I’m mad at life. This is not what I planned. In fact, it’s not even close to what I had in mind. I was planning to go gently into my elder years, able to do whatever I always did, but perhaps a bit more slowly. Gray hairs which turned out to be white — about the only thing that worked out the way I planned.
But all the other stuff? Poverty and ill-health? The endless crumbling of the house? It’s just not fair!
I do not feel insightful, but I could probably incite a riot. I feel very non-insightful. Mostly, I’m pissed.
I want is to win a ton of money so I can not only fix the house, but improve it so that it’s comfortable for both of us. I want our lives for the first time ever to become easier.
My childhood was rough. Adulthood has been, to say the least, bumpy. Somehow, I thought as I wandered into Older Age, life would get easier. Those things we’ve always needed to do would slow and maybe even give up. We could relax, surrounded by our nurturing family who would take care of our needs and maybe even provide a few small luxuries.
That has not been exactly been how it has worked.
Meanwhile, I’m just pissed about the whole “getting old” thing. Why doesn’t someone else cook dinner? Why are we both still scrubbing and vacuuming and cleaning? Why does the house persist in requiring maintenance and repair even though we’ve already fixed it more than once? Isn’t there an “end” point when you don’t need to fix it anymore? What’s wrong with this picture?
I say let’s round up the angry mob and attack age. Who’s with me? If we can’t evade age, maybe we beat the crap out of it.
Be there anyone amongst us who doth not make lists.
Not all my lists are written, mind you. Some are mental. I have a wedding coming up. It’s a very big piece of my “eventually” list and includes:
Can we afford reservations anywhere?
Am I physically up to a long drive from Massachusetts to Virginia?
Is Garry up to a long drive from New England to down there?
These lists used to be smaller and I used to be better at approaching them. I always did things quickly — just to get done with them and not have to worry. Reservations are probably manageable — one way or the other. Probably the other. I really want to go to this wedding.
When I first knew it was happening, I promised myself I would find a way to make it happen. Which automatically put it on my primary “eventually” list. I did not count on how hard I would find just getting through a normal day. Or how exhausted I would be after even a minimal effort.
Why am I so tired? My back is badly broken and my heart is tired. The back is both broken and arthritic. It hurts. I have better medication than I used to, so that’s a good thing, but the heart is a whole other issue.
The heart is genetic and I never knew I had. Most people who have the problem are unaware of it until it kills them. I was lucky I discovered it before it killed me. I was born with it. Probably so was my father and for all I know, my mother too. I’ve already had major surgery to repair it which involved installing two replacement valves, an electronic (metal) Pacemaker, and surgery which remodeled the entire left ventricle and a bypass.
The problem was my heart walls continue to thicken. The walls become inflexible. It’s harder for the valves to work – which means my red blood cell count drops which probably explains why I’ve had problems with minimal anemia since I was a kid. So far, though, it has never dropped dangerously low.
Can I get there and enjoy it? Can Garry make it? He isn’t good with long drives anymore. He used to love driving. For that matter, I used to love driving!
There are a lot other eventually lists. I’m not sure I can take a long walk to take pictures. I finally use the chair lift because hauling myself up and down the stairs isn’t going to improve my spine or my heart. The heart will get worse until it stops working. No one will redo the surgery. I figure I’ve got another five years if I’m careful and a little bit lucky. Maybe longer. They keep improving the technology, so maybe they’ll come up with a miracle drug — and it will even be affordable.
But that’s not so bad, right? I’ve had a full life. Not a super long one, but not cut excessively short either. Eventually is the rest of my life. There is so much eventually waiting for me to get to it.
Sometimes, I think, “What if I win the lottery? Could I somehow manage to travel to Europe and see Paris?” When we hit our 25th-anniversary and I wanted to go to Paris because I always wanted to see Paris (though I think I wanted to see the Paris that disappeared 100 years ago), we didn’t go. If you can’t walk, what do you do in Paris? If you can’t walk through Versailles or the Louvre — or walk those cobblestone streets — what else is there to do?
We went to visit Ben in Arizona and that was actually fantastic. The dry heat improved my ability to breathe and my spine hurt a lot less. I don’t know if I could live in that kind of heat all the time, but winter in Arizona is heavenly.
All my eventually lists are waiting for me. Sometimes, I forget what’s on the lists and by the time I remember, it’s too late. This time, though, I have to deal with it. One way or the other, it’s on top.
Xfinity has an advertisement. They assure viewers that their wi-fi is so fast, you will definitely be able to keep up with the Joneses.
I didn’t know it was a race. I didn’t know I was supposed to be keeping up with anyone.
“Garry,” I asked. “Are we keeping up with the Joneses?”
“I don’t think so. We don’t know anyone named Jones. I actually can’t remember ever knowing anyone named Jones. Lots of Smiths and many of them named Mike. No Joneses. Of any name. So probably we aren’t keeping up with them.”
