Monday, July 27, 2009
Revisit your junk drawer. In my junk drawer alone, there are enough rubber bands and paper clips to furnish three office buildings. I have discovered enough Scotch tape and labels to get me through next Christmas. This is what recycling is all about.
Toxic chemicals in cleaning products? Not a problem in my house! When things get dusty, I use the palm of my hand in a simple circular motion. Spots on the linoleum? A little spit on a paper towel does the trick. Worried about the additives in Swiffers poisoning your dog? Just slide around the hall in your socks, and presto! Dustballs eliminated, Fido none the worse!
Worried about the adverse effect of pesticides? I used to. But now I discourage those pesky insects in an eco friendly way. I STEP ON THEM. I find that the bigger the bug, the more satisfaction I derive from stepping on it. Lady bugs in the bathroom? Fun. Moths on the back porch? More fun. Spiders on the kitchen floor? A thrill. A CICADA on my doorstep? ORGASMIC.
What about air pollution? Hybrid cars, using corn in gasoline, carpooling, and taking the propellant out of spray cans—that is all well and good. I do my part, though, in a much smaller way: I hold my breath for a minimum of one minute a day. This may not help save the ozone layer, but if everyone did it, just think of all the oxygen that would suddenly become available! The world would be a better place.
Have you measured your carbon footprint? I personally have been hearing a lot about this footprint idea lately. I don’t really understand it. I think it has something to do with energy consumption, the ugly American, too much sex on TV, using disposable diapers, charring food on the grill until it is blackened, and forgetting to unplug appliances when not in use. To reduce my personal carbon footprint, I have taken drastic measures: I walk more. I use a tea bag two times. I use the vacuum cleaner very sparingly. I try to cook as little as possible. Instead of using paper plates, I now make my husband wash the dishes.
With gas prices the way they are, we all have to drive less. I have cut my gasoline consumption by subscribing to Netflix, having my pizza delivered rather than picking it up myself, administering AT HOME facials, gossiping over the phone instead of in person, and limiting my trips to the Mall to once a week.
If everyone would light just one little candle, what a bright world this could be!
Wednesday, July 22, 2009
You truly cannot judge a book by its cover. Beautiful people can be horribly ugly inside. So why do the rest of us spend so much time trying for physical perfection? The money that I have spent on make up and Slim Fast bars would save the economy! And my gym memberships alone could fund a small third world country. I am sure that I am not alone in this…but then I remember the wonderful man in front of me at the check out line who stepped aside, the time worn woman at the farmer’s market who gave me extra tomatoes free, and for heaven’s sakes, SUSAN BOYLE!
Time goes faster as you age. When my kids were little, the time between early June and when school began again WAS AN ETERNITY. As the days dragged along, my two bored and fractious children challenged me at every turn to entertain and distract them from the sheer ennui of summer vacation. Today, they are adults with their own lives, and summer comes and goes before I even have time to get all the screens washed!
The older one gets, the poorer the digestion. I have one word for all people over the age of 40 who insist upon eating baked beans, coleslaw, raw onions, and garlic: BEANO.
Very young and very beautiful people often have nothing AT ALL to say. We all know this. So why do virtually ALL men who get divorced marry second wives at least twenty years younger than they are? Could it be that great conversation is overrated?
Sixty is today’s forty. My God, at this rate, we will achieve immortality within one or two generations! We eat right, we exercise, we read self help books, we know the value of stress reduction. Fountain of youth? Or just Botox and frequent exfoliation?
No pain, no gain. This one has been debunked by exercise physiologists. The rest of us will tell you that if you live a full life, it will be painful. Without pain, how would we know when happiness hits us?
The way to a man’s heart is via his stomach. Not. If that were true, why would there be a Victoria’s Secret or Sports Illustrated? Why would the NBA players earn so much money? Do wives worry about that twenty-something girl in the next apartment, or the chef that lives down the hall?
Chocolate might be able to cure cancer. Until someone proves this, I put blind faith in the healing powers of hot fudge sundaes.
Everyone has a story. As you trudge through your day, worrying about whatever threatens you at the moment, don’t forget that the meter maid has her troubles, the letter carrier may be in the throes of a horrid divorce, that the person who cut you off in traffic may have just lost his/her job. That rude waitress may have a dry socket! Go ahead, and give her the benefit of the doubt and twenty percent. You might be saving her life!
Having pets can lower your blood pressure. If this is true, our family must be barely able to stand up. Between the four of us, we have thirteen cats, one dog, and three horses. Our blood pressures are great, but the bills for kibble, Frontline, alfalfa, veterinarians and catnip mice are KILLING US.
