Archive for the ‘acceptance’ Category

It’s Valentine’s Day. Let’s be nice.

I love hearts and I love flowers
I love women with equal powers
I want people to live in kindness, to exist in harmony, not in blindness.

To celebrate a loving day is empty if you can’t display the goodness we are meant to show,
The acceptance of what we really know.
To offer words with candy and hearts doesn’t matter if you don’t offer smarts.

So all this thinking has gotten me down. I suddenly realize my smile is a frown. I feel so hopeless that our world is not well. I wish the politics would all go to hell. I swear to Heaven things ought to be better. It’s all up to us, not just this dumb letter.

getting turned on

Men love theirs. They are so proud of them. Oddly, they believe women should be excited, interested. Most men seem to think that this is an impressive sign of their manhood to all women. Most women, actually, have little interest. We have seen enough to recognize a bighead is not our style. If you have to flaunt it, we pay little notice. We might have been interested when we were younger. Women re-focus as they mature. What men love to brag about and show off just is not as impressive.
Interestingly, as men age, they seem to get worse. They really want young women to pay more attention to theirs, as opposed to the guys most young girls would date. Again, younger women might be smitten in the beginning, but it fades.
We hear the stories and just shake our heads. What are men thinking? Why do they believe women find ‘this’ attractive? Why do they feel the need to exemplify macho instead of sensitive? Why do they persist in playing with their things to get more attention? Why do they feel a need to show off regardless of their ages? Why do they believe that young women will feel excited at the image of ‘young and virile’ they are trying so desperately to portray?
Laugh if you will. One day the man in your life will probably do the same. Sadly, most do. We can feel pity for the wives. We can feel dismayed at the actions of the husband. We can sympathize with the younger woman who so often is the target of this ‘need’ in so many men. We can try to warn our daughters.
These men disappear for hours, pretending to run errands. Actually, they are hoping women are noticing them; hoping women want them. They do their best to be where the younger women are. Is it ingrained or is it acquired?
They cannot afford to do this but are unable to suppress. They just have to have that new car. Sporty. Hopefully a convertible. They cannot help themselves. Just try to muddle through. Men love theirs.

Ode to Aging

(Sung to the tune “where have all the flowers gone?”)

Where have my eyelashes gone?
They’re so skimpy….
Where have my eyelashes gone?
I just don’t know….
Where have my eyelashes gone?
They used to flutter at everyone.
Oh, why did they ever leave? Oh, why did they have to leave?

Why do I have facial hair?
It’s sooo tacky….
Why do I have facial hair?
I just don’t know.
Why do I have facial hair?
It’s here, it’s there…it’s everywhere
Oh why has this had to be, oh why has this had to be?

Why do I snore when I sleep?
I don’t like that
Why do I snore when I sleep?
I… never did.
Why do I snore when I sleep?
I want to breathe…not make a peep
Oh, why do I have to snore? Oh, why do I have to snore?

Why don’t men have menopause?
It’s annoying.
Why should they escape that clause?
It’s just not fair.
Why don’t men have menopause?
I crawl the walls with this new cause
My hair, my snoring, my moods, my hair… my snoring…my moods…

Threw Momma from the train

My parents loved to travel. They handled their finances so well that they retired early, to enjoy their lives together and explore the country.

When I was flying, they had the ability to use my airline passes and they did. Nevertheless, they loved taking the train.

Often they would take Amtrak from Florida, through Chicago, to Colorado to see me, then onto California. They had no particular schedule. When they arrived in Denver, they always had stories from their trip, people they had met. Dad was super shy, mom was extremely outgoing. They had a blast.

I was following their trip once because this time they were coming to see me on the way home as opposed to on the front end of their trip. They had wanted to take a different route, see more countryside, and visit the Grand Canyon.

The phone rang in the middle of the night. When I answered, the connection was poor and it took me a second to realize it was my mom. She was upset. I was instantly alert. Their train had gone off the tracks in Arizona. As it jumped the track, it fell over sideways and down a ravine. After she and my dad had helped everyone they could, they began the climb up the steep slope. A young man was kind enough to let my mom use his cell phone. The connection was poor but I was at least able to learn they were not part of the group going to stay overnight in the hospital. She was so shaken. She kept saying, “We’re too old for this, Alexa, the train ran right off the tracks and down a big hill.” I realized she was in shock. Well, I was in shock. I asked what she knew about how I could find her after she got away from the wreckage. She told me that firefighters and medical people were the only ones around and she just had no idea but needed to return the phone and would call me again. She was gone. An hour later, I made coffee because sleep was out of the question. I began looking around, online and finally saw some information about the accident. My parents were there! This was so frightening.

