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

“Schlemiel! Schlemazel! Hasenpfeffer Incorporated!”

“Schlemiel! Schlemazel! Hasenpfeffer Incorporated!”

My granddaughter has a skating costume that has a large, “L” on it. Her synchronized skating team skates to the Laverne and Shirley theme song.

Imagine a group of some 30 or so young girls, in their circle skirts and “L” sweats skating around the rink, in 2018, to the theme song to a show from 1976.

To those of us who were around at that time, you probably sighed and got that oh, no, feeling, when you read that Penny Marshall, Laverne had passed away.

Something is wrong with this system. The system that gives us so much and then swoops in on angel’s wings, and takes life away. It is something I can accept but not get used to.

Penny Marshal fir her names, both Benny and Laverne.

I read that at one point in her career, she was hurt, bummed, because she didn’t get parts because of her look … not your standard Hollywood cutie pie.

She didn’t see how her smile and askewishly real humor, resonated with millions and millions of people.

But she found her fit. She was Laverne, a beer capper in Milwaukee. She was the yin to Shirley’s yang, and they made us laugh. And Squggy and Lenny.

I loved watching them get ready for dates and thinking about dates. I loved their relationship and their apartment. They were real, not some people with unattainable lives.

From what i read, Penny didn’t have a great plan to be a huge actress or director. She just did it. She grew from actress to successful movie director. And she also had her disappointments, things that didn’t turn out as well as she had hoped.

Years ago, I read that she and Carrie Fisher were best of friends and celebrated their birthdays together. I bet they were a hoot together. Both with wry senses of humor,

Carrie is now gone, too. That death also stung.

Isn’t it weird? I didn’t know either of them, but I mourned them. (Good grief, I accidentally typed ‘mounted them’ instead of ‘mourned them.’)

They would have appreciated that typo.

I don’t imagine that any of the young girls on my granddaughter’s synchronized team keen who Penny Marshall was. Maybe they don’t have any idea of what the letter “L” on their sweaters stands for. I don’t know.

As I sit here in my big room, looking out at the grayish silver trees behind my house, glancing at The Boy, sleeping on the couch with his head on a pillow, hearing the heat click on, and knowing I have much to do, today, I have to reset my head from far away mourner, to joyful gift wrapped and Santa helper.

I was glad that Penny lived to be 75, She had had health issues for years, getting lung cancer that had spread to her brain in 2009. The National Enquirer at the checkout counter gave grave warnings about her impending death.

But she showed them.

Ok. I am turning my thoughts around. I am making myself smile to have had the opportunity to laugh along with her and be proud of what she accomplished. She left a formidable legacy, including no a group of young girls who happily skate, wearing Laverne’s signature “L” on their sweaters.

If they only know.

So, for Laverne,let’s give her a rousing …

“Schlemiel! Schlemazel! Hasenpfeffer Incorporated!”

And have a beer.

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

The Power of Voice

It has been an emotionally busy morning. I have gone from my usual, subtle morning chipper, to laughing about a text, to being brought to tears by a podcast I listened to, and then. laughed.
 
That is a full day of emotions.
 
I have a neighbor named Mai. She is a kick. She has the energy of a hopped up driver at a demolition derby. Her flowers are gorgeous and she has an enthusiasm for life.
 
She brought us dinner when Nick was sick and when I had my bit of breast cancer, (that is weird to say), she gave me a hand crocheted shawl. Her daughter recently gave me a dating bracelet she made.
 
She likes my treats.
 
I saved her a big piece of carrot cake, that had received great reviews on our neighborhood page. I texted her to ask if she would like it.
 
Sure. That was a no brainer.
 
Then she mentioned that she was glad I didn’t burn the house down the other day. Yep, word gets around, especially when you write about the stupid stuff you do.
 
Man mentioned that she was going to get in contact with me because she had something to give me.
 
Guess what it is.
 
A fire extinguisher.
 
I laughed as I wrote back. She said she would drop it off tonight. I said, good, we can make a trade. Carrot cake for a fire extinguisher. Pretty great, isn’t it?
 
That got my day off to a lovely start.
 
There was laundry to fold. It had been sitting on a chair by the counter for a couple of days. It was time to fold it an put it away because today, I am making baked ziti dinners to raise money for hurricane relief in the Carolinas.
 
My friend, Yamini, is coming over at 10, to help make brownies. She is first in line to volunteer to help me. She and her family also love desserts.
 
I dropped a piece of carrot cake at her house and Rasheed, my best customer and critic, came down the stairs. I said that I had carrot cake and that was enough to send him scurrying up the stairs, saying, “I’m not going to eat carrot cake.” That cracked me up.
 
But here is where the bit of an emotional bath came over me, this morning.
 
I decided to start listening to podcasts. I went online and typed in ‘best podcasts for women’.
 
I found one called ‘Invinsibilia’ on NPR. Its blurb sounded interesting.
 
Today’s podcast was “Leave a Message.”
 
A man spoke. He mentioned how the millennial were causing the death of many institutions.
 
I listened, not knowing where this was going.
 
And then he mentioned the death of voice mail. And that took the turn into voices … how we don’t hear peoples voices like we used to because people text and don’t call.
 
That got my mind intwined with the message.
 
The podcaster told the story of his own mother, how she used to leave long voice mail messages to him. She was trying to connect. He thought her long paused, messages were banal and a waste of time.
 
He didn’t listen to the whole message, hitting delete soon after the message began.
 
One thing that I have told many people is that a great day for me is when I hear each of my kid’s voices.
 
It doesn’t happen often. Yes, I hear from them, but it is often by text. But there are days when the sunflowers all look the same way, when I get to talk to all of them.
 
Recently, we had dinner with a man who said he called his mother once a month. I told him I would die if that was all I would hear from my kids.
 
He mentioned that he loved her, but she was a bit strange, to which I replied, “Aren’t we all?”
 
There is something about their voices that trumps text. The call might last a minute or fifteen, but those voices go straight to my heart. Frankly, they are pretty much what I live for.
 
The podcaster mentioned that his mother got breast cancer, had a double mastectomy and chemotherapy. She was good for a short period of time. Then the cancer returned and she was admitted to Hospice.
 
He sat by his mother’s side and read to her. While talking too one of his friends, the podcaster said his friend told him to make a tape of her voice. But it was too late.
 
All he wants to do now is hear her voice.
 
My mother’s voice is etched in memory, but I had the foresight, with my dad, to interview him. I have a couple of ads of me interviewing him. When I want to hear my dad’s voice, I can play the cd.
 
I don’t do it often, but I know it is there. My dad is in the drawer.
 
I tired up throughout the podcast but at the end, they played some voicemails that people had saved of loved ones.
 
They made me smile.
 
And on with my day.
 
Susan
 
Invinciblia at NPR
 
https://www.npr.org/podcasts/510307/invisibilia