TOSSING THE DICE OF LIFE

Take a Chance on Me

What’s the biggest chance you ever took? Did it work out? Do tell!

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My life has been so full of chances taken, some of which worked out very well indeed … and others which left me digging my way out of the smoldering wreckage of my life. They all had one thing in common: they seemed like a good idea at the time.

And maybe they all were. That’s the thing about risk-taking. You don’t know whether it will work out. That’s what makes it risky. If it were a sure thing (Question: Is anything in life a sure thing? If so, what might it be?), there would be no risk, no chance.

Life itself is chancy. Full of risk. Every single decision, every little choice can ultimately leave you wondering “what if?”

The biggest chance with the most risk I ever took was being born. Since then, it’s just been one thing after another.

I call it life, but you can call it Harry, if you prefer.

I’M SHARING MY WORLD – BUT ARE YOU SURE YOU WANT TO COME?

CEE’S Share Your World – 2014 Week 14

If you had to describe your day as a traffic sign, what would it be?

Expect-Delays-sign

Is your hair short (total neck and ear showing), medium (covering ears and neck), long (below shoulders), extra long (at least halfway down your back) or bald?

Long, but falling out. Not far to go to achieve balding. It has something to do with anesthesia, surgery and stuff. It’s happened before. Maybe it’ll grow back. Meanwhile, I need a cute cap. I look good in caps.

When you are with your friends, do your interactions include much touching—for example, hugging, kissing, rough housing, rubbing backs? Would you like to have more of this? (Note: the answers may vary depending on where you live on this wonderful planet.)

Everyone is afraid to touch me right now. I’m afraid to touch myself. I think I’ll get over this eventually.

What do you feel is the most enjoyable way to spend $100?

Books (audio or Kindle) or something cool for the camera.

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

I made it through another one! It’s 2 weeks out of surgery and I’m almost human. Almost. Getting closer! I hope by the end of next week, I will be able to laugh without pain and sneeze without fear!

HAPPY BIRTHDAY GARRY ARMSTRONG!

Kind of a sucky day for your celebration. Even though I bought your present before I went into the hospital, I don’t feel like I’m doing enough, saying enough to tell you what you mean to me, which is everything. You’ve saved my life, literally and every other way. I wish there were enough words. Or at least more and better words.

happy birthday from google

You’ve earned, at the very least, a medal for grace under fire. Now, it’s your birthday. You deserve a lot more and better than I can give you right now. Maybe ever.

Happy birthday Baby. You should have traded me in for a model that actually works while I was still under warranty.

As each day wears on and everything starts to hurt, I know I have to struggle through another night and then one more day. Even though each day is a bit better than the previous one … it’s hard. If I was tired before the surgery; I’m depleted since. You have kept me alive, kept me going, put up with all my crap.

You look tired.

You deserve much better. I hope knowing how much I love you and appreciate you will partly compensate for this nightmare I’ve put you through.

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WAKE UP SLEEPY HEAD

Today marks a week back from the hospital. I’m not sure what I expected, but I’m pretty sure this wasn’t it. So much didn’t go the way I expected. A friend said it was like taking your car in for an oil change only to discover you need a new tranny. I needed a new tranny, timing chain, rear axle and electrical system.

How could I have failed to notice that the central system of my body wasn’t working? How did I miss that? I was short of breath, true. I had been gradually limiting my activities. I stopped driving. I passed on activities that involved more than very minimal walking … skipping stuff that required I go up and down my own stairs. Gradually, I chipped away at life until my “outside appearances” were few and far between.

I was tired. Not sleepy-tired. Weary. I attributed each lifestyle change to something. Asthma. Bursitis in my hips, arthritis in my back. Blow-back from cancer a couple of years ago. And, of course, the all-time best bucket explanation for anything and everything — getting older.

When I was first informed that my EKG showed “issues,” though the doctors didn’t seem to feel I needed to know exactly what the issues were (did they know?) — when finally all the cards were laid out, I felt blindsided. I had been keeping track of my heart, getting an evaluation and EKG every year. Suddenly, from “no problem” to “big problem”? Heart problems don’t usually just pop up out of the blue. I still don’t know and probably never will if this was a case of misdiagnosis or some weird medical event that went unnoticed amidst the myriad other health crises which have punctuated my last decade and a bit.

Do I blame my doctors? To a degree. For failing to promptly and clearly inform me of what was happening and for giving me terrible, medically unsound advice. If I had followed it, I’d be dead.

