Sunday, December 29, 2013

MAXINE SPEAKS FOR ME

I saw this posted last year and again recently, updated for 2014.  I tried to find where it originated, but no luck.  So, not wanting to plagiarize, let me just issue a disclaimer:  THIS IS NOT SOMETHING ORIGINAL TO ME; I DON'T KNOW WHERE IT CAME FROM; I'VE SEEN IT ON OTHER BLOGS; DON'T SUE ME.

And this is often how I feel when I read all those forwarded emails and Facebook posts.  YIKES!  I haven't made any "resolutions" yet, but I think there might be one about STOP BEING AFRAID OF EVERY DAMN THING!

So….here's Maxine.  Long may she live.


As we progress into 2014, I want to thank you all for your educational e-mails over the past year. I am totally screwed up now and have little chance of recovery. 

I can no longer open a bathroom door without using a paper towel, nor let the waitress put lemon slices in my ice water without worrying about the bacteria on the lemon peel. 

 I can't sit down on a hotel bedspread because I can only imagine what has happened on it since it was last washed. 

 I have trouble shaking hands with someone who has been driving because the number one pastime while driving alone is picking one's nose. 

Eating a little snack sends me on a guilt trip because I can only imagine how many gallons of trans fats I have consumed over the years. 

I can't touch any woman's handbag for fear she has placed it on the floor of a public toilet. 

I must send my special thanks for the email about rat poo in the glue on envelopes because I now have to use a wet sponge with every envelope that needs sealing. ALSO, now I have to scrub the top of every can I open for the same reason. 

I can't use cancer-causing deodorants even though I smell like a water buffalo on a hot day.

Thanks to you I have learned that my prayers only get answered if I forward an e-mail to seven of my friends and make a wish within five minutes.  

I no longer use plastic wrap in the microwave because it causes seven different types of cancer. 

And thanks for letting me know I can't boil a cup of water in the microwave anymore because it will blow up in my face, disfiguring me for life. 

And thanks to your great advice I can't ever pick up a dime coin dropped in the car park because it was probably placed there by a sex molester waiting to grab me as I bend over. 

I can't do any gardening because I'm afraid I'll get bitten by the Violin Spider and my hand will fall off. 

If you don't send this e-mail to at least 144,000 people in the next 70 minutes, a large dove with diarrhea will land on your head at 5:00 p.m. tomorrow afternoon, and the fleas from 120 camels will infest your back, causing you to grow a hairy hump. I know this will occur because it actually happened to a friend of my next door neighbor's ex mother-in-law's second husband's cousin's best friend's beautician! 

Oh, and by the way... A German scientist from Argentina , after a lengthy study, has discovered that people with insufficient brain activity read their e-mails with their hand on the mouse Don't bother taking it off now, it's too late. 

P. S. I now keep my toothbrush in the living room, because I was told by e-mail that water splashes over 6 ft. out of the toilet... 


NOW YOU HAVE YOURSELF A VERY NEW YEAR.

Friday, December 20, 2013

A PLACE TO CALL HOME

I've been thinking about home lately and the cocoon it provides to my introverted inner self.

I am a homebody.  I love being surrounded by familiar sights, sounds, and smells.   I feel comfortable and safe.  I feel alive and relaxed.  I feel, well, "at home".  Even when traveling, I tend to want to return to places I've loved before, places that feel like "home" to me.  Maybe that's why Hub and I have only moved 3 times in our 41 years of marriage (and have been in this house for the past 31) and go to Kauai'i every single year and to a nearby port town for our annual December romantic getaway every holiday season.  Naturally, we've visited other places, but we tend not to adventure much -- we tend to return, again and agin, to places we know and love.

