April 2013

MY YEAR WITHOUT FEAR……SO FAR

Things changed quickly almost immediately after my last overly-optimistic blog.

Once again, the settlement date got pushed back, but I decided to go ahead and start taking steps to get out into the world.  That, too, was a little overly-optimistic.  After five years of becoming a recluse, it wasn’t as easy as anticipated to walk out the door, sooooo…….

I signed up for the Writers’ Police Academy that’s put on by Sisters In Crime (SinC) in September. It’s an abbreviated police academy held at the Greensboro Police Academy and training facilities in North Carolina.  I’m really excited…..and it’s several months in advance so I have time to get my act together. There will be police car driving, breaking down doors, gun stuff, and a ton of forensics information to make the details of my writing more realistic and accurate. And I get a tee-shirt with “WRITER” on the back. What more could a girl want?

Step 2: While waiting to renew my drivers license at AAA, I struck up a conversation about traveling destinations with a gentleman that lasted about 45 minutes.  On the way out, I handed him my card. He didn’t call, but I hoped he wouldn’t.  The fact that I reached out and made myself vulnerable was the important part.  The truth is that after not having a date for five years, it would be kind of like a dog chasing a bus.  I’ve read that if you don’t find your husband in high school or college you’re probably never going to find him.  I should have paid more attention.

Step 3: In an especially optimistic moment, I signed up for the Our Time/Jewish Date website, thinking that maybe having a date or two would get me up and running…..but the next morning I was more lucid and cancelled the membership.  I’m not ready yet.

Step 4: Marketing my book hasn’t gone well — again, fear of being in public..I mean, once I get there, I’m fine. It’s getting there that’s wanky.  So, I did a trial sign-up with an author’s publicist. We’ll see how that goes. 

One of the obstacles is that my current “part-time” job is more work than any of my full-time house director jobs. The house needs a lot of maintenance, we’re planning on doing construction this summer, and I both grocery shop and cook for the girls twice a week.  But I’m using that as an excuse, and realize I’m allowing it to happen. When I went to Abbi’s to feed her cats last week, I took a very long side trip and went to sit by the ocean for awhile. Just long enough to have lunch, but it’s a start. Tomorrow, I’m going to see “42.” Sure, it’s only a movie….but it’s not in the house.

My biggest problem is no local friends to call and hang out. Go out to dinner. Hit a movie. Walk around a mall or spend a day at the beach like I used to do with my precious Laurel. I’d bask in the sun, and Laurel, the tiny sprite, would be in sweatshirt and jeans over her bathing suit, wrapped in a couple of blankets. But we always had a good time, followed by dinner and a cocktail before heading back to our respective sorority houses. I miss those days. We were never on the same campus again, and that’s a shame.

As soon as my blog is finished today, I’m calling West Virginia Vital Records to get a valid copy of my birth certificate. I need to get a passport under Hyman, but they will no longer accept my original birth certificate with the adorable footprints.  And while I’m sitting at the computer, I’ll rejoin Sisters In Crime, SoCal’s chapter of California Writers, at least the national Alpha Xi Delta alumna association, and Classmates.com.  (I’m also doing this to put off, once again, doing my expense report.  There may be something I hate worse than paperwork and math, but I’m not sure what it is.)

You know how much I’ve missed exercising, and in about 10 days, I’m going to do something pretty drastic in hopes it will help take the pressure off my back and legs.  I’ve always been a risk taker, which is strange since normal stuff seems to have me baffled now.

My life has rarely been either normal or boring. Sometimes, that would be nice.  But more often than not, it could be a country western song without the train, dog and rain. And that’s OK. I look at my friends whose lives haven’t changed much over the years, and in some ways wish my life had taken that turn…..but that wasn’t the deck the universe handed me. When I look back, several of the twists and turns were things over which I had no control.  Others were of my own making because I wasn’t paying attention to what was going on around me.  I tend to be too trusting and believe the best in people – and it’s gotten me in trouble more than once.  That’s OK, too.

My life, with more twists and hair-pin turns than West Virginia roads has kept me on my toes and opened up adventures I never would have experienced otherwise.  There are so many things I want to do, and by sometime in May, I should be able to start doing them…..jump out of a perfectly good airplane, find a place to walk in a tank with sharks (the only one I’ve found so far is at Atlantis in the Bahamas), go on a singles’ cruise, mine for gems in North Carolina, spend time on east coast beaches, finish the thriller my agent wants redone, take Abbi and maybe a friend or her boyfriend to Hawaii to show her where she was born and swim with dolphins in the warm Hawaiian Pacific while we’re there.  That should take care of the next 12 months. We’ll see what happens after that.  I’d really, really, really love to find a way to get into the old City Hall  in New York City where the subway turns around, but there’s no longer a stop.  Hmmmmm. How could I pull that off………

At least on paper, I know how to get out of the house and start living. Now, I have to find a way to open the door and put the first foot outside. I promise that will happen, and you’ll be the first to know.

