Monthly Archives: June 2017

Rude in My Head

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I miss civility.  I was hardly raised by royalty nor am I Victorian in my dreams.  It is just my hope at some point, during my lifetime, that people who have the opportunity to be sitting near me during a performance they chose to attend and paid quite a bit of money  for,  would just behave.  Have you every wished that you could buy all the seats in a concert hall or movie, not for the cool factor of a private screening, but just in the hope that you could really listen and take in all that goes with a great show or film and not have to stew in the desire to turn to the woman behind you and give her a slap and a glare.  Granted the energy surrounding a great performance is generated by the vibes of those in attendance, in a synergistic effect with the musician.  Was the performance ruined by “that woman”?  Well, let’s just say she took up a bit of space in my head, as I conjured up comments to say, things to do (like a voodoo doll) or evil wishes…may her skirt get caught in the seat as she leaves and she is left in her undergarments for all to see. Okay, maybe that is over the top.

Last night, my FHB and I went to see Diana Krall perform in Providence. It was  in a beautiful venue that, according to my FHB, had, in  his youth, been a rundown movie theater in the downtown,  which had undergone a transformation and  became an elegant place to hear a magnificent musician.  She is so talented and her interpretation of songs is well thought out and powerful.  Listening and witnessing a live performance is so good for the soul. The music rests in your being and you can really stay in the moment.  The hyena and her date talked and laughed during most of the performance, as she apparently was counting how many people got up during the show to do what people do, when the show is two hours long without an intermission.  Her laughter led to shrieking and shaking  the back of my seat everytime she counted more people.  I did turn on two occasions, and gave her the hairy eyeball and she would stop for a minute or two.  I used all my powers of self control to focus on the music and not the madness behind us.

Twice, when my sister and I went to see shows in Boston, we were seated near people who felt they could make suggestions that would improve their viewing or enjoyment at our expense.  During the  first show, “The Sisters Rosensweig”, I had unfortunately gotten some type of eye infection which made bright lights really hurt me, so I wore sunglasses to the performance.  That apparently made the people next to us assume that I was blind and possibly deaf, and  thus they spoke to my sister and not directly to me, and inquired if she wouldn’t  mind switching my seat, so they could see better.  She told them, in a very nice tone, no chance.    I glared at them, not that they could see my eyes through my glasses.  We were somewhat incredulous as to how obnoxious people could be.  The second show we saw was “Spamalot” and the man seated to the right of us, told my sister that her chewing was bothering him and his enjoyment.  She hissed at him and said something “snarky”.  I actually think as we left, she said something appropriately nasty in the hope that he knew it was directed toward him.  We have good manners!

In movie theaters, people seem to feel it is necessary to carry on conversations both during the previews and the movie, in what would be considered normal, not hushed tones as in “do you have a kleenex, this is so sad” but rather “So I said to ..fill in the blank…that if she thought….fill in the blank….” and so on, as though  the movie was secondary to her conversation.  I’ve had children pull my hair, people sit next to me despite the theater being empty (that’s another story for another time) and then there are the kickers.  I really hate the kickers but not as much as the people who guess out loud what is going to happen next.  You know who I am talking about…they are also the same folks who sit next to you on airplanes.

Enjoy the show.

Baby-Sitting

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As I write this, in a nearby room, sleeps about 22 pounds of energy, laughter and joy embodied in our thirteen month old granddaughter.  This is our east coast girl and we are  enjoying the quiet, after a few hours of entertaining and ministering to the needs of a little one.  Hanging out with someone who does  not yet use words means there are moments when it is like a game of charades, trying to figure out what has changed her mood, what she is staring at and whether she is tired, hungry or bored with my singing.  I know for a fact that my rehearsal for grandparenting was caring for my own children, and sometimes I forgot my lines and my patience was in short supply.

It amazes me that as I grow older my need to be doing “it” right (whatever “it” might be) diminishes exponentially.  When someone so little looks up and grins a toothy grin that makes you know you are doing it the way they need or want, it becomes the standard of measure.  It doesn’t matter whether you are acting like a fool, or that you are willing to copy any sounds that they utter  or crawl around on the floor, it all meets with approval.  It doesn’t matter that everything else that used to be important, is put on hold because my FHB and I finally get it….time has accelerated, our kids are adults and these little folks (both our east and west coast girls) are willing and available for loving and experiencing  life in this moment with us.  Children have no sense of time as that is a concept that it thrust upon them.  So every moment is freestanding.  The relationship is the connection between moments.

