I was born in the 1950’s, live in a 126-year-old house in Virginia, I am retired and spend a great deal of my time writing. I have lived through the Kennedy assassination, civil rights, Neil Armstrong on the moon, and 9/11/2001. I have seen the Vietnam war, the war in Middle East, the war on drugs, Star Wars, and the war between men and women. I have written hundreds of short stories and essays and a handful of novels. Only one novel was (self) published and one poem published in a collection.
I have been a writer my whole life, creating my first stories when I was still in elementary school.
Today is my birthday. I normally just acknowledge that I have ticked off another year. There is no fanfare, no parties, no birthday cake. I don’t celebrate the event because a birthday is just the beginning. It is just the day I was born. I didn’t accomplish anything that day other than crying when the doctor smacked my bottom. Like everyone else, it was not an auspicious beginning.
I was not my mother’s precious gift from heaven that was delivered personally by God and several jealous angels. I was just another person who screeched into a parking spot on June 1st and stayed there for the past 68 years.
Every June 1st, I wonder why I get a ton of emails offering me 20% off because I happened to open my eyes and take a breath 68 years ago. I would rather someone celebrate the fact that I bought a house, or the fact that I was baptized, or the fact that I completed writing another novel, or the fact I received a Master’s Degree. Those things matter. Never, crying from shock and pain in those first tender moments of life outside the womb.
My accomplishments have nothing to do with June 1, 1954. I refuse to celebrate that day.
I was getting ready to start working on my story this morning and I found myself listening to music instead of writing. Listening to music often happens around here. Today’s playlist is Hiroshima. This band was named after the city in Japan that was mostly destroyed by an atomic bomb at the end of World War II. The band’s leader, Dan Kuramoto, wanted to create a band that represented and celebrated Asian Americans.
I have been listening to Hiroshima for many years because these people are GOOD. I love the way they have combined more traditional Japanese instruments, like the koto with Western instruments.
I frequently default to the Hiroshima playlist on my iPhone while I am writing. I put them in a smooth jazz category, but whatever their genre, they are fun to listen to.
This week sped by at high speed and I am not sure why. I didn’t do anything special or anticipate anything upcoming. I have been writing, and working on a story that may or may not ever be shown to the public.
When I start writing, the world slips by me reasonably quickly. I get a good thought going and all of sudden I realize that I have been typing for four hours straight and my arthritic knees and hips are screaming for movement.
The first thing to do is create a well-thought-out strategy for getting out of my chair. Once I am verticle, I wait a few seconds to make sure my knees and hips will actually hold me up. Then, cane in hand, I make a few tottering steps toward the bathroom, usually.
It never fails to amaze me that I can get so into what I am writing that I am able to ignore basic bodily needs, such as a bathroom break or getting something to drink. For a time, I can ignore sore hips and aching knees.
But, this week I wrote nearly 20,000 words. *Pats self on the back.*
Maybe Willy Wonka had the right idea: “Come with me and you’ll be in a world of pure imagination.” I hear of people who are lost in a world of loneliness and despair because of the Covid-19 restrictions. Just maybe Willy had the solution. Create your own paradise in your imagination. There are no limits inside your head. Just go there!
In my head, I can find true love, adventure, excitement, and maybe even a chocolate factory. In my life I have imagined myself in many places doing many things. I have traveled to the moon as an astronaut, been the wife of a South American dictator, a 1990’s rock star, a ballet dancer, best friends with Queen Elizabeth, on an African safari with Bear Grylls, on a boat that circumnavigated Antarctica, and at dinner with Neil deGrasse Tyson. You get the idea.
I have imagined situations, delicious meals, epic champagne, euphoric conversations, heroic deeds and heroic rescues. Maybe Walter Mitty is a better analogy.
This has been a pattern for my entire life. I remember imagining being a telephone operator when I was just five or six and talking to Captain Kangaroo on the phone. I remember being a Monkee’s fan when I was barely a teenager who was found absolutely fascinating by Peter Tork. I remember being Mr. Spock’s best girl… the one who finally broke through his stoic exterior when I was a little bit older teen ager. I imagined our local mall being the shopping area of a city-sized space station orbiting earth. When I am driving, I am in the car with the Top Gear guys, showing them the sights in my fair city.
As I have gotten older, I still live in these worlds created in my head. Many have become stories that I will never get published, but will likely surprise my children after I am gone if they take the time to read through my google drive. “Mom did THAT????”
Because of my imagination, I have lived through some of the most traumatic events in my life: losing 3 babies in infancy, house being foreclosed on, divorced from a man who was worthless, divorce proceedings where I got the shit beat out of me in a courtroom, 3 evictions, getting fired from jobs twice, losing my best friend/younger brother to HIV, traumatic car wreck, tragic love affair with another worthless man, and now, confined to my home by the threat of a deadly virus. Home is my haven when I can create yet another world. A coping mechanism.
