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Two Kinds of People

This piece was inspired by Susan Bearman’s fab blog called Two Kinds of People.  She is holding a contest and for the writers out there, take a whirl.  It’s a lot of fun and you may learn something about yourself.  Here’s my attempt:

I’ve been thinking about the Two Kinds of People thing for a long long time; struggling with it, actually.  I’m not sure I like this philosophy—its duality, its divisiveness.  I consider myself an equal opportunity sort of gal.  I try not to stereotype or generalize or boil things down to this or that.  Yet…quite often…I find myself right in the middle of thinking it…and well, saying it.  “There are two kinds of people:” I’ll spout off, and then I’ll pause, sort of wishing I wasn’t at that colon once again.

But I feel an inner tingle.  A know-it-all buzz.  It’s that little bomb that goes off before you say something clever—like you have the finger on the pulse of humanity more than the other guy.  And let’s face it:  it’s usually light and it’s usually fun.  It’s a societal tick that we came up with because given all the pressure of adulthood, we’re still kids who like to play.  I think, in fact, it grows from the childhood playground question/obsession:  what’s your favorite number or what’s your favorite color.  I was the wise ass who said, infinity and a rainbow.  TO that end:

Here’s my favorite Two Kinds of People, and I use it like a trump card:  “There are two kinds of people:  The ones who save the buttons that come with new clothes, and those who don’t.”  I like to watch the light bulbs ignite.  The heads nodding.  I love the way people immediately glom on to one or the other, even if they’ve never thought of it before.  They like the affiliation.  They like to know they’re a part of a club.  And because I’m the one who drew the lines, I get to be the president of the club.  I like being the president of the club, for the two seconds that the club exists.  Because the truth is, it’s a forgettable club.  No one’s sitting in traffic the next day thinking, “I feel so important being inducted into the Button Keeper club.”  Or “Laura’s such an elegant thinker, coming up with that button remark.”  Still, it’s a momentary thrill.  A cheap stab at wisdom, even.  And one I like to play around with.

Just letting the mind flutter around the concept of there being two kinds of people feels chummy and clubby.  Try it.  It’s not about making anybody wrong.  It’s about preference and operating mechanisms and the collective We.  And heck—maybe it lends itself to important insights into humanity.  Maybe its staying power has to do with the fact that sometimes we need to simplify in order to see clearly.

There are two kinds of people:  the ones who look around on an airplane to see where the exit doors are, and the ones who don’t.

People who drive white cars and people who drive black cars.

Women who dress as cats for Halloween, and women who dress like hobos.

You don’t even have to say the pre-amble.  You can just say the club names and people’s eyes will track back and forth betwixt them and land on one or the other.  There’s a checkout guy at the corner grocery store who likes to bust these out when he’s bored.  It gets people patriotic the way sports fans are.  Like they’d fight to the death for their team for those two seconds.

Beatles or Rolling Stones.

Pink or orange.

Today Show or GMA.

And you can get poetic too:

Ocean or lake.

Snow or sand.

Or smarty pants:

Freud or Einstein.

Or even religious:

Jesus or Moses.

…but let’s not go there, okay?  (Same goes for political)  We’re playing, remember?

Or literary:

Hemingway or Fitzgerald.

Or newspapery:

Crossword or Sudoku.

Doonesbury or Peanuts.

Fascinating, really, this game we play and why it’s so much a part of the collective We.  It lives on because people like to take sides and they like to take things personally—especially things that don’t hurt.  There’s an “I would NEVER be on that other team” feel to this game.  “I would never keep that little Ziploc bag full of buttons.  What kind of an anal retentive loser does that?”

Or:

“I would NEVER dress like a cat for Halloween.  Only dumb sluts dress like cats.  Smart chicks dress like hobos.”

But I think we should be careful with the word never or always.  And therein lies my issue.  I like to think that sometimes I would dress like a cat.  Or sometimes I might just keep those buttons.  I like to think that I have range.  And that I’m not that predictable.  And still…I find myself at that colon, with that wee thrill in my solar plexus.

