Love Makes Fools Of Us All


Ah, love.

Is there anyone alive who hasn’t fallen victim to the whims of love?

When we fall in love, we give up our ability to make sane choices for ourselves. We see our beloved through misty eyes. Every fault is airbrushed out, and we only want more. More time with our beloved. More closeness. More intimacy.

When we truly fall in love, we let go of our own egos. We allow ourselves to make decisions that are not in our best interest. “But it will bring me closer to my beloved,” we tell ourselves. “This is going to be great!” All we want, when we are flushed with love, is to be near our beloved. We want to touch, to kiss and hold and nuzzle and dream.

Ah, love.

You lead us all astray. You take away our ability to do what is truly best for ourselves. When you have stormed our hearts, we care nothing for ourselves.

How do I know this, you ask? Ah, I have a confession for you all.

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Who, me? Ruin your sleep?

When we lost our beloved Wolf King last month, Paul and I found ourselves with a big, huge hole in our hearts. To say we miss the old fool would be the understatement of the century. Paul, in particular, was absolutely bereft without his best buddy sleeping on the dog mattress on his side of our bed.

So.

I invited Lennie to come and sleep with us.

See, up until that point, Lennie had been sleeping (all alone) in the living room. That just seemed too sad to me. So I got out some doggie treats and coaxed him into our room, and onto the newly abandoned dog bed.

He wouldn’t stay.

So.

Um.

I coaxed him up onto our bed. With doggie treats. It took some time and some effort, but….I was falling in love with my puppy! I needed him! I wanted him nearby!

The mists of love covered my eyes, and I got the (not so) little guy to stretch out on the bed between us.

He liked it!

And there he has stayed. Every night. Stretching his full length with his head on my hip and his butt on Paul’s shoulder. Or vice versa.

We now attempt to sleep in a queen sized bed where a 50 pound dog has half the mattress and the humans have about a quarter each.

On a good night.

This is not the best situation for aging humans who need our rest. It is not best for our creaky backs or our stiff spines.

But we won’t be changing it any time soon.

Love hurts.

What can I say?

Love makes fools of us all.

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Sometimes you just have to jump in.


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Last weekend I went away for a few days of fun and rejuvenation with some of my oldest friends. We are six middle aged women who have known each other since Girl Scouts, skinned knees, recess, first dates, first dances, first heartbreaks.  We got together so that we could reconnect.  In part we wanted to reconnect with each other, but I think that mostly we all needed to reconnect with ourselves.

We knew each other way back when. As one of my friends put it, “We knew each other before we became ourselves.”

It was a remarkable weekend. We laughed. A lot. We ate. A lot. We drank. Hoo, baby, and that was fun!

We kicked off our everyday selves and shed the responsibilities and expectations, just for a few short days. Days of letting go and sleeping in and acting silly in a way that middle aged ladies are not often encouraged to do.

And we went to the beach.

Now, it’s important to explain that we live in New England, where October beach days are generally spent in sweatshirts and hoods, with wool socks on our feet. We had hoped to walk on the beach, but when we packed, we were expecting rain and wind and at least a bit of New England cold.

Only this is the era of global warming.

We found ourselves walking, in our jeans and t shirts, along a sunny, hot New England beach. We collected shells and stones, and we took pictures and we looked out at the beautiful blue surf.

And eventually, we started to talk.

“Gee, it’s really hot out.”

“What a great day to swim.”

Nobody was in a bathing suit, except for one brave soul who wore her bathing suit top under her shirt.

We hadn’t come prepared. We didn’t have towels or dry clothes, never mind bathing suits.

But the waves were rolling in. The sun was shining off the water. The sand was warm, the air was balmy.

And so we did what we couldn’t possibly have skipped.

We ran into the waves in our clothes, with our middle aged bodies, laughing the whole way. And we dove and splashed and body surfed and yelped and crowed.

It was heaven.

