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Saturday, April 16, 2011

Negativity Nuisance

        He was the kind of guy who could find something wrong with everything.  By just walking into a room, he would drain out the energy and siphon it through his aura of negativity leaving a sad empty suck that made everyone present want to skulk away into whatever other place was happier.  Norm was the ultimate party killer.

        "Where'd everyone go?"  Norm looked at me with sullen questioning.  "Do I smell bad or something?"

         What could I tell him that he had never figured out in the past?   It was always the same.  Whether I tried sympathetic apologetics or flat-out telling it like it is, he would always put it off on someone else.  It was always the other guy--nothing that he ever did.

          I would have gone too, but Norm and I had been friends since I could remember.  He could drag me down even in my happiest times, but someone had to stand by him I reasoned.  I tried to think of someone else to keep him company while I recharged myself with a happier crowd.  I could think of no one who would be willing to accept this task.

          "Everyone's looking out for themselves," Norm continued.  "It upsets them when I put the truth out on the table for them."

            Yeah and serve it with a side dish of scorn, I thought to myself.  You lay out a feast and then puke on it.  Then you expect them to eat it.

             I was annoyed, but decided to give it another go at trying to salvage the evening.

             "Let's go over to the Bull Pen and have a beer and shoot some pool."

              Norm pondered the suggestion and then scowled, "I hate that place."


             So, on the topic of lemons and lemonade, I'm saddened to see the Borders bookstore across the street from where I live going out of business.  It was walking distance and the only bookstore in the town where I live.  There are bookstores in the adjacent towns that are not all that far from me, but it was just kind of cool to have a big bookstore that I could walk to.

            On the plus side, since the store closes it's doors for good this weekend, everything is marked down to 80 to 90%.   Here is my haul on Friday:

Margaret Atwood's The Year of the Flood
E.L. Doctorow's World's Fair
Jody Hedlund's The Preacher's Bride
John Irving's Last Night in Twisted River
Lee Sandlin's Wicked River: The Mississippi When It Last Ran Wild

 All for a grand total of  $17.79 plus our outrageous 10.75% city sales tax of $1.91.    Not too bad considering the nature of the books purchased.

          Good-bye to another pretty good bookstore.  Hello another empty storefront in a bad economy.  At least I'll have some more books to read when I can't afford to leave the house anymore.  Negativity is a nuisance,  but you can always find some good in anything if you look at it the right way.

          On Monday my topic will be Optimism.          




  1. Sadly we probably all know people like Negative Norm but hopefully not too many of them!
    Shame about Borders too, here in the UK they all closed over a year ago.

  2. Sounds like an excellent transition - from negativity to optimism! I know people like Norm (and in particular rough patches of life I turn into a version of him), but it is never nice to spend too much time in the company of someone like that. Cheer up, Norm, you might be surprised that it actually helps!

    Too bad about your bookshop - I really hated the news that Borders was closing down. I'd go crazy if I didn't have a bookshop in my town!

  3. I smiled at the line: You lay out a feast and then puke on it. Then you expect them to eat it.

    80-90% discount? wow that's better than Christmas! Shame about the higher price of losing a nearby bookstore though.

  4. what a great swag of books, just what's needed to recover from negative Norm. He sounds like a tough nut to crack. Are you able to cycle to your nearby towns? (just a thought) Sue@JumpingAground (Alliteration & drabbles)
    Sue@traverselife(Workplace bullying)

  5. I speak from expereience when I say negativity not only brings you down but others, Years ago I was that person, ok, I had reason to be negative I lost two very dear people and my confidence took a nosedive, but I overcame it and is as positive as can be.
    It can be overcome you just have to "Train Your Brain".


  6. Unfortunately, you can't help people like that. You can try to raise them up, but they will only bring you down.

  7. True,very true with that type of negative people you can never have a nice time however happy you are...awaiting the optimism outlook

  8. I spent a year being Norm a long while back. It was shitty, and thank goodness I hauled myself out of it. This is my public apology! Great story though, Lee... Have you ever read the kid's book, Pollyanna? - your last line of the post just popped it into my head - I love that little book :)
    Have a fab weekend, and thak you for your comment over at Daily Dodo.

  9. I LIVE with Mr Negativity. Good thing I've got a good strong happy disposition or I would have killed myself by now.
    Too bad about your bookstore but now you get to drive to another area and see some fresh faces when you book shop yes?

