Too Cool For School? Not Me

I don’t know about you, but I have an affliction: when I try to be cool, I end up looking like a fool.

I think this all started at the end of junior high. Until that time I was a confirmed bookworm who never had time to think of things like being cool—my nose was always in a novel so I rarely registered where I really was in time or place. Nor did I care about how I looked or what I wore. Not until the day I saw Gloria wearing a cool sweater with a dickie collar. Wow, I really wanted one!

The poodle skirt phase was before my time, but I craved having a dickie collar.

I think I probably also wanted to look like the girl in the picture below. She was so white–so American. From her loafers to her plaid skirt to the shutters on her house, she personified the kind of girl who scared me to death. But I wanted to imitate.

Next thing I knew, I really wanted to shop at the Bon.

None of this was happening for me as my mother was against all of it. She thought shopping at Lerner’s was just fine for me. Somehow I wangled white bucks out of my dad.

The coolest was the white buck bag that accompanied them—it came out in almost every class so I could apply a little of whatever that powder was to my shoes, whether they needed it or not.

My mother did loosen up enough to buy me pedal pushers and saddle shoes, which was a great victory.

I was 14 when I started high school—being young was a disadvantage to coolness. I joined this high school sorority to be cooler and started smoking to be cooler still. But it really didn’t work.

I still wasn’t cool. Which was fine at Garfield High School. Just getting to go to school there was cool enough.

In my heart of hearts, I was still a nerd who loved being in the library more than anything.

This continued on into college. I loved to study. Well, maybe not loved—but I admit to liking it a lot. At the University of Washington, I used to study at Balmer Hall—it had big tables where I could spread out my books, notebooks, three pens with different colored inks, index cards and ruler. I remember one day acting very cool as I walked by a group of guys, pretending not to see them. I walked straight into a huge ash can that tipped over, spreading sand and cigarette butts across the floor. I can still hear the clang of the metal as it bumped over the floor. Not so cool, after all.

As I get older, a lot of my “too cool for school” episodes involve falls and/or being a know-it-all. My mother always said, “Pride goes before a fall,”—it seems my karma is to act that out again and again. It’s not that I’m unsteady on my feet…yet. I go to yoga to practice my balance and work out to keep my strength up. No, it’s more that I don’t pay attention to my surroundings.

Usually, before it happens, I’ve just congratulated myself on my fitness, and that my skinned knees and elbows have finally healed. (It takes so much longer now.) I’m thinking things like, I’m doing pretty darn well for a 70-year-old!

Like on our 50th anniversary. I wore a flowing dress and my new diamond ring—I felt youthful and beautiful.

As we walked up a few stairs into the oceanside restaurant, I was handed a glass of champagne. How sophisticated and cool is this, I thought.

I stepped forward to take the champagne, not realizing I was on the edge of the lanai. Yes, I stepped into empty space. I tried to get back onto the stair and keep my balance, but couldn’t quite do it. I started falling backwards and decided the wisest course was to just go with it. Fortunately it was only a short distance into the flowerbed. The horrified onlookers did give me points for the gracefulness of my descent. Except for a few scratches and a rip in my dress, I was just shaken, but unhurt.

My final point about being cool or being a fool concerns my fondness for getting things right. It’s not that I say, “I told you so,” (although I do roll my eyes quite a bit). Like when we were traveling in the Galapagos and Peru with friends. I was wise and ate according to the rules we’d be given. The rest of them ate off the street and tried the national dish, guinea pig. What fools, I thought, as they all succumbed to Inca Revenge, and asked to borrow Imodium.

I, on the other hand, was so cool that I had nary a stomach cramp. Until we got home. Then the 105 degree fever that goes with malaria hit me. Not so cool after that.

Another problem is that I try to stay current technologically: I’m so cool that I use the Internet all the time. This leads me to buy gadgets, which I can’t figure out how to use. Like this electric wine opener. You have to admit it looks cool and very high tech, but I can’t even figure out how to put it in the charger unit. Now, I don’t know what to do with it.

