Statistics, Studies, Realities

This is really absurd. I have written three opening lines for this post, and they all mentioned the weather, even though after the first time, I said, no, I am not talking about the weather. But each time I tried, a weather reference came through my fingers.

But I shall open with the fact that we love Skip’s bagels and omelette. We went there for years before we moved, and continue to return there each time we come back. We bought a dozen to take home and freeze.

Where we live, bagels aren’t the thing. There is one restaurant that has them, but they are not Skip’s bagels.

Do you like bagels? Just curious.

I was thinking about God and hearts and love and friends and disappointing people and accepting some decisions that must be made. Oh, I also thought about a conversation I had with a friend at my grandson’s basketball game.

We chatted back and forth with one eye on each other and the other eye on the game. It was a life discussion. It encompassed many topics, including health and eating and expectations and even death.

Boing. Boing.

She brought up a good point. She is in her early 60s and I was turning 67 the next day. She mentioned that we had both had good runs, full-life runs. And at this point, she really didn’t want to deny herself the pleasure of things she liked. In moderation.

Both of us have gone through breast cancer. She had more advanced case and had to go through so much more than I did. More surgeries and treatments and after-treatments. She is a trooper.

So, she knows of whence she speaks.

So, I have been thinking about things such as, is there ever a point that we throw caution to the wind or say, ok, no matter what others say, this is what I want to do, consequences accepted? Or, simply put, as Ol Blues Eyes crooned, are we going to go out singing, “I did it my way?”

There is living and there is LIVING.

Is length of time the most important part, or is the choice to live the life we desire, more important? Do we live by studies and statistics or by desire, thoughts, and, without other people’s or companies’ guidelines.

Do we live in the statistical grid or go about the life we see in our own mind’s eye?

This might be why I took my sweatshirt off on top of Jellico Mountain.

There is so much data that is massaged and manipulated to try to make us adjust our behavior. Within my life, I can’t tell you how many times studies have been done, exalted and then a few years later, proven to be wrong.

Boing. Boing.

We should do this. We should do that. Studies say that we should do this, statistics say you should do that.

The really came in my face, yesterday, when I watched one of my medical documentaries about Hopkins Medical Center in Baltimore.

A doctor who specialized in cancers in the female organs, who was wonderful, well respected, tops in his field and wonderful with patients, died a few hears after this episode had been filmed. He was 47, out running, and dropped dead from cardiac arrest.

I was gutted when I read that.

I can let things like that stick in my craw. It is more valuable a learning aspect than a study or statistic made up by people, groups or a company or organization, that most likely, has some sort of agenda.

So, my mind goes here and there and I finding myself in mental discussions with myself … and I ask, what is the way? What is the path of life, at this time of my life?

Does the Big Plan of life fade and be replaced by the one day at a time, mantra? One moment at a time? One life in a day?

If I die today, is this that place I want to be? What more do I want from this life that has already been, in time wise, toward the end of its run?

The statistics say that there are years left, but what if today is my last run? Have I done what I wanted and needed to do, said what I have needed and wanted to say?

I have a half smile on my face as I write this. I am smiling at the life I have lived, the questioning look is about the life that has yet to unfold.

Susan

Prom

There you go, Debbie Simpson. You asked for it, I delivered. My junior prom photo. Larry Schneeman was my date.

I believe he had recently broken up with someone, so he invited me. It was a one-out date.

Larry was a very nice guy. I don’t remember much about the night except he had car trouble and I thought he was trying to bail, but I had my hair done, so I wasn’t going for that out.

As for many things I anticipated in high school, and life, the thought of it and getting ready for it was the fun part. And that had nothing to do with Larry, but with me.

What is a “prom” anyway? You didn’t say you were going to “the” prom. You simply said, “I am going to prom.”

For a girl, the getting dressed up part might have been the best part, unless you were in love with your date and it was all our of “True Romance.”

Prom and HOmecoming dances and soroity formals were never my thing. I went because I like to get dressed up, and hoped that something magical would happen, but it never did.

It was so anticlimatic that I didn’t go to my senior prom. It was in the spring, and my head had been out of high school since I had learned that fall that I was going to Ohio University the following year.

I know we went bowling at Madison Bowl afterwards.

So … that is that, about that.

I have a photo of the back of my hair from another formal. I had the best curls. I loved that hairdo.

My first formal, when I was a freshman, was for the sorority I was in … GBA. We even had a song.

