Boomerfest


 

I have a wicked good idea.

My husband and I just came home from a three day bluegrass and roots music festival in the beautiful Berkshire Hills of North Adams, Massachusetts. It was so much fun!

We were surrounded by an incredible amount of talent performing on four stages and in various spots around the MassMoca art museum. We danced more than we have in what feels like forever! There was also a ton of delicious and varied foods, from pizza to maple donuts to vegan tacos and gourmet grilled cheese.

And so much good beer, wine and all that mood altering deliciousness.

Wow.

This means, of course, that I am writing this blog at 8 pm on Sunday from under the covers of my bed. My sore legs and feet are propped up, there’s an ice pack on my knee, and I’ve taken my Tums and my ibuprofin. My 61 year old body feels like I’ve been in a prize fight.

Music festivals are not for sissies.

So I was thinking.

Given the fact that the original rock and roll generation is getting pretty long in the tooth, maybe these festivals should be geared more for older patrons. I mean, extra spicy bloody Marys are all well and good for all the millennials in the crowd at the Fresh Grass Festival, but what about the rest of us?

So I’ve been thinking. I have decided to put on my own music festival just for us mature types. I shall call it “BOOMERFEST”.

These are my plans so far.

Food:

Last night I got hungry for a little nosh, and I went to one of the food courts. I thought my blood sugar might have been a little low, you know? Just needed a little something to take the edge off and give me energy.

I ended up with an entire plate of sweet potato fries.

At Boomerfest, we’ll still have the pizza, the home made ice cream and the dumplings, but we’ll also offer nice fresh choices. Just to lower the likelihood of one of us keeling over from a heart attack.

Boomerfest will feature an entire food court devoted to fruits, veggies and whole grains! Of course, all the vegetables will be cooked. Raw veggies give us gas.

We’ll have a Tea Truck, too. Some of us like a little mid afternoon pick-me-up. Maybe some nice decaf tea with those little arrowroot cookies. Or some seltzer and a few crackers.

Drink:

We are keeping the Bloody Marys, the mango Mimosas and all the local beers and great wines. We are old, but we are not stupid. Why do you think they call it a “festival”?

So while we’ll have plenty of high quality hooch, we’ll also offer healthier options. I haven’t perfected the prune juice martini yet, but I think it has potential.

Health/First Aide

This is an important topic. Fresh Grass had a big first aid tent and I’m sure it had lots of logical supplies like bandages and ice packs and Narcan, but our place will be a little different.

In addition to the usual supplies, we’re going to stock antacids, laxatives (we’re away from home), denture adhesives and those little pads you can stick on your corns and bunions. We don’t need anything to get in the way of us dancing till we fall over!

Patrons will be encouraged to come in and take a few breaths if they’ve they’ve gotten too close to the stage and all those hot young musicians. Can’t be too careful.

Finally, you know how festivals often set up a fan in front of a hose, so you can get sprayed and cooled off as you go buy? Well, I’m going to set up a device that sprays sun screen down on people from above.

Older women often have thinner hair than they realize. I have had first-hand experience forgetting about my old-lady head on a sunny day and waking up the next morning to Scorched Scalp Syndrome.

And need I mention the older guys who hear one riff of an electric guitars and suddenly forget they aren’t 20 any more? The ones wearing hats won’t even notice the sunscreen spray, but it will save the baldys with the scraggly gray ponytails a boatload of pain on Monday morning.

What do you think?

Anyone want to come to my festival next summer? In the comments below, please leave your suggestions for how to make Boomerfest a safe and exciting time for everyone.

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Sure, these two are young. I gave birth to both of them.

 

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Crazy pants night thoughts


It’s been a long few days. Lots of emotion. A lot of bruises. Good food. Good drinks. Too much rain. Far too many long, long, sleepless nights.

So here is a sampling of the crazy pants thoughts that stroll through Nonni’s mind in the dark of night.

What do you think? Been there, thought that? Or am I a total nutcake?

