Saturday, March 28, 2015

The world of chatter.

Would we be aware of our own world if we didn't have that  contorted mirror we call social media and its chatter twentyfour hours a day, and information/gossip being dissected until all the facts no longer exist in real life? What if we lived without the conveniences we rely on so heavily to feel connected? Our phone; our Facebook page; our blogs; our sewing circle...

Here is how I get my news daily as  I have my first cup of coffee:

1. I check my phone for text messages, emails, missed calls and respond to these.
2. I check and interact on my Facebook accounts. (Remember how I came to have more than one?)
3. I browse the New York Times starting with the daily news and visiting my favorite pages such as Opinions, Health, Science, Arts, Recipes and perhaps Home. If an article attracts my attention I share it on Facebook or email it to my self for further analysis.

I used to subscribe to other newspapers in the state and in this region, but I can browse for information quickly by going to Google and saving myself the cost of subscription. Yesterday, after my doctor's visit, I signed up to get weekly recipes from the American Diabetes Association. This morning, in my email account, a lovely recipe for chicken wraps I could have concocted myself, but I do like to get new ideas and new tastes in my household.

Midday, as I take my daily walk in the neighborhood, I will stop and talk to folks who are doing the same. Here is where I find out how the new restaurant is doing, what they serve, what plans they have in the future. I can get daily reports of who was seen where this way. I also notice if a neighbor has been absent for a while and for what reasons. We stop and talk to the workmen improving a vacant house; we get a sense of how the work is progressing, and they get a sense that someone is watching their efforts as well. Absent residents appreciate such intercourse.

Since most of us in town do our major shopping at bigger stores in the surrounding cities, we run into each other at these places and catch up with additional details. Yes, some of us, like Kathie Griffin will forever tease our friends with off-color jokes, and we have to skim the newsworthy tidbits on our dime, but usually, we do want to update our neighbors of our health, our plans for vacation, our plans for visiting or hosting relatives, even our plans for major changes.  Sharing in a small town is mandatory.

I have friends on Facebook I have never met. They share enough for me to get a glimpse of their lives,and their inclinations. If they are way too preachy or way too conservative in their views, I tend to skip their posts. I nod their way now and then, just to be polite. All and all, I am glad to know a bit of their world, even try to understand their point of view; but I do not spend much time delving deep into their principles.

Mostly, I find myself attracted to like minds, reading and sharing similar points of view. Refreshingly, since we live in a small town, we still tend to see and socialize across the divide, democrats and republicans improving the world together as they meet in Rotary or The Arts Council. We do share concerns about our town and are willing to come together to improve things.

 Sometimes though, it takes a long time to define what we mean by IMPROVEMENT.

Monday, March 23, 2015

To be; or not.

Newkie, a fourteen year old tabby came to live with us after our son died. Brian had raised her as a newborn, someone to fill the void his childhood cat Sam left behind with her departing. He seemed to need his animals around, replacing his Wooly dog-half sheepdog, half Malamud, with a golden lab the minute he signed and collected the keys to his new house in Long Beach. Neither animal really replaced the one that was gone before.

We say things we heard said, words like "replacing" and "enhancing" to remind each other that we, though not replacing anyone or anything we know of, we are all coming into someone's life in a string of events that could very well have been losses of epic proportions, never replaceable.

Most of us tend to device certain narratives to make sense of the chaos around us. "Life goes on" is one of them. But does life go on? Or do we mean, life ceases, and in order to take our next breadth and keep looking forward, we can't dwell on life ceasing; we can't dwell on the pain that surrounds us without going mad, without abandoning hope.

"He's now in a better place" is often said of someone who died. Really? And how do we know that? What place? Where? I wished so much to have had that belief when I sat at my son's funeral. No. No place existed for me at that time, and since, and I still hold on that we tell each other things like this only to calm our nerves, to be able to accept the unacceptable. How could we be one minute, and the next minute be gone?

But what do we do if we can't replace those things, those people who are our circle of friends, our support and love and companionship? How do we live with such losses? How?

Once we accept the narrative of replacement, once we tell ourselves that we are better off even with our losses staring us in the face, are we sane in constructing such fantasies? Or, are we ok since the fantasy is shared by the rest of congregants? How could we all be wrong?  

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Life is a lot like cooking. Almost.