We are the girls of GBA

You’ve heard so much about

K-O hides their faces

Whenever we come out

We are the pride of Norwood High

And we aim to please

We always wear our dressshort

In order to show our knees

As we go walking

through the halls of Norwood High

You can hear them saying

the girls from GBA were number one … Cha, cha, cha.

Or something like that

Why do I remember that and can barely remember the years my kids were born?

Oh, I think part of the reason that I didn’t care for dances was that I was so tall and most of the boys werre short. That got me. Made me self-conscious. And I didn’t feel as though I was pretty enough, not little and cute. So there. That is enough of that trip down memory lane. I spilled part of my guts.

Now, I love being tall. I have loved it for years. It is who I am. I can reach tall cabinets. And leap from building to building in a single bound.

Kerplunk.

Here is a question … did anyone feel pretty enough in high school?

Oh, that’s right, I said I was done.

Yesterday I had a hoot at the eye doctor. I am going to a new one and there is a woman on staff, who does the eyeball pre-check, who gets me. I had her rolling on the floor. We thought we were going to get kicked out.

She is in her forties and still finding her way to herself. I am a good teacher of that. I thought she was going to have a conniption when after my phone made a noise and my stomach was grawling, I said, “Wowo, I am a symphony. Just wait until I fart.”

That was after a bunch of other fun things I was teaching her.

We walked down the hall to the photo segment of the program, laughing like we were, well, in high school and a teacher lost his toupee. She asked if I could stay all day.

Okay. I am down 25 pounds and have started doing the stretches and moving more. Yeah, heay, don’t get excited. Whether I win of lose the weight battle won’t be known until I am dead. My nemesis … but I keep trying.

Enough of the rain and gloom here. I ould use a Carolina Blue sky and Southern sun. This isn’t even for the birds.

I finished my clove covered orange. I love those. It is sitting next to me. And … I put flamessl candles on the silver abouve my bathtub. They are on a remote control. Just call me Oprah (or not) with my new favorite thing.

And this is the way it is on Hedge Apple this morning.

Peace, heatlh and a good bladder, be with you.

Susan

Christmas Sounds And Feelings Brewing

The train horn and slight sound of the wheels on the tracks reverberate this sleepy house in Deer Park. It reminds me of my childhood in Norwood, where a freight train yard was up the street, turn left, run downhill,make a right and run slightly up and down another hill.

I didn’t do that but once. It was not on a route I took and though so close, you left Norwood and entered Cincinnati. Norwood was my small world that was safe. Cincinnati was too big.

The train is quiet now, passing. Probably on those tracks that ran through Norwood. There is a website called, “Everything Runs Through Norwood,” and it is quiet true.

Why am I talking about trains and Norwood when I was going to talk about taking time to look at the ornaments on a Christmas tree?

I am staying. Not in Norwood, but Deer Park is pretty close. So it was that sound of the train that took me back, took me home, to Christmas when I was a child.

I love this sound of silence. Nick is sleeping and so is our youngest daughter. Remember that feeling as a parent, when all of your children were tucked into their beds and home, safe? The world was “out there”, someplace. That feeling, now a memory, is one of the gentle memories of this life I have lived.

My heart is beating, tick-tick, tick-tick, and it is marvelous. It was two weeks ago, today, that the ticker got fixed. This morning, I began some gentle exercises. I plan to be an athlete, yet.

Yesterday, I stopped at Trader Joe’s. It was delightful. My speed of store … not too big. You know me and the vapors. Nick pulled in front of Krogers in Montgomery, because I wanted some distilled water. I said, “Are you kidding? I’m not going in there.” The parking lot was packed and throngs of people were going in and out. I looked at him and said, “That place gives me the vapors.”

So far, I have heard both daughters laugh. We’ve shared a couple of meals. Today, I will see one of my sons and do something we do when we are in town. He and I will meet at Starbucks and sit and chat for a long time. Catch up. And then, tonight, the Christmas festivities begin.

I was so not in a Christmas spirit a month ago. Other things were on my mind. Things began to shift when we celebrated Christmas at our son’s house in South Carolina, on the 16th. It was wonderful. I even sang karaoke with my grandchildren.

And now, after one of our best drives up here, we are and will be in the arms of people we love, people who make fun of us, who know us deeply, and understand the love that we have for them. People we would do anything for, including giving our life.

That is deep love.

I will call both sisters tomorrow and say Merry Christmas. I will think of my friends, here and in South Carolina, and wherever they may be. I know one friend is making a four layer carrot cake, one is having dinner tonight with friends, and another has seen grandchildren and their parents, staying at her house all week. Aye-yi-yi. And she loves it.

