Ta-da!

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Drumroll and some horns, please, it’s a breakthrough morning.

Someone asked me years ago what I saw myself doing at age 65. If I recall correctly, my answer was “Whatever I want to,” and then we were off and running again, trying to keep up, losing contact with dreams…

Now, ten years past 65, I sit here at my desk thinking about goals… options… open doors… roadblocks… the stuff of everyday living, and it’s beyond exhausting. Not DOING it, THINKing about it. All this year, on reasonably nice days, I walked and walked and walked. But for a farm girl I’m a big sissy and when the weather turns cold, so do I. And then I sit inside feeling guilty and under a cloud of self-reproach that’s entirely unnecessary and unproductive BECAUSE…

… we determined a few posts back that I DON’T DO MORNINGS, so why do I continue to torment my psyche about it? Here’s what I know, suddenly, having just typed those words… IT’S A COP-OUT my brain employs. By which I mean, “Well, I didn’t make it out to SPL for YET ANOTHER MORNING, so the day’s pretty much shot for that. I mean, it gets dark around 2pm now, so… ” Another approach occurs to me… I could utilize experience and intuition to figure this out and make something work. Not a problem, just a challenge.

GOAL: To walk five days a week. Or, you know… three.

REALITY: When it’s cold and miserable outside, any excuse is legit. Nope, sorry, not today, no can do, blah, blah, blah…

FACT #1: Sports Pavilion Lawrence is, under most circumstances, open to Douglas County residents every weekday from early to late, and they have a snazzy walking track that’s safe, if inevitably boring. But did I mention that if you live in the county, the facility is FREE to use?

FACT #2: It’s been established that mornings are not my personal jam; however, afternoons exist and will have to be taken into the equation if I hope to come out a winner on this.

The track encompasses the interior of the building, on two levels. It’s cozy inside and there are people there. A TODDLER would have shed their inherent laziness long before now, faced facts (see above) and been ON it. Accountability is tedious, but so is DISability, so…

Somebody do what you can to keep me responsible… thx. It’s 15 or 20 minutes’ driving time each way, so it’s not like walking a block down to The Summit to work out. Which I never did even one time when they were open, so there’s that…

But let’s not make this all about me, she said, turning for a profile shot… if you’re a Boomer, you’re sort of an Old, and moving is your ticket to the future. Not as in “Let’s pack the truck and get outta here,” but as in legs, arms, booty, everything well-oiled and grooving to the beat in your head. We can give ourselves a genuine advantage for the crazy golden years, and it’s worth getting totally serious about. Totally. Positive resolutions to us all.

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The quest…

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Did something yesterday that I’ve been looking forward to for months… I started a dance fitness class and omigod, it kicked my butt! An hour of moving everything you’ve got, some of it with weights in hand, with no breaks… I’ve never been so glad for my yoga mat and a cool-down. Found out after class, which is predominantly seniors, that there are people who’ve been taking it for ten years and still don’t try to do all the steps, whereas I jumped out there gangbusters like some kinda old cheerleader and depleted my store of energy and stamina in the first fifteen minutes. Kim was there playing PickleBall, left a few minutes ahead of me, and by the time I got home he had the spa water running and gave me sweet hugs for staying to the end. Full disclosure, I slept all afternoon, something I learned from John… go unconscious until the storm passes over. Got up, ate pizza made by Kim, went to bed at 8:30.

It gives me great pleasure to assure you that life goes on. Got up at 6am, sore spots mostly gone, energy restored to current acceptable levels, so… no harm no foul.

It’s a T-Th class, so today will be Whatever It Is, Judy’s Not Doing It day. And then I’ll attack Thursday’s class with a different plan in mind. First of all, I won’t spend a half-hour on the walking track beforehand (yeah, forgot to tell you about that). And then when the music cranks up, I’ll cruise… just keep something in motion all the time until everything can move at once and feel good about it. You know, sometime in the next ten years.

Life is hard for perfectionists. We only want it exactly right all the time RIGHT NOW, and we’re far more demanding of ourselves than we are of anyone else in the world. No matter how many lessons we get in patience, reality, life… we can’t give up the quest for PERFECT, which likely represents finally fixing ourselves, so no, we’re not quitting.

