AWESOMELY AUTHENTIC – Marilyn Armstrong

At a certain point in life — some people call it old and the rest of us call it “wow, I’m still alive!” — you become authentic. You are really real. Naturally awesome. Totally chilled. You are you

From that point on, you lose the choice of wearing a false face. The faces you needed while you worked, while you “faced your public” — if what you did involved facing “the public.” Garry could no more be a reporter now than I could put on my Working Face or for that matter, remember the millions of details I used to keep in my head.

If I had been the natural authentic “me” at work, I’d never have made it through a job long enough to collect the first paycheck.

Especially those of us who worked in a strictly corporate world, the last thing we could be was authentic — unless we were born in a tailored suit and always talked like a TV-series lawyer.

I suppose what most people mean when they say we are authentic is that we are “natural.” No façade. No game face. We aren’t pretending for the camera or the boss. We are being ourselves for good or ill. Mostly, I think it’s good. Purely opinion, however.

Professional work rarely suggests we be “us.” We are whatever we need to be to “make the grade” professionally. Those of us that never manage to find the right façade generally don’t “make it” to the upper echelons of the work we do.

I was good at The Face for about three months. My first three months at any job, I was perfect. It was exhausting. I even attended meetings! The worse job I ever had was as management when I had to hold the meetings. There was no one I could call to point out I was too busy to make it.

After those three carefully guarded months, I relaxed. Bit by bit. Otherwise, I couldn’t do my job. I became more insistent that others do what they should so I could manage my part of the task. If my first three months didn’t impress them, I was doomed. That was the most “not me” I had to offer.

I was not a good corporate player. The bigger and more formal the organization, the less well I fit into it. I wanted to fit in, mainly because I wanted the better salary and benefits, but mostly, that wasn’t enough.

I was impressed at how Garry had two different personalities for home and work.  His professional game face was not the one he brought home at night. The only truly consistent feature was his temper. If you got him really mad enough, well … you got what you paid for.

Garry gets his first look at the actual award.

These days, as we age, we are about as real, natural and authentic as humans can get. If by now we aren’t real, we never will be. The best part of aging is becoming yourself all the time.

It doesn’t mean you have to be rude, crude, or mean. Just that you don’t have to pretend any more. What a relief!

NOT KILLING THE PHEASANT – Marilyn Armstrong

We had a rifle. It was my first husband’s rifle. It took just one bullet at a time since it was really a competition rifle. It wasn’t intended to do anything but hit targets. Paper targets.

It was a very pretty gun, though and my son still has it. He keeps it clean and oiled, but I don’t think it has been loaded in more than 20 year. Maybe more.

One of my last photos developed in the darkroom, the wood-stove in the camp in Maine

We used to take that rifle with us up to Maine where we went camping. We didn’t build the site. It belonged to a friend of my husband’s parents. It was a big, open one room cabin with six beds stacked up on one wall with ladders to get to the upper ones.

There was an old Home Atlantic wood stove that was the absolutely easiest and most effective wood stove I’ve ever used. There was a gas range and gas lamps. No electricity when we were there, though it did arrive later and along with it, came pollution as people emptied their washing machines into the lake. All that grey water ended up killing many of the large mouthed bass and driving away the loons.

But this was before electricity, when everyone lived quietly without loud music and no washing machines. We did have a weather radio that ran on batteries.

One day, it was time to “go hunting.” This meant taking the rifle and a handful of bullets. Nailing a paper plate to a fir-tree, then killing the paper plate. And there we were, killing that plate deader than dead.

Along came the pheasant. He walked slowly up to the tree where we had nailed the target plate. He stood there. And waited.

A long argument ensued. Should we shoot the pheasant? We could eat it, right? Except no one had any idea how to clean a pheasant. Or even pluck one. And what if we shot it, but it didn’t die? Would someone be willing to shoot it again?

No one was willing to shoot it in the first place, much less twice.