I heard nothing for 12 hours. I was trying not to be totally frantic. I probably cancelled my business day to wait by the phone. I do not remember much about that day. She finally called again to say they had been put on a bus, taken somewhere I cannot remember, then put on a train and would be in Denver in 6 more hours. Ok. I organized myself and headed to the Mile High City to hug my parents. They had come for my birthday.

Our visit was filled with ‘what if’ and ‘thank goodness’ types of conversations. I really have little memory of that visit. We were all tired, they were so sore all over their bodies and bearing in mind that they were 70 years old, it was too much to absorb.

Being of sturdy stock, they continued their trip back to Florida on Amtrak.

My mom passed away when she was 77. Alzheimer’s had really made a mess of who she had been. My dad lasted longer than anyone expected, such a love shared and such a huge loss.

I am living in Washington State now and during a workout, I injured my leg somehow. After being misdiagnosed with a muscle injury, the MRI showed my extruded disc and broken tailbone. Well, no WONDER it hurt to walk and try to work out. I started physical therapy.

I became a regular at the clinic, everyone trying to recover from various issues smiling and saying hello. One day I arrived 20 minutes early so settled with a book in the waiting room. I was chatting with a woman and her husband, until her appointment and he left. A biker walked in. This guy was big. He was wearing his HOG jacket and lots of chain type things. His face was weathered; he appeared to be around 70. We struck up a conversation. He was wearing a doo wrap, bandana of the US flag.

I asked what he had done to end up in a place like this. He reached down, pulled his jean leg up to reveal a prosthetic leg. When he walked in, I just assumed he bent a little because of a back injury or something. I waddled for 3 years after my 3 discs broke.

I asked him how he lost his leg. He said he was an engineer. An Amtrak engineer. He derailed years ago into a creek bed in Arizona. He lost his leg under some wreckage. Tears were immediate. I asked what year. What time. The answers were already familiar. I told him my parents had been on that train. We had to hug. He apologized for my parents’ bad luck and asked about them. I told him other than shock, they had been fine, just sore. I told him my mom had passed 2 years earlier.

He told me that he does not live in Spokane but was having pain from his bike and called his doctor for referral to a specialist in the area. Incredible.

We just stared at each other, holding hands. It was odd but it was right. Then he was the one who said it. “How likely is it that I am in a city 100 miles away from my home, in a rehab clinic because of my accident, you are here, you actually ASK about me, and your parents were with me during the accident?” I had to say, “I don’t believe for a second that this is an accident.”

What a full circle moment. I asked about the derailment. Someone had sabotaged the track and a section was missing. I had not known these details, so grateful just to have my family intact physically. It was a dangerous place to jump track. He was so grateful to know my parents were not badly hurt. The derailment happened at 130 in the morning. Total darkness. It was miraculous that so many survived.

I went into my rehab appointment. When I came out, he was gone. I got into my car, started crying, and called my brother. What a story I had to share.

About Face

I am in my 60’s. Not terribly long ago, a woman told me she ‘bet I used to be attractive’. I can handle that. I DID. Now, I am older. I am not as upset about that, as I am that people are unaccustomed to what we should really look like as we naturally age.

I saw Goldie Hawn on TV today. Face-lift. I remember when Mary Tyler Moore got hers. It broke my heart. I watch some cooking shows. Sandra Lee suddenly looked very odd. Honestly, I thought she had been in a fire. Nope. Face-lift.

As I see women changing their entire facial structure, I question for whom they do this. I used to wonder the very same thing about men who wore toupees. Did they sleep in them at night with the person they loved most? Probably not. They wore that stupid looking fake hair or did a ‘Donald Trump’ every morning for the people who do not really matter. Why is that?

We are the baby-boomers. We are supposed to have more answers than our parents had. We are supposed to be more perceptive. Why in the world are we afraid to be ourselves? Why are WE pretending to be younger than we actually are instead of showing how well we can age? I am perplexed.

