JUST ONE DAM THING AFTER ANOTHER

Out of Breath – We all seem to insist on how busy, busy, busy we constantly are. Let’s put things in perspective: tell us about the craziest, busiest, most hectic day you’ve had in the past decade.


 

HumbleBeaver

The craziest, busiest, most hectic day I’ve had in the past decade? I can’t remember what I did yesterday, much less in the course of an entire 10-year period. I know recently we drove a lot, through mountains, past rivers and lakes and countryside so beautiful it filled up all my ooh and aah synapses and put me into a near coma of aesthetic appreciation.

Was that hectic? It felt hectic.

I’ve been in and out of hospitals, had more surgery than I can remember, which may be a good thing. Hectic? What’s hectic? The decades have all been riddled with crises. Financial, medical, personal. I don’t remember the sequence of a particular day, not even yesterday. Or this morning. It’s nearly one in the afternoon. I’m still answering email and trying to get this silly little post written.

Maybe I should think about this in bigger pieces, like decades? Anyone who asks this question obviously hasn’t lived many decades. I’m sure having fewer decades to remember might make the whole memory thing more … memorable. By the time you’ve survived seven or eight decades, you would never ask this question. You would know your friends feel lucky to get to the end of a sentence without have to pause to remember what word comes next.

I can tell you — I think — which period in my life was the most hectic. It started in 1963 and slowed down … when was that? Wait for it. I’m thinking. Okay, got it. It hasn’t slowed down. But it would be okay with me if it did.

Life is, as the beaver said, just one dam thing after another.

beaver mafia

 

Interior Design: Pornography for the Heavily Mortgaged

Originally posted on Stuff my dog taught me:

designer living roomThis week, I finally made it to my semi-annual appointment for a dental cleaning (Can it still be called “semi annual” when you end up cancelling three times and are therefore seven months late for a once-every-six-months event?).  I love my dental cleanings because there is no risk of the dreaded needle and because I can count on about half an hour of waiting room time.  As a working mother, this is like a mini-holiday – child-free, husband-free, client-free, and surrounded by magazines.  So lovely!

In keeping with my mini-holiday fantasy, I refused to read anything that included health and fitness advice, tips on cooking/cleaning/organizing the home, or pictures of skinny, young models sporting clothing I cannot afford.  This left me with a stack of home decorating magazines, or as I like to call them, “pornography for the heavily mortgaged”.

Inside the glossy covers, every room was freshly painted, perfectly lit, and usually sans people (

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WITH A LITTLE BIT OF LUCK

Share Your World – 2014 Week 42

What would be your preference, awake before dawn or awake before noon?

I wake up, whether or not I want to, before dawn almost every day. Then I diligently put myself back to sleep if I can. Today, I didn’t bother because we are on the road and I can use the extra time to write before we are out of here. I wouldn’t mind being an early riser — sunrise is a delicious time of day — if there were a few more hours between going to sleep and getting up. But apparently that is how my body likes it. My opinion is neither here nor there.

As long as there is coffee when I stumble out of the bedroom, I can deal with the earliness, though if I had my druthers, it would be closer to noon than dawn.

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While we are discussing morning — we are discussing morning, right? — I want to mention that Bonnie stole my breakfast cookies this morning. She not only stole them, she took the napkin in which they were wrapped and she made a clean getaway in a matter of just a few minutes while I readied my coffee.  I bet she thinks she got away with it, the little terrorist, but I know the truth …

If you could choose between Wisdom and Luck, which one would you pick?

I’ve given wisdom my best shot and look where it’s gotten me? So now, a change of pace is in order. I no longer am seeking to improve my soul. This round, I want cash. A nice fat lottery win. I’m going with luck, this time. There’s nothing which says I can’t be wise and rich.

Wisdom is all well and good, in its place … but luck is fun.

If you were given the opportunity for free skydiving lessons would you take them? Why or why not?

When I was younger and had a functional spine, I’d have done it. Garry enjoyed it and we could have done it together. Sadly, it’s not in the cards at this point.

Is the glass half empty or half full? What is in the glass?

It’s always half full. Of either coffee or Power Zero. Because that’s what all I’m allowed to drink and I quite literally have a “go cup” of one of these with me all the time. Okay, sometimes I sneak in an illicit coca cola. Does anyone besides me wish they’d put the coca back in the cola? Talk about your fun times …

Bonus question:  What are you grateful for from last week, and what are you looking forward to in the week coming up?

Grateful the weather held for our entire vacation. Grateful for the friends who invited us to stay with them and enjoy some of the best company and most magnificent countryside I’ve ever seen … or am likely to see again. Grateful for cars that don’t break down, computers that warn you before they fold their proverbial tent.

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Grateful that funny noise the yellow car is making remained just a noise and didn’t prevent us from getting home. And deeply grateful to Dwight D. Eisenhower for building nice roads on which we can drive.