Don’t worry about me. I have a firm foot in reality. Life doesn’t slip by me because I can’t see what is really in front of me. I get things done that must be done and when I am finished with the necessary responsibilities of adulthood, I can slip into the latest world I have created, which is, I must say, far better than anything I see on TV.
My 91 year old mother lives in an assisted living facility in Florida. Recently, every time I tried to call her, her phone would go straight to voice mail. After about two weeks she called me to tell me that her phone won’t hold a charge for more than a few minutes. Understandable because the phone is something like 7 years old.
So, being a good daughter who has paid for her cell service for the last 20 years, I decided to upgrade her current phone to one that would hold a charge.
The criteria was very simple. It had to be compatible with wireless charging, because a wireless charging pad seems a better solution for her than having to remember to plug a phone in, and not cost a lot of money. She only uses the phone for phone calls. She doesn’t check email, or text. Just phone calls. She doesn’t NEED a smart phone, but a flip phone isn’t wireless charging compatible.
My cell phone carrier that I have used for the past 20 years is not, as it happens, very helpful unless I want to purchase the latest, best, brightest and most colorful smart phone. I sent my son to the store to try to pick a phone on the spot and take it to his grandmother since they live in the same city. He was reluctant to do this because of her overall demanding nature and her tendency to lay on heavy guilt trips… which work on him and irritates him when it does. However, I laid a quilt trip on him and he agreed to take on the mission.
But, a phone that matches my current criteria was not available at the store, so after another phone conversation with my son, I told him I would get one online, send it to his house and then he could make sure it was set up properly, gather his wireless charging pad and take the items to her.
The first person I chatted with online got the shipping address incorrect, so I contacted the carrier again and that address was changed to the correct one. But that time, I couldn’t get the credit card info to go through. I called to talk to a human being and got everything set up for the new phone to be sent to my son, but the call dropped and Will (The CS I was talking to) didn’t save any of the info, so I had to start over.
Ditto the same scenario with Cameron.
Finally, my son, who was going to pay for the activation fee because he felt sorry for me for having taken care of my mother’s cell phone for 20 years, sent the money directly to my bank, so I could use my debit card to pay for the freaking phone.
By this time, 4 hours have gone by while I tried to get a preowned iPhone XR, 64 GB in Blue to be sent to my son’s house. I was frustrated, irritated, exhausted and angry. While on the phone with my son, I said, “Jingjah!,” loudly, which is Korean for “Seriously!!!” My son asked, “Did you just swear at me in Korean?” I replied, “Yes, I did.” No English swear word seemed to fill the bill at that point.
The 3rd CS I talked to at the cell phone carrier actually was competent enough to handle my request which I thought initially should be a simple one. Eureka! An iPhone XR 64 GB in blue is on it’s way to my son’s house. Of course the delivery truck could be hit with a meteor or the package be stolen from his front porch. I am hopeful that 4 hours of dealing with a cell phone carrier has netted us a phone for my mother.
My brain is full of useless information that is sometimes actually interesting to others. However, relating some of these facts during a party makes me a total bore (read know-it-all). I am NOT a know-it-all, and really don’t want to be accused of that, so I keep this stuff to myself. Well, not entirely.
Be prepared to be inundated with totally interesting but useless information that will make you, too, a know-it-all at parties.
Dance Music Can Discourage Mosquitos From Biting You
According to Acta Topica, The electronic song “Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites,” by Skrillrex will inhibit sexual activity preventing the dengue vector Aedes aegypti from mating by disrupting the normal low frequency sounds they associate with mating. Good news, that! Turn it up!
Those Metal Studs on Your Jeans Actually Have a Name AND Serve A Purpose
Check out your favorite jeans and you will see those cute metal rivets (their actual name). According to Levi Strauss & Co these rivets add extra support to the fabric and help prevent the pockets from ripping. In 1873, Levi Strauss & Co. and Jacob Davis received U.S. Patent No. 139,121 for Improvement in Fastening Pocket-Openings. Thank you, guys! Well done.
The Collective Noun for Geese is Gaggle
Everyone knows the collective noun for a group of geese is a gaggle. Did you know that a group of hippos is “Bloat?” Also, a group of penguins is a “tuxedo,” a group of bats is a “cauldron,” and a group of owls is a “parliament.” Do you know what doesn’t have a collective noun? Octopuses.
Last and certainly least:
A “Jiffy” is About One Trillionth of a Second
According to Dictionary.com, in the late 18th or early 19th centuries, scientist Gilbert Newton Lewis defined a jiffy as the amount of time it takes light to travel one centimeter in a vacuum, about 33.4 picoseconds. That’s one trillionth of a second. Quite the jiffy.
My elderly mother is in an assisted living facility in Florida. She has a staff of people who do her laundry, clean her room, help her in and out of bed, help her get dressed, help her shower, take her in a wheel-chair to the dining room 3 times a day for meals, bring her any snack she wants any time she wants it, a full time nursing staff and a doctor on call 24/7. Still she calls me daily to ask, when are you moving to Florida?