I will be thinking of my brother-in-law, for a reason that just is.

Of course, I called Camp K-9 to see how The Boy is doing. He is having a great time. They love him, too.

I was looking at my daughter’s Christmas tree. I mean, really looking. She placed every light and ornament on it.

The spirit of Christmas was awakened in me.

Oh, here is another Christmas sound. The garbage truck picking up trash. Ho, ho, ho.

The fact is. All I have are blessings to be grateful for. Love surrounds me. I actually feel the presence of Jesus, and the purity of his actions. Was he real? Did and does He exist? Is He really God, the father?

I choose to believe som. It gives meaning to my life, and offers a guide to be good to people and, it checks my behavior. I don’t know enough about life and I can surely use the help and guidance. It is through Him, that’s I find my purpose. I am a wobbly human, and the walking partner shows me the way.

Good Lily of the Valley, I am spilling the beans.

So, with that, though I am taking the week off, I am here to wish each of you, whether you are Christian, Jew, Muslim, Hindu Atheist or whatever, Merry Christmas from a wonderful, kind and forgiving man who was born in a manger on Christmas. Peace be with you. May light shine on our troubled world and may all your Christmas dreams come true.

Susan

To Be or To Do? That Is The Question

The word for today is peristalsis. That came to mind about 4:30 this morning. I decided that I like the movement of the word, which is similar to its function.

Rejoice. Hallelujah!

Our internal glory, our place of joy, enlightenment and growth sometimes gets lost in the whiskers of life, changes and problems.

There are times when reassessment is in order … when things shift and what was … now, isn’t.

One of the interesting things about life, that I have found, is that not once in our lives, does time stop. Oh, yes, it seems to stand still, of we wish we could hold a moment in time, but we can’t. Time moves.

Our lives move, too. From birth until death.

Some humans work at planning their lives. One of our earliest forays into conversation is when someone asked us, as a child, “What do you want to BE when you grow up?

Another version of the question is “What do you want to DO when you grow up?

To a young mind, those questions seem the same. As children, I didn’t distinguish the two questions.

But now, I see them as very different. One is occupational and the other is our soul, beliefs, values and, well, who we are.

After having a lifetime of professions and titles for what I “do”, the stage I am in and on, is an extension of the question “What do you want to be?”

It has morphed into who I have become.

Many of the things I have done, occupation-wise, study-wise, experience-wise ,by choice or demand, has evolved into who I have become.

An interesting thought to me is that one of my occupations, took hold so much and gelled so deeply into me, that it actually has braided over to be part of who I have become.

Writer.

There have been times when I have struggled. Just being, and being who I am, I felt, wasn’t enough. Simply being myself, without “doing” wasn’t enough.

I should do this. I should do that. Perpetual motion of the mind, placing more value on the what I do, versus who I am. Maybe it is or was an earning my keep thing. Perhaps it is societal rumblings and expectations. I have often felt that I needed to earn my right to life.

I look at the walls of my house, the art, the things that are around me and I see many things I have done.

In a way, they are me. But in a way, I can separate myself from them and not really recall making them.

When I think back to my occupations, the days I was in the workplace, I was never any of those occupations. They were skills. I did them to the best of my abilities for you I was at the time, but none of the occupations was me. Marketing director, sculptor, real estate broker, software company CEO, workshop teacher, etc … I did them all, but they weren’t me. With each, there came a point when I said, no more.

But in each one, I learned and what I learned, I put through a sieve, and brought onboard the parts that I would build into who I have become.

Why do these thought matter to me, now?

Because once again, the last four months or so, my life has taken unexpected turns.

Years ago, when I was in real estate, a friend who had gotten into the business because I had, dais, in a very distressed and exasperated way, “Why are there always so many problems?”

I laughed, looked at her and said … “That is wat we are paid to do … solve problems.”

She said that from that moment on, she got it.

And then, she quit.

That knowledge, that nugget, that life is often about solving problems, and releasing those you can’t solve, to a higher power, is something that plays out over and over. And I have to remember that when my blueberry basket gets tipped over.

There are times, such as recently, when I have had to dive under water with my eyes open, and do the breast stroke. I might not see clearly, but I must do it.

As humans, we often have to swim through uncharted emotional, fearful, uncertain waters. But in doing so, our muscles get stronger. We become stronger than we knew we could become.

After initial shock and a bit of flailing, I find that I get in a rhythm. The opposing currents subside andI get in a flow of the new and strange. And for a while, I have a new normal.

