The Tale of Louis and Fanny

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I’m a nice person.  Most of the time.  Kinda bitchy the rest of the time.  Just ask my husband.

Wonder who will show up today?  The classic Jekyll and Hyde conundrum…

I’m fortunate to know a few people who are truly, sincerely nice. From a healthy place.  That’s important…  They are amazing; almost saintly in their compassion, care and concern for others.  It’s just not in their DNA to be mean and nasty.  Or bitchy.  I would not be one of these people.

When I’m Dr. Jekyll, I AM a nice person.  A really nice person.  But sometimes I can overdo it with the nice.  Too nice.  Doormat nice. That’s when nice is not from a healthy place.  Dysfunctional nice. Not long after we cross over doormat nice, Ms. Hyde shows up.

I’ve found that you just can’t “force” nice.  When you try to force the square peg of “nice” in the round hole of “where no nice should ever be forced to go”, you end up with a messed up peg.  A cranky, nasty peg.   At least I do.  Paging Ms. Hyde….Ms. Ubetter Hyde…..

A few months ago, author Nancy Horan was on The Diane Rehm Show on NPR.  The topic was Nancy’s latest novel Under the Wide and Starry Sky.  It’s a novel about Robert Louis Stevenson and his ten years to his senior wife, Fanny Osbourne.  Nancy said Louis, as he was called, had a horrible dream one night that inspired him to start writing a new novel.  After writing nearly nonstop for three days, he had written 30,000 words.  I can barely write 400 in week… Anyway, Louis read what he had written to Fanny.  She didn’t like it. He didn’t like it that she didn’t like it.  Fanny thought he was being too narrow, too confining with one of the character’s sins.  But she saw the potential.  Fanny told Louis that he had the opportunity to write a truly great allegory that would be timeless and apply to all humanity if he would just widen his gaze.  Louis was a smart man – he listened to his wife.  Very smart.  He burned his first manuscript and in three more days, wrote another 30,000 words that eventually became The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.  And the rest, as they say, is history…

Yin and yang, light and darkness, love and hate, nice and nasty, plums and prunes.  The duality of life.  Putting two people together to make one.  Or splitting one apart to make two.  Like death, nobody escapes.

I guess even the incredibly nice people I know have their struggles with Mr./Ms. Hyde.  Maybe they’re just more successful than most in minimizing the “power of the dark side”.  Or in accepting it and thereby transforming all of that negative juju.  That’s a lesson I’m still learning.

You know the old adage you can tell how nice a person really is by how they treat a food server?

Okay, I’m feeling better about myself now.

Pb to Au

“It’s all good!”  I don’t know the origin of this much beloved, contemporary phrase, but I use it all the time.  Is this a bad thing?  How can it be a bad thing if “it’s all good?”  I find this confusing.

Urban Dictionary has 16 definitions – and I use the term “definition” loosely – for “it’s all good.”  I really haven’t been exposed to Urban Dictionary very much.   Quite interesting.  Uses the “F” word a lot.

But among the interesting takes on “It’s all good” – not using the “F” word” – is this:

“ “Platitude that covers so many emotions and situations that it says little; its only real meaning is that the speaker is trying to rise above whatever problem exists, without expressing their underlying negative emotions.  (They might be angry, sad, upset, frustrated, hurt, disappointed, etc.)  Often used in a passive-aggressive way.  Rarely, used compassionately for someone else, trying to make them feel better.  A favorite of inarticulate teens; fills in the gaps between: like, dude, dudette, whatever, so, I dunno, hey, etc.

Ariel: “I’m breaking up with you.”

Campbell: “Whatever. It’s all good.” ”

I resent the fact that I am being referred to as an inarticulate teen because – yeah – that’s how I use it.  Exactly how I use it.  And I’m not inarticulate.  Or a teen.  Oh, so not a teen…

But because I don’t use “dude”, “dudette”, “so”, “I dunno”, and “hey”, should I create a new definition in Urban Dictionary?  I DO use ‘like’ and “whatever”.   I mean, like, doesn’t everybody?  Can I split hairs like that?  Whatever…

When I say “it’s all good”, it is definitely NOT all good.  And I think that’s how most people use it, right?  I mean, is it really good for you?