On the other hand, I don’t think I’ve ever worried about keeping up with anything that didn’t have a dollar sign attached. I certainly don’t worry whether or not I’ve got faster wi-fi than my neighbors, especially not in Uxbridge. This just isn’t a “keeping up with the Joneses” kind of town. We all use Charter. We don’t have any choice. That’s what the town decided for us.
We have enough trouble keeping up with the mortgage, bills, and taxes.
I’ve had some random and esoteric obsessions over the years. Only two have stayed with me for decades and are still going strong.
One is the Titanic and anything Titanic related. I saw the movie “A Night To Remember” when I was in elementary school. I then read the book the movie was based on and I was hooked. I continued to read other books that came out over time about the Titanic and her last hours.
I was fascinated by the series of ill-fated coincidences that sealed the ship’s fate. If any one of six or seven things hadn’t happened exactly as they did, the ship might have been saved or avoided the iceberg altogether. I also loved the stories of the people on the ship – from the super rich and famous down to the crew and the steerage passengers.
I passed my Titanic fever onto my daughter, Sarah. We watched the movie “Titanic” together over and over. We frequently flipped through our large Titanic coffee table book with lots of wonderful photos. Sarah has followed all the dives on the Titanic wreck even more than I have. Many of the unanswered technical questions about the sinking have now been answered and Sarah and I share each new revelation with relish.
My other long-term obsession is the British royal family. I always loved English history, particularly stories about the Kings and Queens and their families through the centuries. I started following Queen Elizabeth II and her young family when I was a pre teen. Charles is close to my age so I was particularly interested in him and his slightly younger sister, Anne.
When Prince Charles was looking for a wife, my soap opera antennae went into high gear. When he met Lady Diana Spencer, my interest became a real obsession. I read everything I could find about them, but mostly her.
The day of Charles and Diana’s 1981 wedding, I woke up at 5 AM so I could watch the entire ceremony live. I had a one year old so I was up anyway. On this day, however, I stayed up. I also called my close friend in London and we watched the wedding together on the phone. I almost ended our friendship when I criticized the new Princess’s wedding dress. I thought it was overdone, too pouffy and unflattering. Most Americans shared my opinion. But most Brits, including my friend, absolutely loved the dress and took offense at any negative comments about it.
I followed Diana’s marriage closely. I applauded her more modern approach to being a royal, particularly after she became a mom. She wanted to be a hands on parent, which was a huge break with British royal tradition. I cheered her on, along with the rest of the world. I loved the new vibe she brought to the royal family. I also related to her increasingly dysfunctional marriage with a cheating husband. I mourned her tragic, early death.
I continued to read about Diana’s boys after her death, but not as avidly as I had when she was alive. When Kate Middleton came on the scene as Prince William’s love interest, I got my passion back.
Kate has continued the modernization and humanization of the young royals that Diana started. I am particularly taken with her easy, close and natural relationship with William. I applaud her involved parenting style and appreciate her and William’s accessibility. I follow news of her and enjoy photos of her clothes, as I did with Diana. I admire her style and taste and love most of her wardrobe, possibly even more than Diana’s.
Now I have a new royal couple to read about religiously. Prince Harry has announced his engagement to Meghan Markle, a poised, mature and charming biracial American actress. She seems caring and down to earth. She is already involved in international humanitarian causes on her own. She also has rescue dogs, one of whom has come to live with her and Harry in London.
Meghan will be another breath of fresh air in the still stuffy royal family. She’s had a successful career and lived out on her own in the real world. Americans can relate to her and she can relate to the common man, just like her fellow commoner, Kate Middleton.
I don’t obsess over movie stars or pop stars, like many Americans do. I only know about a few of the ‘celebrities’ who appear in “People Magazine”. But I should have many years ahead of me of happy royal voyeurism following the two English Princes and their growing families.
Last night, I explained to Garry about house-elves. He isn’t a big reader of fantasy, as I am, so some of this stuff hasn’t gnawed at the edges of his consciousness.
I told him if we were to leave milk and cookies out, the little folk would come to our house. Overnight, while we sleep, they would clean, scrub, repair, and cook. Fix the roof. Clear the snow. When we got up the next morning, the coffee would be ready along with delicious, fresh baked goods.
He looked at me. I think he wasn’t sure if he had heard me. “Is this like, real anywhere? Has this actually happened somewhere?”
“No,” I said. “Only in folk tales and myth. And Harry Potter. But wouldn’t it be nice if it were true? We could leave out milk, cookies, and an old pair of socks. Just in case.”
One eyebrow went up. “And something that already lives here would surely eat it. And Bonnie would abscond with the socks. Our kids would be sure to leave us something. Probably not fresh baked goods … or a clean house.”
Just for a second or two, I had him. Myth and magic live. So much better than reality, aren’t they?
When I was a kid, I was always hearing, “They say you can’t do that.” I always assumed that “they” meant grown-ups. Then I grew up.
