Saturday, December 31, 2016

Last Bitch of the Year

Imagine you are telling a story about something you saw and heard. You say, “The woman looked away when the man took her by the shoulders.” The person you’re telling the story to jumps in when you pause for a breath and proceeds to tell you how this happened, why it happened, and what it means without the benefit of hearing your story to the end.
This robs you of the satisfaction of telling your conclusion or point. It’s no longer your story they hijack your story before getting back to theirs. They seldom ask questions about what you’re saying, but readily explain what it means.
Their version may bear no resemblance to what you thought you heard and saw, but they dismiss any other possible outcome.  Is this a power trip? What’s with this behavior?
I enjoy listening to people’s stories and ask questions; I don’t understand people who hijack conversations. Isn’t this as rude and annoying as people, who begin conversations with,

“I don’t know,” and then go on and on about their opinion, which they pre-qualified as worthless. 

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Not Home Alone for Christmas

Christmas, the time of family caring and sharing comes crashing down on those of us left alone. My fourth Christmas without my husband won’t be home alone.  A flurry of activity in San Juan with a friend I met in Santo Domingo last year should occupy this holiday.

My lament when Kirt lived was we didn’t have a big family to share the holiday. His people died, mine moved away or brought the woe in woe is me. On our holidays at Starved Rock Lodge, we lounged before a roaring fire in a huge stone fireplace decorated with animal heads and garland, photographed bald eagles, and swam in an indoor pool. I loved the person I was with and now I’m alone with an acquaintance.

It sucks, right? That’s always going to suck. Being positive is a conscious choice; noticing every slight, anger at every wrong, and in general keenly observant of what is wrong is my heritage. On which side of the family I’m not going to tell you.
Work to mend the shreds of my heart continues. I choose not be melancholy; I choose to be happy. Somebody, please tell me; how do I do this? I’ve been sad so long that it feels like carrying a brick in my backpack.
On my fourth Christmas without my beloved, I’ll soak in the beauty of San Juan, while listening to the life story of a new friend. I won’t be alone. Be well.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Speaking Out on Social Security

If the next President and Congress of the United States don’t ruin my life by screwing with Social Security I intend to ignore politics, especially on Facebook, beginning in 2017.
The world belongs to the rich and the young; old people live on borrowed time. In my day, I’ve done walk-a-thons, manned phone banks, went door to door, and marched for my causes. I've earned retirement.
There’s great power in looking back over your life in your sixties; at least I believe this. I see me ever since I was a little piss ant. In my twenties and thirties, I wished to become a Woman of Substance from the movie of the same title, starring Deborah Kerr, which informed my sense of honor.
The questions I most wondered were: would I be ashamed or proud of myself and would I like myself when I got old.
I’ve done some amazingly stupid shit that I can finally laugh about, well, most of the time; other times I raise eyes to the sky shake my head. Smile.
All that being said, I’ll tell you that I’m happy with my life; as problematic as my life has been it’s been a fantastic voyage.
Reaping rewards in retirement meant work, being productive when I’d rather spend time following a muse. Sadly, I’ve ended up alone in retirement, but I’m here in the reaping.

I may be old and forget what I had for breakfast, but education was so much better in the old days, seniors have the skills; we can help each other.

My future is short. I worked all of my life with integrity. A decent retirement through Social Security was the promise of America, my country; leave it alone. 

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

My Year End Rituals

At the end of each year, I write out a summary of what happened in that year and a goal plan. People dismissive of this ritual say,
“I don’t do that; my goals are in the back of my mine, always,” or “Hell, who knows if we’ll even be alive this time next year.”
That’s always impressive to hear from an acquaintance over a cup of holiday beverage.
For me it all started with New Year’s Resolutions, seeing it written down helped me think about it. I hate it when my attention drifts. Oh, yeah, anyway over the years, annual goal planning became a big deal when I ran my businesses. A company well planned almost always outperforms one run by the seat of your pants. Ha-hah! I’m well reinforced for planning. Even the year Kirt died, I feebly set goals.
Each year I wrote a letter telling where we’d been, which once meant where we showed our dogs, and what we did meant bragging time for awards at dog shows. After coming to Puerto Rico it meant telling about dogs we fed or brought to shelter and what I’d learned about the street dogs.
For three years I’ve struggled with depression, no, with the devil. My recovery continues with variations daily. I fear the habit of sadness imprinted guiding me down familiar sad trails. Habitually sad, are you kidding me? I’d begun to wonder; the blues are too sad when you deserve them.
Travel helped me overcome my grief; I’ll tell you how. At home I grieved and remembered; traveling I had to pay attention to what I was doing, when my loss overwhelmed my thoughts.
I find long term sadness tiresome; don’t you? There’s the devil you just can’t f’ing shed so much so I’ve felt bitter about it at times. I love my husband, but I want to enjoy my life.
2016 retrospective hit the jackpot for me; I looked through the photographs, remembered my year and decided, when I thought about it, 2016 was a good year.
I thank God, the Universe, Gaia, and my fellow human beings for a lovely year; healing feels better.