I stopped coloring my hair a year ago. I know it ages me. I look so much better with my hair hi-lighted. Now, there is no mistaking that I am an elderly woman. Nevertheless, I AM an elderly woman! I recognize that 60’s isn’t the end of the path but when we start retirement, get our social security and have problems remembering and falling and driving, why should we be trying to look like we are a decade or two younger? If we were acting this way in our 40’s we would seem daft or drunk. If men could really see what a woman is SUPPOSED to look like as she ages, maybe they would stop trying to date women 20 years younger than they should. Maybe. Ok, bad example.

While I am on that subject, why do older men need to date younger women? Everyone knows how foolish they appear. They are trying to ‘borrow’ the youth of that younger woman to appear younger themselves. They are trying to appear more virile. They are trying. Trying. If you need a pill to have more sex than your body can accommodate, you are too old to be having that kind of regular sex. It is not the end of the world. It is just a slowing of a chapter in a section. We all live.

So, as I watch women I have admired throughout my generation, I am saddened. Too many of them have decided they cannot stand to be their age. They are pretending to be of a different age while all of us watch, distressed at how fake our generation is threatening to become. We do our daughters no favor.

Gloria Steinham had it right at one time: ‘This is how I am supposed to look’ or something to that effect. I felt the same way for ages. I let myself be what I was supposed to be. How sad that our society does not. How sad that again, men are telling us we are not ok unless we do ‘this or that’ and sadder still is that women do it to each other. When Marlo Thomas got a face-lift, I was heartbroken. Another woman who is supposed to be secure, brilliant, honest, talented, and beautiful. She used to be.

Yep, I used to be attractive. Looks fade. I hope I have managed to cull more than the skin on my skeleton for the next chapters of my life.

Joan Rivers aside, how often are you disappointed in the women you once admired because of plastic surgery? Plastic: doesn’t that say it all?

Intentions and holiday schedules…..damn

Why is this so HARD???

Christmas is almost here! I realized I had not done anything productive, despite all of my great intentions. Planning no longer helps.

I needed to pack a large box, filled with wrapped presents and a Santa I was sending to a niece, from my collection (I will catch the rest of you next year—my bad). Huge undertaking. Had not started. Finally, realized time was of the essence. I spent an evening wrapping each item, and then I filled a huge box with peanuts, shredded paper, and contained everything in a large carton. Needed to print a label, make some serious ‘this side UP’ signs on the box with a fat magic market, and then get the boxes out of here.

Where in hell is my fat magic marker?

I will look later. Right now, I need to pack another box. This is for my sister. I bought her gifts 6 weeks ago and meant to wrap them. Dammit. Ok, ok, deep breath. I can manage this.

So, I have wrapped. I have packed. I have put the boxes into my car, to get to the mail center tomorrow. It is already too late to have them shipped by the post office. Time IS of the essence! It is also 3 in the morning.

Woke up too late! Had a bad night. Forgot to set the alarm. Cannot remember what I did and why I slept far too late. Not a day to drive. Too ditzy. Trying to remember what I was supposed to accomplish today. Dammit.

It is 8:30 at night. I just remembered. The boxes are in the car. Dammit.

I got up early the next day. I had a little bit of coffee, just so I can actually drive, and went to the mail center. I got there at eight. I am golden.

I came home to have more coffee. I am relieved. I am also really sick. The relief is better than the sick. Maybe I can finally get some rest.

Oh. Here is the fat magic marker. Dammit. Forgot to do the box ‘this side up’.

My packages waited at the mail center for 12 hours. Oh. Dammit.

Do you see what I see?

Happy Holidays and to all, a better night than I had.

daring

It is a nasty time of year. The leaves have begun to fall. The pine needles need constant raking. The rain makes for muddy footprints in the house.

This nastiness has made me begin to think of my abuse.

As I recognize the need to forgive, but not forget, I finally have started to see the fear of the abuser.

He beat me to a pulp one day in New York. We had dated for about 2 years. He drank too much. I could see it coming. I told him I was getting concerned that he might hurt me. He was surprised and honestly stunned at the idea. He told me that he had a tendency to do things to hurt him, not others.

I remained wary.