The caretaking is somewhat more daunting, and I am not that sure whether it is because I am older or whether I am more worried about messing up “someone else’s” child.  Having the trust of my child to watch his child is a tall order.  What I did when I parented many moons ago is less relevant to being consistent in caring the way I am asked to do.  It is learning respect for someone else’s system and honoring them for being excellent caretakers, which in the circle of life might just be a reflection of how they were raised.  It is actually such an eye opening experience to know that your child is truly a person who can manage to work, and caretake and be a partner and it all works well.  They already know more about letting certain things go and emphasizing the critical tasks of being available and present for their children than I knew.  It is kind of impressive.  There is also the sense that they are truly grateful for our help and participation in their daughter’s life and that it is not taken for granted and assumed.  All of a sudden the good manners and acknowledgement that seemed to pass me by during their adolescence, comes back a hundred fold.  I like these people. They are kind to us and kind to others.

I had a hard time sitting still when I had a baby.  I thought that everything was equal in terms of cleaning, laundry, and childcare.  I did little caretaking of myself and questioned  how I was doing as a parent.  I was a hard critic and concerned that I was juggling all I needed to, the job, the house, and the children and not doing it terribly well.  I like the current babysitting gig and know that somehow it has all synthesized itself into a pretty lovely system of checks and balances.  I guess the investment of time plus or minus the lack of or increase in life experience, all adds up to a lot of return and drooling kisses.  And you can take that to the bank.

 

 

Wonder-ful Women

 

 

The Bracelets of Submission are the metal bracelets that Wonder Woman wears that symbolize  the Amazon womens’ past submission.  The bracelets are indestructible and allow her to deflect dangers such as energy blasts, weapon fire and other risks.  They are part of what makes her powerful but it is her intellect that fuels her and protects her and helps her problem solve.  Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s power is similar but her power is in her pen driven by her intellect.  They have both had a very good week.  Wonder Woman’s fame continues to flourish through the newest film that demonstrates that her character, and all she represents, endures.  Justice Ginsburg celebrated a long overdue victory for gender equality in which Ginsburg cites her own work in striking down a citizenship law that treats mothers and fathers differently.  Both superheros.

I smiled quite a bit today reading about RBG (as she is called) and her newest triumph.  My FHB (as he is called) is currently reading and relishing her biography.  He becomes so elated as he reads (and then recounts to me) her journey from childhood to the Supreme Court. Thinking back to the biographies that I was drawn to as a child/adolescent/young adult I recognize that I was always reading about women who forged the way and seemed fearless and driven to do what is right.  They were historical figures like Clara Barton, Mary Queen of Scots, Queen Elizabeth I, and Florence Nightingale.  I read stories about Amelia Earhart and Christa McCauliffe and women who led countries like Golda Meir and Indira Ghandi.  They were a lot of firsts who took risks.  Their courage and intellect were their bracelets.  My most favorite book was “Little Women” and Louisa May Alcott and her character “Jo” made me know and comprehend  that it was all right to step outside the comfort zone of gender and stereotype  if your vision for recognition was rooted in the belief that it could be the best for all.

I highlight the vision of women who have made gains for all people.  It was a good week to be aware of the relevance of change and the level of consciousness raising we are all often “forced” to acknowledge through tragedy ( e.g. “Pulse” nightclub) and victory in the courts. Telling stories through pop culture and comic superheros, as well as reading the stories of courage in all people who face challenges and yet pressed on, makes me feel like both an observer and participant in change.  Wonder Woman’s mission was to represent love, peace and truth.  Justice Gisburg would probably support all those values along with equality for all.  As Bob Dylan sings ….

Come senators, Congressmen
Please heed the call
Don’t stand in the doorway
Don’t block up the hall
For he that gets hurt
Will be he who has stalled
There’s a battle outside
And it is ragin’.
It’ll soon shake your windows
And rattle your walls
For the times they are a-changin’.

There’s a lot of “right” but there’s still a lot of “wrong”.  Interesting times.  Good to know we have some strong and powerful people, who just happen to be women,  leading the way.

Hot Fun in the Summertime

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Nine days and counting…to the last day of school, not including the weekends.  As folks in my circle, both students and staff would say…but who’s counting?….WE ALL ARE!  Love my job but knowing that it’s almost time to call it feels so good.  I have this ritual as the weeks count down. I keep a list on my nightstand of the things I want to attempt, places I want to visit, and experiences I want to experience between the last day of school and the first day back.  I still have some leftovers from last year but they actually don’t go bad and I roll them into this year’s list and my success rate of accomplishing is usually +/- 80%.

