Walking. Bring out your Dead!

It all started with an article Susan sent me. This one or something like it: 10-second balance test could predict longevity. “The inability to stand on one leg for 10 seconds in mid to later life is linked to a near doubling in the risk of death from any cause within the next 10 years, according to research published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine.”

I try to ignore it. Put it out of mind. Impossible.

So, it’s 4 am, yesterday morning, and I’m standing in the bathroom, trying to balance on my left foot. Counting down 10-9-8-7-6… I reach for the counter.  You have got to be kidding.

I go at it again.  Whispering the count down, 10-9-8-7… I reach for the counter again. OMG. I can’t do it.

I pause, inhale, and while balancing on my right foot, I reach down for my sock and put it on my left foot. No problem. I got this.

I’m brushing my teeth, and my attention is drawn back to the sock on my left foot.  OMG, I put the right sock on the left foot. 

I rush back to review the article, to see if the study found any connection to Alheizmer’s. Wow, thank God for that.

Later that day, I tell Susan the story of the balance-thing and the right sock on the left foot.

She knows that I have sh*t for balance, unable to stand on one foot for any length of time before toppling. Barely able to navigate on two feet. Can touch my toes, but no more. Not bendy. Nothing there. Not going to happen.

And after 38+ years of marriage, you know, you just know with certainty what comes next.

And you think that an adult, a defined term for what I am supposed to be at this stage of my life, I can stand quietly, watch the performance, listen, smile, and say something polite: “Wow, that’s so good.” “Or that’s nice.”

She starts her demonstration. She’s standing on one foot. Think Karate Kid.  You know the Crane Kick.  Then she moves to Yoga. The Tree Pose.  Warrior Three Pose.  Then she moves to the floor. Downward facing dog. Up dog. Before you know it, she’s gone through her entire Vinegar Flow or Vin-Damn-Something.

OMG. Sorry. I can’t take it. I’ve seen this performance hundreds, maybe thousands of times, or 300 iterations of it.  She’s a retired high school and collegiate gymnast. Now amateur yoga enthusiastic. I just can’t take it.

She’s on the floor, rolling around doing her Dog Sh*t —  I turn my back and start walking away.  I know it’s rude, but I- just-can’t-take-it-anymore.  She’s mumbling something about Hare Krishna, my back to her, her voice fading as I make my way up the stairs. My God, JUST STOP. [Read more…]

Just another Friday night…

  • 8:05 pm. I arrive at home, 15 hour day. ooooooo, how do you spell, e-n-o-u-g-h…
  • 8:10 pm. Sitting at kitchen table. Thai takeout. Cold. Sticky rice, stucky rice.
  • 8:15 pm. Susan fussing with remote and TV. “Bloody cable box must be broken.”
  • 8:16 pm. DK: “No, must be the TV.  It’s time for one of those new 8K T.V.s.”
  • 8:17 pm. SK: “Are you out of your mind?”
  • 8:17 pm. She continues fussing with remote.
  • 8:18 pm. I’m picking at the cold rice which is slathered with Duck sauce.
  • 8:19 pm. I google Cablevision to see if there are outages. Widespread outages since 7:49 pm.
  • 8:20 pm. DK: “Why don’t you google it?”
  • 8:21 pm. SK: “I’m not googling anything. You google it.”
  • 8:22 pm. 36 years of marriage last week. I sit in silence and pick at the cold Garlic Chicken.
  • 8:23 pm. She reboots the cable box by powering it on and off. She waits for system to reset.
  • 8:26 pm. System resets.  She curses. Still no fix. She’s now irritated, advancing to angry.
  • 8:26 pm. She scurries over to the other room to test that TV.
  • 8:27 pm. She’s back. She’s isolated root cause to a cable problem.
  • 8:28 pm. She resets the entire T.V. to default settings. And waits and waits and waits.
  • 8:39 pm. It’s back up. No fix.
  • 8:40 pm. She runs downstairs to reset cable modem to reset the entire system.
  • 8:45 pm. Alarms beep. Entire system reboots.
  • 8:45 pm. I’m watching her with the remote, clutching a crucifix, whispering to herself.
  • 8:50 pm. Entire system reset. No fix.
  • 8:51 pm. DK: “Why don’t you google it?”
  • 8:52 pm: SK: “I’m not googling anything.”
  • 8:52 pm. She texts neighbor. To learn that neighbor has texted entire neighborhood.
  • 8:53 pm. Neighbor: “Cable out in three states CT, NY, NJ.”
  • 8:53 pm. Three states of cable addicts blitzing Cablevision 800 # and website.
  • 8:54 pm. I’ve moved onto dessert, continue watching this show. Who needs Broadway?
  • 8:55 pm. She googles Cablevision with her back to me. She finds number and dials. She’s on hold.
  • 8:58 pm. After being on hold for several minutes, she learns that it’s the wrong number.
  • 8:59 pm. She collapses onto couch, still clutching the remote.
  • 9:00 pm. I walk upstairs, looking over my shoulder. There she is, eyes closed, slumped on the couch. And I’m the one with problems?

