TIGHT SPACES

This Monday morning, I begin the week having to remove the snow that accumulated on my car overnight.  I do not look forward to the task.  My arms are sort of short, and have trouble reaching the top of the Acura to dispense with the snow that might fall on my windshield as I drive.

Here’s the rub.  I own a garage-it came with my condo, but I rarely use it.  I always have trouble maneuvering my auto into what seems to me to be a too-small space.  Obviously the are is large enough for me to park in, it is just not big enough to put the car in to comfortably.  Like an old dress that I can wiggle into but is too tight from years of eating too many cookies, I won’t wear it.

That is how I feel about my garage-minus the cookies.  I don’t understand why I have such a hard time parking in the shelter designed for this purpose.  My neighbors glide their SUVs and other larger cars than mine into their assigned garages seemingly without effort every night.  While, when I return home, I search for a vacancy in the unassigned visitor’s parking area hoping to snag a spot.  I may even walk a distance to my home.  Anything is better than parking in my garage.

One time, while trying to navigate the car into it, I banged the mirror off my car and the fear remains today.  I am a good driver and even parallel park without effort.  It’s the damn squeezing my car into the garage that is the problem.

When I woke up Sunday morning, the snow had already fallen several inches, and I figured it was too late to try to get my car into the enclosed space.  So, once at 8AM I used an old scraper/brush to push the white frozen stuff off the car.  Then, voila!, the snow stopped, only to start again several hours later, when I had to repeat the process.

I saw an older(I’m not young) woman attempting to clear her car.  Even though she appeared to be more competent than I was at snow removal, I offered to help.  That gesture made me feel a little better.  But, once again, later in the afternoon, the snow began falling once more, and once more I went outside, in boots and a hat and repeated the process of earlier in the day.  I even prayed the snow would stop.  I feel guilty wasting a prayer on such a trivial matter.  But I felt I could use some divine intervention.

Unfortunately, it snowed again last night and I face the prospect of once again bundling up and scraping off the car which I usually love, but now feels  burdensome.  Who ever coined the term “snow angels,” I beg to disagree.  Yes, the scenery is beautiful and children love to play in the white stuff of winter, but until I learn how to park more easily in the garage, I prefer the term, “snow devils.”

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CREDIT

I was happy when Glen Close won the Golden Globe award for her performance in the movie “The Wife.”  In this story, a woman writer pens her husbands celebrated works and stays in the background.  This arrangement seems to succeed until the husband wins the Nobel Prize for in literature, and the couple travel to Stockholm to accept the award.

While on this journey and  once in Sweden, the wife begins to bristle under the names of helpmate and inspiration for her spouse’s accomplishments.  She knows the truth-often a dangerous secret to keep.  Finally, although not admitting to the Nobel judges the fact of her writing the fiction, she decides to leave her husband and end the lie.  For me, this was a satisfying, although late in life decision.

Women writers and artists have occasionally disguised their identity to achieve success.  Some people say that JK Rowling used her initials in her byline so young boys would read the work of a gender unknown author.  And George Sand, who wrote in the 1800’s was really a female who hid behind a man’s name for her work to be taken seriously.

The true story of Margaret and Walter Keane reached the movie screen in the cinema with the name “Big Eyes.”  Remember those portraits of mostly children staring in a piercing way at the viewer with questions and heartache in their visage?

Well, the true story is that Walter Keane signed the celebrated works and they commanded thousands of dollars in sales.  For too many years, Margaret hid behind her husband’s fame and who knows if she was content to let him garner the glory.  But the truth is hard to accept, as once more a woman gains fame only by hiding her true self.  Finally, the truth emerged that she was the artist, but was it too late?  I have no idea of the consequences.

Personally, in the early 2000’s, I experienced gender discrimination in the newspaper world.  A contract freelance writer for The Baltimore Sun, I authored articles including: sports, litigation and features for many years.  By this time, the days of relegating women to the topics of gardening, cooking and social events was history.  At lease I assumed that much progress had been made in opening the realm of subjects to include all topics as suitable for women.