Even when we had to make the ten minute walk back to our rented house, with our clothes dripping and our hair filled with sand, it was still pure heaven.

Sometimes you realize that life is just too short. It’s just too short and too unpredictable to miss a chance to jump in the ocean while you can.

What a wonderful moment to cherish.

 

It’s all so random


I’m finding it very hard to write these days.

First of all, I just can’t face the news anymore. I can’t stand the helplessness that I feel about guns, in particular. I dreamed the other night that I was shooting up Congress. I’m not kidding.

And I have never even touched a gun in my life.

Rage is so exhausting.

I’m also struggling with putting myself out there in my writing. I’ll be the first person to admit that I am a blogger, not a “writer.” I’ve never had a piece of fiction published, although I’ve sent a few things off.

It takes some internal courage to keep typing up this chatty little blog. It’s pretty personal, and its my limited attempt to keep myself feeling at least a little bit creative. It’s scary every time I hit the “publish” button, knowing that every typo will be out there. Every trite sentence will be read. People will read and react, and some will think it’s lame.

I recently had some very snarky, mean spirited comments posted about me and about this blog. Posted by someone I love and thought I could trust. It hurt more than it probably should have, and it shook me to the core.

But I need to get back on the bike, if you will. I can’t let someone else take this away from me.

I like writing. I like having this place to express myself. I thoroughly enjoy reading other blogs and being part of this community.

So here I am. I hope that those who find this blog silly, annoying, pointless or boring will do me the courtesy of just not reading it any more.

In light of all the negativity in the world right now, from the insanity of our President to the insanity of the NRA, I think I’ll write about the random nature of life.

I will write about my tomatoes.

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I picked these beauties in about 5 minutes yesterday. Aren’t they lovely? Don’t they look like a gardener actually planted them and took care of them and, you know, grew them on purpose?

Yeah.

But no.

I did plant some tomatoes last May. Right in my actual garden! Right in the soil that I had enhanced with manure and in a deep hole with the right additions. I staked them and I pruned them and I watered them. All 8 plants.

I harvested (ahem, cough, cough) a grand total of 4 cherry tomatoes.

Then I took a walk around the back of my house. You see, we had three huge pine trees cut down last fall. All kinds of new growth has sprung up where they used to cast their shade.

For almost 30 years I had a compost pile back there, in the area around those pines. But when they were cut, their limbs covered the spot, so I have started to compost indoors.

Welp. Lo and behold, while I was ignoring my backyard and letting it go wild, what looks like a veritable forest of tomato plants has taken over the old compost pile. Mixed in with black eyed susans and a lot of crab grass there are at least ten different tomato plants, and they are LOADED with fruit, of all sizes and shapes. All growing on the ground, all tangled in a heap, all overgrown.

Isn’t life random? So much for my illlusions of control.

 

I weep.


Why on earth should someone in my situation find herself all teary eyed tonight?

Well. Part of it could be that I keep watching the stupid news. North Korea wants to kill us and they’re making plans to get it done. Puerto Rico, a place I have always wanted to visit, is desperate, dying, begging for help. The world is getting hotter every day, both in terms of the climate and in terms of the international relations.

And I miss my old dog. I miss my sweet, loud mouthed, running away old hound so much. And every morning when I bring my granddaughter Ellie into the house, her first comment is “Tucker died. Him all gone. Tucker died. I miss him.”

Me, too, little girl. Me, too.

I am weepy because the season is ending. Summer is slowly giving up her last heated blast of breath, and the leaves are slowly turning yellow and gold. Winter is out there, waiting for us. The year is dying. So my eyes fill with tears.

I cry because I am tired, too. Because I have spent the past few days with my best beloved grandchildren, and they have not been well. The baby is stuffy, coughing, cranky and wanting to be held. His usual bright eyed smiles are mixed with tears and head shaking and fits of coughing that remind me of my own little babies at his age.

