List-en Up!

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I will confess:  I do love lists.  I love lists because they are:

  1. Organized
  2. Simple
  3. Universal
  4. Useful
  5. Thought restoring and thought provoking
  6. Often therapeutic

They are ubiquitous in my head, in my purse, on my refrigerator, on my desk.  Whether organizing my thoughts or my tasks, a list is a comfort and a help, employed as an assistive device, yet an object with a soul of its own.  There is something innately satisfying about creating a carefully catalogued litany and then committing it to paper, each entry just begging to be stricken off one-by-one when addressed.

I’ve discovered that it’s not solely the memory-boosting connection that prompts me to engage in my listful thinking; I delight in the simple mechanism of list-making.  I can enumerate the bejesus out of anything, extending far beyond the pedestrian Grocery List:  My Favorite Movies, Countries I Have Visited, My Nook Wish List, 10 People I Would Like to Meet, Why I Love (Hate) My Job … you get the picture.

The workplace relative of the list is the bullet point.  I am keen on bullet points, too.  My memos are written in high bullet point style, even the most informal ones (e.g., Bills to Pay) that I post on my bulletin board.  I prefer the old time, generic bullets, however; the florid bullets available in Microsoft Word are just crazy – stop the madness.

Outlines are just flashier, more highly educated lists.  I hold outlines in high esteem as well.  I adhere to the carefully learned and fostered outline style of my seventh grade English teacher:  no “I” without a “II”, no “A” without a “B”, and so on.  Remember the outline cards we had to turn in as part of innumerable research paper projects, grades 5 through 12?  I rather enjoyed that, although I would never have admitted it at the time.

My illicit listmania could, I suppose, veer into the realm of OCD-ish-ness.  At present, however, it is well-controlled, and provides assistance and diversion.  I must say, though:  Angie and Craig, whoever they may be, have the right idea!  (And Franz Lizst might have the coolest name ever.)

Curse of the Mommy

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Remember the first time your own mother looked at you with that steely stare, jaw clenched, mouth pursed in lips of fury and enunciated with deadly purpose, “Just wait until you have children”?

What did you do?  I laughed.  I hooted – guffawed with the realization that she was, of course, nuts.  I mean, come on.  How could anyone with all of her marbles become unglued, actually psychotic, over some childish misadventure or comment?  Honestly, an orangutan could do a better job with kids.  Although I don’t recall, I probably then enlightened my mother with my blistering critique and rapier wit, which of course would have led to bedroom incarceration to think about it.

Fast forward 30-plus years and who’s laughing now?  What about all of those times when an orangutan would have come in handy, if for nothing else than comedic relief?  Those times when you, yourself actually uttered those six little words, the Universal Mother’s Hex: “Just Wait Until You Have Children!”

My three children are grown now, productive members of society all, voters and consumers.  (Pats self on back.)  There are no grandchildren yet, and I await that advent with interest and a bit of bemusement – Ah-ha!  Now they’ll finally get it!

My Anti-Bucket List

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Everyone knows that your Bucket List is an itemized accounting of those things that you want to accomplish/see/do/visit/experience before you die, or kick the bucket.  I recently committed mine to a written format, although the gist had been circulating in my brain for a long time.

This, however, is my Anti-Bucket list, a list of those things that I want never to accomplish/see/do/visit/experience; I guess you could call it my “Fuck-It List”.  (Can you say that in a blog?  We’ll see.)  These are not the universally obvious, such as never wanting to die in a fire or not wanting to have an accident.  Come on, that would be depressing and just plain ridiculous to itemize all of those terrible experiences.  Instead these are the references you may read about, perhaps those events or pastimes currently in vogue, the crazes and obsessions of the rich and famous — all fodder for the foolhardy in my (cranky) opinion.

