Author Archives: thoughts whilewaitingfortheelevator

About thoughts whilewaitingfortheelevator

When I am not thinking about random ramblings, I am a clinical social worker who works in the public schools. I am a parent, a wife and a grandmother as well as a friend, colleague and keeper of secrets. I am an observer of the world around me and use humor and writing as my coping strategies when the world gets to be just too much. I live in New England but I am a native of New York City (although I have lived in Massachusetts) far longer than I lived in NYC. I try to follow my own set of expectations which I impart to the people I interact with.... learn something every day, teach something every day, be kind and if you hurt someone in any way, apologize.

Bee-utiful

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Do you notice the bee’s knees?  That was just an easy pun. Forgive me for I know exactly what I say.  I am not a fan of bees.  In fact, I am allergic to bees. I don’t distinguish between yellow jackets or honey bees or wasps or other garden variety of winged creatures that sting.  I remember my first two stings. The first took place about 39 years ago in October.  A bee was under my bedcovers and when I reached to pull the covers closer, it stuck its stinger into my hand.  Someone said it was probably drowsy and cold and just trying to keep warm.  I say it was an assault with a deadly weapon.  The second time was on a summer day while I was waiting for my sister to come and visit at a house I rented with the kids. I was minding my business and apparently I must have trespassed in a bee zone.  Since that time,  I have always been armed with an Epipen because the world is full of things I am allergic to, and forewarned is forearmed.

I know that bees offer us the path to honey and that they have a very distinguished place in our ecosystem and are very important to the balance in nature.  I also know that there are worries about the fragile balance and that bees are a species that we need to worry about.  I respect them for what they do.  I just am rather afraid of what they might do to me.  It just dawned on me that my name for myself as a grandmother is BeeBee.  This is what the grandgirls call me.  This is how I wish to be referred to.  Seems ironic, doesn’t it.

There are a lot of things in the world that don’t agree with me and result in some pretty significant allergic reactions.  There are a lot of things in the world that I don’t agree with  so there is that balance in nature.  I have learned to be very careful about not putting myself in harms way.  Asking questions about food preparation and reminding friends and family and cooks that I could ruin a great meal if someone slipped me a walnut or an apple or a peach without my knowledge (and the list is rather extensive), makes me feel a bit like a food allergen pariah or a dork.  My mother would often ask me, rather off the cuff  “are you still allergic to ……fill in the blank?”.  It just reinforces my concern that I have to have my own back since unintentionally it could be the end of life as I know it.

My FHB is pretty considerate of my food thing and yet, not that long ago said that he only wished that he could share a glass a wine with me as he does not like to open a bottle and know that it is something only he can drink.  Yes, I have a wine allergy.  Not quite sure what the allergen is, but it may be something called “sulfites”.  New Year’s Eve, 2006,  my FHB went so far as to go to a reputable wine store and ask whether there was something bubbly that we could share to celebrate the new year that was sulfite free.  He brought home something that the wine person touted as being the perfect drink to celebrate.  Within five minutes I took on the look of some type of alien with bulging eyes and red rings.  (I am not trying to discredit or acknowledge that aliens don’t have their place in the world).  However, it was not a good look and my FHB was rather horrified by both my appearance and inability to breath without an antihistimine STAT!  We have both moved on from that dream (nightmare).

There are far worse things than being allergic to an array of foods that I used to love.  It is certainly a romance gone bad.  There is still enough good stuff around for me to enjoy that I don’t want to whine about it.  Did I say wine?

Eat, drink and be wary.

It’s Over….

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Don’t jump to conclusions…because you would be completely wrong.  However, today, after fifteen years of a relationship built on give and take, flexibility and positive outcomes, I had to move on.  Things changed about two months ago.  In fact,  I was given less than ample warning that we would not be seeing one another anymore.  I was told that we’d still keep in touch and nothing would really change. But, you know how that goes, everything changes.  I tried to keep going and figure that the changes wouldn’t affect me and I could change and it wouldn’t be different. But it was so different.  So, today, I decided when I woke up, that I would take control of my life and I would find someone else, and that over time, it would be okay.  I left my old nail technician behind (after she left me) and found someone else.  My FHB said, after I called him to tell him that I made the change, in a somewhat sarcastic, snotty tone, ” well, that must have been really difficult” and I could hear the eyes roll and the smirk although we were about forty miles apart.  I remember being incredibly supportive when my FHB broke up with his barber after 30 plus years.  His barber (who was in Providence, Rhode Island which is about 30 minutes away) gave him a hard time when my FHB was eight minutes late to the appointment.  After that incident, which was really the straw that broke the camel’s back as they say, he decided to move on.  He started to go to someone locally and it seems like a good fit.