I decided not to go running tomorrow because it’s supposed to rain – maybe – and I’m drinking too much wine tonight.  “It’s all good!”

My husband & I bought our plane tickets to go 1000 miles to visit our son, but he discovered a conflict for the weekend so we actually can’t come to visit.  “It’s all good!

I ate a whole box of Girl Scout Thin Mint Cookies today.  “It’s all good!”

The cat just threw up all over the carpet on the steps.  “it’s all good!”

Sorry I didn’t remember your birthday.  “It’s all good!”

I really thought my life would turn out so much differently… better, more fulfilling.  “It’s all good!”

Bruce Lee is credited with saying, “As you think it, so shall you become.”  Maybe that’s why I say “it’s all good.”  I want it to be all good when it’s not.  Desperately.

Mental alchemy.  Hmmm…It might actually be easier to turn lead into gold…

No Close Ups!

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I have to buy lightbulbs today. To some this might seem like a simple, mindless task of daily living. To me, it’s become a task full of trauma, gnashing of teeth, and denial.

Once upon a time, in the good old energy-wasting days of the 90’s, you’d go to your local hardware or discount retail store and see shelf after shelf full of beautiful 40, 60, 75 and 100 watt soft-light incandescent lightbulbs in clever, multi-bulb packages all eager to jump off the shelf into your cart. It was a splendid sight. Okay – maybe I’m exaggerating…  But there were lots of bulbs to choose from and they were all pretty cheap. Except the extended life ones. I always wondered how “extended” their lives really were. I mean, who keeps track?

Now, I have to ask a store clerk where the incandescent bulbs are on the light bulb shelves because I can’t find them. I think they try to hide the few they have for kicks just to frustrate those of us of a certain age. Then, when you find them, you have a choice between two 4 packs of 60 watt bulbs and a 2 pack of 100 watt bulbs. How did this happen?  When did this happen?

A number of years ago, I do remember half listening to a news story about the possible phasing out of incandescent light bulbs in favor of the more energy efficient, but more expensive LED, florescent, and halogen bulbs. Dismissing it as hearsay nonsense that would never make it past our Tea Party/Libertarian “defenders of the right to buy any lightbulb we damn well please”, I ignored it.

But The Energy Independence and Security Act was indeed signed into law by then President George W. Bush in 2007. What?? No wonder the Tea Party mobilized for the 2008 election…

Evidently the 75 and 100 watt incandescents were phased out in 2013. The 40 and 60 bulbs are the latest to go as of the beginning of 2014. Oh, the humanity! I’ve moved four times since 2007, restarted my little business twice plus one of my sons got married. I’ve been busy, but I honestly didn’t think I was that THAT preoccupied. I don’t know how I missed this. I could have stocked up!

Have you seen the light from those LED, florescent and halogen bulbs? Harsh, glaring and unnatural. Ugly. Flashbacks to my Junior High girl’s bathroom [shiver] and every morgue scene you’ve ever seen on film. And you know how those corpses looked…

Thirty years ago, this would not have been a personal crisis. However, I’m at an age now where gentle, friendly lighting is my friend. A very good friend. My best friend. Possibly a lover. As a teenager, I remember hearing stories about Doris Day being filmed thought gauze. Now I understand. With age comes great wisdom and insight, but also the need for gentle, soft lighting.

I’m a fervent supporter of policies/legislation that deal with environmental protection, finding “green” alternatives and developing clean, renewable sources of energy. But, seriously, everything has it’s limits. Oh, I know that the “new” ugly bulbs pay for themselves in two years and have an unnaturally long life. I’m sure some of the bulbs I buy today will outlive me. There’s my happy thought for the day…  And I realize that I’ll be saving money every month while becoming more energy efficient and helping to do my share to reduce toxic emissions from coal-fired power plants. It’s everything I support. I just don’t want my house looking like my Junior High bathroom. Or a morgue.

Mr. DeMille, looks like I’ll never be ready for that close-up unless I can get some gauze. Lots of gauze.

