Jan 26, 2018

Deep down - still there.

My desktop computer is approximately 7 years old, perhaps 8 and it is getting a little temperamental. It's a 21.5 inch iMac and I'm not so sure I want to get another desktop tho I certainly appreciate the screen size.  I have an iPad that's about 3-4 years old and it is slowing down to a crawl and I definitely don't want to get another one of those. I am so over iPads.  I suppose I could have anything I want, there is money in the bank but how much do I really want to spend on this mishegoss?

I went to the dentist yesterday for what I thought was my 'final' fitting but the doctor is starting to get really picky, especially because of all the problems he has had with the lab. My next appointment is in approximately a week and half, and THAT should be my final fitting with me finally getting teeth approximately a week and half after that - so mid-February I should finally have teeth. The last time I had teeth in my mouth was May 18, 2017 - so nine months without teeth and my bank account is now $39,000 lighter.

I know that seems like a lot of money, but when you take into account ALL the dental work that has been done, and all the visits I made for work that I was not charged for, and when you see the gorgeous teeth I am going to have - well, it's really not so much.

On the other hand - Please people - TAKE CARE OF YOUR TEETH.

The only reason we can afford these things is because my husband is still working and I have my social security. We ARE NOT rich by any means but we can pay our bills without robbing Peter to pay Paul.  For now.

Of course we have to save against the day when my husband is no longer working. Our income will take a large hit when that happens and there will be very little for extras and indulgences.  Part of me says - "Get the big ticket items out of the way now" and the other part of me says "Yes, but you could do without and bank that money".

I tend to think I don't deserve to be spending any money at all - and that has always been a big personal problem. I don't think I deserve to have anything beyond the barest essentials. Doesn't matter how hard I have worked or the sacrifices I have made. I am unworthy and undeserving.

That is just so f**king sad.  And there is nothing I can say to myself, or that anyone can say to me that will change how I feel. That feeling is now hard-wired into my brain. Because someone, a long time ago, beat that into me, physically and verbally.

No matter how many hours a person spends on the psychiatrist's couch; no matter how much personal effort goes into 'getting over it', 'putting it in the past' - a person doesn't and can't.  Not really; it only seems that way sometimes to people on the outside.

Inside, we are still there.


Jan 25, 2018

I know it when I read it...

I have, in the past, done a run down of the books I have, and haven't read. The books that get rejected, often after less than one chapter, are deemed unreadable because of bad writing, and that includes bad editing. Once I come across grammar, spelling and punctuation errors, over and over, in the space of 20 or so pages, I just shut the book. I know I should overlook these and just immerse myself in the story but I can't.

So often in the recent past some of the best writing I've come across has been in newspapers. Often the subject matter is of no great import, such as lifestyle articles. The Washington Post has a fashion editor, Robin Givhan, whose way with words and a story, pulled me in and kept me interested, to the point where I thought "Don't really care about fashion but this is really well written."

So perhaps, good writing is what draws you in and keeps you there regardless of how interested you are in the topic or the story.

This morning as I was separating out the sections of the newspaper, an article on the front of the sports section caught my eye. I am not a regular reader of the sports section. It usually gets put immediately in the recycle pile.

But this morning I read, was drawn in by the subject matter, yes, but the writing kept me reading. I can't tell you specifically what about the writing was good, only that it kept me reading. The article elicited, I want to say outrage, thought better of it, tried for another word/description but find outrage works, which I am sure was the writer's intent, at least I hope so. 

I don't know whether you have been following this story in the news. You may have become inured to the subject matter, institutional sexual abuse, #MeToo et al., but after reading this article this morning, my first reaction was anger, and my second reaction was "good writing"

The article can be found here. There are numerous other articles in today's paper on the subject, I haven't read them yet, and may not. This one may be all I need.


Jan 20, 2018

Easy for you, Difficult for me

Everyone is good at something. No one is good at everything. Yet we are always quick to say "Oh it's easy!" For you maybe, not necessarily for me.

