I was so preoccupied with preparing for and fretting over the trip to Holland to visit my nutty, old stepmother that I allowed myself to be quite lax on the exercise beforehand. Then of course, I got no exercise, not even a good walk while I was there. And when I came back, well what can I say, my exercise routine has continued to suffer. I was exhausted, mentally and physically that it was another week before I even got in a 20 minute routine. It was “Smooth” that got me moving. I had returned to slugdom and too much time in front of the computer playing spider solitaire. I really missed it though. The version I have on my old Dell desktop is like a dozen years old. Still the best.
But I was feeling antsy, knowing I had something better to do and wanting to get up and do it. I’ve let myself start slow and back into it smoothly, and Rob Thomas and Carlos Santana’s song “Smooth” helped me make the transition from slug to semi-active. Yeah, I’m not entirely there yet plus due to all recent events which started with being pretty ill-fed during my week away (really good fruit though) and my birthday, I’ve been eating like a pig. Did I mention that on Friday I smoothly transitioned into a sexagenarian? Had a lovely little party and sleepover with pizza and cake and good friends and the celebration extends to tomorrow when I hang out with the ex for breakfast and a movie.
This evening, I did workout to my usual hour-long routine starting with “Smooth”, the three Sly and the Family Stone songs, appreciating the wonderful Cynthia Robinson, whom we just lost, even more, and the entire Amy Winehouse CD, Back to Black. I even warmed up with Linda Ronstadt. Seriously, I will not go gentle into that good night, and plan to be one hot old broad.
Additionally, or maybe this was the point of me writing such an uninspired piece, I’m not writing again. I have a project, I was sticking to it, and was enjoying it. And I need to get back because I’m losing the motivation. I’m losing interest in my own plot and characters. I’m not even thinking about them. That’s been for a few weeks. I am still writing stuff, I’m still imagining and constructing, but things out of nowhere. I’ve way too many starts to really good ideas, but now I’m developing a list of opening lines about any little mundane thing – the tap tap tap of the lightly deflated birthday balloon against the window that let in a soft river breeze… And see, it got me up to write it down. However it’s not only out of nowhere, it doesn’t get me anywhere. Plus I actually don’t have the window open because it’s cold out and the balloon and the vase of flowers to which it’s tied that had been delivered two days ago (now I’m just showing off) are sitting on the HVAC and going boing boing boing rather than tap tap tap.
Yep, I need to get my rhythm back.
There have been quite a few times that I’ve mentioned Cynthia Robinson throughout the two years I’ve been blogging. I’m glad I got to pay tribute to her and saddened at the news of her death. In case you don’t know, Cynthia Robinson was the trumpet player for Sly and the Family Stone, and was a true musical icon of the 1960s and a pioneer for women, all because she just wasn’t interested in playing the flute. And of course, she is an important part of my fitness routine. Only last night I marveled at her talents during “Higher” as I exercised to my best of Sly CD, and her ordering us all to get up and “Dance to the Music.” She died of cancer yesterday at the age of 69.
This is a rare Tuesday post on The Walrus Was Paul, but to Cynthia Robinson I’d like to say thanks one more time, and farewell.
Before you read the article I wrote but didn’t post last week as my complaining and accompanying picture didn’t seem appropriate at the time, I want you to know that while I am oh so very proud of myself for taking the trip to visit my nutty, old stepmother in Holland and glad it is behind me, I have suffered some bizarre effects upon my return. For starters, during a conversation with my staff regarding the annual company Thanksgiving luncheon, I insinuated some sort of violence in my upbringing. I only recall one such instance and truly believe it was a one-time occurrence for which all parties were remorseful, so among all the issues in my family, violence was not one of them and I didn’t quite understand my outburst. Then the next day, because we were chatting between callers for the afternoon session of the online chat with a doctor who works with our department, I began to sing “You Sexy Thing,” that 70s tune by Hot Chocolate (not to be confused with Sexual Chocolate from the movie Coming to America). There was a reason, I promise. I was explaining that one of my many trepidations of taking the trip was that I had to get myself from the Amsterdam airport to The Hague bus station by train, then get on the #22 to my stepmother’s apartment, which I did with more ease than I thought I could considering I was in another country and in the handful of times I’d been over there, I’d always been picked up at the airport. So reversing the process to get home was a snap, and as the #22 bus pulled away from the stop in front of the apartment house, the song that was playing on the cigarette smoking driver’s radio was “You Sexy Thing.” The doctor, being just a bit older than I, knew the song, but my colleague did not, ergo, I had to sing the opening lines “I believe in miracles. Where you from. You sexy thing,” and relayed that my inner selfie cried out, I’m from New York, and I am going home! Of course my odd behavior didn’t stop there, and when the doctor started talking about grammar during another break, and the difference between “I feel bad” and “I feel badly,” each time he said “I feel bad” I heard James Brown yell out “I feel good” and found it necessary to voice the notes that follow out loud. “Na na na na na na na.” You know it.