Sunday, December 18, 2016

What DID I Do This Year

Last Christmas strolling El Conde in the Colonial Zone of Santo Domingo, while peering in shop windows a tall dark-haired woman approached my companion and me. “You’re American; I heard you speaking English. I want to talk to someone who speaks English,” a woman blurted out in a moderately thick Serbian accent.
Seriously, I looked around for Alan Funt Jr. and the Candid Camera crew. We went for coffee, no joke, and then went to the caves, and shopped in the Mercado; the trip ended with a new friend, Olivera from Michigan.

Christmas in the Caribbean, my new holiday tradition will take us to the San Juan this year. Most months I listen to live jazz in Old San Juan, so I seldom get lost anymore. Olivera will dash through the snow at Detroit AirPort to join me for a balmy Christmas. With arthritis, I don’t ever want to see a white Christmas again or I never, ever want to see a white Christmas again; which is more emphatic?
If someone asked what happened this year, I couldn’t tell them without evidence, so I went through my pictures. 
Start the year in the Dominican Republic, in spring the Tennessee Williams Literary Festival
and the French Quarter Fest in New Orleans, and back to the Dominican in November.

It disappoints me so; that I’ve bitched my way through what by looking at the photos was a great year. All year I’ve listened to quality live music for little or nothing; I’m very pleased about that.

Driving the gulf coast of Florida on the way to Orlando, the sand whipped across the road reminding me of white outs in winter snows. The best oysters I’ve had all year came there; during that meal, I started thinking how I could live in Florida if I didn’t go back to New Orleans.

A week from today is Christmas; I’ll be doing as much freebie stuff as possible since I already spent this month’s allowance on my first outing in 2017. 

Thursday, December 15, 2016

We Change

People say that we don’t change, but I’m here to tell you we do. During my teens and twenties, it seemed to me that I observed more, knew more and understood more than most people around me. I was known to be smart. Now, I know I’m just a dummy with an ego.
Knowing this frees me from effort to save face. Before I realized this I thought I just had a fuck you attitude. Grief, a realm of its own, forced me into new behavior. I hadn’t been this angry or sworn this much since the terrible teens.
To top it all off I’m a Type A personality who ran out of gas. In my deepest depression, I made shorter lists; column A: go to movies and gym, column B: research methods of suicide.
I made goals to travel, to exercise and to explore the island. In some ways I haven’t changed; throughout my life, I’ve made lists and set goals. In those dark years after Kirt’s death, I didn’t recognize myself without his light shining on me and reflecting mine back. The little old list maker planned her way to a new life. Hah!
Trouble is in my head I’m surrounded by burned out shells and broken branches. To do all the right things, the things you hope will cheer you and soothe that screaming ass pain doesn’t get great results in the presence of overwhelming loss. It makes me think about holistic healing that heals precious bit by bit.

Recently, I read something by a man within hand grenade range of my age; in this piece, he congratulated himself for his wisdom, maturity, and courage. He saw himself as a role model; his friends heartily agreed.
Could this have possibly made me feel any more fucked up? I know nothing; I question everything. Everything dear disappeared; nobody knows my name.
Remember Janis Joplin belting out, “Freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose;” why not, huh?

Saturday, December 10, 2016

In Memorial

Losing a friend throws you into memories wanting to reach those moments of light when your minds touched, sparking lively conversations and time well spent.

You favored Picasso; I, Dali. We championed our favorite in spirited discussion. I counted on you for that.
You told me tales of travels I dreamed of giving me inspiration. You did what interested you, making you a very interesting man.
One day you held my hand, giving me strength, as I held my husband’s hand, while he laid on a hospital gurney in a corner of an emergency room.
Your art improved, maturing with your soul; observing that enriched my spirit. Gracias, mi amigo, por todo.  Tricia Carr


Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Now What

Difficult doesn’t begin to describe mourning, to have your heart broken and continue to live doesn’t compute. Not wanting to live, not caring, sometimes hating everything, the tug-of-war of strong emotions leaves me worn like arthritis plaguing my joints.
Just make myself feel better, create a pleasant day, so I don’t hurt as much.  Doesn’t that sound pathetic; it was. After getting up to tumble and fall over and over, I’m gaining strength physically and emotionally or spiritually. Thank heaven. Disharmony wore the hell out of me.
Find a new life in your sixties, go someplace different like a tropical isle, and really give yourself something to bitch about. If you were uprooted from all you were before, what would you do?
When Kirt died I thought I’d return to the states, but decided to make no changes for at least a year. Three and a half years later I still ask, “Who is this woman? What makes her happy?” In many ways, I’m the same, but after living life, as part of we, this only me stuff calls for a huge adjustment.
Being happy requires active participation like the world ain’t saving itself. This time of year I assess my goals, check in with myself. Don’t laugh; I found that my younger outlook fixed by childhood took so long to live beyond that what I want finally reflects a more centered me. I never thought of myself as artistic, and now, I have creative energy; who knew?  