That said, every once in a while I get a hankering…and a wondering.  Am I living where I am meant to live?  Is there someplace else I would love even more?  I once met a guy who helped people find their "place".  By the way, this is what happens when an introvert wanders outside the immediate friendship fold and meets a stranger at a Kirtan retreat who is a 30-something, bearded, geographical astrologer; after two days he isn't a stranger anymore and what he says starts to make sense.   This guy, for a fee of some many dollars, offered to do a reading for me (basically a lengthy interview), and from that and the way the stars lined up at my birth or something, would discern the geographic location best suited for me -- body and soul.  It is amazing, he said, how often people's lives fall into the right rhythm when they finally find their "place".  Health improves, spirits lift, wealth flows.  Wow.

But the skeptic in me wonders if any place is forever fabulous.  That port town Hub and I love so much has been the subject of many years' pondering -- should we move there?  "It would be so awesome to live there!", we think.  But would it?  Would its relative isolation and smallish-ness come to feel claustrophobic?  Would we miss the bustle of a more urban area?  Our many good friends?  Our family  10 minutes away (instead of 2-1/2 hours)?  Is "home" just a place on a map, no matter how geographically perfect, or is it, after many, many years of putting down roots also a place of friends, family, memories, familiarity, connection, and commitment?

We could move.  We could go anywhere.  We have always had a "grass is greener" wandering eye, wondering in each place we've visited, "Would we want to live here?"  But we always came back home.  Now, though, there is no job holding us; the kids are grown; the house is too big; the maintenance expensive and wearying.   We know many folks our age who have left it all….those who have acted upon the stereotypical retirement dream of relocating to a warmer climate or a smaller town and starting over.  There is a part of me that actually feels some excitement about that -- the possibilities of a new place, a new life, a new beginning.  Yet….

There is so much holding me here.  So much I still love and want in my life that is RIGHT HERE, in my house, in my community, in my little corner of the world.  It could be I am tempted by the"idea" of a new life, but tempered by the reality that I'd just be taking this life right along with me no matter where I go.

Creating a home, I think, is an act of commitment to place and to spirit.  When those align we've found where we are meant to be.  The trick is to recognize it when it happens and to stop looking over our shoulders or scanning the horizon.  The trick, for me, is to be "home" no matter where I am -- here in my big, old, beautiful comfortable house -- and there -- on Kalapaki Beach, or the Palace Hotel, or in the back of my truck camper on a high mountain highway.  I am home.  I am home.

At least, that's the view from here….

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

SANTA BABY

Well, once again, 'tis the season for me to wrestle with the bipolar roller coaster that is my Christmas thrill ride of holiday mental states.  I both love and loathe this season for many reasons.  It is the epitome of all that is right and wrong in our culture.  No need for me to illuminate this thought much.  You get it, I'm sure.  It's everywhere -- the commercial excess, the mean-spirited greed, the peace of a full moon-lit night and the open-hearted generosity we remember to act upon.

And unbidden memories often come a-calling that are not in keeping with the season at all.

Today as I was sipping my Starbucks Decaf Peppermint Mocha, inching my way in heavy traffic down a city thoroughfare through a commercial strip that runs north and south in my city, I noticed on my right an establishment called Lover's Package.  There was a mannequin in the window dressed in red, in a rather more skimpy Santa suit than you see at the Mall.  Oh, and the mannequin was a shapely woman.  Barbie figure shapely.  Her "suit" was of fur and lace, set off by patent leather knee high boots.  Very Christmasy.

I was suddenly boosted from my grumpy holiday gloom and let out a LOL chuckle.  (ChOL?)  I recalled the one time I actually went inside that store many years ago.  Hub and I had been at a fundraiser at a social service agency nearby.  Maybe we had a couple of little glasses of wine.  Or three.  On a lark, we said, "Hey! Let's go in there!  Could be fun!"  So we did, rather sheepishly.

We are not prudes, but it is still a bit unsettling to wander among the DVD shelves displaying titles like, 'You've Got Male", "On Golden Blonde", "Good Will Humping"…. not to mention the many and varied tools and toys of the trade so brazenly displayed.  One tries not to make eye contact with other customers.  One hesitates to ask the clerk for assistance or recommendations of any kind.  One refrains from standing too close to the window facing the street and wishes their car was parked in a less conspicuous location.  One just wants to get the hell out after only a relatively short time.

