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Tuesday, July 25, 2017

And all I did was stop to help....

You would have done the same thing if you saw an elderly woman with a walker trying to flag people down. It was about 7:30 at night on a quiet road near my home. I did the only thing a person would do, I made a U-turn to see if I could help. She said. "I just want to go to 7-11, would you take me there?" Only Caligula would have declined so I loaded her walker in the back helped her into the front seat all the while wondering what I was doing....and what she was doing. She must need milk or something is all that was going through my head.

I start...."7-11 is pretty far, what do you need there?" I'm thinking, It's July, it's the desert, it's so hot...this is crazy.

She was a very nice looking older woman, stylish jeans, knit pink top, adorable straw hat with a scarf to match. So I was quite surprised by what came next. She began with an assessment of her situation which was 2 artificial legs and 2 fingers on one of her hands. Also a husband she hates with all her heart because she suddenly showed evidence of a previous longshoremen career. The number of swear words she packed into one sentence describing him was impressive. And not just the toe stub ones....the full on rap music ones.

It might have been the most incongruous moment of my life,

I also realized when she started speaking happy hour had long begun and I was probably on a beer run. And then I family is never going to believe this.

When we arrived at 7-11 I told her I would go in to get whatever she needed. She seemed relieved and handed me money with instructions to buy the yellow topped Chardonnay.

Yellow topped Chardonnay? Does 7-11 sell wine? I rarely go beyond an occasional Mountain dew and kit kat bar, so I went to the coolers to look for the wine. Sure enough there was wine! I chose 2 bottles of yellow topped Chardonnay and it was within the budget my new friend had provided. I quickly looked around to see how many people were there I knew because I was all ready to tell them "the funniest story!" I knew I was either in a Fellini movie or a Stephen King novel...time would tell.

I quickly went to the checkout line hoping to put an end to this escapade. But not quite yet.... the woman at the front of the line was also buying 2 bottles of Yellowtail Chardonnay. (Seriously? what are the odds?) She was having a disagreement with the checkout guy over the price of Yellowtail Chardonnay. She insisted it was 2 for $8, she was so insistent he had to make a call to someone to check. Even with a line that was now twisting around the store, she was not backing down and insisted it was 2 for $8. Not only am I buying Chardonnay at 7-11 but it is on sale, 2 for $8. She turns around sees I am buying the same thing and proudly tells me not to worry she is going to get this wine for us at the reduced price. All I can manage is, "Thank you so much" all the while hoping no one I know walks in because if there was ever a time for doing good deeds in private it was this one.

After finally getting to the front of the line, surviving the cold stare of the check out guy who has to sell more mismarked wine 2 for $8 I proudly get in the car with my purchase. Finding a deal seems to please me no matter what the circumstances so I think she will be delighted as well. I imagine her saying, "you wonderful woman! Thank you for providing me and my no good husband with enough wine to last us all week!"

Uh no....she is furious. That adorable straw hat does nothing to soften her anger at the 2 bottles of wine I have purchased.

"What am I going to do with that?" she practically screams at me.
"Wait, it's Yellow topped Chardonnay, isn't that what you wanted?"
"I wanted the little bottles I can just guzzle, that's too big! What can I do with that?" My vision of a couple of wine glasses, this delicious product, and some cheese must not have been her vision. She was highly incensed and I realized it was a Stephen King novel. I'm thinking if I don't make any sudden moves everything will be ok.
So I offer, "No problem! I will take it right back in and find the little bottles you can guzzle"
She calmed down and off I went wondering when this was going to be over.
I found 2 little bottles at $1.99 and convinced the beleaguered check out guy to swap it out and back to the car I went.

Happiness....I had completed the, where does she live? I couldn't remember where I picked her up and I am not sure she knows where she is either. But the Scarlet O'Hara comes out in me and I calmly ask her where she would like to go now.....oh please know where you want to go.
"Take me to the bathrooms at the park." Not exactly what I anticipated but ok there is a destination in that sentence, so good....
I start driving and she asks, "Where are you going?"
"To the park."
"This is the wrong park."
"OK, which park?"
"The one on Gowan."
To myself I think there's a park on Gowan? I had no idea...Where is the park on Gowan?
Then she says, "It's ok, you can drop me off anywhere" Well, I know where that is, so I pull over and she impatiently looks at me and says..."Can't you take me to the park?" I ask her, "A park on Gowan? How about if we just drive over to Gowan and look until we find the park?" That appealed to her so after driving quite a while we finally find the park. Yes! I drop her at the bathrooms, but not close enough the first time so on my second effort I get her walker out of the back of the car, situate her things and bid her goodbye...

Lucy Ricardo would have been so proud....

Monday, July 17, 2017

My Side Of The Bed

Yesterday I glanced at the table next to my bed and realized I was seconds away from an OSHA fine. There were books everywhere, on top, underneath, and the shelf in between, books I didn't even know were there. Since "the" surgery my attention span has diminished to that of a tweet. About 140 characters. I seem to be able to comfortably do a few minutes of scrolling on Facebook or Instagram, check the news on Twitter, then I deem myself informed and well read.