My version of caged birds

Another long consultation. After which, we all got together and virtually pushed the stupid pheasant into the woods. He didn’t want to go. For some reason — you’d have to ask the pheasant what he was thinking — he wanted to hang out with us. We were, apparently, more interesting than his usual crowd.

When finally we convinced him to go away and please, don’t come back, we packed up the gun, gave up on targets, picked a few more blueberries and had fresh corn and blueberry pancakes for dinner.

No pheasant that night — or any other night. Just not our thing.

And this is why arming teachers to shoot the guys with assault weapons is such an incredibly stupid idea. I bet none of the teachers could shoot the pheasant either.

See it on Sue Vincent’s site!

CONVERSATIONS WITH MY HUSBAND – BY ELLIN CURLEY

 

THE TOILET SEAT

ME Honey, you left the toilet seat up AND you didn’t flush!

TOM – I know. I did it on purpose.

ME – What? Why would you do that?

TOM – Easy. Because I knew I was going to have to blow my nose after I took my shower.

ME – What does that have to do with anything?

TOM – Because if I wait to flush until after I’ve blown my nose, I only have to flush once, instead of twice. I’m saving water.

ME – Why don’t you put the seat down and flush after you use the toilet. Then throw your used tissue into the wastebasket.

TOM – (SILENCE)


PAPER TOWELS

TOM – Why do you leave used paper towels lying around in the kitchen? Why don’t you throw them out?

ME – Because I can use them again. I’m saving paper.

TOM – You can’t use paper towels over again! That’s the whole point of DISPOSABLE paper towels. They’re disposable!

ME – That’s ridiculous! You can use regular towels again if they’re not too dirty. So why can’t you do the same with paper towels?

TOM – Because I don’t want to have to look at dirty paper towels on the kitchen counter.

ME – Okay. I’ll hide them so you don’t have to look at them.

TOM – I guess that works.

ME – (Sigh) Now I just have to remember where I put them.


TRASH TALK

ME – Tom, please take the garbage out. The bag is overflowing, as usual.

TOM – Damn it! I hate dealing with these overstuffed garbage bags! Garbage is falling out everywhere! This is ridiculous.

ME – Then why don’t you just empty the garbage one of the first three times I ask you to. BEFORE it starts to overflow.

TOM – Where’s the challenge in that?

WORLD SHARING COMES AGAIN … Marilyn Armstrong

SHARING THE WORLD

List things or events that changed your life?

This is a strange question. I’ve lived 71 years. The number of events that have changed my world are … literally … countless. From learning to stand, to learning to read. To learning to love furry creatures, to discovering the woods and the sky.

Moving along and learning that I want to know everything. Discovering I’ll never be a math genius, but knowing I can write. Painting. Photography. What’s wrong with one marriage and what’s right with another.

Discovering quiet and being alone.

Recognizing that I can’t do the things I did, but I can do other things I never thought I could do. Life is a long pattern of discoveries and each changes your life. From tiny changes, like a new way to lace your shoes or brush your teeth, to realizing that you never will know “the meaning of life” unless you agree that 42 will do it for you.

Playing the piano. Struggling with guitar. Falling in love with computers.

Piano lessons

All the books you read, all the thoughts they put in your head. All the things you write and the pictures you take. I don’t think there’s one single thing that changed my world. There were millions of things that changed it. And, with a little luck, there will be millions more yet to come.

Complete this sentence: Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No it’s… 

Mom? How did you get up there?

What genre of music do you like?

I like music with melody, rhythm, and when possible, words I can remember. I don’t like rap or “hard rock” which to me just sounds like noise. To be fair, this isn’t recent. I always felt like that about it, even when I was a whole lot younger.

My favorite piece of music is Beethoven’s 6th Symphony, The Pastoral.

Second favorite (at the moment): Pancho and Lefty.

What did you appreciate or what made you smile this past week? 

Finally getting antibiotics and discovering this morning I can breathe without making that hideous bubbling sound. This is a better morning!