Down the rabbit hole

auld

The last NZ post will be simmering until later this week.

But I HAVE to post something today (New Year’s Eve) because it’s the 6th anniversary of (drum roll please…) my very first blog post.

Tada!!

Quite honestly, I didn’t think I had one years worth of words in me let alone six!

Also, AGMA just went over 5000 followers this month.  That’s kinda of a big milestone too (for me.)  Although, I’m not really sure where most of them are since there are only about 40 or 50 AWESOME folks who actually read and comment on AGMA posts.

And because you are reading this, YOU, my friends, ARE freakin’ AWESOME!

Because it’s New Years Eve (in the US that is), there will be many (probably very poorly sung) renditions of Auld Lang Syne in the closing hours of 2019.  People who’ve had too many adult beverages will be hanging all over partners, dates, family and/or friends, crying, with snotty noses, and really screwing up the words to this traditional Scottish ballad.

So what exactly does “auld lang syne” mean?  Inquiring minds…

According to the source of all wisdom and knowledge, Wikipedia, “the poem’s Scots title may be translated into standard English as ‘old long since’ or, more idiomatically, ‘long long ago’,’days gone by’, or ‘old times’. Consequently, ‘For auld lang syne’, as it appears in the first line of the chorus, might be loosely translated as ‘for the sake of old times’.”

A couple of nights ago, AGMA fell down the “days gone by” “for the sake of old times” rabbit hole.

I decided to clean out my plastic bin full of old Christmas cards.

Yes, I had a bin full of old Christmas cards.  Doesn’t everybody?

Being certain I had just cleaned the bin out a few years ago, I dove in, pulling out any Christmas letters and photographs or photo cards.  I’m saving those.

It would take time to explain…

What became very clear to me was that AGMA had NOT cleaned out the bin a few years ago.  Unless you consider finding cards from back to 2006 “a few years ago”.

I’m fairly certain that some of the years in between got thrown out in a previous purge.  There wasn’t 13 years worth of cards in the bin.  Maybe only 9 or 10.

Yeah – there were a sh*tload of cards.

But when I started sorting through the cards, I felt the stings of my crusty AGMA heart being pulled.

There were cards/letters/pictures from:

  • people I had totally forgotten about (that made AGMA sad.)
  • people no longer with us like Al, hubs very first manager way back in the 70’s, my Uncle Harry,  and my old high school bestie, Ann (that made me really sad)
  • people who were once happily married, but are no longer (married and/or happy)
  • people who don’t speak to me now because we have opposing political views like my cousin Bob, my brother, and many of my former suburban “mom” friends from Ohio (only makes me semi-sad)
  • people who were incredibly important to me (and I to them) for a season, but that season has long passed, and we no longer exchange holiday greetings
  • people who were the picture of health, but have since been ravaged by illness and, in some cases, dementia
  • people who sent pictures of their children’s graduation from high school who are now sending pictures of their grandchildren
  • people who were one Christmas card people for various reasons

Total rabbit hole.  I was up in the attic for several hours.

I even found a copy of the letter we sent out in Christmas cards in 1990!  I read over it and thought, “Damn…that was a fast 29 years!”

“Time flies, and then you die” is a quote I heard years ago and have never really gotten out of my head.

Short and not so sweet, it gets to the heart of the matter…  We only go around once; there are no redos.

So, AGMA wants all you freakin’ awesome folks to make everyday of 2020 count – especially if you are NOT aging gracefully like me!

Jump off a building (attached to some sort of a safety device of course); do a zip line; travel someplace that makes you uncomfortable (but maybe not to an active volcano); eat strange food (like a whitebait fritter for Thanksgiving); love on your loved ones so they KNOW, without a doubt that you love them; get your second tattoo (or your first); listen to music that is not genre you normally listen to; get rid of stuff that has been in boxes for years; make friends with somebody who looks different than you; do goat yoga once; make time to meditate (on whatever you want) each day; make phone calls or write letters/emails/tweets to your elected officials to tell them what they are doing right OR wrong; give money (if you can afford it) to organizations who support causes you believe in (NOT a tRump charity please!!); get a new hairstyle/cut/color(s); go to a museum in the town you live in that you’ve never been to before…

Well – you get the idea!

AGMA’s just happy I’ve stuck with this little blog for six years! It’s brought me more joy than I could have ever imagined.  And ya’ll have given me, thought your comments and posts, the gift of YOU, which is most precious indeed!

Thank you from the bottom of my sometimes crusty, but always loving (shhhh – don’t tell anybody, it could ruin my reputation) heart!

Here’s to days gone by and all the days yet ahead in 2020!

Happy New Year!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

To tat or not to tat, THAT is the question

Vintage-photograph-of-incredible-head-toe-ink-women-20s-30s-40s-11

AGMA decided to make a late mid-life career change in my 50’s.