And Ellie. Our Ellie. Last night she slept here, having a “Pajama party for Papa!” and snuggling into bed with Paul and I. She laughed, she chatted, she sang songs. And as she drifted off to sleep, her hand gently stroked my cheek. I heard her murmuring, “Oh, Nonni. My Nonni. This Ellie’s Nonni. I love you, Nonni!”

So my heart filled up, and it overflowed, and it keeps on running. She loves me. He loves me. Their Mama loves me.

But I didn’t get very much sleep last night. Or any today. So I’m feeling fragile. And weepy.

And my puppy Lennie, trying desperately right now to get me to play tug-o-war with his favorite chew toy? He loves me. And he reminds me of the one we lost. He misses Tucker, too.

So I’m weepy.

Tired, and really just “I sprung a leak” sloppy.

Life is good, for as long as it lasts.

I’m just feeling a little bit…I guess…well, I feel kind of weepy.

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We miss you, Tucky. 

The Day I Just Plain Sucked


Have you ever had a day where, from the moment you open your gritty eyeballs, you just can’t get anything right?

Have you ever had the kind of day where every god, goddess and bad guy in the universe is seemingly engaged in a conspiracy to prove that you are a total waste of molecular energy? The kind of day where, if you could just quiet the roaring of your overflowing toilet, you’d actually hear the sound of distant maniacal laughter?

No?

Welp. I have.

In fact, as you have probably already surmised, I had one of those days today. And, yep, you’re right. You’re going to hear about it.

Let me just set the stage first, alright?

Today was the last full day in the life of my beautiful old hound dog, Tucker the Wonder Puppy. Also known as “The Wolf King.” At the age of 12 and a half, Tucker has walked his last walk, chased his last frisbee, eaten his last beef bone. He is losing his vision, and can barely get himself up or down the stairs, even with lots of loving human support.

It’s time.

The call has been made, the appointment is set. Today is his last full day on this lovely green earth.

So of course, last night Paul and I were up at 3 AM easing him down the stairs and out the front door to poop. We were up again bright and early this morning doing the same thing. We are sad, tired, nostalgic, sick at heart.

We are not at our peppy best.

And this is the first full week of school, which means that it is Nonni’s first week of trying to juggle a three month old and a two year old, both of whom miss their Mommy all day long.

All of that would have probably been more or less OK, except that it was also pouring and pelting buckets of rain all day. And I somehow messed up the bottles so that the wrong nipple was on the wrong bottle and poor baby Johnny could barely get a drop of milk all day.

Oh, and I invited my granddaughter’s best best friend and her Momma to come over to visit today. Because…why not?

So.

There I was.

New company at my door. Rain pouring down. Old dog whining on the rug. Puppy yipping, jumping and relentlessly trying to mate with the young woman who came to visit. Baby Johnny desperately trying to get milk, to no avail. Two year old Ellie and her bestie, Hazel, trying to work out the fine points of sharing while Ellie shrieked “ELLIE’S TOYS!” at about 95 decibels.

I was trying to bake a gingerbread cake, but it was in process when our guests arrived, because I had spent an hour sobbing over my old dog and I was behind schedule. I was trying to control the puppy, but I have honestly never seen him so determined to fuse himself with a human while yelping and yipping nonstop and shedding at the same time. I was trying to help Ellie with her sharing while simultaneously trying to get her to stop screaming at the top of her tiny little lungs.

I wanted our new friends to look at me and think, “Wow! Nonni sure is on top of things! What a lovely nurturing figure she’d be in our lives!”

I failed.

I failed wicked.

Instead of looking calm, serene and loving, I looked insane, sweaty, tearful and overwhelmed.

I mean. Jesus. This is NOT my first rodeo. I swear; I really can host lunch for a mommy and her adorable, sweet little girl! I CAN!

Except that today, I couldn’t.

Get this.

I offered them lunch, saying that I had lots of cold cuts and peanut butter and jelly. “Sure!” said lovely young Mommy. “We love peanut butter and jelly!”