I used to be very quick to say that, never thinking that the person I was saying it to might be hearing "If you can't do it you're stupid".  Of course I didn't mean that.

What we say is not always what is heard. The exact words might be but not the exact meaning. Our meaning gets translated into their meaning.  We don't just process words in a word-definitive, intellectual way but also in an emotional way.

I think we all know that, somewhere in our brain, but to have that awareness front and center at all times would make conversations slow and cumbersome. Or even bring them to a grinding halt.

I don't even know where I am going with this. But I can tell you what prompted it. Friday is a laundry day and as I was happily (yes, I said happily) folding sheets in the laundry room I was thinking "I don't know why people have a problem folding fitted sheets into a nice tidy square" and then I thought "Because what's easy for me, isn't necessarily going to easy for someone else."

Also -

You don't have to try something just because someone says you should, and makes you feel bad about yourself because you choose to not even try.

If it interests you, try it - might turn out well, then again it might not. You never know.

If it doesn't interest you, then blow it off.  Really.  And don't let anyone make you feel less because of it.

There are actually things I can do fairly well and yet they interest me not at all.  And vice versa.

And where have we heard all this before, pretty basic stuff.  And no, unfortunately it does not apply to required school courses.

And no, I will never ever try sushi/sashimi; like the guy from Texas said "Back home we call that bait".

Jan 18, 2018

Wings

Take a moment and think about an image, a concept that, in one form or another, has been a constant in your life.

Mine is wings. Winged things have always, ever since I can remember being aware of such things, been my 'image'.

The symbolism of wings is rather straightforward - it's basic meaning is freedom. It certainly has religious meanings and I often see classical angel wings, not attached to any type of anthropomorphic figure, flit across my inner eye.

I've been fascinated with being able to fly since I was a child. I used to sit in the window of our attic, with my feet dangling, thinking "If I jump will I fall or fly?" Whenever I am up high I have a very strong urge to jump, because somehow, somewhere in my mind I think I will fly. And that I have discovered is a very common thought pattern. My father confessed to me that he shared that compulsion. A friend once confessed the same - he had been to Niagara Falls on vacation, and when he looked out over the falls that compulsion to jump, with the underlying thought that he would fly, not fall, overcame him.

Images of butterflies were a large part of my consciousness when I was in my 20's. I had clothes with butterfly patterns, I had butterfly jewelry, think crazy cat lady with cat images on every thing she owns and wears, then substitute butterflies for cats - and that was me.

Butterflies symbolize change, transformation, transition and, freedom.

And then there are birds. They have taken up a lot of space in my subconscious and conscious mind. They took over from the butterflies somewhere along the line.

I watch birds fly and I feel like I am there with them; that I am them. I have a particular affinity with crows. Now the symbolism of crows is interesting and shares some of the meaning of butterflies.

While I was doing the research for this post I came across a site about spirit animals, the site has a quiz to help you find your spirit animal. I took the quiz and oddly enough my spirit animal was an owl, which also shares some of symbolic attributes of butterflies and crows - transition, change, wisdom, intuitiveness.

The pattern of my "images' seems very consistent - in format and meaning. If I were a deep thinker I could/would delve more into the meaning of all this and how it relates to my actual life.

But I am not a deep thinker.  I am a deep feeler tho. I feel more than I think. I trust my feelings more than my intellect. I live in and of my feelings more than my intellect.

That said, I snort a bit at people who spout ooga-booga philosophies, like spirit animals, which is a concept that goes far back in the history of humans. Yet here I am, thinking "Yes, yes - that makes sense."  Emotional sense, yes; intellectual sense, no.

And that is a dichotomy I have struggled with all my life.  What I feel to be true, what I believe in my gut, as opposed to what my intellect says is, shall we say, fanciful.

So what is it that you feel more strongly than you think?

Jan 13, 2018

Say wha?

