Tag Archives: humor

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! 🙂

 

 

 

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.

New Year, Not so New Resolutions

This is my new year’s resolution blog. You might think it’s too late for it but it’s only January 15. 2017 is just two weeks old. Still a baby!

Anyway, one of my resolutions is to stop rushing around like a chicken with my head cut off. (You might think this is a cliché but my husband actually got to see the phenomenon. In the old days of his Ancestors.com, a newly built home was blessed by cutting the head off a chicken. The vision of the chicken running around their yard featured in my husband’s nightmares for years.)

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As for my resolutions:

I have resolved to stop multi-tasking and to slow down. We had dinner with friends last night and she asked me what I’ve doing. “Since we’re in Hawaii, are you sitting around and relaxing?” she added.

I shook my head. “You know me. That just doesn’t happen. But, I’m trying. As soon as I get caught up with everything, I’m going to put relaxing into my day. It’s one of my new year’s resolutions.” It’s that I so rarely get caught up. Then something happens, either good or bad, and I’m behind again. I didn’t think I’d have this problem in my 70’s. Still.

I find that every year I resolve pretty much the same thing. Writing that, it reminded me that two years ago I printed out my 2015 resolutions and taped them to my computer. I was supposed to look at them every day but then I forgot they were there until just now. Oh well, one of my resolutions this year is to give up trying to do everything right. That leads to perfectionism, which means you’re polishing things at midnight, be it silver or words. It also means there’s constant judgment being aimed at my endeavors. Mother has been dead twenty years but she still is holding up the signs and there’s never been a 10. So time to get over it!

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Now, I’m looking at my list on the computer, and I like it. I haven’t accomplished any of the items, but they still seem like worthy goals. They aren’t global but more about me taking care of me. As a Grandiose Co-Dependent, I’m good at taking care of others, especially in the way I see fit. Taking care of me can go sideways.

No more procrastinating: here goes:

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  1. Be happy with myself at my age.
  2. Stretch after my walk.
  3. Eat Healthy.
  4. Do one thing at a time. Finish it.
  5. Think the thought that makes me feel good. Work on reducing anxiety.
  1. Write a blog every two weeks. Write every day.

 

All of this should keep me busy. I told myself just the other day, “You better learn to be happy with your age, or you’re going to be constantly depressed. Stop looking at your arm and wanting it to be firmly muscled. Ain’t happening. Be happy if it is has a muscle at all.”

Which reminds me—this getting older is not so much fun sometimes. Keeping healthy is more than a full time job. Cancer knocks on your door and comes in uninvited. Strokes and heart attacks and dementia are only a Plavix away. Friends and relatives are getting really sick or dying. I finally get it when people say, “This is not a dress rehearsal.”

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So, I guess my main resolution is that I’m going to do less and enjoy it more. (Okay, friends and relatives, stop snorting.)

 

 

 

 

Turning Seventy is Sublime

 

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I am in the middle of writing an essay about how wonderful it is to be 70. I started it in January, but got caught up in other things and in writing a memoir piece. So now I’m almost half way to being 71. With luck and time, I will finish the essay before that birthday.

Meanwhile, I’m going to share some thoughts. On my 70th, I was determined to not look or feel my age. It was a lot of work! Now I’m purposefully slowing down—as a matter of fact, I took myself out of the race. I’m not so touchy about people holding a door open for me or asking to help me with my grocery bags. I don’t have to be in charge. I don’t have to be the responsible one. I don’t have to try proving that I’m as strong and capable as I once was. I can surrender to the aging. I can admit that I get tired. I can admit that I can’t lift my suitcase. I can admit that a swimsuit is not my best look, but I’ll wear one anyway.

One of the great benefits of aging is that I like being who I am. I say to myself when I’m doing something, “You know, that’s who you are. You’ve always been that way.” And I feel good rather than thinking I should change to conform to somebody else’s ideas. It’s true, for instance, that I rather write than play golf.

 

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I still think of myself as young. For instance, if I’m on a bus or train, I’ll stand up to give my seat to an older person. Only… what’s happening is that sometimes there is no older person. The first time this occurred was last summer when I went to DC to look after my grandson who was interning there. To begin with, that was a joke. Garrett, in reality, looked after me. He set me up with a Metro pass and with Uber. He made sure I was fine when he went to work. He’d call to check on me. He made the dinner reservations and showed me where the washer/dryer was in the building. The day we took the Metro to Capitol Hill, he made sure I got on the train without any trouble. I was standing next to him when a man asked me if I’d like his seat. I smiled and looked around for an older person to take advantage of his offer. Then I realized I was the oldest by at least twenty years. That was a “Yikes” moment!

