This week is all about giving thanks. And of course, I have much to be thankful for, including a roof over my head, food in the fridge, and the greatest assortment of family and friends a person could ever wish for. I am grateful every day for the kindness, compassion, wisdom and love that is extended to me, and pray that I am reciprocating to each person that holds my hand in this rocky journey we call life.
That said…every pot needs some pepper. If you are on Facebook, and I suspect you may just be, you have probably seen the multitudes of posts each day for the last several weeks, proclaiming gratitude. And yes, yes, we are all grateful for Mother Earth, and the air we breathe, but seriously, isn’t that just a given? An automatic gift with the purchase of life?
I guess I could give you a month of the things I am grateful for, but they are all just going to be expansions of the thoughts expressed in paragraph one, see above. But because there’s a little devil dancing on my shoulder today, I now give to you…5 things I am NOT grateful for. If the concept troubles you, especially in light of our upcoming holiday, feel free to pass and pick me up again next week, where I will resort back to appreciation and gratitude. Here we go:
1. I am not grateful for text messaging. There. I’m sorry, I said it. Call me old school, or just old. Sure, it’s convenient for a quick share of information, but when it takes the place of conversation, I’m out. My fingers don’t work that nimbly, and frankly, I have more to say than can comfortably be conveyed in short sentences. And inevitably, as I am tip typing my response to you, your next flash message comes through, and I lose what I was saying to some unknown nether world known as draft. Why?
2. I am not grateful for the fact that every time I take clean laundry out of the dryer, freshly cleaned clothing falls to the less than pristinely cleaned floor. It irks me.
3. I am not grateful for the truly crappy plumbing (nice one, huh?) in my old, rickety house. Sure, the majestic tree in my front yard is beautiful. But I am just not sure it’s commensurate with having to call a plumber approximately every 30 days to come snake the pipes. This is no exaggeration, in the last 6 months, I have had the plumber here 7 times! Last week I was running the wash, and every water outlet in my house, tub, toilet, sink, washer, gushed forth with water spouts that rivaled Old Faithful. [I am, however, extremely grateful to my plumber, who I have on my speed dial, and who is now giving me the “family discount.”]
4. I am not grateful for hot flashes. Mine or anybody else’s. Enough said.
5. I am not grateful for pasta. I know, I know, I can hear the collective gasp. Frankly, I think it’s a waste of carbs. Don’t eat it, don’t like it. I am not afraid of controversy, I understand EVERYONE else loves it. More for you, I say, more for you.
Okay, I’m done. Phew. That was harder than I thought. Devil on my shoulder or not, I know how blessed and lucky I am. If you are reading this, thank you. It means so much to me, and to those of you who have encouraged me in the endeavor, it’s a great gift. Wishing you all a wonderful Thanksgiving, with a special shout out to Mother Earth. And, the air we breathe.
The end, for now
Last week was definitely challenge filled, not just for me, but for some people I hold very near and dear. To try to shake off a little of the stress and struggle, I decided it was time. Time for my annual Christmas movie watching marathon. And I know we haven’t even hit Thanksgiving yet, but if retailers and programmers are going to skip straight from trick or treat to have a holly, jolly Christmas, I might as well jump on the Polar Express.
You may be asking yourself, hey, isn’t she Jewish? But if you are, we really need to have a long conversation. Call me. Because that question has been asked and answered, debated and decided. Yes, I am Jewish, yes I believe in the teachings and precepts of my religion. And, yes, I love Christmas! No disrespect intended to anyone. I’m not celebrating Christ’s birthday. I’m celebrating the somewhat secular annual event that I was raised with, the one that involves happy, scampering children, caroling characters in Victorian garb, figgy pudding, stockings hung by the chimney with care. That Christmas. That now also includes a month long fest of cheesy movies, all leading up to the epic finale slam on Christmas Eve, It’s A Wonderful Life.
