Split Personality

I almost changed the name of my blog today.

I read recently that if you are going to be a writer- you have to take yourself seriously and treat yourself like a writer. Huh? The idea being, that if you are going to take the time to write a story, you should have the balls to put your name on it and put it out there. Hiding behind an alter ego is fun but it might also be a cop out. I wasn’t sure if Gypsy Girl Jilly was real or a cop out.

My real name is Jill Anderson. There. I wish I had a neat story about how my Mom decided to name me Jill for some meaningful purpose – but the truth of the matter is that she couldn’t think of anything else. She was reading a magazine in the hospital after just giving birth and read an article about a person named Jill and she decided she liked it. Plus, Anderson is a long last name so she wanted something short so that I could fit my name in the allotted space on documents. Hence, I became Jill Anderson.

Nobody calls me that though. At least not people who know me. My Dad always called me “Jill the Pill”. He used to say I was a pill.  It may not have been a compliment. I was head strong, talkative, independent… pretty much straight out of the womb. I did my own thing from the get go. I don’t recall asking for much advice or permission from my parents when I was a kid. I just did it and either did not get caught or asked for forgiveness on the  occasions I got busted for doing something I shouldn’t have been doing or been somewhere I had no business being. When you are born the last of three girls to parents who are a bit older than regular parents… things happen.

Everybody else calls me Jilly. That is who I really am. Jilly loves dogs, reading, boat rides and adventures. Jilly loves to laugh. She has a soft heart and a long memory. She has the scars to prove it. Mostly, Jilly loves whatever is coming next. She can get antsy if she stays in one place too long or becomes stagnant in her daily life. She is a Gypsy. This is both a blessing and a curse. Being a Gypsy sounds good in theory, but day to day living requires fortitude when it comes to building a career and family…both of those areas have given me a lot of trouble in life.  Forever is a very long time.

I am about half way through my life. You would think that the urge to throw everything into the back of your truck and start driving West would subside. If anything, it gets worse. I am working on some ways to manage the urge to head for the hills. It seems counter-intuitive, but I have been making some changes in my life to become more structured. What?? That seems nuts. (That is GGJ talking.)

I am an optometrist. This May I will have been practicing for 22 years. Can you believe it? Me either. I became an optometrist because I wanted to please my parents and I was good at science and quite frankly I did not know what to do with my life. I was good at school so I kept going to school. People ask me if my passion is “eye stuff” and I say “Nope.” They can’t believe it. I think it is because I act fairly normal at the office.

For 18.5 years I worked as an employee for other doctors or for big corporations. I made a comfortable living and worked with some good people who became friends. I lived in a bunch of different towns and had a couple of houses and/or great apartments.

Eventually, I kind of settled down in my old hometown. I purchased a super cute house with a big yard with a little river running through the back. I spent a lot of time and effort fixing it up.  It was perfect… until one day I came home from working on a Saturday. All of my friends and family were out having fun. I took my beloved dog Macy for a walk. Something happened on that walk. I realized that I would not be able to spend the next 20 years working nights and weekends for someone else. If I was going to work this hard- it had to be for myself. I went home and looked up the For Sale ads for optometry practices in my area.

I found it right away. There was a listing for a small practice in Oshkosh, WI. It was a friend of mine who was retiring. I gave him a buzz. He had another interested party, so I had to act fast. I went to look at the practice the next day and two weeks later I bought it. In hindsight, it was a big decision and a normal person would have thought about it a bit. I am a leaper before looker kind of person. When it works out – its great, but when it doesn’t…well the drop can be a killer. This time, it worked out.

I bought the practice and worked hard to make it my own. Three and a half years later, I find myself being the happiest I have been in a long time. Optometry-wise anyway.  At the office I am Dr. Jill. Monday through Friday I am Dr. Jill.

My personal life has been a little schizoid. That can happen. Recently, I was forced to take a long, hard look at the choices I have made in my personal life. My life hasn’t exactly gone as I had anticipated. No husband or kids. No tattoos. Nothing permanent.

I would love to blame it on other people. Trust me, I have tried. That works for the first 25 years of your life but after that no one cares if your Dad loved you enough or being raised Catholic makes you an chronic sinner and guilt ridden person. At some point, you have to grow up.

I don’t think I ever grew up. Not really.

When did you start making decisions and acting on your own accord? When did you learn how to say “No.”?  When did you learn to walk away from people, places and things that were not good for you? When did you figure out what it was that you really needed to be content?

For me it happened…

It hasn’t totally happened yet. I am working on it.

Time has started to shift for me. In one way it has slowed down…and in another it has sped up.  My axis has shifted and thus the gravitational pull of my tides has changed.  (This is a little woo hoo, but stick with me.)  Even if all else has stayed the same… everything is still different.  Nothing stays the same. No one stays the same. To think it can be that way is…. unrealistic. It is a direct path to disappointment, resentment, dissatisfaction and ultimately failure. Failure to communicate, failure to thrive, failure to find peace.

Next year I will be 50 years old. Part of me thinks that it has gone super fast… and another part of me thinks it has taken forever. The old adage is true… time speeds up as you get older. The last ten years of my life has gone much faster than the first ten years of my life. A minute is not a minute, a day is not a day. Someone needs to figure out a new calculation for time.  It’s got to be a fraction equation. I always get confused when you try to multiply or divide fractions. You have to flip everything upside down and backward.

Let’s see… where was I? Oh yes. I am trying to be more structured in an effort to gain freedom.  

I am figuring stuff out. You can’t be a dodo bird airhead your whole life.

A lot of headache and heartache stems from worries about money. I haven’t always been the greatest when it comes to finances. It’s not my thing. But, it should be. So, I now have professional people in my life who help me. I am slowly getting over the fear that I will be homeless and eating cat food when I am old. It’s always there though. It has made me afraid. For a long time, I was afraid to buy a practice. It’s a big investment. Then I did it, and it’s been the best thing for me.

