Every year on January 1st my father, G.K. would sit down with his yellow legal tablet and calculate how much money he spent on booze, dogs, and guns. I think he must have been satisfied with the number, because he continued to spend his time and money on booze, dogs, and guns. That’s a good life, no?
His health went south in his late 60’s and he paid the price. He had a series of small strokes and ultimately died from a heart attack the day he was to enter the nursing home. It took about 10 years to die. That’s a long time. Comeuppance.
I remember the day he died- November 3, 1995. I was happy that he at least got to stick around to see the OJ Simpson verdict on October 3rd. He was watching the trial daily and I think he would have been irritated to miss the ending. I was in my 4th year of optometry school in Oregon- also addicted to watching the trial on CNN. It gave us something to talk about. It brought us closer. Isn’t that crazy?
Today, I did my own reckoning. I went back a few years to get a better idea of where I stand. Basically, I factored how much time and money I spent on doing things that were optional and gave me pleasure or made my life easier.
2019: Plane tickets (Florida, New Orleans, Las Vegas, North Carolina 2X, and a driving trip to St. Louis), gambling trip to Vegas, writing workshop. 2019 was a good year for me- both personal and business. Worked hard/played hard.
2020: Sauna, stressless recliner, grocery delivery. This was a hard and sad year for me. I was lonely and scared. I gained 9 pounds in 9 weeks when the office was closed. I had to stop baking. You can bake if you can give it away. No one person needs a lemon meringue pie. I’m still working on getting the weight off. Dammit.
2021: Doggie daycare, work/friend trip to Las Vegas, new technology. Stevie Nicks, the black lab puppy came into my life late 2020. She is a darling, and my best friend. I’m not lonely anymore. I had a trip before things went COVID crazy again and it was a mixed bag. Adding technology has made my life easier- both personally and professionally. Infrastructure is good.
This year is still up in the air- but I hope to manage a trip or two.
I love to travel. Sometimes, I go to favorite places that are familiar and remind me of good times. Sometimes, I go somewhere new. That is probably the most exciting and good for me because it requires me to try new things, be flexible in mind and body, and open to the possibilities of whatever comes my way. Traveling somewhere new is a good challenge. I’ve never been to Paris. It’s on my list- but not this year. A girl needs to be practical. A trip to the mountains is in the works- fingers crossed.
Vegas: Vegas for me is about relationships. I have two groups of friends whom I meet in Vegas. Both sets of friends are important to me. It’s an easy destination- and we all enjoy a good time. Short and sweet. One trip involves gambling, one does not. Vegas for me falls into the same category as G.K.’s booze, dogs, and guns. I do it for fun. I don’t feel bad about it. I don’t smoke, I don’t drink very much, I don’t bowl or play darts… it’s my only naughty thing. I think a person can have one naughty thing as long as it doesn’t make you go broke or land in prison. What happens in Vegas…I’m going to a slot tournament in February with the gambling girls. Wish us luck.
My third vice? Hmmm…. I am a bit stuck on that one. I used to golf- but I didn’t golf at all last year. I golfed every Friday for years. Usually followed by a fish fry dinner. When Mom died, so did my golfing and fish fry dinners. I love boating- but don’t own a boat. That puts me at the mercy of friends, ex-boyfriends, or family to take me out on the water. That can get tricky…for obvious reasons.
If I don’t have golf or boating- I don’t know what to do with myself. Who am I?
I might buy a riding lawn mower. I bought a house with a humongous yard. Last summer, I used my ancient push mower to get the job done. It was the talk of the neighborhood- they all thought I was crazy. One time, it was very hot. My neighbor squirted me with his hose because he thought I was in danger of having a stroke. It was slightly inappropriate considering what I was wearing… but we laughed, and I told him to squirt me again. I have good neighbors. I also have a good fence. Mom always said, “Good fences make good neighbors.”
I think I prefer reckonings over resolutions. It’s like the old saying, “It’s better to ask for forgiveness than permission.”
I like going into my infrared sauna to sweat it out. It helps with stress reduction. My regimen is to bake at 140 degrees for 50 minutes. It gets the toxins out. Ideally, it is best to come back to temperature naturally. Because I like to sauna later in the evening, I cannot come back to temperature, take a shower, and get to bed at 9:45. Heavens, I stay up past my bedtime! The best night for me is the night before clean sheets.
Usually Sunday. Some deviation for unexpected dirtiness. I go from the sauna to my bed all sweaty and gross. I sleep like a baby. Stevie Nicks, the black lab puppy, jumps into bed with me and we snuggle. She doesn’t mind sweaty and gross.
Not every day can be the night before clean sheets… because that would make you a slob. The next morning, you rip off the dirty sheets upon waking so that you are not tempted to go one more day. In a perfect world, the fresh sheets go on right away- but sometimes life happens- and you forget and walk into your bedroom late that night to a bed with no sheets! Dammit.
A decision must be made- put on clean sheets, sleep in the guest room, or have no sheets and just roll up in the comforter. I have done all three. I never sleep well in the guest room, or with no sheets- wrapped up in the comforter. Take the time to put them on and sleep well. Mom always said, “You sleep better with clean sheets.” She was right.
My mom, Betty, was a true believer. She believed in God, and she lived her life pretty much according to the rules of the Catholic church. Betty believed in the Church, but she was an avid reader and I think she loved books almost as much as she loved God. Betty used to say, “If you want to read a juicy story- read the Bible!”
She read everything and she allowed her children to read everything. No censorship. Thank you, Mom!
I remember when the middle school morality police confiscated my copy of Judy Blume’s Wifey. I had purchased the book on my own, with my own money, and without the consent of Betty. Truth be told, the content was a bit too adult. I was hoping for another Forever. I love Judy Blume and have watched her class on Masterclass several times. She is a treasure. Anyway…. I was not punished for buying that book.
Mom had the theory that if I was brave enough to walk into a bookstore and buy a book with my own money- I could handle the story. Amen.
Christmas Eve we always went to Mass. Front pew. Everyone knows the story… there was a census and Joseph took his pregnant virgin bride Mary to sign up and she went into labor and there was no room in the Inn. Jesus was born in a manger, was greeted by wisemen, gold, frankincense, and myrrh. It’s a lot to digest in one sitting. It takes about 50 years to fully understand the beauty of unconditional love.
Betty had a portrait of Jesus above her bed. It was the one where Jesus looks kind and has a lovely tan. He has long brown hair. brown eyes and is bathed in beautiful light rays. Very attractive. To this day, I am a sucker for a brown haired, brown eyed man. On a trip to Seattle, WA in 1976 we visited my Aunt Virginia and her family. My cousin Kevin looked just like Jesus! We thought he was “hot” and to show our love we filled his shoes with pinecones.
I think that when they used to say we should love Jesus, they didn’t mean we should LOVE Jesus!
Jesus isn’t the only hot guy with brown hair and brown eyes from my childhood. My best friend, Elaine, is 100% Greek with brown hair and brown eyes. Now, I love Elaine dearly and she is a very attractive woman… but her brother John… he was a gorgeous creature. Tall, dark, and handsome. He was also as lovely on the inside as the outside. He went to Heaven way to soon and left a void. He is one of my angels. My warrior angel. He gives me strength.
My father was a difficult man. He was highly intelligent, opinionated, and raised by an overbearing mother. His father died when he was 8 years old. I am his youngest daughter- the last hope for a boy.
