Monday, October 08, 2018

What's My Hurry?

For a little while there, I considered taking October off. The weather has been downright shitful, the Politics has been too, and I'm Over It All. But backing down means The Terrorists win, so here I am. I feel like I've been frightfully busy, flinging myself all over the place here in NEO (motto: Don't bother doing your hair; we specialize in heat, humidity, and rain--what Autumn?). How can I have so damn much to do when I'm Retired?

I hurry a lot. It's hard for me to do things in a measured, unhurried way. I think it has a lot to do with when I was teaching and always, always multitasking--doing a million things between classes, like giving kids makeup work before class started, trying to go to the bathroom and still be on time to class, running off a quiz or test at a copy machine that was not broken down, making a quick parent phone call, or grading a few papers so that I wasn't so inundated by all 120+ a day. Everything was rushed, and it became a way of life. It's hard to suddenly slow down after thirty years of hurrying.

And with children--I'm speaking of my own sons--doing things quickly was, at times, a saving grace. It stopped fussing and crying. It appeased hurt feelings. It forestalled toddler tantrums and sibling fights. And, as a Working Mom, hurrying kept kids on The Sacred Schedule. I'm sure so many of you understand that benefit.

Now, however, hurrying isn't really all that necessary, but I still find myself doing it. I start looking at blocks of time in my day and thinking about how I can shoehorn stuff in. How I can combine a bunch of errands and how early I can get them all done so that I can do a ton of other stuff so that I can...what? It's insane. It makes it really hard to unwind. And sleep.

Free time still feels like a sin to me--a selfish indulgence. Why? I worked hard and I earned it.

I have all day most days to vacuum, to plan and prep dinner, to do any number of the little Domestic Goddessing tasks that tuck into the nooks and crannies of my days. But old habits, as They say, are hardest to break.

So I am determined to form new ones: to take deeper breaths more often; to drive more slowly and with less gritty determination; to enjoy the lulls in my day rather than fret about them; and, to read some poetry every day.

And another jaunt North is in order. Getting Away is different than Running Away, don't you think? Things will definitely slow down then.




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Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Cleaning Out The Cranial Clutter; Will You Hold The Dustpan, Please?

Time for a little Cleanout of my Cranial Clutter. Let's see what I can sweep out of the old cerebellum.

~*~Anniversary. Somehow, in all the Goings On of August, I completely forgot that the Dept. Of Nance had its 13th Anniversary. It's true; I've been writing here since 2005. I almost cannot believe it myself. Sometimes, I hop into my Wayback Machine (read my archives) and take a look at my life when I was teaching, in my forties, and raising teenagers. And I laugh and laugh at the things I Said I Would Never Do, many of which I am now doing routinely. Oh Life, how you smack us around and teach us to Be Humble!

~*~Eff Word. This week, my hair finally allowed me to go pick out new glasses, which I gladly did. The young woman (probably about twenty-five) who assisted me at the cheapo eyeglasses place was friendly and fun. As we chatted about Being Female and Our Vanity, she dropped two Eff Words, never batting an eye, zipping right past them with nary a concern. Another associate seated within earshot didn't even flinch. I am a Huge Fan of The Eff Word, but there is a Time and a Place, and that? Not It.

~*~Insomnia And Obnoxious Theme Song. I'm currently in the throes of another bout of Insomnia. Sigh. Sometimes when I can't sleep, I watch a few late night episodes of the original Will & Grace show, and I have to tell you, that show's theme song is absolutely the worst. Ugh. Nothing but hard-driven piano that sounds like it is being played by perhaps Herman Munster on crack. It's abusive. Why so awful? Why? I don't know what I feel sorrier for, that poor piano or my ears.

~*~Videotapes. I finally made myself clean out the cabinet housing our now-nonexistent videotape collection. Is it Really A Thing that the Black Diamond Classic Disney videotapes are worth money? And that the Fox Original Star Wars Trilogy Boxed Set is valuable too? Because I have the latter and five of the former. And they are available. Aside from that, I had Sam hook up the old VCR and I watched a few hours of the boys when they were little. My immediate response was to be overwhelmed with so much love--and an odd feeling of sadness. They were So Little. They looked so fragile to me. I hope I Did The Right Things. I know I always wanted to and tried to.

Catch me up in Comments.

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Friday, September 07, 2018

Of Politics, Books, And Grocery Store Serendipity

The time I normally set aside for The Resistance was not enough this morning, thanks in large part to the Kavanaugh hearings and, of course, to the recent anonymous editorial published in the New York Times. Its author, claiming to be a part of a whole other resistance, doesn't impress me one whit. Spare me and the entire country your big effing courage, buddy, and really Do Something rather than sneak a few papers off a desk. You are nothing but Part Of The Problem.