Image & Story: Optimum customers report widespread outages (CtPost, September 6, 2019, 9:42 PM)

Sunday Morning

“You’re going to ask if you can marry my daughter,” Nan’s father said.

“Yes,” James answered.

“Why?”

James thought: Because she is jolly and pretty and bright, like a firefly, blinking in and out of hedges and trees. Because I imagine her in the kitchen, washing dishes, looking out the window and humming to herself, her brow knit in concentration. I imagine myself coming up behind her, putting my arms around her, resting my chin on her shoulder. I imagine her face turning up to me, bright and pale and astonishing, and I imagine her lips just before I kiss her, full and parted, almost singing the words of a song. Because I think beyond kissing her, because I think about her naked and warm under clean sheets and damp from the bath. I imagine her bare ankle rubbing against my own. I imagine her hair disheveled; I imagine myself smoothing it out of her eyes. I imagine making toast with her and eating it at a round table. When I do, I am just as crazed with passion for her as I would be in bed. There is no difference between imagining her naked and imagining her with a kerchief over her hair. 

“Because I love her,” he said.

~ Cara Wall, The Dearly Beloved: A Novel (Simon & Schuster, August 13, 2019)


Notes:

Running. With Restraint. And With None of It.

What do you excel at?

A) Habitual repeating. (Professional kind)

Consistent, effective execution. Compulsive in following through on commitments. Dependable. You can count on him.

And that’s life isn’t it, the antithesis of what makes you effective at “A”, makes you a disaster a “B”.

B) Habitual repeating, in bulk. (Personal kind. Random, exculpatory list below.)

  • Thoughts. (Swirling, incessant, dark)
  • Doubts. (Many)
  • Food (Binges, sugar, fast food, anything).
  • Running ‘paths’ (Note emphasis on paths and not running, there should be zero inferences to mastery in frequency, distance or pace.)
  • Blog post ‘themes’. (Note emphasis on themes. And no mention of original work.)

How many times can you spout on about the same sh*t? Let’s see. Let’s use metaphors, not your own of course. Because that would take talent, effort. How many times? Richard Powers, “A thousand—a thousand thousand—green-tipped, splitting fingerlings.”

So here we go again. [Read more…]

A Division of Labor. A Promise Kept.

Saturday morning. Bird song, many species, ease softly through the window. The body, the bones and the mind at rest. The peace and sanctuary of Saturday morning. Bliss.

Until, it’s not.

For most, the smell of freshly cut grass conjures warm images of youth, of order, of parallel lines, or of a task completed. Or perhaps it’s the smell of rich, black soil, or the solidity of earth under one’s feet. Or perhaps a feeling of rebirth or growth.

For most.

But not for me.

This past, this dipping back into youth, of weekend chores, of hundreds of yards of uncut grass, of an aging push mower, of a hot sun bearing down, of a rush to finish – offers no such relief.