For the first 10 years of my life, I was his little buddy. We went hunting and fishing. We went to the bookstore. I remember those years fondly. My parents were old to be having me- Dad turned 50 the year I was born. So, if you do the math… he retired when I was in middle school. Mom and Dad would go off fishing and leave me alone. Mom would leave me five bucks and a note saying, “Take Elaine to The Hut for dinner. Back at 8pm. Love, Mom. XO
That’s what we did. We did more than just go to The Hut. We ran wild and did mostly what we pleased. I think that turned us into some interesting and independent girls.
Trouble is…. Sometimes Dad’s don’t want their teenage daughters to be interesting and independent. We had some issues. Issues related to self-esteem, commitment, and how to disagree without starting WWIII (aka effective communication). Control.
I’ve been a harsh critic. I’m softening up a bit as the years go by- mostly because I have turned out to be my father’s daughter. I have crashed and burned and made many of the same mistakes.
I sometimes run into people who still remember Dad fondly. It reminds me that being a father is only one aspect of a person.
He was a good friend. He loved the outdoors. He loved to read. He was a life-long learner and intellectual person. He was fair.
I recall an occasion when one of my sisters was being treated unfairly by a teacher. Dad went to school – meeting with the principal and teacher. He applied his critical thinking and stood up for my sister. Problem resolved. We celebrated the victory at home, and I clearly remember us all being ecstatic. Dad showed up and made mincemeat out of the competition. He may not have been 100% involved 100% of the time, but he was 100% that day.
He was not one for a lot of praise or demonstrative with affection.
For some strange reason- I despised peeling oranges. Every winter we would get a couple of boxes of citrus from Texas. Oranges, grapefruit… stored on the basement stairs. Probably purchased as part of one of the endless fundraisers for band or choir. Dad would tell me to go get an orange. I would watch as he would carefully peel the orange, making sure to get all the bitter pith off. He was very good at peeling oranges. He had very long fingers and kept good care of his fingernails. I remember this clearly… I can see him peeling the orange.
I realize now, peeling that orange was an act of love. He couldn’t say it, but he could peel me an orange.
Usually, Elaine was with me- and he would peel for us both. Dad was particularly fond of Elaine. She called him Mr. A. I have very specific memories of the three of us practicing math and vocabulary flash cards. We were competitive- but in a good way. It’s good to be smart. Thank you, Mom and Dad for not raising dodo birds.
Where am I going with this?? I have no idea.
I think that this year has been a trying year. There is so much information to digest. So many opinions, so many decisions to make, so many expectations. It’s overwhelming.
My hope is that on Christmas Eve you can remember the good times, acknowledge the bad times, learn from mistakes, forgive yourself and others, and understand that we are all human. We can agree to disagree. Peel an orange for someone you love. When in doubt, put on clean sheets. You sleep better with clean sheets.
I woke up this morning. That was a good start, and it got even better. It was early- 5:24am to be exact. No alarm, my sweet puppy Stevie Nicks lying peacefully by my side. I feel blessed, excited and dare I say it… content?
It’s a good feeling. One I haven’t felt in a while. Welcome back, old friend.
In March of 2020 I closed my optical shoppe for 9 weeks. It was unexpected, both mentally and emotionally crushing, and physically isolating.
For the last 2.5 years I had worked in the downstairs portion of my historic building and lived upstairs in a super cute remodeled historic apartment. I was technically living alone, but not a lonely person. In 2019, I treated the apartment like a condo and basically left almost every weekend to travel both near and far. It was fantastic and I was on a roll. The practice was thriving, and I was thriving. Full stop.
Covid hit. Office closed. I wanted to be part of the solution and not part of the problem, so I stayed home. Alone. I went to the grocery store once a month. I watched CNN constantly. I tried doing the 9 jigsaw puzzles I had sent over from the game store across the street. I think I managed to complete two puzzles in 9 weeks. I had no energy, no creativity.
The one thing I did manage to do was cook and bake out of my pantry. I made some good stuff, ate it, and gained 8 pounds in 9 weeks. Uh oh. Looking back on it now, I was doing a dance with a bad date called depression. I had no idea.
Luckily, a dear friend noticed I was losing it. She insisted I visit her. She was in a COVID bubble, I was in a COVID bubble… we should be COVID bubbles together. I fretted about it and finally gave in. I visited and we cooked and laughed, and I managed to find a few pieces of her jigsaw puzzle. We walked her rural road. I went to visit her several times over the next month or two. Depression started to lift. Thank you, dear friend.
The office was closed, but we started to get some orders for contact lenses. My staff took turns meeting me at the office every few days to send off orders. We masked and stayed apart. It was a saving grace for me. We shared stories about lockdown. It gave me perspective. I realized that being alone during a lockdown can be easier than being in lockdown with others. There are two sides to every coin.
The office opened 9 weeks later. It was a beautiful thing and still is. My team and I did everything we could to maintain safer standards. Patients did their part- they came in and were willing to do the COVID shuffle. My schedule was full. I have since seen over a thousand patients, and I can count on one hand the number of issues we had regarding COVID policy. Of course, I remember those incidents. When I do the math- statistically it was a minute percentage. This helps me to remember… most people are fundamentally good, kind, and willing to help.
For me, the hardest part is accepting help. It’s a flaw. I blame it on my upbringing, which is what I do whenever I face issues about myself that I don’t like. The problem with blaming everything on your upbringing is that somewhere around age 30 it gets old and worn out and your friends and family get sick and tired of it. Around age 50, the people you like to blame for your issues are dead. Your excuse is gone for good. Time to take a good look in the mirror and figure some stuff out.
I am learning. I am learning how to ask for help, accept help and be thankful for it.
Fast forward 3 months. I’m working hard now. Busier than ever. Still a little lonely as things are not back to ok with COVID. No vaccination yet. I’m starting to have COVID envy. I have a few friends and family that got COVID and recovered and are going out to dinner. Son of a bitch.
I would love to go out to dinner and be served. I don’t care what it is. If someone were to ask me, “Ma’am would you like another?” I would respond immediately, “Yes, please.” I don’t care what it is. I just want to be pampered and waited on. If I had my choose-it’s I would prefer an VO press Old Fashioned with pickled mushrooms, but I would settle for a cold Bud Light. Envy. Envy- the green-eyed girl. Wanting what other people have is usually a recipe for disaster. This includes medical conditions, choice of spouse and children, and bank accounts.
Fast forward another 6-7 months. I’ve now acquired a darling black lab puppy named Stevie Nicks. She is my new best friend and is living up to her name. She is beautiful, independent, maybe a little wild and very loving. She was an unexpected addition to my life, and I will be forever grateful. Stevie and I had some crazy times living upstairs and trying to get potty trained in the middle of winter in Wisconsin.
Stevie and I went downstairs every two hours and walked around the little park next to my office. In my work clothes, in my yoga pants, in my pjs and robe! The neighborhood folks got used to it and we made friends.
I had been looking for a little house to buy for some time. If you have been paying attention to the real estate market, you will know that it’s a real challenge to find a house. I looked, looked, and looked some more. Just when I gave up… yep, my dream house found me. I bought it. Stevie has a yard and I have a kitchen. We are happy clams. It’s perfect, and I didn’t change a thing. Timing is everything.
The tricky part is how to handle life when life’s timing isn’t in sync with my timing. There are many books and memes and prayers that address this very issue. A friend sent me a little meme during the pandemic. I can’t remember the whole thing… but it basically said, “You are Loved.” There was some other stuff I can’t remember, and “You are Enough.” Those two things I remember. I hope you remember them too.
