Slice of Life

Why be grumpy when there's so much to be happy about?

ktanner@thetribunenews.comOctober 9, 2013 

Kathe Tanner

I hate being grumpy, but it’s been that kind of day, that sort of a week. My sense of humor left in self-defense long ago, and I want it back.

The whole world is going bonkers!

I know each of us stars in his or her own life movie, but right now, mine’s more “Dysfunction Junction” than “Singin’ in the Rain.”

How to cope? I could lock the doors, close the shades, pull the covers over my head, stick my thumb in my mouth and assume the fetal position.

Or I could throw a first-class, scream-and-yell, kick-my-heels temper tantrum.

At least I’d have my tantrum in the privacy of my own home. Many politicians are throwing theirs in public these days, for heaven’s sake, some of them in front of a gazillion TV watchers. What’s with that?

Lots of our elected representatives are acting like cranky toddlers who desperately need a spanking, a time out and a nap … except nasty little brats who aren’t getting their way can’t put out of work many thousands of people, meanwhile endangering our democracy and life as we know it.

Crucial services are halted, services for which we’ve already paid! Our national parks, museums and forests are closed. Closed!

Compromise? What’s that? Bah, humbug.

The madness is everywhere. Humans are out of control. People out there can be cranky, angry, unpleasant or all three, at a meeting, on the phone, on the streets, in a store, in emails.

Wars and arguments so often have at their core bitter differences of religion or ethnicity. It’s politics gone mad.

And since when is it OK to kill somebody just because they disagree with you?

Innocent lives end suddenly, violently. People are being shot, killed in bunches or one at a time, for revenge, religion or no reason at all.

Kids are going hungry, crying on mean streets.

And there’s more: Boat crashes, airplane accidents, car pileups, trains colliding. There are fires, floods, blizzards, tornados, an almost-hurricane. All at the same time, on the same continent.

At home, our gardens are dying from lack of water, and if it doesn’t rain soon, we’ll all be in real trouble.

We have too much work and too little time to do it.

It’s not a good day. You can tell.

Grumpy, grumpy.


This little girl is stamping her foot, putting her hands on her hips and refusing to budge. I will not let the insanity turn me into one of “them,” the down-at-the-mouth, down-in-the-dumps, down-on-everybody-that-isn’t-me people.

I’m tired of being a modern-day, female version of Joe Btfsplk, the character in the old “Li'l Abner” cartoon, the guy who always had his own dark cloud overhead.

And the news? It’s my job. But for every idiot, politician or thief … for every wacko person I have to cover, I promise I’ll also write about what’s good, what’s right, what’s wonderful about our town, our lives, our country.

Yeah! When, in a town of about 6,000 people, 775 of them buy a $10 dinner to help a sick young man and his family, something’s right in our world.

Heartwarming things happen here every day. Some get a lot of attention. Some sneak in under the radar. As we “pay it forward,” all those good deeds, big and little, make a huge difference.

No tantrums today, thanks. I’ll turn my back on dysfunction and go watch the elephant seals, the pelicans, the waves, the sunset. I’ll smell the roses and jasmine, the pine trees, eucalyptus and sea breeze.

I’ll call a friend. Reread a book that made me laugh. Watch an old musical. Make a date for tea. Go to a yard sale. Sing along with my iPod. Donate time to a good cause. Walk a mile. Make some jewelry, or sew. Dance on the deck, snooze in the hammock.

I’ll take a trip, even if it’s just downtown to look at scarecrows (there’s a grin for you).

Or maybe, just maybe, I can help to find a way to help put our Humpty Dumpty country back together again. There has to be a way. And if there is, we have to do it.

Got any ideas? If so, please share. Anything good is better than being grumpy.

Kathe Tanner is a reporter for The Cambrian and The Tribune. Her “Slice of Life” column appears biweekly. Email her at

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