Strange viewpoint from a 50something

For the past few months I have wanted to do more blogging, but the words… I just can’t get them to paper without sounding like I’m drowning in misery! I have a few great posts left in me but just can’t hook on the thoughts and bring them to the surface. So instead of forcing it, I am going to try jump-starting in a different direction.

I came across an edition of a TV Guide from a European Sunday newspaper on one of my planes. Since I love to read, I browsed through it. Endless stories about the tv shows that are currently showing. It also included a piece called “The Definite Article”. Where they ask a celebrity (in this case it was Scottish actor Tom Conti) a set “of devilishly probing questions – and will only accept THE definitive answer”. They were 25 very interesting questions, that really had me wondering how I would answer each one. So I am swiping the idea and will answer those same 25 questions myself.

1. The prized possession you value above all others. My car. It represents my freedom. I can get in it at any time and find myself on a new path to anywhere I wish to go. I’ve had many cars over the years… and to each one, belong memories of my life’s adventures. Many of my greatest moments revolve around my travels. Driving has been a passion since I was 18 and I cannot live without that mobility. Whether I was running to, or running away from, something ~ my car has always been my one solid.

2. The unqualified regret you wish you could amend. My first tattoo. I was 13, and I had a crush on a kid who had a tattoo (with me it was always the bad boy… sheesh!). 13 years old and all I heard was – a needle, a pencil and a bottle of indian ink. I’ve covered all of them since then, but the irony here is – that kid with the tattoo that I had the crush on..  he never knew the influence he had on me and he never saw the tattoos I scratched onto my own skin, for him. (**)

3. The way you would spend your fantasy 24 hours, with no travel restrictions. Up with the sun, I’d start with a full breakfast at a street cafe, somewhere on the east coast, maybe Savannah, Georgia, so I can watch the sun rise on the water. I would then spend the afternoon on a clear beach, near the equator, say the Galapagos Islands, with a margarita in each hand, and some of my girl peeps, just laughing and giggling!! Dinner time would find me in Italy, at the table awaiting a huge plate of spaghetti and never-ending supplies of bread and wine. I would wind down the day, behind the wheel of a badass V8 5 speed, with a full tank of gas, windows wide open, music blaring.. zipping along the Autobahn, in Germany. (No speed limits…. ahh what a dream!!) Then to end my fantasy day, I would have a 2 hour massage in a comfortable bed under the stars, somewhere right here in these beautiful United States of America.

4. The temptation you wish you could resist.  Oreo cookies and a glass of ice cold milk. ‘Nuff said…..

5. The book that holds an everlasting resonance. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. Published in July 1960. One of a few books I have read more than 20 times. With each read, I find another nuance that I didn’t catch before. The characters, the time and places portrayed here were touchable to me… the southern charm and quality. The heat and humidity. The racism, always wondering about the black/white issues that still prevail, even today. But the low key heroism of Atticus Finch, that is what captured my attention most. His honesty in raising his children. (For that time in history he was a very unconventional single parent.) His humility about life and his backbone. These are the things that drew me to him. The strongest of any other character that I’ve come across, he stood up for what was right, not what was popular. He treated everyone with great respect and gracious honor. His morals about human beings taught me to be open and fair to all I meet. And to remember that we all walk a road that no one else will ever understand. Funny, I’ve just this moment realized I have looked for Atticus Finch in every man I have ever met. wow…  I’m going to have to let my brain chew on that one for a bit…..                 (I’ve often wondered if, because of this book, it’s the reason I find myself so comfortable living in the south…. hmmm  more food for thought! (**) )

It took me a couple days to answer just these first 5… and I still have 20 to go!! So this will be a multiple segment post!! I am discovering a little about myself that even I didn’t realize! Enjoy… it may take a while for me to answer the next 5, try to stay tuned!

Is that the phone ringing?

Tomorrow is my birthday. And she is not going to call and sing to me.

Since the day I was born, she sang the Happy Birthday song. First, in my ear as a baby, next, over cake and candles as I grew older and later it was by phone. Last year was the first time she couldn’t make it through the whole song…. her ragged breathing made it so difficult for her. At the time, she apologized, and we laughed about it. In that moment, it didn’t occur to me that it would be the last time.

