I’M WELL AWARE THAT I COMPLAIN A LOT. I don’t like to complain all the time, but I think that I only complain about those things that fail to rise to even my modest standards. I’m really not all that picky about most things.
I do subscribe to something put forth by Voltaire many years ago.
“The most important decision you will ever make is to be in a good mood.”
The study was being conducted by Dr. Meyer Friedman, the man who coined the term, “Type A Personality.”
I’VE RECENTLY DONE SOMETHING that I’ve done only once before. I hope it goes better this time. I’ve joined a Writer’s Group.
For those of you who are unfamiliar with the term – A Writer’s Group is a gathering of writers who come together to help and support each other with constructive criticism and encouragement. At least that is how I’ve always thought of a group. In my past it hasn’t worked out that way.
THIS PAST WEDNESDAY the Powerball Lottery drawing Grand Prize had reached 500 million dollars. Wow! Half a billion dollars! That would keep you off of food stamps for a while.
For reasons I’m still not sure of, the State Lottery Commission decided that the drawing needed some additional allure. They set up a publicity stunt here in Terre Haute. I guess they felt that the smell of all that money wasn’t enough.
Boy, there is a real hoo-haw going on about whether or not kids should be immunized against a number of diseases.
It appears to me that the bulk of the screaming and pontificating about “freedom” is coming from the arugula and quinoa crowd, aka the parents who were themselves immunized as children, but who now think that risking their children is a good way of showing the world their Haight-Ashbury free-spiritedness while thumbing their nose at “The Man.”
THROUGHOUT THE ENTIRE weekend all I saw and heard on my TV was that there was a monster winter storm coming. The talking heads on The Tube were using terms like, “Storm of the Century,” and “Once in a Lifetime Storm.” They were showing pictures from the “Blizzard of 1978.” That was the one that sent me scampering off to snow-free California.
Uh – oh. Brace yourself.
When I asked her to define her terms she handed me a mirror. I think that she might be right.
Now that I am in the throes of “Geezerhood” I realize that I need to take better care of myself. I know that because my wife tells me so. My doctor tells me that too. My wife is prettier and is not a 60 year-old man from India who can’t focus on anything for longer than two minutes. One time he started to give me his opinion of American politics. I stopped him cold after 30 seconds by holding up a shiny object. My doctor is one of the “Flying Patel Brothers” as I call them. It seems that every other doctor in Terre Haute is named Patel.
This particular Dr. Patel is really a great doctor, I guess. He tells me that “this” is too high and that “that” is too low. Actually, I have very little left anymore that is where it’s supposed to be.
He has put me on this vitamin regimen. Maybe I’m wrong, but I think that I have been overdoing it with the iron pills a bit. It’s gotten to the point where I can’t lie down without slowly spinning to the North.
Sure, I’m getting older, but it’s not all bad. I’m beginning to realize that there are a lot of benefits to becoming a Geezer.
Exercise is good for you, but it is something that I tend to avoid. I saw my doctor just yesterday and he asked me what I did for exercise. I told him that I stumble.
I LIVE VERY CLOSE TO MY favorite gym. It is only about a five minute walk from my home, but, of course, I don’t walk there – I drive. It has all the latest equipment and a highly- trained staff that can help design for you a really healthy and vigorous workout program. You can also get top notch diet and nutritional planning advice there as well.
I don’t care about any of that crap.
It’s my favorite gym because it is right next door to a Baskin-Robbins Ice Cream store. I can just imagine myself doing a really healthy cardio workout in the gym and then zipping next door for some hand-packed peanut butter and chocolate ice cream. I’m never going to do that, but I can imagine it. I’m so glad that the two places are so close. Talk about your city planning! I should send a “Thank You” card to the zoning board. They got something right for a change.
I really do love going to that gym – really, I do. I just stand outside, with my ice cream cone and watch the folks inside sweating and grunting. Every once in a while someone comes outside and joins me. I think they realize that I’m having a better time than they are.
One time some yutz came out from the gym and started to berate me for my dissipated lifestyle. That was his phrase – “dissipated lifestyle.” – And how he was a much better person than me. I licked my cone and nodded, but didn’t say anything. That really fried his Twinkies. He flexed his muscles and got right up in my face and said that when we both get to 50 years of age I’ll probably have already dropped dead and he’ll still be healthy. I told him my guess was that he’d stroke out on his Stairmaster long before reaching 50, and that, anyway, I’m already way past 50 years old and “you can lick my Rocky Road.”
“IT MUST BE TWENTY YEARS AGO…” At my age most things are that, or more. Twenty years seems like the blinking of the proverbial eye.
1994? Why, I have stuff in the refrigerator older than that. The old saying goes that “Time flies when you’re having fun.” Trust me – it flies even when you aren’t having fun. It just flies – faster with each passing year.
It seems that it was just the day before yesterday when I was in high school, but I attended my fiftieth class reunion this summer. When did I get old? Or was I always this age, but blind to it?