So, now I am taking it a step further. I just bought a building. Instead of paying rent to a stranger, I will be paying the bank to eventually own the building. It will take awhile… it’s a commitment. But, it’s a commitment to myself and my future.

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I used to say I wanted to be free so that I could move away. Back when I was afraid to buy a practice, an old friend/vendor of mine that has known me since year one pointed out that if I wanted to move away I probably would have done so by now- having stayed in a one hour radius of my hometown for the last 18.5 years. That comment pushed me over the edge to buy a practice. He was right.

I am staying. Time to make an office that will grow with me and be comfortable.

The project is expensive and Dr. Jill will admit to feeling some stress and nerves about the whole thing. Gypsy Girl Jilly is loving it and is making friends with the demo guys. She is baking them cookies and can’t wait to get upstairs to rip out the old carpet to see if the wood floors are worth saving. There is an ancient old gas stove upstairs and she wants to keep it. Dr. Jill is hoping there will be enough $$ to get a new stove and new bathtub. GGJ doesn’t care.

Just when I was back to normal finances, I went and bought a building so now I feel broke again. Back to living frugally. Damn. Actually, it not that bad. I have found out a couple of things. Most of the stuff I really like to do is free. I love walking in the woods. That’s free. I love listening to music. That’s mostly free. I love reading. I used to buy a ton of books, but now I download them from the library. That’s free. I love writing little stories. That’s free. That’s a lot of stuff for free. Free- dom. I am getting there.

I am hoping that there will be enough spending money to do some traveling down the road. GGJ loves to see new places. A good road trip once in awhile should do the trick. Years ago when I was making lots more money, I went on a trip to New Orleans and stayed at the Ritz Carlton. It was super fancy and quiet. It was almost too fancy and too quiet. I was afraid to laugh too loud.

I will be satisfied to drive somewhere with the windows open and stay at a Mom and Pop place on the side of the road. Dr. Jill will be nervous about getting killed, but GGJ will see it as an opportunity to gather some story making material.

I can’t quite see my future all the way to the end. I feel pretty good about the next 15 years or so. I am going to be Dr. Jill at the office and GGJ outside of the office. I fought it for a long time. I have finally come to the conclusion that it is both of these sides of myself that make me a complete person. They need each other.

Gypsy Girl Jilly is the one who writes these stores. Therefore, she gets the title.

GGJ

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Flying Too Close To The Sun

I had a farm in Africa…

No, not really but lately I have been receiving some cosmic mojo from Isak Dinesen’s book Out of Africa.

You know, the one that was made into a fab movie starring Meryl Streep and Robert Redford. She played Karen Blixen, a gutsy Scandinavian who married a Barron to get away from her family. He was a very likeable sort, and they really were good friends. That being said- he had numerous affairs and gave her syphilis. She survived by having terrible treatments (this was before penicillin, bummer) leaving her unable to have children. Denys Finch Hatton, played by Robert Redford, was the gorgeous ex-soldier turned game hunter who loved freedom more than anything or anyone else. He was an addicting combination of extremely capable (no lion is going to eat you on his watch) and well-read and a bit romantic. In the movie he washes her hair by the river while reciting poetry to her. That will do it. Sign me up.

But wait, hold on! There is more to the story and I just found out about it this week.

If you recall in the movie there is a character of a young tomboy named Felicity. She and Karen were fond of each other and became friends. She is sent to school and comes back gorgeous and well mannered. Karen later does not like it that Denys is taking Felicity flying with him. Remember that? Oh yes, my kitties. There is more to the story than that.

Here it is.

That character was based on a real person. That person was Beryl Markham. Beryl grew up kind of wild. Her father was a horse breeder and trainer. His wife took his son and returned to Europe leaving him alone to raise Beryl. From all accounts she was tall, gorgeous, extremely talented with horses and most certainly a woman before her time. She was married three times, had a few open affairs….one with a Prince but that was shut down by the royal family.

She was friends with Karen Blixen. She also had an affair with Denys Finch Hatton and may or may not have been impregnated by him and had an abortion. Wow!

It is reported that on the day Denys Finch Hatton was killed in a plane crash… he had first asked Karen to join him and she said “No.” He then asked Beryl to join him and she was asked not to go by a flying friend who had a bad feeling about flying that day. She said, “No.” She felt there would be other days to fly.

Denys’s plane went down that day.

Karen went back to Europe and became a writer. She had been writing stories all along and published her first story at age 22. Her marriage and the coffee farm in Africa were but one part of her life. It was that life that she recorded in Out of Africa which was first published in 1937. She also wrote Babette’s Feast which was also made into an Academy award winning film. It won the 1987 Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film. The name is familiar to me but I have not seen the film. I hope to do so this weekend. It is reported to also be a favorite of Pope Francis.

This is also interesting to me because I am getting some religious vibes. More on that later.

As for Karen, after she left Africa she continued to have some ups and downs. It seems to me that her success as a writer did allow her some fun. She became a bit of a character herself and was regarded as being eccentric and a bit of an outsider. I could find no more mentions of lovers or relationships after Denys. She was plagued by health problems and it is widely believed that she was anorexic. It is thought she died in 1962 of malnutrition.

Beryl Markham broke the rules. She grew up wild, got married and divorced a bunch of times, and had a few affairs with men who seem to have been very interesting. Go Girl!

She was the first woman to become a licensed racehorse trainer in Kenya. She later was the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic from east to west. She wrote a memoir, West with the Night, that I am dying to read. Her book did not receive very much attention when it was first published.

Later, in 1982 in a collection of Ernest Hemingway’s letters it was found that Hemingway himself praised the book saying, “But this girl, who is to my knowledge very unpleasant and we might even say a high-grade bitch, can write rings around all of us who consider ourselves as writers….it really is a bloody wonderful book.”

That spurred some interest in the book and it was republished in 1983. The proceeds allowed a now broke Beryl to live the rest of her life in modest comfort.