Now, read on. Or not. Up to you. But just look at that picture of me and try to resist at least taking a peek into what inspired it:
Behind my stove sit two of those corked ceramic jars that have words or expressions carved into them. One reads Snide Remarks and the other Ennui. They were both gifts from my colleagues at the craft gallery where I worked in Bayside. If you have ever been there, yes, it was the one with all the cats. I believe both jars were special orders just for me. Snide Remarks would be obvious to anyone who knows me. I am snide, but not churlish, I hope. I have been known to be quick-witted, and in case you think I lack humility, I have also been known to be dim-witted, at times. The one that says Ennui is another story. The word itself sounds kind of snide, as many French words may. It translates as boredom but has a wider feel as it represents lethargy, listlessness, disinterest and as one definition notes – utter weariness. You’ve all felt it now and then and when you do, you feel it all over your body. It makes your head feel heavy and you want to just lie on the floor and tell everyone to leave you alone and come back another day. Perhaps that is an extreme and diminishes the power of the word boredom and the ability to scream out “I’m bored” as an effective way of communicating the sensation. Saying “I feel ennui” does not come across the same way, and to emphasize our boredom, we have expressions like “bored to death” and “bored to tears” to illustrate that immense unfillable void.
So when my crazy old stepmother, who had gotten herself hauled off and locked up in a psych ward and has now been living in a nursing home in The Hague not far from her apartment where she yearns to return, called me at 4 in the morning, her time, and cried out “I’m so bored,” I felt for her, big time. Even before she was taken away more than a year ago, she would call me in her wee hours, knowing that it was well before midnight my time, to chat. I was glad to be there for her as that would be the time she would get herself into trouble, and I was glad that she would call from her little room, as she describes it, that was making her so sad and so bored. “Can’t you come,” she would say, and I would always come up with an excuse. It’s true, I don’t like to fly anymore, and now with plane crashes happening a little too frequently, it is getting scarier. She eventually accepted that, but I know that if I really wanted or needed to, I would buck up. I’d been putting it off for years. We get along so much better over the phone.
My last trip four years ago was such a disaster, that I vowed never to return. She has a habit of dragging out the child she never knew, and poking at her many sore spots. My stepmother can be quite mean when she wants to. Last visit she kept bringing up my mother, how beautiful she was and how sad, as if I didn’t know that. She wanted me to take family pictures home with me as she didn’t want them anymore, but I have them all already and I told I didn’t mind if she threw them out. “No, no, you have to do it. You will have to rip them up. I can’t do it. You mother was too beautiful.” Yes, she wanted me to rip up pictures of my tragic mother. I think I don’t have to explain further and as tempted as I am to say “and you know what else she did? I’ll spare you. And me.
But I’m a strong person, I am, and I’ve recovered again and again, and have protected and comforted that little girl. I should point out that my stepmother was never a parent to me, and we only became friends after my father (who was also not much of a parent) died about 25 years ago and there have been times when I think we were actually fond of each other. Many times. So, as she is 89 and said that she won the right to return to her home (which has been confirmed if she gets 24 hour help), I decided it was time and just made the plane reservations before I could talk myself out of it again.
There was none of the spoiling she had promised me, not that I really expected it and she used me as a nursemaid, which was more like what I did expect, just not to the extent it was. She kicked the little girl again, and made her cry, but I managed to curtail it and it only happened once. I tried being more kind and helpful than before, as well as independent, getting from the airport to her apartment by public transportation and doing the food shopping on my own, both of which made me feel even stronger. No, this visit was not as bad as last time, however the word gross can describe much of it. In fact, when I got home after greeting a much relieved Max, I showered longer than I have since I was in high school.
And that’s all I want to say about it at this time. I am home, I am happy, Max is happy, and the rare selfie you see that I took while sitting on my stepmother’s old dusty couch in front of the large portrait her first husband painted of her, depicts the face that I covered with a much more serene one throughout my trip.
I promise next week, less complaining and more music and exercise. But just remember I said “less” complaining.
It just doesn’t seem like a good idea to post the article I wrote for tonight’s blog about my Holland trip that I took last week to visit my nutty, old step-mother, considering the horrific events in France the other day. In particular, the selfie I took of my inner-self throughout that week may appear to be disrespectful. Mostly however, my ails and woes, though I try to deal with them with a bit of humor, don’t amount to a hill of beans in this crazy world.
Taking a little blog break – Tell you about it next week. Or not. – TWWP
You know, I have things on my mind right now. Kind of major stuff. Nothing that anyone should worry about other than me. That is if you were to worry about me at all. But I don’t feel like writing, particularly about what is on my mind right now, and that is all I’m thinking about. Plus, I am having serious pen malfunctions.