There is something about birthdays that only a Mom can understand. When you give birth to a child… that day is forever etched into your soul. That one day where you have that super strong connection to one person. The one day, and she never missed it, my ears would hear her sweet voice singing. For 55 years, she never missed it.

Tomorrow is my birthday. And the most awful year of my life comes to an end. I had no idea that on that day, one year ago tomorrow, when she couldn’t finish the Birthday song… that she had only a couple months left to live. Because of her death, I find that I just spin now…. in no particular direction. Not necessarily out of control, but with little purpose. So many aspects of my life have changed. I lost her. My career took a hit and changed dramatically. My relationship took a serious hit and I still feel the sting of that. I’ve had very little joy. I tried many times to write for this blog but I just couldn’t find anything upbeat enough to share. I have wallowed in this year of firsts… all revolving around the absence of my Mom. First Christmas, first Mother’s Day (by far, the hardest one… until tomorrow), first time returning to St. Louis to find that “going home” isn’t the same. Many things happened to me, a few good but mostly bad things. I am glad it’s almost over…. this awful year of firsts.

Tomorrow I begin again, another year on my own road. Yes, I am aware that I must continue without her… but I don’t much like it. I’ve had many precious people die in my lifetime, as we all do, but there is always the absence of that one important person that will change your destiny. I lost my Dad suddenly when I was 28, it was such a blow to my family. And because I was young and all caught up raising my own child, I didn’t get the enormity of it. Since his death, I’ve lost many… all my grandparents, some aunts, some uncles, a few friends… and even a grandchild. But none of those losses prepared me for the loss of my Mom. I still have little girl issues, I still stomp around and whine about how unfair it is that she is gone. My little girl heart is broken and will never be the same.

Tomorrow is my birthday. I guess I will be sing to myself…..

The grey reign is over.

Seems a lot changed in my world since my last birthday. I became the speed limit in Sept. (sorry, but I don’t drive 55…ugh) Up to that point last year…  things ROCKed!! Did a lot of wonderful fun things, took a few trips, (5 to St. Louis, 2 to Bristol(!!) and 2 to Florida.), made some new friends.  Life in general was happy and upbeat! Floatin’ along ~~~

Then, bam!..  my birthday.

Then, double bam!! .. my Momma.

Life suddenly grabbed the road, like hot tread on sticky pavement, and I was screaming in the wrong direction. I was so blindsided all I could do was jam on the brakes. Stopped dead. Just like that. Everything. For 5 months I lost all joy. And just as spring is about to bud I find my spirit looking up. I am coming back to who I am. Things are different – yes. It’s still me, with new bunch of mental scars added.

During this time frame, I stopped dye-ing my hair, Not because of any forethought. Simply… I didn’t think about it. After the holidays, I noticed how grey I was under the coloring. So talking to my stylist, one more hair cut and my hair would be all natural… no leftover dye residue. Another month went by. Last week was the cut. Even she said she didn’t realize how grey I was…. ouch! The cut was great as it always is! But I was so washed out. O. M. Really?? Went out that night and the mirror in the ladies room (under that brightass light!) showed a very grey old girl looking back at me.

Let’s just say I got my mojo back, complete with my special lick of color! Now, looking back at me is still an old girl, but damn she lookin’ hot!!! Haha!! Great things do come in small boxes. Thank you Revlon!

It takes only a second…

He was on the bench, just inside the grocery store. Sitting there in slacks and dress shoes, wearing a freshly ironed plaid shirt, with his Retired Air Force cap straight on his balding head, he was just some old man waiting for his wife to finish shopping. The vacant look on his face makes most people think he isn’t all there… maybe alzheimers, maybe dementia, but he watched as each person passed him. I, too, watched as each person passed him, not giving him a thought.

