Finding Magic in the Mundane

limoIt was one of those work days when I felt especially lousy about being in such a dreary work environment. The receptionist put a call through, announcing “Donald Trump.” The first thing he said was, “Sh-h-h, don’t say anything …,” 

Do you have a friend who makes everything a memorable enjoyment? Their zest for life is so passionate they find its magic in even the mundane.

Maybe it’s driving past a guidehistorical marker you always took for granted; watching a movie with special effects or simply how interesting its location is; a picnic day’s weather, touring a museum you’ve passed unnoticed, or luncheoning in an out-the-way eatery that has a story you’ve never heard. What ever they do, this friend finds something special in everyday life and they bring you into their special world. I was blessed with such a friend.

In my last days of working in New York I’d taken a job that turned out to be, for lack of a better word, a miserable environment. It was in a large upstairs room full of women in various cubicles, twenty or more, with one, in particular, enjoying unmerited mastery over all the rest. (She ‘got along well’ with the boss, they say.)

cubiclesOur offices were in a nice, new building with windows lining all of the walls. Donald Trump was a prominent local figure whose name was always in the New York news, he being just as widespread in local news then as he is in the rest of the world now.

My friend, an entrepreneur by profession and in-between incomes, drove a limousine at the time, which is also a common sight in New York. He drove a big, stretch, black one with tinted windows, a full bar and all the trimmings. “Hann” was a lifelong New York Irishman with a unique flare for appreciating all of the specialness in life.

Work this one morning was one of those days where I felt especially lousy about just being in such a dreary environment. Then the receptionist put a call through, announcing job“Donald Trump” was on the phone for me. I took the call and my friend said, “Sh-h-h, don’t say anything …,” as he proceeded to describe his plan for taking me to lunch. Knowing how women are, he had me look out the window periodically until I saw him arrive in the parking lot below. By then word of my call had traveled around the room.

My friend’s black, stretch limo with its tinted windows pulled up outside, taking four or five spaces in the adjoining lot. Driving and dressed in his best Brooks Brothers business garb, Hann exited the driver’s side and withdrew an overflowing roses2bouquet of two dozen bright red roses. He proceeded to the back door, opened it and stood guard waiting for me to take a seat inside.

By then the building must’ve tilted with the weight of all of the women gathering at limo2windows. I glided downstairs and, arriving at the limo’s back door, sat graciously inside as Hann handed me the lap-full of red roses. He returned to his place in the driver’s seat and off we ever-so-regally drove.

We went to the Dairy Queen around the block and sat outside eating hot dogs for lunch. Mine had mustard and onion. I think I ate two. The stark contrast of whisking me away from work as he did to eat DQ hot dogs in the back of a stretch limo with a huge bouquet of red roses strewn across my lap was the ultimate finding of magic in the mundane.

[In memory of a remarkable entrepreneur, Thomas Francis Hannon, creator of the “bite size” snack food market.]

 


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Nights Like This (Music Vids)

doglisteningI cannot go to sleep. My dog doesn’t know if it’s wake-up or go-to-bed time. She runs out to cold-stare me when she thinks she’s heard food, then at regular intervals to sniff my lap in case I snuck something. I should be so alert.

Since I can’t sleep I thought I’d write. Problem is, my cognitive mind is asleep, it’s my subliminal mind that doesn’t want to get along. Wherever I store my creativity, it sure isn’t happenin’ right now. My mind is like running what’s already a V6 on 1 cylinder.

diy2So I checked-out Reader Suggestion Tags to get to thinking about what to write and the wheels began to ever so slowly churn. News flash. ‘DIY’ is no easier to think through than it is to do, especially if you don’t do much DIY.

I thought to myself  … “I load the dishwasher myself … I do laundry myself … .” I was sure that’s not what the Suggestion Conductor had in mind. I couldn’t think of one thing I do that is actually ‘Do It Yourself.’ Try harder, self. I do love to bake diybread and homemade pies, those I do by myself. Maybe I’ve hit on something. Now what do I do with it. My cognitive mind is not keeping up with this task.

I tried water painting once. I did better art in grade school. At least that was supposed to look like a grade schooler’s.