One does NOT want to look up from studiously purusing the Pocket Rocket options to see one's elementary school-aged son's male PE teacher walking through the door.  Especially when one is the PTA President that year.

It would be a very discerning observer to be able to determine which face turned the most crimson as eyes met between PTA Mom and Mr. P.E., or to determine which did the most stammering, stalling, and making of excuses for being there.  PTA Mom finally just busted out the truth -- "I'm maybe a little tipsy and just thought this would be a lark; didn't expect to see anyone I knew."  Mr. P.E. claimed to be searching for a Stag Party gift and they didn't have what he wanted, so, "I'm leaving now."   PTA Mom challenged that lame excuse with a huge guffaw and wondered aloud…"What is that you could possibly want that they do not have in here???"  Then we both laughed and swore each other to secrecy.

On Monday morning,  when Mr. P.E. and PTA Mom met in the school hallway, there was a cordial nod.  Maybe there was even a slight smirk, but nothing was ever said of it again.   Ever.

And that is my happy Christmas tale for today.  I'm going to put Eartha Kitt's slightly racy rendition of Santa Baby on the stereo, and find solace that the Spirit works in mysterious ways to lift one from the doldrums.

At least, that's the view from here….

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

CIRCLES OF HELL

In a crisis-type situation, I'm not that courageous.  Mostly I fall apart.  For awhile anyway, then I can buck up and get relatively brave and do what has to be done with some resolve.

So when, after an entire adult lifetime of normal mammograms, I got called back for "further imaging due to changes since last mammogram" I did not take it in stride.  Nope.  Not at all.  I have a couple of teeny tiny risk factors and I always hold my breath just a smidge about it anyway.

I had a long few days of of bouncing from "Awww….I'm sure it's nothing" to vivid scenes of surgery, chemo, hair loss, and death bed farewells.  And lots of heart-racing, sweaty-palm anxiety, and crying; yes, lots of crying.  I hid out in my house for 24 hours, not even getting dressed.  I do not believe I have ever not gotten dressed; lazing 'round in PJ's and robe is just not my thing.  That's when I knew I was seriously freaked.

I do wish I wasn't like that.  I see it as a weakness of character.  I so admire those who can, you know, just soldier on, or barely give something like this another thought; actually believing the idea that "it's probably nothing."  But not me.   I go from zero to worst case scenario in far less than sixty seconds.  Six is more like it.

So, today I got nicely dressed, did my hair, put on a bit of make up (because damn it! fear can be pretty!)  and made my way to the Comprehensive Breast Center for another round of tests, possibly to include:  more imaging (tit in a wringer time again), ultrasound, and MRI.  In that order.

The first thing I saw upon entering the waiting room was a giant inflatable pink ribbon hanging from the ceiling like it got lost from the Macy's Day Parade.  I wanted to pop it.  The waiting room was jammed and I tried not to look at the other women.   I didn't want to wonder, to see, to connect about this thing.  I AM NOT ONE OF YOU!

I got checked in and sat down.  Long wait. So I started to look up from my nervous "reading" of the newspaper (without really concentrating on one word) and look around.  A few women were reading and looking quite calm.  One sat next to her husband and he occasionally helped her take a few sips of something from a cup with a straw.  Another sat near the door, weeping a bit.  Another sat next to me, legs crossed, foot swinging in the air, gulping deep breaths.  She, too, occasionally wiped a tear.

I don't believe I was wrong in my assessment that the energy in the room was fairly intense with terror.  I wiped some tears too.  But bravery was also on display.  The silent journey each woman was walking may have been telescoped to the close observer, but the casual passerby only saw a roomful of women, each patiently waiting for her name to be called.

