How To Love After 50 Years

LoveAfter50years

PhotoCredit:Seniorlivingrockies.com

I spent last Tuesday in the hospital with my father, admitting my mother, and then waiting for her to come out of surgery. She was having a herniated cervical disc removed. No big whoop.

I used to get defensive when I was expected to attend certain family gatherings or my parents asked if I could meet during the week for lunch. I didn’t think that they respected the fact that, even though I didn’t have a 9-5 or 10-6 or 8-5 (for example) job, it didn’t mean that I was always available.

Maybe being available is why I freelance. So that I can be there for my parents when one of them has to go to the hospital. Maybe this is a part of my calling, my purpose. Maybe I’m the caretaker that horoscopes say us Virgo’s are.

I was thankful that I could spend the entire day with my dad, doing headstands (me, not him) to prevent leg clots that sitting and waiting can cause, eating bad cafeteria food and running out for wine before he started to sweat and tremble.

I had to be there. I wanted to be there.

The familial tides are shifting. I was now asking the hospital staff to bring my mother water. I was listening to the doctor’s post op instructions because my father’s hearing isn’t so good. Although, instead of caretaker, I prefer personal assistant.

I was supposed to be there. I’m supposed to be available to them.

After 53 years, my parents love each other like they did when they first met. They are each other’s best friend, and they both know that, at this point, who else would have them. They care for each other intensely and they would crumble without the other one.

This I witnessed last Tuesday.

It brings me to tears. I told my dad that I wanted someone to feel about me the way he feels about my mother. I want someone to be afraid to lose me. I told him that they set the bar pretty high. He told me that what he and my mother had required work.

I wasn’t afraid of work. In fact, I welcome it because it would mean that I had something, or someone, that I felt was worth working on. Isn’t that something to write home about?

When my dad and I were allowed to see my mom, she was hooked up to all sorts of plugs, chords and machines. She was pale, but for the most part, she looked good, even her hair. She had just come out of anesthesia. I kissed her. My dad followed and then stood at the end of the bed, squeezing her foot (not feet) one foot.

I could see the relief in his face and just how nervous he had been throughout day. It was as if that squeeze steadied him and confirmed that she was still with him.

Then, out of nowhere, my mother pointed to my dad and said to me, “Did you see the shirt he’s wearing?” Earlier in the day, my dad and I were talking about clothes, (I forget in what context), and he told me that, while my mom was being admitted into the hospital, she saw that his collar was frayed, and she made a remark about why he’d leave the house wearing a tattered shirt.

And there it was. Their whole relationship neatly wrapped up in a frayed collar.

 

Teenage sex

Is Teenage Sex Happening Under Your Roof?

images

REPOST… All new on Tuesday!

Would you let your teenage daughter, and her boyfriend, sleep together in your house with the potential of teenage sex also happening in your house? Would you even let her boyfriend sleep over?

A few years back, my boyfriend’s teenage daughter asked us if her teenage boyfriend, could spend the night. The first thing I thought of was that they were going to have teenage sex. My boyfriend knew where I stood on the topic. No f’in way!

After a bit of cajoling and guilt, I caved. We set him up in the basement on a futon. We also made it perfectly clear that this was not to become a habit. For me, the issue falls under the broad category of boundaries (mine) and speaks to the idea of respect, and what I’m comfortable with. We’re not running a brothel here people.

When I was a senior in high school, I asked my mens group attendee, consciousness raising meeting host, grass-toking, Kerouac reading, Woodstock foregoing because the traffic was going to be too intense, parents if my boyfriend could sleep over. It was after nine o’clock and he only had his permit. They agreed but I could tell that they weren’t excited about the idea.

He slept in the guest room down the hall. In the middle of the night, my boyfriend tiptoed the 50 feet down to my bedroom, and climbed into bed with me. We thought we’d pulled one over on my folks and felt oh, so grown up.

