one out.

Friday, September 2, 2016

What's in a Name (Part 1)

My dad was a man of his word. If he told you he would do something, he would do it. There may not have been a specification of when it would happen but it was as good as done if he professed to do it. He was also a fairly simple man. He didn’t really see the need for so many words in the world. He often complained about going to the doctor because they said a lot. He also did not think there was any need for so many names.

He didn’t care if your name was Robert, Abdul or Yin. No matter your appellation, he would call you Johnny.  This was the case for males. If I remember, he was much better with female names or would just not say the name. This was startling to most people, especially if they had a name tag that clearly displayed their forename.

For instance, we were on a trip to Canada for a family wedding. We stopped at a gas station to fill up the tank. My dad rolled down the window and the attendant came over to greet us. The tag on his chest clearly displayed that his name was Mohamed. My dad, however, told ‘Johnny’ to ‘fill it up’. My siblings and I sat in the back seat trying not to crack up when we could visibly see this nice fellow was never christened ‘Johnny’.

Other examples were the many nice occasions when we would go out to dinner or to a party and my dad would tell Maurice or Steve to leave his appetizer salad for ‘after dinner, Johnny!’ Papa Luigi always wanted his salad at the end of the meal. God forbid Johnny, or anyone else for that matter, took his greens away before he was ready for them. Often there was also the request, ‘Johnny, can you bring me some ice for my wine?’ Yes, my dad liked an ice cube in his red wine. He always said that warm wine made him sleepy. As long as Johnny followed his instructions, all would be calm in the world.

The best part of all of this was that people often had trouble pronouncing my dad’s name (well, until the Mario brothers came along. After that he was famous!). There was often Weegee (rhymes with squeegee for that wonderful time in New York’s history where no car window was safe!), or Luis or even just Lou. At least those last two were in the ballpark in a way. You would think that having his name mispronounced would make him pay more attention. That was definitely not the case. My dad was more of the ‘eff you’ mentality on names, as in you are lucky I even decided to call you anything non-offensive at all. I don’t really know why I thought he would be more correct in name usage given that he would call us different nicknames at home.

There was a good decade of my life where I was convinced that my dad didn’t even know my real name. I was, after all, christened every single natural disaster imaginable by my dad. ‘Hey Tempest, come here’ or ‘Little Earthquake, bring me my glass of wine!’ My dad preternaturally knew I would be encountering name issues so he gave me an early education.  

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Around the Block

A few months ago my daughter's  nursery class was learning about neighborhoods and modes of transportation. There were daily queries of which transportation option I took to get to work and what was my favorite way to get places. In addition, I was asked by a little interrogator if I went to the grocery store or the post office on my way to work.

In order to further cement the lesson, her class was planning a field trip. I decided to sign up to be a chaperone because:
1) It was something I could squeeze into an hour of my morning schedule without attending a full-day event.
2) I thought it would be fun. (Honestly, this was the biggest factor in my participation!)

After dropping the kids off at school and making sure they had all the bathroom department business completed, the other parents, who were also chaperoning, gathered at the class door to collect their field trip pair. Each parent had their own child and then another little munchkin. My daughter was exhilarated that I was involved in this activity. She grabbed onto my hand and decided to swing from it while her friend pulled my other hand and arm down the stairs. (If only they had pulled my legs a bit so I would grow a few inches.)

We made our way outside and the teacher instructed the children to point to and call out the modes of transportation they had learned. Immediately twenty 3-year-olds yelled out, "Taxi!", "Bus!", "Bicycle!" The boisterous nature of toddlers was magnified by 100 times due to this close proximity to them. I could not contain my laughter because it was hysterical to hear them jubilantly calling out everything on wheels.

We turned away from the main boulevard, around a corner and up a quiet residential street. The noise became a bit more manageable. We decided to examine the budding flowers blossoming near all the trees. This fascinated quite a number of the children particularly because they didn't know the names of the flowers (daffodils, lilacs, impatiens, etc.). We then looked in on a couple of the businesses, waved to the owners and patrons, and explained what the people inside those offices and shops did. One particular child, who incidentally is always late to school, pointed out where she lived. It was eye-opening to everyone and horrifying to the child's mother that she was being ratted out.

