The “Good Morning” Mission

walk 3

On clear days when I walk westward I get a view of the skyline of Philadelphia.

I love walking in the morning. My town has a marvelous, 2 mile “bike trail” running right through the center of it. It was built to cover the old railroad tracks no longer in use, so it truly does – run right through the center of town.

walk 1

No matter what the weather or which direction I’m walking, I do enjoy my little path.

Since writing my post, Everyone is Friendlier than People from New JerseyI’ve been more determined to greet passersby as I walk on the path or am out and about. In a sense, it has become My Mission.

Everyday as I walk the path I make an effort to say, “Good Morning” to the people I pass. This is a lot more awkward than you’d think it would be.

I once passed an old gentleman from behind and as I was lapping him I greeted him with a warm, “Good Morning.” I walked to the end of the path, swiveled around and started heading back East. A few minutes later the old gentleman and I passed again, this time we were walking toward each other. When he saw me his face brightened and he said an enthusiastic, “Gut Morningh” with a heavy accent and a smile.

I don’t think he recognized me from the front, and although this could have been a somewhat awkward situation, my heart was gladdened to think that my initial “Good Morning” to him a few minutes earlier had created a positive chain reaction. 

I said it to him and then he said it to me. And I’m OK with that.

I take My Mission seriously but the following is a list of people that I Do Not say “Good Morning” to:

  • Dog walkers whose dogs are in the middle of a poop. (This happens more often than you can imagine.) I figure these people must be humiliated enough watching their dogs take a dump and probably are wishing for invisibility. I sure would be. Therefore, out of consideration for their remaining shreds of dignity, I walk right by without a greeting and pretend to see nothing.
  • People with ear-buds in. This is a struggle. I want to say “Good Morning” but I know they can’t hear me. I try to make eye contact and smile instead.
  • People I’ve already passed once and already greeted. Awkward. I don’t make eye contact
    weird me

    mini half-mouth smile

    until I am a few feet from them and then I look over for just the teensiest instant and flash them a mini half-mouth smile. I have this down to an art form. It means, I acknowledge you. We passed and greeted each other 9 minutes ago. In fact, we pass and greet each other this way every day. I’m on A Mission, you see.

  • Groups of people walking together in conversation. What is the etiquette here? Do I interrupt? I’m 50/50 on this one.

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It’s Like a Jungle Up Here

If you visit Clothed with Joy regularly you may know that I am from New Jersey. I realize that NJ is not “up” to a large portion of the world and for that I’m very sorry. It’s just how we talk, plus most jungles tend to be located geographically south of the North East, USA. FYI.

Eastern_Grey_Squirrel

Fact: Squirrels like the sound of my screams.

This morning I startled a squirrel. Squirrels in New Jersey are aggressive. I still have memories of being chased around the block by a squirrel as a child. I am not kidding. Around the whole block. It happened.

squirrel hole

Squirrel hole.

If you visit just about any outside trashcan lid in South Jersey you will find that a hole has been chewed into it. A squirrel hole. I once came home to find a squirrel on my lawn holding a piece of pizza by the crust and chowing down. Not kidding. It happened.

This morning I startled a squirrel. Apparently, I startled the squirrel enough that he leaped out of the adjoining trashcan and onto my thigh. This is the honest to goodness truth. This stuff happens to me. Neighbors four blocks over heard the screams.

A few months ago I was at the Philadelphia Zoo with my girls. It was winter and a little snowy so we ate our lunch at one of the many picnic tables near the carousel.

Picnic tables + zoo = Squirrel Hunting Grounds.

As we were eating lunch a squirrel came over and sniffed around our table. G, who is terrified of animals (zoo animals don’t affect her) started to get a little panicked. The squirrel continued to get more and more aggressive and moved from under the table by our feet up on to the table with us. G was in a full scale freak out by this point. I shooed the squirrel and spoke calmly to the children, who were now all sitting on the same side of the table opposite to me and somewhat freaked out as well (I don’t blame them).

The squirrel had moved on, so I instructed the children in my most momly voice to ignore the squirrel and it would go away.