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Weighty Dilemma

Serious describes five workouts at the gym and Zumba twice in the same week. Saturday exercise hurt; I usually stop short of pain. My triceps still ache. Rest on Sunday seemed appropriate.
My mouth consumes too much quality protein; I’m not a junk food kind of girl. Smoked Salmon doubles down on decay the second you open the package. It’s a sin to waste. Bread, give me bread under starry skies above or any place else. Chocolate most dark and decadent too seldom passes my puckered lips or pudge face I’d really be.
I navigated under the opinion that I didn’t care about my weight; I wanted to be stronger and for my back to hurt less. Exercise vastly improved both. My mood almost always improves after exercise. Actually I believed my weight would spiral slowly downward with regular exercise; in three years it hasn’t.

When you eat a healthy diet, you expect to lose weight, but I haven’t lost a damn pound. Apparently, I’m too good to me.
My blood pressure is good; eating remains a source of pleasure. What the hell am I supposed to do?

Monday morning Zumba, and then, lunch followed by the gym. Let’s see what happens.  

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Its a Bitch

Some days the lure of the sofa is great; joints scream,
“Don’t move! Or I’ll really hurt you.”
Collapsed comfortably, it’s difficult to protest. The curiosity spark missing any mark lands on barren ground. Loathsome laziness grabs my butt. Remember; do nothing Saturday has favored day status. Yes.
Saturdays spent reading, writing or sleeping are joyous to be sure, but today that’s not the motivation. Today, I just don’t have the oomph.
To my morning set of exercises, I added a set of twenty where I pick a basketball off the floor, raise it to my waist, and then, above my head. That action immediately raised awareness of several stiff spots in my back.
Rainy days are hell for arthritis suffers; let me hear you bitch!!
When I get out of the car I can’t put weight on my left leg for a couple of seconds, but after a few steps, I’m good.
If I give in to a do little or nothing day because my arthritis hurts, it’s always harder to work through later, so this laziness must be overcome if I have any sense at all.
As the Brits say, “Bloody hell!”

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Culture Divergence

Culture or what my mind refers to as things other people do differently than what I do. Culturally differences can be as domestic as Catholic bingo versus Baptist picnics.
I’ve only understood culture on the broadest most superficial level. For me, it was one of those things I could see, but not truly identify, like an ethereal spirit.
Finally, I had an aha moment explaining why understanding came so slowly and uncomfortably; I thought of culture as what others do. What did I bring to the table? Some days people love me and other days I feel friction. What is it about me on those days?
In today’s climate, it’s all too easy to chalk it off to so and so just doesn’t like Americans or white people. And while I see a difference lately, I prefer to change what I can to minimize stress points.
In the Caribbean cultures I’ve met so far, one common thing is greeting ritual. “Good day, how are you?” Question and reply come before what you want. On a good day, I enjoy that, which is generally on my popular days.
On a bad day, I have no patience for all these good day rituals, I want to get in, get it over, and get out; that’s my American culture, which I won’t diminish by saying, or lack thereof. We may be brash, but we’ve always been good-hearted.
Putting on a good face helps, but many operate on the energetic level where they’re reacting to energy output. When you blast someone with hurry-hurry energy, push back occurs.
And sometimes I get so excited about a new experience, and then I see in some faces that their culture is more restrained. Write this down, no happy dancing after sixty-five.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Spanish Jazz Intro

Sunday in Old San Juan sounds like a title to a song about a woman alone, who on seeing a rainbow over the park where she’s heading knows it’s a signal for joy.

The comfort of together is lost to her; those she loved left this life to continue their sacred journey. Left alone to learn to honor her existence, she wanders steep walkways. What do I want to do? My knees hurt; how far do I want to walk? No pain, no gain, so she heads to the top of the hill where a Turkish restaurant serves quality food.

Doormen try to entice her into their restaurants.
“Genuine Puerto Rican food, you will love it,” he said with almost a leer on his face.
“Yo vivo aqui. I get that all the time. I’m looking for something different,” her eyebrows seemed to leap a couple of times before her mouth and eyes settled into a lascivious smile. She walked on aching knees; where the hell is that place?
Finally, the Turkish doorman leads her to a table for one in the corner. She gathers the spirits of her dearly departed. Isn’t this charming, she asks. She’s not alone when she invokes the spirits who love her. Imagining herself surrounded with love she looks across the room; there’s no man handsome or otherwise to smile at her, just a few young couples very much into themselves, but she sees the pity in young women’s eyes.
Pity, the place where she’s lived for three years, draws her into the dark energy. She feels diminished; lentil soup and yogurt revive her. She heads back to the Bahia Urbana for an evening of jazz, topped by Jorge Pardo from Spain.

A credible group of students opens; her head begins to bob with the beat. These kids are good musicians and a couple of the talented girl singers. She smiles at the stage, enjoying the display of promise.
The second group was individually wonderful musicians, but she didn’t connect with them when they played together. This for some reason made her sad. She thought about leaving, but she had never seen jazz musicians from Spain before.