Despite having an MBA, I never quite warmed to the politics of “How to Succeed in Business by Kissing Ass” scenario. I’m not a mover and shaker type. I’m not uber competitive. I deplore drama of any sort.

When AGMA first started working as a young adult, I believed that intelligence, integrity and hard work would bring success in the business world.

Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha….

When it dawned on me how incredibly naive I had been, I settled into a career as an underling in the IT department of an insurance company in Cincinnati for 20+ years. But AGMA was pretty happy being an underling. I was able to work part-time (much of it from home) in a professional position that allowed me to be around for my kids (can you say car pool queen?) and do lots of volunteer work while earning a decent salary.

It was all wonderful until Son#2 (the snarky, but oh so sweet one) had the nerve to go off to college. My company got a new CIO who did not approve of part-time at home workers, so I was “forced” to work (I shudder when remembering)…40 hours a week. Full time.

Oh, the humanity!

AGMA was a baby about it; I was miserable even though I loved my co-workers and was now making more money than I’d ever made.

Then Hubs got a promotion and had to move to Atlanta. AGMA didn’t want to move to Atlanta. I didn’t want to leave what had been my home for 30 years to start over. I didn’t want to leave my friends.

“But you can quit your job and not have to go back to work in Atlanta.” Hubs crooned softly in my ear.

Thems was powerful words.

Buh bye Cincinnati!

But of course, AGMA, being undiagnosed ADHD, got bored pretty fast.

After taking a hobby job at a upscale cookware retailer for several years, and stocking my kitchen with amazing cooking stuff (eat your heart out Alton Brown!), I got restless. I had this nagging feeling that I should be doing something else; something more meaningful than working for minimum wage selling $200 chef’s knives to people with lots of disposable income.

That something was becoming a theraputic massage therapist. Who knew?

Since AGMA graduated from massage school in 2009, I’ve been hopelessly happy with my career choice.

OMG – it’s about time!

My business has morphed from exclusively table work to now, almost exclusively corporate chair massage. And I love it!

I contract with a number of other MT’s who own their own businesses. They do all the marketing, billing, payment and recruiting. They are the ones who have the headaches associated with owning a small business.

All I do is show up and work.

It’s awesome because it fits in perfectly with my travelin’ ways. AGMA works when I want and turns down jobs when we fly off to wherever.

A MT works with far more people doing chair massage than doing table work. A typical chair session is 15 minutes. A table massage usually last an hour. So in at a 3 hour job, I will work on 11 or 12 people.

And AGMA comes in contact with a whole spectrum of folks when I’m doing chair massage. Actors, electricians, teachers, administrative assistants, CEO’s, graduate students… And they come in all sizes, colors, genders, ages, religions – you get the picture.

And a lot of them have tattoos. A. Lot.

Even the ones who look like they wouldn’t a tattoo will have little ones hiding on the their shoulder blade. How do I know this? Sometimes is necessary to pull down a clients shirt a little bit in back to work on their necks. I mean, you gotta do the neck – people hold crazy tension in their neck. So that can give a pretty good view of their upper back.

There are others who have tattoos all over their arms and back. I worked on one young lady last week who had huge wings tattooed on her upper chest. She also had tattoos on her arms. All up and down her arms. And her back. She was quite colorful!

So, of course, AGMA, feeling like I should be more colorful, is pondering getting another tattoo.

I thought the one I got last year would be my first and last. I’ve loved it from the first day I got it and have never had any buyers remorse. Every time I look at it, I smile.

I realize that I am delightfully not normal.

But AGMA needs to accelerate the decision making process. It took 13 years for me to decide what kind of a tattoo I wanted. 13 years from now, I’m going to be closing in on 80. I think I want to pull the trigger a bit sooner for my second one.

But what to get, what to get…? And should I even get another one? I mean, I’m not a spring chick anymore. More like an old cluck up.

I’m conflicted.

So whaddaya think? Do I have millennial envy? Or am I just a late bloomin’ Boomer? A really late Boomer bloomer… Should I listen to my head that says, “WTF?” Or should I follow my heart and become more colorful?

Aging gracefully my ass!

Cold sores and lip fungus

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This past June marked the 45th anniversary of AGMA’s first tentative, wobbly steps into adulthood. Very wobbly. I was naive. I was shy. I was mousy.

But I was ready to start my real life.

45 years ago, I, along with 700+ classmates, graduated from high school.

And those of us who are still fortunate enough to be around and in relatively good health and with the means and desire to travel to Pittsburgh, got together last Saturday night to celebrate that momentous event. Or we were just looking for a reason to party.

Yes.  It was my 45th high school reunion.