  1. What the hell is mesothelioma and why is it advertised every 20 minutes on TV? Did I miss something, or are half of my acquaintances really at risk? CREEPY!
  2. I think that funny, innocent, misguided woman on the Progressive ads is wonderful. If I didn’t already have good car insurance, you can bet I’d go to her.
  3. When did women realize that we actually hold ALL the cards in our relationships? I grew up in the 60’s and 70’s, when it was a very big deal for women to say that we weren’t going to wear skirts to school in the snow and ice. When did we finally realize that no one could tell us what to wear? As a grandmother now, I often think about this question. It sort of just passed us by and became life as we know it.
  4. Why did we think that breastfeeding made babies better or healthier? Why did we attack each other for our baby raising choices? And have we smartened up about all this yet? Are we ready to support each other and not condemn each other for our parenting choices?
  5. What the hell is the latest theory about allergies, anyway? I had three kids, with dogs, and cats. They all had HORRIBLE allergies/asthma and I beat myself up for years because I had pets in the house. Yeah, but…..Now they say being with pets is the best thing for allergic kids. ????
  6. Why is that if I spend 100 hours and 100 dollars planning my garden, I still end up realizing that the best plants I have are the “volunteers” brought in by the birds?
  7. Why are the little birds, chicadees, sparrows, finches, so much braver and more assertive than the big, showy cardinals and bluejays?
  8. Do dogs really know when we’re sad? How can my crazy little “Devildog” Puppy know when he should come up slowly and lick my ears and cheeks until I feel better?
  9. Do young women today suffer from the same “Perfection anxiety” that dogged every woman in my generation? Do they worry about perfectly clean kitchens? Color coordinated bath towels? Organized closets?
  10. Is aging a gift or a curse? Is it too sad to know what you can’t do anymore, or is that a freeing realization as we head into the next phase?

What do you all think?

You Know You’re Getting Old When…


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When you go to a funeral and take notes, that’s a sign that you’re on the downhill slope. Open casket? Um,no. Big gathering with food and songs? Yes, please!

When you look at your puppy and wonder if you’ll have time for another one. That’s a sign, too.

If you turn on a major news channel and the financial expert looks like he’s in fifth grade, you’re old.

You can also tell that you’re getting on in years when you wake up with sore legs and aching butt muscles because last night you danced to (count ’em) two songs at your brother’s birthday party.

When you realize that it’s worth the wait for an entire year just to get to the two weeks of lilac blossoms, you’ve gained the wisdom of age.

And if you plant a baby spruce tree, just a tiny sprout, and hope that someday someone will call it “majestic”, you know that you’re getting older.

When you suddenly move your tongue around to the place where they pulled out your bottom molar years ago, and you instantly understand the meaning of the idiom “long in the tooth,” that means you’re getting on.

And finally, if you look at the newspaper and the arts pages are filled with kids whose names you don’t recognize, you’re officially old.

Come to think of it, if you look at an actual newspaper, the kind that gets dropped on your doorstep, the kind that you fold and read with your morning coffee…well. If you do that, read a newspaper made of actual paper?

You guessed it, you’re old.

What did I leave out?

Rompers, Uncles, Memories


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What an interesting, emotional time of life is middle age.

I’m finding so much joy in the smallest things. Watching Ellie sleep. Rubbing my puppy’s little belly. Eating olives and cheese with my Momma.

I’m finding so much sadness in the speed of life and how it changes. I miss my old profession, and I miss my teaching friends. Those supportive relationships meant more to me than I even knew.

And death is a more common part of my life than it once was . Losing my father, my grandparents, beloved aunts, uncles, in-laws.

But it also strikes me that one of the strangest parts of being this age is how the happy and the sad keep bumping into each other.

I have a story from today that shows that confluence of feelings. It shows how circular life is, and how nothing seems to ever really go away.

Today I opened a package of clothes I had ordered last week for my granddaughter, Ellie. It contained summer things, including the adorable little romper in the picture above. I had been planning to buy her some shorts and t-shirts, but her Mom told me that those cute one-piece rompers are popular now, so I ordered some.