If you want to read more about these people/characters in a fictionalized setting check out Paula McLain’s book Circling the Sun. I just read it and that is why this story is being written. Oh Paula, what road have you gotten me going down?

As for me…

Many of you know that I am single and have never been married. No kids. There have been a few romances along the way… good ones…bad ones…. They were all worth it. Am I like Karen and Beryl? Am I destined to be alone at the end of my days with nothing but a few good stories to tell? Would that be okay? Maybe, I think to myself. Maybe.

Something has shifted. I think maybe it is stemming from the yoga I have been doing this past year. Last night I went to a sound immersion- a combination of restorative yoga and then resting while a sound therapist plays gongs and chimes. I did not think anything was happening to me. Suddenly, I was fully awake, right before the crescendo. I was energized and knew that I could handle it. I was AWAKE. I wanted to jump up and run out of that room and get GOING.

Where are you going and what are you going to do, you ask?

Well, for starters I am going to STOP WORRYING.

I signed a contract to purchase a historic building. I plan to gut it and design a new optometry office. I had to give my notice this week to my current land lord- so I am officially past the point of no return. I was stressing out about the building stuff- rules, rules, rules! Who knew that renovating a building could be such a hassle. But I have found the right architect and he is going to steer me through the mine fields of historic building renovation and City codes… I have faith. He is good at what he does and I am going to let him do his thing.

I am going to RELINQUISH CONTROL.

I think this is the underlying basis for pretty much everything that is happening in my life.

I overthink everything.

Thinking can be good. There is nothing wrong with attention to detail and striving for excellence. Perfection on the other hand… is a nasty word that needs to be destroyed. What is perfection? Can perfection endure the test of time and forces of nature? I have tried to be perfect. The perfect daughter, sister, friend, and lover… I can state with certainty that perfection is at a minimum fleeting and most likely nonexistent.

What is it then? What am I craving? What am I needing?

I think what I need is to be able TO BE MYSELF.

I want to try. I don’t always care if I succeed. I want to try to write a novel. Who cares if it is bad? I want to travel to places I haven’t been. Who cares if I don’t like it? I want to cook and bake and eat and drink. Who cares if I am not as skinny as I was in 1987, or 1996, or 2005? I want to be me and I want to eat some bread, dammit! My face and my boobs are certainly showing the effects of gravity. Who cares? I might not look as good- but I do have some good stories to tell. I want to have lots more of those stories to tell before I end up too old to remember or dead. I want to do those things with people who like being with me and don’t expect me to be perfect. I want to be able to disagree at times and have messy hair without fear of abandonment. I want to be able to wear my flannel pj’s with holes in them and still feel desired. Is that possible? I may have gone too far.

As for being alone, I have seen with my own eyes that most of us do end up alone. It is probably a good thing to be comfortable with that from the get go.

What are the rules? I do not know….rules, rules, rules! I am not a big fan. What is good for me, might not be good for you. Who is to say?

Yesterday I was speaking with a lady who is helping me find new health insurance. My current plan is being axed from Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield. I buy my own health insurance and have for many years. The whole thing is a mess. Anyway, she told me I have a few options. One is to buy traditional insurance. The other way is to join a group of individuals who are Christians who “help” one another with medical expenses in a Christian way. She asked me if I was a Christian? I said, “Yes” because I grew up going to St. Mary Magdalene every Sunday and CCD every Wednesday of my young life until I turned 19 and started tending bar. That was the end of that. However, I still pray to St. Rita and I have faith. I am not sure if that qualifies as a resounding yes, but I think that got me over the first hurdle. Ok, now on to the second question. Am I interested in helping others? That one was easy. Sure! I am a definite “Yes” for helping others. The last question…Am I living my life in a way that upholds Christian beliefs? Uh oh. What does that mean exactly? Well, for this model of medical sharing (they don’t call it insurance) it means that if you engage in behavior that is not considered acceptable… you will not be covered if you hurt yourself or get diseases. No smoking, no drinking and driving and getting into accidents. No sexual relationships outside of marriage. Birth control isn’t covered. You get the drift.

For the most part- I do live a Christian life. I am not 100%. You had probably figured that out by now. I thought a lot about that. I am a sinner. I sent a text to a good friend and told him I could save $2300 bucks a year. He replied it might be worth $2300 bucks a year to have fun. Lol.

So, I am going to pay extra and get traditional health insurance. I just don’t want to have to LIE about anything or pretend I am someone I am not to save money.  I will stick with St. Rita (patron saint of lost cases) and try to live a good life.

Maybe I am like Karen and Beryl. In some ways I think that would be great. Maybe if all goes well I will have a better ending. I will work on that. Before you can have an ending though there must be a beginning.

I bought a historic building in Oshkosh…

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Old Boots And A New Attitude

Another New Year’s Eve and another New Year’s Day is in the books. How did it work out for you?

This is my take on it.

New Year’s Eve: Otherwise known as amateur night. Enough said.

New Year’s Day: Ground zero for the rest of the year. The burden of last year is shed, the hopes and dreams of the New Year begins. Since I gave up going out drinking (on New Year’s Eve) a few years back, I no longer start the year with a massive hangover. Nice. This year my 87 year old Mom and I went to the Casino. We lost but had fun. We also watched the movie Unbranded on Netflix which was pretty good. It reminded me that I need to head West again. The landscapes are unbelievable. My travels have been in other directions lately- time to turn it around.

I find resolutions to be oddly fascinating. On one hand, it has been proven that people who make short, medium and long term goals are more successful. On the other hand, I think it is kind of un-Zen to want your life to be vastly different from the life you are actually living. What’s a girl to do?

I did make two resolutions and so far I am doing okay.

Resolution 1:     Travel more. I didn’t go anywhere exotic or new… but I did go to Hartman’s State Park twice to snowshoe and hike around the woods. The weather was perfect Saturday. Sunny with a high temp around 30 degrees. We saw a lot of people and everybody was friendly and good natured. I think people who voluntarily go out in the woods are generally good. Sunday’s weather was a little on the gloomy side but still fun. The fresh air does wonder for my disposition and allows me to sleep much better. My hiking boots are worn out from the inside out. It’s time for a new pair of boots.boot.JPG

I am going to work on my list for real trips tonight. I think at least one trip must be to somewhere I have never been before.

