SO I LOOKED DEATH IN THE EYE AND SAID “SCREW IT” – Marilyn Armstrong

FOWC with Fandango — Routine


Since November 2016, I’ve developed something of a routine. I open my email and usually spot about 150 new ones added to the older ones I’m planning to get to any day now (right, sure). Mixed in with the advertisements for things I might sometimes actually buy, are dozens of “news flashes” along with politicians begging for money.

First, I delete all the advertisements unless one of them has something I need. Then, I delete all the advertisements for companies I’ve never heard of, unsubscribing and “spamming” them as I go. Sometimes, I stop and actually read an article. Today I read one about the final days (we assume they are final or nearly final because he is 95) of Stan Lee and what a mess his life became in recent years.

This proved to me that no amount of money and fame can perfect your time on earth. It’s his money and fame that’s causing most of the problems — the issues of the will and who took what and when. It was a long interview which would have been easier, but Stan Lee is deaf and won’t wear hearing aids. I can really relate to that.

He’s obviously just a wee bit lost from reality, but I suspect that’s the way he wants it. He does not want to reconnect. There’s nothing for him anymore. When his wife of 70-years passed, that was the end for Stan, if not physically, then psychically.

It got me to thinking about age. Stan Lee is 19 years older than Garry and 24 years older than me. He has it all or at least everything that “the world” can give you — and maybe it made him happy. Before. Now though, it’s just a reason for everyone to fight with everyone else. When large amounts of money are involved, it can get ugly.

When we go, the only things that will be left are paintings, pottery, antique dolls and a ton of clothing that for all I know will have come back into style. And of course, books, DVDs and CDs. There won’t be a dime left for anyone to fight over. The house is more likely to be a burden than a boon, but who knows? The world keeps changing. Maybe 2-1/2 acres in Uxbridge will be worth something by then. You could certainly put a fair number of condos on the property and there’s a lot of water down there for wells.

I realized I really only have one important job left in this world which is making our lives — Garry’s and mine — as good as possible. It isn’t to repair a badly broken world or shine the light of reason on a society gone mad.

Between one thing and another, I’ve had an incredibly hard-luck run of health issues. I’m not going to bother to list them, but it’s remarkable I’m alive … and even more remarkable that, to the best of my knowledge, nothing is trying to kill me at the moment.

Photo: Garry Armstrong

This past couple of years, except for pain and discomfort which sort of comes as part of other issues, I’ve managed to not have to be in the hospital. I haven’t had a near-death experience, gotten pneumonia or any other contagious infection. For me, this is nothing short of remarkable.

Instead, I got trumped. We all got trumped and amazingly, some people seem to think that’s a good thing. Those people make me wonder if we are all living on the same planet. Maybe we aren’t. Have we considered the possibility that there is more than one reality and we live in one and they live in the other?

Maybe where they live, gravity pulls things up and death and destruction is what we are striving for.

Photo: Garry Armstrong

All of this has given me a migraine I can’t get rid of — and the distinct feeling that I should DO something about it. Somehow, crotchety old me has got to fix things. Not alone. I don’t think I’m a force a nature to redress the balance of the world but surely, along with a group of intelligent, right-minded people, we can make things better?

That’s not what’s happening, though. After this past week of watching America puke all over herself, I’ve begun to seriously consider the possibility I’ve got this situation entirely wrong.

I’m turning 72 this year and while I realize as ages go, this is not as old as people get, it’s nothing short of amazing for me. The nightmare of politics is ruining my world. Instead of enjoying being retired, I have nightmares about Republicans. Honest-to-God nightmares populated by people wearing MAGA hats.

It occurred to me I can’t keep going like this. I’m ruining the only thing we have going for us: freedom. Every time the news comes on, I froth at the mouth.

Why? Am I so attached to “the American ideal” — which has always been far from ideal — that I have to battle my way into my coffin? Is all this so that my son and granddaughter, who don’t seem to care all that much about the stuff going on merely shrug and accept what is — while I can’t? If the next generation or two isn’t the issue, what is the issue?

Why aren’t they in an uproar, screaming for a better America, a rational world? Is it possible that this is more important to me than to those who will live long past me? And they are not nearly as troubled by what they see as I am? Mind you I’m not trashing the whole generation. Some people are deeply troubled and trying to do something and I applaud them … but too many people don’t seem to care.

