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Blog

Memoir: An Older Man

Posted on August 26, 2013 at 3:28 PM Comments comments ()
     This Friday I will be attending a meeting here in my neighborhood where a group of ladies will gather to share their quest to write their memoirs.  I've been invited to speak on the topic of writing and perhaps motivate the group toward their memoir goals.
     I've decided to bring a list of writing prompts, words and ideas that can spark putting pen to paper.  Trust me, I've had to do this for myself from time to time.  I've sat at many a blank screen watching that pulsing cursor all but laughing at me while I conjure nothing. 
     If you will, I'd like to share my own experience with one of these prompts and I give it to you here:
 
 
An Older Man
 
     His hair was raven, black and shiny,  as was his car.  His name was Pat, short for Pasquale, and he was too old for me, but at fifteen, I was agog.
    Pat drove a sleek Ford Fairlane with the elongated lines of the Batmobile and he kept his hand at twelve on the wheel, elbow locked, wrist flexed.  Just the sight of him cruising along Cedar Road, the cross street that intersected the avenues of my little neighborhood, made my heart flip.  It was dangerous to like him, three years my senior, he was forbidden.  That, I think now, is what really quickened my heartbeats..     
      He smoked Marlboro's and the smell of tobacco clung to the grey leather interior of his car.  I'd climb in and sit so close to the passenger door that the chrome handle would dig in my side.  He'd snake an arm along the top of the bench seat, his fingers reaching to touch my shoulder.  His eyes, like black olives, danced with amusement.  A simple "How are you today?" rendered me speechless.  How was I?  Scared, exhilarated, daring heart thumping, mind zooming with the what-if of getting caught by my father.  My response to Pat,  though was a one-shoulder accented "Good."
     He gave me my first real kiss and I remember now how I opened my eyes during that first one.  I stared out the window of that Fairlaine incredulous that I actually knew how to do it, how to tilt my head, how to not asphyxiate.  He gave me his silver ID bracelet to wear on my wrist, which I ceremoniously slipped from my arm and tucked into my purse when I went home.  But, alone in my room, I donned it, loved the cool heaviness of the chain, was enrapt with the way it dwarfed my wrist, how it gave me a diminutive feeling, a sense of femininity.  I was sure I was in love and I would be forever.
     Two months later, it was done.  The obstacles were many, those three little years between us a chasm of lifestyle.  I couldn't go on dates yet, he had no interest in going to Florham Park Skating Rink on Friday night with all my other freshmen-aged friends.  Sneaking around was tedious for me, frustrating for him. 
     I was the one to actually end it.  I practiced what to say in my room, talked it out to the mirror above my dresser.  Then, standing outside the driver's side door of that Ford Fairlane, the ID bracelet sat heavy in my palm.  I recited what I had rehearsed and returned his silver chain. 
     There was such beauty in retelling the  sweet agony to my friends. And, as I look back now, I see with certainty that it was then that a hopeless romantic was born.
    
    

DVR - The New Frontier

Posted on July 3, 2013 at 4:10 PM Comments comments ()
     My husband and I record our favorite television shows using the DVR feature from our cable hookup.  It happens to be a great way to keep current with your favorite programs, as well as allowing you to watch one while recording another.  A bonus, of course, is the fact that you can zip past commercials.  You can view an hour prime time program in about forty minutes, a half-hour show in seventeen.  Handy, yes?  Here's the new issue at our house:
     My husband is trigger happy.  He's so anxious to zip past those commercials that he winds up zipping way beyond the next startup of the program.  So he has to rewind, zip again, go too fast again, rewind again until he gets it just right.  By the time he's done outsmarting the manufacturers' plugs for the most absorbent diapers, the best smell-resistant deodorant or the most effective dish washing liquid to make your dinnerware sparkle, we could have watched the damned commercials. 
     When we're watching a recorded show that we know will have a surprise ending, like American Idol or the dreaded Bachelorette (yes I watch it, don't condemn me) I ask him to use the zip feature lightly.  Instead of his usual fast-lane four green arrows we negotiate the speed down to two.  There have been those times when he'll zip to the very crucial end of a show causing him to mutter an expletive then hit pause while telling me to close my eyes.
     So, there we'd be in our living room, Harvey with the remote pointed at the screen, me with my hands over my eyes until he tells me the coast is clear.  If he knows who won the sing-off or who got the rose he keeps it to himself so as not to spoil it for me.  And, it's that chivalrous act that makes me not bop him one with the remote.