My Anti-Bucket List:  I Really Do Not Ever Want to:

  1. Go to an ice bar or stay in an ice hotel.
    I moved from Indiana to Florida because I despise the cold and you want me to pay to experience it?  At least the cold in Indiana was, for the most part, free.
  2. Go skydiving.
    Aside from the obvious — people die — what a bad idea.  I envision throwing up or urinating on myself, and then breaking an ankle as I land.  (Or at the very least, landing in a most unflattering position, arms, legs and clothes akimbo.  It would most assuredly resemble my one trip down a massive water slide which ended with my bathing suit up my crack in the back and boobies hanging out at the top.)
  3. Go bungee-jumping.
    Ditto above.
  4. Receive a Brazilian.
    No, not a person from South America, as I have nothing against them.  I’m referring to the wax, also apparently from South America.  Which brings up a good point — what is it about Brazilians that they feel the need to be completely hairless, at the cost of extreme pain and embarrassment?  Actually, I place all waxing, of whatever nationality, in this do-not-want category.
  5. Eat anything from the show Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern.
    Seriously, Andy is disturbed.  Certain parts of animals are just not intended for human consumption.  They might as well call the show Pica Around the World.
  6. Indulge in any body piercing.
    OK, I admit it, I do have my ears pierced, and have had for 35 years.  Just once in each ear, thank you.  I see no need to invent places to install holes and display jewelry.  Some of those places elicit an “Eeewww”, others simply a “why?”.  I will also admit, in the spirit of full disclosure, that many years ago my sister took me to a suspension demonstration where people (professional freaks) were pierced and then suspended for a brief while.  It was sort of “I-just-can’t-look-away” but disturbing nonetheless.  Yech.
  7. Watch anything about the Kardashians.  (Funny note:  when I did spellcheck, the suggestion for “Kardashians” was “Carpathians” which is pretty accurate and hilarious!)
    That includes any one of the Kardasians in any type of role, which sounds ridiculous as I write it, since none of them has even a modicum of talent, acting or otherwise.  As far as I am concerned, they define the word “oxymoron”, celebrities simply for being celebrities.
  8. Go spelunking.
    Lets see — dark, dank, underground, bats, bat guano; sounds enticing, doesn’t it?
  9. Go to (or watch, for that matter) a political debate.
    Lets see — dark, dank, underground, bats, bat guano — oh wait, just sort of feels the same.  If it were a forum where questions were asked straightforwardly, then answered briefly and honestly using no politico-speak, I might feel differently.  Instead, these three-ring circuses are intended to make one or more candidates look senile, crazy, un-American, or all of the above.  The candidates never directly answer a question anyway; they meander all over creation before slinging mud and then issuing some ridiculous pithy-ism.
  10. 10 Trips I Never Want to Take
    •  Antarctica or the Arctic Circle (see cold comments, above)
    • Amazon
    • Actually, about anywhere in South America — just does not appeal to me
    • Middle East
    • River rafting anywhere
    • Camping (unless it involves a hotel and a king bed)
    • Western Texas — lets face it, nothing there except wide-open dust
    • Southeast Asia
    • Indonesia
    • Philippines

My Bucket List

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  1. Celebrate New Year’s Eve in Time Square
  2. Go to all 50 states; so far I have been to 28, plus DC
    Still need:  Alaska, Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, Idaho, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Utah, Vermont, Washington, Wyoming
  3. Drink a really expensive wine and champagne
  4. Take a hot air balloon ride
  5. Have entire family go on a vacation or spend holiday together, which would count 20-plus
  6. See the Pyramids/Sphinx and ride on a camel
  7. Have something published
  8. Go helmet diving or snuba
  9. Participate fully in a Walk or Marathon — walk the whole way with my new knee!
  10. 10 Trips I want to take:
    1. Cruise to Martinique
    2. Cruise to Alaska
    3. Cruise on Mediterranean, to include Rome, Florence, Venice, Amalfi Coast
    4. Cruise down the Rhine River or Danube
    5. Greek Islands
    6. England and Scotland
    7. Australia and New Zealand
    8. France (return); this time include Normandy and Brittany — maybe rent a gite
    9. Hawaii (return); this time take in Maui and Big Island
    10. Egypt

Rules, Rants and Random Thoughts

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Another foray out into the world today, another day of living life on the edge — the edge of civility, that is, the edge of politeness, tact, manners and even sanity, it seems  With each interaction I am convinced that narcissism reigns supreme, that people are so focused on themselves, so intro-introspective that they are barely even aware there are others in their space, breathing their air.