And my first thought as I pulled the clothes out of the package was that my baby sister Liz and I used to wear those back in about 1960. I immediately pictured a matching pair of rompers, one pink and one blue. I remembered, more than five decades after wearing mine, how it felt with elastic gathering the material around my middle.

I also thought right away about my two Uncles, Bob and Joe. When we were little kids, and our parents were in their thirties, our Uncles were only in their teens or early twenties. They often baby sat for Liz and I and our older brother, Ed.

We were in awe of them.

We called them “Bobby and Joey” and to us they were an amazing mix of grown up and super fun. They always made us laugh. They usually gave in if we asked for something, like a cookie or a popsicle from the ice cream man.

They seemed to think we were amazing and fun, too, which made them seem like not-quite-serious adults.

One of my memories, so clear in my mind no doubt because it was traumatic, was a hot summer morning when Bobby and Joey were getting us dressed for the day. I think we were planning to go to the local playground, but I’m not sure.

I remember being excited, and I remember that I put my romper suit on. I was hoping that one of the big kid/grown ups could manage to put our hair into pony tails.

Suddenly, Uncle Joey said something that sounded alarming. It might have been, “What’s the matter?” or “What did you do?” I looked up from zipping my blue suit.

Uncle Bobby was kneeling in front of my baby sister, who was probably about two years old. She was standing perfectly still, but tears were pouring down her cheeks. Bobby and Joey both looked slightly panicked.

I remember one of them slowly unzipping Liz’s pink romper. And I remember the red line running down her skin.

She’d been caught in the zipper. Poor little kid!

I remember a whole bunch of reactions running through my four year old brain.

These two guys were definitely NOT real grown ups! And wasn’t it sweet to see how bad they both felt and how they cuddled Lizzy to make her feel better. It was funny to hear them kind of blaming each other, too. Like kids!

And, boy oh boy, this little problem better not stop us from going to the playground.

Today I smiled as I picked up Ellie’s little romper. I lifted it to my cheek to feel how smooth and soft it is. I thought about Ellie’s Uncles, Matt and Tim. My boys. How much they love her and how they play with her.

I hope that she grows up with memories of her time with them. I hope that they inspire her, as Bobby did when he refused to give up on his dream of becoming a doctor. I hope they make her laugh years after a great joke, like Joey did with me.

I hope.

We lost my funny, kind, smart, tender Uncle Bobby this morning. Right about the time I was unwrapping Ellie’s little summer outfit.

I’m definitely going to take her to the playground in it one day soon.

Oh, and I made sure that I didn’t order one with a zipper. I know my own limitations!

Thanks, Uncle Bobby. For the laughs, the love, the tender care. Sempre La Famiglia.

 

Wow! I had an adventure!


I am basically very cowardly.

I’m scared of getting hurt. I’m scared of falling. I’m scared of falling down an up escalator.

I’m a wimp.

But.

Now that I’m retired, and in my seventh decade of life, I am determined to push myself into new and exciting exploits. So last week, on school vacation, when Ellie would be safe in her Mommy’s arms, I had….an adventure.

I didn’t got to the Amazon to try to catch a piranha. And I didn’t head to Tibet to climb the Himalayas.

Still, for me, this was an awesome adventure.

I flew, all by myself, to the West Coast.

I know. You’re all in awe, right? I was dropped off at the huge, bustling Manchester New Hampshire airport. I flew. Alone. To Philadelphia. Where I had to (gulp) change planes.

And I flew all by my onesies across this beautiful country, all the way to San Francisco. Where I was met at the baggage claim by one of my oldest and dearest friends.

But that’s not all!

No, indeed. After three days with my pal Deb and her family, I flew ALL. BY. MYSELF. to Portland, Oregon. Where I was met at the airport by my friend Joanne, who I met when I was six years old.

So, I get it. Even though this was a huge adventure for me, it isn’t really such a big deal. Most people now jet around the world like it’s nothing.