Resolution 2: No more working on Sundays. I have vowed to keep Sunday a day for zero work. I struggled with this a bit today as I am needing to get some end of the year book-keeping done. The last few weekends I have been painting the office. It’s always something. Starting now, I am going to try to use Sundays for exercise, reading, going to movies, listening to bands, spending time with people I love…. I haven’t been doing much of that and I think it is starting to show.

Because of Resolution 2, I had some time on my hands today. That can be a dangerous thing. I started to obsess about common resolutions and wonder if I should be joining the club. It got me into a twisted state of mind. I needed a word that would be socially acceptable but still convey a negative connotation- hence the use of the word “bag”. We all know dirt bags, wind bags…I have a few more bags to add to the list. This is what happens when common resolutions go bad. A person is in danger of becoming one of these. I know, because I either have been or may still be several of these things.

Love-Bag: This is a person who makes a New Year’s Resolution that this is the year they will find true love and finally engage in a healthy relationship. The tricky bit is that is actually takes a lot of energy to seek out and get to know a new person. Hence, it is tempting to try to recycle old relationships in the hope that one or both partners have changed their wicked ways and things will be wonderful. Trust me on this one. People don’t change, myself included. It’s just that meeting a new person is so exhausting. It takes years to get to a place where you can wear your flannel jammies, hair in a ponytail and eat cold pizza on the couch while watching Game of Thrones. Sigh. If there is someone out there that I already know and you aren’t too messed up from previous relationships and you are okay with the above scenario…. Give me a buzz.

Money-Bag:       This is a person who resolves to max out the 401K’s, Roth IRA’s, HSA’s and not have any credit card debt. Except that in mid-January the credit card for Christmas comes and January in general is an expensive month. Insurance policies, professional dues …. Lots of bills to pay in January. Plus, I am a Total Rewards credit card member and if I get enough points they treat me nicer in Vegas where I can budge to the head of the line at buffets and get talked into upgrades I don’t need.

I need to look up whoever invented compound interest. Brilliant and devious at the same time. Good when it is in your favor and a real bitch when it is against you. It had to be invented by the Romans or the Greeks… I will check it out and get back to you.

Carbo-Bag: This is person who resolves to never eat anything “white” again. No bread, potatoes, rice, pasta, or sugar. I had today off so I tried this. I even made a new Pinterest topic for healthy recipes. Until I decided that I don’t want to pretend blended up garlic and cauliflower is mashed potatoes. Trying to pick a diet plan can be exhausting.

I was talking to my sister while walking in the woods. I am going to try to keep track of how much water I drink (not booze or soda) and try to eat 6 servings of vegetables a day. That’s it. The rest can stay. I figure if I eat 6 servings of vegetables per day and drink a lot of water, there may not be room for a lot of other stuff. Plus, the idea of not eating pizza once in a while makes me feel bitchy. Real bitchy.

After much thought I think resolutions are okay. The whole point is to keep trying to improve…..Our health, wealth and relationships. If we didn’t take one day a year to evaluate and reset ourselves all hell could break loose.

I really like the idea of putting a positive spin on things and make it about all of the things we will do instead of all of the things we can’t do. Restrictions don’t sit well with me. Whatever you are dreaming of or hoping for – I wish you well.

Now that I think about it, resolutions are totally Zen. Your mind has to get there first before the rest of you can catch up. It’s kind of like my boots. From the outside they look perfectly fine. When you look inside you can see all of the miles I put in to get to this point. You can’t get very far if you don’t take the first step.

I say go for it!

GGJ

 

 

Bumble Bee Boots and The End of Days

I just returned from a long weekend in Asheville, NC. I went to an optometric conference and spent most of the time in a windowless room.

Traveling is so weird. Especially when you are alone. It really brings out the best and/or worst in a person. Myself included.

Here’s how it went.

My flight to Asheville had a stop in Atlanta. No prob. Except the pilot must have been a rookie because he stopped too short and while everyone got up and started to line up to depart- we got an announcement that we all had to sit down again so we could move forward about 5 feet. I was still sitting so I didn’t care. I had a lady next to me who was seriously frantic about getting out of the plane. We were waiting and waiting and she was flipping out. Finally, I said to her, “Do you want me to let you out ahead of me? It’s not like there is anywhere to go.” She settled down after that. We all got out of the plane and I high tailed it to the airport train and got to my next flight. It was tight but I got there. I figure the brisk walk and effort to hump it to the gate counted as exercise so I felt pretty good.

On the second flight I sat next to a very nice lady who was traveling from Anchorage, AK to see her friend in Asheville. It was her 4th flight of the day. Yikes. Shortly after we sat down, a really tall older guy wearing bright yellow hiking boots with a bumble bee on one boot and a hive on the other (I cannot make this stuff up) who was wearing a bright blue fedora and had his neck pillow already around his neck plopped down in the seat ahead of my nice Alaskan lady and put his seat all the way back. We just looked at each other. The flight hadn’t left yet. Everybody knows that is against the rules.

We both were annoyed. I was mostly annoyed on my new friend’s behalf. I whispered to her, “I think we can take him!” and then I made a fist and punched my other hand. She just looked at me. It was her 4th flight after all. After a few moments she said, “Thanks, I think.” We laughed and things were better. A flight attendant went by and we both silently pointed and made a lot of gestures and she made bumble bee boots man move his ass.

He was problematic on the exit of the plane as well, as of course he stored his massive carry on many rows in back of his seat, so it created a mess. Alaska lady and I capitalized on the confusion and slipped by him during the chaos. We walked down the jet-way and wished each other a fun weekend. She met her friend and they were jumping up and down and laughing and hugging. Nice. I got the last cab in the line and we were starting to head out of the line when…… NO!  Bumble bee boots man tried to flag down the cab. I was freaking out! Luckily, the cab driver rolled down the window and told him another cab would be coming soon. Sigh of relief.