I walked up to him, “Excuse me Sir”. I reached out my right hand and finished, “I’d like to Thank You for your service to our country”. He looked up at me, I saw as the tears began to well in his old eyes, he struggled to get up, once on his feet he squared himself, and reached out and took my hand in his. His grip was light but purposeful, gently squeezing my hand, his gratitude was like electricity running up my arm. “It was my honor to serve.” It was then that I saw the fire in his eyes… I took him back to another time, another place. Somewhere only he knows. I asked if I could sit with him a minute, I wanted to hear about his service. After a few minutes of hearing his personal story I realize all of his military history was lived before I was even born. But that matters not, to me. He served in one of the bloodiest wars of our time… and he returned. Many did not, and it’s for them that he represents.

A frail woman pushing a grocery cart, walks up to us. She eyed me with some suspicion, I stood up and reached my hand out to him one more time. “Again, let me thank you, Sir” I began, but this time he interrupted. “I’d like you to meet my wife, Mrs. Johnson, she is also retired.” I swing my open hand towards Mrs. Johnson, I say “Thank You, Mrs. Johnson, for your service to our country.”  She reached out, I cupped her tiny hand in both of mine and looked her right in the eye. “I am so proud of you both” I say. The frightened look gave way and this little woman grew a smile that warmed my soul.

I don’t know how I affected their day… but I am forever changed. And forever grateful for the freedoms that they were willing to give their lives for.

 

Thank You to all who currently serve, for those who have served, and for each soul whose fate was the ultimate sacrifice. You are not forgotten in my world.

Since fighting my way out of that standstill funk, I have been on the run!! I am excited again about the prospect of each day… I am back to wanting to meet life with full force. And part of my getting back to life was music. That which swirls through my veins in complete unison with my blood. I’ve discovered that it is as important to the running of my body, as any other function that keeps me going.

When I was going back and forth to St Louis, during my Mom’s issues, I didn’t pay much attention to the music. It was on… but only as background noise. With each drive, the same tunes… the same feelings… the same nothing. With all that was happening to my Mom, I felt I would be betraying her in some way if I were feeling too good. After she died, I temporarily lost interest. The music played but I wasn’t involved.

Last week, I spent a couple hours erasing and loading my ipod. As I added song after song, I felt the excitement growing. (There is something very powerful about anticipation!) Music is magical to me. No matter what my mood may be… I have a song to match it. Let me add, too, that it is such a personal thing… matching mood to music. Some of the saddest songs I favor make me feel the best!

This particular list was comprised of some of the best sing-along-mood-lifting-gear-shifting-head-bopping-steeringwheel-banging music I own. Getting myself in my little blue car… hooking up the ipod, adjusting my tail in the drivers seat, easing the clutch pedal out….. and I am on my way! I turn the volume up and the shifting and singing begin!! I can not and do not sing for anyone but me. I don’t kareoke. I don’t break out in song at random in front of people. At home alone, or in my car…. I can belt ’em out! The physical act of singing.. gosh, I don’t know if I can explain it, but it feels so good!! The euphoria that comes over me! The pulse of the music is thumping from the trunk and it awakens my body- making my skin tingle! I sing along with the words ~ and I feel awake and alive!! 

Nothing compares to the sizzling of all my senses when I am flying down the road, singing songs that create these fabulous endorphins!! The sight of me must be something! I just hope the one thing people think to themselves, when they see me in this state, is that I must be having fun. Because being alive… it does feel so good!! 

 

Snap out of it already!!!

Finally!

I thought I was going to drown in that wet paper bag I’ve been stuck in. Riding on a merry-go-round of misery of my own making. I have had a life full of great and wonderful times and some low moments I would rather forget. The hardest moment just occurred with the loss of my Mom. I knew her death was eminent, but the shock of it was more than I could bear. There have been many people in my world who have died. With each life that I knew, I grieved in a different way when their end came. With my Mom is has been different. I still fight with the sadness of her passing. It may last for the rest of my days… after all, she was my Momma!! My little girl heart hurts so much. Her soothing voice in my ear was something I relied on, I counted on. And the funny thing is, as wise as I thought she was, she never gave me advice! She didn’t tell me what I should be doing. She just asked the right questions and kept me talking until I could figure it out myself. I didn’t realize that until she was gone. I have had many moments since her death that I picked up the phone and dialed her number. The reality that she is not there is devastating.