But not me.

For me, this was a big, big stretch. And that’s why I’m telling you about it. For me, for 61 year old Nonni, this was a gigantic leap out of my comfort zone.

I made myself do it.

It scared me.

And it was fabulous. I got to see gorgeous places I would never have seen if I hadn’t pushed my sorry old self out the door. Places like Berkeley, California.

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If I hadn’t pushed myself out of my cozy little niche, I wouldn’t have had the chance to dip my feet in the Pacific at beautiful Ocean Beach in San Francisco.

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If I hadn’t decided that I was tired of being the world’s biggest chicken, I would never have flown up to Portland to reconnect with my buddy Joanne. The woman who bought me my very fist makeup (Max Factor Rose Cream Blush).

And if I had never gone up to Portland, I wouldn’t have met her hilarious, smart, warm, generous friends. I would never have seen the gorgeous Columbia river and the falls that pour into it.

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More importantly, I wouldn’t have learned that the way to make a REALLY dry martini is to use a spritzer for the vermouth. Amazon has already shipped mine.

People grow in many different ways. I understand that.

For me, growth means pushing and shoving and forcing myself out there into the big wide world. I made myself fly all alone when I was afraid.

I loved it.

Now I need to force myself to become a writer. I need to learn how to submit my stories, my essays, my thoughts for others to review, critique and judge. I need to overcome my fears and just. Try.

Life is constant growth, if you do it right.

I have to say it.

It’s actually pretty fun to be my age.

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Layers on layers


I used to think that each of us was born as an unformed little white dot. I thought that every experience added on a layer, and that each layer covered the ones before.

I thought that we were like pearls. Layer on layer of life, constantly growing around us until we became fully formed humans. I thought that process would just keep on going until at last we die.

Some of that is no doubt true. We grow and we change and we certainly learn as we move along the paths of our lives.

But now that I’m on the downhill slope of this life, past the midway point, I have a completely different idea.

In the past few years, my husband and I have reconnected with some of our oldest friends. These are people who knew us when we were young and foolish. When we had no real idea yet of who we’d be.

When we weren’t much more than those unformed “dots.”

These were the people who watched us struggle to learn our limits, and who watched us struggle to define our dreams. They grew with us. Our friendships were more intense than any we’d ever have again, although we didn’t know that at the time.

Eventually, we grew up. We got our degrees. We parted ways as we moved into our ‘real’ lives. We became parents. We launched our careers. We grew into our adult selves.

Layers were laid upon our layers.

Then, oh so suddenly, we found ourselves at the point in our lives where we were no longer “on our way.” We were THERE.

Our children grew up. We became the “old guard” at our jobs.

We thought we were our fully formed, true selves.

But now we’ve hugged and laughed with those old friends. Now I see that its time to peel back some of those layers. Those layers of cynicism, and of fatigue. It’s time to scratch off the layers of unfulfilled dreams, and to let them fly away on the wind. It’s time to peel away the layers of self-criticism and drop them into the passing stream.

Now it’s time to go back to our truest selves, our best selves.

I think that in the presence of the people who knew us at our wide-eyed best we can once again find that inner, innocent self.

I think the pearl is in there, but it takes an old and true friend to help us find it.

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Rock maple and dovetailed joints.


 

32235_398975950898_543400898_4765939_6508281_nMy Dad could do anything with his hands. When we were little, he used to spend a weekend taking apart a car engine, cleaning everything, then putting it back together again.

He could fix leaky pipes, he could paint walls and trim. My Dad could lay down carpet, strip wallpaper, rewire lights, plane the bottoms of doors so they wouldn’t stick.

Most of all, though, my Dad could bring out the life and the beauty of wood.

He made shelves, and little stools and steps and work sheds.

My Dad made my sons tiny wooden train sets that fit together perfectly. Each car had one of the boy’s names on it.

They are still here, in our house. The golden stained wood still gleams. The pieces still fit, 25 years after he made them. They are still beautiful.