I used to sew. That’s a DIY thing. I’ve made clothing and done an alright job of it, but my favorite things were Halloween costumes. Partially because they’re so creative and partially because it doesn’t matter if they fit just right. Does a “used to” DIY count?

dofstareMy poor dog doesn’t know which end is up: Whether it’s wake-up time or go-to-bed time so she keeps jumping from her sleep to cold-stare me every time she thinks she hears a crunch or the rattle of a food wrapper. Every once in a while she gets up just to sniff my lap for crumbs, in case I snuck something while she napped. I should be so alert.

I figure it’s about four hours until stores open. Then I have a reason to get out for some fresh air. That assumes, by then, I am reasonably functioning. Oh – that’s something else I do by myself. Shop. That doesn’t count, I know, I know.

It’s much colder today, which is really weird after so much high heat and humidity. I thought for sure this night air would knock me on my keister. What does it take to put diylaundthis keister down? Hey [light bulb moment]! That sounds like a song. I could DIY writing a ‘put my keister down’ song. I think that verges on plagiarism. Later. Maybe.

I should DIY laundry. At least that’d be productive. I do fold it, you know, and there is a talent to that. Oh, and I do the stain stick things first. I think laundry should count as a DIY. Half a DIY? Aww, come on. Give me a break, I’m having a rough night.

In the background I have Simon & Garfunkel singing “Homeward Bound,” where everything is waiting silently for them. I notice they don’t mention laundry, but, after all, they did write a few songs of their own.

Oh here’s a good beat. This beat makes me want to dance. I cannot hold my shoulders still (try it when listening to this). My keister won’t budge but these shoulders are a-rockin’! And yes, that’s something I do well by myself. I know, shoulder dancing does not a DIY make.

Now if I can just keep these shoulders rockin’ for another three hours I should be fine for that outing to shop. Mama told me there’d be … .

 


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Hang On to What You’ve Got (Music Vid)

aasheets“We imagine our delight in how much better a newer version will be instead of the antiquated one we’ve hung onto for longer than any of our beloved pets survived.”

There’s much to be said for hanging-on to what we’ve got.

Sheet straps: You know the kind, with the garter at the end for tethering sheet corners in place over your mattress. Maybe I toss and turn more than most, but I’ve been using the same old sheet straps for more years than I care to admit. I figured it’s time to replace them. Yes, I have sheets older than I care to admit, too.

When we replace a good old reliable the anticipation is that, surely in the past 20-years (ooops), technology has made improvements. We imagine our delight in how much better a newer version will be than the one we’ve hung onto for longer than any of our beloved pets survived. That’s a real motivator, what a treat to finally indulge frivolous gimmicks we’ve frugally denied ourselves anew for so long.

(Truthfully? In my case it’s more about forgetting them when I shop but we won’t open that can of worms right now.)

Well, I’m sorry Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons, my new sheet straps leave much to be desired. The sad thing is, that’s not a surprise. It’s more like an old rerun of deja’ vu.

How many times have you replaced an old trusted reliable with a new fangled one only to find the new one isn’t nearly as well made or doesn’t work at all? So now what, I ask, I’m supposed to buy new sheets to fit the sheet straps? Is that the real (subliminal) message? Do sheet companies make these things?

I don’t need new sheets … except for the fact that my new sheet straps won’t attach to the sheets I already have, those being of thicker quality than most of today’s, too, I suppose.

At least my bed is freshly made … until tomorrow morning, when I fight refastening these new fangled sheet straps, which is worse than not having them in the first place.

Now that I think about it, maybe now’s the time to replace my bed. I’ve been wanting to do that for a while. That would mean entirely new bedding, from sheets to pillow cases to dust ruffle and bedspread, which means I’d also need new drapes … … … now where the heck did I put those old sheet straps?

Hang on, hang on, hang on to what you’ve got.

 


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Politics, WordPress, Cyberspace, Spiders, & Folk Songs (Music Vid)

1folksong“That was familiar frustration, which is only slightly better than the unfamiliar kind. What happened to evenings sitting on the porch singing folk songs?” (Song Video)

aprotest1I ask myself why I sit in front of these televised Congressional hearings as intently as I do. Afraid I’ll miss something, I guess, plus just bored with what I could (should) be doing. I don’t like the news snippets afterwards. Those don’t capture the spirit of a moment and depending on which station you watch, oh my gosh, their editing amounts to a ‘spoiler alert’ you hear in regret, because you’re never going to see the real thing again.

aplatoI could do without all of today’s “protesting” hoopla, for sure. What a poor example of our society. In retrospect, I know that’s exactly what my grandparents’ generation said of us … and theirs, before them. I reassure myself it’s getting very close to coming full circle when manners are back in vogue. Well, that’s what I keep telling myself.