In my mid twenties, having had no experience in tennis, and no idea of the skills necessary to play well, I decided to take up the sport, with the same enthusiasm as Julia Child brought to the classes she took in French cooking.

After I purchased my first racket and a cute outfit, even new tennis shoes with socks that matched my skirt and panties, I signed up for my first lesson at the local park. The instructor had been teaching for years, and my husband had praised the man's abilities.

On my first lesson, I noticed that the other players all had more skills than I did. And they would nod knowingly to all the adjustments and posturing the teacher would suggest while I felt totally out of my comfort zone. Still, how hard could it be to hit a ball across the net in a certain spot and move a few feet back and forth and sideways?

I got nothing of the theory and physics of the sport, how holding the racket a certain way, and attacking the ball at a certain angle would cause the ball to spin and land in a certain spot. The entire experience was more a series of stretching exercises in a cute costume! I missed returning the ball ninety eight out of one hundred. The two balls I didn't miss were the ones the teacher had basically placed in the spot where I was standing, waiting for them.  I never got the skill of hitting the ball overhead to start the game, finding the posture way too difficult for me.

What I did get out of the classes was two things: I was totally uncoordinated for that sport; and I was totally dense in the understanding of all the physics laws involved even though the coach kept elaborating and demonstrating each movement in slow motion. Tennis was a foreign language, and not even the best racket and the most detailed instructions could be assimilated in the course of six weeks. I never thought of my body as uncoordinated before. But trying to move after a ball brought the concept of "aging body" close to home. In my twenties!

I put the costume away and didn't think about tennis for ages until we moved to the current address, forty years later, and sixty miles from any Chinese restaurants. My desire for Chinese foods, however, was immediate. Though I had never tried to cook Chinese dishes before, though Chinese cuisine is my favorite.

Within months, I began to purchase cookbooks, bought a wok from Le Creuset, and tried some recipes.  Nothing I cooked tasted as good as the stuff I had had at Chinese restaurants. I kept trying for a while. Every dish tasted the same as the one we had the week before. I was missing something, maybe a secret ingredient, or a technique, or... Frustrated I gave the wok to my daughter who promised to give it a prominent place in her vegetarian kitchen.

Darn, I thought. This feels  just like my tennis experience.

A few years later, my husband announced that he was going to cook Chinese dishes and where was that wok we paid so much money for?

Monday, March 2, 2015

It's all my fault!

This is what happened:
A few months ago, our phones changed. Both phones and the mobile carrier. My husband and I have now, finally, synced phones, or what I call "no secrets" phones. He gets my calendar, I get his. He can get my emails, I could care less about his. The fact that we both have Facebook accounts we can check and transmit from, also adds to our synchronicty, or in my parlance, a day with complications. And that's how I discovered that my old Facebook account could not be synced with my new phone.

No worries.
I started a second Facebook account, and since my husband has a hand in everything, and his calendar is synced with mine, a new birthday was imprinted. How can that be possible? He has faulty memories when it comes to birthdays. His first present to me, the year we were married, was a gorgeous, expensive charm bracelet with a birthday charm in 18k gold that had yet another date than my real birthday.

The fact that I do not celebrate my birthday makes all this a laughing matter, really.

I grew up in Southern Italy, and our only celebrations were Saints' days. And Madonna's days. Since my name, Rosaria, means rosary, I could actually chose any Madonna to be my special one, as long as her portrait contained the blessed rosary.

So, when last night a neighbor with a big heart brought me a birthday cake to celebrate my special day she had read in the current Facebook page, I did not have the heart to set the record straight. Even my husband, who knows full well that my birthday is in January, after the first expensive snafu he caused, which we never repaired, I might add, keeping that charm until a home invasion occurred and every piece of jewelry was taken and who knows where it landed, even he sat quietly and ate the piece of cake that was connected to a birthday someone kind and generous came to celebrate.

So, in the final statement on this topic, it was not my fault that Facebook printed the wrong birthday on the second Facebook page. It was my fault not to have corrected it!

Mea culpa. I hope the Madonna del Rosario forgives my sin.
I hope T.h Lightkeeper, accepts my apologies and my undying gratitude for her thoughtfulness. I hope all the well-wishers will not think poorly of me. Yes. I admit.
It was all my fault.