Life has slowly returned to almost normal. I’ve been socializing a bit and seeing friends. I am one of the youngest people in my group. Some of the others are a bit older and starting to retire. I’ve been around when the talk turns to retirement and money. I was feeling bad about it. I am late to that game. I spent most of my youth and adolescence screwing around. I did what I was told by my parents, went to the same college as Dad and The Sisters. I stayed in the same dormitory, I took the same classes, went to the same underage bars. Haha! I was young, naïve, and not particularly driven. I mostly liked to have fun. I was pretty good at it, but that doesn’t really show well on a resume or add to the retirement account.
Somehow it all worked out and now I am structured and have a roof over my head and a decent job, so I won’t go stick my head in the oven. That being said, let’s spend a moment to think about life. It does require a certain amount of intention, or things tend to go haywire. Mom used to say, “The road to Heaven is paved with good intentions.” To be honest, I never gave it much thought. That has apparently gotten me to my current state of being.
Heaven and Hell. Decision, decisions decisions…I always thought the sinners had more fun and it might be worth it. I also think the road to Hell might be paved by kombucha! What?? Seriously, I was just at the new co-op and tried some and there is no amount of Tito’s that can fix it. I promptly made a nice cup of French press coffee to go with my Thunderbird Bakery pain au chocolat and life improved dramatically. I digress. Where was I? Oh yes. Intention. Intention deserves a bit more thought.
I spent some time thinking about it and determined that for me- I want to work. For one thing, Anderson’s live a long time. Mom made it to 90 and Grandma A made it to 103! That’s a lot of years to finance. I didn’t do so hot when I wasn’t working during the shut-down. It only takes an hour or two to work out and clean your house and then what? There are a lot of hours in the day. So, I need to figure how I want to work. I’ve given it some thought.
I don’t want to work like a crazy person and be stressed out. I want to work and have a balanced personal life. I want to like my patients and staff. I want to feel valued. I want to be interested in what I do. That’s a lot of wants. I will need to make a few changes.
There is never a good time to change. I’m looking at it as a positive because I am choosing to change instead of having change forced on me. There is a difference. Let me provide an example.
About 15 years ago I worked for a doctor in his practice. I was miserable. The terms weren’t as we discussed. I tried to communicate and negotiate for a tolerable and fair situation. No go. I finally quit. Then, and only then did the doctor want to communicate and negotiate. Too late, pal. “Freedom’s just a word for nothing left to lose.” Thank you, Bobby McGee. It was a hard change. It cost me in many ways… the only thing I regret is not leaving sooner.
Good change is what I am trying to achieve. I have changed my work schedule and I am entertaining the idea of adding a sub-specialty to my practice that I find interesting. There will be some short-term pain. I am doing my due diligence and not jumping into anything without a plan. This is progress, friends. In the past I would have jumped both feet forward off the cliff with no plan. I still plan to jump, but I will be wearing a parachute, just in case. Progress.
I have a friend who is very strong mentally. He’s got a good relationship with his wife and children, works hard, is physically fit, and likes to have fun. Overall, a balanced person. One time when I was complaining about something he said, “There are facts, and there are excuses.” That shut me up.
Don’t complain about being fat if you haven’t done anything to not be fat. Don’t complain about not having enough money if all you’ve done is go out and spend money. Don’t complain about being bored it you made no effort to connect with people and make plans. Don’t complain about your house being dirty if you haven’t done your part to keep it clean.
I now use that statement in my head to help me control my actions and emotions. I used it two days ago. I turned my apartment into an Airbnb. It took a bit longer than expected to get ready, but it has turned out great. I had it booked out months ago for the big summer event in town, EAA Airventure. Every hotel is booked solid for 30 miles. It’s a money maker. Two days ago, my renter cancelled at the last minute because her teenage son and adult daughter contracted COVID. The show starts in two days. I’m screwed. I was bummed out. Then I applied my new thinking. There are facts, and there are excuses. The fact is, I did my part. The apartment is clean and ready to go. I kept my end of the bargain. Done. Stuff happens, whether it’s COVID or something else. It doesn’t matter what happened to change the trip. It’s out of my control. It’s done. Once I got my head around the situation, I felt better. It’s a disappointment, but in the grand scheme of things not a deal breaker. Mental fitness. It’s a game changer.
The other night I went on a boat ride across Lake Winnebago. The water was smooth as glass. It was a beautiful evening. We ate at a tiny restaurant by the water. This spot is known for it’s beautiful sunsets and we were expecting a treat.
The restaurant was struggling to serve the patrons. There was very little staffing. We were served by children- literally- age 10 if not younger. Nothing came out as ordered. But, it was okay because you can’t expect children to know how to be servers at restaurants. Clouds were coming in and the wind was picking up. There was no sunset. I paid the bill and left a huge tip.
We had jackets and foul weather gear. The ride home was bumpy. I stood up the whole way, holding onto the railing and using my knees as shock absorbers. It wasn’t exactly a fun ride home, but it was exhilarating. I’ve got a good grip. We were all laughing and shrieking as we hit the big waves. It’s good to be with people who can laugh when things get dicey. The boat and captain were solid. I had faith we would get home in one piece. Ironically, we aim for the lights of the insane asylum to find our way home. That also seems appropriate for my life. It’s the journey, not the destination.
For those of you who have been reading my stories, you know that I have been on a quest to find some “Zen” in my life for quite some time.
The last couple of weeks have been challenging for me in the Zen department. For the first time in almost 20 years I had a patient tell me to “F%*K Off!” What???? I was so shocked I didn’t have a chance to respond. In hindsight, that is probably a good thing. Later my staff informed me that they thought there was some alcohol involved. (Not me, just in case you were wondering.)
I am no stranger to the F-bomb.
I come from both an Irish and German/Danish lineage so there is some fire running through these veins. It’s just that I usually use it around people I am emotionally connected to – like my family, friends and loved ones. I would never use it on a stranger. Sheesh.
It got me to thinking…..
Why is that all I can think of – when I had many other lovely patients these last few weeks?
What can I do to manage the unmanageable?
I am pretty sure that is why Zen masters don’t work with the general public.
What would the Dalai Lama do?
It just so happens that I went to my Mom’s last night. I found an old Zen book in an abandoned bookcase. I started reading it and think it is right on target. It was written in 1995 and I have had it probably for 15 years. It is called, “It’s Easier Than You Think” by Sylvia Boorstein. There is a lot of useful stuff in that book.
First of all, you need to know that trying to be Zen or Buddhist is not going to interfere with your other religious beliefs. You can be both. Please don’t email me telling me I am going to go to hell. Thanks!
In a nutshell, the entire thing is devoted to one simple idea/plan. How can we manage the events in our life that are beyond our control? That’s it. Simple, right?
There are 4 Noble Truths in the Zen world.
The First Noble Truth: Pain is inevitable.
We can’t control what happens, we can only control how we react to what happens. Pain is not an option. It is going to happen no matter what. Because my lovely friends, in order to experience a full life we will inevitably go through pain. Lots of pain. That is the human condition. Everything will eventually change and/or die. Please don’t despair and go stick your head in the oven. It’s not that bad…. I have said this for years and I totally believe it….you get points for trying. I think. Well, in my Zen World you get points for trying.
So once you have figured out that life is just a series of painful events…. Then you have to make a decision. This is the important part. How you suffer is on you. Read that again. How you suffer is on you.
The Second Noble Truth: Clinging To Attachment = Suffering
This is a tricky bit. Obviously, many things require commitment. Which in my mind is the same thing as attachment. So, what’s the problem? I think that sometimes we chase the fleeting moments that we have been lucky to experience and wish to make them into something permanent, expected, and certain. Clinging to that notion leads to suffering.
