“Why is he not answering my text? I sent it a few hours ago. He doesn’t pay attention to me.” I double check my message threads and discover I never sent the message! Silly me. Notice how quickly I jump to negative assumptions? Where is Roscoe? I call for him and eventually start panicking when he doesn’t appear. Did I forget to let him in? He’s not outside. And then I remember I got something out of my second bedroom, and I check and open the door and he trots out like”What took you so long?”  I don’t know, I think why didn’t I notice he came in the room? Simple innocuous explanations for situations that gave me the run around, with frustration and anxiety as the result. I make mistakes and over react. I’m not superior. I’m solidly a member of the masses of people who make mistakes. I’m right in the trenches with the rest of humanity. I think its time for me to get humble.

I really don’t like to admit that I don’t know the answer, or to be embarrassed by my “duh” behaviors. After all I am a smarty-pants and know everything“. Perhaps I’m even infallible! Well, obviously not infallible! I’ve never had a stellar positive body image, but believe me, you can call me fat and I certainly won’t be happy, but call me stupid and I will be enraged. What’s the big deal? To tell the truth I’m not entirely sure, but I have some ideas. In my early school years I was fearful and quiet,  but I did get positive attention from my teachers for reading quickly and “knowing the answer”. My hand would fly up and I would be thinking “Pick me , pick me!” I knew the answer 99% of the time and my self esteem was soon tied to having correct answers and understanding. I never wanted to feel like I didn’t know what to do. I was lost in a sea of siblings, with parents too busy to always pay attention to me. I felt like it was up to me to take care of myself, and that meant I needed lots of brain power. Today, I feel sad for that little girl who grabbed at whatever could help her feel more secure.

My experiences in childhood prepared me to value “readin’, writin’ and ‘rithmetic”. Being a good student was not a bad outcome, but unfortunately “book learnin’” was not the only kind of smarts I needed to be a successful adult. I found out that I couldn’t think my way out of many situations. My emotional intelligence report card was dotted with “F’s”. I actually thought that “dumbing” myself down was a viable way to get whatever outcome I wanted,  even if I knew that what I wanted was harmful to me. Many times I knew better, but my warped emotions and emotional reasoning created enough denial to over-rule myself. I allowed myself to feel some superiority because like Yogi, I knew I was “smarter than the average bear.” A lot of good that did me…

So here I am, an older woman, and I’m no longer trying to use my intelligence as currency. My intelligence is a gift, nurtured by my diligence for lifelong learning. I’m more emotionally intelligent now and I know there is heart smart and brain smart. Finally, I have learned that humility is the best antidote to any arrogance I feel intellectually and emotionally. 

Play Nice With The Other Kids

For years, when I headed out the door to go to work, Roger would call down the stairs “Play nice with the other kids.” Depending on my mood I chuckled or grumbled.  Of course, adults have learned to play well with others. Right? Wrong! The level of the “playing” field in Congress is very much the opposite of nice. It is an arena where cruelty, and threatening behavior is common place. The message is “Be afraid, be very afraid.”  Security for Democratic Congressmen has increased exponentially, and threats against them, election officials , health care professionals, and even school board members have also increased exponentially.  Playground bullies got nothin’ on Congress. Washing their months out with soap is a risky proposition when some members of Congress can barely part with their guns on the floor of Congress.   “Who me? Can’t you take a joke?”—joking or hiding behind the silent wall of your buddies, even if they are Congressman, does not negate how the threat landed.

Paul Gosar, a Republican congressman, posted an anime video of him killing Democratic congressman, Alexandra Occasio Cortez, and attacking President Biden. He was censured by the House, but right after the censure Gosar reposted the video. I guess he got away with a slap on the wrist and thumbed his nose at the censure. Unfortunately, I am sure there will be more physical violence and people will die.  In high school, his nickname was The Weasel. Paul Gosar’s brothers and sister recently wrote an opinion piece warning  how “ridiculously unfit” their brother is to be a U.S. Congressman. It would be a good bet that he did not get their vote. They write that Gosar is a bigot, anti-Semitic, anti-Muslim and associates himself with White Nationalists, none are endearing qualities.  They believe Gosar was also instrumental in inciting the violence on January 6. It appears the Weasel is still living up to his nickname. Perhaps his siblings should have been listened to before he was elected.