GPI 6I stayed at the Grove Park Inn which should be on everybody’s To Do list. It is a massive, historic inn that has housed many interesting people over the years. I stayed in the old part of the hotel. The first night I woke up – feeling like I wasn’t alone- and I felt like there was a man in the room. Finally, I turned on the light. No man. Hmmm…..I’m not sure about that one.  He didn’t come back again during my stay so I cannot say for sure if I had a visit from a spirit/ghost or not. It wasn’t super scary, more like there is a guy standing in the corner thing.  He for sure was not wearing yellow boots.GPI room fixture

The conference was like all conferences. Everyone kind of picks where they like to sit and that’s where you hang out for three days. I am a back row or second to back row kind of person.GPI elevator

I kind of feel sorry for the speakers of today, because it must be dis-heartening to see everyone looking down at their crotches while you are talking.

One of the speakers was really, really good and called us out on the phone stuff. We all started to participate in the discussion and I learned a lot. It was about neuro-optometry. Like how to tell if it is an eye problem – or if your patient has a brain tumor kind of talk. Good stuff.

When you are alone and traveling you have to figure out how you are going to feed yourself.  The GPI has a bunch of different dining options… and I tried them all. I had breakfast included as part of my stay and it was a gigantic buffet. I had the same server (Juan) every day. We got to know each other. He is originally from Spain and is married to another lady who is a teacher and works at the GPI as well. She was nice too. She is originally from Minnesota so we were all cheering for the Green Bay Packers when they played the Panthers on Sunday. We lost. On Monday he whispered to me, “Sorry, for your loss!” and we laughed.

So, while I was alone the whole time. I wasn’t lonely the whole time. There is a big difference.

The last day of the conference was a half day of class. After that I was at loose ends. I spent part of the time hanging out in the bar watching football and then I high tailed it to the spa. It was very nice. Possibly the best massage of my life and the facilities are amazing.GPI spa

I was just out of the sauna and cooling off when a nice lady asked me if I was there with my husband.  “I don’t have a husband”, I said. She looked at me. I didn’t explain like I sometimes do. Sometimes I say, “I am too mean to be married.” That is always a winner. Anyway, the nice lady was in town for a religious conference by Billy Graham’s daughter.  The nice lady proceeded to tell me that she thinks it really is “the end of days” and that (I cannot recall the proper religious term) God is going to destroy the world to punish us, and that she isn’t sure that there will be a Rapture, but that she really, really hopes so……

Ok, I am such the wrong person for this conversation. Plus, I was still all goo goo gaga from my massage so I wasn’t able to process anything much less the demise of……everything. I just smiled and said, “Well, let’s try to turn this thing around one person at a time!”  She left soon thereafter.

I wasn’t upset about the encounter. I just don’t get it. I ran into a few more religious ladies on the flight home and I must say that they were all impeccably well-groomed and wore gigantic diamond wedding rings.  Like I said, I don’t get it. I spied on a lady in front of me on the plane home and she was reading a pamphlet about Hades and something about a Gold Throne. I might Google it. I love the Games of Thrones, but it is clearly not that kind of Throne. Don’t hate me, I just don’t remember any of this stuff from the 16 years of CCD I had every Wednesday growing up.

We had a rough landing into Atlanta and when we finally screeched to a stop, I did a little quiet clapping, laughed and said, “Landing is always good.” My seatmate said, “A-men!”

Monday was kind of a rough travel day. I don’t know if it is because everyone is hung over, depressed about football, or just mad in general. It had been raining for three days so that did not help.

The lady at the TSA desk where you prove who you are was a real piece of work. Picture an older woman with long, stringy gray hair. There was an older gentleman in front of me who clearly does not travel often. She yelled at him about everything. He finally got cleared and she turned her attention to me. I had used the airport kiosk to print out my boarding passes and baggage claim ticket and had tucked everything in my passport and handed it to her. She proceeded to hand me back the pieces paper one by one and tell me why she didn’t need it….sigh…and more sighs.  I had my baggage claim ticket in there and I made a little joke, “I hope I don’t need this one!” Haha! Nope. She then proceeded to yell at me that of course I needed it and that it was my responsibility to prove that luggage was mine. And so it went. Finally, I just said, “Are we done here?” She was a misery. I ran into the older gentleman and told him that she had yelled at me too. He said, “She needs to go back to bed and start all over!” We laughed.

This is when you are probably thinking, “Oh GGJ, give her a break, you don’t know what she has going on her life and who are you to judge?” True dat. All I know is that the waiting area for the flight to Atlanta slowly filled up with a lot of angry, grumpy people.

She made me think of a potential plot for an episode of Criminal Minds. She would play the Mom of a serial killer/sexual predator and knows what is going on but makes him cookies anyway. Then they get rid of the bodies in the hog pen.

Remember when I said traveling brings out the worst in people…. me too! Mean, mean, mean!

May I make a suggestion? Let’s get rid of the cheap tickets. Can someone please just charge me a fair rate, treat all passengers equally and figure out how to handle carry-on baggage?

The miracle of flight still amazes me. I was able to get to my destination in 5 hours when it would have taken me 18 hours to drive. That is amazing!

When did we start to expect to fly somewhere (anywhere) for a cost less than what it would take to purchase gas and drive? I fully expect to pay for convenience and time. For the love of God, please start charging more! Throw in one bag. Charge me, I don’t care. Charge more for good seats, I don’t care. Have the overhead compartments labeled according to the seats…. Don’t let the business travelers hog all of the space.  Try loading the plane from the back to the front so that we don’t have to jostle the fancy folks while we go to the back.

Let’s bring back the adventure of air travel.

Like I said earlier, traveling brings out the best and the worst in people.