I’m not complaining mind you. I wouldn’t want to be a teenager again for all the silicon in San Jose. I wouldn’t mind being thirty years old again though. At thirty you are still in relatively good shape physically, but you are a better judge as to how the world works.
Thirty for me was in 1976 – the American Bicentennial year. There were fabulous celebrations all over the country. Personally, I had purchased a house, had a great girl friend, and I was doing some fun stage work. I was also trying to care for my parents. I didn’t have many celebrations that year.
In 1976 my father was dying and my mother was lost in it all and neglecting her own heath, her diabetes. My father died a few days before Thanksgiving. He was 65.
The house became very quiet.
I was thirty.
The next two years are a blur. In those two years; I lost my job and got a new one, I watched my mother deteriorate until she needed care I could not give her, I saw the girl friend close her door, and I sold the house. It was a house that had never been more than a way station. It was never a home.
I was thirty. I felt ancient.
I sold the house and drove as far west as I could go without falling into the ocean. I knew no one, had no job, no address, and no possessions other than what was in the back of my car. I arrived in California the week before Christmas. On Christmas Day I went to the beach. I froze my ass off, but it was a symbolic gesture. Looking back I’m not sure what it symbolized, but it sure wasn’t practical.
I think that the human body plays tricks on us as we age. It tinkers with our memories. I can give you incredible details about what I did during those first few days in California, but I have to stop and think to tell you what I had for lunch yesterday. But, as I think about it now, yesterday’s lunch was not very memorable. Perhaps the body knows what it is doing: remember what is meaningful and just trash the other stuff.
As I look back on it, 1976 was not a very good year for me, but it was the kind of year that made the next two years possible, vital even. Without my 1976 the years that followed could very easily have made yesterday’s lunch into a memorable event. One dot pointed the way to the next one until the picture became clear.
Thank you for allowing me to wallow about in this puddle of personal nostalgia.
Now – Carry on and do something to make us all laugh.
GETTING THROUGH LIFE, or more specifically, getting through the Holiday Season can be quite difficult for some people. It is a time when loneliness can become quite palpable. The longest night of the year comes right before Christmas. People look back over the successes and failures in the year and in their life.
But for others this season is the best time of the entire year. Why is it so much better for some people than for others? I think it all has to do with Attitude. A person can be in the direst of circumstances and have a positive attitude that helps carry them through.
Let me tell you about such a person – a friend of mine.
When I was living in California I had the pleasure of meeting a young man named Ernesto. Ernesto always seemed to be happy and to exhibit a truly positive outlook. Ernesto was a refugee from Cuba.
I asked him to tell me his story.
In Cuba, Ernesto had been an English teacher. He taught classes in schools and to government workers who needed English fluency. Ernesto also wanted to leave Cuba and come to the United States, but he knew that he was considered too valuable to be permitted to emigrate. He didn’t give up his dream, he had a plan.
After having worked diligently for several years without a break Ernesto sought permission to take a vacation – perhaps a vacation overseas. His wish was granted. He was allowed to fly off on vacation to sunny and carefree Moscow, Russia. Not despairing, Ernesto packed his cold weather gear and took off.
He noticed that his flight had a brief stop-over in Sweden.
When his plane landed in Stockholm Ernesto got off the plane and immediately asked for political asylum. Sweden in winter is not exactly Malibu.
To get political asylum in Sweden is not a quick and easy thing. There had to be an investigation and hearings first. It would take time and in the meanwhile Ernesto was sent to a Swedish prison. He was held there for a year – with a cellmate – who was a triple murderer.
When I expressed shock at this Ernesto assured me that he felt quite safe – after all, his cellmate only killed members of his family, not strangers.
After a year’s worth of hearings to determine whether Ernesto could stay the Swedish government decided – No. Ernesto would have to go back to Cuba.
Ernesto pleaded his case again and, while not changing their verdict, the Swedes came up with a solution. When they shipped Ernesto back to Cuba, they put him on a flight that had a stop-over in Puerto Rico. They figured that since he had been able to slip off of the plane in Sweden he should be able to do it again in San Juan. Never giving up hope, when his flight touched down on U.S. soil, Ernesto again asked for political asylum. This time he was incarcerated for only six months while his case was investigated.
After planning for a number of years and being imprisoned for about 18 months in two different countries, Ernesto was, at last, admitted to the United States.
Ernesto said that he never gave up hope, despite every delay and uncertainty. He had his goal and he kept his positive attitude intact.
When I met Ernesto he had a steady job and, after less than five years in this country, he was buying a house.
Ernesto was an incredibly brave young man. He left everything and everyone in his life behind to pursue his dream. He had the best positive attitude toward life of anyone I’ve ever known.
Whenever I get down about anything in my life I think about Ernesto and I intellectually slap myself silly. No matter what I am facing it is NOTHING compared to what my friend Ernesto had to endure.
Have a good day and, when the world gets to you, remember Ernesto.