I can’t help myself. I love them all. Especially every version of A Christmas Carol, with my favorite varying each year between the George C. Scott version and Alistair Sim’s classic black and white version. And the last few years have produced a plethora of just the sort of movie I love, the soppier the better, via Lifetime and The Hallmark channel. These movies all run along the same lines. Someone (orphan, struggling single mother, forgotten grandpa) has a crisis (no parents, jobless, no joy). Extra points if the lead character is portrayed by a former beloved sitcom start (Ed Asner, Marilu Henner, little Rudy from the Cosby show, all grown up). Various good townspeople jump in to help them, and by the end of the two hours, everybody has learned a nice lesson about the magic of Christmas, and everyone is better because of it. I LOVE this shit!
My kickoff movie was strong. I have no idea when it was made, or what it was called. But it starred Nancy McKeon, she of the sassy Jo from Facts of Life. See what I mean? And she was this super successful, executive, but gosh, something just seemed to be missing from her life, single lady. So when she gets in a car accident on Christmas Eve, and is rescued by a kind and handsome stranger, she is surprised to find out he is her husband of 10 years, complete with the precious two little kids and the charming house. He manages the homeless shelter. She is the head of the church guild. And she can’t remember any of it. On Christmas Eve!
Oh, what will happen? I have to confess, I was a little worried that the children were going to be unduly traumatized, what with their mother not remembering them and all. On Christmas Eve! But they seemed to go right with the good time flow. Jo learned an important lesson about what really matters. And, as you may suspect, all ended happily. Well, except for the little tikes, who actually ceased to exist when Mommy-Not Mommy regained her memory. But she got to keep the hunky husband (to be), and all was merry and bright.
If you think I am being snide or sarcastic about all of this, let me reassure you, I am not. My tongue may be positioned slightly towards my cheek, but I really do love this stuff. It’s my comfort food, my virtual Little House, my electronic snuggly. And in a year that has been more challenging than most, I am more ready than ever for my festive boost. So come on down, Scrooge McDuck, I am donning my gay apparel and ready to troll the ancient yule-tide carol. Oh, and have yourself a very happy Chanukah!
The end, for now
I have had quite a whirlwind of activities, incidents, and emotions the past several days. Not quite sure what this post will look like, so I guess I’ll just start writing and we’ll discover it together.
Let’s start with my 24 hour trip to Las Vegas. It was the last place I wanted to go, for so many reasons, and although it was on the calendar for months, up until about 2 weeks ago I was wavering daily with the decision. The lure was an opportunity to see all of my immediate family, something that hasn’t happened since my mother’s funeral almost 2 years ago. The biggest reason for not going was the fact that I am unemployed and reaching some critical financial constraints. Even using frequent flier points, and with some subsidizing by very generous “patrons” there was no way the trip would be without some extra expenses I can ill afford at this time.
I actually decided a few weeks ago that I wasn’t going to go, and informed various members of the family. I explained that it seemed foolish for me to spend unbudgeted funds to have dinner, which was essentially the one event we all were to attend. And with a large and loud family like mine, I know from experience that a group dinner usually means you can talk to the people on either side of you, and that’s about it. But after telling the family that I wasn’t going, I had some pangs and decided to go.
I don’t really like Vegas, and this trip didn’t change my mind, but the people watching opportunities are excellent. From the sulky showgirl in the hotel lobby, to the drunken hordes carrying yard long goblets of neon beverages, to the worn old ladies parked at the penny slots, it’s an assault on the mind and senses. I would so rather be at the mountains or the beach, or in a beautiful city like San Francisco or New York. It’s just really not my kind of town.
Although it wasn’t planned this way at all, the trip morphed into an unofficial celebration for my Dad’s 80th birthday. My father insisted he didn’t want a celebration, and we insisted this wasn’t one, but in spite of all that insistence on all parties, it became one. And it made him very happy to have all of his kids and their significant others around him for a loud but fun dinner. Which made me very happy. I’m glad I went.
The weekend ended on an unhappy note for one beloved family member, my sister’s sweet pug, Scooter Pie Leberman. Through a terrible accident, he suffered a detached retina, which resulted in his having his eye removed. It was a horribly upsetting event for Wendy and her family, and when she hurts, I hurt. There was concern about his surviving his operation, and how he would adapt, at the age of 10, to being a one eyed pup. Fortunately, he did well, he is back at home recovering nicely, and we can start to joke about blinged out eye patches and pirate costumes. Thank goodness!