So I went to get it out. And I discovered that…….

…..I had no bread.

None.

So I served peanut butter and jelly on graham crackers while the baby cried and the puppy howled and the old dog moaned and the wind blew and the rain poured down.

I. Absolutely. Sucked. Today.

My only hope at this point is that lovely young mommy and sweet little best friend will give us another chance. Maybe when old dog is gone, puppy is calm, the weather is good, and I’ve remembered to shop.

Sigh.

I guess you can’t win ’em all.

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Please!!! Please can I lick your face off????!!! 

 

 

When I Get Very Old


When I get very old, if I’m lucky enough to reach that milestone, I will give up my struggles to be perfect. I will eat brownies for breakfast and have ice cream for dinner, if that’s what I really want.

I’ll stop trying to be thinner or stronger or smarter or more accomplished.

When I get very old, I’ll lounge around all day in my pajamas and read trashy novels while eating a bag of chips.

You might wonder what has inspired me to accept the blessings of very old age.

Well, it was the Wolf King that did it.

I’ll let him explain in his own words.

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Only a week ago, I still needed my leash.

As soon as I woke up today, I knew that something unusual was going on. Man Who Walks Me was climbing up and down the stairs, bringing chairs and tables out into the yard. Woman Who Feeds Me was rushing around, cleaning the kitchen.

Puppy Lennie was barking and squeaking and being a general pain in the rear, as usual, even when I woofed at him to cut it out. By mid-morning, I had a headache.

I also had an idea.

I have seen this kind of rushing about many times in my long years. It always means that a lot of humans will be at our house, talking loudly and eating for hours. It always means dropped cheese and other delicious delicacies.

I was excited. At my age I show my enthusiasm by plodding around the living room and slowly laying myself in whatever spot is most likely to be in the way of the bustling humans.

I am the Wolf King. I will not be overlooked.

Today the bustling and preparing went on for quite a while, and slowly more humans arrived. I knew most of the early visitors. There was the Young Woman Who Used To Hold Me, and her newest tiny poopy human. There was the Young Man Who Used To Chase Me and his friends who always call me “Good Boy.”

I greeted them with some royal woofing, then flopped in front of their feet.

After some time, all of the humans went outside of the house and onto the lawn. Puppy Lennie still shrieked in his ear-spitting way, but he had been banished into the back fence.  I remained alone inside.

I woofed once. Softly.

I whined, a little bit louder.

Why wasn’t I outside, where the cheese would be? I wanted to be with my humans, who regularly drop food, and whom I love. But I would not beg.

Settling my chin on my royal paws, I commenced moaning pitifully with each breath.

Finally, Woman Who Feeds Me came into the house. She called my name, and I raised my wise old head to see what was up.

“Come!” I heard her say cheerily. “Come outside!”

I carefully pushed myself up on my elbows, raising my shoulders and finally balancing on my front paws. I was breathing a little fast, but it might have been the thought of cheese that had my heart rate up.

Slowly, carefully, I managed to get my back end off the floor, and I tottered toward my mistress. She called me to the front door, so I hobbled down the stairs. I prepared to have my leash clipped on, and lifted my head with regal dignity.

Nothing.

No clip, no leash.

Just Woman Who Walks Me, telling me to “Come outside.”

I looked at her in surprise. What was she asking me to do?

She stood there, right in front of me, and it was as if every dream of the past 12 1/2 years had suddenly come true.

She was holding the front door wide open.

Cautiously, I stepped toward the door. Act cool, I told myself. Pretend nothing strange is going on.

I took one step over the threshold, trying to look completely calm. Nothing to see here, folks, just the Wolf King, stepping out the front door with NO LEASH.

If I could have whistled, I would have.

As I got out onto the porch, and looked at the crowd of humans with food in their hands, I picked up a little speed.

“So long, suckers!”