If she didn’t know they were from Spain, would they stand out as different the local band? She thought about the roots of jazz in the states, while group number two rocked some fabulous individual riffs.  She happily remembered when Caribbean Jazz became part of her world.

Would Spanish Jazz imprint strongly or be a wisp? Her back ached, so before the last set, she stood to stretch. You know the look folks get when they’re trying to look, but don’t want to be seen looking? Some seemed friendly, some held pity, kind of an awe you’re alone face and some were simply; what the fuck level of surprise is she doing here, but she never felt malice.
The walk to sustenance led to back and knees screaming above the music, but she’d come too far to leave without being exposed to some Spaniards playing instruments.
Generally, flutes fail to hold her attention, so when the thin longhaired man began to play she was thinking that maybe this wasn’t going to be worth the wait. A couple hundred miles round trip drive, gas, tolls, and parking for just getting there meant she wanted the trip to be worth expenses. A little seasoning and you go all critical, she laughed. His playing seemed rather pleasant.
Jorge Pardo stood like a toreador waving his wand; that looks and sounds pretty good. With a quick right to left movement his flute left notes, she followed in admiration. “He’s so Spanish,” she chuckled, having seen a fair number of flute playing people over her lifetime.

The stage backlit by well designed, colorful commercials showcased the performers in silhouette. A second man, holding a guitar stepped into the light and both had the most amazingly erect posture. A Spanish guitar speaks about the culture, the vibrancy of the people; the young man playing fluently carried himself with the same manly elegance as Pardo, who next played sax.
The drummer who could play in anyone’s band supported and blended very well. A clever fellow with an enormous base pleased her when more of the same would have been too much.
Flamenco goes so well with jazz; sound, presentation excellent, so she wanted to dance, but nobody was dancing. She packed up and danced her way out of the park. Young women signaling her thumbs up gave her a helping hand down a slippery slope. They seemed happy to see her. She felt a lovely group synergy; the trek to the car didn’t seem quite so far.
Problems, self-pity she left at the door the night she learned about Spanish Jazz.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Changing Growing Grateful

Learning to live alone and be happy in your senior years can be a slog. So many things that seemed important no longer matter. My I give a shit about list is embarrassingly large. For someone, who always wanted to be liked and respected, it surprises me how indifferent I am to other’s opinions.
Opinions filtered through eyes that don’t see me, but similar folk who came before me. People all too often rank each other as better or worse. If you’re seen as better, there’s jealousy. If you’re seen as worse you don’t matter. I don’t wish to be seen as better; to be given a set of attributes that doesn’t fit chaffs. My self-respect, my ego won’t allow myself to be treated poorly as if I didn’t matter.  

What matters is a day spent embracing beauty, the salty air blowing off the ocean, the roar of the surf commingling with local music, or better yet, jazz.
As the star of our own personal production, we can choose to share the stage with others or grab the light and refuse to relinquish. Some feel they’re the most interesting in the room or simply hope to have something to contribute to the conversation; I confess upon occasion I’ve worn each.
Center stage is not something that came easily, as a child, being center stage was generally followed by a beating. Sitting on the sidelines, watching; that’s safest. But we’re all the star of our own life; sometimes you just have to deliver your lines. And when it works, it really feels good.
In a room full of people there’s always someone who’s jealous of the person taking center stage. That’s what this better or lesser comparison system creates; perhaps it comes from our eat or be eaten stage.

From the safety of my planet, I see the beauty and diversity of God’s creation. I surround myself with what reminds me who I am, a child of God. We all are, as the cells on my body are part of me. To wish the biggest asshole ill hurts me! My spirit, my soul doesn’t thrive when I get involved in jealousy or pride.
Healthy self-respect is the neighbor of arrogance, who always pisses people off. One’s confidence will be attacked by other’s insecurity, and sometimes you’re the asshole doing the undermining.
Focusing on me, at this stage in my life seems altogether appropriate, so like it or not, get on with it.
Tonight there will be jazz in the street; guess where I’ll be.
Enjoy your day.