Anyway.

A couple of hours, many emails, letters, and phone calls later, I was ready to pack the car and head down to DC and tell a few people something about themselves in person. Also, I was pretty sure I could use a few hugs from Senator Sherrod Brown and maybe from Representative John Lewis, National Treasure. Instead, I did what I always tell my sons to do when they're stressed out: do something constructive.

I decided to clean out my bookshelves yet again and donate some more of my languishing hardbacks to the annual library book sale. I got the idea from grocery shopping.

Earlier this week at the grocery store, I ran into a former student. Rather, she stopped me in the dairy aisle where I was dawdling without any purpose whatsoever because I sort of half-assed my list and couldn't remember if I needed any yogurt or butter. "Hey, Mrs. D! How are you? How have you been? Do you still love retirement?" she chirped.  I almost didn't recognize her because--and this is sad--she looked so happy.

"Oh, sweetie! It's so good to see you!" I greeted her in return.  And I meant it. I had never seen her smile so much. It was obvious that she was doing well.

"I feel I need to tell you that I don't work here anymore. I went back to school. I finished and got my library science degree. It's so awesome, and I work right here in town at the library! I love it!"

Why she felt she needed to tell me that, I don't know, but I was truly glad that she did. We talked a bit longer about her life and her job, and then I mentioned that I had some books I wanted to donate. "Drop them off anytime," she told me.

So, back to me cleaning out my burgeoning bookshelves. I already knew I was going to get rid of my set of Andrew Greeley books on principle alone. Then there were a half-dozen more that I knew I'd never read again, so in they went. It was tough, because back in the eighties or nineties, the fad was to take all the jackets off your books so as to streamline the look of your shelves. I had to really stare at the spines. Some of my books are vintage; some are old carpentry and drafting books of Rick's and his grandfather's. And I have a lot of books. But nothing prepared me to find, way on the bottom shelf, a copy of a certain ghostwritten book by a certain political person who shall remain nameless. And rather than donate it and validate its garbage, I did this:

I call it Art:  No Deal

Afterward, I did what every self-respecting Democrat would do, I recycled it. Burning books? Please. Let's not, as they say, Go There.

I did, however, temporarily set aside one page--it was before the opening page of chapter one. It contains a partial quote from a speech by Theodore Roosevelt, former real President of the United States. It does not quote it completely or even correctly (big surprise), but I will:

It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.--(23 April 1910)

The irony is stunning.

I am part of the Resistance. Since 20 January 2017.  And I will keep striving for as long as necessary.

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Monday, September 03, 2018

Politics And Precious Cargo In The Prius



Scene opens on the interior of Nance's car, driven by Rick.  Nance is seated in the passenger's side.  Rick's phone sounds, signaling the arrival of a text message. He picks it up and...

Nance: (outraged) Excuse me, but are you going to risk our lives and look at your phone right now?

Rick: (calm, eyes on the road) Nance, I was just--

Nance: (undeterred) Is my life so trivial to you that you're willing to risk it for a text message? Especially right here, where all those Trump voters come rushing out of that side road right there! Without even looking.

Rick: (sighs; pulls onto entrance ramp) How do you know that they're all Trump voters? You've got to stop being so judgy about everybody just because of where they live.

Nance: I know that they are. You know it, too. Everyone around here voted for him.

Rick:  That house there, with the Register To Vote Here sign, also has a Sherrod Brown* sign in the yard.

Nance And Janet Garret* and you're deflecting. The point is, I would prefer you remember that when you have me in the car, you are transporting precious cargo. (thinks for a moment; smiles wickedly) As a matter of fact, from now on, I would really like it if you would start calling me Precious Cargo. Or PC, if you'd prefer.

Rick: (grins; accelerates into traffic) Okay, Precious Cargo.

End Scene.

*fine Democratic candidates for office; I am in love with Senator Sherrod Brown and have been forever.


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Thursday, August 23, 2018

Two Things




1. At the doctor's office, I sat waiting for someone to come in and put a new dressing on my infected shoulder wound. In bustled a young health aide, who, after finding the necessary supplies with some irritation, turned to me and said, "Okay, I'm gonna put a new bandage on your shoulder now." She stepped closer, saw the wound, and her eyes widened. "Damn! Oh, no. Sorry for the bad language. But oh my --what did you do? Turn around; watch your face. I'm gonna put the gauze on and then I have to use tape." We laughed, and I waited as she applied the pads of gauze and then, as promised, the tape. She applied one, then two; on the third strip, "Bam!" she said triumphantly and stepped back to survey her work.

