Sunday, June 26, 2011

Finding the way even when you think you're lost.....

I never did find my atlas. The one I spent hours with before I left for my trip to Baltimore, where I was headed to attend a writer's conference at the University of Baltimore. Even though I have a GPS for my car, the visual part of my brain needs to see the whole route in order to.....well, I'm not sure why, but I just need it, OK? It somehow comforts me to know exactly WHERE I am in South Carolina as I cruise along the 700 + mile route between my hometown and Maryland. Yes, you can tell me that it would be nearly impossible to get lost, since the entire route is on ONE road, but I also used to work for the Boy Scouts and you know what their motto is, right?

So, for about two days prior to packing up my things, picking up another writer friend who I cajoled into coming with me, and then hitting I-95, I studied and calculated and imprinted the image of the entire route into my memory banks. I think I've got it, I assured myself, the self who plans everything, including inserting time for getting lost or stopped by endless trains into every trip, even if that trip is only from my house to the dentist's office five minutes away. Might explain why I'm early for everything and annoy everyone by showing up before they're ready for me.

That morning, I threw my things in the car, including the atlas which was on the floor behind my seat, I know it was, I can see it lying there, and we were off. The humidity was around 99% and the pine forests flew by as we left Florida and cruised through Georgia. Before we knew it, we were in South Carolina, which is hard to miss with its omnipresent palm tree and moon logo on every car and sign from one end of the state to the other. They must give babies a copy of it as soon as they're born and make them sign their life over to the damn thing.

We looked for lunch, which is when I reached back to find the atlas, just to verify that we were in fact in South Carolina and I hadn't been captured by aliens and transported off to who knows where without me knowing it. OK...I don't know WHY I have to look at a map to verify what I can see right in front of me. Some people have facial tics. I have a tic that demands that I always know what is happening or what is going to happen.

And the atlas wasn't there. It wasn't behind the other seat, either. Or in the back where all the luggage was, the six bags two women brought for a one and a half day conference, nor was it under the seats I had flipped down to make way for all those bags. It had disappeared. Oh, my.....what was I going to do?

Over the course of the next few days, I kept looking, though. It had to be there, it just had to, I mumbled to myself, I know I put it in the car, I could picture myself doing it the day I finished with it in the house, I walked out and threw it in behind that seat. I simply had to see the route occasionally to reassure myself that.......well, I've already told you I don't know why.

But, somehow, we made it all the way to Baltimore and back. The Aussie voice I downloaded into my GPS helped when we needed to find another Subway (they truly are everywhere), and then we let him go back to his nap after we had eaten. Little by little I forgot about the atlas.

Someone who knew me well made the comment one day that I always had to know everything. I'm sure he made the remark without an agenda, it was just a comment. But I thought about it a lot and he was right. It manifests itself in some really strange, irritating ways, both to others and to me. So, I've made a real effort to eradicate that tic from my personality, all the way from intentionally not planning every minute of my weekends to trusting other people a bit more. Because maybe, just maybe, they will lead me just fine and not let anything bad happen along the way.

I forgot to look for the atlas for about 3 days once we got home.

And, no, I haven't found it yet. Oh, well.......who needs it anyway?

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Do you know this?

She sat on a chair under a stairwell, reading a book and not paying much attention to the crowd swirling around her. I had walked past her once, a neon sign announcing "Psychic Readings" to her right, and then I circled back out of curiosity. It was time for me to do my monthly "thing I've never done before," and this would certainly fill that bill.

I had planned on another activity for this month, one associated with the writers' conference I was in Baltimore to attend, but you know what they say about the best laid plans. Didn't happen.

So, I needed a replacement and I had stumbled on it, quite by accident. Well, that's what I thought at the time. I took the fee out of my wallet and laid it in front of her, and I asked for a palm reading. She put her book down and smiled. Then she asked me to put my right hand, palm up, in front of her on the table.

"You have a very long life line. You will live a long life." She looked up at me, and met my eyes. "Do you know this?" My words tripped over each other at her strange wording. "Well, I guess it's in my genes," I finally managed. After all, my father lived until he was 86 and my mother celebrates her 86th next week.  But lots of people have relatives who live into their 80s these days. Good guess.

