Sunday, January 24, 2016

Can you hear me now? Hello???

There is something strange afoot.

Back in the hazy days when our phones became mobile--but not yet smart--we rejoiced. Some of us may have wondered why anyone would WANT to be reachable 24/7, but we jumped right on that bandwagon, anyway. It's seductive, this idea that we can talk to anyone, anywhere, anytime we want.

And, let's face it. Being able to call our road service right there, from the road, is a significant safety factor. No doubt about it. At least our mother knew we weren't in that ditch, dying, alone......

The ladder of success for each of us now also had a phone available at the touch of speed dial; we could get that critical business call immediately that might give us an early leg up to the next rung, even if it might be on the back of one of our coworkers.

Good stuff, huh? And when our new toy rang, we answered it. Right away. After all, wasn't that the whole point?

Then, our phones got smarter. Instead of ringing someone and chatting or asking that critical question (or telling Mom where we are, no it never ends), voice to voice, we can turn our phone into a mini-computer and type or message, push "SEND" and our words teleport from here to there instead.

But, as in most things relating to technology, something interesting--frustrating, infuriating, maddening--has happened to change this dynamic. Before, in the olden days, when we called someone on the phone and asked a question, they answered the question. Or maybe said something rude to the caller about such a stupid question, but either way, a response was forthcoming. We knew something lived and breathed at the other end of the phone connection. A handy thing in most cases. So, what's changed?

This "improved" method of communication has begun to work in reverse. The asker texts (or email is possible, too, what with these phones being so smart, remember) the question and then.....waits. And waits......some more.

People over the age of about 30 now have an internal dialogue kick in.

**Did they get my text?
**Are they looking for the answer....somewhere? (How about that same really smart phone?)
**Should I send the question again, just in case? I don't want to be a nuisance, but I do need to know what's going on.
**Are they ignoring me??

It's like having a face-to-face conversation, asking a question, and the other person silently turns and walks away. Silence, in this case however,  is not golden. We're using our "improved" avenues of communication as walls between us, a layer, of protection against actually talking to each other. Yes, conversation is often messy and it requires a bit of thought, but it's the glue that holds us together, not simply as individuals but as a society. Without it, we're all wandering around in the wilderness, alone.

With a smart phone that is silent.

It has become appallingly obvious that our technology has exceeded our humanity.
Albert Einstein

Monday, December 28, 2015

I'll never tell........

To tell or not….to tell.

I did for a while; I was proud of the fact that I was over 60 and was still a viable, vibrant woman, especially since I learned to dance, putting me in touch with movement and thus,  my body.

I piped up immediately, if someone asked how old I am. The reaction changed, however, as soon as I hit that 6-0 response. No longer did I hear, “What! You don’t look 60!” (I heard that at all ages, right up until this one. At 30, at 40, even at 50. But some key was turned as soon as the big 6-0 carried my birthday cake in, aflame with candles.)

And if a woman happens to be single at 6-0, for whatever reason (and there all kinds of reasons, believe me), heaven help her. Men’s eyes glaze over at the mere mention of a six before ANY number, even the zero. My unfortunate experience with dating sites has proven their point to me: they are for young women.

Not young men, though. Men of all ages, even those with the next digit in THEIR age, have no qualms about filling in that profile page with all kinds of fluff and a photo at least 20 years old (and 20 pounds lighter), knowing all the while that they are looking for a young woman to help them believe their own profile.  Any woman taking their bait who happens to be over 6-0 hears a lot of…… silence. A computer screen is an effective barrier when someone wants to use it that way.

A friend of mine, a woman in her 90s, chided me once for blurting out my age when someone asked. When anyone asked. I thought I could show the world that being a “woman of a certain age” did NOT mean a “shriveled, incontinent, unproductive,  drain on society.” I work out a couple of times a week, I lift more weight than women (and some men) much younger, I work, I dance, I write, I contribute. I am not done yet. Not even close.

But none of that seems to matter. So, I am following my friend’s advice and keeping quiet these days, at least about my age. (I don’t keep quiet about much else, but you already know that, right?)  I can’t unspeak it from all the times I blurted out those digits, but I can hope that people will forget.

Happy birthday to me! And, no, I’m not going to tell you which one it is, either.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Places, everyone!

