Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy New Year 2011

I had no great expectations for 2010. My goal was to stay alive, keep a roof over my head and hang on to my job. My wants were few. I wanted to be content if not joyous; I wanted my family to be happy and healthy. I wanted to write and hoped I would write something good enough to submit. I wanted to be there for everyone who needed me and more than anything, I wanted the boys I knew in Afghanistan, sons of my friends, to come home- alive.

I never promised myself to eat healthier, exercise, save money or try to have more tolerance for the unfortunate dimwits of the world. I fervently hoped to keep the chin level water from getting to my nose.  (Is that where the “chin up” phrase came from? ) Based on that criterion I was successful. 
I thought a lot about the world and the people in it; about bigotry, suppression, control, censorship, freedom and the lack thereof. I thought about politics in a different light, a global light and not just our little corner of the world. I read more books in the last six months of 2010 than I had in the last three years – books about different cultures and social issues. I weaned myself from frustration and censorship until the cord was severed clean and said good-bye to seven years of my online life. I thought about women in other countries who are murdered or maimed for looking at a man, or children who beg on the streets for food. 

I wondered why after eight years Iraq is still not on its feet and why after nine years Osama Bin Laden is still able to hide in the mountains between Afghanistan and Pakistan. 
I stressed about social issues closer to home too. I worried about no health insurance and my own inability to afford even when I had two jobs. I worried about homeless people and wondered why it is we are so compassionless towards so many of them. I wondered a lot about a country divided along party lines and like sheep to the slaughter following the dictates of the left or the right no matter how thoughtlessly stupid. I worried about kids not learning to read or write or think for themselves because they are so busy learning to pass a national test so their teachers can keep their jobs.

Some things left me as perplexed as always. Why people beat and /or kill their children, why people are rude to one another, why the courts are jammed with frivolous lawsuits and why the mentally ill can’t get help. Why a city, county, or country doesn’t have to balance its budget like a business and why all accounting is done with smoke and mirrors. I wondered if the economy was going to get worse before it gets better and I wondered if I could eek a few more hours out of the day to get things that needed doing done or get second job if needed.

As always, I wondered about God. I wondered why so many of His believers are sure their version of His existence is the only one that is right and I wondered how he feels about people killing and maiming in His name.

The saddest thing that happened this year was that my old dog Smokie died. But he gave us thirteen great years and the most unconditional love. The best thing that happened is that my family and friends are in good health. Oh, we have had our ups and downs, bruises and bumps, but we’ve survived to tell the story. I never forget how lucky I am to have the family and friends I do.

This weekend I am cleaning house. I’m cleaning closets and drawers and tossing or donating old clothes, shoes and purses. I’m cleaning the kitchen cabinets and dumping old spices and last bits of anything. I’m going to tackle my office and go through all the bills and figure out who I can pay and who has to wait a while longer. I am going to comb through the Writer’s Market book and find a publisher who might like my work- then actually submit.

In 2010 I tread water for 365 days. 2011 will start out cleaner and with some expectation of success by my standards if not yours. Not only will I keep my head above water, I will swim upstream like the strongest salmon. It’s not about resolutions for me- more like a legacy. If I kick the bucket this year or next, I don’t want anyone to be able to say- she was okay with status quo. I don’t want anyone to think I ever gave up on anything or walked away defeated- If I ever walked away it was in victory. If I chip away at some years and steam roll others, I always do my best to make a difference and influence others to do the same.

Happy New Year to my family and friends, without whom– it would be no year at all.

Sunday, December 5, 2010


This morning I had breakfast with two of my besties. We go back to what I lovingly refer to as the “Sausalito Days” when we were all adorable and skinny and slightly crazy.  We had lots of boyfriends or would pass the same ones around and around- it was a small town, after all. That no guy ever came between us is a small miracle and a testament to our bond and long lasting friendship.

We have taken to meeting at IHOP for breakfast this past year. Early Saturday or Sunday mornings (before the church crowd gets there on Sunday).  We used to eat at more trendy places- but as we get older and money seemingly tighter- and time harder to come by- this is where we have landed. I look around, see other sixty somethings- and think how did we ever get here?