Expect-Delays-sign

What I expected

Cardiomyectomy (shaving down the overgrown muscle in the left ventricle that was stopping the flow of blood through the aortic valve, causing the mitral valve to work double-time. There was hope the mitral valve would self-repair if the aortic valve was unblocked. Surely, at most, the mitral valve would need repair, not replacement. (Ha!)

What I got

A cardiac catheterization, a totally disgusting, intrusive horrible test that requires you be awake — the absolutely last thing you want to be. Not like you get a choice.

The next day, the aforementioned cardiomyectomy, a bypass and a mitral valve replacement made from bovine tissue (thank you Bossy, wherever you may be).

Three-for-one. Woo hoo!!

But that’s not all, no-sirree. After another few days, when my heart refused to beat on its own (stubborn to the last), it was back to surgery for a pacemaker. Now everything in my world runs on batteries, including me. Sure hope those batteries keep going and going and going.

Waking up – Let the games commence!

Round one: They tried arousing me, but I woke up fighting, struggling. Apparently tried to deck the recovery nurse. I do not remember this, but I have no reason to doubt it. Under the circumstances I’m sure I wanted to deck someone. They put me back under for another 24 hours. They were protecting me and/or the nurse.

“Tough customer,” they said.

Round two: I heard Katy, my new recovery nurse calling me.

“Marilyn, wake up. You’ve had your heart surgery.”

“NO,” I said. Liar liar pants on fire. They were saying it was Friday, but I knew it was only Thursday. What’s more, I was in the middle of a word game and the letter “U” was missing. I could not wake up until I found it.

“Marilyn, you have to wake up.”

“NO I DON’T,” I said.

“Would you like to see your husband? Your friend?”

“NO.”

“You have to wake up. It’s time to wake up.”

“NO.”

Ultimately, I realized the letter “U” was a permanent loss and they were just going to keep annoying me until I stopped saying NO. So I opened my eyes. Instantly knew why I hadn’t wanted to wake up.

Question: How much pain can you be in and still live?

Answer: A lot.

Thus I reentered the world. Screaming in anger, pain, outrage and helplessness. I’m still screaming. Silently.

SUBLIME TO RIDICULOUS IN ONE EASY STEP

Daily Prompt: Linger

Right now, my entire life is one long linger. I am waiting for the other shoe, figuratively speaking, to drop. Waiting to be repaired. To be hurt, then to recover. I may not show the stress such waiting causes in any outward display (other than bad temper), but my dreams tell a story. Anxious dreams, wake-up-screaming dreams. All have one theme in common — events that are out-of-control.

Clearly, I read too much fantasy. The other night, I dreamed my real self was murdered by killing my shadow wraith which was roaming somewhere far distant from my flesh and blood self. I remember being surprised: I didn’t know you could shoot a wraith and have the attached body die. Dream and learn, eh? That isn’t Freudian — that’s literary.

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Last night was more mundane, closer to home. A friend of my daughter’s who seemed to have moved in (her friends never want to go home) realized her clothing was dirty, so she decided to wash it. By hand. Then leave the piles of soggy garments all over the house.

I was in the process of trying to corral the wet laundry before it destroyed the floors … and I woke up realizing, hey, it’s laundry day again.

Laundry

Caught as I am between chapters of my life, I find myself making strange (hilarious?) discoveries. Apparently when the plastic surgeon rebuilt my breasts (implants) following the double mastectomy a couple of years back, she used muscles as part of the construction. Factory-original breasts have no muscles. There are muscles on the chest wall and off to the sides, but real breasts are not designed for men to ogle but to feed babies. Milk production. Way back in the long-lost past, I had (for a few months) “working breasts.”

That was more than 45 years ago. Last night I discovered I can make my breasts do all kinds of things. I discovered those newly arranged muscles! Together and independently, the muscles work and since I’m healed from that surgery (finally, just in time for the next one), I can control them. Cool.

Fake breasts

This was a startling discovery. I stood in front of my mirror making my breasts dance and salute for quite a while. Then I came out of the bedroom and showed Garry who laughed, but for some reason, did not think making a video to post on YouTube (it might go viral!) of my new talent was a good idea. Spoil sport.

This is what happens when you are on a long intermission between life and life. You linger.

Of course, I’d make every attempt to linger anyhow. The single thing I really don’t want to end is my life. I want to live. Life is the ultimate event and I want to keep it going.