So much for reading a book, I'm like the pilot on Top Gun who admitted in that most dramatic scene, "I've lost the edge"

The confusion on my bedside table had to be cleaned and organized so I gathered and stacked. Then I took a moment to analyze because the books were like an archeological dig representing the last 7 months.

Some self-help books.
Some informational books
Some "good feeling" books
Books from friends
Books written by friends
Books for work
My favorite book.....

So many people brought books to me because, well, I love books...but I haven't been reading, just you ever buy books and then forget to read them? Today I am putting an end to that..I am going to start reading again. And I mean more than 140 characters.

I bet some of you have the same problem....admit it, you spend so much time on facebook, twitter, and Instagram and who knows what other social media sites that you have also forgotten how to read an actual book. So here are some wonderful suggestions My dear friend Carol Cassara put together a great summer reading list that I ordered several books from. Click on her name for ideas of great books.  From the books on my bedside table notice Midlife Cabernet written by my great good friend Elaine Ambrose, I highly recommend it.  There's a book from Tony Robbins Patti suggested, a book from Anne Lamott from Ann. The Jan Karon books are favorites of Connie, and then the books I ordered in the night - a cardiac book and a what to eat book...also how about the "younger next year"book?...Peggy Noonan, because well, it's Peggy Noonan and several work books....

We truly overuse social media, so join me while I cut back some and read more....

In no time at all we will be decorating for the holidays and won't have the time, so I am sending you to your room....Go read!!

Saturday, July 8, 2017

A Little Social Experiment Or Was It Lord of the Flies?

Recently I participated in a social experiment on Facebook. Could a group of conservatives interact with a group of liberals long enough to understand why they believe the way they do?

We managed to prove that if we were all in a lifeboat we might have rowed in the same direction but if the G20 Summit had come up someone might have received an oar to the head.

This morning I woke up with such a headache.

Here is my takeaway of almost a week of spirited debate.

1.) It's too hot for spirited debate, I tried to give it my "all", but I get to "all" a little faster than most. I wasn't nearly as understanding as I thought I would be.
2.) The people who were willing to find common ground, even though they still respectfully disagreed, engendered trust. When they brought up points I had not been exposed to I listened.
3.) When I debated (argued) with the sole purpose of being right I felt terrible. Because that was not the just be right, it was to learn about each other and discern why we believe the way we do. When we strayed from that purpose and just became partisan we were war like. Sometimes even eating our own.
4.) I met some intriguing and intelligent people. Over and over it makes every difference when we take the time to get to know each other. One person I found particularly intriguing had a serious heart event similar to mine. I was able to confide in him over some issues I have been dealing with about my heart and he gave me some great advice.
5.) We believe our bias and find news to prop up that bias, but sometimes we are wrong. The people willing to accept they could be wrong (and what cost is that anyway, is there a cosmic scorecard?) were the ones I learned the most from. The ones who simply considered themselves right and their side blameless for negative discord I ignore.

As some of you know I survived a very large heart event 7 months ago. I have to wonder what I was saved for.  Certainly not to bring contention, so I am tempted to back away. Or do I stay and concentrate on honest civil discourse? Is it even possible?

I know it is a gamble to discuss religion or politics and I wholeheartedly agree with that in a social setting. But can it be possible to interact civility in a designated forum without it turning into a food fight? Can you weigh out important issues when everyone in your circle looks and thinks just like you? Do you know someone without insurance? Or terrible insurance? Deductibles too high? Do you know someone hurt by Obamacare? Do you know someone hurt by taxes or strident regulations? Do you know someone helped by taxes? Do you know anyone in the military? On Welfare? Trying to manage care at a veterans hospital without luck? With luck? Do you know a woman unable to find care?

Getting outside our circle is imperative. I believe it is one of the reasons our government is so unresponsive to us. Our elected officials are clueless to our basic needs because they have iron clad pensions, health care and privilege. Go down the list of civil servants and see how many have been in government their whole lives yet are millionaires. Little is more important to them than fund raising as the process of election is incredibly expensive. Of course they are more responsive to money over constituents.

Here are my top 4 ways to survive the current political atmosphere.

1.) No click bait in fact I will not pass along articles at all as most are partisan.  I will be impeccable in my word and I won't manipulate facts to support my opinion. I will venture into conversational places I am timid to travel for balance and understanding.
2.) I will not root for someone to be wrong just so I can be right.....I won't be rigid without trying to see another persons point of view. and I won't take anything personally.
3.) I won't assume what someone is thinking...I will respectfully ask questions.
4.) I will do my best to continue a civil conversation, to see the good in others and stop labeling people for their beliefs. I will be respectful at all times.

If this reads like the 4 agreements then you spotted my artistic license with a way of thinking I find brilliant.

Maybe we can keep going with our social experiment, maybe we won't. But whatever happens I learned a lot about myself and which people I really listen to.