And as promised in my earlier post in June, AGMA was boldly and proudly in attendance. Because, unlike 50 of my classmates who are no longer with us, I could go.  And not to be morbid, but of those 50 classmate who have gone over the rainbow, 22 have passed in the last 5 years since our last reunion in 2011.

Holy crap on a cracker – 22 in 5 years!  Poof, gone.

I think it’s a good thing we’ve started having reunions every 5 years now.

Aging is clearly a risky business.

Contrary to my plans in my June post, AGMA didn’t get glammed up or dressed to the nines. I didn’t wear heels or lots of make-up. I didn’t buy a new outfit either. It was billed as a casual affair so I went casual, wearing clothes I already had, and a bit of blush and eyeliner.

But I looked good… Darned good.  And people noticed.

It was a good night for AGMA’s normally fragile, humble ego. Like the Grinch’s heart, AGMA’s ego grew three sizes Saturday evening.

Because only 2 of my 5 BFF’s were there and Hubs stayed back in Atlanta,  I wandered around most of the evening striking up conversations with former classmates and/or their spouses/partners.  I call it social “cold calling” and I’m pretty good at it .

“Hi! My name is AGMA. I’m sure you don’t remember me because I was very quiet and shy in high school, and didn’t move into the community until 9th grade. So do you still live in PIttsburgh?” It was an effective opening line.

And if I was talking to a man, I added, “And I definitely didn’t talk to guys. I used to blush and turn red.” I was surprised at the number of men who laughed and said, “And I didn’t talk to girls!”

Turns out many of them were as terrified of me as I was of them! Who knew?

Based on AGMA’s observations of the 80+ people who came the reunion, my classmates, 45 years later, fall into one the following groups:

  1. People who have become self actualized enough to leave the cliquishness, “labels” and insecurities of their teenage years behind them and are now really nice people. AGMA falls into this group. Of course.
  2. People who are still suffering from self confidence issues and are still reluctant, after all these years, to go outside of their comfort zone.   So they still stick like glue to their old high school peeps for support. That’s just sad.
  3. People who have never gotten over the trauma of _________ (fill in the blank) from their high school years and have come back to prove a point. They are now (take your pick…) successful, beautiful, handsome, have a head full of hair, skinny, rich, have a hot spouse and/or successful kids, and have come to rub it in the face of the cool “kids”. Who really don’t give a flying f*ck. Still.
  4. The people who were self confident and nice in high school, and are still self confident and nice. Yeah – there were a few of those.

In general, the women have aged better than the men. Although I do have to admit to a few double takes with some of the guys. A few of them have gotten better with age. Much better.

But the big story of the night was that I did what was totally impossible and unthinkable to a 17 year old AGMA. And it only took 45 years. Who said crazy dreams don’t come true? You just have to be willing to be patient…

AGMA got to kiss our former class football jock hero. He was the quarterback of our state title winning football team. He was so popular that a quiet, shy mouse like me would never even think of daring to have a crush on him. That would have been just crazy.

Lest you think AGMA was dallying on Hubs, it wasn’t like that. Really. Although after 2 Moscow Mules, I’m not exactly 100% clear on how it all happened. I’m pretty sure we ended up kissing dramatically for a photo op.

Keep a lookout for it on Facebook. That possibility kinda makes me quesy…

At least there were no tongues.

Now that would’ve been gross. He’s turned out to be a kind of a slimy ,used car sales person type who drinks too much.  It’s tough being a washed up jock.

One of my first thoughts afterwards was that I hoped he didn’t have anything that was contagious. Not the reaction AGMA might have dreamed of 45 years ago….

But I was young and naive then.  And not aware of the dangers of cold sores and lip fungus.

I’m really looking forward to our 50th.

And I wonder who I’ll pucker up for in 2021?

Aging gracefully my ass!

Baby you can drive my car

big-golf-cart

The move to Atlanta, Georgia (pop = 5.7 million) in 2006 from Cincinnati, Ohio (pop = 2.1 million.) in 2006 wasn’t easy. While not as drastic as, say, moving to Los Angeles, California (pop = 18.5 million) from South Point, Ohio (pop = 4000), it was still a shock.

AGMA’s always lived in smaller, friendlier cities. Cities that are easy to navigate. Cities where, for the most part, drivers are courteous. Cities that have defined, relatively short rush hours.

My first six months in Atlanta were traumatic. This was before Google Maps. And I didn’t have a GPS unit. I couldn’t seem to naviagate the roads, the heavy traffic was intimidating and people drove batsh*t crazy.

I ended up only going out in my car between the hours of 10 AM and 2 PM.

This did not make for a seamless, joyful integration into my new home city.

Then one day, I got a “hobby job”.