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Why I strive for bland perfection who could know, but there’s this…

Facts are facts, however…

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If we’re honest with ourselves, and let’s always be that at a minimum, life as a creature on a planet hurtling through space is not an easy assignment. We’re supposed to somehow inherit perfect parents who will raise us with an ever-unfolding comprehension of our existence because they themselves were raised perfectly, and on and on. The truth is that we find ourselves alone in the world insufficiently clad against the elements, struggling to comprehend quickly so as not to be overtaken and eaten by progress we couldn’t see coming. Nobody really knew to tell us… and so it goes. A Mayfly lives for 24 hours and dies with no unfinished business. A human may live past 100 years and never fully comprehend what it’s all about in the ways that matter… but when we do catch a glimpse once in a while, we know the pursuit is more than worth it.

I’m ready to pursue a restful HumpDay, get over it, and get on with it. I wish the same for you… look your hurdles in the eye and … GO!

Just don’t be this poor guy…

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Taming the beast…

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Felt cute so I deleted no fewer than 3,000 pieces of mail from my folders before 9am, won’t regret it later. They sneak in by the hour, disregarding every vow I’ve made to limit them severely, but incentive finally arrived this morning in the form of “need to know,” and I proceeded to wreak havoc in all directions while searching for that one elusive document. Found it!! And the only survivors are billing notices and book recommendations, mostly the latter because the picture is gradually coming into focus… the years ahead might include more reading than the rest of my life put together. Part of the “plan” I mentioned the other day.

One thing that has become clear is that the future, which is the present, has to be looked straight in the eye and dealt with. It’s here, it’s now, it isn’t going anywhere, it’s up to us to live it well. Since I can’t imagine a present/future without books, it’s a grace to know there’s an unlimited selection… so far.

My love affair with books started with my mother reading to me… one of my earliest memories. And then my five-year-old legs stepped into the Carnegie Library Children’s Room and I was forever captive to reading. Beyond Kim… and music… nothing shuts down my ever-present anxiety like walking into a book and closing the door behind me. What an incredible thing! Markings on surfaces that possess the power to deliver us to unknown worlds. And what a relief to know that someone else’s thoughts can keep me away from my own for long stretches of time.

For reasons, a lot of which I’m just now understanding, the story of my life has been undergirded by an unshakeable sense of anxiety, go me. I’m surprised, from this perspective, to find that I’ve merely been wounded by the unexpected instead of entirely disabled, and it’s empowering to come at it from this end of the telescope because all my perspectives have changed. If you know, you know. It’s crippling if we fall slave to it. Pretty sure you’ll identify…

In truth, I’ve mostly stuck with it no matter how awkward things got.

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It takes nothing to kick high OR low anxiety into gear, it’s always there waiting for a chance to screw everything up, so it helps to keep this handy:

I’m ninja-level.

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My brain is an unbeliever.

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You feel this in your bones, right?

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Workin’ on it every day and would love to reach a point where I could say the following in complete honesty:

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It would be lovely if you’d share with me your best escape routes when anxiety attacks, the quickest ways to disarm it, the quietest remedies. It’s a constant presence but a terrible friend, so spending less time together would be super. Come talk me down…

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Of wolves and wings and sealing wax…

A thing I like about being this age and out of the work force is that nobody’s the boss of us except death and taxes. When Kim got home from PickleBall this morning I’d downed half a pot of coffee but no food yet, so he made the Saturday breakfast on Wednesday because nobody told him he couldn’t, and I like how that works out.

The downside of not having a CEO is there’s nobody here to ensure that I live my best life except me. Kim’s entitled to carefully-worded suggestions, but I’m the only boss I have and it’s exhausting. I get up by 7am or earlier most mornings, grab a mug of coffee, and sit here for the next hour catching up on news of the world while the two wolves inside me wage a battle over the daily stroll. One wolf’s all about how it’s too hot or too chilly, too windy or too still, you deserve a little break and one day off won’t hurt a thing. The other, the leaner of the two, reminds me how easy it is to break a good habit, how miserably guilt-ridden I’ll be all day if I don’t put my shoes on and go, how righteous I’ll feel telling Kim about where I went and what I saw out there in the greater world.