The next morning, we all met in the kitchen for breakfast. My boyfriend and I looked at each other, and then caught a glimpse of my mother’s face. Her look screamed disrespect, disappointment and two-bit hussy. Under breath but loud enough for me to hear she said, “How dare you.”

What could I say? I was royally embarrassed and I felt like a child. I was a child. Maybe that was the point. I had betrayed their trust in the most sordid and humiliating way. If there was anything that I held near and dear to my heart, and which remains the same today, is my unwavering respect for my parents.

This incident affected me deeply and from that moment on, I have gone out of my way (almost to a fault) to do the right thing and to never put my parents, or anyone that I care about, in an uncompromising or uncomfortable position.

Now, with my boyfriend’s children, I must see to it that it is I who is never put in an uncompromising or uncomfortable position. Ah, the circle of life. I know that the children aren’t mine, in the biblical sense, and I know that, just because I was a disrespectful hussy, it does not mean that the Girlfriend Mom daughter will be. I have my mothers steely look seared into my brain, and that alone ensures that there won’t be any sneaking down hallways, or co-ed sleepovers.

I know that this is a process, like everything else in this relationship. I’m confident that, as I become more comfortable around the kids, that my sphincter will release its grip. images-1

Einstein_Opposite

Are You Insane or Is Something Else Going On?

PhotoCredit:loveserveshine.com

PhotoCredit:loveserveshine.com

I think by now we’ve all heard Einstein’s definition of insanity; you know, doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. If this is the case (and all roads lead to it being so) then I am bat shit crazy.

Sure I could list the many, many, ways that would colorfully illustrate this insanity; tales of arrogance, ignorance, insecurity, fear, and on occasion, good ol’ fashion stupidity.

As funny (and sometimes sad) as these gems are, I’ve put them behind me. I’m changing the record, rewriting my movie’s story, switching out the 8-track (what?). I’ve decided to do things differently.

As someone close to me once asked, after I spent 12 hours in Nicaragua after impulsively accepting a non-paying job working with drug addicted kids in the barrio, and then moving back to my parent’s house, ”How’s this working out for you?”

In the Seinfeld episode, The Opposite, George Constanza begins doing the opposite of what he would normally do. I have to admit that I’ve only seen the first six minutes, so I don’t know how it ends, but it’s really the concept that I’ve taken to heart. I’ve been doing the opposite.

I’ve made crap ass choices and I’ve made some of the best decisions of my life. But when it feels as if you’ve been chasing your tail, because you keep ending up back where you started, time and time again, even I can see that something isn’t working.

It makes sense (at least to me) to take an honest look at possible reasons and explanations. I mean really look; like pick up the friggin’ area rug and sweep that shit out, looking. Look under the bed too. And of course in the mirror.

I’ve pulled geographics, I’ve left jobs when things got too hard and I’ve doubted myself, and let insecurity take control. Even when I’ve identified my impulsive choices, and less than stellar decisions, I carried on, expecting, as Einstein said, that this time would be different. It wasn’t.

Doing things differently isn’t for the feint of heart, especially if you’ve got decades of thinking, reacting and behaving in a certain way. Resisting what comes naturally, or what is habit, is not easy.

Unless of course you like chaos, drama, endless complaining and dissatisfaction, while you continue to wonder why where you are is not where you’d like to be, but just can’t understand why. If this doesn’t bother you, carry on.

I can tell you from personal experience that when you begin to do things differently, doors open, and opportunities reveal themselves. I know now that when I catch myself and there’s is a clear choice between the old and the different, and the idea of the latter scares the holy bejesus out of me, then I know that I’m in the right place.

Besides, what do I have to lose? Insanity will always be available to me.

 

Betrayal and Trust

Betrayal and Trust: This Video Speaks Volumes

p5rn7vb
Betrayal and Trust

CreditTo:ashridge.org.ik

Trust is everything and it’s betrayal can have everlasting and profound effects. Then I saw this.

I took the liberty of transcribing it because the words about trust and betrayal are just as beautiful, and inspiring, as the dancers and their abdominals. Holy crap.

