Last Saturday, I traveled by train on the Amtrak Acela to Philadelphia to visit my daughter and her family.  When train 2208 arrived at the BWI station, I chose to sit in the quiet car.  This space is designated for folks who don’t want to listen to people talking or loud cell-phone conversations.

When I am alone, I prefer the lack of noise for the hour plus journey.  I selected a seat next to man who was not happy to see me occupy the space next to him, which he had preoccupied with newspapers and other personal gear.  During the trip, I could sense him moving as far from me as possible.  I felt like an intruder.

Back to the silence of the quiet car, I was solitary with my own fears and anxieties.  Lately, I am afraid of almost everything, and routine tasks and appointments assume ominous tones.  I guess this phenomenon is part of my current mild depression which I fear will escalate.

When I am traveling solo, hearing the sounds of conversations and even the laughter of children increases my loneliness-like a party to which I am not invited.  Only a few people dare to raise their voices loud enough to be audible and this I can tolerate.

Technology has made travel quieter in general.  Cell phones define the favored means of communication, texting leading the non-verbal exchanges.  Each person is participating in silent talk on their hand-held devices.

Actually, I used to enjoy the spontaneous chatter that evolved out of the proximity of planes and trains.  But, no more do strangers engage in exchanging information and repartee just because they share the same space.  Those days are gone, never to be resurrected, and I miss that allure of travel.  Maybe I am just old and behind the times of rampant technology.

On the return trip, I sat in a regular train car and was not too bothered by the noise around me, as it was mostly muted.  I will continue to travel by train and enjoy the quiet car when I find it.  A more desirable accommodation would be to learn how to be around other people and less distracted and disturbed by their talk.


Springtime Blues

T.S. Eliot wrote in “The Waste Land” that April is the cruelest month.  But for me, the downward spiral begins in March.  Right now, I am in a mood more sad than joyful.

Most people, statistics say, look forward to and delight in the blooming that accompanies warmer days and longer hours of sunlight.  Although this winter has dragged on, it is clear that there is no turning back the calendar to the gloomy, cold, dark days of the kindest months for me, and that we must keep turning pages on the calendar.

In winter, I can hide under layers of clothing, and the locked door of my home.  While most people are complaining, I enjoy the period of hibernation.  As an introvert, reasons to avoid social gatherings are a welcome excuse.  Fewer people intone, “Have a nice day.”  So, no imperative to enjoy myself or engage in outdoor activities.

I don’t mind being in the minority regarding my emotions as spring and summer approach.  I like being an outlier, and not part of the crowd.  Although sometimes I wish I could marvel at the early sprouts of daffodils and crocuses.  But, it is not to be.  Once again, trying to change is futile and acceptance is the answer.

I find myself skipping exercise classes and burrowing in my room as the light increases and the general mood is joyous.  I don’t think I ever fit in.  Writing even seems like a struggle, but continues to provide me with an outlet for my contrary reactions.

The extended cold weather has allowed be to stay bundled up in sweaters of various colors and I feel safe inside my own body armour.  I don’t like summer clothes, and dread short sleeves, and will miss my comfy leggings.

I think I could handle winter all year-long, as long as the snow was moderate and the temperatures not too frigid.  But I don’t get to choose, and have come to anticipate my springtime doldrums.


I don’t know anything about basketball or brackets, but I do hear mostly men talk about this monthly event each year.  Money is wagered and predictions are plentiful.  To me it means nothing.  But that doesn’t mean that March doesn’t hold its own special  significance for me and millions of others.

It’s tax time, folks-the moment we have to gather all the receipts and bills which may be deductible.  I hate this month of reckoning, and I start dreading it in January when we used to receive statements, 1099s, and banking information.  Now, “they” have moved the deadline up to the end of February for financial institutions to communicate with us the yearly facts and figures.  So, it seems like one more month to procrastinate, but in actuality it just adds twenty-eight days to the dreaded deadline.

I try to be organized throughout the preceding twelve months, gathering relevant money information and storing it monthly in the second bedroom of my condo, which I never use.  The piles start neatly, but over time deteriorate into a paper mess which I have to sort through each March.  I am delaying the process longer than usual-too lazy or unwilling this year to get the job done.