We got up early one Sunday to go for brunch. He decided to have a drink. It was 8AM. I could not understand the need. That was a warning I allowed to sink into my brain. He wanted scotch before we went to breakfast. We had mimosas with our brunch. We were having fun, flirting. We were in a very nice, well-known NY restaurant.

I saw it happen. His face darkened. He was angry. He began to berate me, taunt me. I sat, still, afraid to move. Then he pushed away, forcing the table onto me, everything spilled onto my dress. He stood, glared, exited.

A man and woman at the next table looked at me. He asked if I was ok. I was dumbfounded. I was in shock. I was disbelieving. I was frightened. I was humiliated. Yet, I assured him I was fine. I got a cab.

I had to return to our apartment. All of my clothes were there, my airline tickets, belongings, money, and ID. When I returned, he was asleep (passed out) and I began quietly packing. I think it was the click of my suitcase lock. He was on me immediately. He screamed, furious that I was packing, calling me names, and hitting me. I fell; I tried to shield myself, without success as he continually hit and pushed and threw me. Finally, I hit him. I hit him in self-defense, almost afraid to hit because as a woman, no one had trained me to hit. I do not even know where my ‘punch’ landed. I only know what happened next. “You hit me!” “How DARE YOU!” he screamed. Then, the beating took on a new urgency. He threw me onto the floor, began to kick, throw things onto me, and kept screaming at me, calling me names. Somehow, I got to my feet, and hit the intercom button on the wall. I screamed and screamed. In minutes, someone was at the door. I got to the door ahead of him. When I opened it, a neighbor and the security guard were standing there. I said, “He is hitting me.” they were speechless. He was a beloved neighbor. A young, upwardly mobile man beautifully dressed, polite. Angry. The woman came into the apartment while I picked up the rest of my belongings. She saw that he had ripped my clothing from me. He had even torn my leather belt in half. I was dressed again, but disheveled and able to leave. Oddly, he was in the shower. She never saw him.

As I think about that time in my life, I have realized how much he resented what I was seeing. “You hit me” “how dare you.” it makes sense to me now. His weakness was an affront. How DARE I see that side of him? How dare I become someone to see the real man? How dare me. It let him know what a little person he was. He was 6’3 and yet smaller than my 5’7 frame. How dare I show him to be so small?

I learned that once a person hits, it will come again. You need out. You cannot trust yourself or that ‘hitting person’. Make plans. Leave.

I saw him once after that. We met in a public place, allowing him to try to convince me it was all ok. It was early on a Sunday morning. I could smell the alcohol.

You can still have fun in life. You just cannot have it there.

You must not dare.

getting older, having fun

My birthday is coming.

I have always loved to celebrate a birthday. When I lived in Colorado and had my business, I would write a poem about the upcoming event, fax it to a bunch of my friends, and wait. The poem told them that we had one month to get together, their treat, for a breakfast, lunch, dinner, or cocktails. It was such fun. For an entire month, I would see people, re-new good friendships and catch up on life around me.

In our family, we sing to each other on our birthday. Each year, usually early, the phone will ring. It will be my brother or my stepmom and dad or my best friend. Years ago, it would also be my mom and step dad, my husband and his kids. This year my aunt will call, singing. My best pal across the street and my best friend who lives in Boulder will follow. My brother will call, singing. It is a family custom, and anyone pulled into our fray knows to participate. As a result, I will have a day filled with birthday song and good wishes. I love my birthday.

The more I relocate, the smaller my birthday pond becomes. In Colorado, I had about 30 interactions, getting together with friends because of my poem. I lived in Salem, Oregon just under 2 years and never had the opportunity to be so bold. When we moved to Spokane, I was no longer running a business and my friends all became my husband’s employee group or a very few neighbors. The boss’s wife cannot tell his employees to do anything so my poem had to stop. I miss that poem and the camaraderie it created.

Tomorrow my Facebook wall will fill with birthday wishes. I will never meet most of these people. We are online friends. We grieve together when something untoward happens to anyone in our ‘group’. We celebrate victories, however small, and send well wishes and homegrown knowledge to anyone who might require a bit of help. We recognize the newly formed units of family and friends. These are important relationships to us. They broaden our lives.

My best friend across the street will take me to lunch soon. This is our tradition. Another woman who lives nearby will do the same. I have begun getting fun cards in the mail. My step kids will probably call, which I cherish and I know my ‘almost-ex husband’ will think of me with a bit of regret.