I hate to say it, but being cool is just not my thing. At this point, it’s a battle to keep from making that old saying true: There’s no fool like an old fool! 🙂

 

 

 

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Boiling Point Revisited

What’s that saying, “the more things are different, the more they are the same?” This morning while looking through my files, I came upon something I’d written in 2009. I copied it and pasted it below. The Taliban are still around. Putin is still puttering on the world stage. All I need to do is change a few names and you’d think I wrote it today. Kim Jong Il becomes Kim Jong Un.  Obama becomes Trump. Throw in a little ISIS, Syria and Russia and you have the same recipe for nuclear winter.

Here’s what I wrote in 2009:

I’m beginning to get that creepy Cold War feeling. Growing up during that era meant there was always a chill in the air. The specter of nuclear winter loomed over us, raising goose bumps on the hardiest of Americans. News reports and civil defense drills stoked our collective anxiety. Books like “On the Beach” fueled our fears further, but that was fiction. The Cuban Missile Crisis brought it all into focus.

It was October 1962. The Soviet Union was building nuclear reactors in Cuba, and the United States was not going to stand for it. President Kennedy demanded they cease and desist, but the Soviet Union ignored the blockade and the threats.

On October 28, so full of trepidation we were unable to concentrate on our high school newspaper assignments, four of us hunkered around the transistor radio on the editor’s desk. Our advisor was off somewhere drinking coffee, or perhaps it was whiskey, so we had free rein to do whatever we wished. We were thirsty for news of the U.S./Soviet confrontation so when regular scheduled broadcasting was interrupted for a news flash, we leaned closer.

“Khrushchev has just announced that all weapons will be dismantled,” the announcer said. “There will be complete cessation of further work at the existing nuclear missile sites.” The four of us hugged. We had just been drawn back from the brink of nuclear war. We were going to be okay.

In the intervening years, we’ve endured events we could never foresee. But when the Berlin Wall came down in 1989, we entered a time when you could worry more about whether you were keeping up with the Jones’ newest electronic devices instead of wondering if you were going to be blown to smithereens.

Now, with daily insta-reporting from the Koreas, Irans, and Afghanastans of the world, I’m beginning to feel again that nuclear destruction of the planet is right around the corner. Then I tell myself it’s the over reporting that’s making me anxious. After all, it was pretty hairy in 1962, and we survived. Perhaps Kim Jong IL is just testing Obama’s resolve? Perhaps Iran and Israel will make peace? Perhaps it will be snow tomorrow.

In 2017, I want to say, “Look how worried we were in 1962 and in 2009. Things turned out just fine. See, we’ll be all right.”  Anyway, that’s what I tell my grandkids.

 

Seeing is Believing?

Source: Seeing is Believing?

Seeing is Believing?

 

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I often find pennies when I walk. Twenty years ago, I found one next to a vacant lot in my neighborhood. My back was hurting so much at the time that I had trouble stooping to pick it up. I’d been suffering from back and neck pain for about a year. The anxiety crippling me came around the same time.

I was coming close to being agoraphobic. I was quiet about it—ashamed really. I could fake it pretty well so no one knew. I could manage the grocery store if I were alone. Driving, thank God, wasn’t an issue then.

When I saw a documentary about agoraphobia, I saw myself and knew I needed help. I got a referral and began seeing a therapist. I also took Paxil. Both the talk therapy and the medication helped me a lot. I also got into other types of therapy, like the emotional freedom technique and EMDR, which were beneficial on many levels. I read Jack Sarno’s book on emotionally triggered pain in the body. The panic attacks became less frequent and my physical pain almost disappeared.

The night before I found the penny in my neighborhood, my husband and I watched an Andrew Weill special on television. He told a story about finding four leaf clovers. “When I give a lecture, I’ll tell the audience, ‘If you believe you can find a four leaf clover, you will’,” he’d said. “Then during the break, people will go out onto the grounds and twelve will come back with a four leaf clover.”

This was unbelievable to me. I’d always been told four leaf clovers were extremely rare and you had to be extremely lucky to find one. Lucky pennies were a dime a dozen. Anyone could find one of those. You just had to look down.