I have loads of examples of clinging leading to suffering. You probably do too. How many times have you longed for the early days of a relationship when you couldn’t get enough of each other? You didn’t need to eat, sleep, breath oxygen… it was so good. So then you settle in to everyday life. Something happens and it’s not the same. While the relationship is still good- it’s not crazy good anymore and you can’t help but wonder what went wrong? Nothing is wrong. Clinging to the notion that the next moment should be like the first moment is wrong.
Looking in the rear view mirror leads to a lot of wrecks.
You need to focus on what is right in front of you.
How can we not want to want? Fundamentally, that means that craving anything is suffering. (That is in the book.)
I crave lots of things. I have some work to do in that department.
Maybe I can put together the NEW ZEN DIET PLAN and make a ton of money. Don’t crave anything. Eat whatever you want and whatever you think is good for you and see what happens. My sister says you have to wear structured pants (not yoga pants) at least once a week so that you know if you are still okay. Don’t try to be the same you as last year or when you were 27. (I picked 27 because those were some pretty good years… no wait! That is super un-Zen!) Anyway, let’s just strive to be the best we can be now.
Let’s talk about clinging some more. There is a quote in the book that goes something like this, “My life happened when I was busy making other plans…” Sounds about right. I am a list maker, a dreamer, and lots of other things. I have to say, the here and now just doesn’t work for me. I am always better in the future. Now that I think about it, I was better in the past too. I think this whole thing may be a Jedi mind trick. It is THE FORCE! George Lucas is probably a Zen guy.
Remember the old school yard saying? “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me?”
That is total bullshit. I have broken a bunch of stuff. The bones and ligaments healed. They don’t hurt me at all anymore. But words? Words hurt.
In the book, Sylvia used a little demonstration very effectively. How many of you have had bones break or other bodily injuries? Raise your hands. Now, ask yourself… does it still hurt? If so, keep your hands raised. Very few hands were raised. Next question. How many of you have been hurt by other people’s words? Hands go up. How long ago was that? In the last year, last five years, ten years or more? Lots of hands were up. Words hurt.
Where am I going with this?
Forgiveness. That’s the ticket to addressing my issues with my patient who told me to F%#* Off! It happened. It’s over. Nothing more is going to come of it. Time to forgive and move on. It’s over.
I have to say, once you forgive someone it is kind of hard to keep caring if they told you to F%$* Off!
It just doesn’t matter! (Remember the movie Meatballs?) It just doesn’t matter… It just doesn’t matter! Yeah, baby!
So now that we have figured out that we have to forgive all the morons who hurt us in the past- we have to figure out how to handle the “Now” part. Okay, we need to try to be decent human beings. In the book there is some discussion about how to live your life when there is the burden of knowing that every action has the potential to cause harm. Yikes! That is kind of overwhelming. Trying to avoid shame or dread is a good start. Uh oh….there goes my crazy dancing at my favorite band! Just kidding. Not that kind of shame or dread- only the real deal bad kind of shame and dread.
Instead of going through a whole list of Don’ts…. Let’s focus on the Do’s.
I am going to try to say, “Yes!” whenever possible as long as I am not going to die or do something harmful. I like that idea. That idea really works for me. A good friend of mine has a saying, “I’ll do anything… twice!” She’s living a very interesting life by the way! She is pretty good at living in the moment. I’ll ask her what the secret is and get back to you.
There are two more Noble Truths but they will have to wait. It’s Sunday night and the Green Bay Packers are playing tonight. I have to go make a lasagna and some garlic bread (double carbohydrates) and go watch the game. It is a good place to start with enjoying the here and now! Nothing is happening in Wisconsin until the game is over.
Have you ever wondered what makes a relationship last? Not just romantic relationships, but friendships as well?
Last night I had a great talk with one of my dearest friends.
We did not grow up together.
I met TR (The Rock) when I moved to Oregon to go to optometry school. I had met one other person at a summer class the previous summer, but other than that I was moving to a place where I did not have any friends.
I did not meet TR right away. A few months into the first semester I went on a group shopping trip into Portland with some girls. She was there. We both were complaining our boobs were too big and nothing looked good. We promptly whipped off our shirts and compared boobs. A bond was forged.
For the following 4 years TR was the “THE ROCK” of our group. She and her husband had a great relationship, she knew how to cook and she was absolutely committed to her pursuit of optometry. She fed us, let us stay at her place to study and we basically did everything she did. We all passed with flying colors and had a pretty damn good time doing so. Left to my own devices, the outcome may not have been the same. Twenty odd years later, we are still great friends. We have now been friends for more years of my life than we have not been friends. I like that feeling.
I think in life, people are either rocks or floaters. My friend TR is a rock. I am a floater.
Rocks are solid, durable, permanent. They do well on planet Earth. Gravity works in their favor. They are great planners, nurturers and have the ability to stay the course. They are happy where they are and don’t seek constant movement or change. Rocks sometimes suffer when forces beyond their control erode them and put them into unplanned or unexpected motion. Storms can be tough on rocks. Rocks can sink.
Floaters are different. Floaters go with the current and are in a constant state of change. Floaters can try to tread water and stay in one place, but it requires a lot effort and leads to fatigue. Floating is effortless. All you have to do is let go and rise to the top. (It’s those boobs.) When you float, it’s easiest lying on your back. It allows you a great view of the sky and the world of endless possibilities. Have you ever heard the saying, “It’s the journey, not the destination?” That was written by a floater. There is a downside. It is easy to lose sight of the shoreline unless you constantly look back or to the side… floaters can get lost. That is both a blessing and a curse.
This summer I was on a boat with a group of people who were going to swim across Lake Butte des Mort in Oshkosh on the 4th of July. It was a motley crew… all ages and all abilities. The swim was in memory of a fantastic woman who used to swim across the lake every day. It’s a big lake and the water is kind of brown. One of the swimmers lives in Copenhagen, Denmark and commented that the wake churned by the boat motor looked like “fine cognac.”
Initially I wasn’t sure I would swim. I was on the boat mostly for fun. When the swimmers started to swim I had to make a choice. My ex-boyfriend who is now a friend was doing a running commentary about the performance of the swimmers and their choice of bathing attire. I shed my shorts and t-shirt, jumped in and started swimming.
I guess when push comes to shove, I am not designed to sit on the boat and observe. I had to swim.
I wasn’t exactly sure how it would go… I am not in the best shape of my life. I was fairly confident I would not drown and just figured the rest would work out. I used a combination of breast stroke, back stroke and side stroke to get across the Lake. I stopped looking at the shore. I looked at the sky, the HWY 41 overpass with the semis going by, I looked at birds. I could hear the hum of motorboats and the weird tinkling sound water makes…it was a symphony. Every once in a while I would look for my spot across the lake. I kind of got off course, but I would just make an adjustment and before I knew it I was across the lake.
That is kind of how life works too.
Rocks and Floaters make great partners. I think that is why my friendship with TR has endured.
She has helped me more times than I can count. Her husband is kind of big so whenever my heart has been broken she tells him he needs to go beat that person up. I love that. She is my professional role model. What worked in optometry school still works 20 years later. I just do what she does. She said we should get board certified- so we did. It was a pain in the ass but it was good for me and for my profession. TR knows what to do.
