Books and me

As many of my friends know, this has been a difficult reading year.  I think there are many reasons why that might be, but Doug has another idea: maybe it's me.

In his post, he talks about rereading, something I keep telling myself I will find the time to do.  I promise.  Once Mt. Bookpile gets down to a certain size.. or I retire.. or.. or... Yeah, it's not happening soon.  Having said that, it's easier for me to get through books than before.  Here's how Doug puts it:

As an older reader, I increasingly need some worthwhile content in order to keep my interest as opposed to the simple plots loaded with action, sex, and violence that I craved as a younger reader. (Not that I turn my nose up at those elements now.) I perhaps have more patience and a broader range of topics and styles that keep my attention.


There are genres I can no longer read with pleasure, some I'm professionally required to read and have to finish.  For the most part, though, I use the 50 page rule: if a book hasn't captured my attention within 50 pages, it's a DNF.  There are a lot of books I can skim through, because at my age having read as much as I have, the plots are predictable.  Which books? I'll never tell.  

One of these days, I'll get to see how the books I want to reread resonate with me after all these years.  Stay tuned.




I 100% feel the same.  Which leads to... how on earth did that much time elapse?

National Adoption Day

ETA: this was supposed to publish on NAD, which was yesterday.  It would help if I'd checked which month I'd scheduled this for...

Apparently there's a National Adoption Day, bringing to light the need for "forever families" for those in foster care.  I am definitely pro-adoption, since I was adopted.  As was my sister. (no, we are not biologically related).  And one of my cousins.  One cousin adopted her daughter. Another cousin just adopted a pre-teen, orphaned a few years ago and coincidentally named the same as one of her uncle's so he's got a "family" name.  And Thing One is adopted.  

There's a great need for adoptive families.  Sometimes they're friends of the family (one college friend's parents adopted the two orphaned sons of family friends).  Sometimes they're unknown.  Sometimes the adoptee is young (I was five days old when I went home with my parents) and sometimes they're older, like my cousin's son.  What ties them together, however, is that the children need love and kindness and a feeling of safety.

That doesn't mean that adoption is the answer for an unexpected pregnancy.  It doesn't mean that abortion isn't sometimes the right choice.  And when politicians say that adoption is available, that there's no reason to abort a fetus, well... they're wrong.  Both should be available. That's a fight worth having.


Things I don't like to admit

My next birthday begins a new decade, the beginning of old age and retirement thinking.  Mentally, I've been ready to retire for decades (financially, not so much).  But wait, there's more!

In looking back on the previous 20-30 years, there's been a real decline in my health.  My stamina is much less than it was when I was in my 30s, and while there was a decline during that decade, it really accelerated when I hit 40 and the case of Mono That Never Quit.  Things were stable until about 8 years ago, when my eye issues started and the drugs used to control things were (as one friend said) really major drugs.

Thing One says each infusion recovery is worse than the one before... and it's only been a few months.  My guess is that the next step will be to go on immunosuppressants again, which is of course just what you want to be on when working in a school.  How my system will react to that is, obviously, unknown.

Beyond that, I'm finding it more and more difficult to put up with the Stupidity of Students.  Like the two decided to sit down on the floor, legs in front of them.  In a major thoroughfare.  As classes changed.  Or the kid who decided to store their backpack right in the pathway to our desk.  So many of them treat this space as if it were a place for them to roughhouse, and I really hope they try that in college.  Their ability to distinguish between public and private, and that a shared space may require different ways of behaving than private space, is nonexistant.

Yes, I'm a cranky old thing and getting older and crankier by the moment.  

I'm fine with admitting that.  I'm less fine with admitting that my body and internal systems are old and cranky. Grumble.


This feels... normal?

A few weeks ago, feeling a little flush with money and good health, I got season tickets to the Boston Ballet (Saturday matinee, because I'm old and a night out would set that good health back).  

Saturday was the first program, My Obsession, which Thing One and I followed by dinner at a nearby wine bar.  Ok, I was masked (maybe 1/4 of the audience also had them), and didn't have a huge appetite, but it felt, for the first time in a long time, like normal.

So, the culture vulturing part?

I admit I'm not an expert on Balanchine, and I'm not a ballet snob.  But... Mr. B definitely had a body type (for women) and one of the dancers didn't really fit that type.  I know that he had, during his lifetime, rechoreographed dances based on the abilities of the dancer (Suki Schorer, gave a really interesting talk about how he'd changed some of the role of Terpsichore in Apollo for her - one of the pieces done yesterday!).  However, now that he's dead, that choreography is frozen in amber.  This isn't to say that that particular dancer wasn't a good dancer or that she couldn't do the steps.  It was more that her line wasn't quite Balanchine-esque.  

There were four dances, two Balanchine and two "other".  It was those "others" that really stood out for me.  The first, a duet, was set to Avro Paart's music and embraced the feeling the music evoked.  Just two people, dancing on stage, reacting to each other after a lot of playing with space and form.  The last piece was set to the music of the Rolling Stones (Thing One complained that they chose the worst Stones live album to use.  Whatever.) The dancers did actual ballet moves to songs like "Jumping Jack Flash" and "Wild Horses", which to me was the perfect way to attract new audiences to a old art form like ballet.  The music is familiar, and thanks to music videos the idea of groups doing choreographed movement to the music is also familiar.  Blending in the discipline of ballet?  Easy peasy.  As an idea, that is.  

I've written before about the overall age of people I've seen at the ballet and theatre.  Perhaps it's an art form that should die out.  I'd hate to think that would be the case, but perhaps it will due to lack of interest (or the ability to afford tickets, although these are certainly more affordable than most Broadway shows!).  If audiences can come in because one part of the program, the music, is familiar and approachable, maybe they'll leave appreciating the artistry and technique of the dancing.  And it won't die out... yet.

The next program is next month.  I, for one, can't wait.  Even if normal is just one afternoon a month, five times a year, I'm happy. 


Why can't we be happy with ourselves?

Several decades ago, my father told me that his mother was getting a new treatment for her blethorspasm, something made from botulism.  Confession: I did not like her, so the idea of treating her with a poison?  It made me happy.

Fast forward a number of years and this treatment has morphed into Botox.  And "everyone" is using it.  Of course, for Grandma, the idea that her eyelids wouldn't spasm shut was a blessing.  If it came with a semi-frozen eye areas, that was fine.  But for others?  The plastic mask look was apparently a small price to pay for no wrinkles.

Things have gotten better, I guess.  There's still too much of the "I can't move my eyebrows" effect but it's definitely more targeted on the face and less overall.  And then came COVID.

Without rehashing all the stories about people allowing their natural grey to appear, or going with a more natural look, let's just say I'd hoped that people would finally get over this need to freeze themselves at some unnaturally young age.  And yet!  Suddenly I'm seeing ads for Botox that have young people - 30s, maybe - complaining about how they look to others on camera and touting the miracle of Botox as finally enabling them to be happy with their looks.  Men and women.  

Stop.  Please.  

My sister started going grey very early, and until 2019 she dyed her hair.  Then she started going natural and it's actually really pretty (which I think surprised her).  When I dye my hair to cover my grey, it's with blue or purple or green, not a natural color.  Because I'm nearly 60 and it's fun.  But when that color washes out, it can take a while for me to decide to do it again.  Because I honestly don't care about looking 30 years younger than I am.  

Having said that, hair dye is external.  Botox?  That's injected into your body.  There can be complications beyond the Frozen Face Effect.  Just... no.  As a medical treatment, great.  But because your Zoom look isn't great?  Please, don't even think about it.  

I know I'll think less of you if you do.



I knew my mother wasn't doing well a long time before her official diagnosis of mental degeneration (there's no way to officially diagnose a specific type until you autopsy the person's brain... which is not recommended for living people).  Having the diagnosis was just confirmation that the memory lapses weren't just "cute" but a real issue.

One of the things we know about these diseases is that stress accelerates things.  And there was stress in her life: one summer when my father couldn't take care of her, her inability to talk (aphasia), and the onset of Meige's syndrome, which made eating difficult.  

And then, nearly four years ago, she died.

Since then, I've had some very vivid dreams in which she is very much alive.  In one or two, she returns from what seems to be death.  In others she's just there, as usual.  Last night I had a dream in which she was dead.  All I remember is that I answered a door, got the news, and cried hysterically for an hour.  

Grief does funny things to you - and our culture doesn't give nearly enough time and space for people to fully grieve.  I wish I'd been able to take more than three days off for her funeral and didn't have to go immediately back to work.  I wish I could find it easier to live with this gaping hole in my life.  I wish I didn't have these dreams.  

Of course, it would be just like my mother to decide to haunt me... 


Notable Quotes

I'm looking at restaurants for post-ballet dinner and saw this on one website:

Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s date, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor his grub, nor his cocktail, his barstool, space, nor anything that is thy neighbour’s

No one on our staff goes by: hey, yo, sonny, tiger, pal, kid, sport, sweetie, honey, pork chop, chief, champ, captain, boss, buddy, babe, barkeep, barmaid, big guy, ma’am or missy

No loud shrieking, shouting, bellowing, whining, barking, nose-blowing, flatulence or obnoxious cellphone use

No groping, grab ass, mauling, sucking face, canoodling or heavy petting

We welcome all comments and suggestions, but refrain from, “you should…” we know we should, but we can’t do everything and please everyone. Open your own restaurant if you know how it should be done

The customer is NOT always right, however, the respectful customer is always right and the asshole customer is always wrong

no foul language…

Nobody’s perfect. please alert us immediately if your expectations are not met. exaggerating or lying on Yelp, Chowhound, or to anyone (after you leave) who can’t fix the problem, is for yellow-bellied cowards

It’s food and drink, not life and death. don’t take yourself too seriously, we don’t.

… just don’t be a douchebag.




World Quaker Day

Today is World Quaker Day and I have finally been able to attend Meeting.  It's been a minute, for some good and some silly reasons.  

When I moved, my intention was to find a local meeting... but settling in took a while, and then getting to a new meeting was difficult (although there were/are three to choose from!).  But I still intended to attend.  And then CRION struck, and I didn't feel able to navigate the T or new spaces until things stabilized, except when they did, it was with heavy immunosuppressants. 

And just when that was clearing up, along came COVID.

With COVID, came Zoom and family meetings (I've blogged about the titles of some of those Zooms).  Sadly, they coincided with the many virtual Meetings I could have attended.  

But today I attended a virtual Meeting at Pendle Hill, and I see that the Meeting nearest is holding hybrid Meetings, so I can attend in person when feeling well and Zoom when not. I mentioned this to my family and we'll figure out a new time for us to gather.  It feels as though a weight has been lifted, a weight I didn't know I was carrying.

At my previous Meeting, we met in a building in the country, where the noises were of birds and trees and sometimes an animal.  Sitting in silence in my apartment overlooking the water, I heard trees and the water.  Occasionally a car, or train, off in the distance. It was so peaceful, and so easy to sink into that reverie where it's me, God and holding others in the Light.  

I can't wait for next First Day and what that brings.


I have no math skills...

 Seriously.  I blame spending sixth grade learning New Math, but really, my problems go much deeper.

Need proof?

Me (sending boxes to storage): I know I said there were 50 boxes,  but we have 51... is that ok?
Driver: Ya'll can't count. There are 48. (counts twice to prove it) 

I rest my case.