laurie kendrick

Globalization

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WIth President Trump in office, we hear so much about the term “globalization” these days.   With a successful businessman at the nation’s helm, the word might be more about a global marketplace.   Maybe,  but I think it represents how we’re all interconnected by the smallest and oddest of ways.   It explains how we’re separated  by mere degrees with Kevin Bacon nowhere in sight,

In order to define my version of globalization, (as odd as this might sound) we have to start with the death of Princess Diana,.   We’ll mark the 20th anniversary of her death this coming August.    Where as the time gone?

Anyway,  Diana was a very British woman.    Her gentlemen friend at the time was a wealthy Egyptian playboy. They crashed in a French tunnel while riding in a German car powered by a Dutch engine.

It was driven by a Belgian man who was supposedly drunk and had spent an evening slamming back (among other things) 12-year old Scotch.
Their car was being closely followed by mostly Italian Paparazzi riding on Japanese motorcycles.

Once Diana  arrived at the hospital, she was treated by many doctors—one was American trained who used numerous medicines which of course, had their origins in the flora and fauna of the Brazilian rain forest.

This post has been prepped and edited by me, a Texan of Polish descent. I used a computer which utilizes Taiwanese micro chips and processors and more than likely, the monitor is Korean-made.

Furthermore, my PC was probably assembled by Bangladeshi workers at a plant in Singapore, then transported by Indian lorry-drivers, who were then no doubt hijacked by Indonesians. They in turn, struck a deal with Sicilian Mafiosos who transported the cyber contraband to Senegal where it was handled and unloaded by Latvian dockworkers who did so under the supervision of an Armenian boss who sang Innuit whaling songs as he checked inventory.

It–my computer–eventually made it to the U.S, probably via a Malaysian trawler, then was unloaded at a harbor somewhere in Northern California by Russian stevedores. The computers were then driven en mass to Central Texas  by a Midwestern Teamster named Sven who’s wife is a Yap Islander named Matunga.

The computers were then offloaded by undocumented Peruvian workers at my friendly neighborhood “Computer Shack” which is owned by a Croatian conglomerate. This particular location is managed by a guy who was born in Romania, who owns two African Gray parrots, one Burmese python and he loves Greek food.   So much so, that he regularly dines at a little dive called “Takis Take Out” where all the food is made and served by Bolivian political refugees.  They recently catered a bon voyage party for a Cypryot family the night before they left for their vacation in Portugal.   The head cater waiter has grandparents from Malta.  His girlfriend is from Jersey, but currently living in New Zealand for a Swiss bank.

Lastly, I was dating a Mexican gentleman at the time this was composed and as I typed, I was drinking a Canadian beer.  The shirt I wore was given to me by an Israeli friend who defied the odds and married a lovely Palestinian woman who worked in Guyana, where she bought the shirt for her husband to give to me,   It read, “Save the Galapagos Turtles” and sewn by an 11-year-old seamstress of indigenous extraction who toiled in a Panamanian sweat shop for a few weeks back in 2009.

And THAT my friends, is the true definition of GLOBALIZATION!!!

Birthday Plus One

 

 

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Yesterday, I turned 58.    Didn’t you see the skywriting?    The fireworks ?   Didn’t you feel the Earth’s  axis shift a smidge???

My family made a very big deal of my reaching this milestone at this particular  time in my life.  . I’m  grateful that they did.  The was tthe first birthday I’ve  celebrated in years.    I haven’t honored  my own birthday very much.   I’d ignore it since everyone else did, but that was my fault.   Why it was my fault isn’t important.   Just know that I’m aware I was to blame.   I accept that responsibility.

Anyway, my birthday celebration started in earnest on Friday afternoon. That was one stoned groove, people.

Then on Saturday, my sisters and niece whisked me away from the hills to be with other family members and that was equally delightful. I ate everything that was wrong and drank waaaay too much and now I’m so bloated that if I looked down and saw the word Hindenburg written on my stomach, I wouldn’t be surprised

As stated, it was the first real birthday celebration in years.    I remember one  a particular April 22.    It started like any other day and promised to end like any other day as well.      Ordinary.   Nothing special.     Usually, I was blaise about my birthday. but as the day progressed,   I began to feel sorry for myself,   I don’t remember the exact year,  but I know it fell  within a time I call,  “The Years of Without”.    Everybody has them at various points in life.   For me, I was broke as hell and either unemployed  or severely underemployed.   Still, I wanted to acknowledge my birthday, even  in some extremely limited way.

I desperately  searched old  jeans pockets, winter coat pockets, couch cushions and the floorboards of my car for any loose change I could find.    A four hour seatch resulted in about a buck -50.   I felt something  like a modern day Maccabee.

I walked across the street to a grocery store and bought a package of stale cupcakes in a bargain him.    I didn’t have any candles, so I found a match, lit it, stuck it in the middle of the cupcake and sang the traditional birthday song to myself,…. made a wish, well, it was more of a vow actually…..I  blew out the match, then cried.   I didn’t event eat the cupcake,   I didn’t want to deprive the mold and weavils from enjoying their desert.   So, I tossed it, but not my hopes that there would be better birthdays ahead.

Yes, I’m now 58 and I’ve never been this old before.    And yes,  I’m well aware that I’m no longer the cute, young, petite TV  news anchor.     I’m no longer the younger  smart ass morning show personality.    Yes, my body has morphed with age.  Time and tide have  made their marks.    And as I tried to state in a previous post,  I avoid mirrors .   The frightening possibility of turning to stone after viewing something so horrendous and traumatizing is too great.    So, I avert my gaze and avoid anything that offers a reflection of any kind.

And really, who needs a mirror when you have a blog??    Your physical reflection is one thing,  but a blog….providing you’re self involved enough, will allow you the self- indulgent luxury of seeing deep into within  your psyche, if you dare.   Your psyche can be like a cargo hold of a 777.    It’s stuff  you keep in a certain place and take it with  you everywhere you go.   You keep needlessly adding to it.    Like emotional hoarding.   That is, until you realize  jettisoning most of the emotional jetsam  is best.

You do it by  calling your own bullshit and trying to be a better you because your whole life has been spent not trying hard enough.     It was too easy to be uninvolved and self hating.    It’s all in the psyche,  baby.  That’s where the real Medusa can live and live quite comfortably, if you let her.   Banish her.   Snakey haired women make lousy emotional renters.

One again,  I’m pleased to report that for the first time in forever, I’m looking forward to the next 364 days.

The future Mr. Kendrick should be feeling the anticipatory tingle, too.

I don’t know him, where he his or his hair or eye color.   But I have a certain overview in my head.   He  should be very wealthy, well read, a UT football season ticket holder, an orphan, with no children or ex-wives. He’ll have no sense of smell, no libido whatsoever, he’ll demand  for the sake of space and sanity, we live In separate houses. He has a private jet, and a Maybach with a pilot and driver at my disposal. He’ll feel compelled to put me on all his accounts and will leave me all his money and be willing to sign a prenup I’ve authored.

Either that, or he’ll be a just an extraordinarily  good, honest and kind man who loves me and allows me to love him in return.   He’ll be patient and wise and generous with his time and affection.    From him, I’ll learn how to be a better person,   A better human.

He’ll teach me to see the beauty and magic in ordinary days.

I CANNOT wait.    I’ve always had a thing for certain teachers.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

London 3/23/17

It’s a city I’ve been fascinated with since the film, Mary Poppins.   I desperately wanted to go there, to see the place where a soot covered Rob Petrie cavorted on rooftops with a magical, singing nanny  and her flying umbrella.

I was lucky.  I got the chance to vacation there with family exactly three years ago.  We spent a week in London with jaunts to Bath and Salisbury.    It never rained once, we met the kindest people and everyday was a sublime history lesson.

It was such a wonderful experience, which is why  it’s so eerie to realize that we walked on the Westminster Bridge.  We road on a boat on The Thames that embarked from a pier beneath that bridge. We stood in the shadow of Big Ben, the exact same spot that saw so much carnage went down on what had started out for Londoners  as a typical Wednesday afternoon in March.

We’re still in such denial about our barbarism these days.    VVideo taped beheadings throwing homosexuals off tall buildings , placing infidels in small cages with hungry tigers barely make headlines.    Reports of raping  women, then stoning them to death for being the victim barely lasts  one news cycle.    Today’s media  is nothing more than an extension of  some weird polite society in which nothing unpleasant is ever discussed.   It tiptoes around the “T” word.   Of course it was terrorism. And the attacker’s actions should be considered as such, even if he’d been nothing than a  fifth  generation resident of Trenton, NJ and a so-so Presbyterian.

We used to use nouns and verbs in reporting news.  These days?   Screw “alternate media”, we’re well beyond that.  We’re now into “alternate verbiage”.    We’re so worried about offending the offender.   Tell a soldier who fought in Korea or Vietnam that those were mere conflicts.     Some might tell you they’d never go back to Incheon or that tiny village near the Mekong, but in many ways, parts of them never left.  Everyone leaves a psychic footprint, in good times and bad, but in the midst of anything extremely traumatic, it becomes permantently imbedded in the bedrock.

Connections to places are strange things.

In 2000, I was a member of a popular morning radio show.   We spent a week in New York covering the Grammies.     I can remember heading back to the hotel after a show and the cab we shared drove close to the World Trade Center.     We’d all been to New York before, so none of us were tourists at that point, yet as we passed, my fellow passengers  and I admitted we’d never seen the world from a fixed position 110 stories high.    We agreed that a visit would have to be on each of our “to do” lists, but since we had one full day left in New York, we’d have to do it next time.    Sixteen months later, the Twin Towers  were reduced to a twisted, smoldering heap.

On the afternoon of September 11, 2001, I felt like I do right now.  I’m saddened by every tragic terrrorist attack, but it becomes even more personal when you live or work in a place that was bludgeoned by hate.    Or perhaps you played there;  attended a concert at a theater where the audience members were nothing more than human target practice.    What if a few weeks you cheered on your team during a soccer match at a stadium targeted for mass tragedy..     Perhaps you vacationed a few miles from the scene, spent an hour in an airport that was bombed; maybe you knew  someone who knew someone who was on a bus or train that was blown to bits.

I don’t understand what motivates us to use hate to justify anything.    Why does hate seem more powerful?

I don’t know the answer, but perhaps I can offer how it happens,.   According to Cherokee legend, a tribal elder was sitting with his grandson by the fire one night.   He regaled the boy with stories of their people, of wars with enemies,  won and lost.    He then tried to explain to the biggest battle of all–an ancient one that’s fought within every human.   The old man described it as a constant fight between two wolves, equal in size and passion but the exact opposite in what they represented.      One is Evil and he embodies anger, envy, jealousy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority and ego.

The other wolf represents Good.   He encompassed joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion and faith.   The child contemplated the story briefly, then asked , “Which wolf wins?”

The grandfather replied simply, “The one you feed.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dilemma at The Check Out Counter

I rarely ask for your feedback and dear readers, you rarely offer it, but this post will be an exception.  I want…nay…I need your thoughts on an  experience I had this morning at the hustling, bustling grocery store where I shop weekly.   So please read this post and comment,  if you would be so kind.

Now, permit me to preface this tome with two important things:   First, at the risk of bragging, I try very hard to be a generous person.    So much so, I’ve been called a sucker in the past.   But that’s because  I’ve lived on the dirty, unpaved shoulder of the road too well travelled, at the intersection of Want and Need.  I know what being destitute feels like.    It’s something I don’t want to repeat or see others endure.      Secondly, no one is exactly catching me at my best these days.  I’m working through a number of things and operating without filters seems to be part of the problem.

Now, to the story at hand.

I was standing line at the check out counter, two weeks worth of groceries were crammed on the conveyor belt before me.   Two women were ahead of me; their transactions went without a hitch.    I approached the cashier and smiled–the usual routine.   But she didn’t say hello, there was no greeting of any kind.    Instead, she asked me in slightly broken English, ‘I’m so hungry, will you buy me a Twix candy bar?”

I automatically said  yes because we’ll, that’s what I do.   I looked at the cash register and the first item on the digital receipt was a Twix bar for $1.75.      A meager buck-75.     But it wasn’t  followed by a thank you.    Not a hint of gratitude, not  even an over eager explanation of why she was hungry or why she needed  me to buy her a candy bar at her place of employment.

Now, I’m well aware this behavior is isn’t uncommon at all in the world receiving end of philanthropy.     Sometimes, embarrassment prevents gratitude.  I understand this and usually, it doesn’t bother me, but today it did.   So,  I asked Mata Hungry who was in between checking out a few Lean Cuisines and some cat food, if she neglected to bring her lunch with her to work.

Silence.

I asked if she didn’t have any money with her.  She was too engrossed in scanning my eight pack of toilet paper to respond.    I wasn’t giving up.  I asked her if she was given  a discount for groceries since she’s an employee.  She said yes and I asked her why then couldn’t she have afforded me the discount since I was willing to pay for her candy bar.

“Too much bother”, she said as she stuffed the Twix in the pocket of her smock.

Really?????

I thought for a second and then asked her, if I came in to the store and was hungry, would she buy me a Twix, to which she responded, “Look Lady, I’ll put it back if it’s so much trouble.”

I’m steaming by this point, so I leaned  in and I told her no, that wouldn’t be necessary BUT… hers was a highly unusual question to be asked by a person employed by a store literally surrounded by food.    She just stared at me and then I said, “If I were you, I’d show a little gratitude and if you can’t do that,  I’d be very careful next time who I asked to buy me a candy bar while on duty at the check out line, because you’re so rude, no doubt your ass would end up eating most of that Twix!”

She said something unintelligible—I’m not sure what it was, but I feel certain sure it wasn’t about having dinner together anytime soon.    We just looked at each other for a split second.    My expression was disbelief and anger, hers was actually righteous by God indignation.   Seriously.   How do some people  feel so entitled and be seemingly unworthy at the same time?

Her attention immediately focused on the person in line behind me.  She had her Twix.   I’d become nothing more to her than customer flotsam.

I know…I know….’twas a Twix candy bar at $1.75.     She wasn’t asking for the moon, but this morning that wasn’t the point.    Having lived in Houston for so long, I know how panhandlers operate.   I’m actually fascinated by people who have the balls or the desperation or the odd sense of entitlement that allows them to approach absolute strangers and ask for money.   It’s something I don’t think I could do unless dire circumstances compelled me, but the need to buy a rock of crack or a quart of Mad Dog to stop the DTs don’t fall under that category.

I’ve tried buying food for “homeless” street corner operators only to have it thrown back in my car.    Contrary to the cardboard signs they held, they only wanted the money.   But that didn’t stop me from making sandwich and water gestures in the future.   And of most of the people who actually took food from me, were able to express a semblance of gratitude.

But that’s not why one does something like this.    There’s only glory in quiet, sincere giving.  It should never include a press release or a camera crew.   And receiving a ‘thank you’ isn’t the impetus to give, but every once in a while, it’s certainly nice to hear.

That wasn’t the case in the grocery store this morning.   This woman had pure audacity.   She wasn’t starving….she was of medium build.    I noticed she wore some jewelry.  Her hair was highlighted.  She was relatively young, wore make-up and above all, she was employed. And her choice of food to quellthis incredible hunger she had was rather telling…a decent deli was 50 feet away and she chose a candy bar, of all things.

So, I ask you this question:  Why?   By the time she got to me in line, was she any hungrier than she was three minutes earlier?     Did the lady ahead of me with the cart filled with four cabbages and ice cream not seem gullible enough, so she wasn’t asked?     Would the person in line behind me be hit up for steaks?

I drove home trying to justify her rudeness as possibly being a cultural thing, but that was impossible. The words ‘thank you’ exist in every language, gratitude is practiced in every culture.     What’s odd is that I shop at this store regularly.  I’ve never seen her before.   While cashier turnover is high, they usually last a couple of weeks.   But she was new.     I contemplated telling the manager, but it wasn’t a battle I felt like fighting.    Besides, karma was on my side, regardless of my crass threat.     .

Then, I wondered  if maybe this was some  kind of divine test….the angel unawares thing.    Nah, no angel would be that rude.   And  if by some slim chance she had been an angel,  I failed the test miserably because  while I bought the candy bar as she had asked, I also told her I’d basically shove it up her ass.

What happened today was so minor as events go, and it won’t keep me up at night, and while I’m not necessarily proud of the lack of poise and restraint  exercised in my response to her,  I’m not rushing to a confessional either.    It was all just so odd.

Your thoughts, please?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Musings

Some of history’s biggest catastrophes have been created by devious people with a lot of time on their hands.    For example, Hitler’s ‘Final Solution’, 9/11, the use of Napalm as weaponry, Watergate,  The University of Texas Longhorns 2016 season.

I was fortunate enough to retire from a more than three decade career in Broadcasting.  Since shutting off the perpetual live mic, I’ve read a lot, watched a shit ton of documentaries on mindless topics such as a day in the life of a lemur, how and why honey never, ever spoils and of course the Maysles’ Grey Gardens, and a strange but colorful 67 minute journey into the life of style maven, Iris Apfel, a woman who never met a feathered boa or bracelet she didn’t like. 

Oh yeah, there’s the one about Hitler’s fascination with the occult,  one about Virgin Mary’s personal concert for three Portuguese shepherd children at Fatima (that one required Big Pharma) and an intriguing documentary about another  Prince William, a dashing sort and oddly handsome for a British royal.    He was killed in a plane crash almost 60 years ago.   Look him up.

I have eclectic interests, I suppose and what I can’t look up on this contraption, I think about in my head.

I muse about things.     I wonder if Caroline Kennedy has ever seen the Zapruder film.  I wonder what she does or thinks about every November 22nd, if she think or does anything at all.  I wonder if Fidel Castro’s death meant anything to her.

I wonder who the first person was to watch an egg emerge from a chicken’s…..whatever….and decided to crack it open and determine it was edible and eventually vital in many recipes.     How was flight conceived?    Who in the hell thought that smashing atoms could be weaponized and a used as a fuel source?   Yeah, I’ve seen documentary on Hans Bethe, but he basically conceived nuclear fission by looking at sunshine. Huh?  Must’ve had a welder’s mask.

I’ve thought about politics lately.   I’m glad Trump won but a lot of sore losers are going to make his political life a living hell.   I wonder what affect his presidency will have on his hair.

Then, there’s Benghazi.

I listened CSNY today singing a live version of “Ohio”.    For you youngins, that’s a song written  about four anti war protestors who were shot and killed by National Guardsmen during a riot on the campus of Kent State University in Kent, Ohio.

Hence, the title.

Then, I started musing lyrically.   It’s missing a few lyrics but you’ll get the gist of it.    And here it is, with apologies to Mr. Young.

No soldiers, no Clinton calling
They were definitely on thier own.
That September there were four bodies
Four dead in Benghazi

Gotta get down to it

Ansar al-Sharia cutting them down
Should have been protected long ago.
How much did Hillary know with
Chris Stevens dead on the ground

How can you run when you know?

I also think about how some people with absolutely no moral compass can live with themselves.

My, my…how you young know-it-all millennial saplings who think you’re so much more emotionally evolved than everyone else, would have loved the Sixties.   Tumult was so in vogue back then.   There was a real purpose to it back in The Day.

Today? Not so much. Bitch about whatever offends your concept of diversity and when you throw a brick through a window because of that, or because of university rape cultures, xenophobia, Islamaphobia, global warming, trans bathroom issues, entitlements of all kinds, or how being female in 2016 somehow means being a victim, remind yourself you could be in a Humvvee and drive over a powerful IED on a deserted road in Afghanistan.

You could be in a massive firefight in a hellish jungle in the Mekong Delta.

Or near the 38th parallel.

Or liberating what’s left of a fucking Nazi death camp.   Endure any of those things, then you can tell me you need a safe space and a therapy dog.

That’s all I have to say.

(Turns on mic on last time, then releases it from hand to drop on the ground to imply righteous indignation)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Toothache Can Be An Allegory

The second presidential debate is now history.   I refused to watch it, because had I done so, my death would have been imminent.   You see, I have no patience and intense short-fuse rage issues these days.  The culprit is an abscessed “wisdom” tooth which has to be treated with antibiotics before the wretched thing  can be pulled.  Proximity to the brain, dontcha know.

Pain above the neck is acknowledged through a short,  very direct route to the brain.    Below the neck, it all has to go through the spinal chord.   Make no mistake, if I stepped on a nail. I’d feel it immediately, but feeling the intensity can be slightly muted by distance, mere inches in some scenarios.   As my layperson’s mind perceives it, it could be compared to booking a non stop flight versus one with a lengthy layover in Denver.   There’s always a layover in Denver.

I finally got tired of burping up insane amounts of oral pain gels and faced my fears and  went to my dentist, an occupation that has scared me since seeing The Marathon Man as a kid.    The  kindly dentist took X-rays which revealed I had  a rather odd wisdom tooth that was quite infected.     He knew it was painful.   I confirmed that it was.  I was quietly praying for a script of Fentanyl; he suggested Naproxen.

I have to wait three more days for it to be pulled.     I’ve had a migraine, an earache, a sore throat and as mentioned, rage issues for the past week and a half.   Chronic pain, which I’ve lived with daily since a car accident on 1991, can wear on your heart and soul.   I was precribed an antibiotic which began working, but I only felt its defense forces for the first time this afternoon.  It was only then that I had an appetite, could chew and be civil.   It was the first time in a long time, I didn’t want to yell at those  pesky kids to get off my lawn, even though I have no lawn and I live in a gated community.  I’m the youngest homeowner here and I’m still south of 60.    I can remember “Let’s Make A Deal” while my mostly senior  neighbors can barely recall Roosevelt’s New Deal.

Age schism.   And many of my neighbors are of the nosey, gossipy variety, who hate my dog’s entire elimination system.    I responsible in that I pick up where he leaves off, but I’ve  been written up in the past and for another pet owner’s lack of duty regarding dog doodie.

Pets are barely tolerated, but I’m afraid children aren’t allowed here.  Of course,  no where is that mentioned anywhere in the contract with the builder or in  the HOA by-laws because well, it’s completely Illegal, but here, I get the sense it’s unspoken.  If there are any local kids missing,  authorities might want to check out some of my neighbors.   I walked by one house recently and got a strong whif of gingerbread.

I’ll move soon, and rebuild  and do as the late John Denver once warbled, come home to a place I’ve never been before.  Like an old Etch-A-Sketch from my childhood, I’ll erase a good part of my past.    Well, maybe not erase,  but I’ll make the bad stuff of memories far less retrievable.

Here’s a tip for you:  when God…the Universe….Putin tells you over and over again,  your life and everything in it isn’t working, acknowledge it don’t ignore as I did, cut your losses and run, don’t walk to the nearest exit.    Don’t sit there hoping things will change as you maintain the same currupted mindset that only served a purpose when climbing the ladder, not while stowing it away.   Minding these no so subtle cues often means leaving what’s familiar, but not necessarily healthy.    Taking it further, it also means excising certain people from your past, not because they’re bad, but because one or both of you have changed to the point nothing in the relationship is salvageable.   These are people I once knew from my childhood, a million years ago, from cities large and small,  a million miles away.    Depending on perception, we were victims and/or the fortunate ones to be where we were, when we were.    But nothing lasts, nothing is static.    Many people remain loyal to things which they have every right to do, but these are things I can no longer believe in, creating  a schism of a different kind.

I’ve recently spoken with some people in the psychiatric world about the changes I feel within and around me.   I wanted to know if this need to separate who I am with who and what I was is normal, given all my circumstances.   They each replied in their own ways, assuring me that shedding is perfectly normal and natural.   Dogs do, it; as evidenced by the fur on everything in my house, cats do it and people do it.  We shed dead skin cells to make way for newer, healthier ones.  The White Coats say what really matters is what’s really about the intention behind the mental aspects  of shedding.    Makes sense, so I’ve thought about, lost sleep over it, allowed guilt to eat at my being and arrived at this point.   It’s time to remove  things, leave things, and think differently about things because for me, it was and continues to be in in my best interests to move forward and stop looking back.    I had to remove myself from the things that hurt; which had become painful; which to due to impulse, neediness and bad choices, I allowed to become painful.

Not unlike my abscessed wisdom tooth.

An Untitled Ode

If I were asked to name a new rock band, I’d call it Ava’s Gardner.

I thought about that while waiting in line at the Walgreen’s in my hamlet.   I know it would only be  funny to ‘people of a certain age’, still,  I found it funny.

Then, I pulled up to the clerk behind the bullet proof glass and the metal drawer that when fed various forms of negotiable currency,  magically dispenses all kinds of drugs that are supposed to help combat issues associated with ‘people of a certain age’.    If only the drug dealers of my wanton youth were as attentive and accommodating and NOT under DEA surveillance.   My bedside table looks like a crime scene photo from  Marilyn Monroe’s bedroom.    Like hers, my bedside table is littered  with amber hued plastic pharmaceutical bottles.  Unlike Marilyn’s collection of Big Pharma, my collection includes  none of the fun stuff.   Aging it seems, is a condition that must be treated medically.

In 1973,  when I transitioned from an  8th grader to a high school Freshman, I discovered FM rock stations.   What a concept.   No AM static or hiss or loss of signal when you drove under an overpass.   Even standard songs that ran amuck on AM station playlists sounded better on FM.    I remember one of the first songs I heard on this amazing new format–’twas aural splendor.  It was an Elton John tune that was a few years old and rarely played then, much less now.  It was entitled Friends, from the French movie of the same name, about two young teen lovers (a term I loathe).  The beginning of the second verse is as follows:

“It seems to be crime that we should age….”

Turn 14 and all that that implies, and listen to those lyrics and try NOT to experience new-found teenage angst and existential doubt.

Funny how amplified a pimple, a break up, an unrequited crush, a mid-term exam, the prom, being popular or not, can be everything at one point in life.  How small the world is in the life a young teen in a free society circa 1973

In those years, all I wanted to do was experience what my new masters, the surges of estrogen, were commanding me to do.   But mother didn’t like it.   To her, I’d become  a problem child.    I proclaimed  her “pubic” enemy #1.   I matured faster than my two older sisters who were more demure and feared her.   I didn’t.  The fact that I would  argue and debate points  WHY I’m should be allowed to attend a senior party, were lost on her.  She didn’t see it as burgeoning negotiation skills.  It was me being a sassy.  A smarty pants.      It’s as if she viewed my larger boobs as dousing rods that would lead to bad behavior.   She was very strict based on reasons she couldn’t explain.   I was actually very normal for my age, but she was intent on coloring me abnormormal, compared to the two daughters she’d previously raised.   I was constantly threatened with being sent to a convent school and forced to see priests and shrinks because she couldn’t understand me.

It wasn’t long before I realized our mother/ daughter dynamic was textbook skewed.    She knew it too.  The truth is, she was hardly the mother that a girl like me should have had and I wasn’t  the daughter that  a woman like her should have had.    We’re were misplaced in each other’s lives.  We were a living conundrum–very much alike while also being polar opposites.

She was/ is short in stature and even shorter now, and even though I surpassed her in height decades ago, she has always been nine feet tall,  completely imposing in her very counteneance.   I saw that as a challenge.     I’d get grounded, but felt it worth it if I got a good line in as my two week sentence was being handed down.

It took a number of years before I understood her as a woman with issues of her own.

She turned 86 in June.   She is slow and doddering, her memory will lapse, she searches for words and can stand  with vacant eyes, her mouth agape until what ever synapse starts firing normally again.   She’s now at that point where if she can’t remember it, it didn’t happen.    “Damn liar!”,  I’ve decided, is a term of endearment.

It’s taken years to understand how unkind onset of senility can be.   

She has good days.   She has bad days.  She has aches and pains.   She’s deaf and refuses to wear her hearing aid.   She’s often grumpy.   Her front and back bumpers of her car are mosaics of colors from things she’s  bumped into.    The familial discussions about additional care and imposing new restrictions such as allowing her to continue to get behind the wheel, are becoming more frequent.     It’ll enrage her to learn she can longer drive. But we would do it for her own good though she’ll compare to a stint in Abu Graib?

It was her choice to move into a lovely semi independent home earlier this year, though  she doesn’t socialize with her fellow residents.   She talks more openly about her death, a topic I hate, but I know it’s my duty as her daughter to remain quiet and absorb everything she says as opposed to denying her the priveledge.   After growing up in The Depression, after watching friends and brothers  leave to fight in World War II or Korea and never return home; after all she’s witnessed, such as  the advent of TV, astronaut Neil Armstrong take one giant leap for  mankind…and after giving birth to two compliant  daughters and one ABC After School Special (aka me), she’s earned that right to talk about her life and the end of it.

It’s taken a few years to appreciate aging along side my mother.

It’s odd that we’ve finally reached something akin to a canvass  of common ground that’s painted as gray as our hair and on a landscape of  mirroring wrinkles.

My two sisters see her once a month.  Her decline is more obvious to them.  But I notice it too.   Often, from day to day.

But despite that, life goes on thankfully and I’m renewed in some way that we still argue, we still have distinctly different views on almost everything but we have a better understanding of each other which remains unacknowledged.    And that’s okay.   We’ve never been demonstrative in word or deed.  She told me she loved me by giving me coupons for products I liked or  highlighting newspaper articles about weight loss, a knee with encroaching arthritis or how  to find THEE man of my dreams.    I’m emotionally awkward too, though I can say I love you easier than she can.  She’ll say it in return if told first, but she never initiates it.

And that’s okay, too.

I understand so much more than I did at eight or 18 or 38 or 58, which if you must know, staring me down in a matter of months.

The reality is my time with her grows short.   Someday, sooner rather than later,  the phone will ring and life as I’ve known it, will cease.  One day, I know I’ll miss being told no with a hand slap,  or that what I’m wearing, watching, reading,  driving, drinking and thinking is all wrong for me.   I’ll miss hearing  my hairstyle is 20 years too young for me and there no more be questions about the  eye liner I’ve applied being or something from the Slut Line of cosmetics.    She’s old, but still biting.

I’ll even miss being called a Communist spinster with a bad attitude;  hearing the  constant criticism that comes with wearing bra that’s completely ill-fitting for a woman with what she calls, some “heft”.

Someday, she’ll be gone.

And it will take years for me to get over it.