I’m lingering with enthusiasm and verve.

More Lingering:

  1. My pre-game Pre-Game | The Bohemian Rock Star’s “Untitled Project”
  2. Daily prompt: Linger | The Wandering Poet
  3. A Love Affair With Southern Italy | AS I PLEASE
  4. Home Sweet Home | Views Splash!
  5. Step by step | Le Drake Noir
  6. Daily Prompt: Linger | tnkerr-Writing Prompts and Practice
  7. Linger Longer… | Hope* the happy hugger
  8. Never fly solo | Perspectives on life, universe and everything
  9. If ever | Perspectives on life, universe and everything
  10. Love for lingering, drumming | Journey of a Culture Carrier
  11. Lingering longer | Sue’s Trifles
  12. The Trouble with Lingering | Wise Woman in Training
  13. Daily Prompt: Linger « cognitive reflection
  14. I see stars | littlegirlstory
  15. Linger At The Beach | Lisa’s Kansa Muse
  16. Lingering, all day today | sixty, single and surviving
  17. Linger | forgottenmeadows
  18. Not Wanting this Moment to End. Daily Prompt | Angela McCauley
  19. Linger | The Library Lady and Rosie Bear
  20. Daily Prompt: Linger | CHRONICLES OF AN ANGLO SWISS

UPDATE! ANOTHER DAY, ANOTHER DELAY

There are two classic ways to jinx yourself:

  1. Announce what you will never, ever do.
  2. Ask “What else could possibly go wrong?”

Of all the things I said I would never do, I never moved back home. Given the nature of my relationship with my father, this should be no surprise. My mother died more than 30 years ago and she was home. I think I would have slept in a doorway before staying with my father.

As for all the other things I was sure I would never do? I paid the high prices I said I’d never pay. I’ve had the surgeries I said I’d refuse. I’ve put up with behavior from loved ones I said I’d never tolerate, but they’ve put up with a large amount of crap from me. Fair is fair.

WHAT COULD POSSIBLY GO WRONG

These days, I modify all those “never” statements with “I hope I never have to …” because whenever I use the “never” word, I wind up feeling like a complete fool when I do exactly the thing I said I’d never do.

Words taste fine on the way out, but somehow, eating them is not so yummy. Moreover, saying “never” is daring Fate to nail your butt.

It’s the same as saying “What else could go wrong?” The very instant those words pass your lips, you can be sure you are going to get an answer to that question. And you are not going to like it.

So now, let’s move on to the news of the day. This is getting a bit repetitive and mildly embarrassing.

My surgery has been postponed again. Why? Because Beth Israel has a brilliant cardiac unit. And I guess March is heart failure month. They are backed up with emergencies. They have patients coming in on Medivac flights from California and other points south and west. Big emergencies that require multiple surgeons and take all day. And all the operating rooms are booked.

Expect-Delays-sign

I have been promised that I am “on” for Wednesday March 19th for the catheterization and Thursday March 20th for surgery. My surgeon personally promised I wouldn’t get bumped again. Except I know that if there are more emergencies they will take the emergencies and bump me again. And if I were one of those emergencies, I would want them to bump someone else and save my life. That’s what these guys do and that’s what they should do. It’s the price one pays for going to the premier cardiac hospital in the country. They take the cases no one else can handle.

So I’m back on hold. It’s a total pain in the butt and I can’t complain. But I want to complain. So okay. I’m complaining. I can’t make plans. I can’t go anywhere or do anything. All I can do is wait.

Funny about that because the one thing I have never been good at is waiting. I am impatient, permanently in a hurry. Perhaps this too is Karmic payback. I am learning that sometimes, I have to wait, whether I like it or not.

I’ll tell you one of the more interesting changes resulting from all this delay? Instead of dreading the surgery, I’m eager to get it done. Just so it’ll be over and I can start the business of recovery. I never would have expected this … but never say never, right?

RELATED POST (And where I got the idea how to write this post):

Never Say Never | Rosie Smartie Pants

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COLORS AT THE CROSSROAD

Daily Prompt: If You Leave

Photographers, artists, poets: show us CROSSROADS.

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At the crossroad, the intersection, you have to wait for the lights.

Red. Yellow. Green.

Yellow, the in-between look-both-ways color. Yellow is the color to make you wait then proceed cautiously.