Next week? I’m looking forward to the end of the ongoing well and water crisis because I’m running out of places to haul my laundry. And I would really like a bath.

IMMORTALITY AND THE DAILY PROMPT

Finite Creatures – At what age did you realize you were not immortal? How did you react to that discovery?


I am not sure I ever thought I was immortal — probably because I didn’t think about it at all. Until sometime in college, I did not ponder the nature of life and death.

College was a peak time for that kind of mental muck-raking. Was it the drugs? No, I’m inclined to think it was going to classes. You see, college presents no danger unless you actually attend lectures and stuff. If you just hang out on the quad, it’ll be okay. But I took courses like  “The Philosophy of Religion” and went to lectures on Phenomenology. And, I had a steady assignment of existential novels to read by Sartre, Camus, et al. Deep stuff. The kind of books I totally won’t look at any more.

96-Me Young in Maine

That this hyper-intellectual phase of my life coincided nicely with my first actual near-death experience was pure chance. It didn’t improve my personality, that’s for sure. There is nothing more aggravating than a teenage college student contemplating the philosophical meaning of life. And death. Had I not already been me, I would have had to expel myself as a punishment for being so annoying.

I’m pretty sure all of us thought we were very smart and had a solid grip on the life and death stuff. Even adding on my botched spine surgery — which nearly killed me for real and all — I was still an obnoxious wise-ass with an inflated sense of my intellectual prowess.

Things have really improved. Now I’m an aging senior citizen wise-ass. Oh, and I am pretty sure — not 100%, but maybe 90% — I am not immortal. Eventually, I’ll know for 100% certain.

I’ll get back to you on that.

Kalstar Aviation – Could This be the Worst Airline to Never Make the List?

Marilyn Armstrong:

We all know perils await us in our travels. But which ones?

This is the airline from Hell, stranding you somewhere in Indonesia. Are we there yet?

Originally posted on Beasley Green:

2014-09-23 18.08.38

No Go at Pangkalan Iskandar Airport

If you’ve travelled a lot over the years you are likely to have had a flight delay or cancellation. It’s inconvenient and frustrating at best, at worst it creates a domino effect of personal catastrophe destroying your carefully coordinated business, work or social plans. However, you’re better late than dead and sometimes delays and cancellations are inevitable for your own personal safety. But commercial air travel is a lucrative business and over the years most airlines have tried to take the edge off the pain for passengers who have to suffer schedule changes. They will provide refreshments, compensation and cover the cost of accommodation in the event of cancellation. With any service provider, some are better than others, but in the world of commercial aviation services, there are good, there are bad, then there’s Kalstar Aviation of Indonesia.

Kalimantan is the Indonesian half of…

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JUST SHOW UP IN A TUX

We just celebrated our 24th  wedding anniversary. As I ponder the upcoming 25th, I hear distant bells. I remember the wedding. The thrill of ultimate victory, the agony of getting there. How, by the time I got to the altar, I was a nervous wreck, but Garry was cool as the proverbial cucumber and looked dashing in his tuxedo.

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Photo by Bette Stevens

After it was clearly established that we were definitely, unquestionably, without any doubt, getting married, it came down to details. Dates. Rings. Caterers. Bakers. Flowers. Music. Photography. Videography. And (trumpets) a ceremony.

I had been married twice before — okay, three times, because I’d been married in a registry office in London, then the whole Jewish medieval ceremony in Jerusalem. Having been there and done that. I wanted to elope or maximum, go to city hall, have the mayor marry us. He would have. We knew the guy. We could have been married at City Hall, I’d toss a bouquet, someone would throw some confetti, and voilà. Married. After that, us and our actual friends could all go out for Chinese.

Garry wanted a Real Wedding.

He was 48 years old. Never married. This would be his one and only wedding and by golly, he was going to Do It Right.

“I want a real wedding. In the church in which I grew up. In New York,” says Garry. “And I want my old pastor to officiate.”

“Pastor G. is retired … like fifteen years ago.”

“I’m sure we can work it out.” When he said we, I thought he meant he and I would do this thing together. Because where I come from, that’s what we means. I was deluded.

“Why can’t we just have something here in Boston? New York is 250 miles away. You haven’t lived there in nearly 30 years. Everyone you know except your parents are up here or in another part of the country entirely.”

Garry’s face is set. Stony. He wants a hometown wedding in the church he attended as a child. With the minister he had when he was a kid. Did I mention my husband is stubborn? He is very stubborn.

“This is going to be a lot of work. It’s hard to plan a wedding long distance,” I point out. “And I have a job too, in case you’ve forgotten.” Garry is unfazed.

“We can,” he repeats, “Work it out.” There was that we again.

“Fine,” I eventually agree. “We’ll have a wedding. In New York. At your church.”

There were caterers to hire. Music to be arranged. A bagpiper (don’t ask). Battles over the guest list. A cake to be designed. The cake was my favorite part. It went like this. Having settled on a vanilla cake with lemon filling, we needed to decide on decorations.