We form relationships with people who see us when we are vulnerable, perhaps not feeling good about ourselves,  and need something they can offer like a great mani/pedi or a good haircut.  They solve what may be a momentary feeling of self -yuckiness and restore of feelings of looking good and feeling good.  It has to be a trusting relationship, after all they are putting hands on you and it should be something that meets your goals and makes you feel better.  My person, was someone who I didn’t plan to get involved with.  In my line of work, I am listening to people all day trying to be helpful and direct them toward good self care, and so on.  So, when I started to go to this nail salon, I thought to myself that we should just keep it cordial, no deep conversations, and certainly not exchange any type of feelings positive or negative. That would be too much like work.  So I played it cool and kept the conversation to a minimum.  I thought it was like being a waitress and doing that “don’t give them eye contact” thing that they do when you need something like water if you are choking silently and putting up your hand and they don’t “see” you.  Then I found out that this person was delightful and had a lot to say and we could talk about movies and recipes and families and we could have a regular meeting every two weeks. It was the perfect “faux” friendship except that I always paid.

Fifteen years later, she moved on.  I can’t blame her.  There is more out there for her and I get it.  However, what or who she left behind, left a lot to be desired. I did not feel cherished or cared about.  I didn’t matter. I was just another customer and that was not okay. I gave it a good try but it just didn’t work out. I became critical and I saw the place for what it was, not the people, just a business.  Today, I went somewhere else.  I was pleasant but not revealing.  I was there to get my nails done and they look good.  It is the standard I expect.  I paid and got what I paid for.  I came home and put my hand in front of my FHB’s face and asked him how it looked. He said “It looks like your hand”.  Good thing he’s funny.  Good for him, that is.

P.S.  The shoes showed up.  Clearly hiding from me.  The sunglasses have not yet revealed themselves.

Questions I ask myself

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I attempt to keep most of my thoughts in my head, locked down, to myself.  I often wonder, however, if my thoughts are similar in content to those of other people.  They are the questions that occur during moments when I am alone, in the car, the elevator or walking around.  Since connecting with others is part of this weblog thing, it crossed my mind (vast and dusty like the solitary highways of New Mexico) that I should see what others think and whether there is someone else out there who has had the same question at some point….

  1.  Should I worry about misplacing both a pair of shoes (Ked boatshoes, size 8) and my sunglasses (Rayban with kind of a Jackie O look but not black) this week and whether they are together somewhere, hiding from me, as a joke?
  2. When I walk in the morning and I pass the same people twice, and have already greeted them the first time, do I give eye contact, and just a smile or greet them once again? Is there a point where that is considered “too friendly”?
  3. Is there a parallel universe which is something I consider when I see a car exactly like mine, and wonder if I am in it driving that car….and whether the shoes and sunglasses are in that car possibly? Would I freak myself out if I saw myself?
  4. Does everyone, who drives, ever go on a road, or a curve in a road and remember a song that you heard a long time ago at that same point in the road?
  5. Many times I will make a really nice dinner, but serve it at a somewhat later time (after 7:30 pm) and put it on the table and just stare at it and realize that I am actually more tired than hungry and why did I waste that time, when my FHB would have  happily eaten a peanut butter and jelly sandwich?
  6. Is it better to put an excessive amount of money in the meter than cut it close and not put in enough, and the next person will have time on the meter when they get there and that’s a nice thing to do?
  7. Corollary to above….it is a really awful thing to run in to wherever I’m going without putting any money in the meter because I am not going to use more than five minutes of the twenty for my quarter?
  8. If I am in a rush and I get on the elevator and hear footsteps coming around the corner, am I obligated to wait a minute or can I just close the door and send it back up?
  9. If you are sitting with your FHB (everyone should have one) and you glance over, as you are recounting a story that you felt was important to share, and you notice that they are watching the television and clearly are not listening, and clearly not disguising this, do you stop talking or just prattle on till you decide you are done?
  10. How much time should I give between declaring a personal item (or pair of shoes) misplaced and then lost?
  11. Sometimes I eat something while I am busy, and put it down and do something else, but in the back of my mind I remember that I didn’t finish it, and then have to search for the last piece,  I am curious if this is a common phenomenon or is it just me?
  12. Does it count if I start a book but don’t finish it to the very end, to say I read it?