I whiled-away time this evening trying to figure out how to print WP posts for a three-ring binder. After exhausting every trick-in-the-book, I was surprised to realize, apparently, WP doesn’t let you print your own work in a decent format unless you pay/upgrade with their print plug-in. In fact, they make it down right hard. Hmph. That’s shoddy. Now they tell me? I’m doing good to function with the free version, can’t imagine what I’d be forced to learn with an upgrade. At my age you don’t force yourself to learn anything that’s not critical to living.

apostsThe last thing my life needs is more frustration, so I spent a few hours hopping from desk to printer and back again several times per post so I could print one, two-sided. That says nothing of all the angst I put myself through when first determined I could find a better way. It’s laughable when I think about it … giving up on that only to count odd versus even pages then misprint and start over a few times, as if that wasn’t “frustrating.” At least that was familiar frustration, which is only slightly better than the unfamiliar kind.

I should probably be on Twitter right now instead of here, where I could vent in 240-characters or less and be done with it. But the last time I tried that one of my best tweet atwitterreplies disintegrated into the Conservative censorship pit, wherever that is, never to be seen hide nor hair of again. That was disappointing. Now that I think about all of this, though, it is really sad that digital media has so much of a grip on my life. What happened to evenings of sitting on the porch playing a guitar singing folk songs?

Willie Nelson | By Graeme MacKayMy patio is nice and I thought about going out there this evening … but this time of year there are a lot of spiders in the shadows. By the time I gathered my amenities and shoed away those critters, arghhh, too much spooky hassle for me … and it’s a l-o-n-g way back & forth to the printer.

So who’s fault is it I’m left wallowing in so many furstrations of cyberspace, as if that’s the best option? But I can’t play guitar and, oh, and I can’t sing either.

Those darned protestors.



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What’s with the Trees?

Atrees1I laid down with him to put him to sleep and he, hearing so much adult talk about current events, asked, “Maka, what happens when you die?”

He was about three when he started forming thoughts into well-rounded sentences. Some of the concepts his innocent, little mind conjured would entertain us for hours. It wasn’t unusual for my first-born grandson to sit among the young adults adding his two-cents, which intrigued them into encouraging more.

He routinely stayed with me every weekend and often in between. From the first words my grandson tried to speak, one was an endearing name for me that combined “Grandma” and my given first name, resulting in “Maka.” Our 45-minute drive to my house was always the same, down the New Jersey thruway and its off-ramp lined with well-established trees.

Atrees3On one occasion the seasons were changing from summer to fall and trees surrounding my exit had turned from lush green to a bare, stark gray. Seated in his passenger-side car seat as we slowed to exit, my grandson was in his typical gaze out the window.

All of the sudden, with a toddler’s ‘this just isn’t right’ alarm, he stated emphatically:

Hey! What’s with the trees?

The commitment in his young voice, in noticing such a profound revelation of nature that was not the least bit natural in his opinion, was hysterical.

Living in New York then and heavily reported in the news, shortly after singer Eric Clapton’s toddler son fell to his death from their New York apartment window another child died the same way. Those spawned belaboring discussions and debate involving child safety. Not long after, my elderly next door neighbor, with whom my grandson had developed a caring rapport, also died. Apparently overhearing all of this talk about dying caused him to ponder the concept of death.

Atrees2Visiting one night I laid down with him to put him to sleep and he wanted to toddler-talk. After typical chit-chat about his day and having heard so much adult talk about death, he asked me,

Maka, what happens when you die?

I fumbled trying to explain in toddler terms and a way that wouldn’t scare him. He hesitated, then, with a keen awareness that death meant permanent absence from others in your life and not wanting those he loved to overhear, he lowered his voice and secretly whispered toward my ear,

“Maka, when you die can I go with you?”

I don’t remember my reply, only the melting of my heart..


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Dad & the Walkman (Music Vid)

cdion2I bought the tape, a Walkman and set it to play …

This song hit the charts and Father’s Day was around the corner. The lyrics reminded me so much of Dad I couldn’t imagine a better gift. You may not remember walkmans or are too young to know (an early predecessor of portable CD players then iPhones with earbuds). It was a lifetime ago.

I bought Celine Dion’s tape, a Walkman, set it to play on this song and mailed it to Dad. All he had to do was open it, put on the headphones and push the button.

