The past is past except when it isn’t

August 15, 2020

I’ve been asking myself lately, why, oh why, do I keeping thinking about things from my past–specifically from the 1960s and 70s? Especially, when I can’t remember what I ate for lunch or my neighbor’s last name?

I questioned does this happen to others and why? I Googled: why do older folks dream of the past?

Dreaming of the past and the world beyond

An article by Katy Waldman calls it the ‘reminiscence bump’. “The basic finding is this: We remember more events from late adolescence and early adulthood than from any other stage of our lives. This phenomenon is called the reminiscence bump.” A robust line of research shows that there really is something deeply, weirdly meaningful about this period. It plays an outsize role in how we structure our expectations, stories, and memories.”  Voile! That makes sense to me.

Kate Morton, a truly resplendent author, says this about memories in her book The Clockmaker’s Daughter. “Human beings are curators. Each polishes his or her own favored memories, arranging them in order to create a narrative that pleases. Some events are repaired and buffed for display; others are deemed unworthy and cast aside, shelved below ground in the overflowing storeroom of the mind. There, with any luck, they are promptly forgotten. The process is not dishonest: it is the only way that people can live with themselves and the weight of their experiences.”

I reached a moment of clarity when reading her comparison of sentimentality to nostalgia to “Sentimentality is mawkish and cloying, where nostalgia is acute and aching. It describes yearning of the most profound kind: an awareness that time’s passage could not be stopped and there was no going back to reclaim a moment or a person or to do things differently.” However, as I have previously stated, I have no deep regrets and I hardly ever say “if I had only…”

So out of my head and on to the stars for a moment as I embraced the cosmos with one of my favorite persons on twitter Sarafina Nance, who goes by the handle @starstrickenSF she is an Astrophysics PhD, a stargazer and an eternal optimist.  She greeted today with an out-of-this-world observation about the universe

…some stars explode, their light as bright as entire galaxies, while others collapse in on themselves, stuffing all their mass into a tiny yet supermassive blip in space-time. Some stars are so massive, and their photons so many, that the stellar surface simply floats away, forcing the star to disintegrate others are so small, barely larger than Jupiter, that they live on for trillions of years, bearing witness to the cosmos in a way nothing else can. 

She has also said all of us will be stardust someday, how cool is that?

 

 


Slow dancing to COVID-19

August 6, 2020

Are we there yet?

This was a constant refrain on road trips when we were kids. Now in the 21st week of most folks’ isolation life we are asking “are we done, yet?” NO we are not done—not even close.

There are still lots of folks who deny there’s a very contagious disease out there. In a week or two, when some schools start up with in-school classes, we’ll see another wave of infections–this time in children, teens and adults. I can’t imagine the complexity of the question whether to attend school or not. That it is possibly a life threatening decision, makes it even more difficult.

I like this chart of suggestions, though some of these may be easier said than done. Alas, we are slow dancing this pandemic so we have time to work our way through.  Because it didn’t just disappear, it’s not going away, and, no, we are not there yet.


Summer Solstice 2020

June 21, 2020

Week 14 of COVID-19 self-quarantine

Greetings of peace and renewal on Summer Solstice 2020. And what a year it’s been so far!

Six months of constant changes and challenges. Most of us are learning how to adjust to life in the pandemic era. And, it’s not over yet folks, so stay cautious.

‘Summer solstice occurs on the longest day of the year, usually on June 21. Although, the sun’s position remains in pretty much the same place for a few days either side. For Neolithic people, sunlight would have been crucial – for warmth for them and their animals and for helping their crops to grow!’

Last night, I watched a live video of the sun setting over Stonehenge. There’s also a live video of the sun rise. Both videos are posted on the English Heritage Facebook page.

I toasted to the sun with a glass of wine and a few tears as I tried to wrap my head around the immense history of the human race represented here. Sometimes I wonder what will become of us. We take three steps forward and two steps back. We destroy the natural world which was created to sustain us. Let’s do better!

 

June is the month of five birthdays in my family. I celebrated mine at my dog-sitting job. There was a pool and a lovely view—along with sweet, cuddly dogs. I call my overnights ‘sleeping with the dogs.’

 

So here’s to however many more weeks it takes for us to figure out how to ‘lower the curve’ of COVID-19 infections. We miss seeing the grandkids!


Uncertainty is the new normal

April 20, 2020

It’s week six for us doing the ‘COVID-19 isolation rag’

I seem to be less anxious than I thought I might get. But, in all honesty, we are not in any of the tenuous–even scary–situations that many in our community or others around the country may be experiencing.

