What are we doing?

I wonder if it’s shyness- whether Sasha and I should be asking him more about what he’s doing. But Mile’s history makes those questions feel loaded, or patronizing, and anyway, we’re in our fifties- do people even ask what we’re “doing” anymore? Hasn’t that already been decided?

Jennifer Egan Candy House

For my friends who are in their 50’s or beyond: Do we know what we are doing?

Ok- loaded question. But do we tend to write-off people who are older, and assume they have nothing going on in their lives? Or that everything is same old, same old?

While I admit I don’t lead the most exciting life, I like to think that I have a life– that I do things, that I try new things, that I still have lots of innings left in the ball game. I hope that people want to ask what I am “doing” because I hope that I am still “doing”.

But do we stop trying as we get older?

Do we stick to the same patterns and routines?

Do you not ask your friends and acquaintances what they are doing because you already know the answer?

Discuss:

Gratitude and Mindfulness

One of my friends had a tough week. There’s very little that’s worse than someone you care about having troubles, and there being nothing you can do to ease their pain, whether it be mental, physical or emotional. It’s hard to be grateful when you know someone is hurting.

But I am grateful for my friends, and that we can talk to one another. I’m grateful to know that there are ears willing to listen to me when I am down, and that others trust me enough to talk to me.


My mindfulness/journaling word for the week is Authenticity.

It’s used in the books I’m reading in the following sentences:

  1. Polly had given Laura a ride to the store, but rater than wait for SnaggleBuggle to extricate himself from an argument with Clare about brand authenticity, Laura had decided to walk home. Abbi Waxman
  2. That’s all right: boredom is an authentic emotion just like any other, and you’re allowed to feel it. Kate Peers
  3. In a world where language is too often used to manipulate, poems can help us find our authentic voice. Caroline Kennedy
  4. Memory is a fickle thing, but other than names and certain identifying details- which I have changed out of respect for others’ privacy- I have endeavored to document my family’s undocumented years as authentically and intimately as possible. Qian Julie Wang
  5. Make sure to carve out some time and space so you can tap into your deepest, most authentic desires. Shira Gill

How I’m going to think about authenticity this week:

  1. Do we have trouble being authentic?
  2. Do we want to be authentic, or is this a word we throw around because we are struggling to find out who we are?
  3. What does authentic really mean in our day to day lives?
  4. Has authenticity become a marketing term? When we think authentic do we think brand?
  5. Am I authentic?
  6. Are we afraid to be authentic?
  7. Quote 3- is poetry more authentic than prose?
  8. The word authentic was used the most times in a home organization book- in our homes do we try to show who we want to be instead of who we are?
The Smaller Orchid by Amy Clampitt

Love is a climate
small things find safe
to grow in- not
(though I once supposed so)
the demanding cattleya
du cote de chez Swann,
glamour among the faubourgs,
hothouse overpowerings, blisses
and cruelties at teatime, but this
next-to-unidentifiable wildling,
hardly more than a
sprout, I’ve found
flourishing in the hollows
of a granite seashore —
a cheerful tousle, little,
white, down-to-earth orchid
declaring its authenticity,
if you hug the ground
close enough, in a powerful
outdoorsy-domestic
whiff of vanilla.

Poem Attribution © Amy Clampitt, The Smaller Orchid





Another Blog About Shoes

My Daughter thinks I should up my shoe game.

Argh

I have reached the magical age where I tell my Mother the things that she needs to do, and I send her reminders AND my daughter tells me all the things that are wrong with my personal style. Who said your late fifties weren’t fun?!

I recently went to a wedding. As I had tossed all my dressy shoes out early in pandemic (I decided that heels were the devil) I needed to purchase a pair of shoes that looked nice with my fun, party dress, but also treated my feet like the ladies that they are. So I bought a low heel shoe with some sparkle on top. Cute and practical and good for an evening out. I loved them. I showed them to my daughter via Zoom. She was less than impressed. Way less…

“How could you wear those shoes?” she asked

“I put them on my feet, strap the buckle and I walk” I replied.