Last weekend I drove two hours out to the small city in the Berkshire Hills where my boys live. I got a tour of the classic Victorian house where my son Matt is living.

As soon as I saw the old wooden floors, and the built in shelving, and the gorgeous dark wood bannisters on the stairs, I though of Dad. He would have loved that house!

We went up into Matt’s room, and there I saw his bureau. An old, golden hued wooden bureau, in Matt’s bedroom.

And it was if Dad was standing there beside me.

I started to laugh, but there were tears in there, too.

“Oh, man! I forgot that you have this bureau!” I said, running my hands across the smooth top.

“This is rock maple.” I said it reverently, although I have no idea what “rock maple” is. I could hear Dad saying those words to me, and they were filled with respect and pride when he said them.

So I repeated them to my boy.

This old bureau had belonged to my husband in his childhood. He doesn’t know where it came from, but he grew up with it. When we got married, it became our bureau. It was in our first apartment in the corner of the bedroom. It travelled with us to grad school in New Jersey, and then to our first apartment after graduation.

When our baby was born, we moved for a while back into my parents’ house. We needed to save money and we needed a safe, clean place to live. So back “home” we went.

And that’s where my Dad taught me how to refinish furniture. We took that old bureau, scratched and dinged and dirty, down into Dad’s garage workshop. And he stripped the old stain off, and sanded it, and sanded it again. I learned about the grades of sandpaper, and the use of a good “tack cloth”. I learned to use mineral spirits to clean up every speck of dirt and sawdust.

I learned about the proper use of stain, and how to smooth it on evenly. Dad pointed out the dovetail joints in the bureau drawers, telling me that you don’t see those very often any more.

Together we chose the stain, a very light golden oak that brought out the warmth in the hard, hard wood. Dad showed me every grain in that wood. He showed me how to be sure that every rough bit was smoothed away.

“Like a baby’s bottom,” he’d say when we got a drawer face perfectly smooth.

It was so special to work there beside him. He never got impatient. He never seemed in a hurry. I saw how the wood came to life under his hand. I saw how he was able to coax beauty out of something rough and old and stained.

I had wanted to toss out that old piece of furniture as soon as we could, but Dad was horrified at the thought.

“This is rock maple!” he’d said. “Those are dovetailed joints!”

Together we worked on the old wooden bureau, and I learned that my father was an artist, though he never described himself that way. I learned to be patient when polishing the top of a refinished piece of furniture with wax.

I learned how to listen, to watch, to imitate. I learned how to see the strength and the beauty under the rough exterior.

I learned how much my father loved a job well done, and I learned how much I loved my father.

Last week, standing in that bedroom in that old Victorian house, I caught sight of that beautiful bureau, with my son’s belongings sitting on top.

“This is rock maple!” I told him seriously. I pulled out one of the drawers. “See?” I asked him and  his bemused friend, “These are dovetailed joints.”

They agreed that the bureau is a real beauty. They were smiling at my earnestness.

We left then, turning off the lights and leaving the old rock maple bureau in the dark, in that old, old house.

It’s hard to say how much I love the thought of my son sleeping every night beside that wood that had felt my Dad’s loving hand.

I hope Matt keeps that bureau. I hope he gives it to a child of his own one day.

I hope that he tells that child, very seriously, “This is rock maple, you know.”

 

 

When old folks argue


Yesterday we had an experience that has me thinking.

Thinking in a good way, but also thinking in a kind of serious way.

It was a pretty typical weekend day for us. We had invited some guests to come for dinner and spend the afternoon with us.

Not “guests” as in “people you need to impress” but “guests” as in “family, people who get it, people you just really want to spend your day with.”

All would have been well as we prepared to make dinner for two young couples with little kids if only Nonni here hadn’t come down with a nasty bout of asthmatic bronchitis.

Nonni woke up yesterday feeling (as my mom used to say), “Like something the cat dragged in.” My husband, also known as “the sweetest man in the world,” let me sleep late while he dealt with our old hound and our new puppy. He even took said puppy to the vet.