In the meantime, please take care of yourself. Leave the house and do something out of your comfort zone. Being comfortable can lead to being in a rut, and ruts become chasms.  Life should never be spent “content.”  It’s important to learn the difference between satisfied and content. I’m not in either state now, and once again, that’s a good thing. I know I’m where I’m supposed to be — right here, right now.

Remember, you’re never too old to wish upon a star. Dare to dream and live. Our job is to continue to embarrass our kids while we’re here and give them reasons to laugh once we’re gone. 

See you soon…….

A TIME OF RENEWAL — OR, CAN’T WE ALL JUST GET ALONG?

I’ve been thinking a lot about the last week’s ‘holiday’ season —

 

Pesach, the time when the Angel of Death passed over all the Jewish houses while wiping out the rest of the community.

Easter, the day Christians celebrate the Jesus rising from the dead.

 

Spring…..the time for new beginnings, budding flowers and trees, and the hope of things to come.

 

So here we are.  Besides having seders and Easter egg hunts, how are we renewing ourselves now?

I’ve never experienced so much hate flying through the air, and I grew up in West Virginia in the 50’s and 60’s when blacks were called the “N” word, and my high school didn’t have proms or parties because they might attend.

Half of our Congress is still hell-bent to derail anything that could help the country — jobs acts like we had “back then” — the WPA gave jobs to those who needed it while building and repairing the country’s infrastructure…would that be so bad? And voted down the Veterans Job Act that’s already funded — wouldn’t have cost us a cent…..and backs Big Oil that pollutes our water supply while refusing to support the conversion to clean energy (they seem to forget we only have so much air to breathe).

Our rivers and lakes are drying up. Marinas once filled with pleasure and live-aboard boats now are nothing but silt. My GPS tells me there’s a river beside the road I’m travelling, but there’s nothing but dry earth. The ice cap is melting – breaking off in chunks.  I just read that seven….SEVEN states in the Midwest are once again becoming a dust bowl. Ask anyone in Oklahoma. Yet, there’s no global warming? I know. It’s aliens swooping down at night and sucking up our water for their own planet. Right?

Our education system has slipped double digits down the list of those worldwide. Yet, our teachers are asked to take pay cuts. My daughter’s favorite teacher, and the school’s “teacher of the year” the previous year, had to quit teaching when he had his third child because he couldn’t afford to do what he loved. Even before that, he had to work at White Water in the summer to support his family.

And Facebook is filled with hate for our President and anything else that doesn’t fit into a personal agenda.  I got a post yesterday that someone “heard”  the crowd at the basketball arena where Obama was attending a playoff game “booed” him. I was watching. It sounded like cheering to me. When I commented that the cheering was also aired on CBS news, he said, “CBS lies.”

WHAT?

I don’t understand.

I did not vote for either Bush either time. But they were our sitting Presidents.  I couldn’t say the words, “President Bush,” out loud, and I may have posted some funny things, primarily because there was always good material, but I didn’t hate them. I didn’t bash them. I didn’t disrespect them.  I pride myself on being an Independent. I voted for Clinton both times and Obama both times…but I also voted for Reagan both times. He loved his country, believed in the welfare of all Her citizens (not just the wealthy), and wanted what was best for America. I’d probably vote for him again.

Is it because our President’s name is Barack Hussein Obama? Or is it because he’s, as they say in Hawaii, hapa-haoli? (half white) We’re all a little mixed up if you get right down to it. (And birthers, if you’d like to see my daughter’s birth certificate from Hawaii, it looks just like his….and I’m pretty sure I know where she was born.) If we have descendants from colonial days, there’s a real good chance we have more black blood in us than American Indian.

But, two times, the majority of the nation voted for him. Heck. Half the world voted for him last time. It was a massacre. Deal with it. He’s my President, your President, OUR President for another three years.  Would there be this much hate if Hillary had been elected? Or a white man? I don’t know, and I don’t care.

How can we blame the president for the horrible state things are in? He can only sign bills that show up on his desk. And he has to sign some bills into law that have clauses he disagrees with to accomplish something else. If you’re unhappy with the state of the nation, call your Congressman. Tell them you expect a full three months of work out of them. That’s what they’re scheduled to work this year. What business could run staying open three months a year?

It’s time to put our differences aside.

We need to get our people back to work — stop posting that some organization said America will never reach full employment under Obama. When was the last time America had full employment? I’m thinking it was back when everyone had to farm to survive. Don’t tell me it was during WWII – I’ve heard that too many times — I have a letter my Uncle John wrote to my mom while he was in the Navy telling her he was glad that she and my dad finally found jobs.