It was a kinda slip-slidey here on Tuesday, and in an article in Wednesday's Washington Post we get this commentary:
At Sibley Memorial Hospital in Northwest Washington, officials said they had seen a “significant increase” in the number of people coming into the emergency room overnight and into the morning with slip-and-fall injuries.
“Breaks, fractures, soft-tissue injuries, you name it,” said hospital spokesman Gary Stephenson. “The law of physics is such that there is little you can do when you hit ice. It’s in­cred­ibly slippery.” (emphasis added)
The next thing you know this guy will be telling us that water is wet!

In the past I have wondered why 'shit' is probably the only word that still gets bleeped. Or replaced by the word "expletive" or is written out with asterisks as substitutes for letters. And yet, Friday morning the Washington Post (sorry if there are constant references to WaPo but it is my local newspaper.) printed out the word quoting he who shall not be named.

Also surprising was the suggestion that someone, or even a lot of someones, from Norway would want to immigrate to the United States. Even with the most cursory knowledge of Norway, that is a question that no one would ask. 

Actually I think the more interesting question would be "Why aren't more Americans emigrating to Norway?" 

And the way this country is going, will Americans soon be applying for admission to other countries under 'refugee status'. 

Jan 12, 2018

Isidore-able!

I got me a mouse from the fabulous and talented Ann...

He came with cheese AND a candy cane...just so he wouldn't be hungry on the trip here. At least that's what Ann said...

His name is Isidore, and he is Isidore-able!

Jan 10, 2018

Just some odd thoughts...

I posted a version of this on Monday night on FB - so if it's familiar -

My husband watches the local news at 6pm and then World News Tonight at 6:30. Both broadcasts feature advertisements from drug companies - targeting all us old folks sitting at home listening to our arteries hardening, (because the rest of the populace are fighting their way home through rush traffic.) As I passed by the living room I heard an advert for a prescription sleep aid with the caveat "Do not take this if you suffer from narcolepsy"
Seriously? Ya think?

Back in the 80's when Manhattan was the borough of preference, if you lived anywhere else, you were declared "GU" - geographically undesirable, for the purpose of possible romantic interactions. I don't know what dating is like nowadays, but it has never been easy, has it?

Why don't they makes slippers in actual real sizes? Not this - small, medium, large crap that fit absolutely no one? I wear slippers that are usually labeled 'indoor/outdoor' and have non-slip soles. Or at least that's what I keep trying to buy - not very successfully. I buy them, sure enough, but not successfully, insofar as them actually fitting.

I wish I was clever. Which to my mind is not the same as smart, or educated. I think I'm pretty smart, book-wise and street-wise, and I've certainly had a good education and I know a lot of stuff. I'm not sure how to define what I consider clever. Perhaps I can show you...

If I were clever I would be able to come up with the perfect caption for this meme worthy photo:

Jan 9, 2018

It's not you, it's my Uncle

I'm a dark haired, dark eyed, dark skinned Southern Italian (-American). Sure, we a have few blue-eyed redheads in the family, seems there is a deep strain of such hued folks in Sicily, but we are mainly, and most definitely, stereotypically Mediterranean in appearance

When we lived in the Bronx it was pretty much a mixed bag of nationalities, accents and colors. Where we lived in Queens, not so much. Not that Queens wasn't multi-ethnic, it was, just not my neighborhood, so much.

And then there was television, magazines, advertising - pretty much all Anglo, and blond haired/blue eyed.  I grew up thinking Anglo's were exotic.  Because they didn't look like me or my family.

When I started dating I gravitated to the All-American Anglo looking guys. They were different! They were what was desirable in this country (or so it seemed.) Just as my dark good looks were considered exotic and desirable to a lot of the Anglos.

Once I did go out with an Italian guy, and while we had a good time we decided that a romance wasn't in the cards because, as he said, "I really like you but you look too much like my sister!"

I'm sure I laughed at that because I distinctly remember saying to an Italian-American fellow "I can't go out with you, you look just like my Uncle Al."

