ON BEING TWELVE AGAIN — NO SCHOOL IN SIGHT!

ZOLTAR’S REVENGE: In a reversal of Big, the Tom Hanks classic from the 1980s, your adult self is suddenly locked in the body of a 12-year-old kid. How do you survive your first day back in school?


School my foot. Who’s going to send me to school? The ghosts of my long dead parents? My son? The dogs?

96-Marilyn1964

I’ve got all the diplomas I’ll ever need, thank you very much. Just because I get back a young body won’t give anyone proprietary rights over me. I’m an adult with all the privileges (???) thereof. Social Security. Pensions. Senior discounts might be a bit tricky, but hey, I think I could explain this is a very new kind of plastic surgery. I’m pretty sure I could sell that. By 12 I had my full height and I was a smart as I would ever be.

Smarter. We reach our maximum intelligence in our early teens. Seems like a waste, but it isn’t really. That’s when we are collecting the knowledge that will enable us to decide what want to do with the rest of our lives. In this case, I already know. I know what I want and I know how to get there.  I know what to avoid, which may be the most important part. It’s a perfect second life. With all the body parts still working and a foreknowledge of what may come.

So. To the good part. A 12-year-old body you say? Before I broke my back. I get the chance to protect my spine and avoid the big problems I’ve got today. How long do I get to keep it? Permanently works for me.

There are some issues to be worked out. Young, growing bodies have needs. But in my head, I’m old and wily, so I know what to do. I have the body of a youngster, the brain of a senior. Oh joyous best of both worlds! Garry has to be 12 too! This wouldn’t be fun without him.

We will have legs that can run and minds that remember everything. But this time, without dysfunctional parents and all those stupid rules? Zoltar, if this be revenge, how sweet it is.

Bring it ON! I am so ready.

DAY IS DONE. ME TOO

It was one of Those Days. Started out normal. We had to get up a bit early because I had a doctor appointment and even though we left plenty of time, we got out of the house a bit late. Time slipped away.

My appointment went fine. Next stop? Grocery store.

We couldn’t get to the store. There had been a fire. Or something. The street was closed. Not the whole street, just the couple of hundred feet in front of the parking lot. Other than the fire engine with the flashing lights, there was no hint of a fire, or any evidence of anything. No smoke. No injuries. No water on the street. No crime scene tape. A blocked street where we needed to go. They were allowing cars to drive through from the other direction. So there was no legitimate reason we couldn’t go a few dozen feet to Hannaford’s parking lot. But nope, we had to take the detour.

75-MainStreetCR

Uxbridge not being a real city, a detour isn’t a quick trip around a city block. We were in Douglas before we could start looping back to town. By which time they had parked the fire truck and there were no official obstructions.

Shopping concluded, leaving town was our next trial. Civic excitement is rare in our little town, so everyone had to take a long look at the … what? Fire? Crime scene? False alarm? One of the rubberneckers was riding a bicycle. We were behind him, trying to drive at 1 mph. As soon as we (finally) got around him, someone pulled out of a side street, slowed down to about 10 mph. Directly in front of us. We crawled home. Karma is.

72-HannafordParking_004

Groceries unpacked. Television turned on. Surprise! Half our premium channels aren’t working. “Temporarily Off the Air. Try Again Later.” I call Charter. They’ve been having a bad week too and this is my third call in two days. Any day I have to call Charter is not a great day.

After a long hold, the agent assures me they are merely doing (more) repair work, but hope it will be finished any day now. They’ll call when it’s finished. Maybe even today. I go to make dinner and step in a pool of dog pee. I don’t know which of the little furry menaces did it, but I don’t get it. Why? They’ve got their own door and it isn’t even raining.

Eventually, dinner having been served, eaten, and cleared, the phone rings. Charter (recorded message) says “Repairs are complete, thank you for your patience.” But it is not fixed. Half the hi-def channels are “Temporarily Off the Air. Try Again Later.”

Any day on which I have to call Charter once is not great. Twice? Very bad. They tell me to reboot. They send a repair signal. My channels do not come back. They can’t get a tech here until Thursday.  I am grumpy, but make the appointment. I need to write it down, so I turn on the light.

The bulb explodes.

My day is done.

BELLWETHERS AMONG US – WHERE THEY GO, WE FOLLOW

Connie Willis_1996_Bellwether

I read Bellwether again. Finished it the other day. Each time I read it — this is the 4th or 5th time — I learn something new.

Bellwether grabbed me from page one … from sentence one. Not merely was I highly entertained by the story, but I learned a lot about chaos theory, fads, sheep, and the meaning of “bellwether,” a term I’d heard and used — and misused — for years, but never entirely understood.

It was the bellwether and sheep connection I never got. What do I know about sheep? And why would I care? It turns out, sheep and people have an unnerving amount in common.

A bellwether is a leader of sheep, an über ewe, the sheep who the flock follows. There’s no visible reason why a bellwether leads and nor any obvious reason why the flock follows. There is just something about that ewe.

What the bellwether does, the other sheep do too. The flock will follow her — mindlessly, blindly — over a cliff if that’s where she leads. The flock doesn’t know it’s following the bellwether. They just do it.

