Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Here I go again!

There is nothing like the impending arrival of company to set the
"Not OK" voice inside me to haranguing at triple decibel level. If my
Internal Critic has been on an extended coffee-break (she never takes
a vacation), she rushes back to her desk to begin sending memos
regarding my house-keeping, cooking skills, and general hostess
abilities.

No matter that the company-to-be are old and dear friends, the sort
who would never criticize and probably hardly notice the dust under
the beds or the streaky windows. The Internal Critic has gone into
over-drive and her notes and inside-the-head lectures drown out any
contrary opinions. Even if the household surfaces were spick and span
(they aren't!) she'd know the places the dust-cloth had missed. With
my increasingly "casual" standards of house-keeping she has
ammunition a-plenty and works herself into a hysterical froth of self-
loathing.

Deep breath. I'm having to learn that despite the lessons learned at
mother's knee - whether or not those were lessons she was teaching -
I don't have to be the aproned- high-heeled homemaker greeting guests
with a cocktail and a perfectly cooked standing rib roast. The mental
picture garnered from Life magazine ads and episodes of Father Knows
Best may have been an ideal, but it was never reality. That wasn't
the home I grew up in and wasn't the home of anyone I knew.

Another deep breath. Welcome friends. Put your feet on the furniture.
Relax and stay a while. Mi casa - su casa and feel free to ignore the
dust... or grab a cloth and chase it around! I'm so glad you are
visiting AND helping me learn, slowly, that it is okay to be me.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Whazzat?

Urk! Icon recognition! Even after years of using a computer I'm not
adept at the "little picture" method of identification. I use the
dock on my Mac every day and most of the time locating and choosing
the applications presents no problem, but...

...there are days when I stare at the rows of mini-symbols and draw a
blank.

That happened just a couple of minutes ago. I wanted TextEdit. I
stared at the icons and nothing registered. Several seconds went be
and my fingers selected a picture and clicked. I say "my fingers
selected" because my brain didn't seem to participate in the process.
My email program opened.

Dismiss the email program, go back to the dock and stare again with
no further increase in recognition. Fingers leap into action and - up
comes my internet application. Huge sigh and a shake of the head as I
listen to marbles rattle in the cavity.

Close the browser, look again at the dock. Stare harder That always
works, especially if I add a frown. And wait. Aha, Got it! That
little picture of a piece of paper with lines of writing on it and a
pen in close proximity. Of course, that's it! The one right between
the picture of paper plus pencil and the picture of ink bottle plus pen.

(Yes, the names of each program do come up as I run my cursor over
the icons but the signal from brain to finger-click is often faster
than the processing of written word into action. This is what causes
the Uh-Oh and following rich language after a quick click.)

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Sock it to...Whom?

I just made Himself throw away a sacred sock. Extremely sacred. He
wears his toe-tuckers until they are so holy they could ascend by
themselves. This resulted in the following conversation:

Himself: You wear underwear with holes.

Me: (silence)

Himself: You say so in public.

Me: (silence)

Himself: You told the entire world!

Me: (silence)

Himself: I'll put it back in the drawer.

Me: Throw away the sock.

Himself: (silence)

Sacred Drawers

So there I am, folding clean laundry. Among the items in the basket
are multiple sets of underwear, some mine and some belonging to
Himself. I see tattered seams and a few encroaching holes.

Do I set those aside for repair? No I do not!

It occurs to me, as I consider the situation, that the wheel of life
has made another revolution.

In olden times when I was the child of the household my mother would
fuss at me over my disreputable undergarments. She didn't often see
them. As a full-time working Mom she taught me early to tend to my
own laundry. Knickers with torn places or lapsed elastic I treated as
perfectly sound items. Bra or slip straps might earn a safety pin but
seldom were worthy of actual repair. Mom would shake her head and try
the old line, "Think of how embarrassed you'd be if you had to be
taken to the hospital!" I could only think back (I was smarter than
to utter this out loud) "I'd have more important worries if I was in
the emergency room."

In mid-life another attitude prevailed. Any unraveled seams earned
the undergarment a spot in the stack of mending. I learned to darn
holes and stitch seams, finding some pleasure in the jobs accomplished.

I'm headed back toward my former, blasé way of looking at things.
Underwear is UNDERwear. As long as it stays in place and covers the
unmentionables it does its job. Since I have no aspirations as a
Flasher mine should remain un-viewed by the public. I will stitch up
what must be stitched and fold the rest away as is.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Lists

How could I survive without my lists? A single glance at my desktop
reveals half a dozen scribbled on various scraps of paper. Things to
remember. Things to buy. Dates that shouldn't be forgotten. There are
sticky notes attached to lists that are stacked on notepads. It is
getting to where I need lists to keep track of where all the lists
are kept.

My computer provides another desktop that I litter with lists. I have
virtual sticky notes reminding me of appointments, There is a whole
application that is composed of various lists: books read, gifts
given or received, topics and ideas for future writing. There are
virtual folders stocked with items that, all things considered, are
simply lists unto themselves. A folder labeled "Quotes" is stocked
with page after virtual page of pithy sayings gleaned from online.
The folders are imbedded enough that I need lists to recall half of
the lists I've listed.