I still don’t know who “they” are. Clearly not ‘the adults’ since I’m way past maturity. None of my friends — well, at least not most of my friends — say “that’s not how it’s done,” implying a right and wrong way. There are right and wrong ways — for some things. But not for everything.
If I had to follow rules for everything, I’d totally lose it.
So here I am, senior citizen and all. I still don’t know who they are, Who are the people in our world who have the authority to tell us how to do it? Hardly anything is done the way it used to be done, but “they” are still telling us how we have to do it.
One of the really good things about being older is that you don’t have to listen to what “they say,” especially since they have never said it to me. Wherever and to whomever “they” are saying it — I must have missed it.
How come half the world eats without changing the fork from hand to hand and the rest of the world (really, American in the U.S.) still swap.
So as the surreal non-reality show called Real Life continues, I’ve been reading and hearing all sorts of people saying variations on the same theme.
“Is this real?”
“Are we in some kind of Tom Clancy novel?”
“If you wrote this as a movie nobody would buy it. It’s too unbelievable”
“Can I actually save 15% on my car insurance?”
The idea for this blog popped into my head a couple of days ago. I thought it was a “tad out there.” Even for me. Then “Ole 45″ staged a “so-called” press briefing.
After watching it I realized that my idea wasn’t a “tad out there” at all. (And I am rather proud that I’ve managed to use the word “tad” in two sentences).
It was so crazy that even on Fox News the first thing the reporter said after it was over was. (and I’m not making this up), “Well all righty then.”
We are not living in a Tom Clancy novel. We are not living in a badly written movie. We are living in an episode of “Chicken Boo”.
I have to assume most of you at this point are going “who”? It’s understandable. Chicken Boo was a recurring feature on a brilliantly funny cartoon show from the 1990s called “The Animaniacs.”
You can get the whole series on Netflix. The show was written as much for adults as for the kids. Chicken Boo was a minor feature of the show.
The premise was simple. Boo was a six-foot-tall chicken who lived on a farm. Because of this, all the other chickens ran away from him because he was, well, a six-foot-tall chicken. So in every episode, he would run away and try to fit in with humans by putting on a disguise.
And it always worked! He would become the CEO of a company, a famous actor, a politician, and so on. He never talked.
He clucked. He never acted like a person. He acted like a chicken. A very big chicken.
People adored him, except that one person would always go “Hey! That guy’s a chicken!” Then everybody would laugh at him. Then, something would happen that would remove the disguise. Like his glasses would fall off.
Everybody would look wide-eyed and scream. “That’s a CHICKEN! At this point, they would all turn on him and drive him out-of-town. As he walked off into the sunset they would play the theme song:
Chicken Boo, what’s the matter with you?
You don’t act like the other chickens do.
You wear a disguise to look like human guys
But you’re not a man; you’re a chicken, Boo.
In the course of the last week, it seems the press, media and most people I’ve talked to have been surprised to notice that our “so-called” President IS not only an out-and-out racist but is honest-to-god nuts. What other explanation can there be for his insane behavior? You can only put down so much of it to “pandering to his “core.”
The rest of it is madness. Is he narcissistic? Sure as shootin’. More than slightly demented? That too. Sociopathic or maybe even psychopathic? Your guess is as good as mine … and mine says “yup.”
What fascinates me is the “surprise.” It’s like they’d just seen the end of the first act of “Springtime For Hitler.” Even after more than two years or maybe it’s longer … I’m losing track of time … we never cease to be appalled, astonished, shame, flabberghasted. How many times can we be shocked? Apparently, quite a few and we ain’t done yet.
It’s been right out there in the open ever since he started running for office. And just like in the cartoon, lots of people adore him.
Meanwhile one …
or two …
or a few hundred thousand people are saying: “Hey! That guy’s a chicken!”
I went online to look for an episode. This is the first one I found. This is an actual episode. Made over 20 years ago.
It’s amazing.! You have to watch it. It’s only a few minutes long. The wigis the disguise.
If you don’t have time to watch it, here’s a quick re-cap. Boo is pretending to be a Russian Ballet star who has defectedto New York to work for the New York City Ballet. His entourage and his director gush over him while one press reporter asks, “Are you a chicken?”
He goes on stage and everybody loves him until his wig falls off and everybody screams “That’s a chicken!” The audience leaves in disgust. The director kicks him out into the street. As he walks away you hear:
You wear a disguise to look like human guys
But you’re not a man; you’re a chicken, Boo.
Reality is now looking more and more like this cartoon. 45’s wig has fallen off. It was concealing a pile of mixed nuts.
I figured that I was probably the first person to make this rather obscure analogy. But then I Googled “Chicken Boo is Donald Trump.” This is what popped up.
Well, all righty, then.
You wear a disguise to look like a Presidential guy
But you’re not a man; you’re a chicken, Boo.
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