I’m not denying that aging comes with a lot of loss. We have lost so many dear friends and family to cancer, heart attacks and strokes. Or they are suffering with the effects of their disease. There is a sadness now that really has no time to go away. Then there is the loss of taut skin, height and strong muscles, eyesight and hearing—but let’s not go there right now.

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I want to age gracefully, but I want to have fun too. Cindy Joseph’s make up tips for older woman have been widely distributed on Facebook. Here’s some of her advice around the eyes: “Women older than 50 tend to lose definition in their eyebrows. Just go with that. Don’t recreate the brows you had in your 20s.”

Really? I liked my eyebrows in my twenties, and if I don’t use eyebrow pencil now, I have no definition at all. I also tint whatever eyebrow hairs I have left. True, I don’t want to get to the stage where I’m drawing them on and entirely missing the eyebrow line. That is not attractive. But I figured out the solution to that: getting a stronger magnifying mirror for now and a trusted helper in my nineties.

Joseph also says: “Do not wear any eye shadow at all. …A little bit of mascara is OK.” Sorry, Cindy, but I plan to be wearing eye shadow in my coffin when I’m a 110. I love eye shadow. I’ve loved it since I was 13 and my mother wouldn’t let me wear it. So I’m not giving it up now or ever. I had a friend who got false eyelashes when she was 84. She loved them and they were cute on her! So there!

 

 

 

 

 

The Quest

When does an obsession start? Who really knows, but you may wake up one day and find yourself in the middle of one. It starts slowly, maybe even with a reasonable idea, but then it overtakes you. It happened to me this autumn—I became obsessed with seeing the glory of leaves changing color. This is a story that is enhanced by pictures, some of those enhanced as well, as you will see.

It started in mid-September when we were in Seattle visiting our daughter and grandkids. I took the three-year-old for a walk and we collected leaves that had already fallen.

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Later, when our grandson was playing in the band during their high school football game, I scouted for changing leaves.

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But it was too early for Seattle, which would be glorious by October.

I told myself that it was fine—I was just warming up my skills because we were to leave ten days later for a trip that would begin in Quebec. We’d board a cruise ship in Montreal, traveling on the “Fall Medley Cruise” up the St. Lawrence Seaway to the Atlantic Seaboard. “Mother Nature’s Paintbrush,” the cruise line’s brochure said. “Imagine a land so transformed by color that even the commonplace becomes extraordinary. A walk through the woods is like stepping into an autumnal kaleidoscope.”

Maybe it was this description, which started me on being a crazy person. I fell for the hype, hook, line and sinker. I expected to draw my curtains in the morning and be presented with the kaleidoscope described. Not to be. Quebec was a jewel: charming and unique. But the trees were green.

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On the train to Montreal, I was encouraged when I saw patches of changing leaves along the tracks. But it turned out that was an anomaly.

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It was chilly and crisp, but the leaves were proudly green.

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I was still hopeful. With the cold temperatures, the leaves had to turn soon, I thought. And we were going way north to Nova Scotia, so that would certainly do the trick, right? Wrong.

IMG_6653Above is what we saw. Below is what we could have seen.

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It was when we were in Maine that I became aware I was obsessed. We’d had a tour guide take us to Kennebunkport from Portland, Maine so we could visit friends and eat at the Clam Shack, which has the best fried clams anywhere in the world. On the way back, I saw some trees along the highway that were crimson. “Stop the car,” I yelled. As I stood on the side of the highway, I saw my traveling companions shooting me questioning looks. The question: Has she gone nuts?

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It wasn’t as if I hadn’t had this happen to me before. I remember being in Boston one year at Halloween. “All a yuz shouda been herah last week,” I was told.

On our return to the West Coast, we stayed a couple days in Seattle. “Finally, “I said to my husband, “we’ll see some autumn color.”A day earlier, maybe. But a storm had blown in and blew the leaves off most of the trees. I know because I took a walk with my camera to find them. An hour later, I returned, with little to show for my effort.