The wise wolf won this morning’s tug-o-war again, so chalk up another one for health and sanity, she and I have found ourselves out there trekking far more days than not since this past December. And yes, my two Canis Lupii are female, full of wisdom and experience, I only have to be careful which voice I allow through the veil in any given circumstance…

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Rodney Dangerfield had it right… no respect.

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God’s truth. Come visit, we’ll show you.

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If you’re smiling, my work here is done. Have a wonderful Wednesday and remember…

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A poet speaks for me…

The joy found in a cool August morning can’t be laid on too thick… it’s simply glorious. The rush of stepping into another sunrise and striding down the sidewalk, balance pole in hand, everything right with the immediate world for a few precious minutes, cannot be diminished by impending daily-ness. I walked as far as the courthouse this morning before looping toward home… next trip South Park! I saw Dennis scurrying along Mass Street, his arms full of collected treasures… where did he stash his shopping cart, I wonder. As I trekked toward my destination, I noticed two rough-sleepers in doorways on the east side of the street, and outside the Replay Lounge an early riser was singing, dancing, and yelling, so I chose another route home, for simplicity’s sake. Plenty of room for everybody.

I’ve had no success finding the title, but these words from an incredible writer are everything this morning…

Everyone must leave something behind when he dies, my grandfather said.. 

A child or a book or a painting or a house or a wall built or a pair of shoes made.. 

Or a garden planted.. 

Something your hand touched some way so your soul has somewhere to go when you die, 

and when people look at that tree 

or that flower you planted, you’re there..

It doesn’t matter what you do, he said, so long as you change something 

from the way it was before you touched it 

into something that’s like you 

after you take your hands away.. 

The difference between the man who just cuts lawns and a real gardener is in the touching, he said.. 

The lawn-cutter might just as well not have been there at all..

the gardener will be there a lifetime.. 

-Ray Bradbury

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Get out and touch the world today if you can. Leave a mark. And may your coffee, your pelvic floor, your intuition, and your self-appreciation be strong.

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**The occasional reminder that no one sees your name, including me, but your rating thrills my heart. I feel so seen. 😎

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Rainy-day conversation…

Got up early, possibly because I was asleep before 9pm last night, or maybe because the barometric pressure sent a wake-up call. Stepped onto the balcony into a wall of humidity that took my breath away. Within minutes the sky lost its budding sunrise, there was jagged lightning in its place, we heard delicious crashes of thunder… and then the deluge hit. For a while it was positively monsoon-like, with trees whipping in all directions, and I see there’s a pot or two tumped over outside. The streetlights are back on for the third time and the rain is again coming down in windblown sheets… meanwhile, I’m being a mouse while Kim sleeps off his second COVID booster. I love a dark, stormy morning… perfect for sleeping babes.

A lot of people in East Lawrence don’t own personal transportation, so there are always walkers out year-round. As the rain gushes from the sky, soaking flora and fauna and sending out wicked flashes of lightning, I’m glad I wasn’t wandering around outside when it hit, and that I put extra effort into yesterday’s walk. When the first steps out of the gate are an easy stroll, it’s time to make it all ache again so I did, and on the homeward lap I thought of the goals that have been at the bottom of my medical assessment sheet for the past five years or more:

  1. Be able to walk for at least an hour without nerve pain
  2. Spend more time with my sister, and finish things I’ve started

Wow, done and done… and starting a few new ones. Amazing how that works, and it’s a real gift to be able to use my time constructively since those hours will pass one way or another anyway and be gone!

This morning under dark skies that somehow feel promising, I’m proud of my state for once again leading the nation in a moral human issue just as we did with slavery, and for not buying into a desperate last-ditch lie. It gives me crazy hope for a future.

When in doubt, ask “What Would John Brown Do??

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And now I shall spend the remainder of my morning here… please enjoy yours fully.

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Helpful, honest, happy family = amazing…

I’m sitting in my 4th-floor perch on a rainy Wednesday morning, observing the dog-walkers and the drizzled foliage while I savor the events of the past week. John booked a spur-of-the-moment flight to check in with the parental units, and his timing couldn’t have been more spot-on… we needed to see and celebrate with him. When he was here about this same time last year, life was feeling markedly unsettled for all of us including Auntie Rita… and much positive resolution has transpired since, so we toasted to every bit of it. On Sunday he treated us to a wonderful 18th wedding anniversary celebration at Basil Leaf… Italian food, wine, exquisite desserts, and the best company we could ever want, while we counted our blessings. Life remains good.