  10. Hi, Lee,
    Old friend, you said a mouthful with that posting! I'm afraid I'm one of the people who are always joking, and laughing about things in general and in particular as well. Ha ha. I want people to be happy to see me, instead of saying "Oh here comes Gloomy Gus". People call me crazy. There's that Crazy Ruby Young, she is so much fun to be around...anyway, I try to be upbeat even when I feel downbeat.I'll admit the last few months have been tough, but no one has run out of the room. Ha.
    I'm glad I got here early today to leave a comment. Thanks for your constancy. Love, Ruby

  11. When I was diagnosed with my cancer I got rid of all the "Negative Norms" (And Nancys) in my life. It was imperative to my health to do so and I asked myself, "Why hadn't I done this sooner???!" Life really is too short! - Great post.

  12. I find Negative Norms to be exhausting! That's why I try to surround myself with people who look for the good in life and who also strive to live life to its fullest.

    I'm excited to see Monday's post on know that's my favorite!

    -Vanessa from Optimal Optimist

  13. I've known a few Negative Norms in my life, I didn't hang around them very long. I feel sorry for them, but what can you do? Not much.

    The loss of a bookstore is always a sad thing, but at least you got some books out of the deal. If you can't drive to the other towns (now that gas is $4 and climbing!) at least there's Amazon!

  14. Negative begets negative and thus positive most certainly begets positive...and a MUCH more pleasant way to live.

    Thank you for sharing this, Lee. We've all had Negative Norms (we call 'em Ninnys around here) in our lives.

    Hard to take and in the end, just down right exhausting.

    GREAT to hear about your book haul (WOW) but sad that Borders is closing.

    Hope you have a GREAT day and can't wait to read your glass will be half full while I wait :)

  15. Borders was my favorite book store to go to when I lived in the US. Sad to see they're having to close stores, but at least you got a good deal out of it.

  16. I think I know Norm. BTW-great deals a the book store. Borders are have gone into receivership here as well.

  17. in psychology we like to call guys like Norm energetic vampires. They suck your energy and feed on it, leaving you drained. The stake you use against them is ignoring them.

  18. Losing a bookstore across the street? This is like being cast out of Paradise! This just totally sucks rocks! Find the library in your area, and go visit your print friends there. If you can prove you're a trustworthy character, the librarians will even let you take some of your print friends home for playdates and sleepovers.

  19. I live with a Negative Nancy (my mom) and it does drain one's energy!!! But there is so much positive and happy in the world, they can be counter-balanced. I love your posts, Lee! Glad you got such a great deal at the Borders closing. Ours is not closing (yet), but if it does I can tell you it will be from the employees. Or lack thereof. They don't know anything about their own store or company. I asked about an email promotion I had received and all I got was "...I don't know. Let me ask someone." Then they all asked each other but no one knew anything. Then the first cashier actually said "Wait, what was your question?" That was when I gave up on them and left. But I did it with a smile and a cheerful attitude, so at least I wasn't adding any negativity. ;)

  20. I think we all know a Mr. Negative. He wouldn't have found any deals in your Borders.

  21. I tend to think of myself as negative, but compared to Norm I'm a ray of sunshine!

    It's a challenge for me to be positive, but worth the extra effort!

    Yeah and serve it with a side dish of scorn, I thought to myself. You lay out a feast and then puke on it. Then you expect them to eat it.
    Wow! That's an incredible image!

  22. Norms are everywhere! I like to encourage them, throws them off for awhile. Bummer book store is going out of business. We lost a real, true Christian bookstore in our area that I dealt with ever be replaced.

    For bargains try

    Gregg Metcalf
    Colossians 1:28-29

    Gospel-driven Disciples

  23. my hubby is that way will find something wrong with every thing

  24. I think we've all spent time being Norm at some point in our lives...people are only human after all...but continued negativity is really hard to be around for any amount of time...sorry to hear about the bookstore! You did get quite a good haul though Lee!

  25. >>> . . . Here is my haul on Friday:
    Margaret Atwood's The Year of the Flood
    E.L. Doctorow's World's Fair
    Jody Hedlund's The Preacher's Bride
    John Irving's Last Night in Twisted River
    Lee Sandlin's Wicked River: The Mississippi When It Last Ran Wild

    And not a work of (genuinely valuable) nonfiction in the bunch!

    >>> . . . Negativity is a nuisance, but you can always find some good in anything if you look at it the right way.

    On the other hand, those pieces of fiction might teach you a few tricks about how to write your own great novels someday.

    Yeah, right.