Humans have bellwethers too. We no more recognize our bellwethers than does a flock of sheep. Still we follow them. An atavistic instinct, embedded in our DNA? Some are born to lead, others to follow. A few to walk a unique path.

The book is laugh-out-loud funny. Erudite, witty, and replete with trivia guaranteed to upgrade your anecdotal skills.

Bellwether suggests answers to previously unanswerable questions. Why do people vote against their own self-interest? Why do we do so many stupid things? The answer? We’re following a bellwether. They are loose amongst us, invisible shakers and movers. Unaware of their effect on the people around them.

You should read this book. It also explains a lot of events throughout history which have never made any kind of sense. Even after you know all the facts of what happened, most of history doesn’t make sense. But if you add in a few critical bellwethers, it all comes clear.

Human life, history and relationships are illogical. They just happen. We can explain them only in retrospect. That’s what historians are for, after all. To make sense of the past because it won’t make sense by itself. Human society is chaotic. The only predictable thing is unpredictability.

I found Bellwether original, insightful, amusing and thought-provoking. Highly entertaining and funny. I can’t imagine what more anyone could want from a book. I recommend it both in print (Kindle or paper) and audio. It is a book you will read and remember.

Then read it again. There’s more to it than you will get in a single reading.

SHARING MY WORLD, WEEK 34

Thank you Cee for another fun round as we explore the inner secrets of This Blogger’s Life. Chapter 34.

What is your favorite smell? What memory does it remind you of?

Bread baking. Actually, anything baking. Coffee. They all remind me of … baked goods. And how good they go with coffee.

72-Pound-cake_08

Name a song or two which are included on the soundtrack to your life?

Good Day, Sunshine. They played it at my son’s fourth grade graduation and the kids sang along. I cried. And Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata, especially the second movement, because I performed it often. It became a signature piece. As it is for many pianists.

cropped-75-sunshinegoldhp-1.jpg

Do you play video/computer game?  Which one(s) or most recent? 

No. I used to play Civilization and Caesar. Sim City. But that was long ago in a galaxy far, far away. Does Scrabble count? I play Scrabble. And solitaire.

Seven-Dwarfs

Which of Snow White’s 7 dwarfs describes you best?  Plus what would the 8th dwarf’s name be? (Doc, Happy, Bashful, Sleepy, Sneezy, Grumpy, Dopey)

In one way or the other, all of them, depending on circumstance.

  • Sneezy during allergy season.
  • Doc when dealing with the doctors.
  • Bashful if you point a camera at me.
  • Dopey … well, you can guess.
  • Sleepy … another one I think you can work out for yourself.
  • Happy when a plan comes together.
  • Grumpy when the plan doesn’t come together, life falls apart, or any time I have to call customer service. I feel obliged to point out I’ve had to call at least one customer service each day for the last 5 days. This week, I am entirely Grumpy.

And that wraps it up folks!

Well not really. I thought I’d come back and add that eight dwarf — Achy, the arthritic dwarf. That’s when I just sit around creaking and making the occasional huffing noise as I try to get up on my feet.

THANK YOU, I THINK

It can be difficult to tell compliments from insults. You’d think it would be easy and obvious, but it isn’t.

As a child, my mother comforted me with her classic line. Somewhere in my head, I can still hear her. A lonely (probably weird) child, as a teenager, it took me a long time to find my social self.

But Mom could always reassure me in her own special way: “There’s someone for everyone,” she told me. “Even you.”

1970

1970

And then there was the clothing my mother made for me. It was gorgeous, fashionable and of far better quality than the other little girls wore. The Mean Girls (those girls have been around forever and live everywhere) just said “Eww! Where did you get that ugly dress?” It wasn’t ugly. They were ugly.

Nicer, kinder people (adults mostly) would say, “Your mother must have made that for you. It’s so … interesting.”

As a young woman, I put on a lot of weight. Before I eventually got rid of that hundred and fifty pounds, there were some great lines from “friends” who knew just the right words to make me feel good:

“You dress really well for a fat girl.”

“I don’t think of you as fat. You’re just Marilyn.”

Later on, no longer fat, but still me, compliments have streamed in nonstop:

“I thought you were a nun. Don’t you own anything that isn’t black?”

My all time favorite, from the woman who never managed to get my first husband to the altar (though had he lived longer, she might have worn him down — she just needed another decade or two) … and who couldn’t figure out the source of my continuing popularity with men.

“I’m very, very nice to them. I make them feel special and loved,” I said. There was more to it, but this was all I was willing to share.

“I do that too,” she whined. (No, she didn’t.) “But,” she continued, getting more nasal by the minute, “How come they marry you?”

And finally, after I published my book.

“It was much better than I expected.”

What were you expecting?

WHY, THANK YOU? Daily Prompt

 

ON THE ADVICE OF MY SPIRITUAL GUIDE …

Warning: This is a rerun — with editing — but it so precisely fits the requirements of today’s Daily Prompt: Discussion Enders, I could not resists doing a little revision and posting it. I quite like this little post. It makes me laugh every time I read it so maybe you will laugh too. We all need a laugh.