But, I was proven wrong.  As mentioned in another blog, I was always interested in the NASA and the space program.  So, as an adventure and to feed my curiosity, I traveled to Houston where the final shuttle erupted in flames, killing all the astronauts abroad.  When I asked questions about the disaster, no agency personnel provided me with straight answers.

So, when I returned home, I wrote about my experience signing merely my initials in the byline and the article was purchased by the Sun.  The problem arose when they referred to me as a man.  When I revealed my gender, they killed the piece and the possibility of a female penning a semi-scientific piece.  So it goes.  I had no recourse.  I have the feeling I have already told this story in a previous blog.  If so, please forgive an again brain that not even caffeine can perfect in detail.

So, bravo to Glen Close and the authors of “The Wife.”  One cannot learn the truth often enough.  Women are still navigating the world to be heard and seen as whole people.

SLEEP THERAPY

Yesterday was difficult for me.  I woke up panicky about a minor item and let that stress control my waking hours. I was certain I had done something terribly wrong about my condo payment and would lose my residence. These imaginings were succumbing to the action I stated in my resolutions blog that I would avoid-thinking in extremes. None the less, I let my fear fuel my thoughts and actions throughout the day.

I hatched all measure of catastrophic outcomes to my mistake and let the tide of disaster sweep me away.  Even lunch with my good friend did not erase the problems I had written on the blackboard of my mind.  Driving home from that brief bit of socializing, I almost hit the car in front of me, as I was so distracted  by my distress.

The twenty-four hours passed slowly with naps,boring TV when I returned home.  I didn’t even eat much during the afternoon, which is rare for me..  But then, a blessed occurrence took over.  I fell into a blissful sleep.  Like the stock market rebounding greatly after a horrific session, my dreams transported me to a happier place.

While asleep, I dreamed of being in Florida(I travel much farther while asleep than awake.)  I was in the company of my former in-laws, who were wonderful people.  They were living peacefully in a lovely southern community and I was visiting.  We shared special moments together and despite a dead car battery(how did that enter my beautiful dream?) we coped well and continued our splendid time together.

Like my renovation dream, in last night’s nocturnal meanderings, change was on the menu.  We drove to a department store, where i bought all new and newly-colored makeup.  Sounds superficial, but it revitalized me and inspired my hours after I woke up.

This morning, I feel refreshed and somewhat reborn.  I may even gather the courage to go to my mailbox and retrieve yesterday’s delivery which I was too frightened to do on Saturday.  I am not claiming all my concern about the payment has vanished, but it has shrunk in size and I will deal with it tomorrow when the office reopens.  I am grateful for the reprieve and it teaches me once again that bad days do not last forever and better times may replace them.  Thank goodness for dreams.

STARTING AGAIN

Earlier this evening, I fell into a deep sleep at too early an hour for permanence.  The ill-timed slumber was the result of having spent an hour under the influence of Propophol-a sedative for minor surgical procedure.  My bronchoscpy proceeded well, I assume, with no complications or immediate problems detected.  But that powerful drug left me drowsy throughout the day and I finally succumbed to sleep.

The dream was a perhaps a prophetic one for the second day of the new year.  It involved remodeling my condo starting with the floor and proceeding upwards.  It symbolized for me the changes I want to make for 2019 and that it is never too early to begin.  That I decided in the dream not to sell the residence symbolized that I don’t have to make a major overhaul of my personality.  Here goes with my plans.

I want to generalize less about groups of people.  Not all men or every woman possesses the same characteristics, and when I criticize a particular person, let me remember that my harsh judgement does not  apply to everyone who is the same gender or nationality.  Already once today, I caught myself falling back into that old habit and reversed what I said to make it specific.  I hope I can continue not to be so quick to make unfavorable remarks that cover a whole group of people.

