Do I Need More Pippi in My Longstocking?

Photo Pippi Longstocking

Our only similarity is that we were both born with red hair. From the first time I met her, she was my idol. She is fiercely independent, unconventional, playful and unpredictable. Her pigtails fly in the wind, her grin widens and her freckled face flushes, as she races from one adventure to the next with her best friends: her horse, her monkey and the two children that live next door to her at her home, Villa Villekula.

Pippi Longstocking (full name Pippilotta Delicatessa Windowshade Mackrelmint Longstocking) is the figment of the imagination of Swedish author Astrid Lindgren. Recuperating from an illness, Astrid’s daughter asked her mom for a story and named the main character Pippi. Initially rejected by publishers, the books have since been translated into 76 languages and made into television shows and movies.

As a little girl reading the books, my eyes would widen and my heart would race; how exciting to be so free! Little did I know that my personality had already evolved, as observed by JC*. She quickly realized that, rather than inheriting her easygoing nature, my tendencies for perfection and order were thanks to my dad.

She knew she had her hands full, but guided me along with such patience. By the time she received the call that I was in the nurse’s office by second period on my first day of junior high, she was resigned to the fact that I was a bit different from other children. Apparently, I did not see the humor in being handed one of the first computerized class schedules, having only a few minutes to arrive before the bell rang and being mistakenly assigned to the boy’s bathroom for second period.

In my efforts to be a bit more spontaneous, I have actually made some major strides:

  • I visited a model home and did not rearrange anything (I’m not sure if this counts, since Mr. Wiz* was holding my hand, tightly).
  • I polished my fingernails a completely different color than my toenails.
  • On a whim, I changed my grocery shopping day from Friday to Thursday.
  • I double snoozed my alarm.
  • I impulsively ate four Triscuits with lunch, rather than my usual three and did not worry about biting cracker number four precisely on its horizontal markings.
  • I went on a trip without any pre-planning, waking up each day and deciding on my next Wait a minute that was a friend of mine that did that, not me!

Oh to be a bit eccentric! What fun it would be to make paper airplanes out of my to do lists with my avant-garde pals. Regrettably, I am only able to participate as a spectator, realizing that the only flow I am able to go with is if it has first been documented on an Excel spreadsheet.

At first, I thought that living vicariously through others was unfortunate. Then I realized that family and friends are as fascinated with my quirks as I am with theirs. They loosen me up, I keep them on track and together, we walk through life one unique step at a time.

 

*Who’s who? See “Cast of Characters” on the “About” page.

 

 

 

 

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Considering the Avant-garde

Photo Avante garde

It was 3 a.m. and I was sitting up in bed eating a banana when Mr. Wiz* returned from the bathroom. “…What are you doing?..” he asked with concern. “…Just something for personal reasons…” I responded, as if it were nothing out of the ordinary. He knew, from previous experience, not to question any of my more unusual habits and decided it was in his best interest to just go back to sleep.

Between you and me, a banana is an almost immediate cure for heartburn. That or one-half teaspoon of mustard. I have more where that came from. The day I purchased a book about folk remedies was the day that my family sensed a shift in the usually well-hidden, quirky side of my personality.

They see it as a blending of natural medicine, folk remedies and old wive’s tales in a big witch’s caldron until it begins to ooze out of the top and engulf anyone brave enough to still be in its path. But, then I remind them about eating an apple a day or a bowl of chicken soup when ill and they are pacified…for the moment.

In the spirit of keeping Austin weird (the city’s slogan), since moving here, I pride myself on keeping up my polka dot collection, my oddities collection and now I find that I am also becoming the keeper of the more unusual potions, elixirs and remedies that I have come across.

Currently, I am singlehandedly taking on the cosmetic industry with a campaign to experiment with some do it yourself, at home remedies as part of my beauty regimen. Without frightening Mr. Wiz (who, I’m sure, is curious as to just what is taking place behind that closed bathroom door), let’s just say that apple cider vinegar, lemon juice and extra-virgin olive oil are not just for salads anymore, Moroccan Argan oil has other uses than as a dip for bread and facial exercises are the new face lifts. I’ve said too much, but you get the idea.

Little by little, I seem to be winning over my family as they hint for a possible solution to a current malady they are experiencing. Recent suggestions have taken toothpaste, Greek yogurt and duct tape out of their respective comfort zones and into an unknown realm.

Who knows? If we can naturally eradicate those little ailments that get under our skin, it might just remind us to occasionally try thinking out of the box and consider the unconventional alternative.

 

*Who’s who? See “Cast of Characters” on the “About” page.

I’m Too Square to Think Outside the Box

Photo Think Outside Box

 

It was when I complimented JC* on her dress and she said she was wearing it backward that I was both aghast and quite sure that I had not inherited that playful gene that helps you look at the world just a bit differently.

Thinking outside the box is defined as “a thinking process which implements an unusual approach to the logical thinking structure and aims to approach it from a creative process.” It’s been the catchphrase behind many an advertising slogan, challenging us to think beyond the obvious.

Sure, there was the time that I accidently wore two different earrings to work, but I don’t think that counts. My co-workers did seem to be mesmerized with my ears, could not focus on our weekly meeting, and my boss asked if I was OK or if I needed to leave work early.

Wait a minute, wasn’t it me that made hot dog shaped hamburgers and served them in hot dog buns? Don’t I commemorate special events with a shaving cream message on the shower wall?

All well and good, but after some analysis, it seems that, though I may have been taking steps toward thinking outside the box, I was doing so inside the secure environs of my own home. To be truly avant-garde, you are not afraid to go out into the world and be who you are. Rats, so those don’t count either.

Being married to Mr. Wiz* for thirty-three years, you’d think that some of his inventive and imaginative ways would have rubbed off on me by now. Proposing that we buy a derelict car dealership in the tourist town of Mountain View, Arkansas and turn it into a store or that we walk 500 miles through Spain on The Camino, literally left me speechless (not easy to do). Partners that we are, we negotiated, threw in a couple of Excel spreadsheets for my well-being and the rest is history.

Big A* just might have inherited the best of the both of us. Even though he wanted no part of backward Day in pre-school (even reversing the baseball cap on his head made no sense to him), he would come home from visiting his New York grandparents every summer, excited to share tales of having had pizza for breakfast, a backward dinner (dessert first) and being asked if he would rather go to an amusement park or see Tito Puente perform live at Carnegie Hall (he chose the latter).

There always seemed to be electricity in the air when we’d spend time with our dear friends, Pat and Bruce; you never knew what to expect next. An older couple, who took us under their wing when we started our sales representative business in New York years ago, their wealthy upbringing afforded them the luxury of an unconventional lifestyle. For their 45th wedding anniversary, Bruce, a self-professed pack rat, had a dumpster delivered to their home with much fanfare and the promise to fill it up. Pat said it was the most loving gift she had ever received.

Sure, I’m disappointed that I’m just not built to be such a carefree soul, but maybe in the big cardboard compartments of life, there needs to be a balance between those that take risks and get the papercuts and those that are always prepared with the bandages.

I’ll just have to be content with my analytical self and accept that there’s always the chance that I will be inspired to release some of my inner eccentricities by watching others make the world a bit quirkier, one kooky notion at a time.

 

*Who’s who? See “Cast of Characters” on the “About” page.