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Finally home, my neighbor made me feel a lot better about all the greenery we’d seen. “One year when we were back there, the leaves were so technicolor, you needed sunglasses,” he said. I’m sure he’s still wondering why I doubled over in laughter.

I did a little research on Fall Foliage, which, BTW, has become big business for the Northeast. Cruise ships disgorge hundreds of Medicare Tourists daily during this period—we were as numerous and pesky as fleas on a barn dog. I had evidence that I wasn’t alone in my quest for florescent foliage. You can even download an APP that will keep you updated as to when the leaves are reaching their peak.

But why is this so unpredictable? New England Fall Foilage Central says “the unpredictable factors that influence the rate at which leaves change colors are rain, the amount of sugar in the leaves, the number of daylight hours and temperatures….The three-day weekend around the Columbus Day holiday is often associated with peak foliage in Massachusetts, New York, Connecticut and Rhode Island, but there are no guarantees.”

Really? Thanks for the heads up!

And by the way, the photo below was taken on October 15!Screen Shot 2015-10-18 at 1.30.49 PM

Blood Lust

 

 

 

 

imagesMy fellow Phlebotomist phobics, do I have a story for you! Last week I had to have blood drawn at UCLA Medical. I have veins that can be extremely hard to find—a family trait—but haven’t had trouble lately. I was taken into a room by two young women in white coats. Then a man came in and introduced Holly and Nicole: students at UCLA who would be practicing on me.
“My veins can be difficult to find,” I warned.
“Not to worry,” James, the phlebotomist, told me. “I’m sure Holly will be able to find a vein. And I’m here to step in if needed.”
Oh great, I thought as they all gave me toothy grins.
Holly actually did find a vein, but the needle wasn’t in exactly the right spot so by the time Dr. James intervened, the vein had dried up. He was distressed (because he looked like an idiot, I think) and couldn’t find any more likely veins on my right arm so we turned to the left. I’d already pointed out that my left arm was even less giving than my right, but Dr. James poked anyway.

 

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“Did you drink water today?” he asked sharply when the only blood available was from the pokes on my arm.
“Yes,” I said.
“Well, you didn’t drink enough. You’re dehydrated. You need to drink a lot of water if you’re going to have a blood draw.”
I almost apologized but caught myself. He was the professional, for goodness sake! I did give him a pleasant smile. He was beginning to sweat and I wanted him to be calm–I had a couple of more vials to be filled.
He started looking up and down my arm and then at my neck. I swear he began to grow fangs. I quickly pointed out an almost invisible vein in the crook of my arm. It was lucky that it worked. I was ready to bolt. No way was I giving him a field day with the rest of my body.

“Ah, I think . . .” I started to say when Dr. Phleboto breathed a sigh of relief.
“Got it,” he said. “Holly, hurry, get me another vial.”

I hazarded a look. My blood was flowing now. I wasn’t sure if Holly was going to move fast enough, but she did.

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I left the examining room with two bandaged arms, shaking my head. This would never have happened to my husband, and not only because he has good veins. He’d never have put up with the trainees. I wonder if someday, I won’t.

Writing Do, Living Don’t

I always tell my writing classes that their stories need to be full of conflict and drama. “You want your life to run smoothly, but your story has to be full of hurdles and problems,” I say. Now I know first hand how true that is.

Right before surgery Selfie.

Right before surgery Selfie.

 

After my recent knee surgery, I felt great—even the crutches weren’t that difficult to use. It was a boring story—the kind you want to live. But then conflict and drama came in the door with the houseguests my husband had invited to stay.

The houseguests are wonderful people—it’s just that it’s difficult to be a hostess on crutches. My husband was a great host, though. He showed them around—took them to Malibu, took them boating, took them to breakfast, lunch and dinner. They’d leave at 9:00 and be gone for most of the day. My husband told them that I wanted to be alone. (Really? Someone on crutches really wanted to be left alone on the second floor of a house?)

Then I got a charley horse in my calf. When I called the doctor, the PA insisted I go to the hospital for an ultrasound. She thought I was probably overdoing, which would cause the leg to cramp up, but she wanted to make sure there wasn’t a blood clot. Blood clot? Blood clot! Blood clots travel to the lungs. They travel to the brain. Oh my God! I could die! But I was fine there, by myself, on crutches on the second floor. Sure I was.

