Saturday, January 30, 2016

The Letter

I suppose all of us have had a relationship with someone and lost touch. College roommates, co-workers, girlfriends/boyfriends, relatives, and friends - we are reminded of them at any given time. Looking at a book on a shelf can pop the conversation with Mary into your mind.  You’re driving past the restaurant at 5th and Main when you remember the meal you shared with John. What’s Mary doing nowadays? And John?

Generally, I think of her or him as living a normal life, as I am. I don’t perceive any horrible situations because somehow the grapevine would have done its job and passed along the info; and sad but true, bad news travels faster than good news.

I don’t envision anything grand either. Most of us don’t change vastly from who we were ten or twenty years ago. Our trajectories seem predetermined. A dynamic go-getter as a young person is probably still that person, excelling with money and all its perks. Those who have long practiced their faith, I assume, still have peace with their beliefs and are encouraging others. The talented and creative should be deeply entrenched in their passions. The givers are still giving; the haters are still hating… Unless that horrible or sublime thing has happened, deeming someone not recognizable as the person of years past.

The majority - traveling through life on a general path - we’re progressing along at average pace, having our ups and downs, alternating between “one step forward and two back” and “two steps forward and one step back ;” hopefully more of the latter, as it is a pace that allows us to move in a long term positive direction.

Once these old acquaintances enter our minds, we delve into the reasons for our renewed curiosity. Maybe we liked them a lot and wonder why we didn’t stay in touch. We’re lonely and/or bored, perhaps; or simply, our lives have freed up and we have time to renew the relationship. One of my girlfriends is seeing a man who was at college with us after her long marriage that ended a couple years ago. How did they reconnect – facebook, through friends, phone call, text, email, a letter?

Ahhh… you say; a letter. We used to do that.

Letters: I’m told that you’re good at it or you’re not. I’m good at it. The eye-pleasing stationery and the pen that connects to it with ease, the quiet space needed for thinking, transferring my message to the paper… I like that.

Emails: Not the same. Quick thoughts, rapid movement of the fingers, SEND, BAM, it’s gone! Was the intent of the message accurately relayed?  After getting an email from a businessperson and discussing its content with my friend Denise, I told her that it didn’t answer my concerns, though all the concise wording was there. Denise reminded me that writing, especially an email, is not the best form of communication for some, including herself.

“I prefer to talk on the phone,” she said. And as I speak with her often on the phone, I get it. Her honesty and patience are palpable.

Me… I tend to eject every uncontrollable, incomplete thought or sentence from my mouth, possibly sending the wrong message; so…

I’m gearing up to write a letter to a friend from the past.  When we met, we were excited to have each other in our lives, chatting incessantly about the things we had in common and opining about life. We spent time together with our kids and introduced our spouses; it was the honeymoon phase.

And then the conversation and outings became less frequent. We began to see our differences, though nothing disturbed me about her. She was an inspiration – intelligent, organized, good at domesticity, etc. I envied her, which evoked a pinch of self-consciousness here and there.

In hindsight, I wonder why? Maybe it was… the  pending menopause. Ha! (Gotta blame it on something.)

That was nine years ago. Since then, I’ve seen her a couple times; both of us hurried with errands, but stopping to give the quick update, mostly on our kids, and then saying the pleasant good-bye.

Should I write the letter to her, asking what happened? It was a worthwhile friendship. I’m reminded of her occasionally and I’m curious about her life and family. Not seeking a gal-pal relationship; just a dissipation of the cloud of wondering.

Hmmm... What do you think?

Any old acquaintances that you're curious about?

image found here

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

We're Pregnant!

So I’m walking through my house with my cleaning caddy, having just finished the toilets. I call this routine Toilet Tuesday. My sick, out of school daughter is lying on the family room sofa watching Kathie Lee and Hoda, when I glance over to the TV and there’s this big phrase, “We’re Pregnant!” spread across the screen. Kathie Lee and Hoda are opining about Chrissy Teigen and John Legend’s impending life change, I guess… I’m not sure because my mind was, once again, thinking about how ridiculous this politically correct phrase is. My attempt to get a reaction from my fifteen year old daughter (Why do they say that? Your daddy wasn’t pregnant – I was!), who usually makes a joke or rolls her eyes when I say anything that could remotely be related to what she thinks of as feminism, was met with a brief look at me and silence, as if to say, “I’m not going there, Mommy.”