Then she asked me if I was considering any large purchases, like a house or a car. "No," I said. Her eyes remained on my palm. "Well, I see a large investment of some kind, and it will come in January. It will be a good thing for you, so I want you to go ahead. And I don't want you to worry about it." She looked up again, as I thought that her statement could apply to anyone. I'm still not too impressed yet.

"You are a good communicator." She looked up at me. "Do you know this?" To be honest, I think that's one of the things I'm best at.  "Yes, I think I do," I said to her.

"What do you do for a living?" she asked. "I'm a writer," answered. She smiled, as if to say, "Of course!"  Then she went on: "Something good is going to happen with your work, and it will happen in August. I don't want you to worry about anything. It will be fine," she said. By this time, I'm hoping that she's seeing that my manuscript will sell in August and I will be buying my Z in January. Seemed to fit to me, but I don't really believe in this stuff.

"Your personal life has had its ups and downs. Do you know this?" she offered next. Gulp.....where did THAT come from, I thought?  I nodded. And then she looked at me and said, "Tell me about the person with the [insert initial here.]"  She had spoken the initial that made perfect sense to me, the only one that fit. Double gulp. So, I told her. She asked where that person was now. I answered. She said that I needed to close that door once and for all, and that all would be well. "You will find happiness," she said as she leaned back in her chair.

My time was up. I have no idea what to think about that, but I sure hope it's not like my dance lessons and I can't stop.

“The key to the universe lies dormant within the self, waiting to awaken through self-discovery”
Taejoon Lee

Sunday, June 12, 2011

You will be us.....

I can remember rolling my eyes and sighing when an "old" person started a statement with something like, "When I was young.....!" And then everyone had to listen to a detail-laden rant about whatever the topic of the hour happened to be. Why were they always so MAD, I wondered?

Ah, adds perspective, I'm finding. But the fact is that the world is going to explode from its own insanity and it will probably be soon. After all, it started way back with the elders among the cave folks complaining about methods of berry-gathering and skinning mastiffs and how their kids only wanted to shoot each other with rocks instead of helping out, you know the drill. Just insert time-appropriate details through the ages and then track it through your grandparents and their grandparents. Older people have been alerting everyone for hundreds of years to the upcoming apocalypse, and no one has ever paid any attention, other than the eye-rolling and sighing.

So, why would anyone listen to my rants? You know, the one about the computer voices we have to endure when we call, well, just about anyone these days. I just spent 6 minutes (I timed it...I'm old, after all) listening to information I don't need in order to get to an actual human being who first asked me if I wanted to take part in a survey when we were all done with our business. A survey?? Are you kidding? They actually want to hear my opinion of the ridiculous "customer service" system that answers the phone for them? Oh, wait...if you've ever taken one of those surveys, it's a computerized voice interacting with you, and the choices offered don't even come close to offering me a choice that I really want to give. Not even close, believe me.

Or the article I read, in a real hold-it-in-your-hand magazine that comes in an actual outside-my-door mailbox, that reported this apocalyptic fact: More and more employers are refusing to interview unemployed people for jobs the company has open. If you haven't heard about this yet, go ahead and re-read that statement. I'll wait for you.

OK, did you throw things at the screen when you read it again? I just about threw the magazine across the room. The impending explosion of the world as we know MUST be near, don't you think?

When I was young, employers put a job posting in the newspaper and welcomed the unemployed who starting lining up at their door on the right day. According to this article, the unemployed are now viewed with mistrust and are not allowed to apply. After all, what transgression did they commit to be without a job? Well, if they're politicians, the article might have a valid point. But let's assume the article was talking about normal folks who really work for a living. That's what the article reported. More and more employers only want the employed to apply for job openings. And when I mentioned this fact ( was more than a "mention" was a rant) to someone at a gathering the other day, they had heard about it, too. I didn't conjure the whole thing up on my own in an exercise-induced trance. It's actually happening, in this recession when good people, millions of them, have been downsized, "offered" early retirement, and otherwise booted out the doors of businesses all over this country.