She was not amused.

“Why are you making yourself old?” she asked.

I took a beat and thought about it. Does buying low heeled shoes signify getting old? Does it mean I no longer care how I appear to others? Does it mean that I am giving up?

Maybe.

Maybe.

No.

I guess that the beauty of aging is realizing what is important to the individual. Yes, perhaps buying lower heels as I age signifies that my feet are not quite as springy as they used to be. I have some tendon issues that make angling my foot in a heel very tenuous. It also makes wearing flip flops a problem because I can’t really “grip” with my toes without causing pain. With age comes the realization that I don’t have to be put fashion first.

I also care about the way I look. I really wanted my shoes to match the look of my dress. I was wearing a cocktail dress, and I I wanted cocktail shoes…I wanted something that was a little fancier than my everyday kicks. However…I don’t care what others think of my look. If people mock me due to my pretty yet sensible shoes, so be it.

Of course, wearing low heeled shoes does not mean that I am old. It just means that I don’t wear high heeled shoes. Period. One does not correlate to the other.

We all change as we age. We toss some things out as we bring others in. It’s neither good nor bad: it’s just learning who we are and what makes us happy. So cheers to the upside of aging- figuring out who we are and liking it.

Do We Owe Kids College?

Ok.

I kind of gave it away in the title.

In America it is assumed that parents will pay for their child’s college education. It is somehow assumed that parents “owe” this to their children. But do parents really owe their kids this?

You know that my daughter is very academically focused. She works hard, gets good grades and takes school seriously. I don’t mind paying for her undergraduate studies. However, if my daughter was not studious, I don’t know how much money I would be ponying up for her education.

So what does the group say?

Do parents owe their children a college education?

Discuss:

Show Them the Money

A few months ago I wrote about someone I know who expected her partner to leave her the bulk of his estate instead of the majority of it going to his children and grandchildren. Lots of commentary on that one. Some people commented that as she “cared” for him, she “deserved” the money.

Assuming that a couple is older, and have been together less than ten years, and do not share any children, I ask the specific question:

Does living with someone qualify as a reason to be left a large portion of an estate? Is the assumption that one has somehow “earned” the money for services rendered? Of course I mean service in the most pedestrian of ways- cleaning the house, taking care of certain tasks, etc.

Is being left money a sort of payback?

Should you take care of things in a relationship just because that’s what people do, with no expectation of recompense? Or should one be shown the money?

Discuss:

The One Where I Felt a Little Mean

I was out walking the dog. We had made the run to PetSmart to buy wee wee pads, and Betty and I were wandering around, window shopping. I saw this really pretty bag in the window of a store, and a big 60% off sign…

You know I love a good bag, especially on sale…

So I went into the store and looked at the bag. It was a black saddle bag, roomy enough to fit an umbrella and iPad and camera if need be. I looked at the price tag- $195…

Or so I thought the tag said 195…

I asked the salesperson if the 195 was the sale price or the original price…

The salesperson literally laughed in my face.

“Oh no.” she said.

“How could you think the bag is 195 originally? Tee tee hee. This is Marimekko you know.” Shake of the tussled hair as she took the bag away. “It’s 60% off 495.” She started to wipe my cooties off the bag as she went to tell her co-worker about my blunder.

OK- you know my first thought was

What a …..

and my second thought was

If the bags were cheaper maybe they wouldn’t be on 60% off sale.

third thought:

I hope they go out of business

I know.

I know.

I’m a horrible uncharitable person. But I didn’t say any of these things- I just thought them and I’ve decreed that thinking is ok as long as you don’t act on your bad thoughts. I’m allowed to make that decree, right?

So a month later I was getting off the bus at the stop near the store. Guess what? The store was closing on December 24.