Thursday, November 17, 2016

On the Road in the Dominican Republic

Buen dia! Good day, it is!! After my adventure alone on a Caribbean Island, where a military man with a machine gun escorted me to the ladies room, it’s good to be home.
So seldom do things go as planned that I go with the flow, greeting it with a comfortable, and still a little wary familiarity.
Santiago de los Caballeros nestled in the mountains became the scene of driving lessons; the first being, don’t between dark and ten pm. The second is to always have a full tank of gas when desperately lost.
Travel allowed me to put beliefs into action, which gave depth to my soul. At the red lights, vendors swarm the cars, pushing their wares at the window. “Hey, American Lady,” many smile not trying to hide surprise of seeing me. “Mira, aqui!!” Suddenly the young men turn on the charm, going from big smile to equally grand pouty face when hearing my polite, “No, gracias.” Smiles and waves were exchanged.
My sincere gracias to all the wonderful people selling produce or adapters on the corner! With your help I found the autopista to head back to Santo Domingo.
A light rain in a strange city where crazy driving is a participant sport pushed me over the edge after an hour of being lost in rush hour. The window is down so I can peer around the five-way intersection. I look him in the eye to tell him, “No, gracias.” The short stature fellow with his directly close to the side of mine started telling me about his wife and child. I saw his eyes dart around the front seat and land on my belly pack for a second.
My stress level hit the roof and exploded into tears. In a wild combination of Spanish and English, I told how I’d been lost for an hour and a half and needed to get back to Santo Domingo.
I saw it in his eyes; I became a person. He sprang into action waving wildly, “Aqui, derecho.” He gestured forward, and then turned to face me, “Derecha, autopista!” “Derecha, derecha!”
He walked in front of three lanes of cars waiting for the red light, signaling them wait and me to come on; I followed in my little rental. We waved as the light changed and I was a little more confidently on the road again.
At the end of the long day on the road to Santo Domingo guess what; she who gets lost is at it again on the outskirts of town. I found my way to a marginal road heading toward a myriad of expressways, none of which came with a label. Tired with high stress feels cranky; do I scream or cry? Oh, hell, why not both?
Not the man described in  the story
Sitting in a long line gave me time to think out choices; oh, just show me a sign. Here comes a four foot something high guy missing a foot.  One crutch is held by the stump of his upper right arm.  The another crutch is held by a hand that holds a contribution cup. He ambulated towards me with hopeful eyes.  He broke my heart.  I reached into my belly pack as I asked the whereabouts of the John F. Kennedy expressway. He told me to turn left ahead with sagging hopes. Just then I popped what felt like a rather large coin into his cup. The light allowed me to get close, but not pass.
Do I turn left or a u-turn opting to try this major looking expressway? I decided on the obvious, took a deep breath, and looked in the side view mirror, where upon seeing the coin, and I don’t know how he did it, but he waved the crutch with his stump. I glanced at the light with the timer; it was going to be a while.
In the side view mirror, I saw this adorable little man ambulating with the skill of a primate and in a second he stood by the car, gesturing with the stump that secured a crutch he outlined the path I should take to be on the Kennedy. We made each other’s day; how priceless.
If thrown off the course I mapped out the night before, my plan b is to find wifi. In the poor areas forget it; if a place has wifi there’s a sign bragging about it. Driving down the shore I see a restaurant I ate at the last time in Santo Domingo, so I now know I’m near the Colonial Zone. Their food is excellent, oh, I hope they have WIFI.
No, I’m so tired and hungry; it’s four in the afternoon. I haven’t eaten since breakfast, and the hotel I’ve reserved has a fabulous gym.
Again I prayed for a sign; I looked up. It said Sheraton; I have always enjoyed staying at Sheratons. My troubles would soon be over; I just knew it.
Lickity split, I’m walking up to the Sheraton entrance, which is completely overpowered by a Casino Entrance. What the hell, maybe casino has a restaurant with WIFI.
The sharp dressed man at the door gives me a smug, I’ve seen it all grin, as I smile and say hello, how are you in Spanish. Also in Spanish, I ask if the restaurant has WIFI. He gives me a face that says, I don’t know what the fuck you’re talking about with hands to add emphasis. That seemed so odd after all the country boys I’ve been speaking with all week.
A casino next to a Sheraton is a Caribbean tourist capital is going to hire a front door man who is at least bilingual, but I don’t know this I’m just a woman.
“Habla Ingles?” I ask in a hopeful tone.  The pause that followed any drama queen would claim, and in a voice that spoke with difficulty finally squeaked out, “Yes, I speak English.”
“Does the restaurant have WIFI, the internet?” He pretended not to know. He was enjoying this way too much, so I walked out of the casino and into the Sheraton, where after cajoling the manager I was allowed to order a half hour before they opened for dinner.
With feeder streets on the way to roads to be traveled all listed my nearby destination hotel should be a snap to find, but no, I missed a sign someplace. I’m sitting at the light fuming when a tiny young woman carrying a doll-sized baby appeared at the window. Reflexively I shook my head. My mood foul I didn’t think. As she walked away, I called her back.
We are all the same thing, God’s creations. My soul could have been in that body; how could I send her away, when I had money in my bag. I handed her a coin; she bowed and left. I prayed for her to journey her hard road well.

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Never Thought About It

My dad died of cancer at forty-two; I never thought I’d out live that. I never thought I’d be forced to retire at the high of a Great Recession. Kirt died over three years ago and I never thought about life without him.
Rain clouds are coming and I’m sitting here wondering what else I never thought about. Imagine what an awesome list that is. If I were still sane, I’d want to kick the bucket.
Thinking, planning, striving for goals challenged my life; some days were diamonds, some days were stone to quote a John Denver song. Bad days only required a plan and then good days come. Back then I tried to think everything through. I tired myself out with that shit.
Despite all the things I’ve thought about I’m living in a world I’ve never thought about or imagined.