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Red is stop. Don’t go. Dangers lie ahead. Wait until the light changes. If you go when the light is red, who knows what might happen? Will you wait? Or will you dash into traffic, heedless of the outcome?

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Green tells you it’s okay, that you are safe. But, are you safe? Just because the light is green and says you can continue on your way, it doesn’t tell you how your journey will turn out or warn you of other hazards.

Green is for going … but life is for living.

There are no colored lights along the road of life. Nothing to warn you of upcoming challenges. You’ll have to make your way on courage and faith.

Other entries:

  1. Daily Prompt & The Button (short story) | The Jittery Goat
  2. Dp Daily Prompt: If You Leave | Sabethville
  3. of last straws | Anawnimiss
  4. dulu dan nanti | The Frozen Tears
  5. Leaving | Attempted Human Relations and Self
  6. I’ve Had Enough of This Utah Place
  7. Daily Prompt: Break Ups | Cabernet In The Dark
  8. I’m a Writer, Yes I Am
  9. Beyond the horizon | MC’s Whispers
  10. Who Really DECIDES? | I’m a Writer, Yes I Am
  11. Harry Potter, Famous Dads and Stoke Newington | AS I PLEASE
  12. Dear John: a fictional letter | ALIEN AURA’S BlOG: IT’LL BLOW YOUR MIND!
  13. Daily Prompt: Leave an old and start a new! Can I ? | seikaiha’s blah-blah-blah
  14. Selbstständigkeit versus Festanstellung | Zeitarbeiterin
  15. when love appeared in a yellow brick road | kaleidoscope sparks of defiance
  16. DP: Leaving – Autumn by Ruswa Fatehpuri | aliabbasali
  17. We Gathered Yesterday | Exploratorius
  18. Daily Prompt: If You Leave « Mama Bear Musings
  19. Crossroads | Inks and Scribbles

GOLDEN WHAT?

Weekly Writing Challenge: Golden Years

When you think about retirement and “the golden years,” you probably think it means free time. After decades of deadlines, you can do what you want, when you want. Time to travel, time to sleep, time to be with friends. 

It doesn’t usually work out that way. As a start, though I’m not sure why, the minute you retire, you’re incredibly busy. Nature abhors a vacuum and your days fill up. Life becomes unexpected.

You will wonder how you ever had time to work a full-time job.

Old Number 2 -1

IF YOU DON’T DIE YOUNG YOU WILL GET OLD

Your friends get old and some move away. With luck, you’ve got friends and family near enough to visit easily. It’s a gift. But you can’t count on having the old gang in the neighborhood.

Enter email, Skype and social networking. I don’t care who invented the Internet. I’m just glad it exists.

ON THE ROAD AGAIN? OY.

If you are one of the lucky ones who have money and time, you may not have the energy or emotional fortitude to deal with the vicissitudes of modern travel. To put it succinctly, modern travel sucks. It’s not elegant or romantic. It’s hard work for which you pay.

On local roads ...

Travel used to be fun when I was young, but it’s been less fun with each passing year. Now, air travel’s a disgrace. Airports and security turn vacations into stress tests, nightmares in which strangers paw you and security personnel dismantle your luggage. There’s no choice if you’re want to go long distances or cross oceans; you have to fly. Good luck with that.

I love flying. If I had a private jet and could skip the airport, I’d travel. Silly me. If I had that kind of money, a lot of things would be different. Like pretty much everything. Never mind. Forget I said anything.

WHERE’S THE MONEY?

Retirement means a fixed income. Your “salary” stays the same forever, while prices don’t. It takes a while to come to grips with this. After you retire, you will never get a raise. Or a Christmas bonus.

You will never have more buying power than you do today. Time erodes the value of pensions. Younger people don’t get it, but they will someday. Their time will come and they won’t like it. No one does.

On the up side, you will find stuff to do that doesn’t cost much money. Museums and other public venues have senior rates the same as kid prices. Movie theaters have cheap afternoon rates as well as special showings of classic movies. Senior discounts are a big perk.

Never forget to take your senior discount! It’s the least they can for you do after all your years of hard work.

OH MY ACHING …

Most people don’t have as many problems as I do, but everyone has some physical issues. Old bodies wear out. Things hurt. Reflexes slow down. You aren’t as strong as you were. You tire more quickly. If you fall, you don’t bounce. You go splat.

It’s normal, but aggravating. If you’re smart, you adapt. Enjoy what your body can do and don’t waste your life fighting to be what you were — while missing the fun of being what you are.