My Big Fat Scooter Outing

Posted on June 15, 2013 at 2:26 PM Comments comments ()
      On our recent trip to Lancaster, PA, with great friends the six of us made a plan to take a thirty-mile motorbike tour of covered bridges.  Fun, right?  Well, the three of us women started chickening out at the last minute. 
       It started when we saw the scooters.  I don't know what images the other ladies had in their heads about what this scooter would look like, but I can tell you my image was made by Mattel. And, oh how wrong I was!
     It was a Harley.  Okay, it wasn't, but it may as well have been.  It was big and black and loud and fast. 
     I was determined, though.  I had made a promise to myself that I would leave my usual scaredy-cat self home and I would face this fear like my sister has had to face her recent health trauma.  It was important that I prove to myself that I can be strong and fearless.  It was my way of confirming that I can fulfill the promise I made to my father on the day he died. I vowed to assume his role in taking care of our family. A lot of pressure was riding on that scooter, huh?
     Well, I fell off the damn thing, skinned my knee ,and decimated my pride .  Let's just say I wasn't great at navigating turns. 
     Did I fail in my promise to myself?  Did I let down the vow I made to Dad?  No.  That's not how I see it.  Here's why:
     I actually donned the heavy helmet, strapped it on tight.  I sat on the big black seat and followed the tour guide's instructions.  I practiced, I crossed a busy street, I made a left, I did it.  So, I was strong and fearless in a way, but I was also wise.  I was wise enough not to get back on the stupid thing and risk breaking a limb because what good would I be to my sister and my mother and the rest of my family if I was in a cast?
     The story has an even happier ending.  The three of us ladies let our menfolk go off on the motorbikes and we went to a winery. I excelled there, my friends.
    
    
 

Sandwich on a Spnning Plate

Posted on June 3, 2013 at 12:05 PM Comments comments ()
That's what they call us, you know, The Sandwich Generation.  We care for our kids and we care for our parents. Sometimes it means caring for a sister or a friend, as well.  Right now my sandwich is a triple-decker and I realize it's what's on the menu for me at this stage of my life.
 
There's a bunch of stuff going on in my family's world right now and we're all a bit off our axis. I've been feeling like the guy on Ed Sullivan with the plates on sticks.  Remember him?  He had a row of tall thin poles each balancing a white ceramic dish that he spun like a top.  His goal was to have all the plates whirling around at the same time.  It was intriguing to watch him scurry along the poles making sure each plate was still in its orbit.  When one would get wobbly, he'd give it the attention it needed to spin again, this all to the tune of some frenzied background music. He was as frenzied as his trick.
 
Being the Ed Sullivan Plate Guy is not easy and the crucial part of this role is remembering to keep my own plate from losing its rhythm and crashing to the floor and cracking into bits and pieces.
 
The best way I know to do that is to savor routine as much as possible.  Whether it means making dinner for the hubby and myself or showing up for my Zumba class. I continue my guilty indulgence of watching two ridiculous soap operas even when it means zipping through an episode I've recorded late at night. I'm back to meditating a few minutes in the morning.  I'm trying to remember that there is no solution to be found at the bottom of a bag of peanut M & M's. 
 
To all my fellow members of The Sandwich Generation, I applaud you for keeping your plates whole, even if a little cracked.  Spin well, my friends.
 
 
  
 

Adventures in Dress Shopping

Posted on May 26, 2013 at 2:20 PM Comments comments ()
While shopping for a dress to wear to a friend's daughter's wedding I noticed something had keenly changed in the dressing room experience. 
 
Back in the day when I was younger and thinner and less, shall we say, lumpy, the ladies dressing room in the department store was a lonely place.  The other gals in their respective booths stayed behind their own curtains, they struggled with zippers and buttons alone in their quest.  We did not speak or offer opinions or even give eye contact when we passed each other on the way in and out of the dressing room.  Our hunt for an outfit was ours alone. Trying on dresses was about as much fun as a trip to confession, same little booth, same need to pray. However, even three Hail Mary's didn't always help find the right dress. 
 
My recent trip to the dressing room was different. There's a new camaraderie among Boomer women trying on clothes in those dressing room booths.  Our curtains open, we share the big mirror at the end of the room and we offer honest opinions not to strangers, but to comrades like soldiers in a trench.  We cheer each other on, we remark on what "works" and what doesn't.  We are one in our desire to find an outfit that camouflages best, hugs closest, slims the most, one that isn't too youthful, yet not too old lady, or God forbid, too short.  
 
I'm happy to report I found a good dress.,one that "feels good." But, I'm happier about something even better.  I've remembered that women get wiser as we get older and we've lived enough to laugh loudest at ourselves and that feels best. 

BOOMERANG

Posted on May 20, 2013 at 9:38 AM Comments comments ()
   One of the synonyms for the word boomerang is rebound.  Being a member of the largest generation on the planet, the Baby Boomers, I've decided to call this series of articles Boomerang.  One day this feisty group to which I belong was known as the free love generation, the ones that asked if you were "going to San Francisco", those that reminded each other to "wear a flower in your hair." We stood for change, independence, freedom, non-conformity.  We walked to  the beat of our own drummer, one named Ringo. And now? Well...now we're on the cover of AARP, our medicine cabinets store more than multi-vitamins, our hair is streaked with silver, and we wear maginifying glasses to read our screens.  Yet, I  believe we have a choice here, boomer buddies.  We need not lament this stage of our time here on earth.  We ruled the '60's and now, well, we are pushing toward sixty candles on our birthday cakes, if we haven't already.  I say we rule THESE '60's as well.  Get ready for a series of fun with thoughts on us now.  First up:  "Adventures in the Dress Department."  Coming soon!
 
 

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