That day, twenty years ago, I knew I wasn’t a lucky type, but since I’d bent down to get the penny, I decided to look in the grass, just in case. I leaned over, resting my hand on the grass. When I looked down, my thumb was on a four-leaf clover!

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I can’t tell you how I felt. My heart soared. I know that’s a cliché, but it’s the only way I can describe my feeling. I still remember that sensation.

That’s the moment I look back on that started me healing. I began to believe in myself. I began to believe in the limitless nature of the universe. I started on a path of healing: physical, mental and spiritual. My fears quieted.

Believe it or not, I’ve found more than a dozen four-leaf clovers since then. Some were in my back yard, some were in Europe. I don’t look often, but when I do, I usually find one. I tell this story to my grandchildren and two have already found four-leaf clovers with me.

Seeing is believing, or is it if you believe, you’ll be able to see it?

 

 

Need to Know Basis

I want to start worrying about getting old again. I want to worry about my crow’s feet turning into pigeon’s feet. I want to feel bad that when I wave my arm, my sagging skin keeps flapping like a …

Source: Need to Know Basis

Need to Know Basis

I want to start worrying about getting old again. I want to worry about my crow’s feet turning into pigeon’s feet. I want to feel bad that when I wave my arm, my sagging skin keeps flapping like a loose sail. I want to worry about whether I should be buying a cemetery plot rather than worrying if there’s a plot to bring down America as I’ve known it.

I want to worry about not being able to remember anyone’s name. Is it dementia creeping up on me or overload? Because all of a sudden I need to know a lot of names that I just took for granted before.

I can be naïve—I used to think banks existed for me to deposit my money in. Bankers were there to help and protect me. That’s what I thought about our government too. I thought the elected officials would act in the best interest of the country as a whole. So complacent was I that I didn’t worry about officials’ actions or know their names. I admit I still don’t want to know the name of the Speaker of the House is Paul Ryan or the senator from New York is Amy Schumer’s cousin. I don’t want to know that Mitch McConnell is from Kentucky. I’d like to feel everything was going to be all right and I could obsess over my bunions.

I want to worry about my weight. That would be so refreshing instead of worrying about my granddaughter taking ballet at our local JCC. And I’d like to fret about whether I should join the American Hair Loss Association or just quit coloring my hair.

I’d like to have trouble falling asleep at night thinking about how time is flying rather than thinking about neighbors who could be deported in an instant. I’d like to have time to think about whether Faye Dunaway and Warren Beatty screwed up because they are old farts instead of needing to think nonstop about the deep divisions in our country.

I’d like to worry again about how short a skirt a woman my age can wear. And whether I can read a Jodi Picoult book without getting my heart broken. I’d even like to worry about how I can get my husband to drink enough water. That I know is a lost cause. I just hope our country isn’t.

Just Saying

I’m a head case, always have been and unless I get dementia, always will be. My mind is continuously busy with thoughts and questions so it’s not unusual for me to walk into a room and not know why…

Source: Just Saying

Just Saying

I’m a head case, always have been and unless I get dementia, always will be. My mind is continuously busy with thoughts and questions so it’s not unusual for me to walk into a room and not know why I’ve come there. People say that’s a sign of senility but I’ve been doing that since I was ten. I didn’t realize until this morning that my mind is also crowded with adages, song lyrics and literary allusions.

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As I did the breakfast dishes, I was thinking about George Washington. He cut down the cherry tree but he would not tell a lie. That story from first grade has had a lasting effect on me. I rarely tell even a white lie—I’d never lie about something big. And my word is my bond.

Thoughts about George led to a flood of others. Growing up, my brother, sister and I were taught to never judge anyone until we’d walked in his or her shoes. We drank in the concepts of compassion and respect for others with our Gerber formula. We knew that there but for the grace of God, we’d have gone into the ovens of Auschwitz.

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Taught to be responsible for each other and be grateful for what we had, we knew we needed to share our bounty. I took this to heart and have literally given people the shirt off my back.

My brother gave away the money for his birthday party to help a family in need.

My brother gave away the money for his birthday party to help a family in need.

The work ethic and saving for a rainy day were strong themes in my childhood. Our parents were children of immigrants fleeing religious persecution.