Well, it took a little doing, but I feel as if I am shaking off some sort of hibernation, like I’ve been out of the loop. I spent a month going through and dividing all of Mom’s pictures. She had a trunk filled with envelope after envelope, all marked with date and occasion, and in order. Everyday a few more envelopes are gone through and divided. I watched my family regress in time, my grandkids and my kids, the sibs and their families all became younger! It was very cool to see all these events with my Mom’s camera’s eye. Most every picture told her story. I loved it. But it consumed me. Wanting the past… gosh I couldn’t let it go!

The thing is… as I was reliving my life backwards, I wasn’t living life forward. It wasn’t until I finished the picture division and put it all away that I realized I had checked out of life for a time. I was miserable. I went to work miserable, at home I was miserable. I didn’t want to do anything. I was on autopilot. I even saw it in my face. I lost my joy. I don’t know how it overtook me, I guess like all things in life… you let it go a couple days… soon it becomes the norm.

It hasn’t been just the loss of my Mom… I’ve had a couple of other setbacks, too. But enough happened all at once to keep me feeling as if I were failing, at everything. I wore failure all over me… like I was dipped in it. I was letting setbacks define my life… instead of using them as the stepping stones I’ve always used them for. Me and setbacks are true friends from long ago. Thinking back I know the minute I snapped out of this funk. I am so grateful for the eyes of a friend. All I needed was a spark. One powerful sentence from her and the furnace fire was lit. I spent the next day breaking out of the sadness I had been content to live in. Suddenly it’s not that damn dark anymore! I hope the world is ready for my return because I am back among the living! Hello Life!

How fast was that again?

Dear Reader,

I have one more repost from my original blog home. My daughter’s birthday is just around the corner and I wrote the following in honor of her 30th birthday, last year.

Saturday Feb 4, 2012 

30 years.

That block of time went by in the ‘blink of an eye’. Stupid saying, but so true. Defined by my daughter Shelby, my ‘Booboo’, as I loving refer to her, who was born Feb 11, 1982. As her 30th birthday approaches I am so overwhelmed by thoughts of her. Her actual birth day was such a surprise! I had returned to Minneapolis just a few days earlier from a trip to St.Louis. A St.Louis baby shower!! It had been stressful not because I had flown, but because the day I was to board my plane and leave St.Louis, there was a blizzard and I couldn’t even get off my Mom’s street to make it to the airport!! The entire midwest was covered with record snowfalls.. most types of transportation were near stand still conditions! But it was just a one day inconvenience as St.Louis plowed through the mess and got the city going again the following day.

Not due until March 21st, my little sweetie decided she was ready to make her entrance… (so like her mother, with that unfortunate personality flaw – does not like waiting!!) And the next thing I knew I was holding this tiny little creature, all 5 pounds and 1/2 ounce of her.

If you had asked me, (well you didn’t even have to ask me as I voiced my opinion quite loudly on the subject!!) I would have told you that I didn’t want to have children. I was a very selfish entity that could only think about the immediate needs of ME. In fact, at 25, I still had growing up issues! My mind never wrapped itself around the idea of being a parent. I had even said many times that if I were to get pregnant, then I would take means necessary to change that status.

One day, after a few days of not feeling well, my best friend brought me a pregnancy test! No! Not possible!! But the damn thing said yes. Ok. Here I am. After all the bragging of what I would do if…. I now find myself at that crossroad. But, something inside… something inside..   I agonized over it, I changed my outlook on things and I stepped into a different world. The world of Motherhood. ugh. Even the sound of it. This is going to be so hard. What was I thinking??

As any woman can tell you having a first child is extremely frightening and extremely exciting!! There is nothing like it to explain the mixed emotions. The body changes… the belly… the mood swings… it was wonderfully distressing! I don’t know if I would have been more prepared mentally for her arrival if it had been closer to the ‘supposed’ due date. The fact she busted out early was soooo my life!! When they placed this so very small bundle in my arms…  my heart screamed bring it on!! I have so many stories about my little sweetie. So many cool things that only her and I share. The unconventional upbringing she has had shaped her into the loving, caring mother of three she has become. She is someone who taught me about myself in her innocence and teaches me to this day.

30 years.