I know… you’re either thinking about your own opinion of, “We’re pregnant,” or you’re saying, “Here’s Anita again! Blogging out of the blue!” Yes, my last post was in January. Eventually, I’ll whine about why I haven’t posted lately or visited your blogs; but today, back to “We’re Pregnant.”

When did this start? Is it here to stay? Dictionary dot com defines pregnant as… well, you know what it says.

Why do I notice it? Am I annoyed by it? Why does it matter?  Will I evolve to the state of not noticing it and begin to say it, too? When my daughter marries and gets pregnant (in that order), maybe I’ll excitedly announce to my friends, “My daughter and her husband are pregnant!” Or, “They’re pregnant! I’m going to be a grandma!”

Where did this come from and who started it? A woman who wanted to give her husband or significant other more credit beyond being the fertilizer?  A man who needs more of a connection to the gestation period? I say, “Men, if you need more validation, brag on how much more house cleaning you’re doing because Your Wife is pregnant and needs help… only if you are cleaning more.”

I wonder who else has this fixation on semantics regarding this topic. After I post, I’ll head over to Google to find answers to my 10 questions.


Congratulations Chrissy & John!

image found here

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Holiday Remnants

Most of us have moved on from Christmas and other holidays that were celebrated during the last couple of months. I'm trying, but procrastination the busyness of life still leaves me with a naked Christmas tree in my living room, waiting to be disassembled and stored alongside her sister who temporarily resided in the family room. Whose idea was it to have two trees?

My husband and three children love Christmas. My feelings about it necessitate another blog post. Basically, sometimes I feel that I can skip it or do it biennially; at other times, the joy of the season creeps through the frenzy and I'm smiling and happy to be giving and celebrating my blessings. Either way, the actual day is always fun.

This past Christmas, the blessings included dinner with my husband, kids, and dog. My sister-in-law and her family came and so did my brother-in-law – my husband's other sibling. Darling Husband cooked a scrumptious meal that was partially worked off at the ping pong table in the basement before putting it back on with the Jesus cake dessert. The next day we traveled to my parents' home where another traditional dinner was waiting. The girls were glad to see their Uncle Joey, too, complete with checks in hand to their delight.

Another holiday blessing is the reconnecting. A whole year can go by without talking to a family member or friend, but when December rolls around, I always make or receive a call or two… or three. Most of the time, it seems that people are progressing along on the same path. For others, incidents have dictated that they rediscover life in a different way.

Before I digress any further, I have a question for you. What do you do with those family photo Christmas and holiday cards that everyone (except me) seems to be sending out these days? During my annual summer beach trip, I see families all dressed in white, posing against the vast blue ocean for the perfect shot before sunset. "They're getting the card ready," I say.

Every year, there's an increase in the family photo cards we receive, but the Christian, winter, and Santa themed Hallmark (or equivalent) cards are still holding their own. As much as I like the traditional, artsy, professional cards, created by talented artists, designers, and writers, I have to admit that the "choose-your-template, do-it-yourself" cards are getting more viewing time from me. Some of this year's crop include a bride and groom, happy people in pajamas, happy people eating in restaurants, and happy people on family vacations at the Grand Canyon and at one of those huge national parks.

We get the new baby photo cards, the photos where the pet steals the attention, the little kids who've grown another three inches since last year's card, the coordinated sweater shots, the three or four generation family group shot, the sailing, the skiing…

A couple families did what I did one year (my one and only year of attempting to keep up with the Christmas photo-card Joneses): they sent a card with a 4x6 family photo slipped inside. It was relatively easy the year that I did it because we just happened to have a family photo from a summer outing – you know, the one where a stranger volunteers to take the "whole family" because he or she sees you taking pictures of each other in partial combinations. Yes, that one. Anyway, I printed several copies of that shot for the several cards that I intended to send out. Somewhere in a drawer, several copies never left the CVS envelope. Oh well… I tried.

