My mother worried about everything. When I was small I solved one of my worries by deciding there was no such thing as a real vampire.
After that worry went away, I said: “Now what will I worry about?” As if it were my life’s destiny to become a veteran worrier. Or perhaps an obligation to carry on the family tradition by taking up the mantle of being a lifetime worrier.
And is it any surprise that one of my five children decided to mimic Mom?
If I could undo this role, I would.
It occurred to me that I should share what I worry about and maybe that would rid me of future worries.
Then I wondered what if my worries aren’t big enough to worry about? Just empty illusions of worry. A sham all the way around.
What if your worries are more substantial than mine? What is your biggest fear? What keeps you up at night?
Full disclosure. Here are mine:
1. I worried since I was in grade school that someone would find out I had a ringing in my ears. Tinnitus before its time.
2. I am worried I am writing or thinking about writing all the time and may be staying indoors too much.
3. I am worried that the built-in microwave is going to drop on the eyes of the counter top and break.
4. I am worried that the heating pad will somehow cause a fire.
5. I am worried about my friends in Sierra Leone who have to deal with serious issues like avoiding Ebola.
Are all of these true? No. Figure out which ONE IS NOT TRUE. I’ll draw one from the lot of correct guesses and send you my new book! The real deal. Send your answer to me by March 1 at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The shock of my life was walking into my basement a week ago to discover that my fake Christmas tree had been stolen.
First I suspected my daughter — the one visiting from Australia. Surely she’d thrown the delapidated tree out while cleaning out her stuff for Goodwill. She’d tidied up the basement quite nicely so luckily something kept me from mentioning it right away! Lucky me because something began niggling at me and then turned into a lightning bolt.
After years of procrastination, I’d finally given that tree away last year knowing I WOULD HAVE TO find a new one this year. Only I didn’t realize it would come so quickly. I can’t tell you the four letter words that ran through my mind.
Just returning from a Thanksgiving trip which had extended into December, I was officially running late for Christmas this year. Plus, THE Christmas dinner was at my house.
Seeds of panic nestled quite nicely inside my psyche.
I went out and looked at all the traditional places. Target, Costco, and several others — all the while recalling my sister had every single Christmas ornament in place by N O V E M B E R 1. (Did you get that? NOVEMBER 1) Then I quelled the angst and remembered that last year, I’d finally pulled my Christmas decorations up in February. I love Christmas. I hang onto it. So my strategy is on the other end of the spectrum. My sister puts hers up early, I leave mine up late. Same difference.
I’ll tell you the cliff hanger to this story — Last week I finally ordered a tree from Overstock.com with free shipping to be delivered to my door in … now almost three days. I am a deadline driven person. The belated Christmas tree arriving in the St. Nick of time is proof.
So all of this to tell you I hope you have a warm and merry Christmas and a happy meaningful holiday season!
As I walked through the lobby of the Yarrow Hotel at the 30th Sundance Film Festival, a young woman wearing shiny red boots, a heavy winter coat and a red star enhanced with gold in her dark hair stopped me in my tracks.
“Are you Wonder Woman?” I asked. Then Sara Fischel flashed me the full package.
Sara, a videographer and actor, turned her camera on me and asked why I was interested in Wonder Woman. WW was the only female — other than Lois Lane — who ever looked like she was having an adventure. A strong female hero for young women. And still the film industry does not do her justice. I could have talked all night.
Periodically through the festival I saw Sara dancing in the street and wandering around videotaping and being photographed. A delightful personality who’s focused on her career.
Other surprising moments bordered from wacky to serendipitous and flat astounding.
Meaghan Rath, a Canadian film and television actor, who portrays Sally Malik on the series Being Human, walked by my son Philip and I in a narrow hallway while we were in line waiting to see her in a Slamdance movie Three Night Stand. My son is a big fan and acted quickly. “Meaghan, could I have a picture with you?”