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Between the weather and timing, we managed a handful of walks… and the remainder of our waking hours were spent talking and eating, a true Midwest sojourn for Atlanta man. Tomorrow he’ll return to his oncology unit and we’ll resume our exercise routines in earnest, possibly skip a meal once in a while… and life will go on until we see each other again. The days since last Friday will keep my heart fed for some time to come…

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Until next time.

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The world delivers a load of stress to our doors every day. I’m glad real family, however we manage to come by those people, is there to help us handle it all and move on. I fiercely love and need my people.

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Laziness… the habit of resting before you’re tired

How to tell if something has become a habit… when you feel utterly miserable if you miss a day. Kim woke me up when he left for PickleBall, which I assume was around 6:30, and the next thing I knew it was nearly 8:00. When I stepped out onto the balcony the sun and thick hot air made me duck right back inside to think it over, whereupon I decided some buttery grits with toast and jam sounded more rejuvenating… and here we are.

If every day went according to plan, we’d be robots, but missing my morning walk will stick like glue and I’ll be looking for shade toward evening to make up for it. Seven months ago I couldn’t envision ditching the lifetime nerve pain and doing whatever I wanted to do… so now when I pass up opportunities to DO… I feel it. I’m calling that a beautiful thing while I line up the day… there’s usually enough to do.

I remember scorching summers, some total drought-makers, but the current heat wave feels ponderous even when the humidity is below 50%. In an era when all our chickens seem headed home to roost, I’m not holding out false hope for consistently milder weather any time soon, by which I mean I may never see that day again. Good to be old… I got to see most of it at least once. Live with this we will, kids, ’til we die. The human race is nearly inscrutable on every level, but one thing we know about us… even the gods can’t tell us a damn thing because we arrived here knowing it all.

Not a lot to write home about right now, just felt like checking in with everybody. And I saved another little stack of stuff to share with you…

Right off the top, a commentary on the past couple of weeks:

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In that vein, and don’t let on that I told you, but Kim always wanted to invent a Braille halter-top.

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Self-explanatory.

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This one’s just a freebie.

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I like to reiterate the following on a semi-regular basis to keep misinterpretations to a minimum if possible:

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This is critically important, so don’t skim past it…

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And this… shared by a wonderful friend… because I love it.

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Let’s talk about home and comfort…

Friends will be surprised to hear that I walked to New Jersey yesterday morning. Strolled from 8th to 9th to Connecticut to New York to New Jersey, which kept me on good sidewalks and brought me out at the train station, ready for the return loop home. Went out just after 7am but it was already getting steamy, so 45 minutes’ trekking was about right. This morning I woke up later and it was already breathless outside, so I’ve declared this to be Paperwork Day (why do we still have PAPER work??), while soothing any trace of guilt with iced coffee. Oh, there’s all that laundry, too, of course, good thing I conserved energy right off the bat, so wise…

The days grow ever weirder while that other shoe takes on weight, so here’s some nonsense I saved for just such days…

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I love you, fellow weirdos, we must hang together. Or we will hang separately…

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Thomas Wolfe wrote a whole novel centered around the fact that You Can’t Go Home Again, and someone’s explanation says “If you try to return to a place you remember from the past it won’t be the same as you remember it.” I think it’s the other way around – we can’t go back because the people who never left won’t let us be anything other than the labels we wore then. That strikes me as an important fail-safe… if nothing changes over a lifetime, a society is dying, so home has to be wherever we find ourselves.

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I hope your heart feels at home today.