Before I move on, I must mention the 5x7, 4-sided glossy card featuring a preppy family of four in jackets, pearls, and ties… worthy of a portrait in the library of their probable mansion. The inside contained the annual letter and the card back had a picture of the sons tubing in Greece. This card came from one of my husband's rich friends. My friends aren't rich. Hmmm… actually, some are.

Years ago, when I received photo cards,  I placed them in an album – the kind where you peel back the clear protector page and place the photo on the sticky page and then press the protector page back on it. (Remember those?) Surely, I couldn't throw away "a picture" of someone!

It took about three years to fill it. I don't think it would take three years to fill an album nowadays. So what do you do with the photos? Admire, display, and toss? Ours have been accumulating, along with the traditional cards, in a couple of festive baskets. It used to be one basket. One day I had the bright idea of scanning them into a picture file on my computer. One day, I scanned a few. There will be no more scanning.

So the photo cards, in addition to the cookie tins, etc, have to go... eventually. I'll never achieve my semi-minimalist (dream on Anita) status if DH and I continue to keep all the special greetings and gifts that come through our door. However, my sentimental nature lives on. Continue to send us your traditional cards, photo cards, notes, letters, fruit, candy, and cookies. We love it, and we love you.

Do you send Christmas or holiday photo cards, traditional cards, or letters?

Are there any special joys and/or particular challenges you face during the holiday season?

Monday, November 17, 2014

Car Shopping

I'm on my fifth car. The first was bought in 1978, and the current, in 2012 - 36 years of car ownership. I'd say my track record is good; though "good" for some people is buying a new or different car every 2 to 3 years; and for others, owning a car 10 to 20 years. The former are what I call "car people;" giving priority to numerous factors beyond practicality.

Because I'm not a "car person" (until I need one), I'm not an authority on what those factors are. Someone might say, "Niiice car," to someone driving a convertible or a sporty car. Or it could be a conservative, sleek, high-end vehicle; or a truck. I seldom ask people why they chose what they drive.

However, I've had friends throughout the years who have brought up the "new car" conversation and volunteered the rationale for, um, their choices. I'll bet you're not surprised that at least half of the women let their husbands choose or are influenced by another significant male figure in their lives. Mostly, the reasons I hear are: 1) I don't know anything about cars. 2) I don't care what it looks like; I just need something to drive that has air conditioning, heat, and music. 3) My husband loves cars, so I'll let him have fun choosing it. That's what they tell me. I express my congratulations and we move on to the next topic.

Except this one time, B. tells me that her husband surprised her with a new car. Yep – just drove up in a sparkling, navy blue crossover and handed her the keys. She and I had met at the mall (her choice) to walk and talk. When we left, I got a glimpse of the shiny new car; a stand out in the parking lot. At that time, crossovers were the newest trend in vehicles, so I had a few questions for her.  She went from faking happiness to moaning about how part of her rear view was blocked by some part of the car that I can't remember; basically, because of the shape of the car. What could I say? I think I just said, "Awww." What I didn't say, was, "You're stuck with a car that you don't like."

Of my five vehicles, only one eased its way into my possession without the benefit of my choice. Darling Husband fell in love with a mid-sized SUV and went down his list of reasons why we should have it. 1) His very old car was not going to last much longer. 2) It's a well-built vehicle with a good safety record. 3) It's used. 4) It's a niiice car! 5) "You'll look good in it." Flattery.

My response: "We already have an SUV (that I chose) and I'm used to driving it. I don't need another car yet. Why don't you get a car that YOU'D like to drive." And that's what he did.