Yesterday, I had my own little surgery, a very minor one, but unexpectedly a bit traumatic. I had to have a growth removed from my leg. I was told it would be a very quick procedure, in and out in 30 to 45 minutes, and I could drive myself. The surgeon was a disgruntled sort, not comforting by any means, who spent the whole surgery telling me how he was soon retiring, because he was too stressed out. I kid you not! The whole thing took about 2 hours, was extremely painful, and I came home with a hugely bandaged leg, 12 stitches and a whimper. Remember this is the same person who walked around with a ruptured appendix for a day and then drove myself to the hospital. I don’t think I am a wimp, but I would have been happy to have someone hold my hand on this one, and then take me home and gently feed me ice cream.
Are you exhausted by all of the above? It was a lot to pack into a few short days, right? But any three day weekend that includes a sulky showgirl, slot machines, sangria, a one eyed dog, a grumpy doctor, and stitches can’t be considered boring by any means. Add the rare and lovely opportunity to share a loud and laugh filled dinner with some of the people I love the most and I would say I definitely came out of it a winner.
The end, for now
“The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.” Martin Luther King Jr
Are you familiar with this quote? For the last several weeks it has been rattling in my head. It reminds me, first of all, that whatever troubles I may be having right now, they are nothing like the troubles of the brave generations that have come before me. I’ve not had to fight for my freedom, or against cruelty. I have never had to worry about having a safe place to lay my head at night, or where I can find sustenance. I consider myself blessed.
That doesn’t mean I don’t have my own challenges. Because everybody does, and while you are in the midst of them, it’s sometimes hard to keep perspective. For the last several weeks, I was in consideration for a great job. It was with a company I respect, doing the kind of work I am most interested in. The interviews went really well, and I thought I had an excellent chance of landing it. The decision point kept getting delayed, which was frustrating, but I was still very hopeful. I tried to manage my expectations, so I wouldn’t be crushed if I didn’t get the job, but the truth is, that’s not really in my DNA. I’m a dreamer-realist hybrid. I will always hope for the happy ending, and believe there’s every chance of it happening, but if it doesn’t happen, I won’t fall apart. I’ll deal.
Which turns out to be a good thing, because I learned late last week, I didn’t get the job. After being told I was the leading candidate, and everyone thought I was great, they had a late day reorg, and changed the requirements of the position. And, I have to say, I was really bummed and disappointed. But I can only move forward and hope that the next opportunity turns out to be even better, and that I will soon be employed again. Fingers crossed that it will be something I am really interested in, for a company I respect.
While that little dance was going on, I was also having some health issues. Went through a whole round of tests for various things, and some of them came back with less than optimal results. Without going into detail here, next week I will have to have a minor procedure to take care of one of the issues. It will all be okay, it always is, but can you start to understand why that quote is stuck in my head? Frankly, it’s a whole lot of shit for one cheerful, curly haired woman to deal with.
So, I can handle it a couple of ways. I can be a depressed, snarly witch, and wring my hands at the heavens bemoaning all that is not going my way. Or, I can suck it up and keep trying. I can appreciate my friends and family, who love me even when I’m not perfect, and my life is going imperfectly. I can try and have a little grace, and a lot of humor, and deal with disappointments and setbacks as they come.
Life isn’t comfortable right now, or especially convenient. But, I am so aware of where my problems would fall in the grand scheme of the world. I’m not sticking my head in the sand, or refusing to face facts, but I also know that no matter what happens, I’m probably not going to end up hungry or homeless. Everything else is pretty much gravy.
I don’t mean to be preachy here, that is so not my intent. I feel as if I am stating all of this rather inelegantly, but these are the thoughts I have been thinking. I guess it all goes back to my Dad’s rule of “Spit Backwards.” This is what he would tell us when we were on car rides as kids, complaining about things, as kids do, like being thirsty. It basically means, make the best of things, tough it up, and don’t bleed on the seats. Deal. And I would add to that, show some style while you’re doing it. Stand up straight, keep a smile on your face, appreciate all your blessings, and show your measure!
The end, for now