Maybe that’s how I can frame the Two Kinds of People thing and feel good about it.  There are two kinds of people:  those of us who think about it, and those of us that don’t.

p.s.

Buttons:  no

Exit door:  yes

Hobo:  yes

Orange.

Beatles.

Sand.

Peanuts

Crossword.

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Filed under A Place For Writers To Share, My Posts

Food Can Bring You Back

Thank to all of you who sent in recipes to my Sentimental Recipe Contest. I admit that the stories alone were food for me. As fall tucks us into Montana and the fever to spend long afternoons in the kitchen takes over, I will look forward to trying them all.

To that end, I’ll share a sentimental recipe moment with you that happened just yesterday.

I have not cooked anything in recent history that made me want to weep like this dish did. Where every simple item blends so perfectly with the next that the result is akin to Violet Beauregarde’s reaction to Willie Wonka’s magical gum, hitting on a four course dinner with every chew. One bite: and there it all was, the caulifower, and the lemons, the olive oil, the oregano, the cinnamon, the tomatoes, the onions, the garlic, the feta. And I was back in Greece, where I spent the summer of my 19th year, sitting at an outdoor cafe with cats crawling around my feet, just waking to my senses. I hadn’t relived that moment in over half my life and there it was. There I was. Greece in Montana.

It began as an exercise in trying to figure out how to get my kids to eat a new vegetable. I chose cauliflower and I remembered that I’d loved a particular dish in Greece, went on line, found what seemed like the right ingredients to that particular dish, and made the recipe. By the end of the day, I’d completed an entire casserole-sized portion of this fantastic dish– forget my kids. I’ll make it for them later this week. Sentimental recipe indeed.
Kounoupithi (Baked Cauliflower With Feta and Tomato Sauce)
By Cookgirl on October 27, 2005

• Total Time: 40 mins
• Serves: 4-6
About This Recipe
“Cinnamon is one of the intriguing and delightful ingredients in this Greek dish.”
Ingredients
o 4 tablespoons olive oil
o 3 garlic cloves, minced
o 1 large yellow onions, chopped
o 30 ounces Italian plum tomatoes (I used diced canned tomatoes)
o 1 bay leaves (I used 3)
o 2 teaspoons dried Greek oregano (I used fresh)
o 2 inches cinnamon sticks
o salt
o fresh ground black pepper
o 1 large heads cauliflower
o 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice (I used 2 tbs)
o 5 ounces feta cheese (I used 8 ounces)
Directions
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
2. In a saute pan, gently cook the garlic and onion in half of the olive oil until soft. Add the tomatoes, herbs, spice and seasonings. Cover pan and simmer 5 minutes.
3. Cut up the cauliflower into florets and stir into the tomato sauce mixture. Cover pan and cook another 10 minutes.
4. Transfer the mixture into a shallow, ovenproof dish, and drizzle with the remaining olive oil and the lemon juice.
5. Grate the feta cheese on the top and garnish with black pepper.
6. Bake in the preheated oven for approximately 25 minutes. (I cooked mine another 15 minutes until the water from the tomatoes was absorbed and the cauliflower was soft.)

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Filed under Contests! Win a signed hardcover of THIS IS NOT THE STORY YOU THINK IT IS!, Food

ANNOUNCING: "THINK OUTSIDE THE BARN" CONTEST WINNER!!!


May I introduce to you the…drum roll… “Confounded Sneetch”

Congratulations to E. Victoria Flynn of http://www.pennyjars.blogspot.com!!!
YOU WIN A FREE SIGNED BOOK! My kids (the judges of this contest– skilled out-of-the-barn thinkers) are die hard Dr. Seussians and have always loved this story about racial profiling, even though they see it simply as a tale about the pain and trouble that ensues when we live in a world of Us/Them. Thank you, Victoria!