Not too much time later though, I found myself driving it. Somehow, he began driving the big "old" SUV that was mine; and because I don't like switching cars every other day, I began driving the newer one… until one day, my (now his) huge, chunky, lovable SUV met her demise. (Click HERE and scroll down to the end of the other post if you want to see it.) It was now my turn, again, to make the new car choice. Because we had two cars, I was able to take my time scoping the traffic; seeing what everyone was driving. My decision was months later.

Darling Husband wasn't feeling a van, but… that's what I wanted and that's what I got. Still in the midst of motherhood, it is serving me well – and the rest of the crew, too. When a road trip comes up, everyone insists that we drive the mommy van and is elated to hop in.

How long I'll drive the van? I don't know… probably a while; it's just under 3 years old. I'm still glad to have it, and glad DH has his SUV back again… for the second time. The first time, he intentionally gave it up for me. The second time, he reluctantly gave it up for Girl #1 during her senior year of high school. At that time, he was forced to pull his toy car out of the garage. She went away to college and toy car is back in the garage. Not for long though! Girl #2 is lobbying hard for exclusive rights to the SUV.

I digress. Basically, I like choosing the car that I will drive.

What about you? How was ownership of your vehicle decided upon and is your name on the registration? Does it matter?

Images found here and here.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

au naturel

In the days when my husband's company retreat included the spouses, I'd join the enthusiastic group. One of the places we went to was a 200+ year old, award winning resort. As corporate guests, we were given a list of leisure activities from which we could choose - a freebie. Golf was on the list, a spa treatment, and other things that escape my memory. I chose the spa treatment.  Why not? I was away from home - from motherhood, dish washing, bill paying, and laundry.  I couldn't remember the last time I'd been to a spa. Had I ever been to one? Maybe it was just a hodgepodge of steam rooms and hot tubs at YMCAs and hotel pools. This was the real deal. It had to be worth my time. It had to be a feel-good, relaxing experience.

I showed up at my appointed time and was greeted by a smiling and pleasant woman who verified what my pampering would be and then passed me on to the next attendant who led me to my hot sulfur water bath, complete with the scent of my chosen botanical.

The bath… not fabulous, but nice. I guess it's all about attitude. Anyway…

As this was over 12 years ago, I can't remember if I went into the sauna - I don't think so, though I have a vision of passing by it. Perhaps my memory of all the particulars was usurped by the next step of my treatment.

Attendant number 2 passed me on to attendant number 3 who was waiting for me in a super-sized swiss shower room.  Shower heads and hoses were staring at me from every direction, though only one hose was on and pointed directly at me - the one held and blasted upon me by a woman I'd just met. Somehow, I had found myself without my white, soft, thick, secure and comfy robe, standing naked, 10 feet away and facing this plain faced woman as she directed water over everything from my shoulders down… well, almost everything. It was like she was power washing her deck.

Little did I know then, that I was having a Scotch Spray.

"Okayyy, Hmmm…" I thought. "Step outside of your comfort zone. Be sophisticated."

After I convinced myself that this was normal, I relaxed… well, not really. Where was I supposed to look? Facing her, I had to see her. She was 30ish, short, white, average sized, had short brown hair, and wore khaki pants and shirt. What was she thinking? Seems like a very monotonous job.

"Maybe she's a lesbian; that would probably make it more interesting for her."

"Maybe she's not a lesbian, and that she's having big fun on the job; inwardly laughing hysterically at all the paranoid, Scotch Spray novices who come through; in addition to myriad physical flaws in all shapes, sizes, and colors.

Soon I relaxed… really. I rotated, stood with my asset facing her and thought, "Bring it on!"

Surely the spa staff must get a bit of entertainment from their clients; but that's okay, because when the spa conversation came up at my table during the company dinner, we got the best laughs, too. As for where to look, one woman said she kept her eyes closed.

Recently, I was back at the resort which resurfaced the memory of the "hose me down" experience. (By the way, supposedly it "breaks up toxins and cellular blockage in preparation for a massage.")  It made me think about other times when my naked body is on display; when things are drooping and bulging; when nooks and crannies are in the spotlight. The gyno, the mammo tech, the colonoscopy guy, my husband, my children: they've seen it all and it doesn't faze me in the least. However, there's something about casually walking naked through a locker room that is not in my span of comfort. Over the years, I've seen many women do it. Must be nice to be that confident.