Most of the list involve solitary pursuits.  It’s not to be unfriendly, as I consider myself to be social most of the time, but part of recharging my own batteries, is knowing that doing things on my own will make me far more pleasant to be around overall.  In a helping profession, this is considered the “me first” remedy.  Some of the things under consideration might seem off beat, but that is for others to judge and me to find out.  I thought I would share some of them.  Here goes and they are in no particular order:

  1. Find foods to turn into dyes to paint.  I am curious about condiments and whether doing this will be disgusting or interesting. Dijon vs yellow?
  2. Try to find my pen pal from when I was ten. Elizabeth Feijoo of Manila, The Phillipines….if you’re reading this, you’ll save me a lot of research. Please write back.
  3. Getting my German Passport, since my parents were both born there and had to leave before WWII, I am entitled to have dual citizenship and my sister and I have decided to look into this as it is something we can pass down to our children.  Unclear if my FHB would be able to access this through me.  Could raise some interesting conversations.
  4. Read Moby Dick.  Have avoided this for many years.  Can’t live in New Bedford where it was written and not say you’ve read it.  It’s time.
  5. Go to the JFK Presidential Library in Boston to celebrate his 100th birthday. You can go online and sign a card.  Did that. Want to remember the good and not the tragedy.
  6. Want to go and see the St. Lawrence River and Seaway and see how the locks work. It’s probably dorky but I’ve been curious so time for a road trip.
  7. Try grilled tuna and/or swordfish.  I’ve had swordfish a few times and I didn’t like it but something tells me it was supposed to taste better than it was.  Never had tuna other than out of a can.  Seems like an adult food to consider.
  8. See if my FHB  and I can try a week of vegan clean eating.  Not sure if that will be before or after #7.
  9. Try doing shibori, the Japanese art of tie dying.  (hold over from last summer). Bought the supplies and they stare at me.
  10. Get my car detailed.  Never buy a light color interior. Even water stains.
  11. Swim in the ocean.  It has been too long and I want to remember how much I love to swim.  Planning not to drown.
  12. Visit Lizzie Borden’s house.  Fall River is just down the road.  I want to see if I get creeped out.
  13. See a couple of sunrises.

I’ll keep you all in the loop.  Enjoy your weekend.  Make your own list.

 

 

 

 

Old Blue Eyes and Me

 

In high school, seven people wrote in my yearbook “Dear Weird Barbara”.  Graduation is this Thursday, so I was thinking about these things.  I also was on the committee that organized the prom, but I didn’t go because back then (1971), I didn’t have a date. No one asked me. I couldn’t go stag because it was 1971.  My friend Susan  stopped by my job, where I worked as a dental assistant, and she showed me her wrist corsage, and her dress, and her purse, and her shoes, and her boyfriend… .  It’s been forty-six years and you can tell I’ve worked  that through and I am over it.

I didn’t have crushes on the Beatles or the Rolling Stones like my contemporaries.  I liked Elvis long after he stopped swiveling those hips and when he ate a lot of peanut butter and banana sandwiches. I sang along with Nat King Cole in my sunken living room.  My relationship with Frank Sinatra was long and enduring.  Though we were 38 years apart in age I hoped some day he would be in the neighborhood, need a glass of water, push the button to come up to apartment 5G and the rest would be history.  That dream followed me wherever I moved to from New York to Illinois to Massachusetts. I just thought even though he had married Nancy, Ava, Mia, and Barbara, that our paths had not yet crossed.  Just think about the last woman he married, Barbara Marx. Don’t you think I was in his subconscious?  Well, I do.  I was a mental stalker, long before that was a thing.  When my FHB and I met, I asked him what he thought of Francis Albert Sinatra and he said he didn’t care for his music.  Sometimes, you just have to take a chance on love, until the right one comes along. When I was single he was married and when he was between wives or with a wife etc. I was married so it just wasn’t in the stars.  Then he died, and I mourned.  I was single then.  Too bad.