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The arc… bends…

We’ve made it to HumpDay of yet another engaging week in the life of the USA and smaller environs, including my hideout. After just short of a year’s fast from televised news, I’ve been compelled to tune in to the 1/6 hearings because although history does repeat itself, it happens only once in the flesh. Before I tuned out of news-watching, I was an MSNBC girl, mostly by process of elimination, the same process that took place Monday morning before the start of the second hearing. I was early by fifteen minutes, so I clicked the remote, looking for a spot to land. Tried C-SPAN first, three ancient talking heads droning on as to what the imminent proceedings might portend. Looked at CNN, chose not to stick with the panel in place. Stopped by the networks, ABC, NBC, CBS, moved on. They were all still ensconced in the bubble and squeak of their Hello-America-How-Are-You morning fare, instantly reminding me that there’s a too-casual way of addressing world news. So I settled in with my old friends at MSNBC, remarking to Kim, now home from PickleBall, on the changes since we’d last seen the gang. Nearly everyone looked younger, shinier, more rested, which speaks to the reduced political angst they’re tasked with tracking every day, and it’s clear that things are changing for the better, even when we can’t see it happening. So that’s encouraging, as is the fact that no one can stop the truth. It comes out.

A footnote from the first morning’s hearing…

I watched most of the Watergate hearings in 1973 on a little black & white TV while my 3-year-old played and napped, and the names and shenanigans are still vivid. Shenanigans is precisely what they were, as opposed to the sedition that was being fomented by the Trump administration. In fact, by comparison there is no comparison. The recent series “Gaslit” provided a good look back at the quaint and silly misdeeds of the Nixon administration, and a timely contrast with the treasonous crimes of Trump’s. I can’t wait for the remainder of the current hearings. I assume they’re mostly preaching to the choir, but even the choir likes a good schematic.

Onion Choir agrees

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So yeah, if you’re goin’ back in, might as well dive deep.

All things considered… Russia’s war against Ukraine, racial and political unrest in the US, gun violence off the charts, economic uncertainty [I could do this all day]… our inability to accept each other will end us more efficiently than any of the above. I wish we could get it together, but with age comes realism. I get along with Kim as seamlessly as any experience of my lifetime, but words are as tricky for us as for all other humans and we can mistake each other’s meaning in a heartbeat. In light of that reality, why do we harbor the fiction that the world can learn to get along? It’s an impossible assignment… and yet, what else is even worth fighting for?

The week is not over. Finish strong.

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Are we there yet?

How’s the whole space-time continuum thing working for ya’ lately? Feeling a little stretched? Compressed maybe? Are we any closer to understanding the warp and weft of the fabric of our existence? Are we tuned in or out? “Einstein concluded that space and time, rather than separate and unrelated phenomena, are actually interwoven into a single continuum (called space-time) that spans multiple dimensions. So how many dimensions are there in the space-time continuum?”

https://www.wonderopolis.org/wonder/what-is-the-space-time-continuum

This, boys and girls, is what happens when rain and gray skies become the order of the day for days on end… the coping mechanisms run right off the charts into unexplored territory, including black holes.

My brain has run amuck, so in lieu of actual wisdom this morning I offer you memes, glorious memes, which die an ignominious death if not shared forever.

From the current news cycle:

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A random clearinghouse…

Sounds like a subscription sweepstakes, but it’s merely a semi-regular purge of the rubble that accumulates in the general vicinity of my brain, most of it unrelated and not worth hanging onto. It’s all there though, like eye floaters, drifting around, mingling with the legit workings of my mind, coloring what I still refer to as thinking, and gradually mucking up the works. At least once a quarter it becomes necessary to assess, evaluate, kick a few things to the curb, and remember the good stuff.

