Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Monday, October 17, 2016

When You Never Know Your Parents Past Childhood

When I was a young teenager, the record shop on Main St. piped out a record I loved, and then bought for my father for Christmas.  We had a record player, always, and we had a lot of jazz and classical music. Some show tunes.

I still buy people I love the things I also love. I was so sure my dad would enjoy this record. But he didn't. He was in his 20s in the 1920s. It seemed his style. But he opened the present, he smiled at me, you know, that social smile? and I don't know that he ever played it.  I did, so he heard it.

He died when I was 19, so I will never know why he didn't like it. As I age, I am beginning to realize how thoroughly I was orphaned to lose my father at 19, and basically lose my mother at 23.  They got me through to what I thought was adulthood, but I realize now I never had the adult to adult relationship that should have happened.  They were great parents. They crammed a lot of love into me before they left my life.

"Slaughter on Tenth Avenue", by Richard Rogers. I love it still.

Why didn't he love it?

I will always wonder.

I think I wonder, because I still am hurt that he would think I would buy it for myself and give it to him so I could have it. That worry hit me with the smile. I never got to ask him about it.

Unfinished business. 

(Dad, I did really think you would love it.)

And with Elvis Presley at the time singing, "You Ain't Nothing But a Hound Dog," if he did think I chose it because I liked it, he did think I had hi-falutin' taste.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

On The Groundfloor, Who Are You?

We all have core beliefs we live by. Truly core beliefs.

Recently I have visited with some people I respect and admire. They don't all  share my core beliefs. And that startled me. Because on the surface, we lead similar lives.  Maybe, like me, they go to my church. Maybe we volunteer together.  Maybe we volunteer at a school function together.

That their core beliefs differ doesn't change my liking or respect.

And we ARE similar.

I have discovered that to feel good about myself, I have to do certain things. I am old enough by now to realize other people can be really good friends and not have those same compulsions.

I hope I will get some responses here.

Yesterday I was visiting with a woman who grew up as a Jehovah Witness. She told me, and I hadn't known this, that they do not believe in voting. That literally shocked me. I don't think anything on my personal "have to" list will make me better, or more worthy, or even respectable. Some of it doesn't come from my family.

But:  I always thought before
You vote. If you are legally allowed to, you vote. And, by damn, not just in presidential elections. You vote for the city, for the school, and  when taxes come up.  Sometimes you hold your nose. You vote. Now, in my lexicon, you don't have to get active in politics. That's up to you. But every chance you have,

You Vote. And voting is new to her. And after I caught my dropping jaw, we talked more. Wow.

I can't give blood any more because of medication, but I have O Negative, and for years I gave blood every 8 weeks.  Public service. You lie down for a few minutes, and you get juice and cookies. I always walked out feeling righteous. So if you can,

You Donate Blood. And you donate your organs and skin when you die.

For a few years in a tough job trying to help families, I didn't volunteer. But I felt guilty. Somewhere, something you like, kids you like, a cause you like, needs free workers. Find a place you want to work. Then,


You see places where a little cash could make the lives of kids, families, veterans, old people....pick the group. If you don't have the cash, do you have clothes or other stuff?  All you have to do, is take it in and

Donate. Something. Somewhere. I've seen folks at the soup kitchen bring in their garden produce before eating the next meal. Not at all necessary. But they walked so tall after they did it.

There's a lot of room in this for lying and cheating and doing stuff.... well.

I just was startled, that's all. I learned I had some bedrock things I didn't even know were there, but they are.  They help me live.

What are your BedrockValues?

I do have one more. I don't always like to tell the truth. But if you ask me the questions,
I don't lie. Ever.

Sunday, October 2, 2016

I Yam who I Yam. Stop Focusing on the Cracks

This is a rant.  Feel free to go elsewhere.

The internet, the instant communication, has many pluses.


One advantage of the years before was that when you lost someone you loved, or whatever, the reminder didn't keep popping up month after month, finally year after year, ad infinitum.

It was a BIG ADVANTAGE. You could go through it. You could hug your friends for years over it, but you went on.  After awhile, while that sorrow, that pain, was a part of you, you could focus on what was good now, and what was going to be good in the future. The pain didn't pop up front and center.

I didn't grow up in the digital age. I didn't even have 4 television stations to watch until I was 11 or 12.  I do appreciate the tapes, the internet.

I don't By God need them to remind me about Sept. 11, or the Kennedy assassination or whatever. I especially don't need to put reminders on Face Book or any other media. If I am ever shot to death and someone wants to hold a Vigil With Candles, I want law enforcement to arrest all of them and charge them with macabre verisimilitude.  And I want that ticket to ban them from any resulting memorial service for me, because I will be cremated.

I have had a good life with some bumps,  A fair number.  But I do not ever want to be remembered for What I Survived. I want to be remembered for my thoughts, my love, my interests--for my life, not my tragedies.

I do not ever want to be remembered for what I lost, though that is a part of who I am. But I certainly hope the bigger part is what I gained, learned and who I loved and still do.

My brother died on my father's lap when he was 31/2 years old and I was less than two. I don't remember him. My parents mourned, and they talked about him, and he was part of their lives. I was their child, though, and they showed me such delight, such nurture and laughter.

What if that dreadful death had been recorded and they could have played it over and over again?

I would not have had the childhood, the life, or the family I now have.

They only needed to go through it once.

They had no choice. You do, unfortunately. What will you do with it?

I would add it to family records for history's sake. I'm not sure. I don't think I would ever go back.

Today, it's your choice. Do you want to remember the pain, full screen, once a year or more? Or do you want to tuck it away in a gentle space you can, but do not have to, go back to.

With  technology comes more choices than we expected.

I hope we make good ones.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Better than nothing; the substitute I wrote after my computer froze

The computer ate my homework. Does that count as writing with adversity?

A lot of professional writers have gone back to writing on typewriters--a Selectric or some such, and I understand why.

Wrote a good blog last night on aging candidates,  the future, health expectations....it was a really good one. Reread it just a few minutes ago, and I liked it this morning as well. But BlogSpot had frozen. I couldn't save it, publish, nothing.

So I deleted it.  That train of thought has ended and I can't get back on board. I never dreamed that the adversity of creative writing would be the actual loss of my work periodically.  If I am in the middle of what for me is original thinking--even though someone else undoubtedly has thought the same--I don't seem able to stop, save my work, re-enter creative thinking and go on.

It may be a skill I will have to learn.  The frustration of losing last night's work is something I am pushing down and down. I'll take a walk in a bit and let that frustration evaporate with movement.

I am trying to get back to this writing from my personal viewpoint.  There's a kind of rhythm, a music to the words that is satisfying to string together.  It is handwork as surely as carving or sewing, or rolling out piecrust. The piecrust used to be another handcraft of mine, but that skill is gone now. I never carved. I never sewed, except reattaching buttons.

But I have done and still do, write.   The computer freezes intermittently, probably one in ten outings. Negative reinforcement; in other words, the most powerful discouragement.

I woke up this morning, and everything works.  I still have critical thinking in my head.  And I am grateful for that.  With my hands on a keyboard, I still have a voice. Even when my computer sometimes mutes it.

I once started a poem, writing, "My life is a river, strong, and deep, and wet--I don't know where it's going yet."   I never finished the poem past those words because, you know, I didn't know where my life goes. I still don't know, except that it goes on, and it goes forward.

I still am trying to see what is around the bend ahead.

I still want to know.

 That may well be my favorite thing about myself.