The new normal rarely lasts. Even life doesn’t last. But the ride, this wonderful ride, with its twists and turns and earthquakes and whirlwinds, when there are days that we wonder how we will get through, and times we wish would last for ever, is a real trip.

And for that, I say, Rejoice! Hallelujah!

Susan

Friendship

Confession … I watch four of the “Real Housewives of … “ shows. I have for years. It has been a guilty pleasure. I think it is funny how ostentatious the shows are, the jewelry, houses, vacations and sick and sour friendships these women have.

The shows have been good for many of the women’s bank accounts. The shows have become platforms for skinny brands, skin care, prepackaged dinners, toaster ovens, and a plethora of clothing lines.

Yes, I know it is edited, set up and who knows about scripting? Although I don’t think that a writer writes the dialogue, I think situations prod the women into combat.

Cutting to the chase … if any of my friends talked to me like these women talk to each other, there is no way in hot dog heaven, that I would be friends with them.

If my recollection serves me, they have called each other whores, bitches, liars,tramps, fakes, phonies, sluts, etc. Feel free to add to the list.

The biggest part of air-time is spent seeing if someone will apologize for a transgression that can be, 1) you didn’t make a casserole for me when I had a face-lift, 2) you didn’t tell me that you went out with a guy you both met at a bar while dancing without you underwear, 3) you were flirting with my son, 4) you left my sleepover and stayed at a hotel, 5) your dog plooped on my rug, 10 times.

And there are degrees of apologies. There is the unapologetic apology. “I am sorry if you felt like I played fiddle-fart with … (the man half of them have fart-fiddle around with. Or I don’t owe HER an apology, she owes ME one. Or the apology that is not SINCERE or not on camera.

And then the hug and promise to never stoppe to said behavior, again, only to repeat the transgressions repeatedly.

My lord of lingerie, who in their right minds would act like these women? And to think, many of them have daughters,who see this stuff.

Made for TV friendships, that is what they are. Cameras roll, checks written, catfights begin. It appears that in U.S. television lands, nice is boring.

Don’t these women know that friendships are precious, difficult to make and hatred to maintain over theme? They, just like a garden, need tending.

How many friends, real friends do you have? How long have you had these friends? Are you open to new friendships or content with the friendships you have? Have you ever let a friendship go? Why?

I have a few long term friends. I love my friends. We have laughed and cried through our tricky lives, marriages, divorces, deaths, children problems, and our own insanity. And when I say laugh, I mean that we crack ourselves up. We have similar sensibilities to laughter.

Though I moved away from them, I still count on talking to them and seeing them when I can.

I have some friends that have come in and out of my life, I might have met them at a workshop or event, and we “clicked”, but they aren’t a constant in my life.

There are friendships that I have where I doubt we will see each other, again. We write to each other. The words are meaningful and insightful. We care very much about how the other is doing.

I have some new friends, like new plants in my garden. They add color into my life and I enjoy spending time with them. Our roots aren’t as deep because we don’t have much time in our histories, but it is delightful to learn about them and share our new lives.

Many of my friends are my age, or near my age, but not all of them. I have some friends who could be my kids.

I would never talk to them like these “Housewives” talk to their supposed friends. Seriously.

I hear the word, “apologize” more that I ever wanted to while dealing with Samsung. I don’t want to deal with that word with my friends. We are all old enough to know what is proper and kind and what would hurt one another. Oh, yes, inadvertently, we step on feelings, but vary, vary rarely. The good and nice and kindness of our relationships absorb an occasional blip.

I have left some people behind … let them go. What I discovered is that appearances might have been friends, but it is easier to say you are friends, than be one. Friendships should make you feel better, not worse. I have been dumped by people that I thought i was friends with. Distance, timing, different roads traveled, and belief systems, sometimes just happen.

Women’s friendships seem to be different than men’s. I am not sure if they talk about the same thing as women friends talk about. I am not sure if they have penis talk or talk about whether they are getting forgetful or that they made a tasty casserole.

Oh, I have an orbit of friends that float around online. Are they friends? Not really. Not in the sense that they would show up at my door to help. But they are a community of people that make life more interesting and fun.

I think one of the hardest things in life is getting so old that most or all of your friends are gone. I have seen it happen.

But I also knew a woman who died nearing her 101st birthday and she had lots of friends. She was smart. She gathered friends 40-years her junior, and made herself loved by all ages. That was a talent and a gift.

The Real Housewives of Timbuktu might have money, fame and travel to exotic places, but are they real friends?

I don’t think so.

And that is where I come out ahead.

Susan