The Wisdom of Archie Bunker

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I love the 1970’s sitcom All in the Family.  To this day.  Wikipedia says All in the Family “broke ground in its depiction of issues previously considered unsuitable for U.S. network television comedy, such as racism, homosexuality, women’s liberation, rape, miscarriage, abortion, breast cancer, the Vietnam War, menopause and impotence.”  It must be true – we all know that Wikipedia is always right all the time…

The main character, Archie Bunker, is a working class World War II vet who is outspokenly bigoted against anybody and everybody who isn’t a red-blooded American male heterosexual WASP.  Carroll O’Conner was brilliant in creating a complex, humorous character who was both repulsive and lovable at the same time.  Archie’s traditional way of living is being threatened by the huge cultural, political and economic upheavals occurring in American society in the 60‘s and 70‘s.  He longs for the good old days when “girls were girls and men were men” and people like him were in charge of everything.

I’m pretty sure my dad didn’t get that Archie was a stereotype of the “old guard”.  He liked Archie and the way he thought about the world.  Yep – that would be my dad.  In a way, my dad was Archie Bunker.   Minus the humor and lovability.

But in the show, no matter what happens between the main characters, they always come back together in the end because they are family.  Their bonds of love and connection allow them to overcome or at least set aside their differences.  As a young woman, I believed this could happen.  I believed that family love and affection could overcome any discord or differences.  What a naive sucker…

My brother is now in his 70’s.  He is, in many ways, like Archie Bunker.  Minus the humor and lovability.  Sound familiar?  America is again experiencing seismic cultural and political shifts.  The demographics of the country are changing dramatically.   The “old guard” is again in an uproar in the face their rapidly decreasing control and influence.  Pandora’s Box is open and there is no putting the lid back on, but don’t try to tell them that.  They want time to go backward.  It doesn’t work that way unless you have a flux capacitor and a DeLorean.

I have a different view.  I think that, on the whole, the changes represent progress.  Not perfection by any means, but steps in the right direction.  I realize that this is my opinion.  I realize that other people have different opinions.  And I respect people’s rights to have a different opinion.  Pretty shocking.   One of the strengths of the Great American Experiment has been how we handle the struggle with the diversity of opinions held by our citizens, and use that struggle to emerge as stronger nation.  Queue flag waving.

My brother disagrees.  He disagrees so vehemently that he has cut off all contact with me.  WTF?  Archie and Bonehead would argue violently but then make up in the end.  Didn’t he see that part of the show?

My brother and I haven’t really argued.  He’s tried many times to “get into it” with me, but I refuse to take the bait.  Knowing that we’ll never find common ground politically and culturally, I really wanted to focus on other aspects of our lives and relationship.  You know, the stuff that we won’t argue about which is like 80% of everything else.

This strategy worked for a while.  Then the Presidential election of 2012 came along.  Evidently I was single handedly responsible for the outcome.  Honestly, I didn’t even put the Obama sticker on my car…

But the damage was done; the die was cast.  I am officially the enemy.  Facebook became the battleground.  Seriously…  95% of my FB posts are about drinking wine, cute animals and our latest vacation.  The other 5% is “hey, you might want to think about this” stuff.  No posts with made up facts or name calling or rubbing anything in.  Just a request to think.  Clearly he feels this is subversive.

I put up with his tirades like a dutiful younger sister until he started calling my friends (who represent a broad political spectrum) unkind names because they didn’t think the reality TV show Duck Dynasty was very good.  Huh?  My multiple requests for civility didn’t go over well.  For the past 3 months, he has not reciprocated to any attempt to contact him.

This all makes me very, very sad.  Life is so incredibly short, especially at our age.  In the end, all of that other nonsense really doesn’t matter does it?  In the end, it’s the love we carry in our hearts for our family and friends, and the love that they carry for us that gives our life it’s richness and meaning.

For all of his flaws, Archie understood that.  I just wish my brother did.

 

 

 

The Eternal Optimist

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The phrase “sleeping on an international flight” is an oxymoron.  Like honest politician.  There’s no such thing.  At least for me.