So, these are not profound questions and none of them are life altering.  I think we all have some quiet thoughts and some very loud ones which require knowing that we are on the right path to working them out or letting them go and that’s where we check in with someone else, for comfort or just reassurance.  If you have any thoughts of where the shoes are or sunglasses might be, I’d love some help.  Thanks.

Moby, maybe?

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Great literature, as in real life can sometimes use some editing.  Perhaps I am being a bit unfair as I, too, have been called verbose from time to time.  However, I set a goal and met the goal, and in and of itself,  I pat myself on the back because accomplishment of any sort is probably good, unless I am bank robber who is on the lam because of poor planning.  Note to self…verbose run on sentence.  I read all 452 pages in the span of fifteen days.  Shorter than the voyage of the ill fated Pequod and Captain Ahab.  Much shorter.

The most wonderful part of the book in my estimation, was the beautiful description of New Bedford, Massachusetts in the 1850s.  The city’s rich history is described with such care.  As this is my home, for the last forty plus years, to read Melville’s words provokes a lot of emotion of where the city has been and where it is now.  To walk the cobblestone streets the narrator, Ishmael, walks, is to imagine the beauty as well as the seediness of the characters who become the actors in the story.  I loved the names he gave the men onboard the ship, Queequeg, Daggoo and Mr. Starbuck.  I could visualize them.  I also researched where the company name of Starbuck came from and indeed it is a homage to Melville’s steady first mate but that was just serendipitous as the marketing team for the coffee company considered a town near Seattle called Starbo.  The owner of the company remembered his high school book “Moby Dick” and the rest is history or something like that.

I laughed many times throughout the book at the interactions between Ishmael and Queequeg.  There were a few times I wanted to poke my eyes out during the overly detailed description of sperm whales which spanned a great part of the midsection of the book.  I plowed through the book with a dictionary nearby and I found many words whose meanings  I had no idea of.  I also found many expressions that were familiar to me  that I never knew were connected with the novel.  Of course many of the words are so antiquated and out of vogue that even if I tried to remember them (as elegant as many of them are/were), if I were to use them in a sentence I would sound ridiculous.  The last seventy five pages or so pretty much wrapped it up in a gory little package.

I am a believer that books come to us when we need to read them.  Living where I do gave the book a context that made me feel a strong and warm connection to the words and the times.  New Bedford was known as the Whaling Capital of the world at one time and was also the home of many textile companies.  It was a proud city then and though a bit threadworn and tired, it still has many people who are connected to the sea which is its lifeblood.  The beauty of the city is apparent when you get off the highway and travel the streets that Melville walked.  The mansions are still grand and more recently there has been significant effort on the part of many to revitalize the city and reinvent it in the 21st century.  The pull of the ocean and the stability of the land are in constant flux.

The story of Moby Dick is the story of revenge on one level and determination and fitting in on many other levels. It is cooperation of a crew at the hands of an angry driven man.  It is having a job to do, and the accomplishment of carrying on the mission of the group for the betterment of others, but being at the mercy of someone in power who has a singleminded task.  Sound familiar.  Everything changes and nothing changes.

Land ahoy….