I think I may be of some use to her right now. TR was recently diagnosed with a chronic illness. (MS) The sucky thing about MS is that is un-curable and unpredictable. It’s not like cancer (which is horrible) where you cut out the bad stuff and kill it and get fake new stuff and move on. You never know what the next day will be like. One day you are pretty good and the next day you can’t get out of bed.
She told me she fell yesterday. She got out of bed and her brain thinks she is normal- but her legs don’t work right and the next thing you know you are weaving around like a drunken sailor and boom, down you go. I told her that was okay, that I fall down a lot too. I like to wear slippery socks and my house has wooden floors. Sometimes I run to get a Diet Pepsi or go pee pee during a commercial break and boom, down I go. We laughed.
She is doing fine. One big thing that everyone who reads this should think about is this- It is absolutely imperative that you have proper disability insurance and financial planning. My friend is going to be fine in that department no matter what happens. That didn’t just happen- she had a plan.
(I was actually a little jealous talking to her – she is in a much better place than I am. When you are jealous of your friend who has MS and her disability plan- that is sick my friends. Being single makes it even more important to have a plan. It’s a terrible feeling to worry about whether you are going to have to eat cat food when you are 80.)
OK, back to the story. So we talked about that and then we got to the nitty gritty…..
The hardest part of having to deal with this illness is the unexpected changes. TR has a plan. She wants to get her youngest kid off to college, work really hard (because she likes it- crazy, I know!) and finally have the time and ability to treat herself and her husband to some traveling, adventures and really good shoes. And not feel guilty. MS is a sucky disease. I think it pretty much guarantees that you have to wear practical footwear for the whole rest of your life. WTF? That is crazy.
She had her plan She thought that her next turn in life would be a turn to the right….. EXCEPT….. The road doesn’t go right. So now she has to go down a road that she’s didn’t choose, doesn’t know where it goes and …she has to cross a river. It’s a big river.
Now the river’s wide and deep and brown And she’s crossing muddy waters….–John Hiatt
The river is a scary place for a rock.
That is okay, she is best friends with a floater.
I don’t care if the water is deep, I float. I don’t care if I can see the bottom or where I am going. I will look at the sky. She doesn’t have to do a thing. I have a strong grip and I will get us to the other side. It’s not going to be a straight line and it may take a while. That’s okay, it’s the journey not the destination.
I don’t know about you, but I am glad that crazy “Blood Moon” business is over. Whew…. Last week was a rough one. The crazy chain got broken over the weekend and sure enough, a new story is born.
After running around like a chicken with my head cut off, I got a chance to do whatever I wanted on Saturday AND Sunday! Yippee! For those who read my blog, you know that I am an optometrist. That means that I talk non-stop all day. Which is fine… I was voted most talkative my senior year of high school. I can talk a lot. You would think that would make me an extrovert, right?
Nope. I was told once by a very intelligent human that you can tell if you are an introvert or an extrovert by how you re-charge your batteries. Do you need down time and solitude? Or do you need to blow off steam and surround yourself with people? I need some down time. I would classify myself as an outgoing introvert. I like people…. just not a lot of them at the same time or for long periods of time. Lol. I prefer the company of dogs.
That got me to thinking about being alone. The more I thought about it, the more I thought we should talk about it a bit. People, even if you don’t like to be alone you need to learn how to do it. And not suck at it.
Years ago I was in a relationship that was having trouble and I went on a vacation with a girlfriend to see her relatives. I talked about what was going on and I was asked, “Can you live without him?” I said, “Yes.” Aha! That is bad, right? I defended myself by saying that I could live without anybody… you know, breathe in and breath out, but I would prefer to not have to live without that person. I thought that the very idea of thinking you could not live without another person was absurd. My brain doesn’t work that way.
It is a very romantic and kind of neat idea to think you could not live without the love of your life. Until you have to live without the love of your life. Then it is a stupid idea. Here is some advice. If you find someone who really loves you then make him/her buy a long-term care policy and some good life insurance along with the ring. If you can’t find someone who sells these things let me know and I will hook you up.
My ex-boyfriend who is still a friend had both. I really liked that. He would say things like, “If you have to tie my shoes, I can pay you for that because I have a long term care policy that includes home health care.” I would smile and say, “Great!” Although in my mind I was thinking that we would pay a stranger to do that while I went golfing… but you know… you got to go with the flow. There was a big age difference too, 17 years, so you have to think about things like that as well as death. You have to make sure that there is someone or money to pay someone to take care of you when you are the last one standing.
I don’t think he would have picked me to take care of him anyway. I am too picky. He is a white guy who has had too much sun so he had some actinic keratitis…the scaly icky skin that is kind of scabby… and I would be giving him a back massage and suddenly pick that shit off his back. Ouch! No scabby icky skin on my watch. Like I said, I think ultimately he would have hired a professional instead of having to worry about what I would do next.
I have some older friends who are a mess. They have let their spouse do all of the cooking, all of the books and all of the decision making and when that person is no longer around they are not only sad and lonely…but kind of useless. That leads to either dying or hooking up with the wrong person so that they don’t have to do their own laundry. Listen up, people. If you are with someone like that you must teach them how to do some banking, laundry, and to cook a few basics like scrambled eggs and toast and how to make mashed potatoes and a pot roast. Sheesh.
I can’t wait to be old enough to get into ‘assisted living’. There is a great place in my neighborhood that has a killer view of the lake. It also has a bar with a big screen TV, a workout room, beauty salon and good food. I went to the grand opening celebration and they had a chocolate fountain! They stole a really good chef from town and his dinner was delish. It seems pricey, but when you figure out the cost of food and property taxes and lawn and snow removal and all of the stuff that comes with home ownership… it may not be that bad. Sigh, I will have to wait.
For those of you who are new to being alone and it freaks you out, let me give you some tips. The hours between 2am and 8am are for the alone.
For many years I would work 11-7pm. I would come home from work, spend time with people I liked or loved and would wait…. until they had to leave or fall asleep.
Then I would get to listen to music, read, think, take a bubble bath and go to bed late. It was awesome. (I have had to reset my natural clock with my new business because I have to get up early. The vampire days are gone and I miss it.)
I read an article in House Beautiful one time where a very talented designer said the best couples have separate bedrooms but no one wants to admit it. I agree with her… separate beds and separate TV’s may be the secret to relationship longevity. Snore….snore…..cough…. gasp….snore…… it’s not conducive to creative thought.
The early morning hours are great for exercising by yourself and not feeling bad.
You will notice that most people are by themselves and are dedicated to maintaining their health and wellness. No one feels weird walking/running by themselves in the morning. I saw a couple walking together this Saturday and I passed them twice. The husband was talking her ear off and gesturing a lot. She looked like she wanted to slit his throat with a butter knife.
See, walking alone is a good thing. If you wear big headphones like I do, you don’t have to say a word. You can just wave if someone says, “Good morning!” I see the same people over and over again, so in a way we are friends – but not really. It’s perfect.
I was invited to a Blood Moon party last night and it was pretty neat. Great food, a few friends, some telescopes… it was a fun time. I am looking forward to the next one in 17 years 364 days…
It’s time to crawl into my big bed with a bunch of books and magazines, three clickers, two pairs of glasses (and usually a dog but she is with my Mom tonight) and watch The Green Bay Packers play some Monday Night Football. Be jealous! XO
I couldn’t sleep last night. I have to get this off my chest.
I had the best weekend with my family. Watching the Packers beat Seattle was the icing on the cake. But…. I could not get the images from the Sunday news out of my mind.