Hobby Job (HJ) = an interesting, fun job with fun people that pays minimum wage. You’d better have somebody else paying the rent…

My HJ forced me out onto the Atlanta roads before 10 AM and after 2 PM.

You remember that old saying, “I you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em.”…. Well – AGMA joined them. I got brave and bold.

Just in time to have my car totaled by another driver. On the interstate. At 50 mph.

Other than some bruising and minor whiplash, I was fine. Bluie, my first Prius, wasn’t.

A lesser AGMA would have thrown in the towel, curled up in a fetal position and gone back to the 10 AM – 2PM protocol. But no. I got my new Prius, Goldie (are you seeing the theme…?) and got right back into the saddle. Or the bucket seat.

For better or worse, I was becoming an Atlanta driver.

Fast forward to 2016. I go out driving any damn time I want. Speed limits and traffic signals…merely suggestions. Going the wrong way? Just do a U-turn in the middle of the road. Zipping in and out of lanes to jockey for a better position in traffic. And don’t even think of trying to cut in on me…

Survival of the fittest. That’s the tagline of Atlanta driving.

I don’t really notice how “assertive” my driving has gotten until I’m back in one of those smaller cities I used to live in. I notice that people are actually driving the speed limit. And people don’t consider the berm as an extra lane. And there is a lot less honking.

People living in those cities complain about their traffic. I just laugh at them. “Traffic?? You don’t know what real traffic is….”

Tora, Tora, Tora!

But every now and then, something happens to remind AGMA she needs to dial it down a notch. Or two. Or three.

Earlier this week, I got behind an “elderly” driver. I realize that the term “elderly “ is relative. And 18 year old would consider me, AGMA,  an elderly driver. Ouch.

My 32 year old son calls them Geezers. I think that’s a better term. A Geezer can be any age although the vast majority of Geezers are up in years.

This guy I was behind was the classic Geezer. Driving a big old Chrysler 15 mph on a 30 mph road. Most people go 40 mph on that road. Coming to a complete stop before making a turn. Seriously?? Slowing down for a stop sign 100 feet before the sign. Keep in mind he’s already going 15 mph. And then actually coming to a complete stop.

Total Geezer.

“It’s a good thing I’m not in a hurry or I’d lay on my horn.” I huffed.

He stopped – very, very slowly – at a stop sign that dead ended our road onto a very busy road. Right turn only. There was an opening and I saw him slowly pulling out. I turned to look at traffic and saw there was another opening. I pressed the accelerator.

You know what’s coming.

Yup – AGMA hit his bumper. Turns out he decided not to turn and stopped again.

He was obviously flustered by my bumping him. He turn onto the road right in front of a big truck who laid on his horn but thankfully pulled into the other lane. I was holding my breath as I watched.

Mr. Geezer pulled into the closest parking lot and got out to inspect his bumper. I pulled in, expecting to be yelled at (as is the Atlanta way), and possibly give him my insurance information.

AGMA didn’t expect what actually happened…

He smiled a big ol’ sweet smile at me and said, “Don’t worry. There’s no damage. This dent here was already there.” He was charming and lovely and didn’t try to scam me for his already damaged car.

I was stunned and humbled.

AGMA apologized profusely. He assured me he has bumped other people’s bumpers in the past so he understands. No doubt. I asked if he was okay. He said yes.

Then he thanked me for stopping.

I assured him that I always stopped when I hit somebody. Which very rarely happens I added quickly.

He smiled that sweet,lovely smile at me and said., “I think what you’re trying to say is that you always try to do the right thing.”

Gulp.  AGMA was ashamed for labeling him.

We said our goodbyes and as he pulled out onto the busy road, he cut off a car.  They laid on their horn.

I said a prayer of safety for him.

And a prayer for me to be a bit more tolerant. Maybe a lot more tolerant.

And for AGMA to know when it is time to give up the car keys before Geezerdom is in full force.

I hear golf carts are loads of fun!

Next to Godliness…really?

funny-pictures-history-instead-of-cleaning-the-house-i-just-turn-off-the-lights

If you’ve been hanging with AGMA for a spell, you realize that I have a number of dirty little secrets. My thin mint addiction, my obsession with professional male cyclists in spandex, my desire for a tramp tat…

All are things I wouldn’t want to share with a child under ten. Or my husband.

And I have one more. Not really dirty. Just a secret. It better not be dirty for what I shell out…

I actually pay somebody to clean my house every two weeks.

I’m so ashamed. I feel like an elitist 1%er. What would Bernie say? What would my stern, frugal father say? What would my step-mother say?

Actually, she would probably say, “Atta girl!” Louise hated doing domestic stuff. I don’t know for sure, but I suspect she probably had a housekeeper/cook when she was working full time and married to her first husband.

After she married my father, he persuaded her to quit her job. It was important that he be her first priority. Not surprising. So she went from business woman to full time domestic goddess. It wasn’t her dream job.