Lucky Me

Fishing

Profundity.  Patient.  Insightful. Quiet. Observant.  Traits of a man who fishes and rarely catches a fish and yet tries again in the face of failure.  Perseverance.  Someone who wants to catch a Christmas fish on Christmas Day during a light snow.  No fish, but hot chocolate waiting for when the fish don’t show up.  Someone who says, after listening to Buzz Aldrin as the keynote speaker,  who arrived late to one of our childrens’ college graduation,  because he said he lost his way and you can’t make this stuff up, “I would rather hear a common man who spoke extraordinarily, rather than an extraordinary man who sucks!”.  This man who upon seeing a classic stone wall while meandering on a drive through a rural area says ” stone walls are the jewelry that decorate a house”.  They are the words that I write down to remember, because they are the words of someone who sees things truly as they are.  These are the words that blow me away and captured my heart when I wasn’t planning to find someone to do any more than have a cup of coffee with.  I often say to him, “I wasn’t planning on you and yet here we are”.

My FHB and I are celebrating our wedding anniversary next week.  Sometimes I forget the years because it all seems so seamless.  I didn’t plan to find such a good friend over that first cup of coffee.  After coffee, he suggested dinner, and subsequently I countered with telling him that I had a dog who was waiting for me to walk him.  He asked if he could meet my dog.  I acquiesced because my dog was a very good judge of character and I thought if he could pass the “Charley” test, he might be someone to have dinner with.  He passed the test. Charley even allowed him to hold his leash and soon Charley allowed himself to love my FHB and it was mutual.  There is something to be said for “love me, love my dog” and for someone who didn’t know dogs, I knew that was big and that it was going to get bigger.

We are not alike although we share a common world view on most issues.  His words are metered while mine are endless at times.  I know I am often the “Lucy” to his “Ricky”, and, sometimes I am the “Lucy” to his “Charlie Brown”.  I can snipe and show my ire and lash in the way that Scorpios can do.  He will take the high road and that is often enough for me to know I crossed a line.  We are adults.  I acknowledge my bad behavior and we go on.  No grudges but kindness.  At fifty and fifty four, respectively, we were pretty set, each in our own way.  We didn’t need to get married.  We had enough offspring between us to keep us on our toes and of course we had Charley.  We laugh a lot.  To make him smile and smirk is a daily goal.  The eye rolls are his way of tempering my nuttiness.  We live a fairly simple life that include family and friends, and quiet moments taken to just pay attention and hold on to one another.  We know that time is too precious to get caught in the maelstrom of being right, when all we want is peace and contentment. It is  to know that in the dark moments and in the light ones, we have someone to navigate with.  We take turns holding the map.  It works.  I am very lucky.

Memories of a Patriot

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Summer Vacation….day 11.  I have about another hundred pages to finish Moby Dick.  So far so good.  Lot of details that should I ever have the opportunity to row in a whaleboat, I will be pretty well versed in the responsibilities and strategies.  Don’t laugh, we have three of the world’s last actual  authentic Azorean whaleboats in New Bedford.  People go and row them. I could be on that waiting list.  Perhaps that will be on my list of things to do next summer.

It is the 4th  of July eve, and the neighbors downstairs are rocking the house.  Outside the windows are streams of fireworks over houses and rockets whistling through the air.  Paka the cat is standing sentry at the window should an errant rocket whisk by.  My FHB is fast asleep, unfettered by the noise of the neighbors or the lights and explosions in the distant skies.

Two memories to share, one sixty years old and the other fifteen years ago.  One involves my three year old self and my mother, and the more recent one was also shared by the two of us, both on the 4th of July.  Many, many years ago my parents took me to visit family in New Jersey.  We were there for a barbeque and to see the fireworks.  I actually do have pretty clear memories of being in a field near an elementary school while the fireworks were launched overhead.  I also remember the abject fear that I experienced at the sounds and the worry that the flashes would come down and hurt me.  I also recall being scooped up by mother and brought inside the school building safe from the fireworks. We stood at the door, her arms around my shoulders, and my leaning against her feeling safe from harm.  The July of 2002, after the September of 2001, my mother came to Massachusetts to celebrate my nephew’s birthday on the 3rd and on the 4th I took her to the Esplanade in Boston to hear the Boston Pops.  My mother was a huge fan and her excitement at finally being part of something she only watched on television was infectious. She smiled at everyone and we had to walk through quite a few police barricades to find ourselves a seat.  It was an especially poignant celebration after 9/11 and it seemed as though everyone on both sides of the Charles River recognized that we were all still here, together in celebration of our country’s birthday.  Several jumbotrons were set up along the river for those who were not close to the Hatch Shell to be able to see Keith Lockhart conduct the Pops and  made it possible to hear the music through the sound system.  There was a flyover from the base nearby as part of the celebration.  My mother was awestruck and she grinned so broadly.  There was a childlike delight in her expression.  People brought chairs and sat on the lawns.  We found a spot to sit, on the steps of the MIT library.  My mother chuckled loudly as she stated in her most “refined” tone….” I am going to tell people that my ass went to MIT!”  People around us roared at her pronouncement.  I had long ago given up being embarrassed at her sometimes inappropriate yet effusive comments.