Fully retired, we have our Social Security money and small savings. We have a very affordable Medicare Advantage plan, and are so far in good health. We have our little house, transportation and other things that might have all been taken for granted until the pandemic got a hold of our country.

I read a very good article from Jon Pavlovitz which I think you (whoever you are) need to read.

      

Because uncertainty is the new normal. This all could have gone a much better way, but it did not. What we are left with has changed us individually and as a country and will continue to change us for years ahead.  Hopefully in many ways  we’ll grow, learn and be better to each other. I’m seeing it already, are you?

Let me know how you’re doing!

 


Reading Patti Smith

January 21, 2020

“Age changes you in ways you least expect” I heard this quote in a movie last week, but can’t remember which one. I thought about it off and on for a few days with the conclusion that this is most certainly a true statement.

Sitting outside a coffee shop, reading Patti Smith’s book “My Train,” I became filled with a thoughtfulness regarding my life. Feeling like a cheap imitation of Smith, I start writing on a scrap piece of paper thoughts for a post.

I’ve always been aware of Patti Smith because of her music. Often called the “punk poet laureate,” Smith has an impressive musical repertoire which still influences many.

After reading “Just Kids” a few years ago, I became a huge fan of her literary mind as well. I am at the same time appreciative and envious of her experiences and courage to travel her many creative paths—all while keeping in mind the difficulties of her life which arrived uninvited.

From my 2013 Twitter: I wonder what compels me to constantly try to do things out of my comfort zone?

Was I courageous in the paths I took in my life? Did I travel to places I always wanted to see? Did I follow a risky decision to some sort of personal transcendent conclusion? Can I still call myself a life-long learner? Am I still willing to explore new things out of my comfort zone? Yes and No.

Yes. In the summer of 2018 the hubby and I took a 5K mile road trip—in our Ford Fiesta–up to Minnesota, down to Nebraska over to Colorado and across to New Mexico—stopping on the way to see family and friends. No. I vow never to do this again.

Yes. I still read fiction and non-fiction. I recently discovered Wired magazine which I admit to some of it being over my head, but I’m learning. No. I don’t finish books that don’t grab me in the first chapter or two.

Mom and me. She had me reading at a very young age.

My mother used to say ‘only boring people get bored.’ Though I often say to others I have no regrets in this life, I occasionally lament some of my mistakes. But my life was not and is not boring. May your life be the same.

Yes, I out of my comfort zone riding the tram in Telluride.

A younger me with my son who I raised as a single mother.


Aging: forgetting to remember

December 10, 2019

I’ve noticed the older I get, the more I have forgotten. I also think I misremember a good deal. Merriam Webster defines misremembering as “to remember incorrectly.” I think you’ll agree this seems a ubiquitous trait for any of us who have the opportunity to live into ‘old age.’

Last week, my brother, sister and I went on a road trip to attend the funeral service of our last aunt, our mother’s only sibling. It closed the door on that entire generation of our family from both sides. People we loved and grew up with. None of us cousins from either side are particularly close. And, some of us have already reached, or are nearing, whatever our expiration dates are.

The many conversations we had unearthed precious memories of our childhood into adulthood when our grandparents and parents were still with us. We commiserated the loss of them and held dear the love and the amazing upbringing they gave us. Each of us had different perspectives, but common memory roots.

As I age, I am apprehensive of loosing all the parts of me. It’s important to be able to share with friends and/or families those significant memories which shaped us and now hold us together.

Now, if I can just remember why I came in the kitchen.


You can’t take it with you

October 6, 2019

Lately, I’ve been reading articles about why and how to simplify your life.  Simply Magazine is one of the sources I was introduced to by a friend. “Even better, removing the physical clutter from our home lays a foundation that makes significant life changes possible. It encourages us to question assumptions and invites thoughtful consideration of all aspects of our lives.”  There’s also Becoming a Minimalist which states “Becoming Minimalist is designed to inspire others to pursue their greatest passions by owning fewer possessions.”

Because y’all know you or your parents have so much stuff that nobody wants I once wrote this vignette.

I always knew my son and his family would have no use for my precious mementos after I am gone. Bric-a-brac, knick-knacks, stuff! The furniture I inherited from my grandparents–a phone table with a little seat for comfortable chatting, the antique mantle. The beautiful set of china on which my mother served holiday dinners that shaped generations of family gatherings. I cherished these and many other family pieces passed down to me. But, who wants a framed, handmade baby christening gown?

My books are all going for a dollar. People are rummaging through my clothes, handbags and jewelry. A bowl full of sea shells or a scorched set of kitchen pans–not treasures for sure. The estate sellers are doing their job of clearing the house for sale. But, there’s no one there to tell the stories.

