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.

Memories of Premarital Tennis

I have fond memories of playing tennis with my husband before we were married. I have not-so-fond memories of playing tennis after we got married. Marriage changes everything, even tennis.

I’ve talked with girlfriends who play tennis, or used to play tennis, and they’ve had similar experiences after getting married. Who knows why things change like this? Let’s not even go there.  They just do.

Frank and I met in a tennis club for singles. Frank was very chivalrous when we were dating, and that extended to tennis. He was much better than me, rated Men’s-A tournament level in our club. I was a Women’s-C. We only played together informally, with friends. Back then Frank was unconcerned about whether we won or lost. We just had fun.

Then we got married, and things changed. After we lost a match he would say things like “You need to work on your serve” or “You need to practice your volley” or “You’ve got a weak slam.” We’d go out during the week and he’d feed me volleys to return as slams, or coach me on my serve, or feed me fast and corner balls to return. We drilled and drilled. He wanted to win his doubles matches.

With the pressure on, tennis became just one more stress on top of my busy life as a working mother. Eventually I quit playing. Frank practiced some weekday evenings and played every Sunday. I alternated between hiking and going to movies on Sunday. On movie days I went to a little theatre that was next to a coffee shop, and after the movie I’d treat myself to a guilty pleasure—espresso and a luscious gelato. In solitary splendor, I enjoyed myself immensely.  

Then Frank broke his metatarsal bone running down a tennis ball, when he was 65. It was quite painful and he wore a big knee-high boot for two months and did physical therapy for a long time after that. He never went back to tennis. He felt the foot was a weak link and susceptible to re-injury at his age. He gave his huge bag of beat-up practice balls to a friend who has a lovable Yorkshire terrier named Maggie.

Now Frank and I go to the movies nearly every Sunday. We both enjoy them. No one competes, no one loses, no one screws up. We laugh and we cry. We have animated, enjoyable discussions of the film afterwards over a nice dinner. We both win. So far the score is Love-Love. Actually, Love-Love-Love. Maggie adores her tennis balls.

Affirmative Prayer for Today’s World

Thank you, God, for my own team of angels—hidden in the wings (no pun intended), ready to appear swiftly, 24-7-365, and help me with my obscure digital devices.


My angels are the tech-savvy men and women who answer technical help phone lines whenever I need assistance (quite often). I could not function in this high-tech world without these cherished angels. I can hear their voices, sweet and clear and strong, though I cannot see them. But I know these beings are angels because of the other-worldly vibration in the background of the phone line, as like the beating of wings, and occasional soft harp music when I’m on hold.  

My first angel appeared in days of olde, when I got high-speed internet. AT&T sent me a mysterious router thingy to set up myself. Were they kidding? After hours of lonely, futile struggle to connect it, I gave up and called the technical help line. I no longer had to walk alone! An angel disguised in the soothing voice of a young man came on the line to be my unfailing guide for three solid hours. He led me as I looked on the tops and backs of modems and hard drives and other things for specs in unreadable microscopic type, and crawled around on the floor with a flashlight testing phone jacks. Praise God, at midnight we finally found a good connection. To this day my router is located in the kitchen next to the toaster. 

My first sweet Verizon angel led me through updating my iPhone software using the USB port on my PC. I didn’t have Wi-Fi. With the patience of Job, my angel led me through infinite, complex, anti-intuitive steps. She left me only during the hours-long download and with great comfort I sensed her hovering near me all the while, just a phone call away.

When I purchased a new PC from Best Buy I added a year of Geek Squad technical support to my angel team. They’re always nearby, closer than breathing, nearer than hands and feet. I renew every year, and plan to do so for eternity.

Through my tech angels God gives me all the guidance I could possibly need, and to spare. At times I have a deep longing to see my angels, but I know deep in my heart I must wait. Here on earth I can see only the telephone through which I make contact with them. But I know with certainty it will happen, when we finally lay down our earthly garments and float up to the iCloud. We’ll all have a meetup, and then we shall see face to face. 

The Power of Laughter

aI was a very tiny toddler, with a great big belly laugh that surprised people. But early on I learned how to push it down, keep it under wraps. It was muted for decades.

When I was three my family—together in those days—went for a day at the beach. Mom stayed up by the boardwalk while my father and older brother and I went down to the water, a long walk away. It was a cold windy day and the waves were huge. For years afterwards Mom would recount how she could barely see us but she could hear my laugh booming over the roaring breakers.

My brother was the one making me laugh. Mike had found a piece of kelp about five feet long and was cracking it like a whip at the waves, yelling “Get back! Get back!” when they started to recede. It was hilarious to me to watch the waves as they seemed to obey my brother’s commands. I laugh even now, thinking of it.

Life hummed along for a few years. I was a happy child, a fierce tomboy, indomitable. Even though I was the shortest girl in my school, I ran like the wind and outraced boys, climbed trees, hit homers in street softball, caught every fly ball in the field, always won at tetherball. 

The magic wore off. Mike got into drugs in his early teens and shot himself up with heroin for decades. One day he was high on  smack and working with heavy machinery, and he lost his right arm. My father was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia and heavily depressed for 20 years. I formed a belief—I realize this now—that laughter was insensitive and uncaring, with poor Daddy so sick and hopeless. I imagined how it made him feel worse and felt guilty, even though he didn’t live with us anymore. So I suppressed it. But he committed suicide anyway, when he was fifty.  

I started drinking in my mid-twenties. I stopped when my daughter was three and I was forty-one. I damaged relationships and not all of them were restored. Life got a lot better when I sobered up. I kept jobs, I was a safe and responsible parent to my daughter, I was just an overall better person. But I sustained painful losses. At seventy, I’m still working to heal the damaged relationship with my daughter.

I’ve had years of therapy and commitment to a spiritual program. Feelings of running like the wind, whipping the tetherball around the pole, scrambling up trees like a monkey are starting to come back to me: feelings of being exquisitely alive. I’m bouncing back, and so is my belly laugh. It’s a little rusty but still there.

Mike became clean and sober at forty. For ten years he had a good life, helping other addicts, then died of lung cancer. I don’t have him anymore to tame waves with his kelp whip and make me laugh out loud. But I have Melissa McCarthy impersonating Sean Spicer. That’s close enough.