Mine finally was.  I went back to another waiting room, after disrobing from the waist up and being handed a flimsy (but flowery feminine) little short-sleeved gown to wear, "open to the front, please".  The room was freezing and I noticed all of us from the first waiting room were now in the second circle of hell together and all hunched up against the chill.  Then I saw a sign that said "Gowns for Your Use" with an arrow pointing to a rack of still flimsy, but long-sleeved gowns.  I stood up to retrieve one, setting off a line up of other women grabbing them as well.  I said it wasn't as plush as I'd like, breaking the silent tension, I guess.  We laughed.  We joked about being half-naked in an ice box.  We agreed we'd rather be at the spa.  We were bonding, smiling at each other, holding our respective copies of Women's Day and Oprah and Living magazines on our laps, again waiting for our names to be called.

When it was my turn,  I was ushered into the mammography room for more imaging.  Five more 'pictures' of my errant left breast.  The technician mentioned she wouldn't be surprised if I also would get a sonogram while I was there.  I did not take this as encouraging news.  Then I was led to yet another waiting room.  I saw there, again, the woman from the first waiting room, the one who I'd first noticed crying.  She and I smiled at each other and wondered aloud how many waiting rooms we'd share that day.

In a jiffy my name was called again.  No sooner was I in the hallway than the technician said, "OK, you can go.  It's all clear this time…just some tissue folds or something that now are all flattened out.  Thanks for your patience."

WHAT?????  THANKS FOR COMING?????  The floodgates sort of opened then, shocking her, I think.  I didn't wail, but the tears of relief flowed freely.  She said she was sorry I had been scared; was sorry I had to wait to get in; sorry this is such an anxiety- producing, heart-wrenching thing.  She dropped the professional, "all in a day's work" facade and we hugged.

I love that the Comprehensive Breast Center does the work it does.  I am grateful for 21st century medical technology.  I am grateful for my healthy breasts.  And grateful for my life.

And I wonder how many Circles of Hell my sister travelers endured today... and will in the days ahead.  If I ever have to go again, I won't avoid their eyes.  Because I am one of them.  We all are.  So, I'll look right at those women waiting and try to convey, "Yeah, I'm scared too, sister.  Let's do this together."

At least, that's the view from here….



Tuesday, December 10, 2013

PAPERS AND POPES

Earlier today I posted a bit of a rant.  In contrast, here is an update on my newspaper delivery saga (see post from 11/17/13):

I finally found email addresses for the supervisors of the Circulation and Delivery Departments of the local paper and sent them my complaint.  I was articulate and reasonable.  I got an answer the same day and starting the next day and each day since, my newspaper has been delivered consistently just where the old route driver used to leave it.  So, I wrote another email, thanking everybody.  I got an answer that the driver would be given a Certificate of Appreciation.  I felt good about that.  I also gave the guy a nice tip this month.    See?  Happy ending!

Also, I just read on a FB post someone referred to the new, popular, and surprisingly candid Pope Francis  as "Frankie P".   That made me smile.

Remember, our crazy monkey minds love to create realities.  Let's give them something good to chew on….like people want to do good and good will prevail.  Smiling helps.  Laughter heals.

At least, that's the view from here….


RATINGS AND RANTINGS

I'm not a big fan of Katie Couric, except the time she took Sarah Palin to task (although I wanted her to push much, much harder).  
So, today when I read her mea culpa about airing a diatribe about the dangers of the HPV vaccine on a recent episode of her TV program, I felt both pleased (thanks for the apology) and disgusted (what were you thinking in the first place?!)

Her show, an afternoon talk-fest much like all the rest, is on at "prime time" for daytime TV watchers.  Sexist as it sounds, that audience is mostly women.  I think there are more guys home during the day than there used to be, but my guess is they are not tuned in to Katie.

Katie said she regrets not presenting a more balanced view and admitted that her own daughters have received the vaccine.  But in my mind the damage was done.  All the afternoon viewers already watched a grieving mother blame the vaccine for her daughter's death; another blame it for her daughter's ongoing, intractable health challenges.  How many took these emotional stories, designed to scare, to heart?  Where was the science?  Where were the stories of lives saved?