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They married during the Depression and had no money. But when the going got tough, the tough got going. They worked like dogs to become successful and to make sure we all went to college.

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We were admonished that the early bird gets the worm and that practice makes perfect.

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“Waste not, want not,” they said if we left the lights on. If we didn’t finish our vegetables, we were reminded about the starving children in China. Along with this, we were taught that a penny saved was a penny earned, but also that all that glitters is not gold. There was also a sneaky suspicion that money was the root of all evil.

My parents weren’t the speak when spoken to kind. We were encouraged to have our own opinions as long as we honored our mother and father, and thought before we spoke. However, we were cautioned about opening a Pandora’s box and that it’s better to be safe rather than sorry.

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Since the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, I taught these same values to my own children.

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They have taught them to theirs. Which makes me proud as punch, even though I know that pride goes before a fall. We all believe immigrants like our families have made this country strong.

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I think who we are is a combination of our nature and how we’ve been nurtured. I’ve been told many times not to be so nice because nice guys finish last, but it’s just the way I’m wired. Besides, I’m the tortoise to many others’ hare. Slow and steady wins my race.

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Which reminds me, I think there’s a place for everything and everything has a place. That’s why I go crazy when I need my scissors and they aren’t where I put them. The Borrowers have moved them.

Even though I’m an old dog, I’m trying to learn new tricks. An inveterate multi-tasker, I can rush around like a chicken with my head cut off, but I’m getting better. I don’t rob Peter so much to pay Paul. I’m more into the moment, into the Now. I’ve always been slow to anger, and believed you can catch more flies with honey rather than vinegar. I have a long fuse but when lit, watch out. Then I’d be happy to cut off my nose to spite my face. I’m willing to share all this because I’m an open book. The truth is, you can’t tell a book by its cover.

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Besides all these sayings, song lyrics play in my head. They come up from my subconscious, unbidden. Last fall while my husband was going through Proton radiation, the constant theme song playing was, “Put on a Happy Face.”

Lately, it’s “Wake Me Up When It’s All Over,” because I’m as frightened as a rabbit about the present political climate, as well as just climate in general. Hope springs eternal so I’m hoping the Emperor has someone around who tells him he has no clothes on. I’m hoping they don’t throw the baby out with the bath water when reforming affordable health care.

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I’ve given up watching television. I’m sick of the pundits earning fame and fortune while crying, “The sky is falling.” And I can’t handle the bloggers, who obviously never went to Journalism School where we learned to be clear, concise and accurate.

Right now the lyric in my head is Bob Marley’s, “every little thing’s gonna be all right.” I know there’s no fool like an old fool, but I still believe good triumphs over evil. I’m still looking for the silver lining.

 

 

 

We Are The World

This was my kind of protest march. No violence. No shouting of epithets. No hatred. Families and friends walked along the street, some holding signs, some holding hands, some pushing strollers and …

Source: We Are The World

We Are The World

This was my kind of protest march. No violence. No shouting of epithets. No hatred. Families and friends walked along the street, some holding signs, some holding hands, some pushing strollers and other pushing wheelchairs.

 

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img_0573Grandmas and grandpas, moms and dads, moms and moms, and dads and dads, toddlers and babies all strolled in the same direction, in no hurry to run another over or get in someone’s way. Friends greeted friends, said, “How do you?” Strangers met over a common cause and exchanged phone numbers.

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Actually, rather than protest, it was more a solidarity march for pro-thinkers. It wasn’t really political. Yes, women’s rights were the focus that brought us all out. But it was more than that. Groups of strangers united on the streets of our country to proclaim democracy and equality as the corner posts of our ideology. As the president said in his inaugural address: “It’s time to remember that old wisdom our soldiers will never forget, that whether we are black or brown or white, we all bleed the same red blood of patriots.”

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Walking with friends, new and old, I felt empowered and healed. People of good will surrounded me. People who want to help the common cause. People who want to do something for the greater good. And I knew this was happening from the north to the south, the east to the west.

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I’d thought I’d lost my sense of who Americans are. But, united with folks from the far corners of the states, I found my kinspeople again.