They said he went in the other room to listen and began crying. God bless you, Dad. It’s the one thing that’s brought me to tears since those of losing you.

Dad hosted our family reunions every Labor Day weekend. Happy Labor Day to you and yours!

Even without you here,
this keeps you near.
I love you.

~ Karen Suzanne ~

 

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Celebration Time, Come On! (Music Vid)

Remember this song? I love it!

After moving here and with no customary rituals of family gatherings on holidays, I was lost as to just how I was supposed to celebrate those? How the heck do you celebrate by yourself? Can it even be done or was I supposed to relent to my elderly aunt’s theory, “ehh, every day of the year is the same.” That didn’t feel right. I wasn’t ‘there’ yet.

celebrateI hadn’t learned fixings-for-one so the first holiday I cooked up a storm just as I would any other and handed out paper plates full to neighbors in the same boat. Apparently they’d subscribed to my aunt’s theory of what I was still determined could be done. I mean, you have to admit. It’s pretty hard to celebrate with just yourself, but if nothing else kitchen cleanup put me right back in the moment.

The next holiday was Thanksgiving and by then I had a dog. She’s an adorable little princess of a small bred Golden Doodle and look at those eyes, aren’t they determined, too? She must get that from me [blushing smile]. Hmmm, now that I look closer they could be saying, “if you like your hand you’ll get that selfie-taker out of my face.”

CC16.2 (2)A-hem. I digress.

What a great idea to train her to sit at our Thanksgiving table with paws in place for grace and me ever so properly dishing out portions, wouldn’t that be cute and laughable? Does ‘cute and laughable’ not a celebration make? I think it does. Well, like that was ever going to happen. As much as I love dogs and children, training them was never my forte’.

I went all out anyway, from cooking turkey to homemade noodles and mashed potatoes, signature green bean casserole, sweet potatoes, and a freshly baked pie. With a spoonful of each on her just-right-sized plate, my little best buddy licked it clean. What you have to appreciate is, this Golden Doodle is like a picky-eating child, so I considered her gobbling cleanup a compliment on high. Now that was reason for celebration.

This dog is so picky that, like any other, she’ll drive you crazy with cold, hard stares wanting whatever you’re eating. When I hand a bite of my food out to her she sniffs for a full 15-seconds before taking it, like I’m trying to poison her or something. Hmph. Tees me off sometimes.

Since that Thanksgiving’s shindig I’ve toned things down (celebrating for one, errr two, is exhausting) and I have learned to cook more appropriate portions in honor of cleanup. I took pictures of that Thanksgiving so when the next holiday rolls around I’d be sure to remember how celebrating for one, errr two, is or isn’t done and that not ‘every day of the year is the same.’

 

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The Color of Meds

med7The elderly group inevitably turned to talk of “medications.” They chatted away comparing how well theirs did or didn’t work, what colors and shapes they came in, their costs and side effects … surely medications would never be at the top of my chat list. [Dum-da-dum-dum]

Myself newly retired, I visited my father vacationing in a quaint area off the Florida coast. He chose that area because several of his lifelong friends from our hometown retired there and they’d all get-together.

Our hometown was so small it was like the whole place had packed bags to retire in this life of leisure: The postmaster, the grocery store owner, Dad’s fishing & hunting buddies, the bus driver, and Small town with small and medium business. women I’d known as nurses, administrators, wives or coddling mothers of many old school friends.

I went to breakfast with them one morning and it was indeed an endearing perspective to see so many vaguely-familiar, aged faces from my rural Midwest past in such unfamiliar beach garb and setting. Knowing one another so well everyone gathered around a hugely long table chatting as I struggled to remember how I knew each of their mannerisms.

Table talk began as a bunch of wisecracks and good old-fashioned ribbing in remembering this or that. I was relatively “young” in the group and, to them, I’m sure, I was still the kid they watched grow up some fifty years earlier.

Forty is the old age of youth and fifty is the youth of old age. [Mark Twain]

As things settled down and as I’ve learned since, it was inevitable that this group of 70-somethings’ conversation would turn to health issues and “medications.” Everyone was on pills of some med4sort, chatting incessantly and never wavering from the subject about how well theirs did or didn’t work, how they compared to someone else’s, what colors and shapes they came in, their side effects, the horrors or accolades they’d heard about each, and how one or the other generally improved (or not) their lives.