And then to be told, "Sorry...don't apply here unless you already have a job." ?

So, YES!  I might be "a wonderfully mature woman" (or old to some readers), but I'm sick of computer voices and store "associates" who have the maturity of 12 year olds telling me I have to call an 800 number to get a refund and idiots not offering people work when they have it to offer.

Go ahead and roll your eyes, people under 40. I know you don't get it, or us, yet....but you will. Oh, yes. Someday you will.

If the Apocalypse comes, beep me.
Buffy, the vampire slayer

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Dancing fool, part 2.....

It's been a long time since I've been surprised by anything. Once you hit about 50, not much can jump out from behind a door, shout "BOO!" and still get a reaction.

But I have to admit....I am startled by my reaction to taking the "one" dance lesson in April that was my "thing I've never done before." (See for an update.) The one twirl around the dance floor on April 28th led to three more which then led to another 11. And now I'm signing up for months of lessons, expensive or not. I'm not sure I totally understand this myself, which is why I'm writing about it again. I write to process and this needs processing, believe me.

First of all, ballroom dancing for me is hard work. Ask me to pat my head and rub my stomach at the same time, and then stand back and have a good laugh. My instructor knows when he shows me a new step, everything he's already taught me in that particular dance flies out of my head for a few minutes. It's like I wandered in off the street by mistake at that particular point in the lesson, a stranger lost in a strange land. We have to do it over and over for me to insert the new into the old and then put it all back together again, Humpty Dumpty-like. In other words, coordinated I am not. But when I get it (and I do), it is a thing of beauty. At least that's how it feels to me.

And unbeknownst to me all these years, I have been disconnected from my body. You want me to move my ribcage that way while my hips stay still? Are you crazy?? At least I'm secure enough to laugh at myself while I'm contorting my body the way he's demonstrating. How does he DO that? He's savvy enough not to laugh out loud at me, but I imagine he has a good chuckle when I stumble on home at the end of the hour. He's patient and kind and he's teaching me things I didn't even know I didn't know. I also have to trust him and relinquish control, one thing that I've learned to withhold and the other I hold onto for dear life.
My life hasn't been much fun for a very long time. All that changed with my first step on the dance floor.


 “You've got to dance like nobody's watching and love like it's never going to hurt.”

Friday, June 3, 2011

The devil made me do it.....

"It's all HER fault!"

"The devil made me do it."

"The dog ate my homework."

My, my.....there are fingers pointing all over, aren't there? As a teacher, I did hear the one about the homework-devouring canine a few times. I bet it was even true occasionally. And that pesky guy with the pitchfork likes to meddle in our affairs when we let him, that's for sure. I can still hear his raspy chortle in my ear during one of my particularly naughty decades a while back.

But he wasn't to blame for all my misdeeds. Just like the dog....he was only doing what dogs do to stuff left laying around where it doesn't belong. Children can be forgiven, at least a time or two, for acting with less than mature forethought and then blaming everyone else. That's what kids do, and as parents it's our job to train them over time to behave more responsibly and then accept the consequences of their actions.

Some kids learn it and some don't. Those "kids" become adults with a learning disability called "unable to deal with life." And we all know these people, don't we? Their mode of operation is to stumble through life, tripping over their own lack of maturity, and then wailing that it is all....

  • their mother's fault for not being nurturing enough.
  • their father's fault for taking off.
  • their sister's fault for not sharing closet space equally.
  • their first grade teacher's fault for mispronouncing their name for an entire year.
  • their neighbor's fault for leaving his wife alone too much. (Oops...where did THAT one come from?)
  • the government's fault for not writing clear instructions.
And on and on it goes, until we scamper into the nearest doorway when we see them coming, their crocodile tears creating an even greater likelihood of tripping themselves. Somehow their spines never developed to the point where they can stand on their own two feet and tackle life like the rest of us do.

We kick the excuses out the door and do the best we can as adults in charge of our individual lives. We accept responsibility for US. And we stop the tiresome blubbering.