Let me start by saying, I know that I’m extremely fortunate.  I’ve been able to travel across the Atlantic 16 times in the past 12 years for vacations.  Awesome!  But the sum total of sleep I’ve had in the air on all those trips is around 35 hours.  Total.  Not only do I look nasty and smell “fragrant” when I get to my final destination, but I’m cranky.  Because I’m tired.  Sometimes really cranky.  My husband will vouch for this.

Most international flights leave at night and get you to your destination early in the morning.  I don’t like this.  I want to leave at noon so I don’t have to be wide awake all by myself.  My husband sometimes falls asleep before the plane takes off.  Bastard.

International flights are the last remaining habitat of that almost extinct species – free airplane food.  They feed everybody dinner about an hour after reaching the mystical, magical “cruising altitude”.  Like sometimes at 11 PM.  The airlines are wiley in this…  They know that, like cats, airline passengers will sleep when their tummies are full.  The cabin lights dim.  All gets quiet.  That’s when I start my own version of “Walking Dead”.

So now it’s midnight and I’ve been up since 5 AM the previous morning doing the stuff that you have to do before you go away for 2 weeks.  I’m tired – damned tired.  Like Sally Bowles in Cabaret, I think “Maybe this time….”    I walk up and down the dark aisles, lit dimly by the light of an occasional video screen.  And I see a sea of people before me, representing all nationalities, races, religions – blissfully snoozing.  A beautiful cross section of humanity.  But at the moment, I hate them all.  I’m wide awake.

Working against me is that my territory for sleeping is a seat designed more for folks from the Lolllipop League.  In the good old days before the bust, you could sometimes snag a whole row of middle seats and pretend you were in first class by actually lying down.  Usually with the folded up arm rests prodding and poking sensitive areas.  But you could actually almost stretch out and get parallel to the ground.  Or water.  This occasionally worked for me.. I would sleep for a couple of hours   But empty rows don’t happen anymore.  I’ve had to lower my expectations.  Now, one empty seat next to me will wash waves of excitement over me.

I’ve tried over the counter sleeping aids, pharma sleeping aids, health food store sleeping aids, drinking electrolytes and massive amounts of water (too many trips to the loo…), counting sheep, meditation, listening to calming music, pre-trip sleep deprivation, compression socks, soft jammies and most combinations of the above.  You get the picture.  I’m a mess on long flights.

So I now just accept that I am gong to feel like crap for the the first couple of days of an international trip.  And not whine about it.  At least, not much.  I think I’ve said before, I’m a slow learner…  I’ve decided that it’s totally worth 18 to 24 hours of no sleep to be able to see and hear and taste amazing things, meet amazing people, do amazing things.

But like a Jamaican Olympic bobsled team, hope springs eternal.

Maybe next time!

Bah Humbug!

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Here I am again, at 11,000 feet again.  Flying to the Left Coast.  Fast.  Because after all, I’m still on hiatus and there are places to go and people to see. 

I’m headed Down Under later in the week.  The land of Oz.  Kangaroos and koalas.  Home of Crocodile Dundee and Steve Irwin.  I still haven’t gotten over Steve Irwin…

An interesting thing happens when you cross the Pacific from the US to Australia on a trip like this.  That is, aside from angsting about being cooped up in a tiny pressurized cabin for 18 hours miles above a huge expanse of seeming-less never ending ocean.  Not that I’m worried…   Anyway, when you cross the International Date Line right after American Samoa and right before Tonga, you lose a day.  I mean a day disappears – poof, goodbye.  It’s as if it never existed.  And on this trip, I’m losing Valentines Day.  Just a jump from February 13 to February 15 with nothing in between.

No chocolates, hearts, flowers or cards.  No romantic dinner by candlelight.  No “He went to Jared’s!” moment.  No breathless whispers.   Just business as usual without the pressure of unrealistic expectations.  I kinda like that.

I’ve been married a long time so Valentines Day is no big deal.  It hasn’t been a big deal for quite a while.  Quite a while…  I’ve become a realist.  I hate it when that happens.

When I was younger, I thought it was a big deal.  A newly wed me fantasized about how Valentines Day every year might play out.  How my “Prince Charming” and I would gaze into each other’s eyes and whisper sweet nothings and melt into each other’s arms.  We would be dizzy in our love.  What a couple of crazy kids we would be!