The music was spectacular and as the sun began to set the fireworks were launched and once again, we shared this particular celebration of history and patriotism.  My mother was a fervent patriot.  She would fight and did fight for the right to be a citizen of the United States. She did not take her allegiance lightly.  As I sat close to her and put my arm around her shoulders and we looked skyward, it seemed like it was, in that moment, all right with the world.

Happy 4th of July, America!

What a diff’rence…

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…a year makes. I  began this blog (officially) on June 28, 2016.  It seems like a reason to celebrate.  It’s time to say Thank You to you, the readers. The comments help me know what connects with you.  The likes suggest that I touched some feelings…maybe some common ground.

In spite of my often impulsive nature, which I think I have tempered with age and reluctance to injure my body or my psyche, I really pondered what writing was going to be like.  Committing to the process required a discipline that I don’t usually harness easily.  It was changing a behavior, and according to behaviorists who find studying these type of things interesting all the time, it takes sixty days for a behavior to become a habit.  During the year I have found that people wonder, when they actually speak to me, not in the comments, but in a face to face conversation, where the ideas come from.  It’s all pretty organic.  Something along my day or week provokes me, whether it is in laughter, or anger or sadness.  Some of the posts are rooted in memories from my childhood or adolescence.  Those stories come to light, often when talking to students about the struggles of growing up, and how despite in those moments my often feeling very alone and judged, that time gives you perspective, and we survive what seems unforgiving and never-ending.  Times when I totally embarrassed myself or challenged myself somehow translates for kids as being someone with whom to identify.

Sometimes, I just make myself laugh out loud and believe (often in error) that others will laugh with me.  My sense of humor is off beat and although you might think that my FHB would be my muse, we have very different senses of humor.  Hence, he does not fit the role of muse.  In fact, the person who knows me and laughs with me (and at me) and in spite of me, is my sister.  When you have a sibling that is the only witness to your life at times when life is  complicated and off kilter, they are also the one with broad perspective, because they knew you then, and gratefully know you now.

I keep a list of ideas and situations and lyrics to songs I will probably never write….in my iPhone. Thanks, Steve Jobs, for giving me a place to store stuff.  It’s like a closet for my rantings, both disorganized and repetitive. Then there are the moments, when I find something, or think of something that I forgot about.  It becomes a new “outfit” or something recycled, that fits the bill.  A great feeling.  Today, in trying to do some research for this post, I found out that the root of “blog” comes from Weblog.  Didn’t know that. Probably the only one in the universe that didn’t.  I’m okay with that.  I do research of one sort or another as I write.  Often, I check my spelling or try to come up with the exact word I mean to convey.  There are moments of historical significance or hysterical significance, that I want to fact check.  The evolution of posting twice a week is actually something I have no idea how it came to be. I did some reading on blogs and experts indicated that keeping your blog in your readers’  collective consciousness by writing frequently, will expand the number of people who see your posts.  Apparently, there are about a trillion, zillion, gabatillion (made that up) people who blog.  That’s why I am so grateful for my “regulars”.  It’s like the number of bars in a big city.  You just hope the same people walk into yours, don’t slobber as the night goes on, don’t get into a fight and pay their tab…and keep coming back.

A riff on  the song Dinah Washington brought to us  “What a diff’rence a day makes” I can say now say that I have blogged for 367 days and the diff’rence is you…

Thanks and let’s keep in touch.