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.