With all of them talking so much about medication and, of course, all of their intimate health conditions, it was like jolting back in time when they used to coffee-klatch about that week’s church service, what was on at the theatre, the best buy at the store, or the sin of tenure and which teacher needed to be retired. It was humorously strange if not a sense of being personally intrusive to hear them make ‘medication’ their prominent hot topic.

I wondered if they had any idea how much ‘medication’ dominated their talk and how funny that sounded, silently asking myself if it were possible I’d find medication the mainstay of my life, too. Surely medication wouldn’t be at the top of my chat list.

Well, it turns out I did and it is. And, oh, by the way, when you do find yourself intimately acquainted with taking pills you fall into the less-novice abbreviation, “meds.” I dunno, there’s just something very hard core sounding about that, like it’s a street term for drugs or something. I guess, in effect, it is. And now I know why it is.

Soooo, here it is considerable years later and I have this med that’s throwing off blood labs (another one of those ‘street terms’). I needed to go off it for better lab readings, but med2the thing is, that medication was a critical one I’ve been on for several years. It manages manic-depression, so it’s the kind of med that’s important with a direct, delicate impact on brain chemistry.

One of the things this med helps with is allowing me to sleep a normal cycle. Otherwise I’d be up all night into the next day. If you’ve ever had the problem you know what a disorienting ‘trip’ of mumble-jumbled “where am I and what day is it” your self goes through.

I went off the med and was surprised at how well I thought I was doing. Then I found myself shorter than usual with the dog and the people with whom I interacted. I think when I’m off that medication I might actually scare if not infuriate some, because I can’t slow my mind enough to think through facts before I react to them. So I was thinking it might be a good idea to mention this to the doctor.

Then came nights when I could not go to bed or I’d go to bed and do nothing but wallow, toss and turn waiting for my mind to shut down, which never happened. I’d give up and get up and find something to kill the time then be dizzyingly disoriented all the next day and totally dysfunctional by that night. This was not working. I definitely needed to talk with my doctor.

The doctor put me on a replacement medication that, I suppose, is preferable today to what I was prescribed ten years ago. You have to go-on and off of these medications medgradually so it’s a bit of a process. When that med didn’t help me give up the ghost at night the doctor prescribed another to assist with the first. So now I’m on two drugs to replace one and that was Not what I had in mind.

Intermittently during the week I also take medications for a temporary ailment and those are the ones I’ve written about that make me feel so badly. So, in addition to the two replacement medications for the one I’d just gone off of, the doctor added another new med for nausea caused by the intermittent meds I’m already on.

Are you following me?

With so many medications to keep track of and myself, by now, experienced enough to know there can be undesirable effects from new meds, I held off starting the nausea pill until I could see how the other two newbies landed. A couple of days ago I’d j-u-s-t gotten to where the new medications were beginning to work for a normal, restful night again.

Yesterday morning, the first time in way too long of a time, I woke up basking in bed thinking how great it felt for a change to be snuggled and dozing in the brisk morning air. Of course, about the time that thought processed the phone rang. And, of course, the phone was in the living room. ‘Oh well,’ I told myself, there’s always tomorrow to bask in the luxury of a morning’s wake-up doze so I drug myself out of bed to answer the phone (no pun intended).

The doctor’s office called. I missed the call. Really?

med6Last night’s second decent sleep (almost) requires a little more delicate telling. The evening before I took my regular medications then I took the intermittent medications that make me feel so badly then I took two of three new ones. Oh, I was sleeping like a champ, feeling like I’d eventually returned to normal when … you guessed it, surprise!

Not having the wherewithal to change linens in the middle of the night I did what needed to be done then drug my pillow to the living room chair, dozing uncomfortably there until I could drag myself out of it this morning.

I cannot win for losing. I’m still waiting for that good, all-night sleep.

I don’t know which is worse, not being able to sleep or being so medicated to sleep that when sleep is interrupted I can barely stay awake to function. I do know what’s worse than either of those, though.

 

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Boredom is Underrated

Life can be so ridden with boredom I find myself wishing for one of those spontaneous surprises that come out of nowhere and plops me in a whole new realm of possibilities. Something I’d only hoped or never even thought to hope. Something least expected. Something that elevates me into excited whimsy. Life needs that. Every life needs that.