Patti is married now, Liz and I, still single. I was in my early twenties when I met both of them in the early to mid 70’s. Of course I can’t be date specific because that was after all very heavy drinking and everything else days.  

As we chatted this morning, we realized we are indeed getting old. We are all dragging our butts after a workweek and for the most part would like nothing more than to curl up with a good book on our days off.  Patti stays busy- but pays the price by having bronchitis six times a year. Liz – a polio survivor who has never let her pain and polio complications stop her from anything- has slowed down considerably. I have babied myself for years. I don’t overbook, I rest up on weekends and still just recently became sick and lost time at work for the first time in I can’t remember how long.

We are all very different- with a few strands of commonality. Patti is the nurturer. She has the patience of Job and is the caretaker of the world. Sometimes I lose patience - on her behalf, because I’m sure she never will. She puts up with my rants of course, because she is probably the most patient with me. Patti will be the one to visit everyone in the old folk’s home- even though no one will know who she is anymore. She will talk to the patient like there is someone home upstairs- even when the lights are long out.  That is who she is.

Liz is all heart, strength and intelligence – sometimes short on patience when she hears people complain about every day ass aches-like they are dying, when she has walked around with a whole body ache without complaint for most of her sixty plus years. She still thinks and talks faster than I can hear or comprehend- and her wit is still as sharp as thirty years ago. Her body betrays her- but she perseveres.

Sometimes I think- I am a little bit of both of them. They both participated in taking care of me- raising me during the craziest years. I probably owe them both my life- for shelter and sustenance when I needed it most.

I’m not as caring or patient as Patti- but I love my family and my friends and try to make a difference when I can. And I still make a few people laugh- those that get my deadpan humor and gallows wit anyway.

We are all survivors. We have all survived the loss of family and loved ones over the years. We have survived our own illnesses, broken hearts and occasional loneliness. Today when we spoke Liz reminded us to be grateful for what we have. She is right. We still have our health, though not perfect; we are not bed ridden or dead. We still have our brains, our memories intact if somewhat scattered some days due to stress or busy lives but not dementia. Not dementia or Alzheimer’s.

We traded Christmas gifts, which we said we were not going to do this year. None of us has money, but it has been our tradition for a long time now.  As we were getting our coats on and bundled up to go out in the cold, it occurred to me how fortunate I have been to have the friends I have. How accepting they have been of my faults- my quick temper and unruly mouth.

Last month Renee,  my oldest bestie  (years known, not age) came to my rescue (and called me a stubborn ass I think) but I know I might have ended up in the hospital had she not come to take care of me and make me go to the doctor. She is right of course, I am a stubborn ass. Renee and I meet at IHOP  whenever we can too.

Liz said today our big mistake in life was not buying an IHOP franchise.  Now I can tell you of all my mistakes- if Liz thinks that is my big one- I’m good with that.

I started out today lying in bed playing a movie on the back of my eyelids as I do on Saturdays and Sundays when I can be awake and asleep at the same time. Sometimes the movie is good and sometimes it’s bad. If it’s very bad I get up. This morning was just an old movie that starred my family members no longer with us.  December is my eh… month. Johnny died, mom died, and the month just carries a lot of baggage for me in addition to being dark and dreary.  I told myself this morning as my movie was playing on the back of my eyelids; I was going to overcome the blues this December. I am going to walk my dogs-even in the rain, and I am going to take care of myself and be my usual happy self.  Having friends like mine- make it all so much easier.

I’m not blue at all this evening. I feel like December will be good and January even better. I guess sometimes we just need to remember the good stuff and put the rest away.

** One more thing to be happy about. Two of my “newer besties” (less than a decade) sons are home SAFE from Afghanistan. That is something to be happy about this December too.

On a facebook quiz, the other day one of the questions was “Cup 1/2 empty or 1/2 full?” and my reply was fuck the cup. I would like to amend that just for today- cup 100% full.