Tomorrow I will not do anything that does not appeal to me.

Instead of sending my birthday poem, people will send me best wishes online because of computerized reminders.

Naturally, I will think of my mother, losing her, missing her, thanking her for life. I will think of friends and relatives who have a significant memory tied to my special day. It is my birthday. I would not consider ignoring this date. I earned this. “And Many More”

take only if needed

People watch me in the grocery store. Decades ago I was watched because I was attractive. Now, it is a different situation: I am on food stamps.

Women watch what I place on the belt to checkout. I have no shame. I am so grateful for the financial help right now. I get food stamps. Thank YOU.

I have had no income for almost 2 years. I felt guilty to ask for help. A social worker suggested it and I am grateful. I get food stamps!

So many people have misconceptions about government help. My dad once said that anyone homeless just did not want to work. As a single woman, I knew better. I was part of the huge group. Missing one or two paychecks would mean I could not pay my bills. I was a flight attendant. To some people I earned great money. The thing is, when you travel for a living, you also spend more. The cutbacks at our airline were legend. We began flying more and earning much less. I knew I was on the precipice. My dad simply did not understand. It was black or white. More importantly, having never been in such a situation, it meant that nobody honest could. He was mistaken.

When my airline job crumbled, I began working in earnest, to pay my mortgage. Amazingly, the phone company, the utility company, and many others worked with me. They saw my huge credit history and knew I was not a bum. They put bills on hold while I reconnoitered. The mortgage company sent me a letter. If my payment was late, they would foreclose. Just like that.

I took every job I could. I did landscape work, I sold sandwiches from my trunk, I cleaned gutters and downspouts, weeded flowerbeds every evening, walked dogs early every morning, watered gardens while owners were away. On the weekends, I washed and waxed cars. It was hard. 7 jobs every week. I earned enough to pay my mortgage. I got food at the local food bank. It was humiliating. The woman handing out the choices gave me peanut butter. I cannot eat that. When I suggested she save it for a woman with children, she told me that I must not be very hungry. Humiliating.

The difference between then and now is that I was only 38. I had my entire life ahead of me and was strong smart and industrious. Now I am 61. I am not so good physically or mentally. I get food stamps.

I see women in the store, using their stamps, and look at their choices. I am not being critical; I am trying to learn. So many things are not included but you have to buy them to exist. No cleaning supplies. No light bulbs. Light bulbs in my home are a huge expense. Moreover, they are expensive. I try to buy CFL’s but now it is prohibitive. No pet food or cat litter. No personal hygiene products. No laundry detergent or softener sheets or bleach. Just FOOD. I am beyond grateful. I get food stamps.

I do not smoke but I certainly see the huge cost. People addicted to cigarettes have to feed that addiction. They have no choice. You do not stop smoking because you have run out of money. It is as powerful an addiction as heroin or meth. Your body makes you continue. You have no choice. Stopping is so difficult and society already hates smokers so the added shame of the addiction feeds the problem.

Medications. I take a ton of them. Between my brain injury, my blood sugar, my Cholesterol, my general stress of life circumstances, bills and an impending divorce, I take a ton of meds. They are not food. They are not covered.

I buy wine. Yep. I buy wine. I do not buy it nearly as often. I do not buy the 35-dollar bottles I used to get. I buy 6-dollar wine, on sale. Right now, it makes me almost feel normal. A few days a month, I can have wine with dinner again. Like things used to be. Before I got food stamps, before my life turned upside down.

You get a certain amount per month. Nothing more. It is up to you to decide how to parcel that money. I cannot pay for gas for my car, cannot pay for my utility bill, and cannot pay to see my doctor or light, cool or heat my home. No cosmetics or bath products. I can buy certain foods.

Next time you are shopping, look at your cart as you check out. Bear in mind that many people will not feel you have the right to certain things in your basket. They might judge. If you are on food stamps.

I am on food stamps. It is a huge relief.

got a system?

We all have them. We need them. Systems are inevitable. I personally believe that men need them more than women do, but that is just my opinion.