The best part of the whole field trip was my daughter. Not only because she's my cutie and I got to share this moment with her, but also because she's shamelessly in love with dogs. As we walked around the block, she must have stopped to put her hand out to every dog. She wanted them all to sniff her so she could pet them. She did this unabashedly. She didn't care that her friend was scared out of her mind by every dog. My daughter also did not notice that I had to switch pairs so that her partner would not have a panic attack. She just thought all the dogs were 'cute' or 'fuzzy' and she wanted to pet them.

When we finally returned to the school entrance, the parents and teacher attempted to take a group picture. This was quite a challenge. I alone had 25 pictures of the children and in each one, at least one of the children was either hiding, not smiling, crying or running away from the group. It made me appreciate the work that the teachers do every day. There are moments where I really can not handle one child and yet, these teachers work with at most 20 different personalities on a daily basis. And they do it effortlessly and often, with no complaints. 

Although the trip lasted no more than a half hour, I know I will not forget it because:
1) My ears haven't yet recovered from all the screaming
2) It's a memory of a day at school with my daughter that I so frequently get to experience.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Warrior Two

My little one is very active. She has been since the earliest days of her development in my uterus. I was often kicked and punched deeply around my internal organs while my munchkin was growing inside me. One night during my last trimester, she had gotten into a kickboxing frenzy with my ribs – so powerful that I was convinced she had broken at least one of my bones.

As she has been growing, she can climb and run for great expanses of time without ever looking tired. The only indication of exhaustion would be the amount of time it would take her to fall asleep at night. If she had conked out within 5 minutes of hitting the pillow, she was truly spent. If it took longer, then she had not quite run on empty.

In order to keep her activity levels going through the winter, we decided it would behoove her (and us) if she took up some after-school activities. She was content with a cooking class but she would run around the apartment in circles for hours at a time. She proceeded then to climb and jump off the sofa for a few hours more. My husband and I were determined that she would definitely take up swimming since we both consider it a life skill. But what else could she do to burn off some energy? We decided to let her try a couple of activities and then let her choose.

The first class was martial arts. Her school had an activities event in the early Fall that showcased a number of different sports. She liked martial arts the most of all the ones on display that day. Unfortunately, I was unable to attend the event but got the report from my husband, whose opinions are generally spot on. (I had a feeling that this would be a perfect activity for her especially because I not so fondly remembered the pain in my ribs that still lingers until this day!) She genuinely liked the class, particularly the discipline involved. Discipline, in this instance, was yelling out loud to answer the instructors!

Next, my husband brought her to a gymnastics class with a friend from her school. I used to take gymnastics and I loved the running, jumping, tumbling and dancing and thought she could use some work with the balance beam (Heck, couldn’t we all use more balance work?). She seems to like it but my husband informed me that it wasn’t very organized. I understood his point but I felt like it has to be difficult to maintain order with a bunch of kids bouncing around. Maybe I’m too lax with the idea of chaos in childhood.

And because EVERY SINGLE GIRL that my daughter knows does ballet, I thought we should give it a try. After all the intention of all of these trials would be that she would pick the class she liked the best. I am not one for tutus. I just don’t get the appeal. (Maybe it’s the gymnast in me. However, I hate leotards just as much as tutus.) The girls came in and were very upright and my daughter (just into her 3rd year at the time) was already slouching. The teacher was an older woman, who obviously was a dancer given her stance, walk, general poise and upright manner. She started the class by telling a story of a famous ballet. She then led the girls through some stretches and some passes back and forth doing ballet moves. They then read the full story and got dressed up and interpreted the story. It was pretty cute to watch my daughter struggled with plies (Hi! That’s my daughter alright. Not far from the apple tree!). Boy, did she ever love getting dressed up and dancing around the studio?

After class was over, and on our walk home, I asked her which of the classes she liked the best. She said martial arts. I was secretly contented. I told my husband to question her as well (I certainly didn’t want to seem as though I were sending out universal vibes towards martial arts!). She informed him that she preferred martial arts. And that is how the selection was made.

I am not always able to attend her classes but I get videos of her during the class. She’s super cute (no bias here)! When she first wore her all white outfit and belt and stood perfectly in her fighting stance, I knew she was made to be a warrior. I love to hear her punch and throw kicks. She is now obsessed with eating ‘good food’ so she will have ‘strong muscles’ and I secretly (and not so secretly) want to eat her. She enjoys running and jumping and looking at herself in the mirror as she goes by. I am happy she’s learning that good food gives her energy to do martial arts and to play in general. That’s a positive message we could all remember (but cookies are so tasty). As she becomes more aware of what her body can do, she is building up her confidence. I hope she’ll stick with this for a long time. Hopefully her beating my ribs to a pulp just a few years ago wasn’t all for naught.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Warrior One

My friend entered herself and me into an Instagram drawing a few months ago. And we won! The drawing was for a private yoga session for 2 with one of the instructors my friend knew at her local yoga studio. I’ve never won a single thing in my life. The irony of the winning name having been initiated by my friend and not me is not lost on me. I really have no luck.