    [By the way, my name is not Norm!]

    ~ D-FensDogg
    'Loyal American Underground'

  26. Great N post, Lee! We all know someone like Norm, or have read about a character like him. Makes me think of the SNL character Debbie Downer, lol. I, too, am sad that Borders is going out of business, and if we had them where I live now, I'd be ripping the store apart to get some great books at huge discounts. Enjoy it while it lasts!

  27. Sad to hear another book store is closing!

  28. You and I have the same friend.

    Sorry about your Border's but it sure worked for you. That was a great haul.

  29. Good piece of flash fiction.

    I know how you feel about Borders closing. I am walking distance too.... It's closing within a week or two.

    It seems your sales tax is as high as mine. DO you live in Chicago? I think I remember you are in California.

  30. My mother is so like Norm. And I can't get away from it. but I think I'm so positive, I can diffuse it.

    Yes it is sad that Borders is closing. Luckily the 2 big Borders in NYC are remaining open...for now anyway.

  31. Throughout my life, I've stuck with negative people; an attempt to be a loyal friend and to spread some of my optimism.

    As I've entered the more mature years of life, I've decided that I CAN'T TAKE IT ANYMORE! :)

    Coincidentally, my latest post relates.

    There are so many Norms out there; you've portrayed him very well.

    Sorry you've lost your book store. I'd be disappointed if my B&N closed. It's about a 7 minute drive from my home.

    If I were there at the closing, I wouldn't be able to control myself either!

  32. That's so sad that your Borders is gone. You got some great deals but I guess now you're either going to have to drive to your nearest B&N or just visit Amazon.

  33. I too am sad that our Borders is gone. We have a B & N, but it is not as good (selection) as Borders was.Borders was my fav place to go to waste a couple hours.

    Sad, so sad.

    While I do like buying from Amazon, sometimes, I just wanna see the book before I buy it.


  34. I love being able to walk to the bookstore. I’ve heard they might be closing my Borders down, but maybe I can score some deals like you did if they do.

  35. That was a nice transition from a story about negative people to the closing of the Borders bookstore.

    I wish I read this a little earlier today (I was busy writing my blog post for the letter "N") so that I could go downtown to see if the Borders that I like to shop at is closing as well. I would love to get some books that I have been procrastinating on purchasing and am glad that you were able to get some books to read, at a low price.

    Your 10% tax makes my city's 8% tax look like a value deal, lol, but I'm still complaining about that 8% and it is still going to determine where I shop and spend my money.

    There was a student at my old school who was negative all of the time and it was one of my friends, so many times, i had trouble trying to avoid it. I think that maybe it was the way that this person was raised or maybe they were around negative adults that had an impact on how their outlook on things and situations. It goes to show how important it is for adults to set good examples for children and young teenagers.

    I tend to try and stay away from negativity but it surrounds me and my frustrations with certain things definitely do not help the situation but I try to be conscious of my outlook on things. A few years ago, I was going through a very difficult time and an associate told me that I look at the glass as half empty and that made be very concerned about the way that I view the world and the things in it.

    From that point on, I have made efforts to try to get back to the time when I was positive and I also try be conscious if moments when I may slip into thinking negatively. Whenever I feel like I may be starting to becoem negative, I think of something good or a person that inspires me or I throw on some music by Seal (I don't know why Seal works, but it does. Maybe because his songs are upbeat) and everything works itself out.

    I also make efforts to surround myself with more positive people, like this one girl that I know who seems to always be filled with joy, even when things happen that would cause the average person to get in a bad mood. She brings the sunshine to my day!

    I look forward to reading your blog post on optimism on Monday.

    The Madlab Post

  36. I am a big believer in finding the silver lining in a cloud. It all comes down to choice. Choose to be positive.

  37. Re: Bookstores closing

    I'm curious how the writers feel about this.

    As you know, I am very much against the idea of all-digital music, and a lot of iPod owners don't seem to get why.

    I like the physican product-the packaging, the booklet.

    I feel the same way about books-there's something about feeling the paper that a reader can't give me.

    Don't get me wrong-iPods and readers have value when it comes to portability.

    But how would this group, as writers, feel if the only outlet for your words was digital?

    I'd be interested in your thoughts. So we do not flood Lee's blog with answers to my question, would you mind posting the comments on my site?

  38. I used to have to work with a person like that. Man, I'm glad I'm outta there!

    Great story, though.

    Clever-today is negativity and Monday is optimism.... :)

    Hope you're having a great weekend!