However, she dutifully executed her work. She was after all, from a good German family where all the walls got wiped down every spring, floors were scrubbed until they shone and sheets were ironed to make them “crisp”. I never really wanted crispy sheets, but I didn’t have a choice. She made all of the sheets “crisp”.

But she really didn’t like any of it. And, for better or worse, she passed on an extreme dislike of domestic duties to me. I nearly flunked Home Ec.

But like Louise, I was a trooper the while my kids were grown up.

I made dinner every night. The cuisine was mostly Midwestern post-modern – meatloaf with ketchup and onion soup mix, a variety of Hamburger Helper “flavors”, frozen chicken nuggets, and whatever would cook in a crock pot and still remain edible.  Fruit and vegetables were from cans.

Hey…they survived.

My 32 year old son, who now eats raw kale, chard and other woody, stemmy, barely chewable vegetables, mentions how unhealthy my dinners were when he was growing up. Quite frequently.

The last time, I shot back, “When you work part-time, take care of aging parents, drive in multiple carpools, hate to cook and are married to your father, then talk to me. We’ll see what YOU make for dinner.”

That shut him up.

But really, nothing compares to the battles fought over the years trying to keep our house from disintegrating into a scene from some post-apocalyptic world. AGMA turned from caring, understanding, encouraging, loving wife and mother into loud bitchy shrew. I wasn’t about to clean up their mess.

I realize we’ve found out that Bill Cosby is a sexual predator and has left many victims in his wake over the years. His immoral acts and attempted cover-ups are reprehensible. But I have to admit (sheepishly) that I still consider some of his family themed comedy classically brilliant.

On his comedy album, Bill Cosby Himself (1983), in describing his angry wife, he uncannily describes AGMA on housecleaning day…

I’ve always heard about people having a conniption, but I’ve never seen one. You don’t want to see ’em! My wife’s face… split! The skin and hair split and came off of her face so that there was nothing except the skull! And orange light came out of her hair and it lit all around! And fire shot from her eye sockets and began to burn my stomach!

Despite my head splitting open with dizzying frequency, I really was sad when both of my son’s went off to college. On the other hand, I was finally going to get to the bottom of many household mysteries related to moldy food stuffs  and sour smells discovered in unlikely places.

Of course, when they were all at home, none of them was ever the guilty one. It was always somebody else who left toast crumbs all over the couch or spilled the juice on the floor.

But as they flew from the nest, things began to change. This list of the usual suspects got much smaller.

Then it was just hubs and myself. And there was nobody left to point a finger at when toast crumbs littered the hardwoods or milk soured in a puddle on the counter. The house slowly started not looking so post-apocalyptic.

But it still wasn’t good.

Coming from a long line of lackadaisical individuals, my husband was not raised in an environment that believed, as my mostly German father and step-mother did, that “cleanliness is next to Godliness”. Hubs pretty much wouldn’t notice if our house was featured on the reality show, Hoarders.

And while AGMA never fully committed to the “next to Godliness” thing, I do like having a semi-clean and tidy home. This however, does not seem to extend to my car.

As it turns out, recruiting outside house cleaning help was a marriage survival strategy.

Now I don’t have to feel like Cinderella, cleaning the whole house by myself and missing the ball. And he doesn’t have to take time away from….ah….whatever it is he does when he isn’t working. Most of it appears to revolve around his smartphone, his laptop and the TV.

But hey – I’m busy too. I have my part-time massage therapy practice, the New York Marathon to train for, an eBay business to build and, most importantly, a blog to write…

So for the near future, it looks like we’ll continue to be 1%ers. Sort of.

We’ll probably revisit this line item in our budget after he retires. I’m sure he’ll be much more engaged on the domestic front after that. And he’ll be happy to dust and scrub sinks.

And Donald Trump is a really nice man who’s just being picked on by the RNC and Megan Kelly.

Stalking friends

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So I’m still working on my holiday cards. Yup. The past month hasn’t quite worked out like I had hoped. As evidenced by, once again, not posting on AGMA for two weeks. *sigh*

I’m shooting for mailing them out by Easter. But Easter’s early this year so I might be overly optimistic…

I was updating some addresses in my contacts app today. This app links to my calendar and Google Maps and Email and probably five other apps I don’t know anything about. Boggles the mind.  My mind at least.

It made me think about how much my “address book” has changed over the past 40 years.

Of course, back in ancient olden times, when men wore stovepipe hats and women couldn’t show their ankles, we used physical address books. Like the kind with paper in them. Like a real book with pages in alphabetical order with blank spaces for names and addresses. And you would actually write somebody’s address with a  pencil or a pen. Quaint.