She whirled around flashing a celebrity smile. I grabbed his iPhone and snapped it. “We can go home now!” he laughed.
Whimsical moments occurred that were astounding. And here’s another one.
Phil and I were lucky enough to have passes, which meant priority seating. For our first movie, we sat in the middle surrounded by rows of empty seats. A young woman walked over and asked if she could sit down in the seat next to me.
“What do you do?” I asked.
“I”m an actor.” The conversation sped up. When Loren Fenton explained that she worked mostly in the New York area, Philip leaned in and asked if she knew Nisi Sturgis, a lifelong friend of his sister, and my daughter, Benjie Ruth Bartos. Loren shot her head back and looked at us as if we were pranking her. Her eyes grew wide.
“Yes, I’ve worked with Nisi on several projects!”
I whipped out my phone, asked a stranger to shoot us, which I then texted to Nisi, who minutes later sent back a text of delightful surprise that we’d met! It was uncanny that Loren just happened to select the empty seat next to me with an ocean of empty seats available. Coincidence?
In another theater, Philip and I watched as a mass of attendees searched for seats. A woman asked if the seat next to me was taken. I said no and when she was settled, I asked, “And what do you do?”
“I’m a filmmaker.” And when Frances Bodomo, originally from Ghana, said she had directed Afronauts, Philip nearly leapt out of his chair across me. “That’s all my Mom has talked about for days. Really, you can’t imagine how much she is dying to see it.” And it was true.
Having lived in Africa, I was intrigued when I first heard of Afronauts because the story was so provocative. http://powderroomfilms.com/film/afronauts/ Bodomo, also a writer, works for a film company. It was a grand moment when the image from her short film eased across the big Sundance Screen.
Of course, I could say a good time was had by all. But that would not convey the experience of having being among so many creative people.
At the end of each movie, the director, producer and sometimes the stars, appeared on stage to answer questions. One young man — I don’t remember which film — made the most memorable comment.
“Honestly, I didn’t know what I was doing.”
A courageous comment and a moment of inspiration for us all.
After a robust and healthy Christmas with family, Influenza A paid me a visit.
A full-blown achiever, I was glad it was Influenza A, rather than Influenza B. (Not endowed with medial expertise, I admit freely I knew nothing distinguishing the two flues.)
But I can tell you about Tamiflu, the medication.
After five days of taking it, I read The New York Times headline:
“Power Vacuum in Middle East Lifts
Militants.” (Jan. 5, 2014)
I stared at the headline and the image before me was a sparkling prototype – something new to help my unforgiving carpet. Now think about that for a moment. Power Vac. Five minutes later I reread it. Oh, that’s not a new vacuum cleaner. Thoroughly disappointing.
Coming out of the flu stupor after ten days on the couch, I reflected on my forced house arrest.
The first two days I could not endure noise or light. Bummer. Nix television, which can be a lifesaver when you’re not even up to thinking.
I wrestled with life while wallowing in pain. I was determined not to give this to another living soul. My grown children delivered meds or soup to my door, which I only opened after they were safely in their vehicles.
Convinced that drugs alter our brains, I can now testify that Tamiflu can make you half crazy. On a few evenings I thought I saw the Grim Reaper. But, he vanished when my lids closed. And luckily, I was still there the next morning.
I snuggled into my pillow and relaxed on the couch again and drifted off, realizing later I might want to write about it – if I curvived. So I jotted down a word here, a sentence there so I wouldn’t forget.
All I can say is that these pills, which looked incredibly harmless, were mind blowing.
A twinge of a sore throat hit me while driving back from a meeting in Denver.
LIttle did I realize that I actually had a “pre-cold.” Amazing the education you receive from the pharmaceutical companies. ( Is Pre-Pre cold next?)
My nose dripped and sneezes came at regular intervals with, you know, the hack, hack, hack of a cough.