But when it was time to make dinner, I asked him for help. This is an unusual request from an over functioning, over controlling Italian woman, but I did. I asked for help.

Then company arrived. Our beloved young folks, with babies in arms, arrived as planned. And “Papa” went straight into Grandfather Host mode. He was charming, hugging babies, pouring beer, chatting and laughing.

Meanwhile, Nonni was sauteeing and coughing in the kitchen.

Nonni was NOT amused.

Nonni was, in fact, crabby, cranky and slightly snarling.

Both young women asked how they could help.

All of the men stayed on the couch.

Finally, Nonni growled at Papa.

And here is the point of this post.

When a couple argues during a more than 40 year relationship, this is what it means.

It means that sometimes humans misunderstand each other. Even humans who love each other and want what is best for each other.

I remember, back in about 1980, every argument felt like the end of the relationship. Every time I lost my temper, every time my husband lost his, it felt like the end of the world. I tried so hard to always push down my irritation, swallow my needs, keep the boat from rocking.

But now that my one true love and I have come through graduate school, two separate careers, raising three children, falling head over heels in love with a grandchild, and even living with three different dogs….well.

Now I understand that when I’m mad at Paul, or when he’s mad at me, it means “I’m mad at you.”

It doesn’t mean “I hate your.” or “I want a divorce” or “You are a terrible person.”

What freedom.

The best part of getting older, maybe, is the realization that you can get really annoyed at the person you love, and still love them in the morning.

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My honey and I, back in the day. At Dolly Copp Campground.

What the absolute f*ck?


I know. That’s just such an improper headline. I know.

But my sister Liz showed me the most hilarious little video that had that as the punch line, and now its in my head.

And when I tell you what has happened to me in the past week, you will also feel the need to say that same phrase.

Really.

Let’s begin three weeks ago, more or less.

I realized that every now and then, when I sipped my nice hot espresso, my lower left molar would go into a screaming fit of pain. My mouth would fill with saliva and my left cheekbone would start to feel like someone was jamming a hot spike into it.

Now, I am not stupid.

The fourth or fifth time that happened, I realized that I needed to call the dentist. So….a week or so after I realized that I needed to call, I looked up the number.

A few days later, with “call the dentist” at the top of my To Do list, I started to notice the same hot spike feeling if I ate something cold. Or sweet.

So I called.

See? I am not an idiot. I called the dentist and I got an appointment for three weeks later.

Yay, me!

This past weekend I went down to Pennsylvania with my sister Liz, who is better than I am at everything. I love her in spite of her awesomeness, and the two of us laughed our way down the  highways toward Lewisburg Pa, where we were going to meet our brand new great niece.

On the way, we stopped for coffee.

I was driving. Liz was looking at the map and chatting away. I took a good deep swig of the hot coffee and I felt the entire left side of my head explode.

My left eye watered as I drove. My heart hammered in my chest. My vocal cords made an involuntary “eh-eh-eh” sound.

I needed to have my tooth yanked out. But I kept driving.

After a half hour or so, the pain faded down to a dull roar. All was well. I knew I could make it another week before my appointment.

Liz and I went to Pennsylvania. We met our gorgeous little great niece and we celebrated with her wonderful parents. It was so so sweet! And my jawbone cooperated without having a screaming fit, so I was very happy.

Last night I got home, and unpacked and chatted with Paul. I went off to bed feeling happy and relaxed.

Hahaha. Silly, silly me.

As I went to bed, I popped in the little rubber mouth guard that I’ve been using for the past 5 years. It stops me from grinding my teeth and breaking all my molars. It’s not a big deal.

I fell asleep and had a lovely dream about the new baby.

Then I woke up. It was 3 AM. Something seemed off.

As I came more fully into consciousness, I noticed that the tip of my tongue felt very very strange. It felt like sandpaper. It felt like a bloated balloon. It felt like a big, bloated, sandpapered balloon.

I ran the scratchy balloon across my lower lip.