  • In the nine years since we moved to NE Kansas, the Royals have won the World Series, the Chiefs won the Super Bowl, and this year the Jayhawks are the nation’s college basketball champions. NOW what??
  • Ten years out from retirement, it gets trickier to fill the hours every day and feel productive. Realistically, there are only so many options… but I’ve thought of several just this week so it isn’t a forlorn situation to be in. Walking is first on the list… and I can sit at my piano bench and play again! Since writing is the only real passion I’ve ever attempted to make friends with, maybe I’ll give it more weight and respect moving forward. When you start looking for windows the light shines through.
  • Since the early days of the pandemic, quite a few people I know have been taking advantage of various forms of personal therapy and benefitting greatly. Now that my body is free of nerve pain I think a few conversations with a therapist I’m drawn to could be severely helpful. I’ve entertained the idea for a while, and believe it or not it’s been SUGGESTED to me more than once… what was THAT about, OMG! But I knew that any reference to “picking myself up and getting on with it” … “working past the pain” … “living my life as though I felt well” … “being resourceful, focusing outside myself, helping people who are less able” … and I wouldn’t go back, because I can’t lay my heart open to someone who doesn’t get it. Kinda wanted to save it for a time like NOW, when I can better hear and receive what’s offered to me in the way of wisdom. Counsel coming from someone I have reason to trust, at a time when they aren’t trying to reach me through a wall of pain, could help… meh, we’ll see.
  • Early on, I realized I couldn’t stay in touch with every person I encountered in life and furthermore wouldn’t want to, but I see people doing it. How does that work? Where does that kind of psychic energy come from, what drives the relentless body count? I can’t even maintain the polite minimum with family, let alone acquaintances. There are people all over the world I once fancied myself close to, but in defense of both parties, we barely knew each other at the time. In the case of extended family, the advent of adulthood brought awareness, and with it choices. I choose peace, therefore mostly solitude by default. I don’t make for a good friend, or cousin, or mentor, and I fully admit it’s due to selfishness – I choose personal peace nearly every time.
  • First World nations seem to be plowing headlong into fascism, and why is that? Do people get tired of living well and having their rights respected? Do madmen recognize that itch and rush in to scratch it? The pendulum never stops its arc.
  • It’s good that humans are given a life span longer than that of a gnat, but it’s still far too brief a time for figuring out the meaning of existence, so what are we supposed to do with all these half-formed ideas and incomplete concepts of how things are? It seems like a lot of responsibility for no more information and training than we’re provided, and the failure rate is piteously high.
  • In light of the above, I’m inclined, at this late stage in the game, to adopt a laissez-faire attitude toward absolutely everything. “You go ahead, life, have it your way. I’ll be over here eating what my body wants, sleeping when I need to, observing the world, drawing my own conclusions, and living ’til I die. The whole thing seems not to be so very complicated after all.”

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So that’s how that all is, thx for listening. A psychic purge, in order to be legit, must be validated by witnesses, and you’re it.

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Going mad…

Two memories from the depths of the pandemic… how deadly quiet it got here in East Lawrence, and the absence of sports events on TV. We’d sit on our 4th-floor balcony and talk about how we missed all the walkers, joggers, baby-strollers, and dog-exercisers. Also street traffic, which slowed to nonexistent at times. Sports returned before the outdoor rumble did, and we were like starving refugees, indiscriminately watching every offering. I know some of my theater friends, reading friends, blogging friends might wonder if I actually like watching televised sports or if it’s a way to stay cuddly with Kimmers. Nope, I really mean it, I genuinely get into basketball, tennis, golf, baseball, football. They lose me at auto racing, bowling, soccer, and hockey, but all of it is real people doing real things, so that’s a plus, even if some of them are getting paid outrageous piles of cash for royally entertaining the masses.

DISCLAIMER: The KIMN8R taught me to belch properly, and I’ve learned some choice new language under his instruction, so he has a real buddy to watch ball with… bonus, right?

My earliest memory of “sports” as a thing comes from playing on the living room carpet at my grandparents’ house while Grandpa watched Major League baseball on their little black & white TV. The distinctive cadence of the announcer’s voice, the rumble and roll of the intriguing Hammond B3 accompanying the action, the aroma of Grandpa’s pipe and the crackle of the daily paper as he read it cover to cover before working the crossword puzzle in ink, comforting smells from Grandma’s kitchen… it’s all with me forever. I had the world in those moments… security, love, family, and a sense that there was terrific stuff out there to find out about. So the world of sports, however intense it may be at times, is comfort food to me.

This week the phenomenon that is March Madness gets underway and we’re happy campers. The First Four started it off Tuesday and Wednesday, and tonight at 9pm we’ll see Kansas against Texas Southern if we can stay awake for it. Joke. We’ll be awake.

In a time when joy has been harder to come by, college basketball has helped with the empty feeling. We cheer the Jayhawks every year and talk about them like we knew them, and we follow kids on other teams as we watch them play week by week. When they hit the NBA, we remember them with a silly sense of pride, like we had some part in it. Nothing’s pure, not much is straight-up what it really is, but the world of college ball FEELS different from pro sports, politics, and war… therefore, it’s mostly encouraging and refreshing. Bring on the big ol’ challenges, NCAA… it’s time to DANCE!