I blame technology for some of it.  Watch a couple at dinner in a restaurant; more often than not, rather than focusing on each other, they are each checking his/her cell phone, they are texting and Facebooking.  But electronics alone are not to blame for this loss of civility; it’s the whole “me” mentality fostered by overly indulgent parents and under socialized education.

All this considered — and yes, I know I sound like a cranky old biddy — here are my rules.  They are not necessarily rules to live by, but rather rules that might make the living more pleasant and genteel.

The Rules

  1. Say “please” and “thank you”, and when thanked say “you’re welcome” instead of “uh-uh” or “”that’s OK” or even “my pleasure”.
  2. Walk on the right.  You can vote on the left and part your hair on the left but we drive on the right, we should walk on the right, whether in the hallway or on the sidewalk.
  3. Before entering an elevator allow the people inside to exit first.  Speaking of elevators — if you are in an elevator that is ready to depart and you see someone hurrying toward you, hold the door and wait for them!
  4. Don’t talk on your cell phone in a restaurant.  For whatever reason, people talk LIKE THIS ON THEIR CELL PHONES, REALLY LOUD, AND IT IS VERY ANNOYING. (Kind of like typing in all caps!)
  5. Acquaint yourself with, and religiously use, your turn signals.
  6. When you are in a crowded location — the aisle at the grocery store comes to mind — and you stop to chat with someone, step over to the side.
  7. As far as grocery stores go — if you have more than 10 items don’t use the 10-item-or-less checkout!
  8. When you ready to leave the house stop by the mirror.  Look at yourself in the mirror.  Ask yourself, “If I were suddenly captured by a roving cameraman and wound up on the TV news, is this how I would want to look?”  If the answer is “No”, change!  Remember: just because they are called stretch pants doesn’t necessarily mean they should.
  9. Wash your hands! When leaving the bathroom, for sure — no brainer!  But also before a meal, after you have touched your mouth or nose, most definitely after coughing or sneezing.
  10. Along the same vein — cough or sneeze in your sleeve!

OK — thanks for allowing the rant — I feel better now!

The Geritol Waltz

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Happy birthday to me! (Also to Katie Couric, Nicholas Cage, author Zora Neale Hurston, my childhood friend Cindy, and my future son-in-law; but mostly to me.)

So far, 58 doesn’t feel much different than 57 – just a few steps further in the march toward Social Security, or as I have dubbed it here, the Geritol Waltz.  I’m not sure kids today have even heard of Geritol. which makes the reference all the more demonstrative.  How better to portray the dread of growing irrelevance than by alluding to a product that is also passé?

Here is an algebraic representation of the current equation that is me:
[(10 assorted pills, capsules spread throughout the day + 8 old lady brown spots on my hands + 1 new knee) / (1 old knee + 2 old hips)] x 50-too-many pounds.  Not a pretty picture.

The funny thing is, when you discount the various aches, pains, creaks and gas, I really don’t feel any different than I did.  I still like to party and have fun.  I continue to enjoy crosswords and Scrabble.  I am interested in and by my work.  And,of course, I still have an astonishing vocabulary and a rapier wit!  Somehow I never, ever saw myself this old, and am still both perplexed and bemused when I say my age aloud.

As this year winds down to its inevitable finale and yet another birthday, I will vow to be content — in my situation and my years.  I will endeavor to embrace this place in my life with introspection, gratitude and perhaps a little élan.  (But I will not buy a big red hat to wear out in public.  I just won’t.)

Inaugural Blog: Friday Afternoon

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The sweetest day of the week — Friday.

The work week grinding to a halt, the weekend looming ahead in all of its anticipatory wonder.  Over 48 straight hours of non-work arrayed before me like the yellow brick road en route to Oz.  (I even feel like doing that little hop-skip-dancy step, linked arm-in-arm with other weekenders!)

It doesn’t matter that most weekends unravel into boring and mundane tasks like laundry, it’s the sheer joy of the imagined revelry that makes Friday afternoons pure Nirvana.  Big sigh.  Happy heart.