That is the beauty. We find ourselves, we learn about others and we learn to appreciate everything we take for granted in our daily lives. When I haven’t traveled for a while I get antsy and wonder what I am missing. Then I go somewhere and after some time passes…. I can’t wait to go home. That is a beautiful thing.

A few years ago I went on vacation with one of the Sisters. At the end of our vacation she was ready to go home.  I wanted to just keep going. That was not good. I figured out a few things and made some changes…

I still love to leave, but I now I love to come home too.  Forward progress.

Is it the end of days? I don’t know. I hope not. Just in case, it doesn’t hurt to make sure  to say the things we need to say, do the things we need to do, and live like there may not be too many tomorrows…. But only if we use our powers for good. I still think we can turn this thing around- one person at a time.GPI 7 rocking chairs

GGJ

My Latitude Made Me Do It

I just watched a TV show (Mind of a Chef, Season 3) where Edward Lee mentioned that he has found that he is comfortable and “home” at a certain latitude. His places happen to be Louisville, KY and Korea. His latitude is 38.25 N.

My latitude is 44N. I have spent the majority of my life living plus or minus 2 degrees of this latitude. I was born here, so it’s not like I picked it. Central Wisconsin, baby! Interestingly, when I went to Optometry School I chose to attend Pacific University College of Optometry in Oregon. Right outside of Portland. Yep, you guessed it…..45 N. I loved it. The physical beauty of the landscape, the people who became my friends…. Everything.

Very interesting…I think Edward Lee is on to something. I wonder if we are somehow programmed to become comfortable with the amount of daylight or darkness dictated by the changing of the seasons.

Is there some kind of magic associated with living at a certain latitude? Alaskans seem like happy people, as do those gorgeous smiling Scandinavians. How can that be? Hmmm…Anchorage is 61 North and both Oslo, Norway and Stockholm, Sweden are at 59 North.

Compared to let’s say…..who seems grumpy? The first person who popped into my mind was the leader of North Korea who freaked out about the movie The Interview…what’s his name again? Kim Jong-un. His latitude of birth is 39N. So that got me to thinking about more bad guys and I just had to look up Charles Manson. Hold on, you are not going to believe this….born in Cincinatti, OH which just happens to be latitude 39 N.

Perhaps match.com should implement a new question regarding latitude into its database.

It’s not like we don’t have our fair share of lunatics here at 44 N.

We are just a stone’s throw away from Plainfield, WI. Birthplace and home of Ed Gein. He liked to make people into lampshades and other stuff. A friend of mine just got a wooden ship model with “canvas” sails for his birthday- supposedly made by Ed Gein. I have to wonder about those sails…. What are they really made of???? Creepy, but very interesting. There are more serial killers and whatnot but I have to stop or this story will never end.

I really don’t know if this has any scientific merit. There is one way to find out. I must research my lovely latitude of 44 North some more. Lucky for me, Bordeaux France just happens to be on the list. I think that might be an excellent place to start. I am not opposed to checking out those northern latitudes as well. I really think there must be some kind of cosmic woo-hoo going on up there. I will keep you posted.

Peace, GGJ

Fake Air, Tight Butts & The Power of Love

GGJ and Cousin Vodka
GGJ and Cousin Vodka

I just returned from my latest adventure.

I went to Las Vegas to help a gorgeous young lady turn 21. Yep, 21 in Las Vegas. We were a motley crew. Two sweet young things (SYT 1 and SYT 2), The Mommas, GGJ, and an Aunt and an Uncle hereby known as Cousin Vodka and Cousin Whiskey.

It was a loose arrangement and for a group that large amazingly flexible. Fun was had by all. Along the way a bunch of stuff happened. We arrived at different times and by various routes. It was like we were planning a caper and had to make sure our true identities could not be traced.

We stayed at the The Flamingo which is a great central location and the price is right if you are planning on spending your money on gambling and drinking and shows. No time for relaxation babies, this was a whirlwind. We upgraded to a Go-Go Room and it was worth it.

Immediately upon arrival we played some slots. I became very fond of a ‘Spartacus’ machine and we spent a lot of time together. Picture a heavily muscled man wearing armor carrying a shield (WE ARE SPARTANS!) whirling around on your screen… Nice!

Over the next 2.5 days I was in a bunch of casinos. Some nicer than others. What was very striking was the difference in air. As in, fake air. I would love to get a behind the scenes tour (hint, hint Vegas people) of how they go about blending and concocting the fake air. Cousin Vodka was with me most of the time and we both liked the air at the Palazzo the best. It reminded us both of a Mediterranean breeze. Very calming and relaxing.

Surprisingly, the air at the Quad was very good as well. Surprising because it is not as upscale as the Palazzo. The Quad air smells like a very clean attractive man. We really liked it.

We spent quite a bit of time at Jimmy Buffet’s Margaritaville Casino and bar… of course that air is fantastic! Hints of coconut, salt….why sure, I’d love a Margarita! Why not?

The air at the Bellagio is really good too. We took big hits of air….inhale, exhale… the air smells….expensive… la-di-da. Enjoy it while you can.

The last night we were there we went to see The Thunder from Down Under at the Excalibur. My sister wanted to see the show years ago and I said no, which was a huge mistake. I already told her that on our next trip to Vegas we will go and it will be my treat. It is a super fun show and it should not be missed if you are with a bunch of girls and want to have fun. (Cousin Whiskey didn’t care and did a little gaming while we were at the show.)

The show itself is fun. There is a little something for everyone and it was interesting that we all liked different men the best. Loved the fire man! Ooh-la-la.

At the end of the show you can go up for a picture with the guys. Cousin Vodka and I were at the end of the line and the fire man was giving the instructions of how the picture thing works… we were listening to that Australian accent and gazing at his beautiful body… then we were onstage waiting for our picture to be taken. Cousin Vodka said, “I missed about half of what he said because I was mesmerized by his accent.” Then she poked the ring leader in one of his pectoral muscles with her long pink fingernail and said, “Dang, you sure were a surprise!” For the first time all night, he was speechless. We then climbed upon some super-hot Thunder man laps and had our photo taken. At the end another Thunder guy takes the time to give you some hugs and skin on skin time as you exit the stage. Brilliant! Simply brilliant… everyone feels loved and cared for…plus you get a real photo as well as an emailed photo.