Early on my poor husband tried to muster up the enthusiasm for all of this Valentine “stuff”.   Sort of.  Actually, it all seemed a bit silly to him and it was pretty obvious.  It’s hard to put on a convincing Valentines “show” if your heart’s not in it.  Get it?  One of the follies of youth – thinking that time and tears and pouting can change something like that.  Fool me once – well – you know how it goes…  I’m a slow learner so it it took me a while to catch on.

But there are 364 other days to the year.  364 days to laugh and cry and love and hope and make a life.     Okay, 363 days – my birthday is always fairly dismal affair as well.  But hey – 363 days is a lot of days to NOT have false expectations and just to be present to what each moment of each day has to bring.  To count incredible blessings.  To appreciate the now and not live in a fantasy constructed by Hallmark, FTD and Walt Disney.  Damn those Princesses…

So I won’t miss Valentines Day.  Good riddance I say.  Bah humbug.  Let the naive young women get their hearts stomped on.  Let the clueless young men scratch their heads in puzzlement at the seemingly unfathomable and unrelenting mysteries of the female psyche.  Mars and Venus indeed!

There are 363 other days of magic to be had…  

Unless it’s a Leap Year and then I go really crazy!

 

To Everything, There is a Season and a Time for Little Debbie

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I’m at my favorite coffee shop again.  And there are babies here.  Three women just walked in with their yoga mats, each one carrying a baby car seat carrier thingy – I’m assuming each full of baby.  The disadvantage of having your favorite coffee shop 25 feet away from a yoga studio.

Not that I dislike babies.  They have their time and place, and right now it’s not in my coffee shop at this moment.  There are three of them.  What are the odds that one is going to start crying?  Hmmm – not sure about that, but I know it’s three times greater than if there was only one baby.  I don’t like it when they travel in packs.

Like most every other girl of my generation, I did the babysitting thing as a teenager.  And I literally hated every minute of it.  I had no idea what to do with kids –  how to entertain them or get them to go to eat or sleep.   I counted the minutes until their parents came home.  Seriously.  Some of my most awkward memories of those years are of my babysitting “adventures”.  One house only had Little Debbie’s to nosh on.  Really?  While taking me home after another gig, a dad told me that he couldn’t pay me enough for watching his precious children then proceeded to give me $2.50 for four hours.  I tried not to spend it all in one place.

I remember babysitting my now 42 year old niece when she was eight months old.  Home from college for the summer, it seemed a good way to get to know her while my brother and his wife went to a Rolling Stones concert.   She cried the entire time they were gone.  Non-stop.  Definitely not the baby whisperer.   I couldn’t wait until came to pick her up.  I think they were stoned.

One of the coffee shop babies has started to cry.  Vigorously.  I knew it…

Given my early experiences with children, it’s a wonder I procreated.  I guess maybe the desire to see what a child of mine would look like?  Pretty lame.  Then I found out that, at the beginning, they all look like aliens.

It turned out that, after a rough start – the oldest one always has a rough way to go with first time parents – it went pretty well.  I actually liked being a mom.  My husband and I were in love with our son.  He was the perfect child; pleasant, happy, always smiling and really, really cute.  Like “people would stop us in the mall to tell us how cute he was” cute.

Then the unexpected happened.  When our son was nine months old, I got pregnant again.  WTF??

I need to stop and tell everybody out there that all that stuff that we heard when we were young about it “only taking one time”  was more than just a scare tactic to deter pre-marital sex.  They were telling us the truth.  Prior to the big “V”, my husband and I decided to forgo birth control twice.  And I have two kids.  Lesson learned.

I know – TMI.

Life got really interesting and busy after our second son, who was born with a stogie in one hand and a six pack of beer in the other, arrived.  But I still loved being a mom.  It was the best thing I have ever done and probably ever will do.  And I had much better stuff for our babysitters than Little Debbie’s!  My apologies to all you Little Debbie lovers out there…

The coffee shop babies are gone now.  All is quiet again.  And that works for me at this stage of my life.  It’s the season of quiet. Of introspection and thoughtful reflection.  Of blog writing and spiritual contemplation.