Also, I want to make fewer extreme statements and think less radically about the possible benefits or consequences of a given action.  Rather, let me be more moderate in my expectations and imaginings.  I want to resemble a young baseball player I viewed on television who sauntered slowly into home plate instead of sliding frantically.  Let me have a more measured approach to life and hopefully avoid the high and low moods which dogged me this past year.

And please help me to stop disliking people for no apparent reason other than they annoy me with their voice or appearance.  My ire led me to skip events and occasions when that person who is my target(a football term I learned that leads to a player’s ejection) may be present Why should I give so much power to someone else?

I want to mention a regret that a former Facebook friend has seemingly disappeared from my life.  We used to chat online and occasionally spend time together.  But he no longer calls, texts or talks to me over the Internet.  I hope he forgives me for alluding to him in this blog.  I miss him and wish him well.

Let’s end on a lighter, but no less important decision.  I will never again date a man who is substantially younger than myself.  The flattery of the invitation does not make up for his expectations of the evening.  Lesson learned.

What changes have you chosen to make in 2019?

NATIVE AMERICAN DREAMS

I spent the first few hour of 2019 dreaming of a wonderful trip to New Mexico.  There, the locals on the reservation treated me with kindness and greeted me with hospitality in their indigenous ways. I bought traditional, meaningful jewelry and ingested delicious victuals.  The beauty of the barren landscape added to the graciousness of the people lilted me to a wonderful way to start the new year.  For me, much better than Times Square at midnight.

I have traveled to the southwest often, beginning with a trip to Arizona the year my mother was dying.  I left BWI with a hotel reservation, plans to rent a car and no further itinerary.  Yet, upon arrival, I immediately sensed a deep connection with my surroundings, and with my mother who always liked this part of the country..  In my loaner car, I drove into the desert without fear and inhaled the dry air blissfully.

I turned the radio to a station playing classical music and felt like I was living or dreaming in a different world.  I was braver back then, and drove up into the mountains, and then an unpaved road to find Arcosanti – a rustic school for upcoming architects in the native landscape north of Phoenix.  Not typically a fan of  winding, bumpy mountainside byways, I felt relaxed and free.  I was so far from home, yet sensed  a closeness to my roots.  Unlike Senator Elizabeth Warren from Massachusetts who just declared her intention to run for president in 2020, and claims native American ancestry, i make no such statements.  I was just at peace in the rugged mountains.

I obviously survived that adventure and felt more free and alive than ever before.  I have never returned since that time, and doubt I possess the courage to repeat the journey.  But I will never forget the sensation of such independence, yet belonging.

Before 9/11, I attended several writers’ conferences in Albuquerque.  On one occasion, I even met Thomas Keneally, the author of Schindler’s List. Despite his fame and notoriety, he was generous with his time and even introduced me to his family.

One of the benefits of being so far from this area was that DC and government were never the main topics of conversation.  A world beyond the beltway existed and thrived just fine.  People were more concerned with literary matters obviously at the conference, and the local football team beyond the meeting’s confines.  I could breath without the daily anxiety foisted on those of us who live in such proximity to the nation’s capital.

I have taken other trips to the southwest, and even worked briefly in Tucson.  As a stranger, I was viewed as a mini-celebrity and people questioned me as if I were an expert in the area of overcoming fears and phobias-the topic about which  I spoke.

I have so many more memories but will end now as perhaps you are still bleary-eyed from last night’s festivities.

May the year now upon us hold adventures, perhaps trips and dreams that usher in twelve months of joy.

NO PRESCRIPTION NECESSARY

I ended my 2018 blog on a downer of a subject-who died and who would die.  But voila, I am in a better mood this morning on the eve of 2019 and I know why.  It is no secret, and perfectly legal to imbibe the drink that elevates my mood.  I rediscovered caffeine!