I decided I need to stop my routine and get into a different groove. I’m not giving up watching the news or caring about what happens. I couldn’t if I wanted to. It’s everywhere. Yet I did realize in another 20 years, I’ll be gone — or close enough. This isn’t my battle anymore. I feel like everything I believed my generation got right is being trashed.

It’s horrible. Shameful. Appalling. Humiliating.

And I can’t fix it. If the people who are going to be around in 20 or 30 years aren’t willing to put up a fight, then what’s the point? If they think this is okay, maybe it is. For them. Maybe the world I thought we needed isn’t what they care about. Maybe it’s just what I care about.

Photo Garry Armstrong

So I will not be frothing anymore. I’m sure I’ll occasionally work up a good rant when something particularly toxic is going on, but otherwise? I’ll vote like I’ve always voted: Democrat and Liberal. I will donate tiny bits of what we humorously call money to a cause, but mostly, I’m going to try really hard to take care of me and mine. I’m going to do my best to make Garry happy, to make me happy, to love my dogs and care for my home and remember to clip back the roses every spring.

The prettiest pink shrub

The flowers in the garden bring me joy. Reading a good book makes me happy. Writing something good gives me satisfaction. Garry’s hearing progress is making me feel better about his life as well as mine. So instead of trying to fix the world, I think I’m going to try to enjoy it.

With all the horrors surrounding me, I’m going to do the absolute best I can to enjoy our lives while we have lives to enjoy. I may not entirely succeed, but at least, I’m going to try.

Author: Marilyn Armstrong

Writer, photography, blogger. Previously, technical writer. I am retired and delighted to be so. May I live long and write frequently.

34 thoughts on “SO I LOOKED DEATH IN THE EYE AND SAID “SCREW IT” – Marilyn Armstrong”

  1. Well written although European problems differ with the politicians, but the condition of the world remains for all of us. But I also came to the conclusion this week that I am still alive, be it with or without wheelchair and I am feeling OK, no pain, just a little frayed at the edges now and again, but life goes on and I am determined to continue. I was at the monthly market this afternoon and a lady in her wheelchair passed my wheelchair. We stopped. She noticed I had a camera and she also had one and we both go on wheelies taking photos. I need not go on about the conversation we had: a chance meeting but so much in common.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m finding that I have a lot more in common with people our age than younger folks. They have such a different world — and a completely different outlook. I just decided that this — retirement — is the reward I get for all those years of work. If I don’t let myself enjoy it, what was the point?

      I noticed that my doctor wrote on my chart that I am suffering from “weakened knees.” That was news to me. My back has gotten REALLY bad and it’s making sleep very difficult. If I can find something that helps the back not hurt so much, life would improve dramatically!

      Liked by 3 people

      1. Lots of food for thought here. Hope I don’t get into trouble with my rambling responses.

        – I know I leave much to be desired as the spouse who supposedly shares the burden of financial, medical and maintenance up keep. Deep flaws in my character. They were probably hidden or out of sight-out of mind during my long tenure as a bachelor. I’m sure not “The ideal husband” and never claimed to be. I yam what I yam. I’ve tried to improve in some areas but I’m a major work in progress. At age 76 plus, I don’t think the work will be satisfactorily finished but I’ll try.
        We had some conversation about this today but I’m not sure Marilyn heard what I said. What did I say?

        – Our life style has changed from our working years. We’re one of the ump-teen million elderly couples living on a fixed income with zero margin for error. It is what it is. We’re fabulous compared to others in our age group. That doesn’t improve our lot. It’s just perspective.

        – I thought, after 40 plus years of dealing with the scumbags of the world – up close and personal – That I could distance myself, no longer having mic and camera and fighting the good fight. All that changed with the obnoxious squatter in the White House. He can’t be ignored, The collateral damage grows every day. I am hopeful we can begin to turn things around with the midterms. I still have faith despite the cynicism in my DNA.

        I can’t quite fathom the aches and pains of old age. I don’t think of myself as old – despite repeated warnings from my body. I ignore the mental red lights that age 80 is approaching faster than I would like to acknowledge. In my brain, I’m still a young Pilgrim with years to explore.

        – The unexpected joy from my recent cochlear implant surgery is..is…miraculous. I can hear..really hear for the first time in my life. I haven’t fully internalized this miracle yet. It’s the equivalent and more of winning an Oscar as best actor or the World Series as a long frustrated ball player. It’s YIPPY-KY-YAY.

        So, there you have it. If the Red Sox can somehow win another World Series, I’ll sing “76 Trombones” For various reasons.