I'm not sure my life is any more organized with lists and it would be
without them. It used to feel that way but evidence doesn't suggest
there is truth in the matter. I ignore evidence. I abjure it totally.
Lists show order and organization, really they do. Mine will be
clutched to my ample bosom and will have to be pried from my fingers
someday. I have it on a list!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Hirsute, Or Not Hirsute?

Has anybody seen my hair color? It seems to be missing. This
particular shade of what once was brown(ish) is a non-color. It has
always been non-descript. For a number of years I dyed this scrawny
tresses in an attempt to give them some sort of identity. Instead of
dishwater blonde-brown it flamed red. The chemical process being what
it was in those days red was distinctly un-auburn. My head was less
autumn tree and more fire-truck in character.

Eventually I gave up trying to enhance my hair and resigned myself to
the wispy wishy-washy locks I had. I coveted the thick braids and
electric naturals of the hippie culture and wished for... well
certainly at least for MORE hair.

The aging process has finally granted my wish - with the caveat of
"Be careful what you wish for." I do have more hair and the hair has
more color. Robust strands now sprout from chin and cheek. Curly,
dark strands lengthen overnight twisting into embarrassing lengths
just out of my line of sight. Self-examination in wall or hand mirror
reveals nary a wisp unless my head tilts in an exact angle for the
light to glint off an elusive strand.

Then the hunt is on! You ladies know what I mean. We twist and turn,
tweezers snapping and eyes-crossing as we try to seize and pluck
those hairs on our chinny-chin-chins. The hairs seem to do a bob-and-
weave to out-maneuver us. Each capture and removal results in
jubilation. Gotcha' ya little monster!

The hair atop my old noggin? Its wishy has washyed. It is fading
slowly from dark beige to sort-a semi-gray. With the window behind me
I face into my bathroom mirror and can still see it as brown. It pays
to have an active imagination.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

What was that again?

Sometime after birthday number sixty my brain started to dissolve. It
went soft around the sides and began to lose its edge. What is with
that anyway?

Behind me is a life where I was the person who remembered dates,
organized vacations and closets, and kept track of dozens of facts,
figures, and miscellaneous trivia. It was easy to have a dozen phone
numbers in memory. I could rattle off the account numbers for my
credit cards or any of the monthly bills I paid. Birthday dates vied
for recall with license numbers from all the cars I'd driven - and
both were at hand when needed. I remembered every address I'd lived
at and could rattle off those of most of my friends. My brain was
able and happy to retrieve all sorts of information.

Now my life is a constantly shifting Swiss-cheese landscape of
memory. One day I can access old phone numbers and the next day I've
forgotten the one I have now. Zip codes are irretrievable but the
lyrics to a song I haven't heard played in thirty years are playing
non-stop in my head. What I had for dinner last night is a mystery,
requiring reconstruction of intention and hour-by-hour retracing of
footsteps. Carefully planned future events become a question. These
are balanced by total visual recall of a fabric pattern I saw last
week, or sudden memory of a factoid that had bemused me yesterday.

Is it that after a certain time of life we are gifted with a random-
access memory attached to a spinning arrow method of retrieval? Whee!
Whirl that dial and up comes a conversation from ten years past. Give
it another push and the recipe for a casserole glimpsed in a magazine
last month bubbles to the surface. But try to remember the name of
that new member of the budget committee or attempt to retrieve the
date for a grandchild's birthday? Nope. The system puts you on-hold
and plays some elevator music. (Where WAS it I heard that tune? It
sounds familiar!)

It isn't that memory is gone: it is simply unreliable. Maybe some
facts have been mis-filed, while others are in the very back of a
cabinet with a sticky hinge. A few are sitting on a desk waiting
attention while others are mistakenly marked and sorted for quick
access. The staff members in charge of the memory office are taking
long coffee breaks. The clerks have just come back from a martini-
fortified lunch. Chaos reigns.

By the way, did you know that the first phone number I remember
having was an Oliver-6 number? And... oh dear.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Old Outsides

The years of peachy complexion and smooth, baby-soft skin are long
gone. I was never a beauty but I did have some small pride in my
skin. In the teen years when other girls watched for signs of acne or
the dreaded pre-prom zit, my skin stayed relatively blemish free. I
murmured in sympathy as friends worried over sudden hormone-induced
complexion eruptions and tried not to yawn as the merits of Noxema
took over a conversation. Youth was kind to me in the epidermal sense.

The dewy skin of youth seems to have hopped on a yacht for the
Bahamas and left me facing a vast field of approaching wrinkles, with
their accompanying entourage of sags. My old skin bags, droops,
dangles, flops, wilts, and sinks. My epidermis these days resembles a
week-old balloon. It still covers my insides but just isn't packing
them very efficiently.

When I was a kid - more than toddler, less than teen - I was
fascinated by the skin on my grandmother's hands, so different from
mine. I'd run my fingers over the back of her hand, gently pushing it
into little peaks and lines. Mine didn't do that. I didn't understand
that age decreases the skin elasticity I just knew that Grandma's
outside was very different from mine.

It isn't different any more.