I had dated some “bad” boys along the way.  There was one guy in college who was travelling to California between semesters and invited me along and he was somewhat of a Marlon Brando type. He was a great cartoonist and we were in the same political science course.  I didn’t know him well, but I thought a road trip might change that.   I tried to figure out the best way to tell my parents.  I was over eighteen and thought just telling them that I was taking a vacation to the coast and that I was driving with a friend would be enough information.  Needless to say,  it was still several years before I saw the Pacific.  Somehow, as cool as I thought I was, they didn’t.  Seemed like a good idea in the moment.  It was the 70’s.  Another interesting fellow took my picture in Central Park while a friend and I were hanging out there.  He said that he would call me and show me the pictures and we could have dinner.  He seemed nice.  When he did call, he said to tell my mother his name was something different than he had said it was in the park.  My mother wanted to know where he lived.  I asked him (this is when I would put my hand over the receiver and whisper to her as she stood next to me).  He told me he lived in Manhattan in a place called Phoenix House.  Sounded like a mythological place to me.  My mother pushed the button on the phone as she said “You are hanging up NOW”.  I didn’t know Phoenix House was a very well known drug rehabilitation place.  I figured he was probably on staff there.  My mother was not convinced.  A bit naive I was.   There was no dinner and no pictures.

I asked my mother to consider hypothetically,  if Frank Sinatra was lost in our neighborhood, and somehow he found our apartment, would she let me let him in.  I knew that she might crack under the pressure, as she had seen him at the Capitol Theater in New York City in the 1940’s and she told me she “swooned”.  She told me that if Frank Sinatra showed up at our door, she would knock me out of the way.  I guess I know where some of the weird comes from and where the interest in the “bad boys” also came from.  My father would roll his eyes as she sang along with Frank.  My FHB sort of does the same, but he sings along.  Oh the bad boys come and go, but the good ones you should hang on to.  It’s Witchcraft!

 

 

 

 

Food for Thought

 

 

Another one of my complicated relationships is with food.  Food provides me with a different element of neurotic behavior topped with a heaping supply of anxiety finished off with a dusting of contemplation about what I ate and what I will eat next.

Recently, my FHB and I had a discussion with some friends about the risks we all take when we eat at a restaurant.  It was not about contracting food poisoning but more about  not getting a good meal, making the right choice, and the possibility that you might be the designated “take one for the team” person at the table (if you are dining with others) that gets the lousy meal, while everyone else seems pretty happy with what’s in front of them.  The odds are often not in my favor.  When we go to a new restaurant, I peruse the menu like it could possibly be my last meal.  When there are too many choices, I choke, not literally, but go into neutral and order something that I usually would consider my default setting.  It’s somewhat like having 24 flavors of ice cream and ordering vanilla. Not that there is anything wrong with that.  Vanilla gets a bad rap.  Sometimes I will look at a menu online and plan ahead so that I seem confident in my choice as in “I’ll have the broiled fish”.  Not that there’s anything wrong with broiled fish. It just seems so meh.

Sending food back is something I vascillate about.  Surrounded by other people, I am more reluctant to make a fuss so I do what I call the five year old’s method of “I’m all done. Can I have dessert, please?” move.  I smash the food, rearrange it on the plate and try to engage my companions in political discussions (which could result in nobody being hungry) to take the attention off of the obvious issue that I hate what I ordered.  I was a precocious five year old who had strong political opinions.  I also struggle with not ordering  the same thing as my FHB since it seems like then I am a copycat.  Nobody likes a copycat.  I will often “suggest” something to my FHB so as to be able to pick what I think I really want and that often works out well.  However, there are some times when at the last minute, as the server is waiting to take our order, and I tell my FHB to go first, he will go in for the bait and switch and order what had been my plan to choose.  There’s the anxiety and the neurosis, rolled in breadcrumbs and covered in cheese.

We don’t eat out all the much for people in our age group, which seems to be a thing when you reach a point and you calculate that you (that would be me) over the course of a lifetime have cooked about a million meals (or like McDonald’s used to advertise “billions and billions served”).  So, after a million meals, you don’t want to cook  as much.  I actually do enjoy cooking at home and I like challenging myself to preparing a good meal, which includes protein, carbs (ahhhh) and vegetables in under 35 minutes.  I will often plan it as I am driving home and as I open the door it is like my version of Beat the Clock.  I am usually too tired to actually eat it but it looks good and the reviews (from my singular patron, the very non fussy FHB) are good.

Our culture has taken food to new heights.  Whereas in the growing up years food that was convenient and often frozen to table in under an hour, was the goal of the housewife.  Now we have gone full circle and simple is not necessarily easy and fresh is the word on the street…the local street.  I sometimes think that having only a few choices of food, would make my neurosis resolve itself and eliminate my anxiety.  I could spend more time thinking about how to solve our current political problems and how the world is spinning out of control.  I’ve lost my appetite.