        – 30 –

        Liked by 2 people

  2. With you all the way, Marilyn! Our country and our world seem to be on the precipice of destruction, while the younger generations spin their webs in apathetic content. All we can do now is look out for us and that in itself will be formidable undertaking. I’m not giving up on the greater good, just feeling alone and disappointed.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s exactly how I feel. And this is our reward for having worked so hard. To let it be ruined like this is just stupid. We won’t get this time back. This is as good as it is going to get for us, so we might as well enjoy it.

      Liked by 3 people

  3. I used to tease everyone, “no one told me ageing would be like this” but the reality is, it is like this. With each passing day the aches become more or more intense, our brain engages (no one wants to listen because you’re old, what do you know?) and we froth at the mouth over the things we cannot change and want to weep at the complacency surrounding us when we once stood tall and fought for what was right. I realize times are crazy, ppl are working longer hours, more hours, overtime hours to make ends meet, to keep a roof over their families head and feed and clothe them. The mouse in the wheel is racing faster and harder and getting nowhere. Worse yet, too often I witness people struggling when others could step up and help, nothing major, just a little assistance with something another cannot quite accomplish, but “it’s not my thing, it’s not my problem” comes into play. I’m only interested in what affects me directly and what I want to do. In my day we called that “me-ism” and it had taken over. Did I miss something, did the “me-ism” disappear for a time, and now it’s back full force and worse? Just wondering!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I wish I had answers. I really don’t understand how we went from having a potentially great country making some real social progress to this cesspool. we are now living in Overnight, no less. But the reality it — we ARE old. The ones who need to hear us are not listening and in the end, we have maybe another 25 years? Maybe? Then we are gone. We can offer advice if asked, but it’s not our fight anymore. I’m just itching for the fight, but I don’t have a lot of years ahead of me and I want to enjoy the time I’ve got. Enjoy them with the people I love while THEY are alive, too. Maybe it IS time to realize it’s not our world anymore. And maybe that’s the way it should be.

      I still do what I can when I can, but this isn’t the world in which I grew up. It’s another universe.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I agree with you, all of it. I just turned 72 and I am certainly jealous of that beautiful garden you have. Autumn is my favorite season. I try not to watch or read news that does get me very upset, but I feel guilty if I dont. Enjoy your home, beautiful flowers and your husband!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. That’s always been my take on life — to tend to my own little corner of the world, and let the rest of society take care of itself. I simply don’t have the capacity to fix everything, so I focus on me and mine and hope the ripples spread from here. Here’s to hoping that you can settle into the groove and enjoy your retirement in relative peace.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Getting old is bad enough, but having your country explode like this is a bit much. But, you know, the world isn’t waiting for me to come and repair it. I’m coming to understand that whatever power I had has dwindled and those that HAVE the power aren’t interested in what I’ve got to say. Pity about that, but talking to myself has never really worked out all that well. I might as well move on and enjoy life.

      Liked by 2 people

  6. That is another reason why your writing is so important Marilyn. By talking about all things our generation went through and the changes you fought for, you let the present generation realize that things can change and they may have to fight for it. Without this information they will tend to normalize things the way they are now and feel nothing can be done about it.
    Leslie

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I mostly think we are all talking to ourselves and each other. I do not think the younger ones are listening, even those who have the most to gain from understanding that EVERY generation has to fight for the world they want. And you know what? We can’t make them hear us.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. someone this morning wrote on his blog that the current conditions were making him sick, and he needed to do something about it.
    I don’t know what any of us can ‘do’, since we aren’t wealthy, pollitically placed, or influential. We all feel the need to do something, but there’s not an effing thing that will help, beyond voting once in November. And even this is only a vote for a few people who may or may not get in, and may or may not be useful.

    I know one thing, lady, watching the news and biting your fingers only gives you agita and awful looking fingers. We don’t have TV and while my husband absorbs every bit of what goes on on the computer, I literally put in ear plugs when his favorite politician appears.

    Yes, Im sick about it, but in a way it’s like watching a horrendous highway accident. I had a friend who when she went by one of those would drive as slowly as she could to see if she could spot blood, or body parts, or dismembered dolls…this is one of those highway accidents, and it’s no longer up to us to make it better. I wish it were.

    I remember the sit ins and the protests and the outrage over VietNam and the Kennedy assassinations, and Martin Luther King, the race riots and the 60s in general. It was an amazing, terrifying time, and I knew even then there wasn’t a thing I could do that would help.

    Someone younger, stronger, and more skilled will have to do it, and I think our job is to stay out of the way of it all and hope no one notices us.