If life hands out lemons, wise people make lemonade. My dear husband, a stroke victim who had to learn how to speak, write, and understand language all over again, has been making lemonade for years. His recipe? Work very hard, make a new friend every day, laugh at yourself, and when your wife makes fun of you, REVEL IN IT!
Oh yes, and eating that apple every day is very good insurance…
Friday, July 17, 2009
I know, you are saying that Facebook is old news. Every person under the age of forty has a Facebook page. Craig’s List, Twitter, Ebay, Etsy, they are all out there as a way for people to link up. I have used them all, but until I joined Facebook, I had no idea how wonderful life could be. For people over fifty, Facebook can enrich our lives in so many ways:
Who needs high school or college reunions? In order to go to one of these, you have to make plane reservations, go on a diet, get a whole new hairdo, use that spray tan stuff, and make up a whole new and more interesting set of facts about yourself. Reinventing yourself in this way is expensive, laborious, and can lead to Botox, the cabbage soup diet, and reevaluating your husband. With Facebook, all you have to do is post a picture of yourself from twenty years ago, spice up your profile with some good old fashioned fibs, and wait for the action. No sweat!
Do you want new friends? It is very important for older Americans to maintain social contacts. As the Boomers age, social challenges abound. Cocktail parties require a lot of standing, and that is hard on the knees. It is hard to remember everyone’s name at the block party. Dressing up in order to meet people seems to be way too much of an effort. But with Facebook, you can interact with hundreds of folks WHILE SITTING ON THE SOFA IN YOUR UNDERWEAR!
What about your last vacation? Have you had to sit through an unending evening looking at a multi media show of your best friends’ latest trip to Dogcollar Gulch, Arizona? Encourage them to join Facebook and post all of their photo albums there! No more boring evenings! And you can SKIM through those albums at the speed of light, and POST AN ADMIRING COMMENT! It’s a win-win situation!
We Boomers want to keep our fingers on the pulse of America. This gets harder and harder as we age. Our own kids don’t want to talk to us. People under the age of 40 don’t trust us. How then, do we know what concerns the younger generation? How do we relate to them? Facebook! That is where American youth document what they eat, where they go, who they go with, how many Martinis they drink, who they hook up with, what time they get home, how many times they barf, and they INCLUDE PICTURES OF ALL OF IT!
And finally, have you ever been internationally famous? Of course not. But it sure seems like it on Facebook! I have a page that is all about me! It has my picture on it, only the most flattering details, and some of my most scintillating ideas. I can say whatever I want there, and no one interrupts me! I can look at it whenever I want to! And if I don’t want you to visit me, I can block your access. All of this with just the click of a key!
THANK GOD AL GORE INVENTED THE INTERNET!
Tuesday, July 14, 2009
The guy at the Jiffy Lube has his own problems. Don’t burden him with your litany of car issues. He can change your oil, check your tires, and evaluate your air filter. But the facts that you regret that you didn’t buy a hybrid and that you are having trouble figuring out your new GARMIN do not endear you to the guy. And don't ask him about his family!
When you are at the doctor, stick to the issues. Somehow, my husband knows our doctor’s middle name. To me, that indicates a level of intimacy that I just don’t aspire to. I call my doctor “Dr.” My husband calls his “Patty Ann.” I have no IDEA what my doctor thinks about anything other than acid reflux. Charlie reports that his internist has shingles. I am not sure how these doctors feel about being interviewed by my husband, but I would guess that any day my husband visits his doctors is a day in which those doctors run LATE afterwards.
Cocktail parties are for SMALL talk. No one expects to find a new soul mate at the pre- dinner mixer for the annual “Friends of the Historical Society” fundraiser. When introduced to a stranger, that person expects to comment on the weather, sigh about how much the world will miss Michael Jackson, or describe briefly what he or she does for a living. Folks at cocktails DO NOT want to learn about your life. The fact that I tried on fifteen outfits before picking one to wear tonight IS NOT INTERESTING TO STRANGERS.
Checkout clerks just want to take your money and move on. Checkers have monotonous jobs, it’s true. I am going out on a limb here, but I would bet money that the clerk at the grocery COULD CARE LESS that you think the new Strawberry Chex is delicious. Buying cat litter does not entitle you to go on and on about Fluffy’s latest antics. And for heaven’s sakes, those bag boys are not environmentally conscious, necessarily—so don’t lecture THEM on the merits of paper versus plastic!
The people at the table next to yours at the restaurant want to be alone. I have gotten pretty good at this one. As soon as I see his eyes wandering to the next table, I kick Charlie in the shins. Then I remind him of the time when he was just a little too curious about what the neighbors had ordered, and they reported him to the manager.