2. I had to go to the warehouse club today to pick up a few Necessaries. In the specialty bread aisle, I got bogged down behind an elderly lady who was kind of In The Middle Of Things, having wandered off course. Suddenly, I heard It. There was no mistaking the sound, either. Nothing else sounds like that, really, when there's not little kids around trying to be funny or someone with a balloon or something. This lady absolutely had farted. Or worse. And it was loud. She just stood there with her cellphone, very nonchalant. Moments later, she turned to see me and let me pass. I sort of held my breath and moved along. About five minutes later, there she was again, blocking my path at the dairy cases, phone in hand again. Standing stock still. And...I heard it again! How is this possible? Is she just a Serial Farter? Is it an app or a text alert sound that one of her grandkids put on her phone and she can't change it? I know it's Not Just Me; I only heard it when I was near her. What is going on?

Any goofy stuff in your days lately?

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Thursday, August 16, 2018

Your True Hero, Scabs And All


"Here," said the gods of Irony, "because you have been trying valiantly to be A Good Girl and stick to your Wellness Regimen, and because your hideous haircut has finally begun to Grow Out Into A Decent And Presentable Style, we are going to Screw With You."

And so it was that Tuesday, on my brisk walk, I fell face-down, full-length on the sidewalk. And in case you haven't ever done that, it really, really hurts.

Walking in our neighborhood is no mean feat. Our tree-lined sidewalks are a mishmash of old rocky concrete, recent cement, and original sandstone full of holes, waves, and sometimes grass; many of them are lifted by the roots of innumerable old trees that may or may not be around anymore. And an ongoing gasline project has introduced The Sidewalks That Are No Longer There, which are uneven mounds of dried mud and gravel allsorts. I try desperately to keep my eyes on my path, but after a while, I have to look up or I get dizzy.

The first thing I thought of once I reckoned with my sudden fall was my teeth, which a quick assessment told me were all there and intact. I carefully rolled onto my side and attempted to get up--slowly--so I could see if I had any injuries that would keep me from getting home on my own. I was lucky; aside from being scraped and bloody, nothing was broken or sprained. Once I got home--two blocks away--I could more fully see what I was working with:

1. Bloody--but not split--upper lip and philtrum
2. Scraped chin and cheek
3. Two scraped knees
4. One scraped elbow
5. Bloody skinned shoulder
6. Damaged prescription sunglasses
7. Wounded pride and vanity
8. Confirmation that Exercise Is Bad

It is important here to note that I Did Not Cry.

Not even when I realized that, for the next Eleventy Thousand Days, I will have a scabby upper lip and look like a female Hitler. I even kept a medical appointment FOR THE SAME AFTERNOON. IN ALL MY INSANELY BLOODY GLORY. And pain.  (Holy crap am I sore.  Everywhere.)

And people say There Are No More True Heroes.

It is to laugh.

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Monday, August 06, 2018

The Greatest...Because I Say So


One day late last week I stepped out of the shower and I heard a fanfare of music; then a stentorian voice blared from the television in the bedroom. "Broadway's greatest musical is coming to Cleveland!" it announced. Immediately a list of contenders ran through my mind--none of which interested me, I might add, since I am not a fan of musicals--and I waited to hear the title, just out of Idle Curiosity. When the announcer finally did speak the name of The Musical, I was completely floored; there was not a single chance I'd have ever guessed it to be Broadway's Greatest, and I made up my mind to ask my mother, St. Patsy, Film And Musical Maven, her opinion.

So I did. I gave her the scenario and then gave her three guesses. Hers were stellar and completely plausible.

They were also, like all of mine, wrong.

I told her the answer, according to the commercial, and she was outraged. "Well, that's just ridiculous! Who said that's the greatest musical? I can only name one song from it!" And from there we both began naming all the other Better Musicals and the wonderful songs that came from them. Obviously, Broadway's Greatest Musical was NOT coming to Cleveland after all.

So, in the spirit of that dopey ad campaign that thought it could decide What Is The Greatest Of All, let's just declare what we think Is The Greatest in these random categories below. You don't have to explain your choices; just own them!

The Greatest...

1. Pasta Shape
Farfalle (Bowtie)

2. Vegetable
Asparagus

3. Ketchup
Heinz

4. Book
To Kill a Mockingbird

5. Band
The Beatles

6. Ice Cream
Häagen-Dazs Coffee

7. Actor
Daniel Day-Lewis

8. President
Abraham Lincoln

9. Poem
Tie: Annabel Lee and The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock

10. Candy
Peanut MM's

There!  These things are The Greatest because I say so. Now you can say so, too, in Comments. (Oh, and the Greatest Broadway Musical, according to that ad campaign? Hello, Dolly. Yeah, I don't think so, either. )

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