Memories….light the corner of my mind…misty water colored memories. (Cue the music.)

Cousin Vodka had some words of wisdom for the SYT’s. After the show SYT 1 told Cousin Vodka that the long haired hot Thunder man told her he liked how her dress looked on her. Cousin Vodka said, “Did you tell him it would look better on his bedroom floor?” Zinger. Bow-chic-a-bow-bow.

This trip restored my faith in humanity. What????? In Vegas????

GGJ, are you still totally wasted?

Here’s the deal. You would think that it was a recipe for disaster. I kept waiting for the SYT’s to ditch us and go get shit faced and/or need money. It didn’t happen. (Actually, maybe it did happen but I wouldn’t know because I skipped dinner one night and had Corona Lights instead and I was the one that had to go home early.)

The Mommas were super cool too. I saw with my own eyes one of the mommas supply a 100$ bill for two lemon drop shots for the SYT’s and she didn’t even flinch (too much.) They let the little birdies fly. They must have done a good job of parenting because they are fine, just fine.

Cousin Whiskey was instrumental in teaching the SYT’s the ways of the blackjack table and 3 am breakfasts. I hadn’t played for a long time and made some mistakes on the blackjack table. Thanks, Cousin Whiskey for helping me figure it out and sorry we lost …it was fun anyway and those 200$ worth of “free” drinks were tasty. Also, he was good at getting us in cabs and from point A to point B and is a very good tipper. Yay. Love, love, love Cousin Whiskey.

Last but not least I must give some proper love to the head momma (HCH = head cat herder) for organizing the trip. It’s not easy to bring together a bunch of unusual suspects and have it seem like an effortless, spontaneous event. I know that was not the case and she pulled it off. Masterful in every way.

There was a lot of activity, and it was ok to either participate or not. There was no pressure. It was ok to say yes, and it was ok to say no. It was a beautiful thing.

What makes it all work?

The power of love is what makes it work.

Make new friends, but keep the old…. One is Silver and the other Gold.

We were Gold all the way!

Since I got back last night, it would seem like there is some trouble in the world. I think for the right price I could get the motley crew together for a “brain trust” and we could straighten things out. Just let me know.

GGJ

Frugal Weekend Experiment

I am currently trying to save some money for an upcoming trip.

This is a trip to Las Vegas and for some reason I have some guilt associated with the gambling part of it. I had no trouble shelling out the dough for the airline ticket. But now I need some cash for the super fun stuff.

Somewhere along the line my financial guru helped to make me see the light.

I pretty much make the same amount of money each year. It can fluctuate a little depending on how much vacation I take, but basically there are so many work days and so many appointments and there is a limit. Which means if I want to save some extra money….hang on this is the hard part….I have to spend less. What?? Horror!

I am on day 3 of the frugal living savings plan.

I am doing pretty well. It helped that I worked half a day on Saturday. It killed time and I can’t spend money if I am working.

Friday:

I had the day off and was going to go golfing with my sister.  But, it rained. So we went out to lunch and had a couple of drinks and some burgers. It was fun. I know, I know you are saying, “Gyspy Girl Jilly, so far you haven’t saved any money but you have spent some on booze and burgers.” Yes, darlings… I know.  But a person cannot be a total hermit or bad things happen.  Here is the savings part. Lunch is typically cheaper than dinner. Also, if you drink during the day you get tired and go home and take a nap. Napping is free.

I had made a gigantic vat of chili the night before so that was dinner (again). I putzed around my garden, read a little and then I was bored. I ended up spending $5.99 On Demand to watch an interesting documentary called Tim’s Vermeer.  It is produced by Penn and Teller and is interesting if you are at all interested in Vermeer’s paintings (The Girl with the Pearl Earring) or scientific inventions.  I liked it for a number of reasons.

 

  1. I was a History of Science major in college. That means I like nerdy stuff.
  2. I had read the book The Girl with the Pearl Earring which was fiction but revolves around Vermeer so I was intrigued.
  3. Penn and Teller are a part of the telling of the story.  They perform in Las Vegas…which is where I am going, and why I am staying at home and saving money.  It is a sign!

Then Friday was over.

Saturday:

I worked until 1 pm.  Good moods abounded; it was a good Saturday in the office.  I bought both a hydrangea and lavender plant on sale. Saved 60%. Planted them. Watched a little tennis and then a little baseball because ‘the sisters’ were at the game and I was trying to catch a glimpse. I might have taken another nap. More chili for dinner. (That’s it! I am up to the gills in chili.)

I found 30 bucks for the trip fund going through my jackets and jeans. Yay! Also found a whole bunch of lip gloss. My lips will stay plump and juicy in the desert. I am prepared.

I watched some free TV and learned how to make pizza on the grill and brisket.

Then Saturday was over.

It’s Sunday. It was raining a bit when I got up but it is looking sunny now. I am writing this story and then need to get some exercise. Will spend some time hanging out on my deck. The flowers are looking good and I have some cozy furniture.  It really is peaceful out there.  I will probably go out for a little bit. No shopping. Maybe a visit with an old friend.

It wasn’t too bad having a frugal weekend. Actually, I got a lot of good sleep. My house is pretty clean and I don’t have a headache. I don’t know how many days in a row I could do this, but I figure I saved at least a 100 bucks. Yay!

Saving money made me think of my trusted friend and financial advisor who I have mentioned in other stories- I like to think of her as my money shrink.

She has really helped change my life. Part of the reason I am now writing a blog is because I have more peace and calm in my life. Part of that is having a ‘plan’ in case everything goes belly up. I have a plan and it is all under control. That leaves time to write little stories instead of worrying about all of the other stuff.