I feigned a “it’s just a cold” for 24 hours and then ended up thinking I was okay to face the world. Went over to my daughter’s house to watch her paint her baby’s room. One hour in and I announced, “I can’t do this anymore.” She walked me to the door, told me she’d bring me meds later and I went home to bed for the day which turned into several days.
Thanks pinterest.com and
Five things NOT to do when you have the flu.
1. Don’t allow anyone in your house or abode. … except the pizza man.
That means the UPS man, your boyfriend, your children or grandchildren or the friendly solicitor. And I was kidding about the pizza man. Do you really want to give him the flu?
2. Don’t panic when you’re running out of groceries. Consider it an imposed diet. Sit back and lose a couple.
Eat canned soup and saltines. When you feel somewhat better, clean out your fridge by eating everything in it. A liquid diet is also good.
3. Don’t watch the news. Watch all those Halloween horror movies with no guilt. If you’re not sure which is which, call me.
Or come up with something more helpful, like reading…if you can. But when I’m sick, I’m in favor of dulling my brain and my face with ice and vegging out on the couch. If I take sinus tablets, no matter the assurances on the box, they always knock me out.
4. Don’t wait to collect items for your flu kit.
In case you haven’t had the opportunity, prepare your flu kit. Make sure you have a strong flashlight, a magnifying mirror, a digital thermometer, Campbell’s Chicken Noodle Soup, Jello, tea bags, lemon, honey and cold and sinus medication.
5. Don’t procrastinate.
If you aren’t better in three days, call a doctor or start a diary. Describe the way you feel especially the type of headache you have. So after your procrastination a week later, you’ll have something definitive to tell the doctor.
Oh, and good luck! A flu shot might be a good idea.
In case any of you are dreaming of the next season coming up, I’ll give you a hand.
I may be the only one applauding when the lightning and thunder roll in with late afternoon clouds storming and performing proclaiming summer is on its way out.
In the early days, I never disclosed that I didn’t like a particular season. At least not openly. Our family spent hot steamy summers in Waco, Texas and I loved absolutely every minute of it, primarily because of the love.
In later years I realized the truth of the matter was I adored the ocean.
If I couldn’t live near the sea to breath in the damp air and smell those summer breezes as they washed over me, then I wanted the snow.
And that’s where I ended up. Near the mountains where snow is plentiful.
Yesterday someone reminded me that once snow fell as early as September 19. My body relaxed. Snow was on its way.
And I was delighted.
But something niggled at the back of my psyche. I knew better than to look backwards so I’d become an advocate of looking forward. But, what about being present in the moment?
What about loving where we are right now? This minute. What about looking out our window and appreciating what we have?
What about our goal for today, just today?
What about the now?
(Thanks Pinterest for lightning and ocean photos. Snow photo by Darla)
I learned this from a visiting friend as she was sipping sweet tea on my patio. We’d been friends since the seventh grade and were catching up. I mentioned I might look for a job.
With a smile, she suggested I become a sleep lady.
Before I could say I wasn’t that kind of woman she told me what a sleep lady does.
A busy mom hires a person to help her child fall asleep.
What? Are you kidding me?
I know, I know. It sounded bogus. I thought she was surely joking, but as it turned out a woman she knew parlayed that talent into $4000 over a period of weeks.
Apparently, a woman with a high-powered job brought her child home from the hospital, and since she had to have slept to work the next day, she hired a sleep lady.
Flashes from the past raced through my head. Sleepless nights and rocking chairs and holding little ones.
As she continued talking, I felt sympathy for the woman who was not able to stick with her child through the night. Or, of course, to let the child cry and eventually learn to fall asleep on its own.
I do sympathize big time with sleep deprivation both for babies and parents. And I’ve run into some strange ways people solve the problem.
Two parents in our New Jersey neighborhood years ago put their infant in the car every night and one of them would drive around the neighborhood until the child fell asleep. I know. I know. I couldn’t believe it either.
I took a sip of tea and brought my mind back to my friend who told me of another new job that had astounded her.