“Do you want the bride and groom in white or black?”

“Can we have one of each?” No, we could not. In 1990, they do not have a mixed couple cake topper. I offer to take a marker and paint the groom black, but inexplicably, Garry finds this objectionable. I suggest they take two sets and cut them in half, but it is deemed too complicated. In the end, I opt for wedding bells, the DMZ of wedding cake toppers.

So, Garry got his wedding. It was (for him) as simple as simple could be. Marilyn arranged the wedding. Garry showed up in a tux.

You see? We worked it out.

KILLING TRAVEL NOSTALGIA

I’ve read a lot of posts that wax nostalgic about the old days, of trips down country roads at a slower pace. Driving through little towns. Past farms, fields, woods, and streams. No super highways with their sterile rest stops and fast food outlets. Driving through the real America.

Leaving Jackman, Maine on Route 201

Leaving Jackman, Maine on Route 201

Those were the days, we say. The good old days which we remember from the back seat. Where we were pinching and pummeling our siblings while nagging our parents to stop for ice cream. Or asking the deathless question: “Are we there yet?”

Everyone who ever waxed poetic about the good old days of travel should take the drive from Jackman, Maine to Danville, Vermont.

It’s 231 miles from Jackman to Danville unless you travel through Canada, which we did not want to do. Just going through the customs checkpoints would have added hours to the journey. Unless you go through Canada, there’s only one route. Take 201 from Jackman to Skowhegan. Hook a right on route 2. Drive. Keep driving. Behind pickup trucks and aging SUVs veering erratically while never exceeding 28 miles per hour … the exact point at which the car changes gears. The engine lugging relentlessly as it tries to find the spot.

There is food to eat and gasoline to be pumped as you pass through all those little towns. There’s always someplace selling pizza, baked goods, sandwiches, and cold drinks. Usually a toilet, too. You will get a chance to visit every little town in the mountains between Maine and Vermont. I found myself staring at the map, hoping a faster road would magically appear.

Talk about ambivalence. It’s the middle of October. The trees look as if they are lit from within. The mountains are covered in Technicolor autumnal glory. It is so magnificent it doesn’t look real. Combine that with an overwhelming urge to find a high-powered weapon and blow one of those pokey drivers to kingdom come.

Route 2 through the mountains, heading west

Route 2 through the mountains, heading west

“Wow,” I say, “That’s incredibly beautiful” as we loop around an especially breathtaking curve in the road. I’m trying to control my peevish aggravation with the current slow driver riding his brakes in front of us. It’s as if they wait for us. As we are about to pass, they pull out in front of us and slow to a crawl. The beauty of the mountains, lakes, streams, trees, sky, clouds, villages, farms, towns morph into a seamless continuity as we endlessly follow bad drivers whose feet never leave the brake pedals.

It’s nearly a religious experience. Aggravation wars with appreciation for nature — and a passionate need to get where we are going before nightfall. Garry is exhausted, irritable, frustrated. I’m empathizing with Garry to the point of offering to drive. Whoa! It took most of a day to make the trip. A crow could have done it in an hour and a bit, but we don’t fly. We crawled through Maine, crept through New Hampshire, limped into Vermont. Maine is a large state.

Our most startling moment was looking up and seeing a sign — a huge, brightly painted sign — that said: “WELCOME TO MEXICO.” Mexico, Maine. There were no Mexican restaurants, or at least none we could find. Lots of Chinese, though. After we drove out of Mexico, we came upon another huge, bright sign. “WELCOME TO MEXICO,” it said.

“Didn’t we just leave Mexico?”

“Maybe,” says Garry, “this is the village and that was the town?”

“Or something.”

“Or something.” I wondered where the rest of North America had gone. Never mind. It was time to face the inevitable. Garry and I had to fill the gas tank. Ourselves. Without help. Oy.

Me, Garry, the road and an atlas

Me, Garry, the road and an atlas

Back home — a town which had seemed rural and quaint, but now seemed sophisticated and metropolitan — the stations provide service. This was not the case in wherever we were in very rural New England. Together, Garry and I pondered the problem. We had to remove the gas cap, which was stuck. Garry looked at me. He was doing the driving, so it fell to me to deal with the gas cap.

I pressed. Twisted. It was the child-proof lid from Hell. Eventually, it came off. Whooping in triumph, I fed our bank card into the pump’s reader and selected the grade of gasoline. Garry, feeling his moment had come, removed the pump from its hook, stuck it in the hole and pressed. Gasoline started feeding into the tank. When it snapped loose, Garry looked at me.

“Does this mean it’s full?”

“Yes,” I exalted. “We did it. We put gas in our  car!”

We gave each other a high-five and continued our journey.  We have developed a deep appreciation for the interstate highway system. And lost every trace of nostalgia for the old days of travel.


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