I wonder if that happens much within other nationalities/ethnic groups? It must, surely. If you stick with your own kind, it stands to reason that someone is going to look like someone else. And that someone else just happens to be a family member

And let's face it, the thought of rolling over in bed in the morning and coming face to face with your Uncle...Eh - I don't think so.

Jan 8, 2018

One of my squirrel stories

just to show you what a nice person I am.

Fall day, I'm sitting on a bench in Union Square Park, talking to a friend. I'm turned slightly to my right with my arms crossed over my chest, hugging myself against the cool afternoon air.
Union Square Park
My friend whispers to me "Don't move., just turn your head slowly."

I turn my head to my left and there is a squirrel burying a nut in the crook of my arm!

Friend, really a very new acquaintance, says "You must be a very nice person".

Aww, isn't that sweet?

I have a long history with squirrels. And while there are many squirrels scampering around the property here, because I am on the third floor and do not have a balcony, I don't get to interact with them much. To off-set that I do have -
(There is no sound)

Jan 7, 2018

A most vivid sweet memory

triggered by this exchange on FB the other day...


Time: Fall of 1961,  Sunday afternoon. A kinder gentler time. When kids were allowed all the freedom in the world to wander their neighborhoods at all times of the day and night but weren't allowed to go into Manhattan (the city) alone. As part of a large group, yes, but only if there were older kids or an adult.

Players: My church youth group. Perhaps 16 of us, ranging in age from 13 to 18.

Occasion: Going to see 'West Side Story' at the Rivoli Theater in mid-town Manhattan.

We must have gotten out of the theatre in late afternoon. Late afternoon, in the Fall, in NYC - a magical time on any occasion.

We piled out of the theatre, hopped up, excited, totally jazzed. As we made our way down the street, without forethought or planning, we began to dance, snapping our fingers and singing - "When you're a Jet, you're a Jet all the way, From your first cigarette to your last dying day"

We jostled around and reformed to sing - "Gee Officer Krupke, what are we to do? Gee, Officer Krupke, Krup You!"

We settled, and walked and then someone started to sing - "Could be, Who knows? There's something due any day I will know right away Soon as it shows...15 sweet, beautiful teenage voices joined in. One of the boys ran ahead, leapt onto a light pole, ala Gene Kelly in 'Singing in the Rain", one arm wrapped around the pole, the other flung up and out ...and we sang - "It may come cannon-ballin' down from the sky, Gleam in its eye, Bright as a rose. Who knows?"

We didn't know it was magical then, we were just young and happy.

But today? Writing this?  I feel the magic. I see it all in my mind's eye. I live it again. And these tears in my eyes?  Just a little joy, remembered.

Jan 6, 2018

The back story

because sometimes nothing makes sense if you don't know where I'm coming from.

I was born and raised and lived, for 44 years, in New York City. Some folks, including the ones who live there, don't know that NYC consists of 5 boroughs - Manhattan, Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens and Staten Island. Only the Bronx is part of the mainland United States, the rest of the boroughs are islands or are on an island. And there are actually people who live in Brooklyn and Queens who don't know that they live on Long Island, I don't know where the hell they think they live but...I once had an argument with a reasonably intelligent, educated man about this. We had been out on the island, which in NYC means you went over the city line into Nassau and Suffolk counties. Luckily he had a map in the car and I pulled it out to show him that Long Island contained 4 counties, Brooklyn (Kings county for you purists), Queens, Nassau and Suffolk. Brooklyn and Queens being part of New York City and Nassau and Suffolk not part of NYC but only New York State.

Here I'll show you...
I don't know who made this map but they can't spell
Now then, for another little linguistic NYC quirk. Back in the day, my day at least, before Brooklyn became famous, Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx and Staten Island were called the "outer boroughs" and Manhattan was called "the city" by all the residents. If you lived in Queens and were going into Manhattan you said "I'm going into the city'.  I was once accused of not really being from NYC because I referred to Manhattan as Manhattan, not the city.  Guy was a moron of course.  As it happened, from my late teens on, my work and social circles consisted of people from all over the world - and Manhattan, they understood, "the city" confused them. Eh.