Learning how to be bored is a talent if not a discipline. Uneasy with it at first, I consoled myself that boring was much better than drama-filled alternatives I’d too intimately come to know. I encouraged myself to be satisfied with boredom. Now I’m so content with it I’ve come to expect little else and find ways to give myself more time to be bored. I think that’s a good thing.

And he arose, and rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, Peace, be still. And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. [Mark 4:39]

mail1The mailbox is a bit of a distance where I live and in my well-rounded state of predictable boredom I came to check mail only a couple of times a week. Each time I pulled out a slew of junk mail with one or two envelopes of any significance, if that many, sometimes none. I wish I knew how to get rid of that stuff. It’s darned tedious, which, oddly enough, means boring. If I’m going to be bored I want it to be of my own making, not someone else making my boredom time boring work.

If I could stop junk mail I could get away with checking it only once a week and wouldn’t I be in my boring-glory then? In fact, my life is so boring I actually ponder perusing junk mail magazines as an entertainment option. There are a lot of new things I could buy to perk up my boring existence if only I would let go of a few bucks to do it, but I figure if I have to pay for a feeling of specialness then it doesn’t count.

Nope. I want a natural event of real life exuberance. I kept reassuring myself, when the time is right that special moment that shatters boredom with a new lift of excitement would come, because that’s how the natural tides of life flow when they’re at their best. It was all in the odds of how long I had to spend in boredom waiting, and, oh boy, how good it was going to be when that special uplift did come. The longer it took the better it would be and the more life I’d have under my belt to parlay well adapted boredom into a sense of genuine elatedness.

For a while now I’d felt the time for an uplifting life surprise was right, that in all of my boredom I’d finally categorized my priorities as they should be. I had boredom down to a science and was primed for that special something new. After all, my boredom gave little else to do.

It came yesterday.

Yesterday I pulled more than usual hauls of junk mail out of the mailbox, struggling tomail3 grasp oversized advertisements to ensure not to drop anything that might be important like a utility or car insurance bill. If I didn’t pay one of those and with how infrequently I do (don’t) check mail, God knows how long it’d be before I realized an essential was past due and then boredom would succumb to disgruntled agggravation and I couldn’t have that. Not disrupting the peaceful flow of these menial things plays a huge role in keeping life safely and soundly boring.

Because the trash dumpster is also a bit of distance, I’m exceedingly disciplined in how I accumulate trash and, as you might imagine, junk mail plays an important role. I time my trash runs to coincide with mail checks, because that streamlines things, leaving more time for more uneventful boredom. Ahhh, there is no greater peace than the peacefulness of boredom.

So as I’m juggling yesterday’s overload of junk mail, I pilfered the pile while in the car so I could dispense of the bulky junk to the back floorboard, where I’ll also cart my next load of mail2trash to the dumpster. This routine is critical to not disrupting boredom time and actually enjoy being bored rather than boredom being just enough of a passing fancy that I actually feel bored, if you know what I mean. Any experienced boredom-basker knows there is a fine line.

In all of yesterday’s hoard of mail there was a mere one envelope worth opening. (Well, just between you and me, that doesn’t include the other piece that came looking like a check. For a brief moment of reality abandonment I thought I might be able to buy my way into a nice surprise after all. Nothing good ever comes easy.)

The meaningful envelope was hand-addressed, an unusual trait in today’s times and it wasn’t one of those perfectly scripted-by-computer “handwritings.” This was sloppy, human handwriting. This was a real letter! I had received a r-e-a-l letter from a real human being!

As if that weren’t excitement enough and I suppose to subconsciously prolong this rare moment of suspense, I struggled to make out the name on the return address. I knew I knew it, I just couldn’t recall how I knew it. Then it dawned on me:  This was from the oncologist I had twelve-years ago during cancer.

I’d always sent a Christmas card to him at his office, each year appreciative for and counting the culmination of years of life I couldn’t have had without his compassionate care. I thought the letter must be from his wife (what man these days handwrites a letter?). Then I feared whatever it said, for it must surely be bad news about his passing or something, because when you live in my boredom bad news is about the only news you get via letter. That was really going to blow my boredom safety bubble to smithereens.

Inside was a handwritten letter from the doctor himself. After twelve years of sending cards, he was corresponding with me as a friend, not a patient. He spoke humbly of retiring, a small farm he’s working for himself, the things he’s doing with nature, and how he misses his practice and the people in it. He has found his own little piece of boredom. Then he mentioned coming into his own first year of cancer survival. Setting his health trauma aside, the life he was making sounded so blissfully and boringly peaceful I could almost put myself there. He’d shared his piece of boredom with me and his little plot of it had truly blessed mine.