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Buck up buckaroos. Getting older isn’t the worst thing that can happen to you. Consider the alternative.

You will have fun. You will adapt, accept limitations and enjoy life differently. Keeping an open mind helps. A sense of humor helps more.

NOT WORKING IS THE POT OF GOLD AT THE END OF THE RAINBOW

The golden-est part of the golden years is not working.

Not working is absolutely, unequivocally a most excellent thing. If only they would just keep sending checks. I don’t miss working, not for a minute, but I miss getting paid.

Our skills are better than ever. Creative artists and people in any field for which mental rather than physical prowess is required, get another chance. We blog, do charity work. Write books, take pictures, sculpt, paint. Design things. Create magnificent gardens. We are treasure troves of experience and knowledge should anyone choose to ask.

Friends

I’ve had a lot of fun recently. I’ve written stuff I like, taken pictures with which I’m pleased. Spent time with friends I love. Laughed until I cried and cried until I laughed.

Now I have to go get my heart rebuilt. Drat. It’s always something.

Other entries:

  1. Social Media has changed me | The Bohemian Rock Star’s “Untitled Project”
  2. Golden Years | Icezine
  3. Counting The Scars/ Weekly Writing Challenge | standinginthestorm
  4. Weekly Writing Challenge: The Golden Years | Mirth and Motivation
  5. Fearless Youth | the intrinsickness
  6. Golden Years | mnemosynesandlethe
  7. Weekly Writing Challenge: Golden Years | MythRider
  8. i am always looking | y
  9. nobody has said if | y
  10. Age is Just a Number | Random Words
  11. The Age of a New Season | Mary J Melange
  12. Stories From My Mind
  13. It is OK, I am here | jessicadafoe
  14. We’re Still Aging! | theeyelife
  15. Age isn’t defined by a number (unless you’re a minor…). | …Properly Ridiculous…
  16. Working Girl | Never Stationary
  17. Golden Years (DPChallenge) | Between Madness & Euphoria
  18. “Unforgotten” | Cosmic Heroism
  19. And Here We Are, Stuck Moving Forward | A Cool Glass of Lemonade
  20. Age is Just a Number –  Ha! Age is a Bunch of Numbers! | Once Upon Your Prime. . .
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INVENTORY, MEMORIES AND BRAIN FUEL

It’s going around. I’ve got it. Garry’s got it. My best friend is just getting over it. My son had it last week and my granddaughter got it and recovered in a couple of day. If you’re a teenager, you get a cold, feel cruddy for a few days, then you’re better. No biggie. 50 years later, it’s a different ball game.

“How do you feel?” I ask Garry. I can take a good guess but I’m obliged to ask because this is how I express concern. And how he knows I care.

“Lousy,” he says. Succinct, to the point. That’s why they paid him the big bucks for all those years.

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I remember when an inventory of bodily functions would pinpoint problem areas. I could assume everything else was fine, thanks for asking. Standing was one smooth movement, no grunting. I could eat anything that didn’t eat me first. I could (did) live on pizza and donuts with a side of diet Coke. It wasn’t healthy, but who cared?

We weren’t as obsessed with food as everyone seems to be these days. I doubt the current obsession with “healthy and natural” is going to make anyone live longer. Or forever, which is the underlying fuel for the obsession (beat death by eating healthy).

But we’re old school. We eat healthy because we like it. If we didn’t like it, we’d probably eat junk. It’s not a religion, just dinner.

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In my 50s, I hiked from the Stop and Shop to our apartment on Beacon Hill carrying 20 pounds of groceries in each hand without breaking stride or breathing hard. Thighs of iron. On days off in the summer, Garry and I walked from our apartment to the Commons, then strolled to the Public Gardens. Rode a swan boat then stopped for dinner. And rambled on home just pleasantly tired.

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I don’t want a younger brain (the body is another matter). I like my wise old brain, the way my thoughts dodge and weave through the mind’s object-linked file system. Each thought evokes a complete set of memories including pictures, music, smells and emotions. Whole experiences recreate themselves as the little electrical impulses fire. Good for you, old brain!

According to the AARP, coffee drinkers are 40% less likely to develop dementia than non-coffee drinkers. I drink a lot of coffee. I always knew it was the best brain fuel. Brew me another pot, would you?

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I AM A PEBBLE, LIFE IS A RIPPLE

I am a pebble. Drop me in the water and ripples spread along the surface, marking where my pebble began its descent. Then the water closes. The ripples vanish, leaving nothing to show where the pebble sank.