Which way does the toilet paper go? I dated a great guy in Ft Lauderdale. He was such fun. We talked one day about how people get caught-up in the way the toilet paper goes on the roll. He and I preferred the tissue to go ‘over’. So, to find out how much it mattered, I began putting the tissue under. I watched over the week as the tissue was mysteriously rotated back to ‘over’. He did not say a word. He just repositioned. I finally fessed up. He did too. He told me that evidently it DID matter to him. He acknowledged that he was ‘one of those’. It was a funny experiment in life. We are not immune.

When my dad had open-heart surgery, he could not drive for a while but had medical appointments to keep. I lived in the same city so volunteered to drive when I could. The first day out, he needed to go to his office. I not only had driven there hundreds of times to see him, I had also worked there when he needed help. I knew the way.

As I backed out of his driveway, he said, “Where are you going?” “I go down the hill.” The hill was a slope that joined the same road. In other words, going up, or going down took you to the very same place. It made me smile a bit. He had been told to ‘stop trying to be in control of everything and stop getting aggravated at the little stuff’. Immediately, he said, “well, everyone does it differently, it doesn’t matter.” That did not fool me a bit. Of COURSE, it mattered. I was connecting to the road in the wrong direction. ‘Systems’.

Part of his rehab was to take a daily walk. I was an early morning walker so I suggested we meet to walk together. He quickly agreed. Walking can be lonely at first.

The first morning, because we were still in fall weather, it was dark when he wanted to do his walk. I normally waited until early daylight but this was his gig and I was willing to bend.

I walked to the appointed spot, knowing my path because I did it daily, but it was still daunting because it was DARK. I actually carried a flashlight. As I waited, I saw his light coming. As he got closer, I realized he was wearing a ‘miner’s hat’ with a light in the brim. Funny but it made sense.

We began our first journey together. As we crossed a street, he moved to a different side. As he moved, he kicked a small rock out of the sidewalk. He was looking everywhere, his little light shining, and our additional flashlights made us obvious.

The next day, I saw his miners cap and flashlight approaching. I had to be there first. You did NOT keep him waiting. It was not worth the reproach. As he arrived, we set off and crossed the small road. He immediately changed sides. He also found a small rock to kick. That was when I knew: system. He had a system already. He needed a system. He would never deviate. Always changing sides at the same time, always finding a small rock at almost the same place, to kick aside. He was back in control.

My parents cannot load their dishwasher unless it is loaded properly, in their way. When you try to help with the dishes, it means having to unload and reload because things are in the wrong place. I understand it to a point. I have become much more flexible about my dishwasher. My parents seem to need to fill every nook before they run the machine. I get that. We were taught to do a full load, to save energy. That was 40 years ago. Now, our appliances are so much more efficient, we can do loads that actually have a bit of space and not lose our retirements. My parents will never accept this. It is their system. Only certain things can go in the top, certain things can go in the bottom, and some things must ALWAYS be washed by hand. Not manufacturers’ suggestions: our parents’ system.

My husband had many systems. When he travelled, he always packed one extra pair of underwear for the number of days away. Carved in granite. I saw it firsthand early on. So, we took a trip together and the very first day, I snatched his ‘extra’ pair. That night he was frantic, looking for his ‘spare’. I had expected that he would start looking when he was down to one or two. Nope. Today. Right now. “Where is my extra pair of underwear?” it drove him nuts. It drove him nuts for 6 days while we were on our adventure. He was so unsettled. He actually began to accuse me of taking his extra underwear, so certain was he that he could NOT have been in error. I began asking if we needed to do a small ‘hand wash’. He assured me that he had enough. He just needed his spare.

The last day of our trip, he came out of the bathroom in his last pair of clean underwear to find me wearing his spare. I thought it was hysterical. It was not funny in the least. I had messed with his system. He still remembers that trip as ‘not good’ and it was all because of the stupid underwear.

I have never known a woman to be this anal.

I empty all the trashcans on Monday because Tuesday is trash day. I do my laundry and I clean my grill from weekend use. Today I will make new hummingbird food and replace the feeders with clean ones. I have already cleaned and refilled all of the birdbaths. I will clean out the fridge and wipe the shelves. I will wind my pendulum clocks. I will test my sprinkler system and walk my land to check outdoor lighting to replace bulbs. I replace the towel my cat sleeps on and I am certain to do my ironing. I have to press because Tuesday is errand day. Wednesday I pay bills and make phone calls. It’s my system.