Oh God – I can’t wait until I have grandkids!

Oh, I Think I’ve Learned That Lesson…

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Sitting in my favorite coffee shop on Tuesday “crafting” my last blog post, I watched as beautiful white snowflakes started lightly falling.  Delightful!  They started to come down harder.  Living the southern part of the US, I thought I’d better get my fanny pack home before the crazy drivers hit the road.  After all, there was a winter storm warning posted.  Really there was.  So I went home.  And then all hell broke lose.

Yes – you guessed it – I live in the Atlanta area.

I grew up in western Pennsylvania.  We either walked to school or rode on a school bus that was more like a tank than a bus.  School cancellations were rare even though we got something like 200 feet of snow a year.   Okay – I may have made that number up.  But we did get a lot of snow.  And there were a lot of hills.  I still remember my father putting chains on our car and that distinct sound when they hit the road in their rhythmic metallic monotony.   Post-tire chain banning legislation, studded tires became all the rage.  You knew winter was coming when it was time to put on the “snow” tires.

Most of my adult life, I was a Buckeye.  Ohio, home of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Schmidt’s cream puffs and Cincinnati-style chili.  Winters are not quite as bad as in Pennsylvania, but we still had plenty of snow, sleet, freezing rain and ice.  Sometimes all at once!

I was an odd ball.  I enjoyed when my kids school would get cancelled.  It meant that we could all play in the snow!   We did “snow things” – created snow angels, went sledding/saucering, built snow forts/igloos and snowmen, had snowball fights.  And at the end of the day – a huge pile of soaking wet snowsuits, jackets, gloves, hats, scarves, socks and boots by the garage door, cocoa by the fireplace, and a sound, deep sleep that night.  Fun times!

What happened in the Atlanta area this week wasn’t fun.

You all heard about it on the news so I won’t go over it again.  Depressing really.  Infuriating actually.  The news coverage was surreal.   Hopelessly clogged roadways, sheets of ice that were once interstates littered with jack knifed tractor trailers, people in leather shoes and jackets abandoning their cars in 15 degree weather after driving 3 miles in 8 hours.  The cars – out of gas, dead batteries, wrecked.  The people – hungry, thirsty, needing medications or a bathroom, sleep deprived, at their wits end…  Some walked 6 miles to get home or to shelter.

The worst of it was the children.  Hundreds stuck in unheated school busses, some in ditches.  The kids marooned at school were lucky.  They had heat and food and water and toilets and familiar adults around.  Some children made it home – eventually.  They got rides from people they knew.  They got rides from strangers.  Think about that one…  And when many got home – hungry, thirsty, exhausted and frightened – the house was empty.  Their panicked parents were out looking for them, stuck either in the unrelenting gridlock or on the many hills that were impossible to climb.

Our children.

I try not to get too political.  I hate what politics has become.  But I think the Atlanta metro area needs to suck it up, put their big boy pants on and pull them up.   We need to figure out what to do so that we never, ever allow our children to be put a risk like this again.  That might mean that each little city-state fiefdom down here might have to give up some of their autonomy.  That might mean some higher taxes for strategic transportation improvements.  That might mean hiring people who actually have experience in developing and implementing emergency/disaster strategies rather than relying on the “good old boy” network to fill critical public safety positions with political cronies.  “Brownie, you’re doing a heckuva job…”

Our elected officials say they will apply the “lessons learned” from this week’s debacle as if they were talking about the implementation of a new IT payroll system didn’t go as planned.

Really??

I hope the people of Georgia will apply their own “lessons learned” come election day.

For our children.

I Wanna Hold Your Musette!

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I was young when “Meet the Beatles” was released in the U.S.  Just barely ten years old.  I’m pretty sure I watched the Beatles on The Ed “really big shoo” Sullivan Show in February, 1964. But I’m also pretty sure I didn’t understand Beatlemania, and why all those girls were screaming and crying and ripping their hair out.  But the Fab Four faced some pretty stiff competition for attention in my ten year old life – the formidable likes of Julie Andrews, Colorforms and my Barbie!