Fuck it, I’m going to hear some fine jazz!

Friday, November 4, 2016

On the First Morning

This morning I woke up thinking myself one of the coolest old ladies on the planet! Hah!! That’s never happened before.
The Dominican Jazz Fest is next week. I leave in four days, so raise the roof; Caribbean jazz here I come, and in the VIP seats no less.
The coastline road from the airport to Santo Domingo whispers wanton words seducing travelers to stop, have a drink or a meal on the shore. So far in my world travels, this is one of my favorite drives from an airport. It relaxes me and I only come from the next island.
Learning to see what my husband saw in me for forty-five years is finally wiping out the way my parents saw me, which was as a kid needing to be beat at least three times a week.
My memories with my husband are largely us going and doing. He loved my adventurous spirit; his soul soared with me. My soul still soars with enjoyment of enthralling music.
Time to pack the suitcase; what shall I wear? Tee shirts, the proof of previous fests and hence coolness must be washed.

And then, I must go to the gym so my back and knees don’t stiffen or refuse to budge. 

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Hang Up

A friend you call in the middle of the afternoon just to shoot the breeze  between chores, that’s a bud missed. I miss the friend with fine comedic timing who still laughed at my one liner’s. We laughed until tears leaked. All that shot in the ass.
Just joking, trying to be funny; don’t be so serious. Can’t you take a joke? None of these lines will placate, ameliorate, or otherwise improve my attitude regarding words thrown at me with precision.
Nothing guaranteed, nothing taken for granted. Mourn to move on, so forgiving possible. I’ve learned to love and to let go. Always hurts, some times more.
One of the best compliments I’ve ever gotten, a lady named Teddy told me, “To have a friend you must be a friend. You know how to have a friend.”
I pray for grace to be a friend, who forgives at least to the extent of not hurting in revenge.
To let go is one of my life lessons. I hang on for dear life. J

Carry on Jazz

If you can’t be decent to me, you can’t be near me. I hold my comrades to that minimum level of behavior. Beyond that I’ve been entertained by an array of craziness; sometimes not so entertained.
When someone, who knows your weaknesses, strikes in that tender zone, they intend to hurt, which in my book makes it malicious. I could tell how it made me feel, be clear about the pain caused, question why you wanted to hurt me, but maliciously causing pain isn’t an oops; it’s a scary character flaw which  repeats the behavior loop.
Being separated from the person you spend the most time with and have a ton of fun is not an easy thing to do; a surgical approach avoids an ample amount of drama. I hate how loud people get, myself included.
We haven’t spoken since the incident. The only contact, a text:
Are you mad at me?
Reply: Yes.
It seems this is the type of drama where in each side plays out a list of grievances or worse yet, say things in a competition to hurt the most. Oh, goodie, I think I’ll pass. Perhaps we’ve simply had enough of each other. Goodbye. 
We spent a considerable amount of time together each week, so the first felt like withdrawal. Wednesdays were fun; that’s pretty much why I didn’t understand her behavior on Thursday, but anyway the test of my readiness to be alone comes next week, big time.
I may be crazy; this may be too much for a senior lady alone, but the music calls. The Dominican Jazz Fest begins in the capital city, Santo Domingo; my hotel is a ten minute walk to the venue. What’s the best way to return to the hotel at the end of the evening?
Alone, I’ll miss the “what shall we do” discussion, but this is a bucket list trip. It’s on!
After a night of jazz in the Colonial Zone on the south coast, I’ll drive across the island ending up in Cabarete. Each night a different view, I thought it a ballsy trip for two senior ladies. I didn’t plan to do this trip alone; that’s a real adventure. Yikes!!
Let’s be real; I’m a fat old lady, alone. Of course, I’m scared. Many times I felt afraid when I first came to Puerto Rico. The fear I owned; across this island people have been kind, so when I went to the Dominican Republic, I felt comfortable, and a large contingency of police to protect the tourists made me feel safe.

Alone, this trip is scary for me, but listening to good music takes me to a happy place. I’m going. Please, pray for me. 

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Life Lessons

When the student is ready, the teacher will appear. About three years ago, shortly after my husband died, we were introduced.
Widows know each others’ pain; it’s something we just have to live through or not. People who haven’t had this loss hide behind a wall of words telling you how you should feel or even better how your husband would want you to feel. Well intended people can make you crazy in your grief.
“You feel how you feel. You can’t push it. You can’t change it. You just have to accept it. It hurts.” She identified with the experience. 
An obviously wounded woman spoke the truth. We bonded in our grief. We gave each other moral support to make the best of the days we shared. Lost in Puerto Rico with two senior ladies could be the title of our early adventures. In the depths of my mourning, I learned to laugh again.
Have you ever met someone fun? I enjoyed her quixotic changes of topic. It taught me to be flexible. I can be rigid. And, oh, my, she bathed in the center of attention! I was the Martin to her Lewis; we laughed through many experiences.
First, I love myself; teacher set the example. No matter what the topic her sentence always began with I. After a while I found that annoying, but realized she struggles also, so accept a friend as she came. Later it crossed my mind that I should find what my husband found lovable in me. 
For three years this soul has been my closest friend, whom I love dearly. There is so much I admire about her. We had some great fun together. This time in my life was better for you being in it; gracias. I wish you all the best. It hurts to say, “Goodbye!”
The only thing that would grieve me more is to again be subjected to the hateful speech hurled at me on Thursday. That was the meanest I’ve ever seen you do. You wanted to hurt me; why?
Doesn’t matter because you did it; you hurt me so badly that we’re done. Is that what you wanted?

