Sunday, January 27, 2013

Let's Do The Time Warp......Again?

Bill and I, particularly me, seem to be drawn to folks a bit older than ourselves when it comes to potential friends.  I don't quite know why..... sometimes it doesn't take off, most times it works out quite well.  Here's an example of what happens when we try to befriend people our own age (something that we, apparently, need to stop doing)....

Enter Darren and Miranda.  Darren - pleasant, likable, drywall specialist.  He has done drywall jobs for us many times in exchange for Bill's tax services.  Miranda - fascinating, Canadian-Italian, animal lover, with a very European outlook on life that I find appealing.  We have visited their home in Wilson during tax season the past 2 years.  They introduced me to my current, very successful vitamin regimen and the vitamin powder that I give to the cats- equally successful   They are sort of entrepreneurial.   Sounds like an interesting couple, yes?

Fast forward to this week.  Some drywall patchwork needs to be done in my in-laws house.  Darren and Miranda want to register an LLC with New York State.  We agree to meet at my in-laws house,  set up the LLC,  check out the area of the dining room ceiling that needs work, and then go to dinner.  Cool ......

Imagine my dismay when they pull into the driveway (30 minutes late) and proceed to unload all of his drywalling equipment - she is dressed in old jeans and a sweatshirt, he in jeans and flannel.  Hmmmm...  My first clue that something was amiss should have been when I greeted her in the kitchen and she said, in a puzzled voice "Do you live here?"  Clearly she had not expected to see me.  I watch the scene unfold in front of me......  Darren immediately goes to work on the ceiling ..... with the idea that Bill will set up their LLC on his laptop in the dining room.....  the conversation is interesting enough - they want to buy a mobile home park.....(?)  Things take a turn for the worse when Bill starts talking about restaurants in the area and Miranda announces that "We never eat in restaurants.  I cook."   At this point, the drywall job was done, the LLC was registered, and they packed up and left.   Huh??   Well, I'm the dummy, because now I remember that the last time we went to their house  (did I mention they live in Wilson?), Bill and Darren finished their business at roughly 5:00PM that day with nary a dinner invitation in sight.   We left..... hungry...... in Wilson.   Thank God for the Wilson Boat House.

So, back to this afternoon:  after Darren and Miranda left, I looked at Bill and said "I don't see how we can possibly be friends with people who don't eat in restaurants!" Bill's response: "They want to buy a mobile home park.....?"  He swears he told them that we would "grab something to eat afterward"  I believe him.....  and that's exactly what he and I did.....still shaking our heads half an hour later.

Say what you want about generational differences or the lack thereof.....  a lot of the people my age are just plain weird.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

The Time Turner

In the third volume of the Harry Potter series, Hermoine Granger is given a device called a "Time Turner".  Spinning this device will enable the user to travel backward in time, and she uses it effectively to take classes that are only offered at the same time.  Ultimately, she uses it to change the course of events and prevent several injustices from occurring.

I wonder what my life would be like if I owned one of these devices.  I'm imagining that, for someone such as myself, it could help to prevent a great deal of heartache - not the least of which has been suffered over the years by my friends and family due to my incomprehensible impulsiveness and lack of good judgement.  At what age will I ever finally develop the wisdom to know what it means to stifle myself.  Even now, I can sit here and make 100 excuses for my behavior, but none of them will erase my actions.

Sometimes, I can actually step outside myself and watch, as I become more like my mother every day.  My mother, a woman who can say the most hurtful and judgement things without so much as the blink of an eye or the slightest bit of remorse - this will be me some day, and I feel as though I am powerless to stop this train wreck.

All this time, I have encouraged her to get out and be more social, and I think I finally understand why she has resisted and become such a recluse.  A recluse can only hurt the people who are forced to share life with her.  A recluse does not actively seek out innocent human beings to hurt with her angry words.  And there is an element of self-preservation in reclusiveness.  After all, the recluse stands a much smaller chance of hurting a person who has not only sought out her company but has become one of the most important people in her life.  The recluse does not have to feel that pain, guilt and shame. Finally, for the first time in 48 years, I am beginning to understand my mother.  I should probably compare notes with her before she becomes too senile to remember.  I wonder how many friends she has driven away with her angry words that sprang directly out of her ego.  I wonder whose list is longer.