Unlike the pebble, I plan to resurface. I’m just not sure when, exactly.

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We all sign up for stuff with full intentions of fulfilling our obligations. But sometimes — often — life gets in the way of art. Shit happens. We have to adjust. Commitments and projects are set aside for later or for others to do. A lot of stuff I planned will have to go on without me for a while.

I like to think you will miss me, but I know the Internet is rich with bloggers, websites and news. It moves on. I’m just a pebble on that huge beach strewn with millions of rocks.

I follow a lot of you. I don’t always comment, but when you allow it, I leave a “like” as a calling card. Those of you who don’t accept “likes” do yourselves a disservice. Many folks — including me — don’t always have something to say. It doesn’t mean we didn’t like your post. Sometimes I just don’t have anything valuable to contribute. Other times, there are hundreds of comments in place which have covered the bases. I’m not going to add anything to the dialogue. If you let me click “like,” you will know I was there. If you don’t … well … your loss.

Now, about my site. Exactly how I’m going to keep it going while I’m recuperating, I don’t quite know. I know part of it. Garry will write more, Rich will pitch in more too. I’ll try to create some posts to go up when I’m not up to doing new material. I hope you won’t stop coming by. Rich and Garry are great writers and deserve your support, especially since they are supporting me on top of their other obligations.

For the blogs I follow,  everyone will be set to “no mail” until I’m well enough to deal with it. I’m afraid my inbox will explode otherwise. It will be bad enough with only bills and junk mail. When I think about how much could pile up in weeks and months … well, formidable doesn’t cover it. I will also set my scheduled posts to “no comment. “

You will still be able to leave a “Like” because I love knowing you visited. All of this is intended to keep my email from overwhelming Garry, who is going to have a lot on his plate. When I get back on the computer, I don’t want to be faced with thousands of notifications. I’ll just delete them en masse anyway. That’s what happens when I get back from vacations, too, and I always lose stuff I would I wanted. Don’t take it personally. It has everything to do with me and nothing to do with anyone else.

I have turned off a lot of stuff already and I don’t have time to do much visiting. I’m sorry about that. It’s become so much a part of my routine to go and see what all of you are doing … but there’s no more time.

I’ll turn off the rest shortly. I need to use what time I have to get things in order. There’s lots still to do. The time has come to get my house in order, literally and figuratively.

If this is leaving you puzzled because you missed part one of my ongoing medical drama, you can click the link and read THE HEART SURGERY UPDATE

CYNICAL ECCENTRICITY: THEY WILL THANK US SOMEDAY

DAILY PROMPT: QUIRK OF HABIT

Cultivating Eccentricity by Alienorajt

Cultivating an air (or even a full-blown hurricane) of eccentricity should be absolutely de rigueur, in my opinion – especially in those of us past the first flush of youth but still this side of the grave. And, frankly, the more bloody irritating the better! What’s the point in having quirks, foibles and disgusting habits if you don’t use them to shock, embarrass and annoy your loved ones? Wicked waste of talent!

I read this and thought “By George, she’s got it!”

After a certain age, charm is a waste of time. Being nice to people just gets you ignored and classified as a “harmless old lady,” which is far beyond annoying and ventures in the realm of things that make me go psycho.

Being odd is annoying, but properly applied, it is an equal opportunity irritant. Blurting out non sequiturs at the dinner table …. particularly pungent and slightly risqué non sequiturs … can liven up those boring family dinners. It will, at the very least, cause the teenage grandchildren to blush and stop texting for a few moments. Your own adult children will say cool stuff like “MOM, please!”

I don’t know what “MOM, please!” really means. Please what? “Throw me another line?” “Hey, Mom, got any more witticisms up your wrinkled old sleeve?”

Whatever it means, at least, they temporarily lose the attitude that you are an encumbrance to their youthful coolness. So I say go for it! We’ve lived awhile. We have stories to tell. Our kids and grandkids think they are ultra cool. We know they are just too young to get it. They haven’t been whacked over the head by life as much as we have and thus haven’t achieved the requisite degree of cynicism needed to survive “sliding down that razor blade of life.”

We’re doing them a favor. Someday, they will thank us.

RELATED ARTICLES:

DAILY CRISES WITH MUSICAL ACCOMPANIMENT

Is it just me? Do you ever feel like Fate is playing Whack-A-Mole with your life?