I still have every one I’ve kept since I was 19. Seriously. Just a little OCD AGMA showing…

Perhaps not the most efficient way to store friend and family address information compared to digital options today, but to me, my old address books are absolutely priceless. They are the story of my life and the lives of my friends in just a few lines.

Kind of a Twitter type of biography/autobiography.

My early address books reflect the life of a confident young woman just starting out in the world. That would be me. I was so naive…  Lots of information about college friends and still some high school friends. And old boyfriends. Most of whom got crossed out.

As an aside, crossing somebody out of your paper address book is far more satisfying than just deleting their address card from your contacts app. Far more. I mean, think about it. You can slash through their name with your pen like you’re Dexter. Or press your pink eraser to the page, and scrub and scrub their name until tiny beads of sweat start popping out on your upper lip and you lick them off with triumphant delight.  Satisfaction.

Those early address books had a lot of crossed out and erased addresses as friends left the cocoon of home and school, and entered the big wide world. Young professionals starting out in apartments, moving from city to city, buying their first house. Lots and lots of address changes as we all tried to find out where we belonged. And who we belonged with.

Then came the additions. Lots of additions. Cute Kathy Collins became Cute Kathy and weird Gene Wilson. Or Collins-Wilson. It was the 70’s after all… The single names morphed into two names (or three) and the address almost always changed along with it.

In a few years, there were even more additions. In the column beside cute Kathy and weird Gene’s name & address, I added other names along with birth dates. Nicholas 10/31/79. Corrie 7/8/82. Stephen 1/25/84. And more addresses were scratched out/erased as people moved to make room for growing families.

You’d think at this point I would have quit using a pen. Evidently AGMA’s not that smart.

Things stayed pretty stable for a while as people settled into their marriages, homes and families. My address book started looking better than it had in years.

And that’s when some the names started getting scratched out. Uncle Jim, leaving Aunt Ann strangely alone in the name line. And Uncle Harry was alone as well after I crossed out Aunt Mildred. Older relatives and co-workers. In a few sad cases, college & high school friends.

Then, once again, addresses began to change. Children graduated from high school and college. Some friends downsized. Some moved to new cities. Some turned from one into two entries as couples decided to go their own separate ways after years together.

I switched over to digital address tracking about ten years ago. First it was just a document that had all of my contacts in it. That was just a pain in the arse.

Now it’s a contact app that is sooooo much more efficient than my simple paper address books could have ever dreamed of being. So simple to delete a name or change an address or add a new last name. And it wipes out all traces of the previous entry. Completely.

I’m not sure that’s such a good thing.

My old address books are full of amazing memories. Of friends made and lost. Of new love and injured hearts. Of the joy of children and new places, and the sadness of loss and broken relationships.  Priceless.

Because when you cross out a name in a paper address book, you can still read it.  It’s still there. When you erase an address, there is still a faint trace of it on the paper. There’s a history there. A history of how life evolved for my friends and family over the past 40 years. And a history of myself through my relationships with them.

That’s pretty awesome.

I’ve had to delete two names this year. One, a former neighbor, and one, a friend we ran with when we were all 20 somethings. Deleting always makes me incredibly sad.  I don’t mean to be morbid, but I have a sneaking suspicion, at this age, the deletions are just really beginning. The circle of life and all that you know?

But today, I added two new entries. One is a Facebook friend who is going to the “next level” – I’m going to visit her next week! The other is the son of one of my longtime paper address book friends. I’ve known him since he was six. I added him and his wife, and in the notes section, the names and birthdate of both of his young children. That made me smile.

So here’s to a 2016 with more additions than deletions! We’ll throw that out the the Universe and see what happens…

Aging gracefully my ass.

Happy New Year and keep your fingers crossed!

Come fly with me

Pghairport

As a teenager in the late 1960‘s, AGMA loved to go to the airport.

Oh, I wasn’t flying anywhere.  I just liked to walk around and hang out.  And dream of all of the exciting places those airplanes could take me when I was older.

India, Egypt, Paris, Hong Kong – I wanted to travel to all of them.

Airports back then were infinitely different than airports today.  Friendly, laid back, sexy and exotic all at once.  With just a smidge of mystery to the teenage psyche.

Most people flying back then dressed up for the occasion.  Think Mad Men.  The men wore suits or sports jackets, and women wore dresses with stockings and heels.  And sometimes gloves.  And fur.  I thought it was all very sophisticated.

Full disclosure: The adult AGAM doesn’t really miss the part with the dress, stockings, heels and gloves. And fur.  Ugh.

Stewardesses (hey, it’s what they used to be called!) were young, pretty, always dressed in a crisp uniform and very attentive to their passengers.

Just like today right?

Those were the days when friends and family walked the passenger to the gate and kissed them goodbye as they boarded.  And they’d be waiting at the gate with flowers to greet them as soon as they got off the plane when they came home.