Consider this, if your group of friends all swear like a drunken sailor, eventually swearing will seem very normal. We all get desensitized to what we see day after day. With frequent exposure to other’s  behaviors we develop a new normal that fits our new reality. We get used to it. We may think that our families do things the right way, after all it’s what we’ve seen and experienced for years. I’m afraid we will get used to violent rhetoric and threatening behaviors; i.e.that’s how Congress always behaves.  How low can we go before the brakes are applied?  Is it all harmless? Is it true that “Sticks and stones can break my bones, but words can never hurt me?” What if the “sticks and stones” are assault rifles? There is no debating with a gun. Social media speeds up the spreading of lies and personal attacks, and words do hurt ourselves and others. How many times can we see the dysfunction and violence in Congress before we get numb to it? I don’t want to find out.

Pandemic Proofs

A drumroll please! I put my sweatshirt on this morning and reached back to pull my hair out of my collar and it hit me like a lightning bolt—my hair is long enough, to do that thing that women with long hair do, to get their hair unstuck from their collars!  So what?  You may be wondering if I’m a “Hair” fan or have a Samson complex, but no and no. I’m just a Covid survivor who decided to let my hair grow during the pandemic time out. I’ve had one haircut in almost two years, and my compulsion to try a million different styles and haircuts has been stymied. My hair is longer than it’s ever been and I like it, even if it took me 69 years to grow it out. So what’s the takeaway? It’s my realization that “Better late than never.” is really true.  I’ll take my truisms however and wherever  they come.

A drumroll please! I’m never going to get that “bad boy” tamed and to fall in love with me. AND I’m never going to completely give up that fantasy. Yes Bobby is now 70, with those same bedroom eyes, and looking like he’s still 25, and he’s given up all of his bad habits, like doing drugs, and professes deep love for me. It’s never going to happen! I can entertain my fantasy and still know when it’s time to shelve the fantasy. Yes, I know I’m older now,  but I spent a lot of time during Covid watching movies about young love that ended well. The girl and the guy got together. They are forever stuck in time, but I got older and experIenced the good and the bad of “mature” love. Now I am online and hoping for one more love relationship for myself,  and trying to stay away from the “bad(old) boys”. “ Can’t you hear Roy Orbison crooning “Only the Covid Lonely”?

A drumroll please!  Amazon not withstanding, I’ve finally figured out that almost all my “needs” are really just “wants”. Ordering groceries, toiletries and cleaning supplies on-line eliminated strolling through the grocery store, seeing things that I needed to have that were not on my list. Out of sight, out of mind. During Covid, it was such a complicated process to grocery shop on line that I got into the habit of repeating my previous order and adding just a few things that were different for that week. It didn’t matter that I narrowed my choices.  I still found what I needed and didn’t miss what I didn’t see. I had many clothes that were not worn for over a year. I walked a lot, so sweats and running shoes were my wardrobe staples, and I still had way more of those than I needed. It was freeing not to be led around by my nose seeking all those things I just had to have. I became a Covid consumer and I want to remain a Covid consumer after, hopefully, Covid is gone.

A drumroll please!  Navigating social distancing, masking rules and living in fear from an invisible and potentially deadly enemy is incredibly isolating.  After well over a year of living with Covid, I’m convinced it’s true, “No man is an island.” Relationships with family and friends are essential to my well-being and I need physical contact. “We are Family.” and “I Get by With a Little help from My Friends.” are my new theme songs. Loneliness was the other pandemic during Covid, potentially as deadly as the virus. I am sure we need each other to help us remember what it means to be human and to be humane. We don’t need more things, we need love. Those of us who are lucky enough to have indoor pets have been able to feel and pet warm bodies, and I prefer my  doggies to some humans I know. So hats off to our 4 legged pandemic pets.

If we have learned what our values are, and renewed our commitment to live a more loving and kind existence, we can honor what will be close to 1 million fellow Americans who have lost their lives during this horrible and humbling pandemic. 

That’s Funny

Sometimes it really is true that you don’t know whether to laugh or cry. I just accidentally sent a “super like” to a rather suspect 80 year old guy on Match, who may have said he was looking for hook-ups!!  But what’s really funny is he will go “view” me and decide I’m not even hook-up worthy…  That’s the update on my on-line dating experiment or fiasco, which ever you want to call it. Most of the “likes” I’ve gotten have been from guys who live on Mars or didn’t post a photo. How do you meet for coffee when the guy is from Canada, California or Mars? And of course, without a photo to look at, it’s quite like a shot in the dark. Is he 18 or 100,  or white, black or, god forbid, orange? Maybe he has a swatzicka tattooed on his cheek. Or is he selfie challenged? With all of this consternation, why am I still on the dating site? Good question.