(I have absolutely nothing to say about Staten Island because until the Verrazano Bridge opened in 1964 Staten Island was pretty much just words on a page. Actually, thinking about it now, even in 1964 I knew jack-all about Staten Island.  Still don't but I'm slightly more aware of where and what it is. And quite frankly, if Jersey wants it they should give it to them. As an old friend, back in the 60's, said - "They're still playing cowboys and indians on Staten Island - with real cowboys and indians.")

I think, and I could be wrong, wouldn't be the first time, that most people think NYC (all of it) is mostly apartment buildings.  You kinda would be wrong if you think that.  With the exception of the 3 years or so that we lived in the projects, I always lived in a "private house". What's a private house you ask? What nowadays would be called a 'single family, detached house'. The outer boroughs pretty much look suburban. Truly they do. Tree lined streets, single family houses, front lawns, backyards, driveways with a 2-car garage (okay, maybe a single car garage. In my neighborhood it was all 2 car garages) at the rear of the property. Apartment buildings were clustered along the main drags (Queens Boulevard, Steinway Street, 86th Street etc.) along with all the shops and commercial enterprises.

Yes, yes - there were attached houses, and two family houses but they were mixed in with the "private houses". These suburban-type areas were usually just 2-3 blocks off of the main drags. And yes, again, Brooklyn is known for its brownstones, which originally were single family homes, and yes, they had backyards. We had a swing set in the backyard of our house in the Bronx.

Here's a photo of the house I grew up in in Queens...
There was front lawns on both sides of the front walk, a decent sized backyard and on the left there was a long driveway that led to the back of the property to the 2-car garage.

I have to be honest here, I don't actually know much about Queens because all the years I lived there, which ever part I lived in, were just places to keep my stuff. I never spent much time in Brooklyn either, and we moved from the Bronx when I was 8 and only went back to visit relatives. Staten Island is a total blank. Manhattan was my bailiwick from the time I was finally allowed to go into the city on my own.

All of this is background to the smallest and tiniest of stories I will post tomorrow. But as we go forward this information might prove useful and save me writing, and you reading, if I can just refer to this very basic, and long, back story.
~ ~ ~ ~ 
(I just re-read this and hoo-boy there is so much more I could add. So much more I could explain. If anyone reading this is from NYC and you want to jump on my case for leaving out a lot of info - please don't. Yeah, yeah - Manhattan brownstones, Inwood et al - I know, I know. If people are truly interested they can research it themselves. What am I, a tour guide?)


Jan 4, 2018

With my crazy ping-pong brain

it's going to be difficult to keep this on the straight and narrow, or rather the relevant.

I suppose I could title this "The Ooga-booga of Scent and Smell" except only part of it is ooga-booga but then again not, or maybe. I don't know.

Where to start...

How about we start with our sense of smell.  Smell is our fifth sense and closely tied to memory and emotions, perhaps more than any other sense. So perhaps it makes sense that aromatherapy is a real thing. But how much of a real thing? (Careful now Grace don't go ping-ponging off in another direction).

I use eucalyptus oil diffusers throughout the apartment. I have no idea whether we have experienced any of its highly touted effects but I like the way it smells, so there you go.  During the past year I have gifted several friends with lavender candles and sachets because they mentioned trouble sleeping and stress and anxiety reduction are some of the benefits of lavender as well as alleviating insomnia. I have not heard back whether the lavender helped.

My crazy ping-pong brain, as well as my husband's snoring/breathing problems keeps me from sleep. In an effort to cure my husband's problems I bought wedge pillows, and as long as I can keep him sleeping on his side his problem is solved. But what about me?

I've been wearing Obsession eau de parfum since it came on the market in 1985.  Oh, there have been occasional dalliances with Magie Noire  but my signature scent was Obsession. And always the eau de parfum, never the cologne or eau de toilette. Yes, there is a difference, and I'm not going to ping-pong onto that subject. (Lordy, it's not easy staying on point here.)