This is a scary world we live in. Technology is king. We rush through life, pushing buttons and entering domains. We are all stressed, lonely, and frantic. People who need people are indeed the luckiest people in the world.
BUT FOR HEAVEN’S SAKE, THERE ARE PARAMETERS!
Saturday, July 11, 2009
I know what makes him tick. I can read every single expression on his face. I don't even let him finish his sentences most of the time. This comes after thirty nine years of slogging along in a relationship that has weathered mothers-in-law, poverty, children, careers, sickness, health--and those are just the LITTLE THINGS.
Both of my kids are nearing marriage, and I would like to give them some advice. They never listen to me, however. Since neither of them would be caught dead reading my blog, this is the perfect place to put it!
In every relationship, there are things that cause conflict. Learn to choose your battles. I spent about twenty years nagging Charlie about that toilet seat, and finally it ocurred to me to check before I sit. My God, it was a Eureka moment in the marriage! Jokes? He tells, them, and even though I have heard that same one about the short guy going into the bar hundreds of times, I still chuckle. Grooming? Man oh man, nose hair is so disgusting! And this one is a true bone of contention: why do husbands just automatically assume that their wives can read maps? How can anyone read a map? Especially while zooming along an interstate highway at 60 plus miles an hour? HOW DO I KNOW WHAT EXIT THAT WAS?
Another challenge to many marriages? HOBBIES. Therapists will tell you that a happy person is a fulfilled person. Everyone needs to follow that bliss. Scrapbooking, photography, needlepoint, golf, line dancing, Sudoku. All of these are excellent hobbies. But PLAYING THE ACCORDION? I thought the last accordion player in the world had died. But my husband is single handedly (well, actually, he uses both hands) trying to resurrect this lost art. He is devoted, and spends countless hours in the basement practicing. He has a BAND. He has GIGS, for heaven's sakes. He and thirty or so of his cronies entertain at nursing homes and adult day care centers sprinkled throughout the tri state area. He actually GETS PAID for this. For a guy with no talent, he has parlayed this into a second career!
MY hobbies? Well, I am in a book club.
SEX? It's important. Yucking it up? ESSENTIAL. Anyone that has been in love has been in lust. About three or four years into the relationship, the lust just seems to evaporate, leaving behind a void. Couples who believe that sex is everything usually break up at this point. SUCCESSFUL couples fill the void with laughter. One of the pivotal points in our marriage came when Charlie and I discovered that cramming grapes under one's upper lip is ABSOLUTELY HILARIOUS. Boredom? We solve that problem by leafing through the phone book looking for people with funny names. Sex is fleeting; the phone book yields at least one good hour of solid entertainment every time!
Friends are the key to survival in a marriage. Without sympathetic ears, I might have stewed and fretted myself into "the bad place" more times than I care to contemplate. My best girlfriends consist of a psychotherapist (thank the Lord), a comedian (she thinks she sells jewelry), a sister, a lawyer, and a world traveling tennis enthusiast. They know who they are! In the darkest days of my marriage, when no humor could be found, and I thought that the world might end that day, my friends saved me.
BUT HERE IS THE THING: After putting in the thirty nine years, rolling with the punches, enduring the absolutely horrible and exalting in the good, I find myself right back where I started in this relationship: I AM IN LOVE WITH MY HUSBAND. So girls, if you were to read my blog, this is what I would tell you:
STICK WITH IT.
Wednesday, July 8, 2009
As the daughter of a college professor, I grew up surrounded by syllables. The feeling seemed to be that unless it couldn’t be said with a flourish, it shouldn’t be said. In addition my father's admiration of intellegentsia, I also developed a taste for words. I began a reading habit at an early age. The result of all of this is that as an adult, I have been referred to as “a fucking dictionary” by my friends, my children never knew any euphemisms, and my compulsion to edit what comes out of the mouths of others has never abated.
This doesn’t skip a generation, by the way. My youngest daughter, at age three, informed a good friend that her two elementary aged sons were “noxious.” When asked by our neighbors if she liked the circus, my other daughter said with panache, “Oh yes, and my favorite act was the clitoris!” (they didn’t always get the words entirely on target—we still think she was referring to the contortionist…) Quirky children from an obviously linguistically obese mother!
My husband, who had a major stroke nine years ago, has a slightly different affliction. He uses big words all right, but his lexicon can’t be found in a dictionary. Charlie has a real talent for getting so close to the actual word he is looking for that virtually no one is ever confused about what he is saying. For instance, the other day he was telling me about an act he really liked on “America’s Got Talent.” Evidently, this was a dance team performing THE SALAMBA. Got it? Of course!
