Rotten Tomatoes

I don’t like tomatoes.  heirloom tomatoesBig deal.
Can anyone argue that point? Well, they can try, but it’s futile. My opinion is my opinion, and it’s made at my discretion. No amount of arguing is going to change my opinion about tomatoes – I dislike the taste and texture of tomatoes! I don’t even care for tomato-based products like ketchup, or tomato sauces (pasta sauce, pizza sauce, marinara sauce – whatever name you slap on that jar of tomato guts!), and I’d just as soon not have to deal with explaining myself further, thank you very much!

          yes, I have a point…

So, in the blatantly rude exposition about my seemingly insurmountable displeasure with tomatoes, I discovered this is the secret to my new happiness – or, more joy than happiness, but, semantics

Heart-to-Heart-Key-Ring

I’ve dealt with a lot of self-loathing over the years (decades!), and I’m trying to come to grips with that – I’m a work in progress… Despite knowing in my head the love of the Lord, and understanding, in my head, my worth because of my relationship in Him, and because of Who it is I belong to, I still struggle with self-worth, and allowing the actions of others to dictate whether or not I am worthy of, well, anything and everything: love, recognition, acceptance, rest, peace, joy, acknowledgement, success… Anything. And. Everything. I so often allowed others to define my value, and the worst of it, I failed to recognize that it was through the opinions of others that I was allowing my value and worth to be ultimately decided.
Let me put it to you this way: who should determine the worth and value of a pizza? One patron who walks into the pizzeria and orders a pie with four cheeses, pepperoni, pizzasausage, and black olives? Or another patron who requests Canadian bacon and pineapple with feta cheese? Well, neither, of course! The owner of the pizzeria determines the price – the worth and value – of the pies! Why? Because ultimately the pizzas belong to him. And although each pie may vary – with different meats and cheeses, veggies and fruits – they are all still pizzas, and their appeal is based on people’s preferences.

Now, back to tomatoes (bleh!)…

As we’ve already discussed, I do not like tomatoes. Just so we’re clear on that point. Everybody got that one? Okay, moving on…

My distaste for the fruit masquerading as a vegetable (ah, so deceptive – another reason not to like them! tsk! tsk!) does not discount their value; there are many (poorly informed, highly misguided – I kid!) individuals who have fallen prey to this devilishly plump orb and bestow upon it a place of honor within their kitchens, their gardens, and their nutrition plans. Our varied opinions do not change the value of the fruit; thebasket of tomatoestomato is still a tomato (and for the record, going back to pizzas – those that squawk and wag their fingers, with wrinkled-up noses, about pineapple on pizza, attesting to some cardinal sin being broken when one puts fruit on pizza… umm, tomatoes! I rest my case!) Some love them, others are merely fond of them, and then there are those that toss them onstage during nauseatingly poor performances of “The Taming of the Shrew” (again, I kid!) In much the same way, I should NOT be allowing some other person’s opinion of me determine my value! Someone else’s fondness for anchovies on their pizza is not going to change what I view as a delicious pizza, and in our respective opinions, each of us has perfection on a plate!

Opinions are like belly buttons: everybody’s got Beautiful Belly Dance Of The Universe 2012 (6)one, and everybody’s is as unique and personal as the person
themselves! Holy Moses, what a concept! Okay, I have a feeling there are a lot of you that learned this back in kindergarten. Yay for you! You get a gold star! (No, really, that’s awesome! I wish I were so lucky; life’s been challenging not being able to recognize my own self-worth. You are blessed; you are!) Like I said, I’m a work in progress here, and I’ve not had a lot of success with the self-love stuff… I did, however, make tremendous strides this week in two facets: I jumped on stage, with the future completely unscripted, and threw caution to the wind! (check out my previous post, Detail-Oriented, and this reference will make a ton more sense!) I discovered during a monumentally ungraceful stumble-trip-step-step-trip-stumble-fall that I was mistaken in my assumption of the previous-witnessed kindnesses being anything more than that (i.e., they were apparently not interest), and realized the second act of the play called for my swift and untimely demise. The defeat simmered for a while, but soon developed a lovely aroma and tantalizing fullness within my gut and soul until it manifested itself into the mantra I now carry with grace, dignity, and surprising victory: I don’t like tomatoes…

 

We all make decisions based on past encounters and present situations, which are heavily influenced by our personal preferences and opinions. I can’t fault someone because of their personal preferences, knowing full-well that we ALL have this internal mechanism – water or soda, wheat bread or rye bread, loafers or sneakers, the ocean or the forest, rap music or alternative jazz – and we ALL harbor opinions that play an integral part in our decision-making. If I get upset with someone for choosing a different stage performer over me, that’s akin to them being upset with me for not liking tomatoes, and that’s not right. I shouldn’t have to defend my distain for the veggie-fruit, fending off an attack by some pro-marinara advocate any sooner than a tea drinker waving off the offer of a cupCup-of-black-coffee of java with ridicule from the coffee bean brigade! Opinions are just a simple way of expressing our preferences, and do not detract from the value of the item in question. I need to understand –  to remember!! – that the personal preferences and opinions of others do not in any way diminish who I am, and do not take away from my value as a human being!