We need to make sure our veterans get the physical and mental medical,  immediate and ongoing care they need when they return from active duty, and that not one veteran is ever unemployed or homeless.  Did we learn nothing from Vietnam?

We need to rebuild our infrastructure. Our roads and bridges are crumbling. Our dams and levees are breaking under pressure.

We need programs for our youth so they have alternatives to the violence (and zombies) on TV and gangs. When I was growing up, mothers stayed home unless there was a family business, and then the kids showed up to work in the afternoon or the mom was home in time for their return from school. Now, the kids go home to an empty house. And they’re not practicing dancing to American Bandstand while holding onto a doorknob for a partner. They’re not out playing with their friends. They’re watching TV and playing video games. Alone.

We need to teach our youth self-respect and respect for others. I wonder how many of the children and teens who have murdered their classmates believed they were wanted, needed, loved, appreciated, and that they were valuable members of society. Or that their job was to leave the earth a better place than they found it.

We’ve got to get assault weapons off the street. The police are doing the best they can, but what stalwart American really needs to shoot and carve up a deer at the same time? Where’s the sport in that? I believe in the right to bear arms….but haven’t seen a well-ordered militia in quite awhile, and when there is one, it’s called a terrorist cell or we mow it down like the ones in Waco. And clips that hold 30- 100 rounds? Again, why do we need them? While the Shady Brook shooter was reloading, it’s reported that eleven kids were able to escape. Imagine if he’d had to reload every six shots. Or that his parent’s gun was locked up securely in the first place.

Any American who chooses to should be allowed guns to hunt (if it provides food), protect his/her family and property, and for sport. No foreign power in it’s right mind would put their feet on American soil because there are too many retired Marines and old ladies with arsenals.  They’d never make it through Oklahoma and Texas.

We need to teach our kids respect, morals, values, and to accept responsibilities for their own actions instead of bailing them out of every problem and encouraging their behavior by convincing themselves that it’s someone else’s fault. It’s the teacher’s fault if they get bad grades. If they slug someone, the other person must have thrown the first punch. If they get arrested, they were targeted because they were black/rich/in the wrong neighborhood/whatever. Parents call the university and get grades changes — so what if the kid forgot to go to class.The prof must not have been interesting.  Corporations have classes on how to deal with new graduates and their parents who call and fight their battles for them or ask for raises because their urchin is so valuable (I had one call me when I was employing sales reps to reprimand me for not letting his 22-year old Oklahoma State grad with way too much Delta Chi in him, go on spring break with his friends).

The world has gone nuts. Our tv shows are filled with serial killers, zombies and the walking dead. What happened to Peter Gunn, Mike Hammer, The Twilight Zone?  We know bad things happened, but we didn’t need to see pools of blood oozing from under bodies. Most of the shows now are unscripted, reality pieces of crap, because they’re cheaper to produce. Who needs a plot line or script when women who are seemingly wealthy and of class will tear each other’s extensions out with no provocation?

I’m tired of being “unfriended” on Facebook and I’m tired of “unfriending” people I care about because of conflicting views and the abusive, snarky comments that go with them.  It’s more fun to go to a bar, have a drink, and hold an intelligent conversation about differences of opinion. There’s good food, good booze, and everyone comes out with something to think about.  In the end, we all want the same thing, but have different ideas of how to get there.

Where do we go from here? Hell if I know. But what I can do is stop responding when someone puts up a post that is unfounded, partisan, or cruel. By not responding, at least I’m not adding fuel to the fire.  I can’t promise I won’t post ironic or funny things, and I’m going to try to stay out of the political arena completely — but not those about our environment or educational system. I’m going to spend less time on Facebook and more time living my life. I’ve lost too many friends to not know that life is precious — every second of it. Every second I spend doing one thing is a second I can’t spend investing in something else. I will use my time more wisely.  I will let everyone I know understand that they are appreciated. And those I love will know it. “My” girls will be told on a regular basis how amazing they are, and that they can change their worlds. Of my first 22 seniors, there are half a dozen attorneys, two who just finished medical residence programs, one who has a Masters and now an MD in Public Health, two Naval officers, some teachers, an MBA, a small-business owner, a model, and a nanny. I couldn’t be more proud.

What can you do? Walk up to someone wearing a military hat and thank him for his service. Don’t just leave a tip, write a note thanking a waitress for good service. Tell someone you like their hair, or dress, or smile. Tell someone you love them. Hug someone. Buy a meal for a homeless person. Let someone know you believe in them. Pay the toll for the person behind you. Show up for beach clean-up day. Live life like it’s the only one you have…..because…..it is.

So, for now, be careful out there. You’re important to me.