After a few months of back and forth emails trying to confirm a date and time, we got together. Yippee! It was a great session. I had my alignment adjusted by a trained professional. Questions I have had for a long time were finally answered. One of the questions was around hip position in a pose called Warrior 1. I have always been perplexed with this pose because there is another relatively similar pose called Warrior 2. I was always mixing them up – doing arms for warrior 1 and legs of warrior 2 and vice versa.

Partly, my self-imposed game of ‘Twister’ had to with my recent yoga classes being in a studio with a mirror. I often found myself gazing at my position and feeling awkward with the reflection in the mirror. It made me second-guess my hip placement, foot alignment, etc. To put my thoughts at ease, I asked the instructor to explain the differences. Always go with your gut, people! You know more than you think you do.

She said my alignment and positioning was correct. She also confirmed my theory that mirrors do not belong in yoga studios. Yoga is a personal, internally-focused exercise. By looking in a mirror, and ultimately outward, it becomes competitive. Comparing yourself with others is inherently against the foundations of the practice. In order to be more mindful of my practice, I will wear my blind fold and do the various poses.  Here’s to a new way to do yoga!

Friday, March 18, 2016

The Four Letter Word

I have always prided myself on being nice. A number of people in my life have said I was one of the nicest people they knew. I suppose I should have known when someone said I was the ‘nicest’ person that something was seriously wrong in the world. I can be nice but I am not always very nice or the nicest, in the least. Was it possible that I had this superlative quality – that I was the ‘-est’ of some adjective? It was only relatively recently that I realized that niceness is not a positive trait in most people’s eyes.

A number of years ago, one of my managers said that an ‘opportunity’ that I needed to work on was ‘not being so nice’. You can probably imagine how aghast I was when she said this to me. I chalked it up to ‘her problem’ and justified it as being more about her than about me. After all, she was a word that rhymed with switch. She probably thought her being a micromanaging, indecisive hypocrite was a ‘strength’, while most everyone really hated all those qualities about her.

The feedback I received directly (and indirectly) from others for that particular review was that I was a positive person who worked well with others and was always collaborating. People also said I knew how to work with each individual’s skills to get the best out of everyone.  I saw these as truly great attributes. I felt stupendous about my propensity towards these characteristics; until the bomb was dropped. After my review, I spent the entire weekend moping around wondering why it was a weakness (Incidentally whenever ‘opportunity’ is used during a review, it is code for ‘weakness’). I always thought being a ‘team player’ was a valued skill. (Heck, isn’t it a prerequisite on most job descriptions?)  It seems pretty obvious to me that I was in possession of that talent. How could it be seen pejoratively? I’ll tell you how.

The extrovert is as American as apple pie and Uncle Sam. The person who points out the obvious vociferously on conference calls is ‘the bread and butter’ of the corporate world. Because I was quiet and reserved and hardly ever pronouncing on calls, I was seen as too kind.  I needed to speak up more - to tell people my ideas. I couldn’t correlate the two. How was being quiet also seen as being nice? Maybe I was just nice and also quiet but they normally are mutually exclusive? I mean she was loud and dumb, do those two go together? Not really, right? Most people wouldn’t agree to that connection.

Years have passed since that review and I’ve learned to live with my weakness. I was fine until one of my friends mentioned that she, too, had been called ‘too nice’ in a recent performance review. Then the ire subconsciously simmering in my gut blew up. Hello! Why is being nice a bad thing? I knew of many people who were rude, selfish and unprofessional. The overwhelming tone when those folks were a topic of conversation (euphemism for gossip here) was seething. They were bottlenecks to any progress and colleagues often dreaded working with them. Granted, I never fully knew what their reviews were like but am sure they didn’t take anger control or aggression as opportunities.  I suppose that I will never truly know why being nice is considered a bad thing in corporate America. However, I am going to exercise my right to be stubborn and say, "I refuse to be change". I will now be difficult, frustrating and close-minded. Thank you, very much.