What is happening in Syria is wrong. There I said it. Before everybody gets all pissed off – let me explain myself. I don’t have an answer to the problem.It’s a very difficult and scary situation.
I can only speak for myself but I would imagine that some of you feel the same way.
I am afraid of Muslims. In my head, I know that not all Muslims are terrorists. It’s just that the most recent terrorists have all been Muslims. That being said, we have had a few of our own… Timothy McVeigh….the Unabomber….and the multiple gunmen who have massacred innocent movie goers and school children… there have been a few.
I know that not all Muslims are terrorists. Not all Germans were Nazi’s and not all gun owners are shooters of schoolchildren. In fact, it’s the opposite. Being scared makes it hard to see the forest from the trees…or the trees from the forest.
I was trying to recall some of my history lessons….
When I was partying in New Orleans many years ago we made a pit stop into a museum. Many historical parts of New Orleans are paved with the original cobblestones. Do you know who laid those bricks? Slaves? Creoles?? Nope, those bricks were laid by Irish immigrants. They were cheaper than both slaves or Creoles because they had zero guaranteed rights regarding food/water/shelter/hours. Immigrants have long suffered.
World War II was such a bloody and terrible time in World History. From what I remember – the US got involved after we were attacked by Japan. We didn’t involve ourselves in the genocide of over 6 million Jews until the attack hit home. I read a lot of novels so I can’t be trusted with historical fact- but it is my understanding that the Vatican wasn’t exactly helpful in that time either. Hmmm…. I think Pope Francis is a totally different cat – in a good way.
From what I gather, Syria is conducting genocide on its people. It’s not like they have a choice. If I had to choose to either die by chemical warfare or bombings or other horrible means…. I would start walking. I would hope that if someone was able that they would help me.
It’s not like we as Americans are having to face 3 millions refugees parked at the front gate. The Atlantic Ocean is too big and rough… the dinghy’s aren’t going to make it. (If you need to see a scary Atlantic Ocean movie, watch The Perfect Storm) I haven’t seen a lot of refugees talking about a desire to get to the US. They want to get to Germany.
After tossing and turning all night, I came up with a plan that makes me feel a little better. Today I made a contribution to the International Committee of the Red Cross.
I am not going to wait for the government. (When we need to wait and trust the government to do the right thing…. something is not quite right. I am not completely comfortable with that on a number of levels.)
I know there are administration fees and that only 93.7% of the funds will go to helping people. That’s okay, I gave enough that I think it will still help someone.
People are worried that ISIS has infiltrated the refugees and has a plan to infiltrate the US. It probably has already happened. It is my opinion that we have a far greater risk of creating terrorists by putting refugees in fenced- in areas and blasting them with tear gas. If that happened to me, I would never forget it. On the other hand, if someone gave me food and water and a safe place to sleep….. I would never forget that either. I want to be on that team.
Giving money is easy. Let me tell you how I am financing it.
I am having a lean year with having just purchased a new business. But, I am not completely broke. I looked in my vehicle and in my loose change jar. In my purse alone I had almost $37.00. That is the money I usually put in my Las Vegas trip jar. I thought I could do better than that so I decided to eat out of my existing pantry and freezer tonight. I have to wrap this up because my ham and scalloped potatoes are done. Tomorrow I am going to make chicken piccata and watch the premiere of NCIS. Normally, I would get some Thai take out while hoping that Leroy Gethro Gibbs survives and that Tony and Ziva get together. There, that is my donation.
I don’t know if it will make a difference. I hope so.
This blog is only a hobby for me. I have never asked anyone to share my stories or tried to profit from it. This time, I am going to ask my friends and family and readers to share it ….if they know someone who may be willing or able to help. There are other organizations that are trying to help… Unicef comes to mind as well. I picked the ICRC (International Committee of the Red Cross) because it was easy to access and donate. Whatever you can do and feel good about is the goal. Let’s try to move the dial on this one.
One of the Sisters had a birthday this last week. We all got together to celebrate and it was fun. I wanted to post a picture of the two of us on Facebook…. so I looked for a good one.
I found a picture of us on horseback riding the beach at Big Sur, CA taken quite a few years back.
Fantastic news….it is possible to get better with age.
I think we both look better now than we did then. It helps that fashion has evolved from faded Mom jeans and huge Badger sweatshirts to a more fitted look. That and hair straighteners….flat irons or my preferred method, keratin treatments, have made a world of difference.
It got me to thinking… almost all of the good stuff gets better with age.
Take bananas for instance. They are picked when they are green and have zero imperfections on the surface. They also taste like shit. Compare that to a fully ripe banana- cosmetically unappealing but full of flavor.
Why is that? I am pretty sure if comes from oxidation. (Flashback to science class…LEO says GER….loss of electrons = oxidation, gain of electron = reduction.) It’s complicated, but I think it has something to do with its reaction to oxygen (O2). Oxygen is important. Essential for survival. Okay, it makes us weather and age but adds flavor… I am cool with it.
Sometimes when I am mad (usually on someone else’s behalf) and I am being dramatic I like to say, “He’s not fit to breathe the same oxygen as you!”
It’s as close as you can come to cursing someone without worrying about bad karma.
The Sisters both come with curses.
My oldest sister has somehow invoked the wrath of the traveling gods and is destined to have late departures and arrivals, weird weather patterns (like inversions when it snows in the valley and fogs at the top of the mountain), demolished luggage and “lost” vehicles at the park and ride place. When you travel with her you better have a change of undies and a couple of mini-Bailey’s in your purse just in case.
The other Sister was the one with the birthday. Her curse is that she never gets what she orders in restaurants.
This came up on the ride to the restaurant to celebrate her birthday.
She said, “They can serve me a big flaming turd and I am going to eat it.”
The previous week they had gone out of town to a supper club that is renowned for its steak and salad bar. (How 80’s…) It’s also not cheap. Sister ordered a fancy steak with gorgonzola sauce. When all of the dinners arrived, her steak wasn’t what she ordered. She asked the server about it…and the server said, “This is a blackened steak” and she whisked it away before Sister had a chance to respond. She then waited 25 minutes for her dinner to arrive. Meanwhile, the other two people ate their dinners at the pace of a tortoise in an attempt to wait to eat with Sister. Sister ended up eating alone. It was sad. She said that she would have eaten the blackened steak but it all happened so fast that she didn’t get a chance.
This time she was determined to eat her birthday dinner with the group.
I said, “If they serve you shit on a shingle, will you eat it?” and she said, “Yep. With a smile on my face. I have to turn this curse around. I am determined to eat whatever is put in front of me.”
At this point Mom said we had to change the subject because if we kept going she might lose her appetite. We all laughed. The mood was set and we were all on the same page. We were going to have fun- no matter what.
It’s so bizarre…but I think the curse may have lifted. We got to the restaurant and it’s a crazy place. Basically, you usually have to elbow your way to the bar and stand three deep and hang out for a while. When we walked in I started to scout a place in the bar and found an open table in the corner. No way! We were just settling in when we got summoned to our table. Again, no way! Sister even got what she ordered. It was insane. We all got ice cream after dinner drinks. We thought the bartender might kill us for getting 3 different kinds… Grasshoppers X 3, a White Dove and a Brandy Alexander…but we didn’t get killed. They were so huge we couldn’t finish them all. It was awesome.
The following night Sister went out to a different fancy steak place and got…. exactly what she ordered and it was perfect. Very interesting!
This is kind of deep…. so hang with me. I think it might be a step in the step process…it’s the Serenity prayer and goes something like this (don’t quote me because I am not going to look it up but just wing it instead.)
