Mail order sanity

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My mail order Zoloft finally arrived, two months late. I didn’t off myself or anybody else; I didn’t wreck my car, or have ill-advised sex with a stranger. I didn’t quit my job or yell at my boss. One could say that my crazy pills arrived in time.
On the other hand, I did begin a minor fling with a young… very young… fellow from work. That can’t have been a good
idea. I’m hoping he doesn’t find “sane” me as appealing as crazy me, and he’ll just quietly go away.
I’m going to miss crazy me. Life on the roller-coaster is amazing when you’re on the ascent. I’ll miss singing and dancing in public. I’ll miss laughing out loud at dumb movies. And, if I’m honest, I’ll miss flirting with the sweet young thing from work. I could regret losing all of this, if I didn’t know that the roller-coaster always goes down again. There’s no escaping gravity.
And this insomnia is killing me! Sane me sleeps… I miss sleeping.

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How men think

I was reading something yesterday about what women will never understand about men, written by men. Much of it was stuff that we really don’t care about. Really… all that stuff about adjusting your balls… we don’t care. But I found one interesting thing. Men… apparently many men, because quite a few agreed and I didn’t see any dissenters… are loyal to their friends, no matter what. If his best friend becomes an asshole, then he just has an asshole for a best friend until one of them dies.

I find this fascinating! And I think it might explain a phenomenon that I’ve never understood. When you’re in a terrible relationship, and you break up with a man, why is he surprised? How did he not see this coming? Could it be that he was expecting unconditional loyalty?!

Happy Uncomfortable Conversations with Strangers Day!

Mothers: ya gotta love ’em… especially today…whether you like it or not.

I don’t begrudge anyone their day, but I can’t be the only one who just wants to disappear on Mother’s Day. It wasn’t always like this. When I was young this wasn’t an issue, but at some point strangers began assuming I have kids. I don’t. So every year, I have conversations like this, with people I don’t know…

person: Did your kids take you out for Mother’s Day?

me: I don’t have kids

person: oh….well…. you have a mother!

me: she’s dead

person: cat?

It isn’t just on Mother’s Day that I feel judged or pitied for not having kids, but this is the one day of the year when I can count on it happening…all day long.

When I woke up today, this was on my Facebook timeline, courtesy of someone who loves me:

What a wonderful thing to wake up to on a day when I was expecting nothing but awkwardness and a desperate wish that it was tomorrow. A thoughtful gesture, a nice compliment, and a hilarious joke, all wrapped into one. I encourage you to steal this meme if you have a friend who could use a smile. I guarantee it works.

Pancho and Lefty

Last night I posted The other bucket list, and it got a lot of comments.  One of them (from JDAWSGWORDS) began like this…

“I thought of “lefty living in a cheap motel” for some reason…”

Is there a better way to begin a comment than with a line from Pancho and Lefty? I don’t think there could possibly be. It made me think so many thoughts that I lost sleep.

I remember the first time I heard Pancho and Lefty. I loved it right away. I’m not even going to try to explain why. Listen to the song, if you don’t already know. Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard recorded a version that always gives me goosebumps. Townes Van Zandt recorded it first (and wrote it), and several others have covered it since. It’s one of those songs that I rarely think of until I’m reminded of it, and then it’s like I’m hearing it again for the first time. I’ll probably listen to it again before I finish this post, and it will give me the same feelings all over again.

At some point I thought, “this would be a good song to learn when I finally get around to learning to play guitar”. And then I realized I had left an important item off the bucket list: learn to play guitar. I’ve had a guitar since about 1982. My first was a beat up old nylon string Alvarez. I wish I still had it. I gave it to my brother when I got my new guitar (a Epiphone steel string acoustic) and in his innocence he attempted to put steel strings on it. It exploded. That would have been about 1999, or 2000. I never learned to play. I never put in the time. Occasionally I would cut off my fingernails and make some noise for a while, but it was never really playing.