Give me Thanksgiving Dinner for one.

Friday, October 28, 2016

When a Friend Is Not a Friend

Stay positive; don’t bitch. That’s what my angel says. Tell it like  it like it is; the hell with whoever gets pissed. I don’t know who whispers that in my ear, but I hear it in my head.
We all have that public persona of how we’d like to be seen or perhaps more importantly how we’d like to be. I want to be a nice person who’s fun to be with, but if you hurt me or piss me off, who knows?  
We all spend some time in the asshole zone. God forbid, but maybe, I’m about to go there. That’s not a place I care to visit, but one thing I know is that when someone starts “messing” with you, it won’t end until you leave or have it out.
Just for the record people mess with you when they say hurtful things or embarrass you in public. You know the one, when you give them the how could you look, they look back with that innocent, huh, but you can see the corners of the eyes narrow ever so slightly, giving away intent.
Would it surprise you to hear that the person who messes with you will innocently rip you off? This person owes you a hundred dollars, and when you’re handed the folded money; will you look at it or will you stuff it into your pocket? You count and it’s twenty short. The twenty appears from the rear pocket where it was missed. This personality never apologizes, preferring to offer humorous quips. 
People who hurt the ones who care about them are perhaps repeating the treatment they received in childhood. As much empathy as I have for them, I need to escape that. I won’t choose to be with anyone who makes me feel bad about myself.
All my life long besties are dead. In finding compatible friends we go through so many misfits. Some times I just want someone to share a good day, but don’t mess my day up with meanness.
Who tells a friend to “order your Thanksgiving dinner for one? You should have a turkey dinner for Thanksgiving. You need this. This is a good idea for you; do you see this? Dinner for one, this is perfect for you. You should get this.” 
Who hammers this at you, while at the same time bragging how many homes welcome them? Is this person insensitive beyond imagination? Why would a friend be so hurtful?
This conversation took place over a coffee. “What are you trying to say to me?” I felt stunned.
“I’m just sayin, in case. You know,” attempting to sound conciliatory.
I rose and began collecting my napkin and cup.
“I don’t have to clean this up; let them clean it up,” my friend said in a voice so haughty that it shocked me.
Unfortunately, shock doesn’t slow my mouth; I fled the scene saying something about arrogance and ignorance, clean up your mess, and who knows what else.
What do you do, when someone tries to stick a fork in you every once in a while?  I grew up in a neighborhood where people messed  with each other as a big competition. I moved to the country to escape.
My sweet country boy didn’t like that thing city people do, so I stopped. He was right; life is more pleasant without it, so anyone introducing that negativity into my life needs to go.

This is so sad.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Love Letter to My Husband

My honey, my husband, forty months ago you died. The bitter Sunday I lost you grieves me; we could be smiling and laughing still. We always did whether times were good or hard. We found something to smile about; didn’t we!
You gifted me with the sweetest soul I ever knew. Losing you cracked my hard case into pieces. Putting me back together, without your physical presence to give comfort, piece by piece has been my dark night of the soul, and a job far from done.
Since 1988 you lived with pain no one would want to imagine, but you found joy in the day. You always had something kind to say; that was your way.
As the famous Joseph Campbell taught, most people go to the right, the main stream route and a few take the path to the left. It’s a shady dirt road through a forest, and then a ridge with rocks and ocean vistas as far as the eye can see. Alone it’s just me; I’d so much rather it be we, but the path to the left suits me, as it did you.
You valued me way more than I valued myself; what did you see in me I often wondered. Everyone or most everyone, who met you, fell in love with you. All the women who sought you out drove me nuts, and yet, I wasn’t jealous. You loved me.
Alone, I’d rather be than with energy draining strangers, who showed up this day to tell me all their woes. I struggle to see the good some days, but don’t wish to share with someone who doesn’t care. They don’t want to hear me, so why should I indulge their whines?
The travel we planned, I’m doing for us. Although we never spoke of Cuba, I’ve been there. Two kindred spirits live near Havana, you would love them as I do. There is love in my life.
You know how hard I always worked and tried; those days are gone. Even my workouts at the gym are no harder than I’ll allow, but I continue to go and do. That’s where the fun is; right? 
The road less traveled, that freaking lonely road without you is still worth the trip my love. Life is a gift to honor, but I’ll miss you every step.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Go and Do or Sit and Talk