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Seriously. That’s how I feel. As if the moment I get my head out of a hole, whack. Bam. Socko. If indeed the gods hold my fate, they have a bizarre sense of humor. They  just wait for me, paddles at the ready.

There’s always a crisis in the wings. I try not to get into a lather about each because many things resolve given a bit of time. But good grief. Why does life have to be a constant siege? It’s not like I’m going to become complacent or lose my edge without a prod.

So, to take the edge off, how about a little music? Found some neat tracks that maybe you haven’t heard before — Carole King with James Taylor, and Paul Simon with James Taylor and George Harrison (SNL). Both are live tracks.

I’m hoping for a lull between storms. A nice, boring, unexciting, crisis-free interval during which I can catch up on my sleep, my reading and breathe. I’d like to look up and see the sky … not a giant sword about to descend. Is that too much to ask?

And the heavens answer saying: “OY!”

LIFE IN REAL TIME

When I was little, I had imaginary playmates. I talked to them. They followed me around. I was never bored because I had friends who really understood me. After I started school, my shadow friends left, never to return. Instead, I got a narrator who has been my lifetime companion. Whatever has gone wrong in my life, I suggest you blame in on the narrator. It’s all his fault.

“Narrator?” you ask. Before you decide I’m schizophrenic, a lot of writers have one or more narrators. I understand the narrator is my voice. He has just one story to tell. Mine. My job is to live. His is to tell the tale. His is the eye that sees all but isn’t involved. He witnesses — but causes nothing, changes nothing, makes no suggestions except to correct grammar. I wish he were a better proofreader.

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My narrator does not instruct, chastise or judge. He records, remembers and fills in the back story. I’m in charge except I can’t get him to shut up. He gives me a third person perspective on my life. I’m so used to hearing the running commentary, I don’t know how else I could see the world. I’ve grown fond of the old guy.

There are narrators and then, there are narrators. You can get into serious trouble if you forget the narrator is you, not an “other” entity. Should you find yourself listening to a narrator who is telling you to blow things up or kill anyone, you might want to drop by someone’s office for a little chat. Just saying. Of course if you know it’s God talking to you, who am I to interfere?

Through the years, the narrator has filled the holes in my life story, adding “He said, she said,” describing action and scenery, “novelizing” reality. I have grown fond of my narrator and wish he could type. It would save me so much work. A couple of years ago, the narrator left for a while. It was a particularly turbulent period, so maybe the noise in my head was too loud and I couldn’t hear him. Eventually, he came back. There a correlation between when I’m writing and the narrator. If he’s gone, so is my creativity.

The narrator is distracting and I have had to learn to not let him derail me. He does not respect the moment. A running commentary in one’s head during sex makes it difficult to focus. Men take this personally and trying to explain always makes it worse. They then think you are not merely disinterested, but also nuts.

A narrator can take the fun out of parties. You have to make an effort to participate, not just observe. With the narrator describing the surroundings and each person, occasionally arguing with other narrators (sometimes I have more than one), it’s tricky to connect with people. When narrators argue, I have to step in, settle the dispute, tell all but one to shut up. Problem is, there’s more than one way to see stuff and when a lot of points of view clamor for attention, it gets noisy in the brain-space. It can keep you up at night. It can keep your partner awake too

I’ve learned a lot from my narrator. I’ve learned to see life as an endless story with chapters, back stories, weird incidental characters, tragedy, romance, hope and despair. My job is to live it and not forget to write it down. And fix the typos.

BRAINWAVE: IT SEEMED LIKE A GREAT IDEA AT THE TIME

What’s the best idea you’ve ever had? Regale us with every detail of the idea — the idea itself, where it came to you, and the problem it solved.

Photographers, artists, poets: show us BRIGHT.

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FREE OR AT LEAST VERY CHEAP

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The best thing about retirement is not working. It may sound obvious, but not as much as you think. Not these days when many people either start a new career when they “retire,” or need to take some kind of crappy job to supplement social security which isn’t enough to live on.

There are plenty of other life changes that come with retirement. Not working is only one of them, but it’s my favorite. Pity it means giving up a steady paycheck, but if you can do it … not working is wonderful. It’s particularly wonderful for those of us who have hobbies and never had the time to pursue them while we worked.

After you stop working, you never know what you will be doing in the future, but you know what you won’t be doing.