God, please help me.  There are only two choices for me.  I must either conquer these demons once and for all, or become my mother..... because the world does not need any more people like she and I functioning as active participants.  And please help those who I've hurt to know that I seem to only be capable of doing this to those I care the most about........ nothing, absolutely nothing that I say to them in anger should be taken as any sort of directive or litmus test of them.   To those who have given up on me over the years - I don't blame you one bit.  I can only wish that you have the occasion once in a while to remember a good time or two that we shared.

The time turner...... if only there were such a device...

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Reach Out And........... Text Someone? Email Someone?

I get all nostalgic about the old AT&T (or was it Bell Telephone?) commercial encouraging us to "reach out and touch someone" with a phone call.  I can't help but think that Alexander Graham Bell is rolling over in his grave these days.   With the rise in popularity of texting and e-mails and smartphones, there is an alarming decline in interpersonal communication skills.

I could cop out and point a finger at my daughter's generation, but you know what?  They never had the skills to begin with - this environment is all that most of them have ever known.  I put the responsibility for this decline squarely on the shoulders of anyone age 40 or older.  We know better.  We know what it means to actually hear the person's voice on the other end of the line.  We know the value of being able to ascertain the emotions coming from that person.   How many times do we have to have an e-mail or text message misinterpreted before we just cave in and dial the phone number and open our mouths.  Sure, we might not say something exactly right, but at least we would have the opportunity to elaborate.

It's a vicious cycle.  We all get into the habit of texting and emailing.  We come to the point where we'd like to get something resolved quickly, but we don't want to "bother" the person by calling him or her.  So we send an e-mail and wait impatiently, fuming when the person doesn't respond.  Then we send the person a text.   Why didn't the person respond to the text?, we ask ourselves.  Maybe the topic is uncomfortable for the person and he or she is struggling to respond, or who knows, maybe our smartphones are not as smart as we think they are.   Ultimately,  I've observed this pattern and. more importantly, I've been guilty of doing it - frequently.   I often waste hours doing nothing but deliberating in my mind about whether or not to just bite the bullet and make the call.  My favorite stupid action that I like to employ - sending the person a text message asking  "can I call you?".    Hilarious when you stop and think about it.

The irony of this "evolution" is that in the old days, you would call someone, and if they didn't answer, you just hung up and tried again later.  Then came answering machines, and this would seem to be the best of both worlds.  At least you were getting through to the other person somehow.   Either way, there was no instant communication, and we were all ok with that, because that's just the way it was.

Go ahead..... reach out and touch someone.  It won't kill you, I promise.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Another Goodbye

This will be brief.  Bill and Mandy left for Providence two hours ago.  I didn't cry this time...yet.  I have the excitement of her next visit with Danny to look forward to, and I have to focus on that.

I can't focus on the Christmas tree where some of her gifts remain to be put away, or the perpetually puzzled look on Jerry's face for the first few days after she's gone.  His little feline brain can't comprehend her comings and goings.  I'm not so sure I'm that far behind him.

Sometime when I wasn't looking, my daughter became an adult.  Now it is up to me to act like one, I guess.  Still, there are some things that will never be the same for me since Mandy left.   I still have not been able to go to the Mall without her.  The Mall was our place since she was old enough to walk.  We spend countless hours window shopping, trying things on, eating.  Sometimes we bought things, sometimes not.  It didn't matter because it was our time together.  So now I am the Queen of Internet shopping.  It's must riskier to buy something that you aren't really laying your eyes on, but it's a risk I was willing to take.  I couldn't face the stores.

Well, I guess this is my new reality.  A year and a half in, I feel only slightly better to handle it than I was when it all started.  Time just goes by too fast.  I wish I could close my eyes and reverse the Earth's rotation.  But then again, who's to say that anything would have happened any differently?  The beauty is in the moment.... and that's where I have to live.