Now Grumpy, on the other hand, could play the HELL out of a guitar. He DID put in the time. I think it’s accurate to say he was a master of blues guitar. Maybe the cruelest thing that has happened to him in his illness was losing that. One day he realized his hands could no longer do what he asked them to do, and he took the strings off his guitars for good. A very insignificant effect of that is that I no longer make noise on my guitar. It’s too sad for him. I took the strings off my guitar as well. When Grumpy is gone I will find myself in the strange position of being a very bad guitar player with some very good guitars. I think I’ll give it a try again. I might even take lessons this time.

As I was drifting off to sleep it occurred to be that Lefty would be an excellent name for a dog. I could have this conversation…

person: What’s his name?
me: Lefty
person: Why do you call him Lefty?
me: Pancho and Lefty
person: Where’s Pancho?
me: He died down in Mexico.

I don’t think I’d ever get tired of that.

Liebster Award!

Thanks so much to Lynn K. Scott of The Pink Herald’s Blog for nominating New Pollyanna for the Liebster Award. I’m always surprised when anyone thinks I have something of value to say, and this was no exception.

Now I have a little bit of homework to do! There are rules to follow… I’m pretty good at following rules, so I expect this will go alright…

1. Thank and link the person who nominated you. (check)
2. Answer the questions given by the nominator.
3. Nominate 11 other bloggers, who have less than 200 followers and link them.
4. Create 11 new questions for the nominees to answer.
5. Notify all nominees via social media/blogs.

Here are the questions Lynn sent to me. Spoiler alert… I WILL ramble.

  1. Who is someone you admire and why?   I suppose I’m cheating if I say I try to find something to admire in everybody, but that’s where I have to start. If I’m to pick one person, I’ll say my aunt Netta. She has been to Hell and back in her life, and I’ve never known her to be bitter about any of it. If you knew her history you would say she has every right to be bitter, but she has chosen to be happy instead. When I was a kid I used to wish she was my mother, and in many ways she’s been more of a mother to me than my own ever was.
  2. What is your favorite city?  I hope I haven’t found my favorite city yet. Someday I want to escape this ugly town I live in, and relocate to someplace with history, and archetecture, and charm. But of the cities I know, I’ll say Pittsburgh is my favorite. It has everything I love in a city… beautiful buildings, a colorful past, green spaces, traditions. It has its own unique culture and language. It has neighborhoods that are still distinct neighborhoods. I’m not a sports fan, but I can appreciate sports fans, and Pittsburgh has the best. It has the best fireworks shows ever. It’s the birthplace of more wonderful things than I can even begin to name, and it’s Mr. Rogers’ actual neighborhood!
  3. What did you want to be when you grew up and are you doing that now?  A few years ago I read an article that made this claim: people who do what they wanted to do as a child are happier than people who are doing something else. I read that, and thought, “well, I’m screwed”. I remember, very clearly, being asked that question as a youngster. I remember it because it was uncomfortable for me. I would always say, “I don’t know”, which was the truth! I had no idea what I wanted to be. Grown-ups didn’t like that answer though, so they would insist I come up with something, Finally I got wise, and realized you don’t have to tell the truth when someone asks you that question. I made up something that sounded plausible… maybe I said I wanted to be a teacher… something that no one could object to from a little girl. I remember coming up with the lie, but I can’t recall what the lie was… isn’t that always the way with lies? Later, in high school. I changed my go-to answer from something acceptible to something less acceptible… I said I wanted to be a plumber (it got the desired reaction). I’m not a teacher now, and I’m not a plumber. I STILL don’t really know what I want to be when I grow up.
  4. If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be?  London. I’ve never been there, but if I had the wherewithal I would move there right now, with Grumpy, Nebby and the cat in tow. I fell in love with it in books. Here’s a confession that I’m a bit ashamed of… when I read a line like, “they took a house in Queen Anne Street” I immediately go to Google Streetview and look it up. I take a virtual drive the entire length of the street I’m reading about, and pick out a house that I think might be the one. People who live in London could ACTUALLY GO THERE! How amazing would THAT be?
  5. Name three things you find admiral in a person. Honesty, humor, intelligence.
  6. What is your favorite thing to write about? I’m not creative… I can only write about two things: my opinions and my experiences. My favorites are the funny experiences.
  7. What do you find inspirational? In terms of writing? Hunter S. Thompson. I used to find Dorothy Parker to be inspirational… I don’t know what I was thinking there. Tons of others, but I’m drawing a blank right now.
  8. What was the last random act of kindness you did? Oh, wow… that’s a tough one. I don’t ever set out to do a random act of kindness, or at least I don’t think of it in those terms. Many years ago I decided that it was the duty of every human being to do everything he or she could do for others if the cost to him or her was less than the benefit to someone else. Of course I don’t live up to that standard, but I try to remember to try to do it. I think it’s absolutely essential to do what you can for others when it costs you nothing. Being polite, smiling at someone, opening a door for a mom juggling two babies, letting someone with one item go ahead of you in the store… all absolutely free, and any of those things could be the difference between a good day or a bad day to another person. As I was writing this answer I remembered my last random act of kindness… I stayed and chatted with a clerk in the grocery store this morning because she seemed like she needed to spend some time talking to someone. I really wanted to go home and go to sleep, and we weren’t talking about anything important, but she seemed to need a friend for a little while.
  9. Past or present, if you could meet one person, who would it be and why? Willie Nelson. Because he’s Willie f’n Nelson! But I don’t just want to meet him. I want to hang out with him.
  10. If you could have one “do-over” in life, what would it be? There was a time about 15 years ago when I was sexually harrassed by a VP at a company I worked for. I don’t think I handled it badly… I think I did what you’re supposed to do… but it didn’t work out in my favor. If I could do it over I think I’d skip telling anyone in the company, and instead I’d go straight to his wife. It probably wouldn’t work in my favor either, but at least SHE would have a chance to wring some justice out of him!
  11. Were you surprised to receive this nomination? Floored.