My girls get on me all the time to simplfy, simplify. Why peregrinate with the dog? “Mom, for God’s sakes, YOU ARE JUST WALKING! I love jewelry. I bedeck myself. PUT IT ON, already. And perfume? Yes, but I don’t just spray it on—oh heaven’s no, it adorns me! But these same critical children are the ones who always got the highest comprehension scores on the English section of standardized tests. How dare they whinge?
Don’t you think that those who use colorful language lead somehow more interesting lives? Whenever I fantasize about living life as another, I covet the adventures of those who lived adventure, took lovers, and savored both the heights of ecstasy and the depths of despair. No lowly bad days and good days for those folks. They were exhilarated or
Inconsolable. Happy? Sad? WAY to pedestrian for them! And don't even think that they used common words for things like sex. Those folks , depending on their generation, canoodled, had assignations, trysts, they found soul mates, they rolled in the hay, and one of the most picturesque--they KNEW each other in the biblical sense. (sidebar: if you know somebody in the biblical sense, do you somehow GET INTRODUCED to them biblically? And how does THAT go?)
This has never been easy for our family. My mother, bless her, was a simple soul who meant what she said, and said what she meant. Her punishments consisted of hitting us over the head with whatever she had in her hand, usually a cleaning implement—either a dust mop or a dish rag. Her most colorful turn of phrase when describing her wayward girls was to call us "lazy sluts." Not bad, actually.
My father made punishment a study in psychology. It began with the pronouncement that the offending party was, “In disgrace.” In order to escape that purgatory, we had to expiate ourselves by slavishly promising to conform to whatever strictures he imposed. For me, the youngest kid, it was easy. While groveling, the more BIG WORDS I threw into the mix, the better I thought it made me look in his eyes. I think I threw in a lot of "despairs," "humiliations," offered up my "fears for redemption," blah, blah. blah!
The offshoot of all this wordy family history is that I have a huge compendium of language just rattling around in my head, WAITING for their turns to be used. And as I age, I am finding it harder and harder to locate just the right word in all of that talk soup in my head. So I am, what is it, flummoxed?
Tuesday, July 7, 2009
Since the advent of the blog, my life has become SO much more complicated. Suddenly, the straightforward life in the Campbell household has become a logistical nightmare. How can I get everything done that needs seeing to?
Attending to my husband. I pride myself on being liberated. I don’t do anything for Charlie that he can accomplish himself. Some things, however, are just beyond him. Walking the dog is well within his abilities. Brushing the dog is WAY too difficult. Loading the dishwasher—fine. Wiping the counters? Impossible. Going upstairs, yes. TAKING THINGS UPSTAIRS? Forget it. Meals? He can eat ‘em! Cook em? Forget it! And somebody has to buy those groceries.
Housework. I pride myself on the fact that as soon as one of the cats vomits, I clean it up. My wood floors have minimal detritus, and all of the lamps in the house have working light bulbs. I throw away all junk mail during the week that it is received. The carpets are vacuumed whenever the fur covering them becomes too obvious. All this takes time.
Physical fitness. Who coined the truism that “if you don’t use it, you lose it?” I simply must go to the gym and work out. Plus, at my gym, at any one time, there are about twenty guys that lift weights, box, and run on the treadmill. These are guys with large muscles, gleaming sweaty bodies, and an average age of 25. These men bear watching. One can learn a lot via observation. I observe and learn from these men on a daily basis!
Summer yard maintenance. Those flowers don’t water themselves! I have at least six pots of assorted flora that require daily attention. This task takes at LEAST ten minutes a day. After watering, the hose must be rewound. Two minutes. Oh, and the bird feeders! When I remember, I fill those. Five minutes.
Blog research and development. I am learning that to be really good at this, one must visit at least twenty blogs a day, to evaluate style, substance, and participate in chat rooms. This is essential to becoming an effective blogger myself. The internet has SO MANY good blogs: some have games, others have cute cat pictures, many have hilarious jokes, and a lot of them have very interesting philosophies on politics, life, Sarah Palin, global warming, urban planning, liposuction, and tattooing. This activity consumes huge pockets of time. One Scrabble game in particular lasted for an hour, and by the time I had accumulated 300 points in triple word scores and achieved the “expert” level, it was four o’clock in the afternoon!
The results? OMG, I am STRESSED! My new lifestyle is causing chaos! I have had to RUSH things. We had EGGS for dinner tonight! I wore my PJ's until after lunch! I had to cut my workout today to 20 minutes! I forgot to put new water in the bird bath, which might result in a mosquito infestation! Charlie asked me why we had coffee creamer in the refrigerator, but no coffee to put it in! I totally forgot to use dental floss, the laundry from two days ago is still sitting in the washer getting smelly, and there is a pile of catalogs on the table in the hall that I HAVE NOT HAD A CHANCE TO LOOK AT!