KERCHUNK

“AAAAAAARRRRHHHHHHHGGGGG! IT’S ON MY BACK!” I screamed.

The squirrel leaped off the table behind me and clung onto my back spread eagle for a good half second. If only someone had been videotaping, we would be millionaires.

It’s like a jungle up here, and the squirrels like the sound of my screams.

 

I once had a squirrel in my dining room, remember this post with the squirrel trap? That’s nothing compared to the monkey in my kitchen, but that’s another story.

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Everyone is Friendlier Than People from New Jersey

 

NJ t

Everyone is friendlier than people from New Jersey.

I am a born and bred South Jersey girl, and honestly, I never really believed the above statement was true until I was away this past weekend. I drove oh so far away, it took a whole hour and fifteen minutes to get there and I crossed an actual state line, but I may as well have been in another country. I walked (like Forrest) around this little PA town and everyone (and when I say “everyone,” I mean EVERYONE) greeted me as I passed by. Fellow walkers, people on bikes, working people – every variety and age of human being said, “Hello” and/or asked How I was.

At one point, after walking for about an hour and having everyone and their brother (literally) acknowledge me in some way,  I passed by a house where three adults were standing far back on the property in the middle of a discussion. As I came closer I thought to myself, they are totally gonna stop talking and say “hello” to me. And you know what? THEY DID.

People from New Jersey think they are friendly. We recognize that Southerners are certainly way higher up on the Friendliness scale than we are but other than that, I don’t think we actually believe the whole “New Jersey people aren’t friendly” thing.

We honestly believe that we are friendly.

I feel friendly. I talk to people in grocery lines. I smile at people walking by. I almost always at least say “Hi” if I pass a dog walker on the bike path. I even bring Welcome Gifts to new neighbors.

I  truly believed, until this past weekend that is, that I was friendly. Maybe not Southern friendly, but friendly.

Traveling to another state shot that idea to crap. I realized that, yes, I AM friendly, but in a NJ friendly kind of way which probably doesn’t translate to other areas of the world as “friendliness” but to us New Jerseyians, it totally does. We get it.

For instance, if I am walking down the street and someone is passing by on the other side, I will politely ignore them so as not to disturb them from their internal revelry. NOT acknowledging a passerby so as not to disturb them, translates as friendly to a NJ person. If however, I am passing on the same side of the street as another person, I might nod and smile, I may even go so far as to say, “Hi.” And that right there is like Girl Scout Badge Award Winning Super Duper friendly in New Jerseyland. We are friendly in our own minds.

At least I am.

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Lies & Why I Can’t Move to Florida

lie!

The statement above is clearly a lie.

However, when my daughter and I bought the plaque last summer we totally believed it. It still hangs on our door but I’ve hidden it with a kindergarten Valentine project from G.

I’m a flip flop girl. Even living here in the Northeast I could still somehow get through winter with my flip flops, some snow boots and a slip on mule-type shoe (with socks, of course.)

mule

 

Not this year.

Last week I finally broke down and bought sneakers. I haven’t owned a pair of sneakers in close to fifteen years. I wore them to the office the other day and my brother (who works next to me) noticed them immediately.

“Nice sneakers, Bec.” he says.  Which in sibling talk means,

“You know you look like a Dork in those shoes, right?”

I confess, I’m terribly self-conscious about the sneakers. I’m 40. I’m a mom. I’m sure the sneakers have caused my butt to spread at least four inches. What I’m trying to say is –

I’m. Just. Not. A Sneaker. Girl.

I have considered moving to Florida where I could wear flip flops all day forever and ever for the rest of my life. The only problem is, I watch way too much Animal Planet.

Not only would I have to worry about alligators and crocodiles snapping up my little ones in the back yard, but now Florida is overrun with terrifying Invasive Species like the Burmese Python and Snakeheads.

burmese-python-invasive-species Snakehead_fishJust the name: “snakehead” is enough to keep me out of Florida. Yeeeeee.

I suppose I’ll just have to make my peace with the sneaks.