First, as I’m writing this, the black pen of the Pilot G-2 07 set that I keep a steady supply of, just ran out of ink, and the other pen sitting on the coffee table (that I can see as the table needs a good sweeping of papers and what-not that have piled up), is the pen that came in a request for a donation to an organization I don’t know of, but do make donations to one similar. I think it’s the same organization that sends a nickel along with a letter that says something like – do you know what a nickel can do? This of course causes me to think – then why don’t you just keep it? I’ve collected 10¢ from them so far, and a pen that has extended its nib fully and won’t retract. But I have to use it anyway, because while I don’t want to write, it seems that I am.
And please, I am not saying don’t give to charities that send you stuff, just don’t feel obligated to do so. I actually donate to one that has sent me a half dozen world maps. It’s the cost of doing business, as they say. Do use the stuff. It would be silly to waste them (though I don’t know what to do with all the maps), and do give to charities that you think are worthwhile.
Hey – Do you all know what today is? It’s Trouble-Buddy’s birthday! In a few weeks, we’ll be the same age again.
It’s no surprise to me that “Drive My Car” is one of my favorite Beatles’ songs. I like going for drives and just looking at the scenery, even it’s just the other cars on a highway. There’s always something going on, if not outside the car then on the inside of my head. I think I was born that way. I was a somewhat introverted kid. Not anti-social, just socially awkward, and was often called out, oh so disapprovingly for my awkwardness to the point of eventual self-consciousness. And also, I just liked to be alone in my thoughts. Still do. And I’m still working on that self-consciousness thing, which is coming along nicely, thank you.
I don’t know what I thought about when I was very young, but I do have some relatively vivid memories. In fact, I remember a suburban daycare or summer camp in a big old house surrounded by vast wooded grounds, in which was an old car parked in the middle of a grassy section not far from the outdoor play area. It was more than just a chassis, although I don’t think that it could have been much more as they would have wanted it safe for the kids. How old I was I can’t really recall. Very young but not too young to be allowed to wander off by myself to sit behind the wheel of the old car in the early sixties, a time when children could still run about pretty freely. As an example, when visiting my little friend on the next block from my home, we would often sit in the middle of the street on warm summer days popping tar bubbles. That was lots of fun, but jeez, where was her mother. It wasn’t a rural area, it was suburbia, with cars. Not near as many as today, and we never got run over, but that’s the kind of relaxed attitude had by some raising children in that time and that place.
Climbing into the car and putting my hands on the wheel with limited knowledge of my destination, I knew I could get there if I just kept turning the steering wheel back and forth. And though my feet didn’t reach the pedals, I was going. When the little girl sent to fetch me for show and tell one afternoon called out to me from the unpaved driveway mere feet away from the car’s grassy perch, she met with resistance and left in confusion. “I have nothing to show,” I replied to her when she let me know I was being summoned for the activity. “Then tell something,” she said. “I have nothing to tell,” I explained and kept on driving. I remember she stood there for a moment, shrugged knowing that she failed in her task, and went back inside. No one bothered me again that day.
I was nineteen when I got my driver’s license. Most of my friends had gotten theirs two or three years prior and had gone off to college. I would take my mother’s 1967 dirty white Dodge Dart, the one with one headlight that slanted upward and the other that slanted inward, probably caused by slamming into buildings too close to parking spaces, and who knows what else, and with the dented passenger side door that my then boyfriend’s best friend described as an elephant fart. Other drivers would constantly flash their brights at me thinking that the misaligned light from my car that was hitting them in the eyes was because I had my brights on. I was not as embarrassed to be driving around in the pitiful looking and sounding vehicle as one may think. It wasn’t my years of excessive drinking and lax drunk driving laws that were responsible. I kind of felt sorry for the car, it was after all the family car and like me didn’t damage itself. Plus I loved to drive and it would take me where I wanted to go. I’d go out day or night with a map, getting lost anyway, but always making my way back to my mother’s house, which was in as bad condition as the car.
The ex loves to drive more than I do, and when we hooked up, I could be the passenger, being driven and not having to concentrate on anything but my thoughts and the music on the radio. It was almost like the silent two hours I’d spend as a girl, fortunately not that often, in the car with my father as he drove me to his apartment in New Jersey, where it seemed that the divorced fathers of Long Island were relegated. He’d have the radio on to a station for the contemporary music of the time. Not rock like what would be on the ex’s radio, but I could get into it. The difference in driving with my father and driving with the ex is that the latter was better because I wanted to be there. And my father was a lousy driver who I always imaged had one foot on the gas and the other on the brakes, cause that’s what it sure felt like. The ex was a very good driver, who has improved as he mellowed. (He’ll get that last sentence)
All this was long ago and I’m very rarely even in a car these days. Besides, I’ve not been behind the wheel of a car in such a long time, and things have changed so much that I don’t think I can remember how to drive. There’s a lot to learn about the operations of a vehicle now. And it’s not just me missing crank windows, and keys. It’s way beyond that. So, it would be very beneficial to have someone to drive my car for me, even though I don’t have one.