You won’t be slaving long hours for an unappreciative boss.Getting up at the crack of dawn to scrape ice from the windshield. Driving 60 miles through bumper-to-bumper traffic to be restless and bored for 10 hours. Then getting back in the car and driving another sixty miles in the other direction in the dark when you’re already beat. You may well be perpetually short of money, but you won’t be fighting traffic or grinding your teeth wondering if you’re going to get dumped for a younger, cheaper worker. Discover your job’s been eliminated to improve someone’s bottom line.

You never have to call in sick again, not because you are really sick or if you need a day to take care of a child, business, or just a day off.

Ever learn you’ve lost your job by reading the headlines in the newspaper? I did. Twice. It takes the savor out of that morning brew.

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Retirement is the good part of being older. It’s the payoff. You get to own your life. For most of us, it’s the first time we’ve been free.

When you’re a child, everyone owns you. Parents, teachers, strangers. You have to be clever, sneaky and lucky to get to do what you want. Then you go to college and work — often both at the same time — and your boss and professors own you. Deadlines, time clocks and ambition drive you  onward to goals you believe will make you happy. Maybe they will — for a while. Then again, maybe not as much as you thought or hoped.

You marry. Have children. And find yourself treading water in an ocean of obligations and responsibility. Children are a lifelong committment. Long after your legal responsibility ends, your emotional responsibility continues. You want to be there for your kids, then your grandkids. That’s the way it should be.

If you don’t have to work while you do it? It’s better. Much better. Did you know half the kids in the U.S. are being raised by grandparents? Parents are busy with work or whatever — unable, unwilling or unfit — to raise their own.  There are lots worse things that can happen to a kid than being raised by gramps and gran, but many of us find ourselves reliving the parenting years just when we though we’d finished with all that. Being retired makes parenting much less stressful.  You get to stay home. You aren’t imprisoned by commuting and The Schedule. You can finally take a trip to the zoo, help with homework. Play a game, talk about life. There’s time for fun, not just work.

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If you aren’t taking care of grandchildren? You have the gift of time and it’s no small thing. Be a blogger. Be a photographer. Sleep late. Stay up till the wee hours watching movies, reading, writing the novel you always wanted to write but never had time. Rediscover music. Join a choir. Retired people are busy people. I’ve been retired for quite a while and I have yet to be bored.

Do I miss work?

I miss the salary. Every once in a while, I miss the camaraderie of a good office environment. But most offices weren’t all that great. Many were thoroughly unpleasant.

I served my time. Whatever I have left, long or short, belongs to me and mine.

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WHEN DID I GROW UP?

When I was in my late twenties, we had a couple of friends who were in their 50s. One day I asked Betty at what point she felt “grown up.” By then, I was working full-time as a writer. I never worked professionally as anything else — I was always an editor, writer or both. I was raising a son, taking care of a home and had been married for more than ten years (married at 18).

At the Hall of Fame, September 2013

At the Hall of Fame, September 2013

Betty looked at me and said “I’ll let you know.”

When I was a child, I wondered when I would feel grown up. Through all my working years, I never entirely lost the feeling I was only pretending to be an adult. I did adult things, had adult responsibilities. I was a mother, in charge of making my son into a responsible citizen … but I felt like a child wondering when the world would discover I was a fraud.

It turned out getting older and having a child made me responsible, but it didn’t make me mature. I continued to wait for someone to see through me and realize I was really just a kid, playing adult games.

Now, I’m a senior citizen. We live on social security and pensions and barely scrape by. How ironic that we finally feel grown up. I don’t know exactly when it happened. It just slipped by and I never noticed. It took getting old to get it done. Now, finally, we have no one to depend but each other. More of our lives are behind us than ahead of us. We no long feel like frauds, pretending to know what we are doing. We actually know what we are doing and we don’t like a lot of it.

What comes with the package? We are impatient with the angst of the young. I listen and try not to show my restlessness, try not to say what I’m thinking, which is “Oh puleeze! Get over it. Move on!” I have zero interest in gossip, fashion, current trends in anything other than history or philosophy. I’m still interested in politics, but my perspective is very different. I’m far more cynical than I ever imagined possible.

I like my dogs better than most people. I don’t miss parties and don’t worry about being popular. The only people whose opinions matter to me are my few really good friends and some of my family.

I am not anyone I recognize anymore, but you couldn’t pay me to be young again. I would love the body and physical health of youth, but not the brain. Yikes. Imagine suffering through high school again! Root canal sounds better!