I meant to run. In the old days, if I managed to get my nose out the door without a leash, I took off like a hound out of hell. I’d hit the woods, race around the house, bark at every human who dared to approach.

Man. Those were the days. Chasing squirrels, howling at the moon, rolling in dead stuff. And only coming home when I was good and ready.

I remember those days. My goal was always to go a little farther, stay out a little longer, bark a little louder.

So I tried to take off as I passed Woman Who Feeds Me. I shuffled with as much speed as I could muster, but my back end just wouldn’t keeping up.

I made my way across the grass, then chose the perfect spot to rest my royal self on the grass. I picked a spot as close to the cheese and pepperoni eaters as I could. I lowered my butt and carefully let my front end follow it down.

I allowed the peasants to approach, and to pat me as often as they liked. Many of them dropped cheese.

It was a peaceful day. My favorite small human came to bring me popcorn and crackers and to pat my royal head. Man Who Walks Me gave me extra love. Also cheese.

I am very old. I am ready to give up my quest to be the Royal Runaway, to travel farther and stay out longer. I am ready to go outside without a leash and stay in one place. I will let myself sleep in the sun while the human drop bits of tasty food all around me.

I am still the Wolf King.

 

A Parable, Perhaps?


Three acorns fell from the oak behind our house.

One landed softly in a pile of old rotted leaves. The second landed half on the soft leaves, and half on an area of pea stone. The third acorn fell onto the driveway.

After two weeks, the first acorn had sent two roots into the ground below its shell. It had simply and effortlessly split that shell and grown its two tender roots to feel the soil and search for moisture and nutrients.

The second little acorn had split in exactly the same way as his brother, and had sent out two little roots to look for life. One root found itself safely encased in leaf mold, but the second root had to struggle and bend and search-reach-search until it finally found a tiny space between the stones, where it desperately dug itself into the earth.

The third acorn simply lay where it had fallen. There was no nurturing earth below it. There was nowhere for a root to take hold. The shell of this acorn stayed whole. No roots were ever sent out into the world.

Six months passed, and winter was giving way to spring.

The first acorn had produced a little tree. It had a thin, straight trunk and three sets of leaves. As the spring sun struck it, it worked happily to make new leaves and to reach toward the sky.

The second acorn had also sent up a trunk, and had managed to make one set of leaves. His trunk leaned hard to the left, because only half of him was supported by good soil. He worked hard. Harder than he thought he’d ever work. Each day was a struggle, but he kept on reaching, reaching, reaching for the sunny sky.

The third acorn sat on the hard blacktop of the drive. It had been frozen, and thawed and frozen again. There was one crack in the bottom of the acorn shell, but no root had come out. There was nowhere for that root to go.

Another six months passed with the seasons. The first little acorn was long gone. In its place there stood a small but sturdy oak. Tiny branches sprouted from its growing trunk, reaching easily toward the sky. It had soil and rain. It had strong roots to benefit from them both. It had taken its place in the woods, and could grow and thrive and one day drop its own little acorns onto the earth below its feet.

The second acorn had also created a little oak, because it landed just on the edge of the drive. This oak was thinner, and not quite as straight as its brother, but it also had three sets of leaves and was reaching ever higher toward the sky. This little tree might make it, if no car drifts off the pavements, and if no new owners decide to repave. It is more vulnerable to drought and wind than its brother, but if all goes well, it could one day be a full grown oak tree, too.

The third acorn is gone now. It never opened, never sent out a shoot, never had its chance to grow into a tree. It simply fell in a place that couldn’t support it, and it died before it had gone through one winter.

So.

Was the first acorn smarter, more caring, more deserving than the others? Was the third one guilty of some unknown crime? Was the little oak that faced a lifetime of struggle somehow at fault for landing in an imperfect place?

Of course not. We all know that. We all know that for acorns and oaks, life or death is just the luck of the draw. We don’t think that there is a God who chooses which acorns will do well and which will end up as food for a squirrel.

