Amazon, no way!

“Excuse me, where can I find the chocolate truffles?” I asked the sales assistant.

Amazon sucks for buying books. It has to be done properly. I need real-life books to leaf through, chairs to sit on while leafing, and a café that has espresso and chocolates and people to chat with.

A trip to such a bookstore is still one of my favorite outings. These days, in my area, I have a choice between Barnes & Noble, or Barnes & Noble. There’s one 30 miles north of me and one 30 miles south. Fortunately I’m fond of B&N. It’s a survivor, like me. I’m 71 and my friends said I’d never make it this far. I used to drink a lot of wine. Today I eat a lot of chocolate. Yet here I am. 

Yes, I know, B&N is often more expensive than Amazon, even with Amazon’s shipping charges. I suppose I could go to Half Price Books or Rasputin, but they don’t have the café and the chocolate.

I prefer the B&N south of me. Traffic getting there is always heavy and getting heavier, but it’s a lovely drive along a beautiful freeway lined on the east with horses and rolling hills and oak trees and mansions. I cruise along contentedly listening to Tony Bennett – Lady Gaga duets.  

If B&N doesn’t have the book I want, I have them order it. They might even get it from Amazon for all I know, but that’s okay. C’est la vie! At least, that’s life for a plump, book-loving senior lady with a penchant for chocolate truffles and espresso (double long shots), who loves to chat in cafés with all kinds of people. And who still pays cash whenever possible.  

I hope B&N doesn’t suffer the common fate nowadays of brick-and-mortar stores, at least not before I myself float up to the great iCloud. As long as B&N is still with us, Amazon will just have to limp along without me.     

High anxiety in the parking lot

Please, tell me where my car is!

Not again. I came out of Target, gazed at the vast, packed parking lot and realized I had no idea where my car was. I always mean to make a note of the parking row, but often forget as soon as I’m out of the car. 

I managed to remember it wasn’t too far from the store, so I went down the first row, clicking my key button and waiting hopefully for the beep. Silence. I turned down the next row, clicking. Silence. Another row, silence….

After the third row I got anxious. Evidently it showed, because suddenly I heard a sweet, angelic young voice. “Ma’am, do you need help?” I turned to see a pretty young woman looking at me from her SUV window, at exactly the same time I clicked my key and heard…my car!

Then the angel asked me again. “Are you lost? Can I help you find your car?”

“Oh, I just found it, finally! But thanks so much. I appreciate it.”

It was wonderful to encounter such a helpful, caring young woman in this age of self-centered individualism. Perhaps I reminded her of a beloved grandmother. I’m 71. At the same time it was disheartening to be so distracted I couldn’t remember where my car was and, the worst part, that it SHOWED. My anxiety was probably flashing like a warning light.  

I might find myself again someday wandering up and down parking lot rows, searching among countless nautical-blue Toyota Corollas for “216” at the end of the license plate. But maybe I shouldn’t be so anxious. “He shall direct your paths,” Proverbs 3:6 promises. The young woman was a reminder that God always sends angels. Almost always, anyway. Maybe I should have gotten her phone number.  

Better yet, maybe I should be my own angel and take responsibility for myself and enter the damn parking row in my iPhone notes. It’s time to grow up.  

Getting right with myself

Ice cream is one of the things I really love. And soft rain. And movies. But what I really really love is Likes. WordPress Likes, to be specific. If I publish a post that doesn’t get many likes, I’m down in the dumps. If I publish a post that gets lots of likes, I’m on top of the world. I live for them. Hmmm…that sounds like an addiction. I guess it is. Yikes, I’m addicted to Likes.

Obviously I have some inner work to do on this issue. I’m depending on others to create my happiness. I’m basing my self-esteem on conditions outside of myself. I see that now, and I’m starting to realize that the person who really has to like my posts is ME. If I’m happy with them, if I know they’re quality posts and they’re my very best work, that should satisfy me.

I’m getting there. I repeat to myself throughout the day, “I am whole within myself. I don’t need outside approval.”

I just have to be right with myself. When I get to that point I’ll be on top of the world. Blogging has brought many issues to my awareness and dealing with them has prodded me into personal, even spiritual, growth.

Thanks for sharing my blogging journey with me.

P.S. I’m hoping you will Like this post. Come on, all you have to do is click on a little itty bitty button. Please? Pretty please?

 

The downside of blogging


I love blogging, but I wish there was a more pleasant-sounding word for it. Blog rhymes with bog, smog, slog, sog and other unappetizing things. It also rhymes with fog, which is lovely, but the unsavory words that rhyme with blog far outnumber the beautiful.

Take bog, a swamp-like morass, a place where you might encounter an alligator or a huge poisonous snake or the Creature From the Black Lagoon. Or you can get bogged down, in paperwork or odious chores. And how about smog, the scourge of modern civilization, hanging over the land in ugly yellow-brown tones and ruining lungs. And there’s clog, as in to cause to be backed up: a clogged toilet, yuk. People slog, as in plodding or struggling, perhaps to get across a bog. Which gets us to sogged. You would probably get sogged crossing a bog. And there might be a hog in the bog. You never know. Hogs are worthy animals, don’t get me wrong, but they’re not terribly attractive. 

Oops, I almost forgot flog. I’ll leave you to decide whether to spin the punishment or pleasure connotation of that word. Some people enjoy being flogged, but it’s not my cup of tea.

We have to take the good with the bad. I enjoy blogging immensely so I’ll just put up with the way it sounds. I’ll simply keep on slogging through my blog, enjoying every minute, and reminding myself that it also rhymes with dog, one of my most beloved things in life, and with eggnog, a joy of the holidays.

CHEERS!


“Blog” is derived from “weblog,” coined in 1997. It developed into the first digital diary allowing readers to add comments to others’ blogs.