I don’t know who wrote this piece, but credit goes to the dancers, Alya Titarenko and Gael Ouisse, (who may, or may not be the writers), and Cirque Du Soleil.

Alya and Gael have to trust each other, as acrobats in Cirque du Soleil they sometimes literately put their lives in someone else’s hands. Trust is a confusing thing. It seems so simple but when you try to pin it down, it can be elusive.

I think of the way that my body sits on a surface that’s new to me, unknown, and how my muscles remain tight, anticipating anything, and I’m constantly aware of that surface.

Over time, with familiarity, I can relax and start to lean back. For many of us that initial tension exists so much of the time, we expend so much energy watching and calculating, trying to predict, reading signals in people, ready for anything to change suddenly, preparing to be disappointed, so much energy spent. 

We talk about trust as something we build, as if it’s a structure or a thing, but in that building there seems to be something about letting go. And what it affords us is a luxury that allows us to stop thinking, to stop worrying that someone won’t catch us if we fall, to stop constantly scanning for inconsistencies, to stop wondering how other people act when they’re not in our presence. It allows us to relax a part of our minds so that we can focus on what’s in front of us. 

And that’s why it’s such a tragedy when it’s broken. A betrayal can make you think of all of the other betrayals that are waiting for you and things that you haven’t thought of; people you rely on, and you can feel yourself tightening up, bracing, and in the worse cases, you might resolve to trust no one.

But that doesn’t really work. Trust is your relationship to the unknown; what you can’t control and you can’t control everything, and it’s not all or none, it’s a slow and study practice of learning about the capacity of the world and it’s worth it to keep trying and it’s not easy. 

Alya says that trust is like a fork; not one way, many ways, physical, emotional, maybe something else. I almost imagine trust as these invisible hands that we stretch out into the world looking for someone to hold onto, as we walk into the unknown future. Alya and Gael began practicing together as friends and now they are a couple. It took time.

So who do you trust and how can you grow? 

Texting in Dangerous Places is Dangerous

Texting while on a bike

I think that we can all agree that texting while driving is dangerous. Yet, I don’t see it ending anytime soon, no matter how many innocent lives are lost, or graphic PSA’s are shown.

And it’s bad enough that people are texting and walking, with their heads bowed, focused on their cell phones, making a never you mind about bumping into people, carrying on without so much as an “excuse me”, or “sorry.” 

But may I present to you the latest in stupidity and selfishness. Texting while bike riding. Since I’ve taken to biking around the city as my mode of transportation, I’ve had the displeasure of witnessing this dangerous and idiotic behavior first hand.

The thing about riding a bicycle is, um, well, you have to pay attention, especially when you’re navigating through midtown traffic, trying to cut a path between the Fresh Direct delivery truck and the M23 bus. And how are you supposed to do that when you’re looking down and texting?!

Then, to add utter cluelessness to the already asinine, let’s wear earphones, so I don’t hear any of those adorable bells frantically being rung, begging you to look up to see that I’m about to cross your path. 

All I ask is that my life not be compromised. Be a douche on your own time. Don’t endanger others. How precious can that text be, that you have to reply while you’re making a left hand turn off of the bike lane, forcing the bikers behind you to slam on the brakes because you’re working the key pad instead of your hand signals? 

It’s truly astounding to me what people are willing to risk because of their impatience. And for what? Walking, driving and biking can all be dangerous, why up the ante? I don’t get it. Do you not value your life? Others? Do you think that you’re invincible? Tragedy only happens to others? 

This selfishness, and the inability to digitally disconnect, is only getting worse. I shutter to think about when Google Glass (or some other hi tech gadget) is on everyone’s face. People will be able to text, leave voice mails, check their emails, twit, Facebook and post the accident that they just caused in real time on Instagram. 

Maybe it’s time to leave the city. Hmmm….