Now we have to say our goodbyes at the security checkpoint an hour and a half before their flight takes off.  Or we just slow down at the curb and have them jump out so we don’t have to try to jockey for “drop-off positioning”.

And our hello’s an hour after they land.  If we’re lucky.  It takes them at least that long to get from the gate to baggage claim to walking out of the extra top-secret security area.  By the time you see them, they’re cranky from all the delays and the welcome flowers are wilted.

Or you text them that you’re in the cell phone lot taking a nap.

To clarify, my friends and I didn’t wander around just any old airport when we were teenagers.  No…  We wandered around the fabulous Greater Pittsburgh Airport!

(silence)

No, really – it was totally cool!  Inaugurated in 1952, it was the second largest airport in the U.S. at the time and a great source of pride to the people of PIttsburgh.  It had one of the very first indoor shopping malls in the U.S. in it, numerous restaurants and a small hotel.  It had beautiful mosaics in the hallways and on the floors, and a huge Alexander Caulder mobile hanging in the three story lobby.

And huge observation decks to watch planes take-off and land. That was my favorite part.

It was such an iconic landmark in the city that people were absolutely heartbroken when the building was torn down in 1999.  A new airport complex had been in use since the early 90’s and by 1999, the old building wasn’t needed.

Heck, I hadn’t lived in Pittsburgh since 1971 and I was heartbroken.

Actually, the architects of the new terminal realized how important the old airport building was to PIttsburgers, so they designed the interior of the new one to mimic certain style elements from the old one.  And it worked.  To an old timer (like AGMA), walking through the new terminal feels eerily familiar with exposed concrete, steel, glass tiles/blocks, and curved lines.  And the Caulder mobile hangs in the atrium of the new building.  Kinda cool.

Now a days, nobody in their right mind would go out to the airport to hang out.

For a non-passenger, there’s really not much to do or many places to go.  And no observation decks.  And if they did just hang out, they’d probably get arrested.

AGMA realizes that it’s a different time with different rules.  And air travel isn’t the novelty it used to be.  It’s not just for business people or the wealthy anymore.

Clearly, considering the cattle car nature of the flying experience these days.  Now seating Zone 1.  Moo….

And a teenager can get onto the Internet and travel virtually anywhere their heart desires so no need to dream of places unknown.  A few keystrokes brings instant gratification.

But I wouldn’t trade those day dreaming trips to the airport for anything.  There was something magical about them and the adventure they promised a 16 year old AGMA.

And some 45 years later, that teenager is still inside of me seducing me with whispers of possibilities for the future.

She’s such a trollop.

Hanging out in gym class

OldGymPhoto

When I was in high school, there was one thing that absolutely and totally terrified me.

Actually, as a 15 year old in the late 60’s, many things terrified me.  Wearing glasses, gaining weight, being shunned by the “cool kids”, talking to a boy, zits – you know, typical high school stuff.  For the 60’s.

But they were nothing, I repeat, nothing in comparison to the true terror of my young life.  That thing that sent chills up and down my spine, and caused my arm hairs to prickle.  The thing that happened twice a week, rain or shine, with sickening regularity, and caused me non-stop angst the entire day before.  The thing that, AGMA firmly believes, ruined a generation of potential female athletes.  I’m talking, of course, about…

High school gym class.

I blame Presidents Eisenhower, Kennedy and Johnson.  President Eisenhower established The President’s Council on Youth Fitness to counter reports that America’s youth were fat, lazy and sloppy.  Oops – seems like everything old is new again.

The scope was enlarged by President Kennedy, and in 1966, President Johnson established the Presidential Physical Fitness Award for exceptional achievement by 10- to 17-year-old boys and girls.

And that’s when trouble really started.

Schools started trying to whip their students into shape to win those damn awards.  My high school was no exception.  It was brutal.

First of all, I’m pretty sure they hired gym teachers educated in 1930‘s Germany and/or the Soviet Union. The frauleins were all sadistic dictators with whistles who showed no mercy.  God help the girl who was not naturally athletic.  Like me.

Secondly, we had to do all kinds of crazy sh*t.  We played crab soccer.  Yeah – I said crab soccer.  WTF?  And they made everybody play basketball – even the little, short, plump girls with no coordination.  Like me.

We had gymnastics and apparently everybody was expected to dance across a balance beam like Olga or Nadia.  Or flip over the vault a la Cirque de Soleil.  Or swing around the uneven parallel bars like monkeys in heat.  It was terrifying to your normal, typical, un-athletic, short, nerdy high schooler.  Like me.