I felt a little bad- I don’t like to see anyone lose their job. Then I thought that maybe if they priced things more reasonably, and didn’t make fun of those who think 495 for a bag is a tad too much, they might have survived.

So there you have it. Sometimes people don’t treat me nicely and I harbor bad thoughts. I’m not proud of myself, but every day is a learning process…I can only try to be a better person tomorrow.

DNF

I’m one of those annoying people who likes to finish books that I’ve started. Even if I read three pages a day and it takes two years, I’m usually one who holds it our till the end. My thought on this that I feel like I owe it to the author to read it cover to cover. I know- it seems pretty lame, but it’s my internal and unspoken contract with a writer- they wrote it, I started it, I’ll see it through.

However, I will admit that there are books that I have not finished. Obviously it pains me, because it is so against my character to just give up and shut the book forever.

Here I present to you the books that I know that I didn’t finish, or skipped an awful lot of the book, so much so it would be a stretch to say I’d actually read it:

  1. Great Expectations – Charles Dickens. Here’s the funny thing about this particular book: I’m doing the Barnes and Noble reading bingo, and one of the squares is “A book you skipped in school”. I was not the greatest of students, however, reading was the one and only thing I did do. I didn’t skip anything…except for a not so careful reading of GE. I TOTALLY skipped whole chapters and paragraphs and whatever. Now I am atoning and reading GE as part of the BN challenge. You know what? I still do not like this book. I mean, the writing is wonderful, and the descriptions are vivid, but SO MANY WORDS. SO MANY WORDS. Even though I want to read it cover to cover, I don’t know if I will make it.
  2. The Elegance of the Hedgehog– Muriel Barbery. “In our world that’s the way you live your grown up life”- simply do not finish this book
  3. Catch 22– Joseph Heller. Love the phrase, hate the book.
  4. Ulysses– James Joyce. This book, said LA, is a nightmare which I must put down
  5. Moby Dick– Call me long winded
  6. Eat, Pray, Love– In for the eating, on board for the praying, out for the love
  7. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo– Stieg Larsson- Then I discovered that I didn’t care about the main character
  8. Another Roadside Attraction– Tom Robbins- This is the only book assigned for a book club that I did not finish. I didn’t care because the person who chose it was 1) rude to me once and 2) rarely showed up for books other than her own

So there’s my true confession- these are the books that I did not finish.

Are you the type of reader that just pushes through, or do you have some books that you didn’t see to the end?

Which books just didn’t cut it for you? Which books made you throw in the towel? What are the books that you just couldn’t finish?

Devotion

Nothing is so boring as devotion Hercule Poirot’s Christmas Agatha Christie

I remember Grease– I remember that Sandy being devoted to Danny really didn’t do anyone any good- Danny didn’t become intrigued till Sandy had dated the jock and went all leather no lace.

So…

What do you think about when you think devotion?

If someone says they are devoted to you, do you think:

  1. Aww shucks how sweet
  2. Hmmm- this level of devotion- is this a true crime podcast about to happen?
  3. all this fawning is getting a little- yawn- boring
  4. I’m the luckiest person alive

What does devotion really mean? Does it mean that they will follow you without question? That they worship you? That they will spend their life trying to make your life better?

I can’t help it. I think there’s something a little creepy about one saying to another that they’re devoted. It almost goes over the top for me- do I want someone who just follows my lead without question? Or do I want someone who challenges me when I say something inane?

“Challenges me” for 100 Alex…

Don’t get me wrong- there are times when what I say makes logical sense and is clearly the more correct path and I want my Husband to listen to me and follow my guide…But…when I’m acting like a less than rational person, I need someone to reel me in…

Utter devotion is a very bad road to walk down…

Do I want my husband to have my back? Yes- unless I’ve been completely out of line…

Do I have my daughter’s back? Yes- unless she is doing something that is very damaging to herself or another.