It went by in a blink of an eye…

SATURDAY, JANUARY 21, 2012

As I grow older I realize I envy the young. Oh how I long for those lost lazy days of being a kid with nothing to do and not much to worry about. Except how I look, does that boy I like even know I’m alive, will I ever be ungrounded (!!), will I get a good grade on that paper I wrote… you know – the important stuff!! Haha!! Those were the days when I dreamed of being older! How could I know that at the same time most adults were dreaming of being younger?? What a cruel twist of fate!!

I was recently transported back in time. Complete with all the adolescent feelings I had long forgotten. When I was in grade school, there was a reading program that once every so often the teacher would pass out an order sheet for easy read books. I have always had a love for horses. I would do extra chores at home, or go on a hunt for bottles to return to the store for deposit money, just to make that little bit to buy every one that involved a horse. I gobbled up those books like a hungry animal and would read those that grabbed my heart over and over. Gentle Like a Cyclone, The Blind Colt, The Red Pony, Black Beauty and of course National Velvet. Books were my escapism from a childhood that I was not very happy in. To be involved in the storyline was easy and away I would go, on one adventure after another.

I found myself in town recently with an unexpected couple of hours on my hands. I was angry at first, as now I am stuck, what to do?? Drive home only to turn around and drive back to town? (For those of you who don’t know – I live 35 miles from my job, and that’s driving through town!! Which means at least 45 to 50 minutes one way!) It’s the middle of the day, everyone I know is at work.. ugh now what?? So on a whim I thought, ‘go to a movie!’ Well I checked a couple of theaters and not too many movies starting at that time except one… War Horse. I had seen the trailers for this movie, it looked interesting but not something I thought I just had to see. What the hell. It was now 2:10 pm, movie starts at 2:30 pm across town… could I make it? I could miss the first few minutes I suppose, although I HATE that, because you might miss an important moment that effects the rest of the movie. Whatever… I got in the hoopty and away I flew!

I paid for my ticket, stopped at the concession stand, (after all what’s a movie without buttered popcorn and a handful of napkins!?!?) then proceeded to the door marked War Horse. I opened the door to total darkness… ever so slowly made my way to a seat and sat down. To my surprise another preview began and I realize I made it in time to catch the entire movie!! Awesome!

Within minutes of the movie beginning I was caught up! As it progressed I became the young girl I use to be, transported back to my room, laying on my bed with my nose buried deep in a book. In my mind I am in the story, living the life that’s printed on the pages in my hands. The beauty of the horse appealed to me like no other animal. Each horse as individual as the story written about it. Back in the theater, as the story unfolded on that big screen, all those old emotions were as vivid to me as they were back then … anger at this, joy at that, and (thankful for that handful of napkins) crying at the sadness of another part.

The movie ended, the lights slowly returning and I just sat there. Surprised to find myself at a crossroads such as this. Elated that I enjoyed such a great movie. But at the same time a sad sense of melancholy, at lost youth and at lost innocence.

WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 11, 2012

        Style. We all have our own. Each feeling comfortable with our special quirk. I’ve always admired those who can rock the latest trends. And in each decade I’ve lived, I have seen some interesting trends!! Even went through a few myself! (Hip hugger jeans in the 70’s!!  Leg warmers in the 80’s!!)
But personal style in nothing without accessories. Hats, earrings, handbags, belts, shoes, boots… the list is endless. Each of us has that one item that once we’ve got it on, the attitude changes and we walk a little taller! I’ve never been much of a clothes horse, I am the most comfortable in jeans, t-shirt and a great pair of broken-in Reeboks. It’s my accessory that makes me.
I have one friend with a bracelet fetish, another a collector of handbags, and one who loves boots. But me? My favorite accessory? My car. Yep, I said it. My car. There is nothing like it. Climbing behind the wheel, adjusting every thing just so… pushing the clutch pedal in, gliding the shifter into 1st gear, aahhh… for me, that’s heaven. I just love to drive. Let me say that again… I just love to drive!!
I have always had a thing for cars. Every car I’ve owned in my driving career, no matter what shape the poor thing was in, I tried to fix, cover, or disguise.. I’d wash, wax and shine to make it look it’s best. Once that was achieved, I’d sit a little taller, my disposition more self assured and I’d feel fantastic!!
Oh, I’ve felt the sting of finding one of my favorite sweaters in the dryer – now 3 sizes smaller than me! Another sting of one missing (and still lost!) diamond earring! The loss of that favorite item, whatever it may be, is painful. (Damn! I looked great in that!!) Oh… Ouch!! Stung again!! Only this time it’s my FAVORITE accessory!!
A few days before Thanksgiving, on my way to work in the pouring rain, I caught a patch of standing water in the road and it spun my little blue car around in circles and then crashed into the guard rail. Many blessings were counted – I was not hurt – no other cars or people involved – no property damaged. Whew!! Poor little thing took a hard hit though and has been parked in our driveway since, awaiting judgement as to whether or not it can be fixed. Another blessing is that I do own another vehicle, so I was not without a car. Things changed though… car #2 is now down for the count. Fixable? Yes, but very, very costly.
I am now driving one of Del’s cars. I am not complaining, as it is a way to get from point A to point B. It’s just that I am not myself in this vehicle. It’s a hoopty. Just typing that word depresses me. A black car with a white hood and one white fender. Ok, imagine that beautiful leather coat you love to wear, because it just wears you so well. It’s gone. Now imagine another black coat but someone has ripped the collar and one sleeve off of it and replaced it with dirty white corduroy… are you with me? Let’s just say… I DON’T WANNA WEAR THIS COAT  DRIVE THIS CAR!!!
Umm, sorry, but it goes beyond just looking hoopty! To get out of said vehicle, you have to roll the window down to open door from outside as it has no inside door handle. When it rains it drips on your left leg. The dashboard has a huge void where a radio once resided. Now a big gaping hole with wires dangling. (Anyone who knows me knows that music is a BIG DEAL with me….. smh). But the kicker of this hoopty (as if these few things were not enough) is I must lift the hood and touch a wire to the positive post on the battery to start it!!!! Arrggg!!! Really??
I am not, in any way, under valuing the fact that I have a car to drive. I realize there are many that do not have the luxury of having multiple cars to use. For this I am very grateful. But my vanity is suffering!!
Ok, I’ve come to the conclusion it is time for a new coat… er, car. Not necessarily a new one… just one that is new to me. The hunt has begun. It’s sorta like contemplating a new hair style. Hmm.. wonder what the future has in store?

A whole year??

One year ago, today, I wrote my first blog. I was inspired by a young woman who has become a very close friend. I have not been myself these days… still trying to recover from my Mom’s death. I have the words swirling around in me… but I just can’t sit still enough to type them. For all those who have followed me, I will thank you by reposting my original blog. As for my major influencer (sp) find her here…  http://xanaxorrunningshoes.com.   Love you Ms. JMH!!

 

 

January 8, 2012

My First Blog.

       They say every person you ever meet will influence your life in some way. Some changes are visible immediately, some are rather subtle, and some you won’t realize their effect for years. This is where I am at. This is where I will begin. My current influencer (sp?) has lit the proverbial fire under my tail about writing. I have always been able to tell a great story but to put words to paper? In recent years I have been thinking about writing a book. But in order to begin my book writing, I have decided to start small. The above mentioned influencer is a blogger that I have followed faithfully since we’ve met. She is a source of great inspiration and I admire her. I also thank her.
I chose my blog name, “I’m how old?”, because I am over 50 and I don’t feel it. I always thought that as I grew older my mind would also. Not true. My mind is the same one I’ve had all my life and it hasn’t aged a minute!! But when I look in the mirror, a face that defies my mind looks back at me and my body, well, it’s beginning to feel the aches of growing older. I am not very happy about it. Of course, I could run out and have all kinds of plastic surgery to counter said effects… but I would go broke! Besides, wasn’t I raised under the assumption that aging is a blessing and promotes wisdom? Damn lies. My personal mantra is based on a quote I have no idea who said…. “Growing old in mandatory but growing up is optional.”
I may mature… but I will never grow up. With that said, my blogging life begins. Welcome to my world and stay tuned!!
Link to original blog home….