Many times I tried to tell the story behind the porcelain figurines. The ones in the glass cabinet that I stared at my whole life. My parents bought those beautiful little ballerinas, with their tutus of Dresden lace, in 1947 from a German family who had to sell their precious keepsakes to feed themselves.

But, how could that matter now? Surely someone will see their value and give them a good home, where they can be admired everyday as the beautiful works of art they are. After the good things go, it looks like the sad remnants of an inconsequential life. I hover over this scene, on my last pass through this world, the memories fade along with the disbursement of my possessions. And, now I surely know the truth of ‘you can’t take it with you.’


Advice in Four Words or Less

June 10, 2019

Today’s blog is a total Twitter rip-off. Thanks to Giles Paley-Phillips @eliistender10 for asking the question: Your best advice in four words or less.

This a fraction of the replies, but worthy of sharing.

Walter Shaub
@waltshaub
do the right thing
Art Thiel
@Art_Thiel

1. Don’t sweat petty things.
2. Don’t pet sweaty things. (h/t George Carlin)

Rogue EPA
@RogueEPAstaff
Don’t vote Republican 2020.

Patrick Leiser
@leiser_patrick
Even better: Don’t vote Republican ever

Rachel Wolfson
@wolfiecomedy
smoke weed every day

Cliff Jerrison
@pervocracy
Condoms, sunscreen, vaccines, seatbelts.

Tall girl tells shrinking tale

April 29, 2019

So, I measured my height the other day. I have to say it was a shocking and somewhat depressing revelation to find out I am now just 5’7” tall. Although most of us upon reaching the senior citizen stage of life, understand that we shrink in height as we age and our vertebrae compress, sometimes getting squeezed out altogether. But, in a way it made me feel somewhat diminished.

Why did I take it so hard, you ask? At the age of 14, I was a 5’10” gangly girl. Quite outstanding at that time, I was head and shoulders above, not only the other girls but most of the boys as well. Try finding a dance partner when the dudes would be staring right into your budding bosom. Skinny legs and all, I was mostly in angst over this tall development.

Some of the most frequent questions: “Do you play basketball?”  Well, no. You kind of have to be coordinated to do that. Did I wear high heel shoes ever? Uh, no! Did pantyhose ever fit me?  No again.

At 20years old attending college in San Marcos, TX

I managed to grow into being a tall woman and tallness became less an issue making way for many other issues. In fact, I am sorry to lose that youthful part of me. And, I’m sure those three damn inches went into my hips.


Memories–who you were, are and will be

March 2, 2019

What makes a memory anyway?  When people speak of ‘making memories’ I think they’re most likely alluding to a significant life event which will be remembered forever by the parties involved.  Sometimes I feel like my memory is a roll of the dice or maybe more like a pinball machine bouncing from bumper to bumper after each flip. It seems memories can be traumatic or trivial. My guess is it depends of the individual.

Scientifically speaking: One study at UCLA determined through research experimentsmemory-word-cloud “This link between reactivation of neurons in the hippocampus and conscious recall of past experience has been suspected and theorized for some time, but the study now provides direct evidence for such a link.  “In a way, then,” Dr. Fried said, “reliving past experience in our memory is the resurrection of neuronal activity from the past.” Seems rather unromantic, yes?

A How Stuff Works article says “Human memory is a complex, brain-wide process that is essential to who we are. Your “memory” is really made up of a group of systems that each play a different role in creating, storing, and recalling your memories.”

townes-and-me0001-2

Me and my brand new baby boy.

What have I forgotten? For many years I waxed nostalgic about my days during and after college when I lived in the great hippiedom of Austin, Texas.  Specific memories were apparent, but it was more a general recollection of a feeling of peace, freedom, music, and fun that carry these times around my brain.

Recently, I reconnected with two women friends from those years who lived in the same Austin neighborhood as I did on the outskirts of Clarksville. We were pregnant at the same time giving birth to babies, who through toddlerhood grew up as best friends.

In our reminiscing, I realized I had pushed a lot of memories from those days to the back of my mind. Because why? One explanation could be that I was no longer in touch with those folks with whom I could be remembering.  Also, because those were wild, unfettered times, it didn’t always seem like the best tales to tell.

Consequently, I became aware of meaningful parts of my life I had kept under my memory radar. I am grateful to those ‘historically significant’ friends who led me to recall and reembrace much of that part of my past.  I like to think all memories are intricately a part of your life-defining who you were, are and will be.

Of course, the Beatles said so many things the best.

There are places I’ll remember
All my life, though some have changed
Some forever, not for better
Some have gone and some remain
All these places have their moments
With lovers and friends, I still can recall
Some are dead and some are living
In my life, I’ve loved them all