One woman had created quite a reputation for handling head lice issues. You call her after the school notifies you that the scourge has hit your child’s classroom.
The remedy years ago was shampooing everyone and everything in the family with a heavy-duty solution. I remember having to do that a couple of times with my own children.
Washing the bed linens and spraying anywhere their sweet little heads might have touched, including couches, carpet, etc.
And then using a special comb to literally inspect each strand of hair to make sure you’d gotten all of the nits.
I’ll bet the woman who de-liced the house plus the family cost a fortune. And believe me, it was worth every penny.
After my friend left, I became obsessed with searching for unusual jobs. It fascinated me, really. Until I found this one.
I knew this revolution of technology was whizzing by at lightning speed but it was unclear to me how deeply it penetrated the world of my grandchildren until the thirteen-year-old asked the six-year-old, “Do you have a device?”
It took a split second for the younger one to understand what her older cousin was asking. She concentrated for a second, then her eyes looked up at her cousin and she smiled.
Oh, yeah, the younger grandchildren had recently become acquainted with my Kindle, Mac Air and iPhone — both the new and old one. Plus, sometimes, they would bring their mothers’ iPads with them.
You see, the older North Carolina cousins had come to town and were in the beginning phase of getting reacquainted with the younger cousins whose ages ranged from two to seven.
Technology worked magic and I watched as if I had specimens in a lab. Instantly, smiles hit the crowd and each one furiously concentrated. Silence reigned throughout the house.
The youngest was four at this first session. The game of the hour, the day, the week was Minecraft, a game described as placing blocks to build anything you can imagine. The piled up in the kids’ room on the beds, the floor, the chair. As they continued to work diligently, their faces grew weary after about an hour and half.
Apparently they were building a project together. It seemed that someone was building a bedroom that interfered with another’s closet. And an argument broke out. Ahh, the peace and quiet was over. The grownups took them off the devices. After much pleading, we agreed they could resume at 3 p.m. That was FIVE hours later! What were they to do?
Outisde it was warm and filled with possibilities. The youngest hunted for rocks and the others chatted and brought out a few books. After a few hours, the asked for the time. 1 p.m. “Two more hours!” one of them exclaimed.
Blowing bubbles kept them busy for some time.
When it hit high 90s I told them to come in and I handed them paper and crayons and pencils and pens. I was struck with brilliance. “Organize what you are going to do on Minecraft.”
Well, they negotiated and planned and you would have thought they were engineers.
The detail and unimaginable creativity was phenomenal. The five children continued and demonstrated tremendous skills in negotiating, researching and planning as they kept an eye on the clock.
They had fun. And they raced upstairs at 2:55 p.m.
Cousins from North Carolina recently came to Colorado to meet their local cousins and also the ones from Idaho. I was reminded that the best icebreaker for children of varying ages was shopping at the mall.
Youngsters are driven to the mall at an early age by splashy truck and doll commercials, which escalate into trendy outfits and then, tadaaaaaa, the expensive device commercials like iPhones, the nook and kindle. But devices were off the table this day. Apparently they were all waiting until the “appropriate age” for them, as well as the funding. But they had wrangled deals with their parents and had a small stash of dollars tucked inside their jeans.
And — get ready for this — wait for it, wait for it — they’re off!
But what are they shopping for?
Even the youngest of the shoppers, age 4, had been programmed by flashy commercials of the finest and latest brand new toys, trinkets and devices. They were ready for exchange.
As I watched them, I saw some of the finest conversation and decision making.
For instance, one of the younger ones found out that the object costs not $20, but $21.99. I was comforted by the way the older children — 11 and 13 — offered assistance to the younger ones who were learning about that charming three letter word – tax!
As they traveled the brightly lit corridors filled with windows designed to lure them inside, I marveled at our amazing children. As I offered to pay the tax, my oldest son reminded me that I needed to let them figure it out. That was their introduction to budgeting. Oh, yeah, I remember teaching him something like that a long time ago.