My nominees, in alphabetical order…

And some questions for the nominees. I’m keeping them simple, so please feel free to elaborate as you like.

1. What’s your favorite cartoon?

2. Do you prefer reading/writing fiction or non-fiction?

3. Do you have pets?

4. What are you currently trying to change in your life?

5. What was your first car?

6. What was your favorite class in school?

7. Name 5 movies I should watch.

8. How do you typically celebrate your birthday?

9. Which of the 3 stooges do you most closely resemble?

10. What is your favorite late-night snack?

11. Tell us a joke you could tell to a 5-year-old.

And that (aside from notifying some people) concludes my homework.  I hope my nominees will find their homework to be as pleasant as mine, Thanks again to Lynn!

The other bucket list

It sounds morbid, but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t have a list of things I plan to do after Grumpy kicks the bucket. It’s part of living with someone who is terminally ill. Life becomes about him. You have to wait your turn. And so, without even wanting to, you find that you’ve made a list of things to do… after. These are some of my things, in no particular order.

1) Buy a house. Sometimes I like to fool myself into thinking I can do this while Grumpy is still alive, but that won’t happen. He doesn’t want to live in the kind of house I want. I don’t want to buy the kind of house he’d be willing to live in. And he doesn’t want to move. He’s dug in. So for now I just save my money, and dream of the little house I’ll buy someday.

2) Spoil my dog rotten. Some people would say that I’m already doing this, but Nebby has to live with someone who is in a tremendous amount of pain, and that can be hard on a dog. If Nebby outlives Grumpy, I’m going to make it all up to him.

3) Get rid of all the furniture and start over. Most of it was Grumpy’s. Some of it I never liked in the first place, and most of it has suffered from life with Grumpy. He spills stuff. He used to start fires. There’s been some damage. There might be a few items that I’ll keep, but most of it will be gone as soon as that can be arranged. I want small furniture… no huge couches, desks or beds. I want things that I can rearrange myself if I feel like it. And I want old things. Small, old furniture for my small, old house.

