Archive for the ‘Rambling Thoughts’ Category

“It sure is quiet, Sarge.”

“Yeah, TOO quiet. I don’t like it.”

Suddenly, the air around them fills with the sounds of gunfire, mortars, hand grenades, and cries of “BANZAI! BANZAI!” as another night begins on Guadalcanal, Iwo Jima, or any one of a dozen islands that dot the Pacific Ocean.

That’s Just How it Feels Some Days

My doctor adjusted my medications last month. It’s a delicate dance we share a few times every two or three years. Sometimes we’ll increase one dosage and reduce another; sometimes we’ll add something new until everything is in balance once again.

But once everything is moving along swimmingly, once things start to hum and purr, that’s when I begin to worry.

That’s when the dark side of my mind whispers, “It sure is quiet, Sarge.”

When I’m doing well, I almost forget that this blog exists. That’s why I haven’t posted in a long time. But when the shadows start to roll in, I know it’s time to start writing again.

Not that I haven’t been writing: this isn’t my only blog, nor is it my only writing project. But more than any other writing project, this is my therapy.

Not therapy in the sense of “Oh, woe is me! Pity me and give me your sympathy! Come join my pity party!” Nope, I’m just not that kind of girl. Instead, I write to clear my head, and a little voice whispering in my ear is saying, “You just might be helping someone else. Maybe one of your readers is facing similar problems, and reading about how you’re meeting yours encourages them to face their own issues.”

I decided many years ago that if I can reach just one person, if I can convince a single soul to keep going, not stopping, and not giving up hope, then I would consider that my own life hasn’t been wasted.

Thanks for reading.

Jaws 2 Movie Poster

That’s how the movie “Jaws 2,” the sequel to the original blockbuster was advertised: Just When You Thought It Was Safe to go Back in the Water.” And that’s how I would describe our weather lately. Let me explain.

After a week of being warm enough at night to sleep without blankets I finally bit the bullet and opened my bedroom window. Not much—only a couple of inches. Just enough to let in some fresh air into the room. The window had been closed since last October, and I wanted to air it out.

So far, so good. But in the week and a half since I opened it, we have had sunshine, rain, and a little snow. Even now, when it’s 45° outside, I’m wearing a sweater as I write. And for the past 3 nights I’ve used not one but two blankets at night.

But here’s the thing: I’m not complaining. That’s just the way things are in the springtime here in Rochester. My ex told me that one year she was greeted by snow and an ice-storm on her birthday…which is in the second week in May.

We’ve already had crocuses in the garden, and now the daffodils and tulips are taking their turns. So I think I’m safe in assuming that spring has finally arrived—especially since the ice is all gone from the neighbor’s swimming pool. To be sure, we’re still going to have some cool nights and chilly mornings.

But that’s why God invented tea. And afternoon naps. But mostly tea.

As always, thanks for reading.

 

But I Was Too Busy Trying to Have my Own

Source: Arctic Fox, on Pinterest

Some of the most unpleasant people I’ve know had over-achievers as parents. I was fortunate enough not to have had that additional problem in my life, but I did have one that’s just as toxic as it is well-intentioned.

My parents had dreams for me.

I’m sure you know the kind of dreams I mean: a college degree, a house in the suburbs surrounded by a white picket fence, a two-car garage, a successful career, and 2.5 children.

Honestly, did that dream ever exist anywhere but on Leave It To Beaver, The Donna Reed Show, or even Bonanza?

And the dreams were only implied, not explicitly stated. My whole life was guided by them. In school, I didn’t even realize that there were art and music classes beyond second grade. In junior and senior high school I wasn’t allowed to take shop classes, because “those classes are for the dummies. You’re too smart for that — you’re going to COLLEGE!” (Cue the angelic trumpets.)

Last time I was in San Francisco I saw a beautiful hand-crafted wooden jewelry box that one of those dummies had made: the price tag said $2850.00 — and that was over 25 years ago.

And if my faucet leaks, I have to call another dummy who’ll charge me $75 an hour to fix it.

So who’s the real dummy now?

My Spectacular Failure at Education

After high school, it was taken as a given that I was going to go to college. I had no say in the matter. It was another of my parents’ dream for me.

At the wise old age of 18, I didn’t know if I even wanted to grow up, much less what I wanted to be if it ever happened.

In 1968, college was a place where you studied things to help you decide what you wanted to be doing for the rest of your life.

In 2019, college is a place to go to earn the credentials you need for the job you’ve already chosen.

I say — and neuroscience backs me up on this — the 18-year-old brain has developed sufficiently to be making such life-determining changes.