Are you one of the "confident" people or lean toward modesty?

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Phase I - One Down, Two to Go

Girl #1, Girl #3, me, Girl #2

Girl #1 graduated high school on June 14. Girl #3 graduated middle school on May 30. Life has been busy.

I miss you all. Be back soon.

Friday, May 16, 2014

The Medicine

He called it, "my medicine." Hot burning liquid in a wide flat bottle, slightly concave on one side; it was easy to grip, then pour, and drink. Often, it sat on the kitchen countertop beside the small shot glass, accessible for scheduled times of day. Sometimes I'd see him. I remember the sound of the top being unscrewed and the plop while pouring. He'd stand with one arm akimbo, bring the glass to his mouth with the other hand, throw back his head, swallow, and exhale through his mouth with a simultaneous, "Ahhhh."

Years later, Mom laughed as she told my brother how he imitated Dad's ritual, proclaiming, "This is how you drink liquor." My brother was a young boy then. I thought it was funny, too.

Dad also drank coffee, though I can't remember seeing him make or drink it during those early childhood days. How I know is because of the small, metal percolator that was on top of the stove. There was a basket inside and a glass knob on the top; a contraption hardly used nowadays. Mom said she never drank coffee, so Dad had to be the one using it.

What would Dad have been like without his coffee and his medicine? A World War II veteran born in 1921, he married at 31, later than most of his peers. As a husband and father, he fit in with all the other dads in the neighborhood; working hard during the weekdays to take care of his family, mowing the lawn on Saturday, and going to church on Sunday –  a typical family life.

Was the shot of whiskey typical, too? The Kent cigarettes? When did it begin? As a poor teenaged boy in Norfolk, Virginia? As a young soldier in the Philippines? Re-entering segregated civilian life in the United States? When did it become his medicine?

My thoughts about "feel good" substances didn't start with Dad. Instead, I began with the grateful feeling I had on a dark, rainy day as I held a cup of English Tea in my hand; drinking and relishing the heat that traveled from my mouth to my stomach, warming my body as I anticipated the effects of the caffeine – a mind cleared of cobwebs and a boost of energy. Ahhh Yes… love that late morning cup of tea – my medicine.

When did it begin, my love of tea? I don't remember; probably like most people who don't remember when their love and dependence on coffee began - America's favorite morning beverage. If coffee didn't give me jitters, I'd be drinking it, too. My teenaged kids drink it. Starbucks, the drive-thru at McDonald's, the Keurig brewer – all have contributed to the inception of coffee in their lives, along with the influence of their parents. If my husband treats himself to a coffee, he'll ask the girls if they want one, too, which is usually a foo foo type. I, on the other hand, have contributed to the normalcy of other substances.

"You're still working on that project? Drink a cup of tea; that might help you to stay awake."

"Here's a Benadryl. It'll help with your allergies and stuffy nose. You'll sleep all night."

"You're feeling tense? Drink some hot Chamomile tea."

They are the next generation of medicine takers.

Everyone seems to have their medicines that range from mild to destructive. We have our coffee and tea to get us going; our 4 diet Cokes during the day, our beer after work, our wine for dinner. We eat our sweets, fats, and chips. According to recent news reports, a handful of moms are swiping the kids' ADD medicine that they claim aids in getting through the long list of things to do.

On the other side of the same coin, we take 15 vitamins and herb supplements a day, we run until we run it out, hit the gyms, and do other exercises or sports to the point of obsession. Many say that these are better choices.

The illegal stuff – I don't know much about it and it speaks for itself.

While surfing the NET, I came across a woman who refuted everyone's need for stimuli and/or sedatives. She recalled the life of her grandmother; how she worked hard, ate well, and loved her family and friends, and that that's all she needed. She suggested that we do the same.

What's your "medicine;" if you care or dare to share?

Other thoughts?