[Read more…]

Twenty Years of ‘Marital Blitz’: ‘Happily-Ever-After Doesn’t Exist’

In a recent email, Suki John and Horacio Cocchi attempted to sum up their 20-year marriage in one paragraph, which read like a grocery list. It included: 8 homes, 9 housemates, 1 foreclosure, 21 jobs, 3 layoffs, 2 miscarriages, 1 birth, 3 parents and 2 friends deceased, 1 bankruptcy, 1 set of dentures, innumerable road trips, 3 days in Amarillo waiting for parts, 9 cars, 5 billion phone calls, far too many dance performances, 5 weeks in Europe, 17 weeks in Cuba, 1 summer in Vermont, 6 mattresses, 2 bread machines, 9 espresso machines, countless bottles of extra virgin olive oil, 5 tango lessons and 2 wedding rings.

The couple met 21 years ago, when she approached him in a coffee shop on the Upper West Side. “I saw him across the room and it was like a magnet,” said Ms. John, 58, who is as excitable as her wild, curly hair. […]

They are not a quiet or even-tempered couple. Living next door to them is probably akin to living next to trombone players. They argue often, about the symbolism of tango dancing, or which rug would look best in their living room, or whether God exists (she’s Jewish, he’s an atheist). “It’s noisy and messy and emotional,” she said. Mr. Cocchi describes their relationship as “marital blitz.” […]

After a lot of arguing, he acquiesced. “My wisdom is, it’s very hard to have a long-lasting relationship,” he said. “For me, it was about how much am I willing to give up to keep this marriage growing?” […] He likes to say, “Bad times will be followed by good times,” which seems true at the moment. […]

They also have a new ritual. They regularly meet at home in the afternoon, between teaching responsibilities, to take a “siesta” together. They lie next to each other in their dark bedroom. “It’s so sweet,” she said. “We just want to be with each other. I still think he’s absolutely adorable.”

~ Lois Smith Brady, from Twenty Years of ‘Marital Blitz’ (NY Times, August 10, 2017)

 

 

 

Miracle. All of it.

Each fork in the road: the choice to stay home, to go out, to catch the flight, or cancel it, to take the 1 train, to stop at the bar on the corner. The chance encounters, split-second decisions that make the design — that are the design. […] Change even one moment, the whole thing unravels. The narrative thread doesn’t stretch in a line from end to end, but rather, spools and unspools, loops around and returns again and again to the same spot. Come closer now and listen. Be thankful for all of it. […] A coup de foudre: a bolt of lightening. You would not have your bright and sunny boy. There is no other life than this. You would not have stumbled into the vastly imperfect, beautiful, impossible present.

~ Dani Shapiro, Hourglass: Time, Memory, Marriage


Notes:

  • Credits: Photo by Atsushi Korome (via mennyfox55). Quote: Brainpickings
  • Post Inspired by Albert Einstein’s quote: “There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.”
  • Related Live & Learn Posts: Miracle. All of it.

Holy Crap, how DID I get so lucky?

Sad man worrying about hair loss problem

32 years of marriage.

We can rely on the integrity of my portioning of responsibility for the tenor of the marriage or you can call on the Children, those coming from her womb…still tethered…but, come on, you can’t really count on them to be objective, right?

Or, you can come to your own conclusion.

Listen up.

There are ground rules, rails, that permit the Holy Union to remain One for more than 30 years.  There are simple rules that follow a grueling day: 1) no requests to share the day’s highlights and 2) the maintenance of a strict quiet zone for 10-15 minutes. That’s it.

So, when simple rules are broken, the Union is tested.

It’s 6:45 pm. It’s the tail end of a long day.  I’m sitting alone at the kitchen table. The fork hovers over meatloaf, mashed potatoes and a generous river of brown gravy. Susan sits in the family room (respecting the quiet zone).  The Nightly News offers background noise with gaps filled with commercials for Viagra, Depends and Bradshaw pitching remedies for Shingles.  The irritation level ratchets up from high to Red Zone. Network idiots feeding me this crap during the dinner hour. Are there no boundaries? [Read more…]

Lightly child, lightly.