4) Visit my brother. He lives in another state. I can’t travel now. When I can, I’d like to go see my little brother for a week or so. Nebby will be coming with me.

5) Start making quilts again. To be clear, I never finished a quilt in my life, but I like piecing quilt tops. I want to do some more of that.

6) Make rosaries. It’s been a long time since I’ve been what you might call a good Catholic, but I always loved making rosaries. I like making the cheap, plastic give-away rosaries, and occasionally I like making a nice one. I miss it.

7) Volunteer at an animal shelter. I think Nebby could do this with me. And we might even take in foster pets, if the cat can handle it.

8) Turn off the TV, possibly for good. I might even put it away in a closet.

9) Replace the flatware. Why does no one understand that you can’t stack a plate on top of another plate with a fork in between? My flatware is all bent. I hate it. It’s pointless to replace it now, but when I’m on my own I’ll be getting new, unbent utinsils.

10) Learn how to make friends, and make some. I’m not sure I’ll be able to pull this one off, but it’s worth a shot.

My personal journey into minimalism began with a dresser drawer.

if I write long enough (and you read long enough) you will notice that I love to try whatever everyone else is doing.  Not always… i will never try a fad diet.  I’ve lost nearly 40 pounds so far without consulting Beyonce, so I think I’m good there. And you’ll never catch me on the leading edge (and probably not even the trailing end) of a fashion trend.  In a world of Fashionistas I’m a Contra.  But when everybody” starts doing something that catches my fancy, I have to try it. I might only try it long enough to learn that I don’t really want to try it, but I have to try to try. My sister was right… I’m a copycat. Lately I’ve learned about the “new” minimalist thing that’s all the rage, and that immediately appealed to me. It’s been on my mind.

…my personal journey into minimalism began with a dresser drawer.  I didn’t organize it…I slept in it. I was an Army brat, born in another country to parents who would shortly be heading back home to the states. A crib was an unnecessary expense, so they put me in a drawer.  I’ve been told they didn’t close it.

My parents, like many of their generation (and almost everyone from the generation before) were accidental minimalists. When they had their children the two-income home was not yet common. Mom stayed home, dad worked. So many people today seem to think that times have changed, and now two incomes are necessary for the support of a family. But it’s the expectations that have changed, not the economics. It was possible to have four kids on one income back then because four kids meant 8 pairs of shoes (one every day, one dress for each kid) that Mom picked out, and we accepted. The shoes were analogous of everything. We wore hand-me-down clothes, we shared bedrooms, we economized everywhere. The main cleaning product in our home was elbow grease (which is as plentiful today as it ever was).

I grew up with the words “waste not, want not” in my ears, and it stuck. There is a world of minimalism in those four words, but there is also it’s opposite… a tendency to hoard. That had potential to fill my life with a load of things I don’t need, but life intervened.

I won’t go into it now, but something occurred a few years ago that caused me to lose most of my stuff. This might seem like a good mental exercise to expand your way of thinking about your things: imagine you are told you have 6 hours to pick one carload of your stuff to keep, and everything else must go. That happened. Instant minimalism. I would NOT recommend that to anyone. I lost some things I would much rather have kept. But I also lost all the clutter. All of it. Gone. Poof! Most of it has never been replaced. Some things I replaced because I needed them. A couple of things I replaced because I needed to stop resenting the person who made the decisions that caused me to lose them.

For me the challenge of minimalism is in the future stuff, and in the “stuff” that isn’t actually stuff… the stuff in my head. I could still do some purging in the house, and I probably will, but most of what is there will stay, for now.

I have way too many clothes, but that’s because I got fat. The big pile of skinny clothes might look unused, but I use those every day, for inspiration. And as I shrink into a new size, the fatter size gets chucked out immediately. I’ve always avoided trendy clothes, so those skinny clothes I wore a couple of years ago have some life in them yet, and by keeping them I avoid having to replace them later… minimalism of another color. I choose to shop less, spend less. I recently started reading about “capsule wardrobes”. I have capsules divided by size.