    When my mother was in her 80s and still in her own home, she called me one night in the middle of an ice storm, totally distraught because the icicles on the front of the house were, um, on the front of the house. She was afraid those pillars of ice were going to fall off (not bloody likely) and rip off the roof. She wanted me to go out in the ice storm and take those icicles off the roof. I told her it just wasn’t physically possible. She got furious and the last thing she said was, “well at least you could come over here and help me worry!” and slammed down the phone. I feel about that way now. All we can do is help each other worry.

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    1. That’s why suddenly I realized — this is not my fight. Not this time. Those who will live on in this world, if they want a different world they will have to make it so. I will write and when I have something to say, I’ll say it but the constant sense of indignation and rage has to go. I can’t live with it and I guess I finally realized that I don’t have to.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. I’m very happy to hear you have made that conscious decision. Your life (at your time of life) SHOULD be a blessed thing, not the on-going crap fest we’re handed every day as ‘normal operating procedures’. Today I ventured to my old stomping ground of Salt Lake City and frankly am now so depressed by what I saw there that I’m having trouble seeing any good in anything. My point is that we have to try to see the beauty, especially now, because there is so much ugly to literally be seen. You SHOULD enjoy your life…your dogs, your husband (treasure him and your relationship dearly…too many of us out here wish we’d gotten half as lucky in love), your gorgeous nature all around. The fact that you have somewhere warm to sleep, and enough food, and just enough money (presumably…I KNOW the month exceeds the money for myself, and I presume that others in my situation suffer the same way) to pay our bills and keep that wolf off our doorstep. Today I saw a dozen or more that do not have even those simple few gifts…we take ’em for granted too often I think…those out there living in tarp covered cardboard boxes or a flimsy tent (and it’s wicked cold in Utah, gonna get worse too…at least it hasn’t snow yet) would no doubt see our simple lives as luxurious beyond imagination. Ah. Thanks for continuing to write and add your wisdom and words to a world that to me has gone mad. It just doesn’t make much sense any more. You’re a beacon. Thank you!

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    1. I can do what I can do, which is write what I think about an issue, but I can’t let it take over my life. I didn’t vote for this guy or ANY of these people and I’m not going to use up what might be the last years of my life trying to fix what I didn’t break. It just took me this last week to see it — for the first time — as not my circus and effectively, not my monkeys. I want the world to be better. I want us to stop polluting our planet and our laws and each other … but I also want to live and enjoy life. It’s the only one I’ve got!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Bingo. It isn’t giving up, or giving in, it’s knowing where your own personal line in the sand is. All the agonizing over ‘what if” and “OMG” won’t change anything.
        Life is too short. Eat cake instead. Really.

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        1. I think it’s the only thing left to do. I don’t think I’m talking to people who are changing their mind for me. More like I’m preaching to the choir. Which is okay, up to a point, but after that, I can’t hang onto the illusion that I’m changing anyone’s mind. We are living in a world where everyone’s mind is made up, regardless of facts or evidence and I suspect that is true for both sides. The almost no wiggle room. I suspect the best thing I can do is remind people that we really NEED to vote because if we can at least change the house, we will have accomplished something … which is better than what I think we have thus far accomplished.

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  9. I wish I could shed this funk that has engulfed me and take on a more optimistic attitude, or at least not care so much. But no matter how I try, I can’t.

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    1. Well, you can start by gradually lowering your obsession with the news. We aren’t kids, you know? And also — the kids aren’t LISTENING to us. No one is listening to us except all other other singers in our choir. We rant and people our own age, listen to us and agree. All members of the same choir. Convincing sane people to PLEASE VOTE may be the best we can do right. I’m not accepting this world, but I’m also not — obviously — fixing it. I would if I could, but it’s not mine to fix. Or yours. Sad for all of us.

      When I say “everyone has their mind made up,” I mean that literally. No one is listening to anything anymore. Everyone is in a rage about something. And it’s not just us. It’s contagious. The world has gone wacko. Meanwhile, this is MY retirement. I deserve to enjoy it, no matter who sits in the white house. That asshole isn’t going to ruin my life! THAT at least I can fix.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. You have a decade on me but it seems to me that the world has gone crazy too and that people don’t seem to care about the things we cared about enough to fight for them. It makes me angry but you can’t spend every waking hour being angry so what do you do? I try to find pleasure in everyday life and not to focus too much on what has been lost but every now and then I have my rant over something.

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