What was up, surely, is it must have been ratings month.  I noticed a strong uptick, as always, in advertising for local news broadcast "Undercover Stories" as the month of November unfolded.  I don't really follow the TV industry and their seasonal push for ratings too much, but I know there are still monitors and measures by which advertisers decide which shows to throw money behind.  And traditionally November is a "ratings" month.

So all the salacious stories are trotted out:  child prostitution, identify theft, secret lives of Happy Hooker wives; bullying unto death,  airbag asphyxiation, cell phones causing brain cancer…all of it.  Apparently the very worst of humanity's foibles, and all of our worst fears, are fodder for ratings.

The thing is, even when I turn off the tube, I'm still bombarded by fear and destruction.  Facebook, a place where I find much that is fun and good, a place where I stay in touch and exchange good wishes and condolences and clever repartee with my friends,  is also a forum for some for near constant barrages of "doom and gloom".  I'm very, very tired of finding posts of warning about all sundry of personal, political, and global maladies.  I KNOW IT!  I KNOW EVERYTHING SUCKS!  Like most people I am doing what I can, when I can, how I can, to make my little bitty corner of this big awful world better.  That's my response, offered with some defensiveness, I know.  But damn it, if I wanted to feel guilty all the time I'd go back to being a Lutheran.  (Sorry to all the nice Christians I know.  But really, there is that thing about us all being sinners that's a little hard to feel good about.)

But I guess I am guilty too of posting on my own pet issues.  My "thing" is gun control and I occasionally post about that.  My "thing" is being a liberal Democrat outraged at times by the craziness that is the Tea Party.  But do I really think I am changing any minds with my posts?  No, I'm just preaching to the choir, and folks, so are you.  This choir member would like to take a time out.

Yes, I'm feeling grumpy today and it's not fun, really, in this season of merry and bright.  I just wanna know, can we please take a break from scaring, berating, and shaming?  Can we just stop hating the Right or the Left or The Man or whoever is the 'bad guy' du jour?  I would like that.

At least, that's the view from here….

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

TUTORIAL ON POSTING COMMENTS ETC

I've had people ask me, "Hey, how do I leave a comment on your blog?"  Hmmm…you want me to figure that out for you, huh?  Well, I'll try.  (Let me know if this is unhelpful and I'll try again.)

Here's what I think you do:  At the end of each post there's a gray box that looks like this:


See where it says No comments: ?  It says that because no one has posted a comment.  (If someone does post a comment, it will say how many comments.)  To post a comment just click on the words No comment (or 2 comments or whatever) and it will  open a box for you to write your comment, hit "post" and then your comment will be sent to me for review (so I can weed out the ones I don't like hahahahaha) and I will post it (promise) and there ya have it!

The caveat is that if you don't have a "google account" or something, it will ask you to create one.  I avoided this for a long time when looking at other blogs, but then finally I just did it and my world has not shifted off its axis and I do not get unwanted googling.  I think you'll be fine.

If you don't want to actually write anything but have some vague reaction to the post, you can just click those Reaction boxes and there will appear a tally of how many people reacted in a certain way to the post.

That pencil icon is not for you -- it's for me to click on to edit a post.  You may think I never use this tool, but I actually do.  A lot.  Like right now, I'm back in fixing a couple of typos.

Also, the Labels notation you see are the keywords in each post so that if you want to see all my posts that have some political content, for example, you would click on "politics" and boom!  all my posts about, or mentioning, politics are at your disposal.  Fun, huh?

Thanks to you who send comments via email too.  I often remove identifying info about you and post those comments here myself to entice more discussion among readers.   That rarely happens, but I feel sort of good about at least a couple of comments showing up on my post.

I hope this helps.  Give it a try!

PS  I have no idea why the banner heading on the blog has the text all crunched up on the left and no text at all across the banner.  I have tried, believe me, I have tried to remedy this.  If you can offer me a tutorial on fixing that, I'd appreciate it.  In the meantime, I blame Blogspot.

At least, that's the view from here….