Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Another Perspective On "Go Away"

Abby says:
When I was a young girl I had several pen pals. We would write snail mail letters back and forth across the country and live vicariously through each other. Unfortunately, letter writing appears to be a dying artform. Today, we have "cyber pals" on the Internet. As part of my Publishing Masters at PACE University in New York, I took an online course this summer and corresponded every day via a cyber blackboard with some neat people from vaious walks of life. Now, I have new pen pals. One of them was Shweta Johri. She is a journalist from Mumbai, India, currently living in Manhattan with her husband and working towards her Masters in Publishing at PACE.

She had some great and wonderful insight on our class topics, so I thought having her as a guest blogger would be interesting. She chose to comment on our previous post regarding "Go Away".

Shweta says:
I come from Mumbai, the second most populous city in the world, wherethe magic words "go away" have no power. We're surrounded by people all the time, everywhere we go. Even at home, the doorbell rings constantly, people show up unannounced, and when the phone rings, we always answer it – Mumbaiites don't believe in answering-machines or 'Do Not Disturb' signs or keeping to oneself, or the concept of personal boundaries or "me-time".

All my life, I felt suffocated by the constant stream of people imposing upon my time – be it my immediate family or the first cousin of the friend of a friend, a well-meaning but inquisitive neighbor or a persistent street vendor. I longed for what Virginia Woolf describes in her powerful essay as "A Room of One's Own." Then I moved here, and spent a few years oscillating between enjoying the wide open spaces this country has to offer, and suffering horrible withdrawal symptoms from my years of never having been by myself. Currently I'm living in NYC, and it has been a pleasant surprise to discover that it's possible to feel "alonely" in a big city. I use the word "alonely" to distinguish it from the negative connotations of "lonely".

I have begun to appreciate the company of people more, now that I can balance that with the opportunity to enjoy my own company. And I find myself hardly ever saying "go away". But that's probably because this country gives me few reasons to do so – whenever I go back to Mumbai I find myself chanting them more and more. Of course, they still have no power there.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Would you please just go away?

Sheri says:

One of my friends has taught her dogs this command: “Go away!” They don’t exactly embrace it but they do move away or lie down.

Have you ever been in a restaurant or bar with girlfriends and some intrusive guy wants to horn in on the party? Go away.

Or you’ve managed a few hours of solitude on a plane and your seatmate wants to tell you his or her entire life story. Go away.

I love the delete button. I get lots of spam and promotional opportunities. I hit delete. Go away.

Phones send me over the edge. The ringing breaks my concentration and I often scream at the receiver. Go away.

But I have come to realize that I am a needy person. With those I love, I don’t want to scream “Go Away!” I want to whisper, “Come a little bit closer. I need you.”

Abby says:

In my younger years I was an incredibly insensitive and impatient person. Many times I did the “go away” thing. One time, I said it once too often to someone. Unfortunately I was wed to him. He took the hint and really left -- for good. Woops, I did not really mean it that one time.

Now I am careful to only think “go away” and keep it to myself.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008


Sheri says:

Lately, my life comes down to seconds.

I’ve attended quite a few second weddings and I know many people on their second marriage. I find myself second guessing myself and others. I read or watch the news and realize how often life changes in a split second.

Teenagers may not do this anymore but in my day, getting to second base was a big deal. People take pride in saying, “I’m a second-generation whatever.”

Maybe second isn’t so bad. I’m all about second opinions. Coming in second in a contest may not win the prize but you’re up there.

When I cook, I like it when people get second helpings. I also support the group, “Second Helpings.” They give leftover food to the shelters.

I’m firmly implanted in the second half of life.

Abby says:

I’ve never thought about it, but I like and embrace this concept. My most memorable triumph of “second” is a young, very close family member who just recently got a “second chance” – basically on life – after a very bad accident. I think her outlook now is very different than before.

I believe when one door closes the second one opens up.

Our good friend Big Sal embraces the “seconds” concept – she’s an avid Goodwill shopper extraordinaire.

It’s like that song by Shalamar from the 1980s – “the second time around is so much better, and I'll make it better than the first time”.