 I never want to say “My late husband Roger.”  Roger is not late, he’s a permanent no show. He died six years ago. Anyway Roger was a master storyteller and pretty good at remembering jokes and not screwing up the punch line. Most people that knew him would agree that he was a very funny guy. I, however, can’t tell a joke to save my ass and my storytelling wanders and meanders, and the thought train goes off the track, and I forget important details, and you can’t follow me and…. See what I mean? Molly did a handstand the other day so she could pee right where Roscoe peed. This made me laugh when I saw it, but I doubt most people would think it very funny. Roger told the story of the night his parents went out and he and his brother ground up all the onions in his Mom’s garden, and how eyes watered and the smell didn’t go away for weeks. I always thought that was a funny story. All I know is that Roger made me laugh and he could even get me to laugh at myself.  So I try to carry on his irreverent attitude and cast my online dating experiences in a humorous light, a la Roger.

Is it my profile photos that deter men from contacting me? Would a young Barbra Streisand have gotten lots of “likes” on Match, or would her snoz have been a turn off for most guys. I think Robert Redford would have gotten more “likes” on Match than Paul Newman, and I am also sure that every “like” Paul Newman got would have mentioned his beautiful blue eyes. There may be a formula for success for on-line dating, but nobody is willing to give me the recipe for the secret sauce. I suppose saying “Please, please  give me a chance.” sounds too desperate, and “Who cares?” a bit too aloof.  “Just be yourself.”, is the most frequent advice I get from friends, but which self are they talking about? I’m not a chameleon and have a pretty solid sense of who I am, but different people bring out different parts of my personality and appeal to my different interests. One thing I know for sure is that Roger, were he in my circumstances, would have had people laughing hysterically at his online dating stories. Roger was always good at saying out-loud what people were thinking. He got away with a lot because he was so darn cute. I’m not cute, I’m …what?

I work out a lot of things by writing about it, so that is what I am doing. Unfortunately, this means my readers may be covering their eyes and saying “T.M.I, T.M.I.” This whole experience  is really funny to me because I choose to laugh rather than cry, I hope the same for you dear reader.

It’s My Party

It’s my party because today is my birthday. I am 6-6-6-6-6-9-9-9.  Am I experiencing  diminishing returns with each passing year or am I finding adequate supplies of joy, contentment, enthusiasm and gratitude to meet my demands? I think it’s the later. My body announces, sometimes loudly, that I am aging, but I feel ageless in many ways. Of course, on a micro level, each day presents a wide range of  experiences which affect me physically and emotionally. My emotional well-being can be tied to my physical well-being. It’s hard for me to be joyful when I don’t feel well. I just went thru a brutal prep for a colonoscopy and the best I could do was hang on and keep reminding myself that I would be better soon. And I am better and actually feeling some pride in not falling apart. My body and soul felt great after my morning jog today so sometimes the physical and emotional paths are the same.

A couple of friends have asked me if I am having a hard time with turning 69 and if I am reflecting on getting older. Yes and no. I am 69 and I am getting older and that’s a fact. My husband and sister died years before they reached 69, so I am grateful to just be here and I hope I have made good use of the additional years I have been given. I feel some responsibility to learn and grow because I loved them, and they are part of who I am because they loved me. So it’s not so much that I am 69, but what I’ve  done with those years.  Actually I’d like to think more about who I want to BE, rather than solely about what I have done. I can do the life checklist and check off my accomplishments, or I can stop measuring and keeping track. If I believe that I am enough just as I am, I can take the energy that I would expend on proving myself and use that energy to be of service.  

It’s not all about me anymore, my self-help library is looking pretty sparse. It sounds pretty lofty of me to think I have contributions to make that could help others, but I find I’m directing more of my energy towards that goal. I’m studying and writing about climate change, racism, and social issues. My world is not just my house or back yard, or my next door neighbors, my attention is broader. I just recently retired from leading caregiver support groups and I am looking at some new ways I might contribute. I’m joining the League of Women Voters and offering my research and writing skills. For many years I have had a little sign by my front door or by my desk that reads “I make a difference in this world.” That is my goal: to make a positive difference in this world.