My relationship with my money shrink is way different than the time I went to a head shrinker. Yes, the one time I went to a head shrinker. That was a totally surreal experience.

I had been talked into going to a head shrinker as part of couple’s therapy. Before our appointment I had to take a quiz.  I took it in the car on the way to our favorite Thai restaurant which took about 20 minutes.  As we parked, I handed it to my then sweetheart. He said, “Don’t you want to review this before you hand it in?” I said, “I can do that if you want, but my answers will be the same.” I should have known right then how it all would turn out.

It was time for the appointment. I was nervous. We had gotten the results of the quiz back and the results were pretty good.

I met the head shrinker -Frank. I liked him right away.

The sweetheart started the discussion and in about 10 words explained his side of the story.

Then it was my turn.  I took a deep breath.  Then it all came spilling out it in great detail. I started to cry. Frank handed me a tissue.  I said “Thanks” and kept going. I got it all out. (That is the key.)

After a bit, Frank started to give us some therapy. (Without going into too much detail, we were having issues with third parties dictating too much of our relationship.) He started out by saying that he was going to tell us exactly what we should do.

I felt like I had been struck by lightning. I got it. I knew it.

So, Frank went into great detail about what we were going to be doing for the next two weeks. The sweetheart was nodding and agreeing and totally positive. Then Frank asked me what I thought.

I said, “There is no way in hell that I am going to be told what I can or cannot do by another person.

The sweetheart was giving me the elbow and looking at me with total and complete horror. I think he would have wanted to beat the shit out of me but he is not a violent person. Otherwise I would have been toast.

Frank said, “Exactly!” I passed the test. We went on to discuss how it is ridiculous for a third party to dominate or control a person.

I never made it back to see Frank again.  He really helped me though. It has been many years since that happened, but I sometimes think about that day in his office.

To wrap things up… I guess I feel glad that I am in control. I can spend money or save money. I can be alone but not be lonely. I can be with friends who get it. I am in charge and the results are mine.

On day 3 I find myself richer…in many ways.

Wish me luck in Vegas!

GGJ

 

 

 

Nothing, Absolutely Nothing.

I want to start a new trend.

I want to make being a total and complete sloth a celebrated event. It should be okay and desirable to be able to report that not a single thing was accomplished on the weekend.

Somewhere along the line I got brainwashed into thinking that I really should be doing something fabulous pretty much every moment of every day.  It’s not happening for me, and even if it did, I don’t like doing fabulous things all of the time.

I need some down time.

Years ago on the 4th of July I went to an Indian wedding, a sailing club BBQ and fireworks, followed by a carnival.  This is what my sister calls, “putting 10lbs of shit into a 5lb sack.”  Not to state the obvious but clearly it all doesn’t fit in. I was having fun at the wedding and had a great outfit but had to leave to go to the BBQ.  No chance to change into my cute red, white and blue outfit so I there I was in my fancy silk printed skirt and sandals dancing in the grass. Which was fine until we had to leave to supposedly watch the fireworks from a better spot, but we left too late and watched most of them through the sunroof of my car, which was being driven by someone other than myself who was watching the fireworks instead of driving and we were all screaming “Watch the road!”  I was then coerced into going to the Carnival across the street but it was late and it was crazy and I was still in my fancy outfit and just couldn’t take it anymore.  I went home exhausted and completely fed up.

Here is another one for you.

Picture a long weekend in the Bahamas, staying on a sailboat.  The day before you leave starts out with a walk on the beach, followed by some beers and time at the pool, followed by a game of chess and cheese and crackers on the deck of the boat, followed by a reservation at the one and only nice restaurant on the island…. But wait! At the last minute, just as the romance was getting started….a crusty sailor named Uncle Bob sticks his head into your window and asks if you want to go to a really great party.  You and your sweetheart put on some clothes and get on a boat with Uncle Bob and another couple and you are off to another island. The great party is super loud techno music with food that has flies buzzing all around.  The party animals you are with love it and you stay for a long, long time. There is another stop at another island. You can’t beat them so at this point you are drinking just to survive. This is a true story.  At multiple points in the trip I would ask myself, “I wonder if I could make it if I jump off the boat and start swimming for shore.” This is a clear example of how doing many things doesn’t add up to a meaningful experience.

I can’t blame it on others. I do it to myself.

Saturday started with a trip with my sister to a friend’s house to dig up plants- a whole bunch of hostas, tiger lilies, peonies, etc… really good stuff. It took a while and there were lots of mosquitoes. We then went to our respective homes and planted and watered all of the plants.  It was 80 degrees and hot.  Then we quick took showers, picked up some sandwiches for lunch, got on the boat and relaxed, read and swam for a few hours.  Went back home and got ready to go out to dinner (full hair and make-up) with some friends and to listen to some live music.  It was fun.

Was it enough? I didn’t go to Paris, go sailing, make the world a better place, grow or eat organic food….

Twenty years ago I would have been exhausted sleeping until noon and just doing the boating stuff.  Followed by a nap, no dinner, and going out to the bars until 2am.

In college and a few years afterward we used to lay around watching television all day Sunday.  We had zero guilt about doing nothing. Even if it was a beautiful sunny day. We would lie around watching PBS learning how to garden, paint, cook, etc…. but really we were just vegetating and doing nothing.  Kind of like sleeping, except we were awake.

Yesterday was Sunday. My sister and I planted some more plants, took the dogs for a walk and then…..thank God it rained. A lot.  That made it ok to take naps and watch old movies.  Jaws was on.  I watched some of it but decided to turn the channel because I am still a bit nervous swimming in the ocean.  That movie ruined me.

So what has happened? Why is the need to do something, be productive, have something to show for it mentality stuck in my head? I don’t like it.  I like reading books, listening to music, going to movies and taking naps. That should be allowed on days off, right?

When someone asks you, “What did you do this weekend?” a great answer would be “Nothing, absolutely nothing.” That would be an answer worth celebrating.