Half-Naked In Front Of Strangers

Half Naked In Front of Strangers In her autobiography, Good Morning, I’m Joan Lunden, Joan Lunden wrote, “4:30am comes around very early.” I couldn’t agree with her more. I was up at the butt crack of dawn this past Sunday, for I was about to compete in my first Pole fitness event.

I rode my bicycle to the theater, as a feint drizzle fell onto the dark city streets, and my freshly flat ironed hair. I wondered if rain was good luck on pole competition days like it is on wedding days.

When I arrived, the doors were still locked (I might’ve been a tad overanxious), so I rode around the block a few times and returned a few minutes later. While I waited to check in, I nervously watched half-naked women warm up, wearing their leg warmers and youthful grins.

I retired my leg warmers years ago, but the nerves were the same as those felt when I took dance class in the city during college. Half Naked In Front Of Strangers I started to rethink this crazy idea.

Am I really going to get up on stage and dance, half naked, in front of strangers? Unlike doing stand-up, and hiding behind jokes and self deprecating humor, the 45mm pole wasn’t going to shield me from squat, and they’d see the squat as well.

Sure I danced in musicals, but I wasn’t a professional. Most of the time I was only pretending to be a professional dancer by walking around with my feet turned out (ow) and carrying a stupidly large dance bag. Seriously, how much room do leotards and Capezios need?  

We had an hour to practice on the stage with the poles. It was the first time under the lights and it all felt a lot bigger than my living room, where I did most of my practicing.

I ran my routine once, humming the music in my head, and when I was finished, I went to the end of the line, which moved slowly. I grew increasingly impatient and nervous. I told myself that it was okay if I didn’t run the routine a second time (like everyone else was doing). If I did poorly, my excuse was not having enough practice. And who does this hurt exactly?

The other thought I had was, did I have a right to take my time, and practice again? Simply put, I wasn’t taking myself seriously because, as I am starting to understand, this leaves less room for rejection, failure and heartache.

I caught myself, and because I’m doing things differently, no matter how uncomfortable, I said, fuck it, I’m taking another spin. Why wouldn’t I do whatever I could to ensure the best possible performance? Hey Freud, you’re needed backstage.

I had another revelation. Keep in mind this is all happening before 8AM. Pole isn’t a career move. As sad as it is, that ship has sailed. Oh, the lost potential.

Doing something for the simple joy of it was never enough. There had to be a pay off, a goal, an end result. Inevitably, I’d see whatever new thing that I was attempting as a career move. I’d easily drop what I was currently working on for the new kid in town.

I’d soon realize that it was going to take more work than I had anticipated (why does being the best take so long) I’d find something else. This all could’ve been avoided had I learned the word, hobby.

Before I took the stage, I remembered to see the pole for what it was; a hobby. No pressure. My only job was to have fun, and not fall. And if I should become National Champion in the 40+ category some day, it will be because it came out of an honest and healthy place.

Something happens when I’m on stage. If I know the material cold, (as I should) and in this case, the choreography, my body goes on auto pilot. In stand up, I’d just keep talking. In both cases, I watch my performance from outside of myself. It’s surreal because I don’t know if I’m in the moment or I’ve blacked out.

I finished my routine and walked offstage feeling a surge of adrenalin, wearing a big ‘youthful’ grin on my face. The stage manager, who had competed the day before, and who was in my age bracket, said, “Keep doing this.”

I will continue because I can’t quantify the smile that I wore or the joy that I felt in my heart.

Later in the day, when I changed clothes, I noticed that my shorts were on backwards. I cannot wait to see the video. At least they weren’t inside out.

I placed second and I was shocked, speechless and proud. It was the icing on what had been a very informative and revelatory cake.

Half Naked in a pole How do we see ourselves? How do strangers see us? Are they the same? Isn’t it time that we release ourselves from our negative self perceptions that we’ve been hauling around since junior high school?

As evidenced by straddling a pole half-naked, and in shorts that were on backwards, my old perceptions of myself no longer apply. Can I get an amen?