She wants me to take over all of the duties of her staff. And she will not pay me for my services. Taking care of woman in her nineties would put me in the grave long before her.
I have told her repeatedly that I am NOT moving to Florida. (I live in Virginia where the weather is infinitely better and never as hot for as long as it is in the Sunshine State). I have explained that I will NOT sell my house, after evicting my two roommates. I will NOT evict my roommates. I will not let them live in my house and move to Florida, anyway. I don’t know how to make my stand any clearer. I will visit her in Florida a couple times a year, but I will NOT move there permanently. Stop asking me, when?
So, why my current rant?
I get regular calls and texts from people requesting I sell my house and they would love to represent me in the process (thereby getting a huge commission.) When I answered my phone this morning and John asked me if I wanted to sell my house to him, I asked him if he had talked to my mother. From his stunned reaction and loud “NO!!!!” I can’t tell if he talked to her or not. “No, of course I didn’t talk to her. I don’t even know your mother. Why would I talk to her?” I think the man protests too much (to paraphrase Shakespeare.)
I get distracted very easily. Every shiny thing that comes my way captures my attention. For example, a pop-up on my PC, a notification on my watch, a text message from an advertiser.
I have a ton of distracting things on my desk like a calendar with pretty pictures, a wooden doll, a cobalt glass elephant, an iron wood duck, a magnifying glass, ever changing pictures on my PC background, journals for various reasons.
The journals are each specific to a task:
One for random thoughts
One for Bible Verses that catch my eye
One for Korean words and phrases to increase my knowledge of the language that I currently learning to speak
An old Journal that is filled with random lists
Getting distracted by a journal is never a problem, however. I sometimes find myself writing pages and pages of interesting thoughts.
But, because I am retired, what am I distracting myself from? Boredom? Vacuuming the carpets? Folding the clean laundry? Unloading the dishwasher? Are these tasks really so relevant that they must be completed on a particular timetable?
You would think that with all of these fascinating task to complete that I would never be bored and always have something to blog about. Today, the air is cool and fresh, the flowers of spring are just starting to bloom, the sky is dotted with fluffy clouds. Maybe I need to forget everything and just go outside and let the wind play with my hair.
I went to a doctor yesterday to find out why my hip is hurting. I have been dealing with this for a couple of months and I finally decided that maybe I needed some professional help because people are getting tired of hearing my involuntary pterodactyl screech every time I stand up or sit down. Plus, I have finally gotten really grouchy about this whole my-life-would-be-great-if-I-didn’t-have-hips routine I go through every day.
I have been dealing with Rheumatoid Arthritis for quite sometime and I assumed that the hippy pain was because of that. Exercise makes my joints feel better, but exercise is a delicate balancing act of doing just enough to feel better. One leg lift too many and I am in more agony for 3-4 days. Therefore, off to a doctor to find out what can be done.
Meanwhile, back in the gym… I have been “babying” my hip and now my knees have started to hurt. Somehow, I find it difficult to see how my situation has improved.
Hence, my visit to the doctor–Dr. Eye-Candy if you are interested, because I firmly believe if one must visit a doctor, then visit a very pretty one and Dr. Eye-Candy is so very pretty. Dr. Candy tells me my knees hurting is because of normal wear and tear. Okay. But what about my hip?
Dr. Candy says, “You have arthritis, but what you don’t have is any cartilage left. Your bones are scraping together. However, we can’t do a hip replacement until you have lost about 5000 pounds. Just sayin'”
Me: What has caused this unfortunate cartilage losing episode?
Dr. Candy: Normal wear and tear. Your hip pain is normal.
Me: You have got to be kidding me. It is not normal for someone to scream in agony when they sit and normal to scream in agony again when they stand up? I mean, I have been waiting to see you for nearly forty-five minutes and plenty of people stood up and sat down and there was barely any screaming at all.
Me: So, how is this normal?
Dr: It is normal for someone with RA (rheumatoid arthritis).
Me: So, what do we do?
Dr: Eventually, hip replacement, but not until you lose 50,000 pounds.
Me: It went from 5000 pounds to 50,000? That’ll take more than a minute. What do I do in the meantime? Screech in agony on a regular basis?
Dr: No. We can give you cortisone injections. But cortisone injections will make you gain weight.
Me: Kinda going in the wrong direction there, Doc.
Dr: Really, it will make you feel better… we think.
Dr: All we have to do it stick a big needle in your hip…
Me: Now wait just a cotton picking minute. How can sticking a big needle in my hip make it feel better?
Dr: It just will.
OK. Maybe he isn’t big on explanations, but he certainly is pretty to look at. Also, he is fun to argue with. These young pretty doctors have no clue and are totally lost when they encounter a fully mature adult female. So, instead of sticking a big needle in my hip, and after much debate and forced explanations, I opted for a change in oral medication.