Go and do versus sit and talk, or sit and watch TV; have you noticed how much of each you do?
 No TV in my house, so I substitute sitting online dreaming about travel. The planning stage of checking prices throws out nuggets of info on things I couldn’t have imagined. Be still my heart!
Sit and talk with interesting friends; can you envision a better evening? I can spend time sitting!
It’s the going and doing that forces me to buck up and get off my ass. And that ain’t easy!
Did I mention that DVD movies and excellent TV programs provide my entertainment, during which I’m more prone? I’m so lazy; it’s scary.
If I did what I felt like doing, sitting and whatever, I wouldn’t be able to walk. The arthritis in my back and knees wouldn’t allow it.
I tell my mother that I go to the gym and about the young men, who flex in the mirror after every rep. I prefer to talk in a positive vein, so when I finally told my mother that I hated going to the gym, she laughed. Ha-hah!
The good news is that after much repetition I now need to force myself to limit hard workouts to four days a week. There’s a Zen moment when you exercise that feels so good; it’s positively addicting. If you have any idea of the pain it takes to get there, your head is still nodding when I say it’s worth the trip.
My go and do’s can be quite corrupted; a night of wiggling through a food festival swinging to salsa has become instead nocturnal  wandering aisles of Wal-Mart for any number of stupid reasons. On such a night I found the Tudors, DVD. Winner!

Now that I’m getting better at being alone, I need to get better at limiting my sit ands.. Ugh!!   

Thursday, October 20, 2016

What Will It Be

Days drone on, if I don’t do anything to create special.
Figuring out what I want is problematic. What do I want to do?
Thinking about can make me feel quite edgy, like its taboo. If the thought makes me twitch, I release it. Now is my time of year to plan, so I need to figure out what the hell I want. I will get back to it.

Sometimes it feels strange to obsess over my tiny cares, when the world seems about to go to hell in a hand basket, but that’s where my life is now and I won’t be happy, if I don’t honor what’s important to me.
The Great Recession crashed all over my retirement. Money is a huge object in pursuit of my dreams, so planning is everything.
Europe whispers, “Come see me. Stay a while, be changed forever.”
OMG, the thought excites me! Experience the cultures that begat our Americas; can you imagine!”  Meet the culture that fucked the hell out of the Caribbean and South America, killing men and impregnating the women in the name of God. Each culture owns a brutality and elegance in homogenous balance, perhaps for the last time in the history of the planet. Knowing and understanding comes only after meeting. Duh!
Yes, I want to live in Europe, but I have two dogs, so saving and planning will require more than a year. Having a two or three year goal to salivate over is all well and fine, but some short term attainable goals will make this old girl feel better!
I should think on it at the gym. Blessings.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016


In your life have you ever hit the reset button? I’m not talking about walking out on spouse and kids mega reset. Sometimes I get to the point I quit; it doesn’t matter how long I’ve been doing whatever, when it’s over. That’s a little reset.
Some people become something when they graduate; they do that their entire lives. Others explore more options, resetting our image to reflect new interests.
Some resets you want; you pray for them to happen, but hurricane, recession, accident, anything can reset your life.
After three years of living in the twilight land of I give a shit, caring, hoping, and wanting, welcome; haven’t seen you in a long time.
“Are you ever satisfied,” my husband occasionally asked, as I careened from one goal after another. My productive years of being, doing, and giving gave me an action adventure. I could have done differently, but wouldn’t. “Yeah, Honey, I’m satisfied.”
Retirement, alone is a reset different from what I had in mind. I saw myself pushing his wheelchair all over the world.
Sixty-eight seems late to hit the reset; what are my options?

Monday, October 17, 2016

All That Jazzed

What’s on your list of favorite things? On my list you’ll find jazz. A goal to fill life with my favorite things in 2014 became my 2016 goal to attend as many jazz festivals as possible.
The Heinekens Ventana de Jazz in the tropical splendor of Condado on the last Sunday of the month provided my jazz staple this year. The San Juan Jazz Fest in the Tito Puntes Stadium and the French Quarter Fest in New Orleans spiked spring with quality music. In June the monthly Heinekens Ventana de Jazz moved to Old San Juan, another beautiful spot by the ocean.
90.3 fm, el capital de jazz, my favorite jazz radio station en el Caribbe hosted a festival in Rincon, the island surfing capital. If you want to hang in a hip tropical isle town, Rincon will get the how cool is that juices flowing.

Brenda Hopkins Jazz Band held me captive in Rincon. For a woman to lead a band full of men, I find unusual; don’t you?

How does a woman, the key board player, lead a half a dozen young buck musicians? Heart and soul, she out plays, while honoring her teammates’ talent; the girl’s got class. Meeting women like that is truly one of my favorite things.
Ta-dum, drum roll, please, the oldest, the biggest, the best jazz fest in the Caribbean happens in November, the Dominican Jazz Fest, Nov 8th-12th and I’m going with a friend.