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Life in its third trimester…

Longevity is a thing in my gene pool. My two grandmothers both celebrated their 95th birthdays in their right minds… some of my great-grandmothers lived into their 90s… one of my uncles is 92, in shape like the Marine he was, and still living an independent life. Other relatives have beaten the odds as well… kept their faculties about them… lived long and prospered. I consider that a positive thing, as I enjoy living and prefer to do it on as healthy a basis as possible.

“Try to learn to breathe deeply, really to taste food when you eat, and when you sleep, really to sleep. Try as much as possible to be wholly alive, with all your might, and when you laugh, laugh like hell, and when you get angry, get good and angry. Try to be alive. You will be dead soon enough.” -William Saroyan

Since embarking on my 70s almost five years ago, life has changed in both subtle and clear-cut ways. It’s getting easier to stay mellow, partly thanks to the solitude of the past two years, partly due to the changing character of American life, which has taken on a set-adrift sort of feel.

“These are the days of miracle and wonder
This is the long distance call
The way the camera follows us in slo-mo
The way we look to us all… “

But in other ways a mellow state of mind is a total reach, so it’s healthier to feel, experience, vent, exorcise… and move on. “So strange, the world of social media. We think we’re negotiating the rapids just fine, and then with no warning we’re hung up on the rocks of somebody else’s bad day. Or our own.” -source unknown

Being misunderstood… misperceived… misjudged, is a fact to be dealt with for the duration of life, but it’s always jarring when it happens. I’ve never managed to solve the mystery of someone else’s misguided disapproval, so I tend to ignore it instead, which works just fine most of the time, but does add to a general sense of social malaise. Human interaction… for as educated, experienced, and sophisticated as we like to see ourselves… still swings wildly between love and hate… peace and warfare… acceptance and exclusivity. We lack the courage of our convictions so we lamely defend them ad infinitum, with less than positive results. When it comes to human communication we’re a consistent contradiction, our facts in disarray, our feelings spilling over, our frustrations fully on display. Everything’s a competition, an opportunity to be offended, a place to stake a claim. It’s exhausting and simply reinforces my reclusive lifestyle… the energy available to me can be better used elsewhere.

Things happen every day to remind us that the world is a cold and crazy place, that values vary among individuals… and the challenge inherent in human existence to care about each other becomes ever more… challenging. Sometimes there’s a sense that no genuine caring is left in the world and it’s every man, woman, and child for themselves. But when I think about the people I love, and who love me, or at least value my personal welfare… I know I’m inundated by the good life and I’ve never had it better. Perspective is everything.

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Snow-day stuff…

Our frantically-forecast snowpocalypse failed to live up to its billing, but things are white outside, we had biscuits & gravy for breakfast followed by a lovely soak, and I feel no impulse to leave the building today for any reason. Totally zen situation. Now, if only it were the weekend, with sports on TV… so soothing.

I’ll never not love rain and snow, the more the better… to a point. Snow, especially, carries magic in its kaleidoscope stencils.

Every day for an introvert is filled with never-ending thought… endless attempts to process it all… to figure out where one is and why…

Inevitably, a large percentage of my thought process becomes about current events, in this recent era more than ever. In our naiveté as Americans we want to believe, like Pollyanna, that all will be well no matter what because… well… we’re Americans. While incontrovertible facts tell us we’re becoming a less healthy republic by the day, we continue finding comfort in our determined delusions. Memo from a Baby Boomer this morning: America is very much in trouble, democracy is holding on by a hangnail, and we’re seeing nothing on the horizon massive enough to take out the impending fascism that’s bearing down on us. It’s ugly, but it’s truth we need to hear.

Reality does have a way of barreling right over us without a backward glance to survey the damage – that’s how “what ifs” come to us. A basic reality is that each of us is one person… one. We can do only what we can do. But when we pool our efforts and resources, human existence starts to take on a whole different look, so take heart…

And then to make yourself available.

We’re powerless to fix much of anything in the world… so the only logical place to start is with us. Be the real you today… I’ll be thinking of you.

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