Lord, give me the strength to change the things that I can change, accept the things I cannot change, and the wisdom to know the difference. Amen.
Remember that the next time you go to a fancy super club.
All this talk about food has gotten me hungry.
I will tell you a secret. I didn’t come up with it…
A long time ago, a person who shall remain nameless, was at a Christmas work party and got snookered. He was sitting next to a person who was also bombed and they were both having surf and turf for dinner. You know, when you get the little candle holder with the butter dish suspended above it? That’s the one. So the other bombed guy said, “You’ve got to try this.” And he proceeded to dip his tenderloin steak into the leftover lobster butter sauce. They proceeded to devour the remaining turf. I thought they were seriously deranged… until I tried it. OMG.
I give my foodie friends permission to steal this concept.
I would recommend serving the little candles with suspended butter dishes as an extra and charge the heck out of it. I could see having a lobster butter sauce and also maybe some kind of Cajun butter sauce….
You can thank me with gift certificates.
Let’s get back to bananas, shall we? My Mom grew up on a big dairy farm. Her Mom used to bake all of the breads and sweets and make huge quantities of food. My Mom was her helper. I think all of that cooking early on kind of ruined my Mom for cooking later in life. She would conjure up dinner but I think she would have rather been golfing.
Anyway, she is good at making certain things. She likes to say that everything she can make can “serve a thrashing crew.” Which means that she is good at turkeys and pot roasts and mashed potatoes.
I asked her for her banana bread recipe as I have a couple that have seen a better day. She dug out her Mom’s old cookbooks and gave me this recipe. I hope you like it.
Grandma B’s Banana Bread recipe.
1 ¾ cups sifted flour
2 tsp baking powder
¼ tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
1/3 cup butter
2/3 cup sugar
2 eggs well beaten
1 cup ripe bananas (2-3)
Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Beat butter until creamy. Add sugar gradually and continue beating until lite and fluffy. (Grandma’s exact wording.) Add eggs and beat well. Add flour mixture alternating with bananas a little at a time until smooth.
Turn into a well-greased 9x5x3 inch loaf pan and back in moderate (350 degree) oven about 1 hour and 10 minutes until done. Makes one loaf.
I hope yours turns out.
Baby dolls, it’s not what you are having for dinner….it’s who you are having dinner with that matters. Butter goes with everything. When in doubt, use a recipe that has stood the test of time. Don’t forget the salt. Ever. Curses can be lifted. Going with the flow is easier than fighting the current…. most of the time. (Unless you are heading for a massive waterfall and are going to die… then swim at an angle for shore.) Keep breathing.
Basically, it applies to everything but is used most commonly in business. Here’s the gist – 80% of everything is noise and/or junk, aka a complete soul sucking waste of time, money and effort. The other 20% is the real deal- what makes your profit, your satisfaction and should in theory be the focus of your efforts.
Good to know.
I thought about this concept a lot yesterday. I spent the day at a continuing education conference in Madison, WI. Optometrists are a funny bunch. I usually go to conferences in other States as it is a better learning experience and you can offer up some meaningful tidbits when you aren’t giving away your best trade secrets to the competitor two blocks down.
This year I lucked out and ran into a doctor that I used to work for years ago and we are still friendly. We also live far enough apart that we have zero overlapping patients. Plus, he is light years ahead of me in terms of his business so I am kind of like his pet.
Anyway, I had a killer seat in the back row (I was smart enough to save the seat before chowing down on the free breakfast.) He hadn’t saved a seat yet. I gave up my killer seat and we sat together somewhere in the middle. Like I said, he is a pretty good friend.
As we sat down the first thing he said to me was, “I would rather be drinking a beer and going to the Badger game.” I said, “Amen, brother.” and we settled in for the duration. The conference was a rapid fire kind of deal – 20 minutes per speaker on stuff we should know. The 80/20 rule was in full effect and for six hours we listened and tried to pay attention. He told me that he just tries to take away one or two useful tidbits and call it quits.
It is too great of an expectation to think everything should be fascinating.
He also advised me that many people make their lives and jobs too difficult. For the long haul you have to be able to endure many ups and downs and the best way to do that is keep it simple. The KISS rule…Keep It Simple Stupid. He’s a good doctor, a good person and has a good relationship with his wife and kid. Smart guy. I am glad I sat next to him.
What was I talking about? Oh yeah, the 80/20 rule. As I was driving home, I started thinking about it. I am super lucky. I am the youngest of three. I have two older sisters who are very intelligent and extremely capable human beings. For my whole life, I have pretty much just followed in their footsteps or did what they told me to do. It’s worked out great. There have been some epic failures, trust me. But, truth be told when that happened it was because I didn’t listen to the Sisters.
The result is that in my life I get to be a kind and gentle soul (80%) with a dash of sarcasm and spontaneity (20%) thrown in. My sole function is to be funny and game for the unknown.
Years ago, one of the Sisters and I did a little trip to Carmel, CA. It was the early days of the internet and Sister booked us into a fantastic hotel (The Highlands Inn- which is fantastic by the way) and had some restaurants all picked out. We did it all and it was fun. One of the restaurants was kind of famous for being famous (I think Clint Eastwood went there at some point) but it was a little snooty. We had one more night and didn’t know where to go. I asked the valet guys were to go for a good meal and good atmosphere and they sent us to Flaherty’s. It was perfect.
I am the girl who askes the guys in the parking garage where to go and then actually does go. It takes both kinds of travelers to be successful. No planning is bad and nothing but planning is bad.
On that trip I also got to pick an activity and while we were at breakfast I saw an advertisement for sea kayaking on my placemat. We made a call and the next thing you know we were in Monterey Bay watching a baby sea lion get born. But then it got too close and it seemed like he was trying to get in the kayak…. and it was against the law and the guide yelled at us, “Paddle!” So we paddled. We were worried about the sea lion and made the guide go back and check. He said it was fine. I still wonder about that, he better not have lied. Anyway, it was a fantastic experience. All because of a little placemat.
I must give Sister credit though, she was the one who had researched the breakfast spot.
Birth order is fascinating. In my case, not only was I the youngest but my parents were oddities in that they had children much later in life. This is normal now, but in the 60’s it was kind of nuts. So, I arrived on the planet and my Dad turned 50 shortly thereafter. He retired when I was in middle school. Both of my parents are outdoorsy- so I would come home from school to find a five dollar bill on the table with a note saying, “Take Elaine to The Hut for dinner. Back home before dark. Love Mom, XO.” It was fine. The Hut was and still is a great spot for hamburgers and fries and it was cheap. I could take Elaine out to dinner and still have some money left over for things like smut books.
I used to ask my Mom if they ever worried about leaving me alone and she said, “We gave you just enough rope to hang yourself.”
I have never really been sure about that statement but it all worked out fine so it doesn’t require any additional deep thinking.
A friend of mine had a similar situation. He was the youngest of five with a 16 year age difference between him and his older brother. Pretty much everyone was out of the house for his childhood. We sometimes tell stories about growing up. He laughs and likes to say he was, “raised by wolves.” It worked out for him too. His parents worked like crazy and were never home. That was alright, he had a girl friend whose parents worked all of the time too, and he would ride his bike over after school and they would boink like crazy until 5pm and then he would ride his bike home in time for dinner. What can I say? It was the 80’s. He said it was super fun. I believe him.