Am I devoted to my closest friends? Yes- they can count on me right up until they hand me the shovel – I’m hoping I talk them out of it before there are bodies to bury…

Pick any aspect of this post and discuss away. I want to know what devotion means to you.

Fun Times on the 4 Train

On Sunday you got to glimpse my well trod shoe collection. When I need to get from Point A to Point B, I walk and use mass transit…

Ahhhh….

mass transit….

Mass transit had a lull the past few years, but as vaccinations go up and restrictions go down, more people are using it again. Alas, we also have a situation here where mass transit has it’s share of criminals, homeless, drug addicts, and those who appear to be mentally unstable. This makes it quite the mix of people travelling on the daily.

So one day I was on the subway. There was a guy…let’s just say that while I did not do an evaluation, I would say the guy had some issues.

So the guy is standing in the middle of the somewhat crowded train, and he’s screaming that we are all sinners and we need to repent, except he’s saying it slightly nastier, with a threatening tone.

As someone who has spent her adult life riding mass transit, I know enough to keep my head down, read my book, and not even look in the vague direction of this guy. If you avoid eye contact, you can usually avoid direct confrontation.

Usually.

Today was my day to me the recipient of direct confrontation. After he got in the face of someone three feet away, he chose to stand right in front of me and scream at me.

Fun times.

I know the guy is definitely off…and probably high as well…and using a threatening tone.

I am avoiding looking at him, because I don’t know what that will unleash…but I catch the eye of a guy to my left, holding the pole. He’s about six feet tall, solidly built, probably in his 30’s. He nods at me: he sees what’s happening and he’s got my back. He positions himself so that he can help if necessary. I always try to see if I have an ally, or if I can help someone…it’s sort of my unwritten rule of the subway- don’t leave a person behind, even if you don’t know them.

The guy finishes his tirade at me…and though it probably lasted less than a minute, it was still terrifying…and his next target is my ally…

I watch the situation, and want to show my support and I have this guy’s back, and all I can think is that this fit young guy must be thrilled to have the short old woman with the ereader ready to back him up…

Luckily the train pulled into the station and the guy got out and everyone left in the car let out a sigh of relief and we all looked at one another and the thought was clearly that we survived that one unscathed…and this was a story to tell about life in the big city…Remember- this whole incident took place in less than four minutes. Four minutes feels like such a short amount of time, but it feels never ending when you are scared.

This incident, and others like it, leave their mark. I’d seen many of these confrontations on the subway in the last 40 years, but this was the first time the person stood in front of me and shouted at me…It’s haunting. This hasn’t stopped me from riding the bus or the subway, but it does make me more alert…reminds me to be aware of my surroundings… I also need to realize my limitations. I am older, I don’t run as fast, nor am I as agile as I once was. I like to think that age doesn’t matter, but alas in situations like this I am not as able to defend myself as I once was. And to be clear, sometimes you can’t defend yourself no matter what, no matter what age or size or whatever.

This was just another day in the life. These are the moments that shape us.

Thankful

A few months back, I had a conversation with someone about thankfulness. They were saying that a friend of theirs doesn’t believe in thankfulness because they are not religious. I was a little stymied:

Do thankfulness and religion go hand in hand?

When I think of being thankful, its sort of like how I look at gratitude- I am glad that I have certain things in my life. Seriously. Indoor plumbing. Wireless connection. Good teeth. I am thankful for these and a whole list of things. I write down one thing I am grateful for every day, and I blog about it on Saturdays. I give thanks every day to the engineers and plumbers and innovators and dentists… While it’s not exactly worship, I do think pretty highly of all the people who do all these things because I’d be lost without them.

But is it religious?

Do people assume giving thanks means that they are blessed? I admit that the word “blessed” does have a religious connotation. But when I just looked at the synonyms for “thankful”, blessed does not appear on the list at thesaurus.com. The list started at contented, and you get a beholden, but no blessed…

So I throw this question back at you:

If you are thankful, does that mean you are religious, or are they two separate things?

Discuss: