laurie kendrick

Dear Much Younger Self

My darling younger Laurie,

What I am doing is nothing new.  In fact, writing letters to one’s younger self is downright hackneyed.   Everyone does it.   Oprah did it a few years ago and the world went ape shit,  she then wrote her own eulogy and all  of Alpha Centauri had a brown out.    Ah, the infinite power of The Oprah.

I guess I could take it one step further and  write my  own epitaph while I’m at it.

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First, we’ll address us when we were 20.     Nice time.    We are/were was young and thin.    Still living in Austin before the severe leftist intrusion the late 80’s.    College was fun, like high school with ash trays.   It was a raucous time to be alive.   Back then, no one tried so hard to be different.   Uniqueness just was– not a lifestyle pursuit.

You’ll look back one day and laugh at how during your college years, you moved every time the rent went up.  Silly.  Don’t do it.  it’ll only cost more in the long run.   The $72.00 a  week you’ll make at that retail store will be tough to live on, but it’ll be one of your greatest teachers.   Yes, a paycheck such as it,  will be a wonderful learning tool……you’ll learn to go without.  But that’s important.     You’ll learn how to moderate moderation.

It’ll be a hassle to be a  full-time student working at a crappy job that introduced itself to you as a crappy job.   We knew it when you said “Yes to the stress”.    But you’ll  do just fine.   You’ll learn to live within your means and you already know about talking in a higher octave to buy a cheaper Happy Meal without the guilt.

Never forget get those insidious roach infested apartments we lived in.   They were and for some time, will be, tiny and cramped.  They will, be lean to’s with a few shingles, some with indoor plumbing.   But you’ll appreciate that you have a roof over your head.   . But never forget, the DNA of a hundred previous tenants will always be swirling on every surface.   Avoid the petri dish that will be your kitchens.   Look into healthy ways of employing anorexia in your life, if possible.   You won’t want to place food, much less eat it, anywhere near most of your kitchen counters.

For a time in your  early twenties to age 30 or so, the only letters you’ll receive will be returned check notices from your bank.   You’ll learn to hate that distinctive shade of pink paper that shouts  “welcher…..loser” from behind the envelope’s cellophane window.   But I beg you, don’t beat yourself up about this. Why?  Because you will survive the “student experience”.  And bouncing checks..on purpose, .with intent, is part of that survival experience. I didnt say ethical but it woo bevomecan necessary evil.  In fact, it’s survival  101.   You’ll make those particular sacrifices several times  while still young in life.    And I promise there’s, an end to what seems like an impossible student loan payback process.

You’ll live in neighborhoods that were shady because like your neighbors, you didn’t have a choice.    At least not in the fiscal sense.   And yes, the chasm between you and “the haves” will exist, especially while still in college, You’ll look enviously at those rich, indulged sorority types who were subsidized  by parent-ships, mummy and daddy paid for everything,     You used to think their only goal for four years was to pledge the right sorority, date the right guy from the proper Texas zip code and study, in between winters in Cabo and spring breaks in Gstaad.   But I want you to let go of any resentment ASAP.   It’s beneath your humanity   and besides, everyone has a veneer, a lovely candy coating…..and consequently, everyone has a price they must pay for everything.   The Big Mental Get Even comes later, I promise.    You’ll be amazed how once you’re in the real world, the playing field will be leveled.     Not completely, but more so than it was during your college days.  You’ll grow up, mature and see the error in your thinking.    You’ll eventually right your listing ship with emotional ballast you never thought possible.

Oh and while I’m at it, don’t date a jock at while at The University of  Texas.   It won’t end well.     For him, as it turned out.   Avoid pilots at all costs.  There’s a shoe salesman, a smart yet immature and confused engineer and an selfish actor wanna be in the mix.    Avoid them all.   Run from them…head west, head west!!!

You’ll have a kickass career, especially at the very beginning and while the money isn’t flooding in, your star is rising and you will be heralded in ways you envidioned at age six.     On air, you are loved unconditionally and disliked with as much passion.   Learn to edit criticism from viewers and listeners and for God’s sake, run like hell from broadcast consultants.     All they know is resentment from on-air careers  that went to hell or worse, never went anywhere.   They’re Satan’s spawn on a salad plate filled with nettles.     General Managers with few exceptions are generally full of hot air too, their hands still aching from all the knives they plunged into other people’s backs.    They will eventually stumble and fall as well.   You’ll learn that failure and disappointment are viable and unavoidable  facts of life.    Embrace them.  They are lessons indeed, but not necessarily pass/fail courses.    You can choose your mode of testing.

In order to do that, I urge you to ignore the tall, handsome Canadian.   Avoid the lessservrelationshipscthstbtook morevthsnnthry’ll hive.     Stay clear of the lure of fame even if regional, even if it’s on lowest rung on the show biz latter.  Try to abstain from all the stuff that feels good and either sounds like, or actually includes the letter “x” anywhere its title.   Imbibe less.  Learn that Love is more, much more than having a a few commonalities,    A mutual love of chicken coop welding will bring  you together, but it’s not enough to keep you together.   Love is complicated, regardless of how easy and effortless  it might feel.   Use common sense, don’t be a doormat.   Reinforce your spine constantly.

Please let go of that precious little lion cub by 1975.    Trust me, your life will be easier.    Adolescent first loves are too often idealized and never a reason to seek a vacuum cleaner hose to attach to the exhaust pipe before shutting the garage door.  Not that you’d ever do that,.   But this break up will feel like the absolute end of the world.  It’s actually just the end of a phase….that just feels like forever.   .But please let go early.   There’s power in release.    He never loved you like you loved him.     Seek emotional parity and let him go in the process.  He’s  nothing more than a greasy  kid stuff  memory .

Learn that donuts aren’t sweet bagels, don’t date co-workers.   Madonna will always be thinner than you AND might I add, always a year older.    Calibrate the mania in your life, keep stress on low and battle the inertia, where possible.  And please know this—it’s perfectly fine to be vulnerable, just not to the point of exploitation.

So, be kind  to yourself.   More than I was.   I’m sorry for some of the decisions I made….not so much what I did, but who I did.   Had I been wiser, the tone of this letter would be far less cautionary.  But in spite of all the warnings, there will be good times in your life and yes, you will know joy, but understand that (unless you did an unscripted  180 and became a cloistered nun), it’s not a constant.    It should be, but it can’t be, no matter what bill of goods someone  is trying to sell you.   You’re an errant human and you’ll know joy’s varying degrees throughout your life.    Revel in its presence.     Use time wisely, it never seems to stop until it has passed.   Oy.   Enjoy your memories but stay focused on  your dreams and goals.      And uh….being the first female broadcaster in space, isn’t one of them.

Marriage and motherhood can be in the picture should you choose to form a civil union or procreate….but it’s not an all or nothing scenario.   Don’t let anyone tell you you’re selfish because you don’t want kids…..if, you decide you don’t want kids.  My ability  was compromised after the wreck we had in 1992′.   It’s quite different to not want kids, yet still have it be an option..    It’s quite another thing  to be told you can’t.    But  you’ll  survive that, too.   Welcome menopause and be okay with aging, as long as you don’t attach anything numerical to the process.  Stay away from fun house mirrors and laugh, loudly and often.  Walk tall, learn to accept and respect your gifts. You have more than you have allowed yourself to realize.  Avoid complex carbohydrates and refuse the urge to celebrate your birthday during Fiesta in San Antonio, 1991. As we discussed earlier,  the trip there will literally wreck your life.

You wil lose your best friend to AIDS in 2007 and another very dear friend will be taken by a massive heart attack ten years later.    You’ll lose many colleagues and very close broadcast mentors between  2000 and 2017.   These things will happen in rapid succession and it will eviscerate you emotionally.  Cry all you want, and trust me, you will.   Don’t even bother wearing mascara.   But you’ll recover.   A few will even serve as guides from the other side.   And even if they aren’t really, , it’ll make me good to think so.

Jettison  from your life negative,  needy people, the poseurs , the petty narcissists  and general assholes who are mean spirited and cruel,     This will be easy since station  closures help with attrition.

Invest heavily in Big Pharma and BioMed in 2017.  Oh and something called Alphabet….Google it.

Lastly and perhaps the most important thing Older Me can impart to Younger Me would be this:  your mother wasn’t Kreskin, or Einstein.     She was wrong about a lot of things.

Huzzah!!

Hugz,

Me at 58.

As The Writer Writes

I watched the movie, “The Outsiders” a few days ago, from the comfort of my uncomfortable old couch.   If memory serves and it really hasn’t been lately, I the book was assigned reading in High School.    At the time the book has already been on your friendly neighborhood bookstore shelves for about 12- years.   I remember finding it rather dated even then.     Move ahead many years and I saw the movie when it premiered,

So no, I really didn’t like the book or the movie and watching it recently only made the whole premise seem even more ludicrous.

I kept the book which I had to buy whilein HS.   I kept it for years.   I remember reading SE Hinton’s name on the paperback’s spine.

I had no idea who she was, whether this  was a person with a nether region that included  either a PROtrustion or INtrusion, but whatever the gender was, I thought he or she had a weak grasp of how a 60’s era Greaser would think, talk and act.  Not that I would know myself.   I was  six years old in 1965 when this schmalz was to have occurred and I was also living in South Texas about seven hundred miles or so south of Oklahoma City or Tulsa or Enid or where ever the hell this story took place.

To me, the word “Greaser” was someone covered in Crisco or at least, a fry cook.

But…

The dialog drove me crazy.   Unfunny.

 I hear they stamp your face to make gorilla cookies-– Keith “Two Bit” Matthews

And speaking of names, I always thought the names Hinton chose were so silly.  Her Wikipedia entry says she based most of them on real people; namely her boyfriend at the time and her brother-in-law.  Names like  Ponyboy Curtis and his brother, Sodapop and elder brother, Darry which I think is short for Darrel.    Then, add Dallas (Dally) Winston to the mix, along with Two Bit and you have a juvenile salad with a toss of effeminate dressing.

I fell on my knees and  thanked obscure gods I don’t believe in when I read the wonderfully normal character name of “Tim Shepherd” mentioned in the book.  Johnny Cade was an acceptable name as well.   Call me foolish,  but shortly after I began reading the book, I started thinking–even as a young, concave titted sapling auteur– that this was a book written by a chick who thinks she writes as a dude would think while writing.     Based on guys I knew at the time this book was published, which included cousins and neighbors–hell, even my own father–I found it nearly impossible to believe that these rough and tumble male children from the wrong side of the tracks could be that caring, that loving and that compassionate while styling their hair with 30-weight Pennzoil.

I give props to Hinton (which in Laurie-ese means I “forgive” her) for the areas where I think her book lacked.   She was just 15 when she started writing the book. Very admirable.  It was published during her Freshman year in college, several years later.  Even more admirable.    My Freshman year in college the most I dared to attempt from a literary standpoint was to write my name, the date and my college ID number on my tests–which at times were the only things I knew for sure on the whole damn exam.

But here’s where I have an issue…

As an aspiring writer myself, I’ve  been told time and time again that one must write what one knows.   This book was based on two rival gangs at  Barry Switzer High School (not sure of the exact name of the institution OTHER than it was in Oklahoma)  where she attended.   The were the Greasers–named as such because they slicked back their hair with enough grease to make an axle jealous) and Socs (which until the movie came out, I thought was pronounced like ‘socks’, which I NEVER understood I realized later that term was created for the kids from higher socio-economic classes)  The Greasers  lived on the north side, next to (one would assume) a sea of loan sharks, pawn shops, bars, pool halls and every train track known to man while the Socs (pronounced Soash-long ‘o’) lived in the well-to-do part of town…the Southside  in palatial homes with manicured lawns; where residents were well healed and well wheeled.

And the jargon!!!!

Man, that was one tough car.  Mustangs, they’re tough.-Johnny Cade

I know times change.  The bee’s knees was a phrase that was all the rage in the 20’s, Hubba-Hubba served its purpose in the late 40’s and early 50’d.      Hollywood and Ralph Malph revived ‘ sit on it’ from the late 50.     Cool, groovy, far out, solid and right on, took us through about 1975.

Of course there are more, but my point is I get it—hip phrases change with the times, but something about terms Hinton used unnerved me.  Annoyed me.   Like fingernails on a chalkboard.   The torturous sound of cats mating.    Like any music made, sung, produced or hummed by Justin Bieber.

As for  SE Hinton the girl/woman, as best I can tell, she was neither a Soc or a Greaser.   She was probably somewhere in between; a good girl who dreamed of being bad; who had perfectly normal impure thoughts of Paul Peterson on “The Donna Reed Show” and Bandstand appearances by  Gary Puckkett   and Mark Lindsay–especially when he wore his very tight, religious-revealing Paul Revere and The Raiders pants.

Maybe even Donovan,too.

An additional  “Outsider” condemnation, the lovely Cherry Valance was actually named Sherry but in keeping up with Hinton’s penchant for crazy ass nicknames, Ponyboy et. al., readers would come to know her  as “Cherry” because of her red hair.   In later years, I envisioned her looking a lot like Diane Lane.

And wouldn’t you know it,  Frances Ford Coppola thought so too.

Johnny Cade is a little runt of a guy with abusive, alcoholic parents who don’t  ‘give a gosh darn”about him.   Dallas “Dally” Winston ( played by that Dillon  guy) is a hood, also shaped by parental neglect and glorified (by other Greasers as an  enviable rap sheet that reads like a scroll.  His character is hackneyed– a rebellious, angry young man with a huge chip on his shoulder–portrayed  in similar roles by tough guys actors such as Marlon Brando, Robert Blake, Judd Nelson, Johnny Depp and last but not least, Jodie Foster.

I’ve read several of Ms. Hinton’s other works, and dare I say  “The Outsiders” is by far her magnum opus.  One other book  she wrote is entitled, “That Was Then; This Is Now” and personally, I think it pales in comparison.  This book focuses on the late Sixties drug culture and acid-dropping with a long-haired, soft spoken, gray-eyed  character named M&M or Hershey or Zagnut–I can’t remember, it had something to to do with candy.  But based on this and other literary efforts, I think “Outsiders” is the best.   It was/is a very successful  manuscript which over the years, won a plethora of awards.   It was critically acclaimed at a time when young women weren’t writing books.   Hinton, Anne Frank and Laura Ingalls Wilder pretty much summed up the short list.   With Hinton being more contemporary,  I can say she broke an acrylic ceiling and for that, I admire her.    Someday, I hope to join her on the successful author dais.   So, with all sincerity, I say mozel to her for her gumption, her success.   She’s probably a lovely woman.

I just didn’t like this particular book.

However, because I respect and admire Hinton’s tenacity at such a young age, I’m thinking about naming my next  dog, “Bronco Bottle Cap Scranton Two Rubles”  as an homage to the book and movie.

The Politics of Dating

In Broascaating, you collect a lot of unemployment and you end up out of desperation doing odd jobs for very odd people who really, really liked you on the air.   They almost only ever agreed to an interview just to see if one  looked  as hot as one sounded.     I made it through a couple of interviews….I guess that was because I was actually worthy of being the subject of  their fantasy; Laurinella, Queen of SultryVox, Land of CarboHydratia.    Eeewwwww.   I can remember having some of the creepiest temporary bosses.

Anyway, I was thinking back on my long  career and one particular  period of unemployment appeared front and center on ye olde memory banks or in my mammary banks according to some of my creepier bosses.

I’d been doing a little freelance work for a Houston magazine (heavy on the “free”, by the way).   Days earlier, my editor asked me what I wanted to do next in terms of a subject.

I told her that I really didn’t care–anything would be fine–I wasn’t picky. Whatever. I suggested  she throw out a couple of potential topics.

Right off the bat, she suggested I do an in-depth piece on the Interior Department’s finalized proposal to open 48 jillion  acres of previously off-limits land for oil exploration and drilling.

“Nah, that’s a little heavy. Too many facts and numbers”, I said. “But anything else would be fine. Really. I’m amenable to anything,  seriously.  Just name it.  What other topics do you have in mind?”

She then suggested that I write an article on Venezuelan despot, Hugo Chavez (he was still and alive and killing back then) and his ardent criticism of neo-liberal globalization.

I shook my head and told her no; too many abstract political principles. Nor was I in the mood to do a lot of boring research. Plus my head started to spin. I told her I’d do anything , ANYTHING but that.

She then suggested an overview of Nancy Pelosi’s first two years as Speaker of the House.

I vomited a little in my mouth, then suggested an overview of anything else.

She then told me of her idea for a story about the dating world for older Houstonians. (And by older, I mean age 40 and up)

I thought about it for a second: it had possibilities; some creative potential. There would be no mention of Hugo Chavez or Nancy P.  that I could think of and besides, I was a Houstonian over 40.

I told her I’d do it.

But I quickly learned that I wouldn’t be talking to older Houstonians trying to date. I’d have to become one of the older Houstonians trying to date.

The story, as it was conveyed to me, would be far more interesting if I participated in it. First person perspective.

As in, I should actually go out on a date.

Yeah, uh-huh.

A date.

I’m not even sure what constitutes a date in 2017 much less in what it was in 2008 when I was given this assignment,   Certainly not for a woman whose birth  predates Eisenhower’s incessant rants about then military- industrial complex.   

See, at the time, I hasn’t had a real by God date per se since December 2004.    I was Tin Man rusty and way off my game, but a few years earliermImhad some success at what I called “guerrilla dating”. I attacked it with Gunga Din-like precision; I had the enthusiasm of a Sandinista with new boots during the rainy season.

This was my M.O.—I’d get all tarted up and go to the nearest Barnes and Noble Bookstore (ALWAYS date a literate man and do brick and mortar book stores still esxist?).   I’d find a pretentious stack of books to stand near. If I saw a nice looking man, I’d grab a book and open it. Remember, the book really doesn’t matter, but the title and cover made all the difference .  Just make sure whatever you grab as a prop, makes you look intellectual and even a bit mysterious.

I remember on one occasion, I actually trained my eyes to go Marty Feldman. Seriously! One eye scanned the room looking for a mark, while the other focused on the book allowing me to feign interest in the Runic alphabet. I didn’t get that many dates, but I learned that Runic/Futhark is Runic for “how’s it hanging”.

That should come in handy if I’m ever going out with a holdover who’s lineage is that of the ancient Goths.

Still, I remember being nervous about all of it.  The dynamics of dating had changed since I last went out one a date four years prior.  Should I be worried I hasnt changed enough to accommodate all the social changes? But surely, some of the basics were still in existence, right?

All the latest books and authors insisted that men and women have innate “hard wiring” that time can’t change.    The wrote that it all goes back to that feral thing; when we lived in caves, communicated through grunts and screeches and were the mono-browed forebearers to that clever caveman Geico ad campaign eight years ago.

We all saw the movie, “Quest for Fire”, right?    We learned from that flick that prehistoric men looked at women and sized them up as breeding stock. They’d ask themselves, “Is she physically able to bare my progeny and propagate my DNA for generations to come?….Ugh!” If so, he grabbed her by the hair and pulled her into the cave where he would proceed make a big carnal Mesozoic smack dab all over her Jurassic.

So, what’s changed?  Women still do as they did way back then; we look at every man and subconsciously wonder if “he’s the one?”  . We can’t help it. We want to know if these brave, hunter/gatherers can provide for our families.   And by that I don’t  mean bringing home a brontosaurus or fire, for that matter.

But we’re older now, so more than likely, we’ll still size each other up, but for entirely different reasons.

Older men look at older women and hope that we can prepare a meal that’s either low or no sodium and we women will be hoping that men will still be able to—–my God! Is that a crease in his pants or is that his prostate???

Oh yes, things have changed.

And what if sex enters the picture??? There are so many factors now in place that weren’t there years ago. I was 49 then…..(Jeez, really?????) and at the time inconvenienced with “free range” periods–they came and went as they pleased and usually at the worst times!    I had to deal with that, plus, there was the awkward issue of Cialis and Viagra; performance anxiety and feminine…. whatever.

There’s nothing scarier than a “first anything”. Especially a first date. You’ve got a 50-50 chance you won’t like each other physically and if that attraction isn’t there, you know it right off the bat. That’s not to say that perceived looks won’t change as you get to know each other, but rarely will a couple on their first date, ever feel that need and desire at the same time.

The truth is we’re older. Much older.

In fact, too damn old to be dating in the first place.   Writing about it would be fiction.    I’d be Steven Glass  Glass with a better rack.

This whole damn idea is nuts.  Completely insane.   I remember sweating, feeling nauseous and burping up something akin to sulfur.   I called my editor in a complete panic.

So, long story short,  my piece on Hugo Chavez’s disdain of neo-liberal globalization affected his dating rituals  was on her desk and ready to go to print.

Jeez……The things  we do for a paycheck.

,

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?