I didn’t get to do any boinking because my Dad was a staunch Republican. They are uptight about stuff like that. Also, I had the bad 80’s perm thing going with a modest amount of baby blubber. I was a late bloomer. Things are better now. So, instead of boinking I hung out with our hunting dogs and read books. Then we got cable and I saw Jaws and it ruined me for swimming in the ocean to this day.
Younger siblings grow up fast and I think it has to do with being exposed to the older kids’ lives. I give my parents credit (actually, I think it was probably because they weren’t paying attention) for not censuring my reading material or TV/movie viewing.
They used to make my older sisters babysit for me- and little did they know but we weren’t exactly staying at home. They just took me along. I was at the Drive-In movie theater and Brown’s Point (a summer time party spot) at a ridiculously young age. The upside was that I got to say yes or no to just about everything early on. I never really had an issues with the whole drug/alcohol thing because (once again) I just did what the Sisters did. Thanks girls, you did a great job.
I have always been a deep thinker. If only I had applied the 80/20 rule and saved myself the trouble of caring about a lot of useless things.
As the years go by, it would seem that I have about 20% left. I have whittled it down to the people who matter, I am not seeking approval as much (that never goes completely away- my Dad will have been dead 20 years November 3rd, and I am still trying to please him- but that is a story for another time.) and I am mostly content with my choices. That is a good feeling.
There must be another mathematical equation at work here.
Does something happen when you get past the halfway point? Kind of like when you fly over the Pacific Ocean and you don’t have enough gas to get back to North America…. it’s not an option anymore… the only direction is to keep moving forward.
As I write this, I have this song stuck in my head. It must be a sign.
Freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose… (that is the good part.)
and nothing is all that Bobby left me…. (that is the bad part.)
-Kris Kristofferson/Janis Joplin
That’s okay Bobby, you sound like you were a hoot while you were around. But, when I think about it…. The Sisters would have canned your ass for being unreliable. Hit the road.
It’s time for me to wrap things up tonight. Tomorrow is another day. I am going to try to keep the 80/20 rule in mind. If you do it too, keep me posted on the outcome.
The World seems a little nutty right now…. maybe if we all work together we can shift the Universe.
Before you get into a tizzy let me explain. If by some chance you are skinny by nature or have a metabolic disorder or are trying to cheat death because your arteries are clogged….then you get a free pass and this does not apply to you.
But (and the important part always comes after the but) if you are skinny because you want to look great- then your chances of being boring are greatly increased. Something happens when people get skinny. I don’t know why but it seems like their personality dissolves with all of the fat.
I have been a chub my whole life. Not exactly fat, but definitely not skinny either. I am also very healthy. I exercise and eat mostly healthy foods and drink relatively little for living in Wisconsin. My last life insurance health tests and blood work put me in the cheapest category. Yay! Still, why do I feel like I should be skinny? I am going to stop that kind of thinking right now. I think it is good to want to be fit, healthy and strong. Being skinny is for the birds.
Years ago, (about 13 years I think) I did get skinny. I was coming off an ACL knee surgery and had put on some weight. I joined Weight Watchers and dieted down to my goal weight (which was too low) and became a life time member. I could fit into my sisters jeans and she is four inches shorter than me… it was great. Boys liked me and I was getting a lot of attention. I was a skinny chick aka tits on a stick. Ok, stop right here. Let me state for the record that boys that like girls who are tits on a stick are morons. That alone is enough to call it quits and eat a cheeseburger.
Girls, listen to me…. If you ever get a smart, funny, sweetheart of a guy who likes you just the way you are- he’s a keeper. I have also found that guys who are a little chubby themselves are great in the sack. I think they have to try harder and develop certain skills to keep the ladies happy. Try it, you won’t be sorry.
I was skinny for a while. Finally, one day my sister told me, “You are skinny, but you aren’t fun anymore.” She was right. I had restricted myself to zero alcohol and practically zero carbohydrates. I was weird about eating in restaurants and ….I WAS BORING!
This weekend I came down with the hives. I don’t know why but it started out Saturday morning and by Saturday night I was a mess. I met some good friends to watch the Badger game and have a few drinks and dinner. I showed them my hives. Everyone agreed they were super gross and felt bad for me. Because they were good friends they still let me sit at the same table and shared a few bites of food with me. As the evening progressed, my hives seemed to be getting worse. A friend went to the bar and got a marker and circled a couple of welts on my arms. We continued to eat and have a few beers and watch the game. Awhile later we checked the marks and I thought maybe they were the same….but then my friend told me they were worse. It takes a good friend to tell you that your hives are worse.
I went home and took a bunch of Benedryl. The next morning I woke up and looked in the mirror. OMG, they were spreading to my face. I freaked out and took four Benedryls. Then I put some clothes on and walked to the ER which luckily is only two blocks from my Mom’s house. It was 7am so it was very quiet. I checked in and the lady took one look at me and I said “Hives” and she said, “Yup” and she got me in right away. The nice lady doctor took one look at me and I said, “Hives” and she said, “Yup.” and we talked about the possible causes but it can be pretty much anything and the treatment is the same so it doesn’t really matter. She gave me a prescription for some steroids and I was back to my Mom’s in 20 minutes. Then the 4 Bendryls I took kicked in and I was too far gone to operate a motor vehicle so my Mom got the steroids for me while I took a sedated nap.
I spent the whole day hanging out and napping at my Mom’s. We watched tennis and car racing and read our books. We weren’t super hungry so my Mom made up some toasted ham and cheese sandwiches for dinner. Then around 9pm she made me an ice cream cone. Butter Brickle on a sugar cone. It was amazing.
I wouldn’t have been able to have that at my place. I wouldn’t have had the bread, the ice cream or the cone. That really got me thinking…..(keep in mind I was still stoned on Bendryl)
It really is the simple things in life that make us happy. Being too fat is bad and being too skinny is bad. We need to find a good balance. Restrictive behavior is a drag. This applies to many aspects of life. Who likes being told they can’t do or have something?? Not me, that is for sure.
So, I am going to try to adopt a new way of thinking. I can have or do anything I want within reason.
One last thing about being skinny. It makes you look older. My chubby wubby face is keeping the wrinkles at bay. I like that. When I take a good look around, it seems like the people who are laughing and dancing and enjoying life are somewhere in the middle… not too skinny and not too fat. Have you ever noticed that skinny people are afraid to dance or look silly? It’s the pressure that comes with being fabulous.. caring about what people will think. It becomes restrictive all on its own. I think that being in the middle takes the pressure off.
It all comes back to finding balance. Zen baby.
My hives are going away. I went to the grocery store and bought a lot of healthy things. I also bought the makings for chicken enchiladas which I love. I will put the recipe below.
GYPSY GIRL JILLY’S CHICKEN ENCHILADAS
Buy a rotisserie chicken for 7 bucks. It will save you time and money. Wait for it to cool and then pluck the meat off it.
Add a can of Original Rotel. (tomatoes and onions and spicy stuff in a can.)
Add a packet of taco seasoning mix.
Add water to get it a good consistency and make the spices stick to the chicken. Don’t worry if it is watery- it all gets cooked and absorbed.
You will need either flour or corn tortillas. Put some chicken in and roll them up and put in a baking dish. Or you can be lazy and layer the enchiladas and chicken like you are making lasagna.
Pour over canned Red Child Enchilada Sauce (I use La Preferida Mild.) I like the big cans but you can’t always find them so then buy 3 small cans.
Stick the whole thing in the oven at 375 degrees for 45 minutes or until bubbly.
Let it rest so you don’t burn a flap of skin on the roof of your mouth.
Generous dollops of sour cream go on top. Eat and enjoy.