“People tend to complicate their own lives, as if living weren't already complicated enough.”
Carlos Ruiz Zafón

It shouldn’t be a bad thing to see a need that you can fill and move forward to help. Or become friends with a coworker who seems to see the world through the same glasses you carry around in your pocket.
Should it?

This lesson keeps offering to teach me a few things that might be useful . But I continually slam the door in its face…..quite a few times, as it turns out.

 I’m a slow learner. And not a very good student, it seems.

But, this time, I think I’ve got it. And it wasn’t easy getting that door pried open—finally—long enough to stick my head in and say, “Come on it! I have finally seen the light!”

Here’s the deal: I’ll become acquainted with someone who moves into my world for a specific reason, and over time I learn much about them, problems and all. Keep in mind that by definition a writer is a nosy busybody who will suck every detail of your life out of you given half a chance. It’s what we do; what can I say? I’ll find out every secret you have and then I WILL put you in a piece of writing (without your name, of course; I do have some sense) for the entire world to see.

And then I’ll make my fatal mistake. I try to fix a problem for these nice people, friendly soul that I am. The boundaries between us in our original framework become blurred, or, if I’m honest, I wipe those lines out completely, as surely as dirt can be swept bare with a straw broom. Suddenly, we don’t know who we are in relation to each other anymore. Things get all mucked up and confusion reigns. The sad part is that the result often is a loss of the original relationship, the one that I relished so much from the beginning.

It all comes from a good place, but it never seems to end that way. (Which is probably why companies have rules about workplace relationships. But this is a story for another day...believe me.)

I think I have finally learned to keep people in their roles. My auto mechanic needs to be kept at the garage where he belongs, even though I found out that he has a child that needs some (free) tutoring. After all, I was a teacher in another life. It feels like a natural thing to do; help when I can. But if something goes south, I lose a tutoring job AND a good mechanic.

Aging gracefully—or at least without kicking and screaming the entire way—means giving up those impulses that got us into so much trouble in our younger version. For some, like me, it takes a bit longer.

But it doesn’t have to for you, those of you young enough to be thinking, “That will never happen to ME.”

Yes. It will.











Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Danger ahead!

Only you can control your future.

Dr. Suess


 Remember when you were 21, and your future stretched ahead like a ribbon of highway as far as you could see? And you thought you could see every curve and bend that was on that road and knew where it was going to lead you?


We know better now, don’t we?

Who would have predicted a recession that would put us all behind the financial 8-ball and destroy our plans for retirement?

Or the need to divert some of our own limited funds to caring for an elderly parent?

Which then led us to think about selling our home generate those funds, only to remember that we refinanced only two years ago to get a lower payment……and stretched those payments ahead another 30 years? So, no equity means no selling.

Sometimes we can’t see where the road is taking us, so it’s best to hang back and not speed along the highway without watching out for—even anticipating--the potholes and detours. How could I have known that I would need to sell my house the day I gave a huge “thumbs up!” to hogtying me to an unending mortgage? Or that maybe, just maybe, I SHOULD have sold my house just before the real estate bubble burst, when I thought about it, but then fell prey to inertia….and the mistaken notion that things would always be the same down that highway?

Circumstances change and people change. What looks like a well-paved road today WILL change. It’s the one thing we can depend on. The rest? Well, just be careful about assuming there isn’t a cliff just ahead up there out of sight on the road. It’s there, for sure.
Oh, yes, indeed……


Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Not on MY planet........

They’re all around us. And as I’ve gotten older, they seem to seek me out for some reason.

Lucky me.

Let me explain.

I worked for someone once who wouldn’t talk to any of his staff on the phone…..and we all worked remotely.  At home. And, as in any job, I often had questions that needed to be answered in order to accomplish what this man gave me to do. Questions only he could answer. So, I emailed him.

I waited for a response, twiddling my thumbs, essentially dead in the water of tasks undone.

I texted him, thinking maybe the vibration of his phone would spur him on….or whatever. (I don’t like to think about that one too long.)

And I waited some more. Nothing. Customers would get irritated, although my laundry was done and my cats were (over)fed.