Don’t mess with seniors.

I’ve arrived. I’m a bonafide senior citizen. And I find that many people make false assumptions about me because of my gray hair. OMG, some even assume I’m not computer literate!    

Recently at a department store the clerk was updating the mailing list. He asked the young woman ahead of me in line, “What’s your email address?” When my turn came, he asked, “Do you have email?” I’m sure my gray hair caused the difference in the questions. But I have gray hair and email. Surprise, sonny! 

When I cycle, young people on the trail say things to me like “You’re awesome!” They mean well, but being singled out just because I’m cycling makes me feel absolutely ancient. Maybe they think it’s an amazing feat just to get my decrepit old body up on the bike.

The biggest fallacy is that I’m feeble-minded, memory-challenged, easy prey. A while back some checkers at my neighborhood grocery store stopped giving change when I swiped for cash over purchase. “I swiped my card for twenty over,” I’d  say when I got only a receipt. They quickly reopened the register and got my cash.

It happened with more checkers, and more often with the same checkers, as my hair turned grayer. Many of my senior friends were dealing with the same thing.  

“What’s the world coming to?” I wondered. Then I realized I had changed, not the world. I had aged. The scammers are always there, and started in on me because they thought I wouldn’t remember what happened seconds ago. But just who has the memory problem? They couldn’t even recall they’d tried me before, and hadn’t gotten away with a single twenty. 

They don’t get it. My friends and I are worldly and wise. Sure, some seniors lose life savings to Ponzi schemes and such, but not my crowd. Our brain cells are fine-tuned, our synapses fire robustly. Not only that, we’re the world’s fastest growing population and there’s power in numbers. So don’t mess with us. If you do, you are going down.


This commentary originally aired as a KQED Public Radio Perspective.

Snail Mail Wail

In my neighborhood we get each other’s mail regularly. This also happens to a friend who lives in a posh suburb in the hills, on a street with only two houses. They get each other’s mail. Go figure.

When I get someone else’s mail, if it’s close by I’ll hand deliver it to their mailbox. I’m afraid to just leave it in our box for the carrier to redeliver the next day. Who knows where it will end up next? On a jet to New Zealand? On a pack mule going to a remote Indian reservation in Arizona?

Mail carriers are delivering precious cargo vital to our lives. They carry birthday cards with money to beloved grandchildren, letters to elderly far-away loved ones who don’t do email, sympathy cards, get-well cards, pride-filled graduation and new-baby announcements, Medicare payments, bank statements, DMV vehicle registration bills…all manner of crucial communications. 

It’s a noble mission. But I see carriers walking around with their cell phones, laughing and talking while absent-mindedly stuffing mail into the wrong boxes. It is distracted delivering! The other day our neighbor Glen, a couple of houses away, went to put some outgoing mail in his mailbox for the carrier. It was important quarterly reporting to the State of California for his construction business.  The carrier happened to be right there delivering his mail, so he handed his outgoing to her. Later that afternoon I picked up our mail and Glen’s was in our box. The carrier had stuck it there instead of taking it to the post office. Such a short walk. You’d think she could have kept it straight for two houses. I don’t think I’ll let her pick our lemons anymore.  

And once my sister-in-law, who lives right up the street from us, found a get well card I had mailed to my second cousin—or tried to—in her bushes. It must have been hastily stuffed into the carrier’s satchel and fallen out.

Some of us have complained to the postal service but we get replacement carriers who do the same things as the ones they replaced. It’s all been another life lesson for me, on the recurring issue of acceptance. Okay, sigh. I’ll just keep returning mail to its proper owners as best I can, and hope to God that our neighbors do the same for us. We just have to have each other’s backs.  


I’d love to go to New Zealand, but not my mail.

Blogging is good for your health.

Maybe you think the above title is a mistake, that I meant to say jogging. Nope. I mean blogging. You’re getting healthier if you laugh while you blog. 

Everyone knows jogging is good for your health. It strengthens muscles, improves cardiovascular fitness, helps maintain weight…yadda yadda yadda. As long as you don’t ruin your knees.

But how in the world can blogging be good for your health? The answer is endorphins. When you laugh you increase the number of these “feel-good” hormones in your system. The trick is you need to write humor. I write a lot of it. At least my friends tell me my stuff is funny. My blog posts make me laugh, which is the important part. Writing humor increases your health only if you laugh at your own jokes like I do.

Two young bloggers ramp up their endorphin counts.

When I’m at my PC blogging, sometimes I laugh so much that my husband thinks someone is in my office with me. It’s very therapeutic for me because I’ve suffered from depression nearly all of my life. I won’t go into the details, which I’ve been boring my friends with for years, but some very dark things lurk in my family background: suicide, heroin addiction, crime, hellacious accidents, alcoholism, permanent estrangement…the list goes on, but as a public service I’ll stop here.

So when I write about campaigning for a tooth fairy who comes to seniors, or becoming a Victoria’s Secret reject because my bra band size is larger than their max 38 inches,  or trying to meditate at home with Judge Judy’s obnoxious voice blaring from the TV, I’m manufacturing endorphins. These happy brain chemicals also relieve pain.

In a scientific test conducted at Oxford, participants’ arms were wrapped tightly in a blood-pressure cuff and tightness was increased gradually. Some participants watched 15 minutes of comedy, and they were able to withstand 10 percent more pain than participants who didn’t watch comedy. There’s also a bonding effect in an endorphin rush that is important in our social lives, believed to be like grooming for certain highly social animals such as monkeys. Endorphins also reduce stress and create a positive feeling in the body.

So next time someone tells you laughter is good for your health, don’t laugh. It’s true. And it doesn’t ruin your knees.