In my boring, little world, it doesn’t get any better than that kind of special surprise.

When is the last time you handwrote a letter that could turn someone else’s everyday boredom into a real sense of purpose? Some of us have learned the value of loving human surprises in their purest forms and we find them so wonderfully enjoyable we’re willing to wait years for another.

 

In response to WordPress Daily Prompt, Parlay.

 

The Pragmatist

He was such an authoritarian pragmatic it took a lifetime to realize not everyone is like that. The world isn’t like that. Most people in the world are not like that. That made me the weird one. W-h-a-a-a-t?

It’s not surprising this presented a unique set of challenges in sustaining whimsical love. Isn’t ‘whimsical’ the very nucleus of love or is that just the woman in me speaking? Maybe pragmatists love the whimsy of love because it is the exact opposite of who they are and what they live. There’s truth to that. For me, anyway. It’s like a forbidden potion. But, after all, I am the weird one.

If I wanted to be a good, upstanding adult, I believed I had to be like Dad, and likewise, I wrongly thought, as all other adults. So being ‘the weird one’ was my unintended goal. Ipragmatic1 succeeded in rare form. To some degree I suppose I was prewired for it, for surely not every child reared by an authoritarian pragmatist takes kindly to it.

Mom was the busied housewife with homemaking and social duties as one might expect of the perfect 1950’s mother. At a young age it was my job to iron Dad’s white hankies for his suit pocket (remember, this was the 50s). She seemed to enjoy her role and she was very good at it. Dad was the deep thinker, the one who probed places of the mind and universe that most people did not share with a little kid like me. When Dad gave me one-on-one time, I was euphoric, in heaven, soaking up his words, his perspectives, his ambitions, and his values. I loved Mom dearly and I learned much from her, but ironing hankies, cooking a good meal or catering a crowd came second to where Dad’s deep-ponderings took me.

I suppose it’s impractical to expect any woman to forever be a good textbook wife and mother as Mom tried to be. Or maybe the differences between she & Dad were just too great, which is more likely. She left years later, with us secured in familiar surroundings and Dad’s financial stability. Even through that heartache and turmoil, Dad kept himself above the fray of speaking badly about Mom. He always reminded us of special occasions, like her birthday or Mothers Day, lest we forget to show her we were thinking of her.

Now that is the ultimate pragmatist.

pragmatic2Even through my rebellious years I kept my eye on sound reasoning, whether I let it influence my own behavior or not. I readily identified when I was doing wrong, I just did it anyway. As most youngsters, eventually I settled into living a real life, having no idea that my innate pragmatism was causing more problems than it was solving.

It took years – way too many – to learn that people in general resent a person like me. I could feel the resentment, I just didn’t know why it was there. I didn’t figure that out until I was senior in age. Maybe I’m a slow learner or maybe that’s how seriously I took being what I had so admired in Dad. It was all I knew to be, really. It’s how I was programmed and the older I got the more I had perfected it – except when it came to love.

What was supposed to work so well for the makings of a good adult caused a lot of personal grief. I kept sloughing it off as others being strange or morally deficient until, one day, I looked around and came to the stark realization that, as good as my intentions were, I was alone in thinking like I do and in being as self-disciplined as I am … I am the weird one. I am the exception to the rule. Oh sigh. What to do now?

Well, we all know you can’t change your internal programming. You can try to rearrange it, better it, polish or tweak it, but you cannot change it. My only choice was to keep being some updated version of me and hope the day would come when I could attract the rare few who must be out there like me (there must be others?).

I’m still waiting.

There are no others like me.

I should’ve known that, too. That’s what makes us all uniquely individual. There’s no one like any of us out there.

The moral of the story is,  we’re all weird. We are all the same in that we are all different. So as I continue working on myself I’m also tweaking ‘what/who’ I’m waiting for. Now I’m waiting for someone who values my innate uniqueness and whose unique form of theirs I can embrace. That’s a lot more likely. I think. At least it increases the odds. I think.

pragmatic3A friend once told me of his father’s advice:  “In a good marriage the debits equal the credits.” That’s an accounting term, which means all of the assets [debits] equal all of the liabilities [credits]. That’s how you know everything is in balance, as it should be.

Now that’s pragmatic. Ahhhh, I’ve come full circle.