AND THANKS TO ALL WHO PARTICIPATED! Your wit and outside-the-barn thinking truly mesmerized me. I have some of the coolest blog readers around, and for that I am deeply thankful. When I started this blog a year ago and had zero readers (okay, maybe my mother), I never dreamed that I would find an audience out there in cyberland, and especially one so loyal and supportive. You all teach me so much. Thank you for showing up here at These Here Hills. The next contest will be announced soon… Hint: turn to page 301 of my book (THIS IS NOT THE STORY YOU THINK IT IS)

I’m going to be travelling in the next few weeks doing book promo in the New York, Hartford, and Chicago areas, so I may be thin on the blog entries… yrs. Laura

Hello, everybody. I’ve been having fun barn chasing this summer– which is how, at least this gal, deals with FINALLY getting a book published after 20 years and all that comes along with it. Better than therapy. Thinking outside-the-box as a practice is a total blast. I encourage you to try it. What designs do you see in the world over and over? For me it’s often heart-shaped things, especially rocks. But as a little girl growing up in Illinois, it was always faces in barn fronts. Living in Montana, there are lots of opportunities to engage this childhood fantastical thinking.TO THAT END:

I’m holding a contest here on my blog from now until September 12 (which my calendar tells me is Grandparents Day– seems somehow approriate).

To enter the contest, simply send in your best shot at naming the above barn in the comment section here on this post. Is it a celebrity? A concept? A country? A kind of sandwich? Let your common sense go and dream a little. It’s good for you.
The winner WINS A SIGNED FIRST EDITION copy of my book THIS IS NOT THE STORY YOU THINK IT IS. This contest will be judged by a team of highly skilled professional out-of-the-box thinkers: my two kids. (14 and 10. Girl and a boy, to be gender fair, but hopefully not ageist, as I’ll probably weigh in too. And probably my husband too– 44 years old, each of us.)

Additional opportunity for the extra outside-of-the-boxers: A signed book will also be sent to the person who sends in the best original barn photo and name…

Please feel free to pass this contest and link along to your friends. Imagine what could happen with a whole lot of people thinking outside-the-box and sharing as much. (Even if you live in the city, I bet there are barns in your life somewhere. If not, feel free to name any building that has a face to you and submit that photo. Could be really interesting…)

To get the out-of-the-box juices flowing, you can see what I did on my summer vacation here:

Kalispell, Montana (side-talker)

Valier, Montana (needs braces)
Belt, Montana (has braces)

Red Lodge, Montana (that mean Nellie Olson)


Lewistown, Montana (Cyclops, the 8th dwarf)
Lakeside, MT (Meow)
Evergreen, MT (Mrs. Havisham maybe better on a foggy morning…)
Great Falls, Montana (Namaste or Burl Ives as the snow man in Rudolph. Can’t decide.)
Whitefish, MT (Hannibal Lecter)
Chester, Vermont (Gerorge Washington and his wooden teeth 1700s barn from Amy)

Kenosha, Wisconsin (a literal face sent in by Robb)
Bartow County, Georgia (Rapunzel Rapunzel, let down your hair… from Lisa)
Bartow County, Georgia (Old Mother Hubbard–the face is in the cupola, her skirts below– from Lisa)


Proctor, MT (Dr. John.)

Proctor, MT (Jim Henson)

Lake Mary Ronan, MT (Tweety bird)

Somewhere in Montana (Little Red Hen)

Libby, MT (Baby Face)

Sweden (A Work In Progress from Terri)

Missoula, MT (Ghost of Christmas Past)
Arlee, MT (Fu Man Chu)
Polson, MT (Not the gum drop buttons!)

NAME THIS BARN!

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Filed under Contests! Win a signed hardcover of THIS IS NOT THE STORY YOU THINK IT IS!, Every Barn Has a Face, Little Hymns to Montana, My book: This Is Not The Story You Think It Is: A Season of Unlikely Happiness, My Posts