My accountant is a good man, and he just plugs the figures into an online form-easy for him, scary for me.  Not that I attempt to hide assets, but I still fear a possible audit.  Hopefully the IRS is occupied with Trump’s and other politician’s returns to bother with the lowly peons like me.

I keep staring at the container holding the paper and dread starting the excavation process of locating the relevant information.  Today, snowy and rainy, would be a perfect time to begin the task and maybe I will.

As my father told me, “All beginnings are hard,” and compiling my tax information is no exception.


I am always super hungry these days.  No food satisfies me, from salads to cookies.  I am wondering if this sense of starvation has to do with more than food.  I am seeking something or someone to fill me up.  If I keep searching for fulfillment, I will continue to be hungry.

I just left the cafe at my favorite Barnes & Noble, after having scarfed down the gigantic chocolate-chip cookie, and still I want more.  Maybe what I need is not food, but something else.  Until I discover what is missing, or learn to be content with current circumstances, I fear I will keep on overeating.

When I was depressed, I had no appetite, and subsisted on Boost nutritional drinks.  My clothes were loose, and I had no desire for anything-food or otherwise.  My little world of misery was enough to keep me full of my own despair.

But now that I am feeling somewhat better, I keep craving food, which only leaves my leggings tight and my soul undernourished.  Have I always been this lonely and dissatisfied?

I know that the dating I talk about endlessly has not helped.  The more time I spend with men, the less confidence I have in myself.  They are far from perfect, and often have deficiencies in important areas that I blame on myself.

Trying to find a mate at my age only fuels my hunger for who I cannot find.  Maybe I need adventure, novelty or just contentment.  I am quiet by nature and am exhausted by trying to sound witty, smart and entertaining.  Maybe the days of trying too hard are over-I hope so.

When will I join the chorus of the Oscar-nominated song from the movie “The Greatest Showman,”  “I am me?”  In the film, various circus performers with obvious peculiarities belt out the lyrics about being who they are and not hiding anymore.  I see myself as hiding my true, but scary self.  Without the defenses of funny anecdotes and charming stories, I am left with a deep-thinking, often quiet me.

What do I find so unacceptable that I have to retreat from the essence of who I really am?  Am I so self-centered that I can’t bear being other than desirable by men who don’t meet my needs?  Maybe going naked emotionally will result in locating a man who cares for me just the way I am now.

Until then, I fear continuing the pattern of overeating will persist.  My mission is to accept myself as I am and hope others will too.


The weather forecasters are predicting snow for Boston at the end of the week, and New England is bracing for a nor’easter in early March.  I know this not from the national news outlets or reading the dire warnings in the newspaper, but from listening to WBZ-1030 AM.  I love listening to the radio at night.

During the day, I can hear the predictable stations of WBAL and WCBM, with the same, tired local news of city crime, possible gun control and other old stories.  The endless updates of traffic and weather drive me bonkers.  I yearn for novelty.

So, at sundown, fortunately the signal directions change on the AM dial and the country opens up for my listening pleasure.  I can tune in to Charlotte, NC, Chicago, and my beloved Boston.  For a few hours, I can pretend that I am not at home in Maryland, but have departed for a more distant city without the hassle of packing and planning.

WBZ hosts a program called Nightside for four hours each evening.  The host is likely to be contentious, but he and the callers sound smart with their distinctive accents.  Last night, Dan Rea interviewed the owner of a New Hampshire (live free or die) Apple device repair store that refuses to serve Republicans.  What breaking news that is!  It sure beats listening once more to the list of Democratic hopefuls running in the primary election to face Larry Hogan in the election of governor in the fall, or to the statistics of how many murders were committed in West Baltimore.

The instrument of my auditory travels is a very small hand-held transistor radio that may be the last of its kind.  I found it on Amazon(no surprise), but they were the only company selling the product.  Soon, it will probably show up on Antiques Road Show as a vestige of the past.  But I hold it close, like a dearly beloved person and snuggle up with my battery-operated friend.