I did notice some shoes that had no business being in my closet.  Cute shoes that kill my feet.  Fugly shoes that don’t kill my feet.  I got rid of those. I’m finding things to purge.  Old cell phones! I need to put those on my list. I’ve been meaning to take them to the cell phone repair place to recycle… a project for this weekend. I’m not going to do any official challenges, or games, or lists, but I’m glad other people are doing them. It keeps this on my mind. It keeps me thinking in terms of “less”.

Hey kids, smoking is cool!

I’m addressing this to young people.  If you’re not young you’ve already made your choice and lived with the consequences.  The young people still have the decision to make, over and over.  You already know that smoking is one of the worst things you can do to your body.  I’m wasting your time and mine if I say another word about how unhealthy it is. We’re done with that.

Many people will try to convince you not to smoke.  Many of them will tell you that smoking is not cool.  These people are liars.  Smoking is most definitely cool.  OF COURSE it’s cool!  Why else would anyone do it?  Smoking cigarettes is the shortest shortcut to coolness that ever was, and this is why there are 42 million people (according to the first link I came to when I Googled it) smoking cigarettes in America today.  That’s why we all started smoking, and anyone who claims any other reason is lying to you.  I started smoking because a boy I liked was a smoker.  I wanted to be cool enough for him. That is, aside from a few details, every smoker’s story.  I quit once, but started again 6 months later because ANOTHER boy I liked was a smoker. Go figure.

Smoking is most definitely cool.  And now that we’ve had Mad Men, and people are “vaping”, smoking real cigarettes even has a whole, new retro-coolness.  Honestly, it’s no wonder so many people have fallen for it.

Now that we’ve established that, I’m going to tell you not to smoke.  You’ll either listen, or you won’t.  I hope you will.  If you don’t then it won’t be because I tried to bullshit you into thinking the Rat Pack (ask your grandmother) would have been cooler without the cigarettes.  This is the whole thing, in a nutshell: THERE ARE WAY BETTER WAYS TO BE COOL.  I already said that smoking is the shortest shortcut, and it is, but only because you pay the price later.  You’re buying your cool on credit, with high interest.  Be cool… absolutely… but for the love of everything good in this world, get a good bargain.

Here’s what I propose you do: start saving your cigarette money now.  Prices will vary, but you’re going to pay about 5 bucks a pack.  Let’s say you’re a pack-a-day non-smoker… put away 5 bucks a day.  In 6 month you will have 912 dollars.  This is a very nice sum of money, and with it you can buy one hell of a guitar.  Buy one.  The instant you take ownership you become cooler than you’ve ever been.  Now instead of saving your cigarette money, invest the time you would have spent earning 5 bucks a day, and spend that time practicing.  “I have no musical talent”, you say.  So what?  Most people who play guitar don’t have musical talent, and they’re all cooler than non-guitarists.  All you have to do is play better than all the people around you who DON’T play guitar, and that’s pretty easy.  “But won’t I be cooler if I play guitar AND smoke?”, you ask.  Well, yes, but you’re missing the point, and how cool do you think you need to be, anyway?  We’ve already had one Keith Richards, we don’t need another.

Does it have to be guitar?  Of course not.  It can be anything ridiculously cool.  Get a skateboard, and build a half-pipe in your backyard… that’s pretty damn cool.  Or lift weights, and get a 6-pack.  Learn martial arts.  Get your pilots license.  Buy a motorcycle.  When you start thinking in terms of things you could do with the resources you’d have to spend on smoking, there are some amazing things open to you.  Pick one of those.  Thank me later.

(or start smoking, and look forward to a future of saying really cool things like, “honey, would you reach over and turn off my oxygen so I can smoke a cigarette?”.  Your choice.)

I’m thinking about getting some sheep.