Now I get it.  I used to be the only patron at the Starbucks at Barnes & Noble asking for decaf and they didn’t even brew it in the morning.   Coffee was and is king in all its forms with or without flavoring or whipped cream.  No wonder the other people were happier than me.  They were smart enough to be drinking high-test-the real coffee, caffeine and all.

I used to be a morning person-waking up happy and full of energy.  That characteristic eludes me these days.  And lacking the endorphin high generated by the now-forbidden treadmill, I am a mess in the early AM.  Grumpy, hungry, angry at the world became the way I greeted the day.  Not an auspicious way to greet the world or even myself.  Now, as I morph into a person who doesn’t greet the dawn with joy, I need help getting started.

The advice to try to combat my sour mood with caffeine came from my therapist.  They go to graduate school to learn what everybody else knows?  Oh, well, it is working for me.  I am awake, productive, dressed and ready to begin another twenty-four hours with the aid of my potion-magic elixir coffee.  An elixir is technically supposed to make one immortal.  But I don’t care about the absurdity of living forever, I just want to be happy.

This morning, even after being asked for a date tonight on New Year’s Eve, my mood was tanking as I watched morning television full of the typical horrors of winter storms, the government shutdown and a horrific lion mauling.  Not the best way to fill my sleepy brain upon awakening.

Real coffee may even be a rationale for returning to my beloved B&N even without the cherished cookie on my menu.  I am trying so hard to eat healthy and lighter and still my stomach protrudes.  But the caffeine lets me live another day without being too discouraged.

This discovery of the powerful effects of my new best beverage friend means I can imbibe Diet Coke without fear.  Caffeine used to make me jittery and nervous.  Now it provides energy and motivation and is my drink of choice.  I won’t need bubbly at midnight to celebrate the new year, I will still be on my coffee-high.

 

2018

As we rapidly approach the final days of this year, it is  a time of reckoning, statistics and remembrances.  Watching television Friday night, the commercial channels listed and showed the names and faces of those people who died in 2018.  It was a grim parade of those no longer alive and memories of how they departed this earth.

With news breaking almost hourly, it seems, we tend to forget memorable, and sad moments of the year ending next week.  I forgot that Charles Krauthamer had passed and recall his feisty comments on cable TV.

And what about John Mccain?  Will there ever be another senator or politician whose death merits presidential like tributes?  He will be remembered and missed.

There are so many more famous and humble names to add to the list-the shooting victims at Parkland High and Las Vegas, and the fewer in number, but no less significant murders and accidents which occur on a daily basis.  All lives lost are a loss.  When I saw so many of the photos, I failed to recognize them, reminding me that at my age I am far from the mainstream of popular culture.

I will never forget the beautiful Watts wife and children in Colorado slain by their depraved husband and father.  How can a tragedy like this happen?  Perhaps we will never know.  And what about the loss of all the law enforcement officials, first responders and military personnel?  How can we ever show our gratitude for their sacrifices?

And we must add the suicides of Kate Spade(designer) and Anthony Bourdain(TV chef) to the list of the deceased, those  by their own hands.  Their deaths remind us that depression(my assumption about their motives) is real and deadly if not treated.  Mental health issues demand more of our attention.

As we face 2019, I wonder in a macabre way who will die in the coming twelve months.  And who cannot consider  Ruth Bader Ginsburg? For her and the country’s sake, let us hope this resilient Supreme Court justice, born in 1933 keeps up her seemingly miraculous fight against disease and old age. She is a shining example of growing older with guts.

Jimmy Cater, who in his nineties is our oldest living former president seems to be immortal as he continues his humble life with wife Rosalind.  But who knows for whom the bell will toll in the future year?

There are so many more people important to the nation and to their families whose life is a gift and whose time on earth we can never predict when it will end.  These examples  of those we lost and those on the brink is not intended to be in any way comprehensive, but rather anecdotal.  So let us all be grateful for the days we are given and never take for granted that they will last forever.

Sorry for such a sad blog, but anyway Happy New Year.