No fancy Bose radio for me-I don’t require expert reception to hear my “shows” from around the country.  In Chicago, the traffic is a major news grabber, and Charlotte spends much airtime speaking of sports.  But I can always depend on Boston to enlighten, educate and entertain me when darkness falls.

I remember watching so much television when I was young that I must have burned out on the visual medium.  Now, I never turn on the TV at night.  Too lonely to watch alone and I have no desire to be scared with crime and police programs.

So, tonight Dan Rea and I will meet at 8 PM he in Boston, and me here at home, catching up on the latest news and features way north of Baltimore’s borders.



For now, I am in a sort of slump and don’t know which way to go.  I need a life GPS that would direct me to the location I am seeking.  I just feel I am getting nowhere.  I have misplaced my serene center and am focusing too much on affirmation from external sources.

For now, I am taking a break from connecting with new strangers online.   I have had some good times, and hope to continue seeing the men I have met.  But when the phone doesn’t ring, I feel like I must have done something wrong.  I expect every male to fall in love with me. Self-centered? Totally, but the truth.

In the past I met men(not online) and we formed instant connections-microwave attachments and a relationship began and lasted for years.  Now, everything has changed in the dating dance of technology.  Men(and even I) want to get close with no promise of a future date or even a call or text.  I am unaccustomed to this style of non-mating.

The dates I have gone on have been fun and I felt special, but the half-life of this good mood is short and fades quickly as the days add up with no further contact.

A man asked me to meet for coffee, and after an initial affirmative response, I changed my mind.  I can’t converse with strangers and have my hopes and fantasies dashed when the connection evaporates and I am left wondering why.  Too much stress for me right now.

In another arena, I have become too focused on how many people read my blog, instead of sensing the joy of having an outlet for my feelings and enjoying the writing process.  Once again, I am seeking outward approval, not content with my own.

Where to look to find myself?  Right where I am, I suppose, happy not to be depressed and not letting the actions(or inactions) of others ruin my day.


Today would be my sister Pats birthday, if she were alive.  But, she died in May 2016, in Lisbon, Portugal.  We were estranged and I learned of her passing online.  Sad, but true.

Pat was two and one-half years older than me, and at least I had that advantage.  But being a younger sister came with problems.  She was in the family first, and I always felt like a runner-up in a contest.  She, pretty much ruled the household and ordered me around.

I got no support from my parents in standing up for myself, so I stayed in second place.  In day camp, decades ago, I was having a good time, but Pat was not.  She told me to tell my Mom that I, too, hated camp and not to be bribed to stay with candy.  I am a pushover with sweets.

But, I complied, and that was  the end  of day camp.  Why did I let her push me around?  I was just a little girl and I idolized my big sister without reason.  I could continue to list the injustices I remember, but it is her birthday, she is deceased and therefore I will let her rest in peace.

As we grew older, a rift developed, and I was equally culpable.  After college, she married and moved to California-San Francisco, then San Diego.  I was jealous that she fled  the confines of Baltimore, and often resented her absence.  The distance became more than miles.

She had always wanted to live abroad, and realized her dream when she headed to Europe and settled in Portugal after trying some other cities.  She was happy there, but now we were too far apart to sustain a familial relationship.

Pat was happy in Portugal, speaking the language and teaching English to locals.  I was back near Baltimore resenting her absence, especially when our mother was ill.  I was the sole surviving sister, and felt pressure to do more for Mom.  But who was or am I to say how and where she should live her life?  I was still envious of her escape.

I never visited her in Cascais, the seaside area she called home, and our phone calls were brief and unsatisfactory.  I wish we had maintained some sort of connection, but it was not to be.  I don’t have any regrets.  We both tried until we stopped trying.

Her friend/executor sent me a parcel of her belongings, and I have yet to open it.  What don’t I want to know?  That she was successful, or am I just unwilling to accept her death?

The past is over, and I am now the sole surviving member of my family.  That feels sort of strange, but not unfamiliar.  I had relationship issues with my father, also.

So, Happy Birthday, Patricia, and know that I am thinking of you.