I guess I will have to make some adjustments in order to meet my new daily goals.
I am thinking that starting tomorrow, I will have to get up before noon...
Saturday, July 4, 2009
Have you noticed that all old ladies the world over look alike? And that old ladies have ALWAYS looked alike? Since I was a child myself, I have noted the following old lady attributes: white hair, wrinkles, shuffling gate, sensible shoes, and big purses. Old ladies lack any kind of personal style. Comfort and safety seem to be of utmost importance. Old ladies are NOT concerned with how they look to the world. All of this is fine, but as I get nearer to being an old lady myself, I wonder how the transformation from normal stylish and young person to old lady takes place. Is it overnight? Does one suddenly wake up one morning with the need to wear knee high panty hose under a skirt? When do handkerchiefs trump Kleenex?
As a service to all of my girlfriends, who are approaching old ladydom with me, here is a list of warning signs THAT YOU MUST READ AND TAKE TO HEART. These could slow down the inexorable slide into the world of the elderly.
Do you have a cold? Is the approaching allergy season a challenge for you? Is Kleenex your best friend during these times? I know it may be convenient for you, BUT DO NOT UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES TUCK ONE INTO YOUR SLEEVE IF YOU DON’T HAVE A POCKET TO STASH IT IN. Old ladies do that. Even if it means you have to run to the nearest rest room to sneeze, or surreptitiously wipe your nose on your sleeve, DON’T STUFF THAT KLEENEX IN THAT SLEEVE! This is one giant step toward old ladydom, believe me!
How big is your purse? Does it have compartments? This is a danger sign. How long does it take you to find your keys? If you can’t locate your keys in your bag within ten seconds, you are acting like an old lady! If those compartments are used like a filing cabinet (one for coupons, one for your wallet, one for lipstick and things, another for your glasses) you are REALLY pushing it. Do you hang your purse over your forearm? STOP THAT IMMEDIATELY!
This is a huge one. It is a true indicator of age. DO YOU HAVE A CHANGE PURSE? Get rid of it! Your change belongs in your wallet. No one needs a separate small accessory for dimes and pennies. If you are starting to think that it would be easier to find coins by segregating them into a small conveyance of their own, you are old.
What do you wear to the movies during the summer? Do you think that lately the theatres have turned down their thermostats? Are you tempted to take a sweater or coat with you when you go? You mustn’t. No one over the age of thirty gets cold at the movies, so just sit there and shiver through it with the YOUNG people like you.
If you go to a restaurant, EAT YOUR DINNER. If there is a little left over, don’t ask for a box. I know, the economy. But it is old people who can’t seem to consume an entire hamburger or finish their beans. If you take that food home, on the way out of the restaurant, all the kids will be watching you and chuckling patronizingly to each other.
This next category is so huge, I am not sure I can do it justice. Clothes. Here goes: young people read magazines and watch TV in order to see what the fashionistas are wearing. Old ladies think “fashionistas” have something to do with Italy during World War II. Old ladies dress for comfort, not style. This can begin very insidiously, so you have to be very careful about this. Are you looking at those espadrilles and remembering how you fell off them and sprained your ankle? Are you thinking that those Keds look a lot more comfortable? Oh, boy. Do you look at your legs and all of those purply little veins and decide that shorts are not becoming? This is actually a smart move, because shorts do look awful with spider veins. Capri pants are fine. Slacks are fine. Elastic waistbands, however, are NOT fine. Nine out of ten doctors agree that old women wear elastic waistbands.
If you are tempted to buy a track suit that matches, this could be a warning sign. True, lots of young and fit women wear workout gear. To work out in. These women don’t wear their gym clothes to the Cheesecake Factory. What’s more, young women don’t care if their running pants have a matching hoodie. Nor do they spend hours at SteinMart choosing sporty clothes. Who is in those fitting rooms trying on coral running pants with matching jackets? OLD LADIES.
Finally, and this is a big one, when do you eat dinner? Because the litmus test for aging is this one simple fact: If you eat dinner before six o’clock at night, you are old. Something happens in the digestive systems of people in their fifties that begins this downward spiral. FIGHT IT WITH ALL YOU HAVE IN YOU! Have a snack at four! Drink a glass of milk at five! But whatever you do, do not go to that restaurant! And please, when you get to the restaurant, even if it is offered on the menu,
DO NOT ORDER EITHER THE COTTAGE CHEESE OR THE APPLESAUCE!