My education might have been more effective had I gone to a better college, but my grades, our family’s economic situation, and our physical location meant the sole criterion that went into the choice was the fact that as a Lutheran minister, my father could get a discount on my tuition and fees if I went to this particular college. A college I flunked out of at the end of my freshman year.

College, Take 2

I was simply too immature for and too uninterested in going to college. So I put off my plans for a higher education for two decades. Even then, I only went because my wife decided to pursue her degree, and I was worried about being left behind.

It went better this time. I was more motivated, and by then I had learned the fine art of academic philosophy, aka Intellectual Bullshit. I breezed through a semester of Selected Masterpieces of American Literature and got an A on it without once reading anything on the syllabus.

And I took several art classes, discovering that I could draw after all and that I was good at etching and engraving. I even sold some of my silkscreens and linoleum block prints.

But here’s the thing: after getting my AA degree and being one semester from my Bachelor of Arts, I was informed that I would not be allowed to count my 12 semester hours of computer classes towards my degree.

It seems one of the faculty review team said that computers have no bearing on liberal arts. This, after I designed and administered the first-ever study of if and how personal computers — then in their infancy — affected the process of writing.

So the University of Alaska, in its infinite wisdom, decided that I needed another 12 hours — a full semester — of math and natural science — -neither of which have any bearing on the liberal arts.

Had I taken the 12 hours and added 3 more, I would have been able to graduate with both a Bachelor of Arts and a Bachelor of Science.

Admittedly, the University of Alaska (Southeast) is nowhere as prestigious as its big sister in Fairbanks, but a double major is still a double major. And two degrees for the price of one….

Or three, if you count the Associate of Arts degree.

Livin’ La Vida Loca

So now it’s 2019. It’s been 51 years since I finished high school. I’m retired and living on Social Security. I’m not rich, but I get by — without complaint, thank you very much.

But since 2012, when I retired, I have finally been able to live my dreams. And the biggest lesson I’ve learned — and fulfilled — was to let my daughters dream their own dreams, and to support them in making those dreams come true.

Stay safe, my friends.

Not Prophecy So Much as Observation

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Photo by Kira auf der Heide on Unsplash

73 years ago, George Orwell wrote:

“All true tea lovers not only like their tea strong, but like it a little stronger with each year that passes — a fact which is recognized in the extra ration issued to old-age pensioners.”

Today I realized how true that is.

My tea cup of choice is a tall, 12-ounce cup from Starbucks. For the past 2 years, I’ve been brewing my tea with either 2 tea bags (PG Tips) or 2 teaspoons of loose tea leaves.

Such was my first cup this morning.

But it wasn’t so satisfying as it was yesterday morning. It didn’t seem strong enough for some reason. Two teaspoons of leaves didn’t quite satisfy me.

Each type of tea has an optimal steeping time, depending on its type and the drinker’s preference. For me, with my strong black Assam tea, it’s 4 and a half minutes.

For a stronger brew, one adds more tea, rather than increasing the steeping time, which only makes the tea more bitter.

For my second cup, I used 3 teaspoons of leaves. The result? Too strong. Finally, the third cup, with 2–1/2 teaspoons of leaves, was perfect.

George was right.

Now my only problem is trying to figure out how to brew a cup of tea with 2–1/2 tea bags. A hopeless task? Perhaps.

But as Arthur Wing Pinero so wisely said, “Where’s there’s tea, there’s hope.”

It’s a Piece of Cake!

Photo by Rainier Ridao on Unsplash

To paraphrase that great American philosopher, William Claude Dukenfield (aka W. C. Fields),

Quitting smoking is easy. Why, I’ve done it hundreds of times!

And I have. And I keep coming back to it.

Coffin nails. The noxious weed. Cancer sticks. I’ve heard them all. Lung busters.

Hell, I’m even smoking one as I write this.

It’s an addition, a crutch. And a great way to kill boredom…if not myself.

It’s the stereotypical image of a writer: cigarette in one hand, glass of whisky in the other, starting at a blank piece of paper, deciding what to write. Or in Hemingway’s case, replacing the shot glass with a shotgun.

Except I’m not suicidal. Or am I? Smoking is, if nothing else, slow-motion suicide. Russian roulette with better odds. The depressive’s choice of poison.

And yet…

I like smoking. I like the first cigarette of the day, in conjunction with the first cup of tea of the day. I smoke and toke as I read Medium stories, looking for new works by my favorite writers. Finding new writers. Hell, it’s every bit as good as a public library — or it would be if I could smoke and drink there.

But I’m not ready to quit, not really, Not now. I’m pretty sure they time will come when the dollar cost outweighs the benefits. They always do.

Believe me, I know.

I’ve done it hundreds of times.

Photo by Stas Svechnikov on Unsplash