As the years have crept by, I have given up a lot of stuff, most of which (it turns out), I didn’t need in the first place. I gave up worrying. I gave up working. I gave up on the lottery, even though I still occasionally buy a ticket (just in case).

I gave up wanting a new car, expecting old friends to call (some of them don’t remember me any more — some don’t remember themselves). I’ve stopped hoping Hollywood will make movies I like, though occasionally they release something I love (like “Quartet,” a movie Dustin Hoffman directed in 2012). I’ve stopped trying to adopt new music and most new television shows.

I’ve renounced trying to figure out what’s going on with the Red Sox.

Some stuff gave me up. Some people gave up on me Other things, I gave up more or less voluntarily. In the end it works out to the same result.

When anyone asked me how or why I have given up whatever it was, I tell them it was for religious reasons.

UU Steeple 4

No one ever asks me what I mean by that. But just so you know, here’s my secret … obviously a secret no more …

I don’t mean anything at all by it. It’s just a way to end a conversation. No one wants to offend me by asking for the details of my religious beliefs. Who knows? They might turn out to be embarrassing or merely bizarre. Thus my all-purpose answer to everyone is “on religious grounds,” “for religious reasons,” or “my spiritual adviser required it.”

What power these words hold. They can make pretty much any conversation vanish without having to tell someone to shut up. It works on everyone except those who really know me. They will raise one or more eyebrows, and fall over laughing.

It’s very similar to (but different than) my all-purpose answer to “How are you?” With the biggest, broadest, fake smile I can muster and with heartfelt enthusiasm, I say: “I’m FINE!” 99.9% of the time, this does the job. Give it a test drive yourself. If you can’t dazzle them with brilliance, baffle them with bullshit.

Because I’m fine. For religious reasons.

REMEMBERING ROOMBA – THE ROBOT VACUUM THAT COULDN’T

roomba1

No, he couldn’t and didn’t.

I don’t remember exactly when Roomba, the vacuum robot, was first introduced. It must have been more than 20 years ago because we were still in our 3-story townhouse in Boston. We didn’t have any dogs yet. We were still deep into a world full of cats, maybe a couple of ferrets too. Regardless, the television was full of advertisement for this the exciting new robot vacuum.

I had my doubts. Roomba didn’t look likely to do much in the cleaning department. Cat hair is notoriously pernicious. The most powerful vacuum cleaners are hard put to pull it out of rugs and furniture. I had curtains I knew would never come clean. When I would finally took them down, their next stop would be the trash. The hair of the cats was so embedded in the fabric, nothing would make them clean again.

roomba2

Nope. Not true. Just sat there chugging in place while the battery wore down.

Still, Roomba was tempting, though not for the advertised reason. Those early versions of Roomba were not terribly expensive, less than $100 (or maybe just a little more?) and both Garry and I were still working. It didn’t seem a lot of money for something that might provide a great deal of amusement.

Amusement? What about cleaning?

None of us expected Roomba to actually clean. Just looking at its design and its lack of power, I doubted it would do much of anything … but it might absolutely drive the cats bonkers. The amusement factor alone could make it worth the price. Big Guy, Spanky and Pookie would get crazy and we hoped drive us to paroxysms of laughter. Big Guy was already completely obsessed with electric trains and slot cars, so a robot vacuum cleaner seemed the logical next step.

I ordered one. With mounting excitement, we unpacked Roomba and charged him up. Given his very small size compared to the amount of animal hair and other dust and dirt, he didn’t look likely to accomplish much, but we weren’t expecting much … at least not in the way of cleaning. Our amusement expectations were far higher, though.

Sadly, neither cleaning nor hilarity ensued. Roomba got stuck under every chair, every piece of furniture. He did not navigate around obstacles nor did he climb onto the area rugs to clean them. He didn’t even change direction when he bounced into a wall. Poor little thing just sat there, chugging hopelessly while the cats turned up their collectively snooty feline noses and walked away, tails high with disdain.

Note the puzzled Australian Shepherd in the background? Appropriate.

Note the puzzled Australian Shepherd in the background? Appropriate.

He cleaned nothing and proved a poor source of amusement. What we nowadays refer to as “a waste of money.” But the idea was good.

I’m assuming, now that there are so many models of Roomba and his companion that supposedly scrubs floors … and the price is hundreds of dollars more for even the most basic model, that the technology has improved.

Frankly, I’m skeptical. Roomba was not merely not quite good enough. Roomba was useless. Even when he actually managed to find a piece of floor flat enough and uncluttered enough to attempt to clean, he didn’t pick up enough dirt to make a noticeable dent in the dust and dirt.

He was eventually consigned to a box in a corner and ultimately thrown out with other stuff that seemed like a good idea at the time. I’ll be charitable and suggest maybe Roomba has improved during the past 20 years … but unless someone gives me one for free, I’ll stick with traditional vacuums cleaners. Because they actually suck dirt.

I’m sure the day of the robot will come. But I don’t think it’s here yet. Where’s Robby when we need him?

robbyTheRobot

 You, Robot – The Daily Prompt