I emailed again. You know how you begin to think that the first email was circling, higher and higher, in cyberspace, and would never make it through all those storage clouds, getting misfiled somewhere, never to be seen again? So you forward your original email to its recipient all over again, hoping for better results this time.

Nope. My boss was AWOL. Often. For days.

Until he wanted something from us, his separated staff. He still wouldn’t call us, but he’d email and then apparently he sat staring at the screen.

Five minutes later, his second email would ding into the virtual mailbox: “I would appreciate it if you would monitor your emails more closely. Please be professional and respond…..immediately!”
He really said that.
And there it is. The proof that there are people who do not live in the same reality as we do. Their behavior is so bizarre, so illogical, so irrational that it is inexplicable. And to try to make sense of it only makes US as crazy as they are. I'm not sure on exactly which planet they live on, but it's not anywhere in THIS universe.

These are the folks who seem to dog me. I had two in my life at the same time recently, which must have been a test of some kind, the universe poking me with a sharp stick as sport. Fun, huh?

But what I have come to understand is that we can’t waste time with these people or energy trying to figure them out. They will not change, because they think they are RIGHT and the rest of the world is WRONG. The definition of the word “ego” is etched on their soul. I spent a year in therapy trying to explain one of these people to my logical self, until I had a stern talk with the person in the mirror…… and gave up trying to make sense of the nonsensical. Therapy came to a screeching halt.

If only they weren’t so good at hiding all that craziness, we could pick them out earlier. But, what I’ve learned is to let them go on their way, lurching and chattering to themselves. It’s the only sensible—and sane--thing to do. We don’t need to help them populate their reality, wherever that is.

“If you're rational you don't get to believe whatever you want to believe.”
Michael Huemer







Friday, November 27, 2015

Young at heart, but yes....older in other places!

It’s been over six years since I first started writing “Aged to Perfection.”

What I’ve learned is that I’m still aging and there’s no such thing as perfect.

Oh, there’s been much more than that—believe me—but when I decided to bring this blog back, I had to consider exactly how to reintroduce the concept of aging and all its ramifications. They’re not all pretty, but they do keep rolling on.

So that’s my thought for you today, both those of you who are “aging to perfection” like me as well as those younger readers who think it is simply an academic exercise (or a personal favor) to read my words. Those in the latter group truly believe they are Peter Pan and aging won’t happen to them.

Hysterical, right??

One side note before I proceed: Writers engage in this insanity to fight our own personal demons, there is no doubt about that. BUT, we also are addicted to attention… least for what we write. As I take you on this leg of the Aged to Perfection journey, please interact with me. Tell me what you like, what you hate, what you disagree with, what you share with others. SPEAK TO ME! I will be ever grateful. You can do that on this page, or you can post your comments on Facebook when you pick up the link there, as most of you do.

  “The afternoon knows what the morning never suspected.”
Robert Frost



Thursday, February 12, 2015

Happy Valentine's Day: Bah Humbug!

It's HERE again.

That insidious holiday for lovers, replete with hearts and roses and couples everywhere. Where does that leave the rest of us, the ones who aren't one half of a couple or used to be half but now are......less than that?

I could offer "hearts and flowers" platitudes here like.....

**You don't NEED to be half of a couple to be worthy!

**Buy yourself some flowers.

**Go out to dinner with treasured friends and toast one another for your strength and brilliance.

**Light some candles and put on the music YOU love.

**Treat it like any other day!

But I won't. You might throw me out of the room.

Here's the truth: Valentine's Day is for lovers. Period. There's nothing anyone can say that takes the sting out of it for singles. I've had some romantic, incredible Valentine's Day celebrations as part of a couple,  but I've sat alone under the Golden Arches, too.

Now, I'm not saying that all of those great suggestions aren't true. They are. And more power to those of you who actually take some of that advice and flaunt your single-ness in a fancy restaurant with your BFF. 

But once we experience a fantastic Feb 14th. only to have it taken from us, it hurts. Now we have a basis for comparison and it's not pretty. 

What to do? 

I have a default position in life. It has served me well, and it might be a perfect time to pull it out here. 

“There is no exercise better for the heart than reaching down and lifting people up.” 

John Holmes

Find someone who could use your time and attention and shower them with that goodness. The fact that you do it on February 14th is merely added icing on the cake! 

For both of you.