A few weeks ago I decided changes were needed and I decided I needed the magical properties of lavender (I'm all about the magic, dontcha know, and anything in the purple family). As I am wont to do, research first. Oh my goodness there are so many lavender body scents, and they are hardly inexpensive. Plus of course you can't get a proper whiff through a computer screen.

After many hours of deliberation I went with Lavende (Lavender cologne) by L'Occitane and I am well pleased but it took some getting used to. My husband, on the other hand, voiced instant approval.

Because it is cologne, and not parfum, it doesn't have, or it's not supposed to have, staying power but I make sure it gets spritzed on my undies as well as my skin and hair and, on me, it lasts all day through to the next. Which means when I put my little keppie down for the night with my ping-pong brain, the scent lingers still. And ya know what?

I've been drifting right off to sleep! Almost as soon as my head hits the pillow!

(With the exception of Sunday night of course when I couldn't get my husband to roll over on his side and the noise would have waked the dead and kept those of us who were alive, awake. Even the cats couldn't take it and they decamped for the living room.)

Now I can't really say that the scent of lavender is the reason I am enjoying sleepfulness. But - cause and effect? Or - expectations met? Because I believed it, it was so? Even tho I truly had no expectation that it would?

I changed perfumes because I wanted a change (after all these years). The new scent is pleasing to everyone who sniffs it. Not really all that expensive considering how large the bottle is. But P.S. and by-the-way, I've never had so many consistent good nights of (almost instant) sleep.

Whatever the reason, it's a win-win all the way around. So may I suggest - trouble getting to sleep? Try lavender. (And if your husband snores, try a wedge pillow and lavender or - well, I'll leave the other possibilities to your imagination and discretion.)

Jan 3, 2018

I suppose it's just a POV

It seems this year's new years thing is a gratitude jar, in which you daily deposit a slip of paper on which is written something, great or small, that you were/are grateful for that day. Mindful gratitude, intentional gratitude - I believe those were the phrases used. Then on New Year's Eve, you open your jar and read through the gratitudes and contemplate the good things of the past year instead of the not-so good things.

My first reaction to this was disdainful, uncharitable, derisive. And with self-acknowledged egotism, pomposity, self-importance, and sanctimoniousness, or in one word, hubris, I thought "How sad for them."

But it really is a point of view. Or the cliche - "You do what you gotta do."

I would hardly describe myself as a pollyanna, not sure any of you would either. I tend to think of myself as practical, pragmatic, unimaginative and while not entirely a 'glass half empty' person, neither do I see myself as a 'glass half full' person either.

I am, on the other hand, a believer in the mystic and magical. I can be fanciful and irrational. I can be soppy and sentimental.

I can still carry a grudge but I carry them more lightly now. The pains of the past, which still inform who I am, are visited less often and with some insight, but not with what some would call forgiveness (a word I have no understanding of).

I am an upsides/downsides person, as many of my past posts can attest to. Some days the upside is difficult to find no matter how much I poke and scratch for it but I can honestly say that as I try to get my mind settled for the night (not alway successfully) I do see, and acknowledge, some upsides. And if I were to maintain a gratitude jar I suppose these upsides would be what would go into it.

But...

My life is not so busy, chaotic, complicated that I am unaware of these upsides even as they occur. They are there, I am aware that they are there, and I smile, inwardly and outwardly, and say "Thank you" that they are there.

I don't subscribe to the yearly review concept - tho Dave Barry's always amuses me, whether it is political, musical, theatrical or personal.  I have no need to review my past year, the past already takes up too much space in my consciousness.  Oh, mistakes made, too much in the forefront, whether near past, or far past. The good things? You know, just as often front and center - near and far past.

But if your point of view differs, and you need that gratitude jar and yearly review to keep your upsides and downsides in balance and perspective then do what you gotta do.