I was to be at the hospital at 2:00. I called my husband. No answer. I called our houseguests. No answer. I guess they were out of cell range as they made their way to Malibu. My husband called at 12:30 to ask what kind of fish I wanted with my fish and chips. Really? Was I hungry at all? But especially for fried foods?

I have to admit I was angry. But then I told myself that the anger would not help my blood flow, which could affect my clot, existent or not. I did a 15-minute meditation, which was very helpful. My husband got back at 1:30. By then, I was reaching for the phone to call my son or daughter-in-law or a cab.

We got to the hospital on time. I did a silent meditation in the car, ignoring the Formula One race my husband was driving on the freeway. Once there, he left me off to go park the car. It was a long haul on my crutches from the sidewalk to the Information desk. Four people offered me encouragement as I gimped along.

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“Slow and steady wins the race,” one man said as he sprinted around me.

I vowed, then and there, to be kinder to people on crutches or using a cane.

I’d almost made it to the desk when my husband approached me from behind with a wheel chair.

“Get in,” he ordered.

I maneuvered into a sitting position, but didn’t know what to do with the crutches. I finally put them in my lap and my husband took off at what seemed like warp speed. He did a 360 around the Information desk and then zeroed in on the Admissions office. We took off towards it, me wondering if I were going to get motion sickness. The doorway was narrow and at the rate of speed we were doing, it would have been a miracle if we didn’t crash. I wanted to get down on my good knee to say a prayer when he slowed down enough to navigate through the door.

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The ultrasound went fine and when we left the hospital, my husband wheeled me this time to the curb. It was terrifying to be totally under his power. “Stay there,” he said and took off at a run.  I realized he’d left me on a decline as the chair began to roll toward the street. I called out to him, but he was gone. I started to put my foot out to stop the chair, but then realized this could compromise my knee. I fiddled desperately with levers until I found the brake. My husband didn’t know why I had sweat on my brow when he returned.

The houseguests left the next day. By then I had a terrible headache and was kind of achy all over. No wonder, you might think. But it turned out to be the beginnings of the stomach flu. It was a terrible stomach flu–TMI to tell you the details, but I was sicker than a dog. The only silver lining is that I am closer to my goal weight than I have been for 10 years. Today I graduated to scrambled eggs and toast. So far, all seems well in that department.

Only one other mishap to report: The earthquake Monday set off our alarm. I jumped out of bed, forgetting about my knee. The alarm would not shut off so I hobbled quickly down the stairs to the main box. The dog was doing wheelies by then, so I opened the front door to let him out. A man was there in a tree, trimming it. Really? Branches littered our lawn where Bogey makes his daily offerings. He wasn’t going near it so, of course, I had to take him for a walk. Just a short one. Nurse Ratched wasn’t there—he was playing golf.

An hour later, my knee blew up to the size of a grapefruit. No exaggeration. I go to worse case scenario in these situations. Really? You say? You hadn’t noticed. But with ice and elevation it calmed down.

Now my stitches are out and I’m on the road to recovery! Yay! The dramatic arc is complete.

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ADD on Steroids

 

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This is so me. Except I stay up late to get as much as I can done. There’s always something more to do. Like last night.

We’re living near Kona this winter and it’s not like you can just walk into Nordstrom and find a men’s robe. First of all, there is no Nordstrom. Second of all, there’s not that much need for cuddly, terry cloth robes. We even tried to find one at Target but no dice. So I said, “I’ll order you one on line, honey.”

Our ride home was so eventful, (my husband was pulled over for going 61 in a 45. The officer asked if we were in a hurry. I started to explain that we’d been behind a truck going 40 in a 55 and after the truck moved to the right when the road widened, we naturally picked up speed, not realizing it was now a 45. The officer’s eyes glazed over and he gave my husband a pitying look and a warning.)

Anyway, when we got home, the electrician, dishwasher repairman, home association landscape workers and even the condo window washers were parading through the house and outdoors.

At 2:00 PM our time, I found a vacant place on our lanai and hooked into my first Webinar, a memoir seminar put on by the National League of American Pen Women. The speaker was Janis Kearney, Clinton’s diarist. It was 7:00 PM on the East Coast. I was blown away by the technology. I even asked a question. After, since the dishwasher was finally working, I put away the clean dishes.

I got so busy that I completely forgot about the robe. Until midnight. I went on Amazon and voila, there was a robe. It’s supposed to come January 16. We will see.