Oh yeah – and we did all of this wearing these Orange is the New Black little one-piece numbers – our “gym suits” – that we were actually required to buy.  Like with our own money.  Talk about adding insult to injury…

Thirdly, they couldn’t just torture us in the gym or outside crab soccering.  No.  The agony ratcheted up to a whole new level when, four times a year, we were herded into…

The pool.  The indoor pool to be precise.

So no matter how frigid the Pittsburgh winter was outside, the temperature inside was always a balmy 65 degrees with the water being a roasty toasty 65 degrees as well.  Lovely.

Inevitably, swimming was in the middle of the school day.  You had five minutes to change into your swimsuit.  I don’t know what happened if it took you longer than five minutes.  We were too scared to find out.  Such was the fear of the Commandant…

Then it was jump in the pool in the deep end and tread water in the middle of the pool until the teacher told you to stop.  We treaded for hours.  Maybe that’s an exaggeration.  And you didn’t dare reach for the edge if you were tired or you’d have to tread for another two hours.  Again, possible exaggeration.

Exhausted, you would look up to the bleachers and enviously see the gaggle of “the unclean”.  These were the girls who had notes from their mothers telling the Commandant that it was “their time of the month”.  Since swimming lasted six weeks, every girl was pretty much guaranteed at least one week of “unclean time-out” unless they were slightly…ah…“irregular”.  Like me.  Ick.

We had ten minutes to get our suits off, jump in the communal (oh God I wanted to die) shower, get dried off, dressed and dry our hair.  Everybody in our class was bonded by mutual misery.  Sisters in suffering.  Good times.

We did synchronized swimming our senior year.  And we were awful.  That part was kind of fun because Comrade Gym Teacher would really get upset with us and blow her whistle.  A lot.  At that point we didn’t give a flying fig.  Senioritis had set in.

Over 44 years have passed since AGMA’s last high school gym/swim class.  Normally time tends to mellow distant unpleasant memories.

Nope…

I’m just glad I’ve been able to live a semi-normal life and don’t go into a catatonic trance watching women’s gymnastics.

I think I’m going to lobby the IOC to make crab soccer an Olympic event.  It’s really a beautiful game.

The lulumumu

mumu2

A couple of months ago an article somebody shared on Facebook screamed “Read me!” Who was I to argue with the vast knowledge and sage wisdom of Facebook?  But I’m glad I read it.  I discovered that the latest casual fashion trend for women is wearing workout-type clothes to do shopping, run errands, and general “stuff”.

BINGO!!

Finally the rest of the world is coming around to my notion of fashion where the stretchy waistband is king!  Long live Spandex!

Then I read the rest of the article.  You know there had to be a “rest of the article”.  It’s just not any workout-type clothes that women are tooling around in.  It’s high fashion, high price tag-type designer workout clothes.  Your lululemons, Alo Yogas, Bia Brazils…

Major buzz kill.

I like casual clothing.  Ever since I quit my hamster-wheel corporate job nearly ten years ago, I’ve worn pretty much nothing but casual clothes.  Loose fitting, stretchy, comfy clothing.  They give everything a chance to “breathe”, if you know what I mean. It’s healthier.  Tight stuff just doesn’t get enough oxygen to the areas of your body that need it.  Tight stuff can cause issues.  I’m pretty sure there’s no scientific evidence for that.  Let’s just say I have anecdotal evidence.  TMI.

But as much as I love really comfortable, loose clothing,  as God as my witness,  I will never, ever again wear a mumu.  Das ist verboten.  I have bad flashback episodes of women in their 50‘s & 60’s wearing mumu’s when I was growing up in the 1960’s.  It was pretty traumatizing for a young girl.

I sewed a mumu for myself for a tropical themed school dance when I was in 8th grade. In the name of all that’s holy, what was I thinking?  I looked like Shrek covered with a large orange floral tablecloth.  My date was enchanted I’m sure.  Oh – we never went out again…

For those of you who don’t know or don’t remember, a mumu is basically yards and yards and yards of usually large floral print fabric with sleeves and a collar.  You can either wear a mumu or go camping with it and use it as a tent.  Think of them as anti-lululemon outfits.

But then again, retro is in style again.  Maybe they could come out with a lulumumu. Slap that little curly-q horseshoe on it and I bet it would sell for big $$.  I hear designers are stealing people’s ideas from Pintrest.  Hmmmm…  If you see the lulumumu in the stores in six months, just remember you heard it on AGMA first.

But I do have a lot of athletic-type clothes because I run.  Will I start wearing them just around for the heck of it?  Probably not.  I’d look pretty goofy.  Every woman pictured wearing the gear on the websites of the designer workout clothing is incredibly fit, young, skinny, relatively flat-chested and looks tall.

To say that this does not fit the AGMA profile would be a gross understatement.  I possess none of these attributes.

But I have a good personality and a cute little donkey, so I got that going for me…