I’ve been saying things like this my whole life.  I get reactions like, “what the hell would you do with sheep?  What are you thinking?” or the opposite, “good for you!  When can I come meet your sheep?”

I should probably learn a new way to say these things so I won’t confuse normal people. It’s true that I’m thinking about getting sheep, but not anytime soon, and likely never.  The important thing is the thinking, not the sheep.  It’s a hobby of mine to think of doing things that I never do.  I used to believe this meant I’m unmotivated,  or I can’t follow through.  Now I realize that I just like to think.  I like to plan.  I would have to live 100 lives to do all of the things I’ve thought of doing.  Doing them isn’t always the point. There’s a place for daydreaming.

So, why sheep?  Because I’m thinking of buying a house… something I probable will do.  I have a very specific and unusual wish list for my house, and in this area those houses typically come with more land than a common suburban yard (and more than I need or really want).  My current dream house is on two acres.  I don’t need two acres, but there it is… on two acres, so I might end up with them. I’m not a die hard tree hugger, but I like to be nice to the world.  Mowing 2 acres, to my way of thinking, is too much global impact for 1 or 2 people to make.  The answer?  Sheep.

So I’m thinking about getting sheep, and if I must, I’ll get sheep.  Or I’ll find a normal house, and no sheep.  But still, I’ve enjoyed thinking about it.  Did you know there are miniature sheep?  They’re adorable!  Look it up… you’ll want one.  And there’s such a thing as a “hair sheep”, several kinds of hair sheep, in fact.  Apparently they don’t have to be sheared (which leads me to believe that normal, “poofy” sheep DO need to be sheared).  There are also pygmy goats, which are almost too cute to be believed, but I had a bad experience with a goat once so I won’t be taken in by their adorable little faces and those tiny hooves.  But sheep… thinking about it.

Good Ole Rocky Top

I was 21 or 22, out with my older, more respectable boyfriend at a place called Poor David’s Pub.  We were there to see a singer/songwriter  (and one of the most entertaining entertainers I’ve ever seen) named David Lutken (no relation to Poor David).  Lutken packed the house once a week and played the Hell out of his guitar while he sang everything from blues standards to pop hits to original songs, cracking jokes along the way.  By the end of the night his fingers were usually bloody, and his audience reluctant to leave.

On this particular night my date and I were sitting at a table just in front of the stage.  I was a bit drunk, and therefore uncharacteristically extroverted. And I was full of energy.  Lutken began to play one of his favorites, Rocky Top, and I was suddenly possessed by the need to dance.  My fuddy-duddy of a boyfriend declined, but had no objection to my finding another dance partner.  I don’t recall how many men I had to approach,  but one said yes.

I should mention that there was no dance floor.  There was nothing remotely like a dance floor.  There was a narrow aisle between the two rows of tables, that widened next to the stage by virtue of the fact that two chairs had been borrowed from the front row for use elsewhere.  This is where we danced.

I wore a clingy blue dress, with a skirt that flared perfectly with the slightest provocation, and high heels that were not designed for dancing, but were perfect for dancing because they practically threw me into my partner’s arms with every step.  I don’t know how to dance, but I know how to follow a lead, and this guy knew how to lead.  He had that special knack for turning my every misstep into something graceful,  without even taking the credit he deserved.  Lutken played what must have been the longest version of Rocky Top ever, the crowd clapped along while we twirled around on our tiny dance floor.  It was magical.

I sat back down with my date.  I can’t recall his reaction,  but that’s not important. Some time later my dance partner left with his friends,  and as he walked by he leaned over to say something polite.  I didn’t notice for a few minutes, but he also dropped a folded piece of paper in my lap, and when I opened it later I found that it was a short, but charming, thank you note, with his name and phone number.

I never called. I never saw him again.  I can’t say that I really regret not calling… not really.  But I’ve always wondered how one phone call would have changed my life.  And I can never hear Rocky Top without thinking of my one perfect dance with my perfect dance partner.