What. The. Hell.

My lower lip was just wrong.

I got up, fumbling for my phone to give me some light. I stumbled to the bathroom and quietly closed the door so I wouldn’t wake Paul up. I turned on the light, and made my way to the mirror.

Holy horrific images!

There was a face looking back at me. Its eyes were ringed with wrinkled, puffy sacks. Its gray hair was standing up in tufts all over its head. It had a big nose and a HUGE, pendulous, swollen lower lip hanging out over its chin.

It was my scary, creepy Uncle Salvatore staring back at me from my bathroom mirror.

The shriek that came out of that mouth would have roused the dead.

Luckily, I realized that the sound was coming from me, and that the distorted face was the result of some kind of crazy allergic reaction. I pulled out the mouth guard, took a long cold drink of water, and tried to think of what to do.

My mouth was burning, swollen, itchy and numb at the same time. I took a Claritin and some herbal antihistamines. I laid back down in my bed.

I tried to sleep, but my giant lip kept finding its way between my teeth. Finally I dozed and I woke to another day.

I have no idea why my body decided to react to the mouthguard after all these years. I have no idea why my lip turned into a giant raw wound filled with hot coals. I don’t know if any of this is related to the nerve in my lower jaw that definitely needs to be removed as soon as possible.

All I know is that as I stood in front of my bathroom mirror in the middle of the night with my gigantic lip throbbing in pain, all I could think of was the final line of that video Liz shared with me.

“What the absolute f*ck?” could be my motto today.

What am I supposed to do with the world’s biggest lower lip?

 

Emotional Stew


It’s all just roiling around inside of me tonight.  A big cauldron of emotional stew, just simmering along at an almost rolling boil.

I have met two incredibly endearing, loving, funny new friends in the past few days. They are here visiting us from Berlin, Germany.  We met them by hosting their son for a few months in our house.  What a surprise gift these two are to us!  From the moment we met, via Skype, we have felt as if we are in the room with our dearest friends and soulmates.  I know that sounds a little mushy and gooey and Hallmark card-ish, and that is all just so. not. me.  But the thing is, it really truly IS that way. My heart is just sort of dancing around in my chest, doing a little Polka of Joy as I get to know Katja and Jörg and have a chance to share breakfasts, dog walks, beach trips, laughs and political philosophy with them. “Oh, OK!”, my heart is saying, “You just met, but these are definitely your eternally close friends!”

And at the same time, in the middle of this joyful beginning of a relationship, these are also the waning days in the life of our funny, strong, sweet brother-in-law, Ed, who has been living with Parkinson’s Disease for well over twenty years.  We’re saying good bye, good luck, thank you to someone who has been there at all of our kids’ birthday parties, hockey games, football games, plays, graduations.  He and my sister introduced our entire family to the joys of a winter vacation on St. Pete beach. He’s been right there in the center of our family life for over 25 years.  But every life one day runs its course and comes to an end.  For Ed, that time seems to have come.

And for his wife, my baby sister, I am feeling an overwhelming sense of awe and amazement at her strength and grace and humor over all the many years of her husband’s illness and decline.  My little sister Lizzie is my hero.  She’s my inspiration at those times when I want to moan and complain.   She is my role model. I often joke that I am just “The stunt Lizzie.”, but that’s how I truly feel.

So my heart is full of equal measures of joy and sadness tonight, as I sit here typing up my thoughts at midnight.

Its a real stew of emotion for me tonight.  Because on top of all of this yin and yang, I am also filled with worry for my beautiful little granddaughter, who has to undergo an MRI in only 7 hours.  Please, my entire soul is begging: let her not feel too much hunger before the procedure. Please, dear God in Heaven, let her come through the sedation easily and quickly.  And most of all, please please please, God, Allah, Goddess, Vishnu, Buddha or any other deity who can hear me, please let the MRI results be nothing for anyone to worry about.

I am steeped in a big black cauldron of emotional stew tonight.  I can’t think of any other way to describe it.