So was it the mother oak’s fault that some of her offspring fared better than the others?

Nope. We wouldn’t even ask that question. And we wouldn’t ask why one oak tree dropped its acorns on fertile soil while another only had pavement below.

Life is what it is. Fragile, amazing, random, unplanned.

Just as no God sits on a mighty throne deciding which acorn should survive, there is no God deciding who should have children easily and who should be infertile. There is no God passing judgement on which children will thrive and which land on pavement.

The oak tree isn’t responsible for the fate of the acorns. Every oak is designed by nature to drop those acorns onto the very best soil. But no oak has control over whether or not that happens.

Life is a miracle. Life is a gift. Lift is a matter of where we land, and what nutrients we can reach, and how close we are able to get to the sun.

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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?

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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My name is…


I’ve been thinking about names lately. My daughter and her husband are going to have their second child soon. We know that it will be a little boy, and they have settled on a name for him.

He will be named for a well loved Great Grampa who died a few months ago. It’s perfect, right?

But I’ve been thinking about how names sound, and the impression that they give. I’ve been thinking about names that sound like a person you’d trust. And names that make you shake your head and wonder if those parents hated that kid.

As a confirmed lefty, I’ve been doing my part to support the Our Revolution movement. That’s the next step in the Bernie Sanders movement, if you don’t know. Very vibrant, very interesting group, and I’m happy to help! So I’ve been doing some data entry for them.

Which means that I have been seeing some amazing names.

I won’t use any real ones here, of course, but to young parents everywhere, let me just say that before you slap a monicker on that adorable little bundle, THINK about how that name will read in 30 years when some old lady is putting it into a data base.

Some names inspire trust. I would want my doctor to be named “Michael Hampshire.” Solid, not too flashy, unpretentious. “Jennifer Worth.”  Yup. She can do my cardiac surgery, for sure.

Other names make me want to write a short story that involves a diner, a lonely waitress and a quietly insane fry-cook. “Sarah Bluette” and “Jace Pratchett” fit right in there, don’t you think?

Then there are the names that you know Mom and Dad chose because they were so adorable and original! They did not picture the kids in sixth grade making fun of little “Sharley McRoggle” or “Kerreigh Koyne.”

And some names make me just feel humble. The names that ring of truth and strength. Names that are unapologetically ethnic or racially proud. Names that mean, “I am not going to melt into the pot, no sir. I intend to be the spice in your potato soup.” Names that are spelled originally or names that hark back to older generations. “Karim” is a personal favorite of mine. “Sasha” or “LiYu” or “Epiphania” or “Dougal” or “Shaquan.”

My mom’s name is Vincenza, but she is known as Zena. That’s very cool.

Our names are, in some odd ways, our destiny.

I was aware of this when I was at the Woman’s March in DC not long ago. I was with my High School friend, Karen. As we moved through the surging crowds to get onto the Metro, we heard a voice calling, “Karen! Over here!” We both turned, of course, and we saw a woman our age, waving to her friend.

All the Karens in the US, it seems, were born between 1952 and 1958. You’re not going to find a Karen in kindergarten, although you might very well find a “Helen,” an “Alice” or an “Ed.”

When I was naming my own kids, I was careful. Paul and I thought about how the names sounded. We like the ‘th’ sound, it turns out. We have Katharine, Matthew and Timothy in our family. But we were also thinking of nicknames.

Being named Paul and Karen meant that we didn’t have a lot of nicknames. There’s not much you can do with the labels we got at birth.

We wanted our kids to have some flexibility. If they became businesspeople or lawyers or politicians, those full names would work. If they became teachers, or coaches or athletes, they’d have cool nicknames. Katie, Matty, Timmy.

Naturally, all three of them now go by Kate, Matt and Tim.

Still. A lot of thought went into those names. A lot.

Yours truly,

“Boots” aka “Karen” aka Kira aka Karima and now known as Nonni.

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