A couple years later, I got it.  The Monkees exploded onto TV in 1966.  I was totally smitten.  Beatles smeatles – THESE guys had talent and no funny accents.  Classic!  I used to pass notes – a quaint, ancient form of texting – in school with a fellow Monkee lover.  We drew little pictures in the corners of our notes of Mikes’ cute little wool hat, ever present on his head.  Now I wonder if his head ever got hot.

I even saw them in “concert”.  I’m still not sure who actually played the instruments, but ignorance is bliss and I screamed until I had no voice.

I’d forgotten how it felt to have that primitive, star struck, visceral response that reduces you to squealing mass of tongue tied tween.  Until last summer…

I went to the Tour de France.

I’ll pause for a minute to let that sink in…

If you’re not a professional cycling fan, you won’t get it.  I’m not even sure I get it.  I don’t even ride a bike.

All I know is that I became a quivering, teeny bopping mess all over again.  I saw, live and in person, the professional cyclists I greatly admire and knew only from my Mac and flat screen TV!   Incredibly talented, world class athletes in the most grueling endurance sporting event in the world, and some of them were standing right beside me.

On the outside, I played it cool.  Most of the time.

Inside, I was a roiling, tumultuous, star struck twelve year old who just wanted to squeal, “OMG, is that Marcel Kittel sitting over there?”  and  “OMG, there’s Peter Sagan!!” and “OMG…Jens! Jens!! JENS!!!”  And sometimes, despite attempts to control myself, it just came squealing out – quietly – anyway.  I couldn’t help it.

My 36 year old Australian TDF roommate didn’t know what to make of me.  I think I scared her a little.  So, okay…you know you’re really kind of nuts if you out-crazy an Aussie cycling fan, right?  I think I scared myself a little.

But boy, did it feel good to be so thrilled and excited and passionate about something on such a gut level!  To give yourself the permission to feel that innocent joy and limitless possiblity of your youth again after so many years.  Catnip for the soul.  Fountain of youth for the spirit.  Definitely NOT aging gracefully!

Amgen Tour of California this year anybody?  I promise, I’ll try to control myself.

Or not.

Pictures From the Stall

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Time travel.  The ultimate fantasy aside from, of course, acquiring superhero powers. To join in the adventures Dr. Who, Bill and Ted, Marty McFly, Sherman and Mr. Peabody.  Just climb in that DeLorean, generate 1.21 gigawatts from Mr. Fusion, get up to 88 mph and get the party started.

I kind of time travel through old pictures.  I’m fascinated by old pictures. Like almost obsessively.  It’s so easy to get lost in the sparkling eyes of a pretty young girl with bouncing curls from a century ago.  Marvel at the perfection of a handsome young Civil War soldier in a Matthew Brady photograph.  And wonder…

I was lucky I didn’t get arrested a few weeks ago.  I was taking pictures in a public restroom.  In the stall.  There are names for people like me, I think.  But I couldn’t resist this picture. So many happy young women.  So many hopeful smiles.  So much life and energy.  So many years ahead of them.  And not one of them is alive today.  Talk about a buzz kill.

I wonder if they aged gracefully.  If they married and had children.  If they died young.  If any were gay.  If they had careers.  If life gave them roses or lemons – probably a bit of both – and how they did with that.  If they were struck down with Alzheimer’s or cancer, or allowed the grace of a full, long, lucid life.

Can you see it in their eyes?   The joy and hope and light that only blissful ignorance can bestow on the young.  Paradise of sorts.

I smile when I look at this picture.  Crankity McCranker (my alter ego) disappears for a while. They take me back to a younger me.  To a time when we all thought anything was possible and the book of life had barely been started.   The ink was still wet in the preface.  They had no way to look but forward. No regrets yet.

I wonder what advice they would give a younger me.  And if I climbed into that DeLorean today, what words of wisdom would I share with them?   They probably wouldn’t believe me anyway.  You just have to live it, don’t you?

So don’t forget to bring your camera into a public bathroom stall.  You never know what treasure lies within…

Just don’t get caught.