 

So I say, “You don’t care for me? That’s okay; I don’t like tomatoes.”

 

roasted tomatoes

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Dress the Part

Conversations aren’t always the easiest to strike up.

          Well, that’s not true! According to my youngest child, I have a knack for chatting up fellow patrons  in the line at the grocery store waiting to pay for their produce, fishing for unbiased feedback from strangers outside the changing rooms while hunting through second-hand haute couture, even alleviating awkward silences on the elevator while scaling urban high rises. But, when it REALLY matters…

My youngest child is at a new school this year, and is experiencing all the thrills that go with the territory: new teachers, new schedules, and a new terrain to navigate in record time each day. He’s not the only new face on campus, though – there’s an entire grade-level worth of “newcomers”: the 2016-2017 high school freshmen class! These individuals, stuck between adolescence and adulthood, trying to fumble and flail their way through the muddied waters of senior high school – no long the “upper classmen” of middle school, tight-knit and secure in their relative proximity to one another as ‘a pack’. Now, scattered across countless acres of mundane, mud-colored buildings, corridors humming with pounding feet and the crashing of exhausted metal locker doors barely clinging to their hinges and a veritable menagerie of shapes, heights, hair colors, widths, eye colors, voices, talents, laughters, snarls, social cliques and antisocial exiles representing all corners of the city, county, school district, and outer banks of consciousness possible. Tough enough task just to make it through each day during that first month. But that’s not enough for the soul-crushing monster that is High School…

 

Must. Inflict. More. Emotional. Scarring. Through. Social. Awkwardness.

 

          Is it just me, or in retrospect, does that seem like the general mission statement of high school?

Two weeks in, and all of a sudden, there’s a social function that requires focused CONVERSATION. The Homecoming Dance. It’s become so much more than what it was when I was in high school – back before the fall of the Berlin Wall and fashion-forward Swatch watches. Now, it’s pre-sale tickets, suits, ties, evening gowns, pre-dance dinners – it’s pre-Prom, for all grade levels! But what do you do when you only know 6 people on campus – those six friends you had in Middle school, four of which are guys you band together with to terrorize online gaming servers and blast everything into oblivion by way of Steam-enabled games? Sure, talking with the person sitting next to you in Geometry or Video Tech class is easy if it’s just random chit-chat about classroom subject matter; however, when there’s a calculated risk underpinning a seemingly innocuous dialogue, casual and light-hearted antics give way to fear, anxiety, and trepidation. Compounding on the perceived pressures of unplanned conversations with a relative stranger, add to the mix the innate cloddish and provincial mannerisms of life as a teenager in general, with untimely voice cracks and unanticipated brain drain, how could it even be conceivable to drum up the courage to talk with a fellow classmate? The list of unknowns is far too overwhelming! I haven’t even mentioned the earth-shattering concept of (gasp!) rejection… (dun-dun-duuuuuun!)

 

Enter ‘Spirit Week’ dream concept: “Traffic Light Dress Code Day”.

 

Okay, picture this – there are those whose lives are truly uncomplicated; they know their path. Class schedules are always without a hitch, friends all live within shouting distance of their front porch, their dog and cat are snuggle buddies, and their bathtub never drains slowly. And questions about a date for the Homecoming Dance? Pish! That’s a no-brainer. Then there are those who wrestle with details: did ‘So-and-So’ get a parent’s approval? Does ‘Whos-a-Whats-It” have transportation? Maybe there’s a relationship that’s as predictable as a bee’s flight pattern during a wind storm, and it’s anybody’s guess until the 11th Hour… Lastly, there are those who are totally open to the idea of unpretentiously parading into the dance with a partying partner but who lack the “partnering” skills…

Red.      Yellow.      Green.

For one day during ‘Spirit Week’ (the week leading up to the Homecoming football game, and Homecoming Dance, where students are encouraged to partake in activities that show their ‘school spirit’), individuals dress in the color that corresponds to their dance-date situation. If your dance-floor moves are spoken for, then red’s your color. If ‘it’s complicated’ for any given reason, dress the color of sunshine. “Green light” indicates you’re open and available!

As I was describing this to a family member, the reaction was mixed. Direct quote: “The color thing almost sounds humiliating. Like, look at me, I’m single. No?” I went on to explain that participation was merely BY CHOICE, and in my humble opinion, I thought the concept was inspired! This was my interpretation of the theory:

If you’re too shy to ask someone for fear of rejection, or you’re not sure if they’re going with someone already, you’re reluctant to ask. However, if you see them wearing green – or, on the flip side, if they see you wearing green! – it opens the opportunity for conversations that otherwise might not have taken place. At fourteen, are they really going to be ‘humiliated’ about their singleness? (please, please, PLEASE, I need to hear a resounding “no!”)

Besides, it’s not really a “look at me, I’m humiliatingly single”, but more of a “look at me, I have the potential of being your new best friend – because apparently I’m gusty enough to play along and I’m honest with people”!

Family member’s response (direct quote again): “Ok. That perspective makes sense.”

 

…for the record, my son wore green pants AND a long sleeve green shirt… I haven’t heard if it started any conversations, though…