  39. You know, some folks are determined to live their lives with negative speculation, rather than, realistic positive anticipation. Some folks are 'positive energy saboteurs'(yes a title of one of my postings) and are outraged if you have the audacity to try and live a positive life. In fact, some folks are positive about being negative. After all, being negative can be so much easier than being positive.
    Positivity entails a bit of work.
    This might surprise you, but my blog does a lot of posts relating to creating a positive environment within and without.
    And congrats in your continuance with your 'alphabet challenge'. 'O', I wonder what could possibly be the next letter?
    Kind wishes from Gary over at his shy and unassuming site :)

  40. I hate seeing bookstores close! it's so sad. At least you got some terrific books!

  41. As always it is a delight to receive and read through your wonderful comments--so much great content today as well.

    Vanessa, Ruby, and Yvonne, I'm glad you both stopped by today as I will be featuring all of your blogs on my Monday post about "Optimal Optimism".

    Note to Mr. McCarthy: I actually did look for some decent non-fiction, but there was very little non-fiction left in this store that was in its last days of business with maybe 2% of its regular stock left. There were some books by Michael Savage and Mike Huckabee but they didn't really grab me and neither did any of the outdated books about liberal politics or the memoirs about celebrities I don't know or care about. If there had been worthwhile non-fiction I would have gotten it, but alas there was not. And reading to help educate me about writing fiction? Not a thing wrong with that in my personal opinion.

    Larry -- This is a topic that has been discussed on many blogs. I'm with you about owning tangible product, but I can see the arguments that the e-reader crowds make. I do think both options should be available.

    Thanks to all and stay positive!

  42. I used to work for Negative Norm's twin sister, Negative Nellie. She could turn a bright day into arctic weather. The sad part is how contagious this kind of attitude and behavior can be, dragging others down into the muck with them. We actually celebrated when she retired! How sad is that?!

  43. We recently had a small bookstore close here as was such a wonderful place.

  44. Actually I think I am the female "negative norm" and have only come to realize that in the last few years. I hope Norm does.

    On the bright side, what a buy on books and good ones too!

    Pirate Knitting

  45. Lee, your friend Norm should meet Debbie Downer. I'm sure they'd hit it off. I'm sad about Borders too.
    I remember spending hours there when my kids were little and rewarding them with cookies. Looking forward to "optimism!" Julie

  46. Oh, we all know people like that--they're hard to stick around!

    Borders stores are starting to close down here, which is sad. Right now my local's still there, so fingers crossed. It's great fun to browse there. That said, we have a really healthy indie scene here, so still plenty of places to shop.

  47. Highly recommend Jody Headland's book! I got an kindle version of that when it came out.

    I have also just bought a real copy of Margaret Atwood's book as well :-)

    Can't wait to read that either!

    Happy reading,

  48. Always sad when a bookstore closes...

    We have a friend and this is what we say about him - He's not happy unless he's not happy.

  49. Thanks for this post!

    Negative Norm's very recognisable, and I think there might be some of Norm in all (well, most) of us.

    I'm glad you're going to counter it with Optimism tomorrow, and have fun reading! :-)

  50. Hi Arlee .. I'll join you in leaving Negative Norm to himself.

    Re Borders - that's a real pain, but as you say sign of the times .. but you benefited - good books ... and there's always a positive to everything or a silver lining of some sort .. money saving by the sound of it - that's silverish?!

    Cheers Hilary

  51. My post for letter N has just been posted to my blog.

    Thanks for looking.
    Laura T.

  52. Sometimes 'insufficient' lemons thrown makes the person so sour. Not enough supply to make a cool refreshing lemonade!

    Here's to coolness :)

  53. I enjoy your blog very much and have awarded you the The Versatile Blogger Award. You can pick it up here:

  54. "Served it with a side dish of scorn." Terrific line.

    I'm looking forward to optimism.


  55. I had the same experience in our town when our Borders closed. Doom. Gloom. Bah. Rat! Then I got some most excellent books, ones I'd wanted for a while and put off buying. Yay!

    Loved the excerpt. I guess Norm will always be the toxic guy I'd avoid.

  56. Excellent post...I know Norm, don't want to hang out with him anymore. As for Borders, so sad they had to close so good you could get a great bargain on books and make the lemonade! Look forward to tomorrow's post.

  57. Great post! Granny always told us that negative people are toxic and should be avoided at all costs, because they suck the life out of you.

  58. Thanks to all for the support and the great comments!



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