light-portrait

People always said Ove and Ove’s wife were like night and day. Ove realized full well, of course, that he was the night. It didn’t matter to him. On the other hand it always amused his wife when someone said it, because she could then point out while giggling that people only thought Ove was the night because he was too mean to turn on the sun. He never understood why she chose him. She loved only abstract things like music and books and strange words. Ove was a man entirely filled with tangible things. He liked screwdrivers and oil filters. He went through life with his hands firmly shoved into his pockets. She danced. “You only need one ray of light to chase all the shadows away,” she said to him once, when he asked her why she had to be so upbeat the whole time. Apparently some monk called Francis had written as much in one of her books. “You don’t fool me, darling,” she said with a playful little smile and crept into his big arms. “You’re dancing on the inside, Ove, when no one’s watching. And I’ll always love you for that. Whether you like it or not.”

~ Fredrik Backman, A Man Called Ove: A Novel

Notes:

  • Photo: mwozniak
  • Prior “Lightly child, lightly” Posts? Connect here.
  • Post Title & Inspiration: Aldous Huxley: “It’s dark because you are trying too hard. Lightly child, lightly. Learn to do everything lightly. Yes, feel lightly even though you’re feeling deeply. Just lightly let things happen and lightly cope with them.”

Just another Māori Wedding


Haka is a traditional ancestral war cry, dance, challenge or act of support from the Māori people of New Zealand.  This Haka was performed at Benjamin & Aaliyah Armstrong’s wedding.

Wow. Moved.

Which year was the best?

poet

Jane Kenyon and I were married for twenty-three years. For two decades we inhabited the double solitude of my family farmhouse in New Hampshire, writing poems, loving the countryside. She was forty-seven when she died. If anyone had asked us, “Which year was the best, of your lives together?” we could have agreed on an answer: “the one we remember least.”  […] The best moment of our lives was one quiet repeated day of work in our house. Not everyone understood. Visitors, especially from New York, would spend a weekend with us and say as they left: “It’s really pretty here” (“in Vermont,” many added) “with your house, the pond, the hills, but … but … but … what do you do?”

What we did: we got up early in the morning. I brought Jane coffee in bed. She walked the dog as I started writing, then climbed the stairs to work at her own desk on her own poems. We had lunch. We lay down together. We rose and worked at secondary things. I read aloud to Jane; we played scoreless ping-pong; we read the mail; we worked again. We ate supper, talked, read books sitting across from each other in the living room, and went to sleep. If we were lucky the phone didn’t ring all day… Three hundred and thirty days a year we inhabited this old house and the same day’s adventurous routine.

~ Donald Hall, The Third Thing from The Poetry Magazine. [Read more…]

Lightly child, lightly

woman-memory-youth

Yet in a way, I wish for everything back that ever was, everything that once seems like forever and yet vanished. I wish for my own girlhood bedroom with its dark brown desk, the monkey with real fur from the 1964 World’s Fair, the pile of coloring books under my bed. I wish for my grandparents, both long gone, and Saturday night suppers at their kitchen table, in a house whose smell of bath powder and pipe smoke I will remember always. I wish for a chance to relive an afternoon with my brother, when I was mean and made him cry by grinding a cookie into the dirt beneath the swing set at our very first house. I wish for my horse, sold thirty-odd years ago, and the dim corner of her stall in a barn long since demolished, her sweet breath on my neck as I brushed her flanks and daydreamed about a boy named Joel who might want to kiss me. I wish for my college apartment, the hot plate and electric skillet that my up my first kitchen, the fall morning I lay in bed their reading To the Lighthouse, shaping the words in my mouth, reluctant to let them go. I wish for my husband as he was twenty-five years ago, the first time he ran his fingers through my hair and asked if I would see him again; and for my own younger self, in love with the idea of marriage and so certain of our togetherness. I wish for the first bedroom we ever shared, in the back corner of his Cambridge apartment, wind whistling through the old window sashes as we pressed close, sleeping naked together no matter hold cold it was. I wish for my two sons at every age they’ve ever been, for each of them as newborns at my breast in warm, darkened bedrooms; as stout toddlers, shy kindergartners, exuberant little boys filling every space, every moment of my existence with their own. I wish for Easter morning and Christmas mornings and birthday mornings and all the hundreds of ordinary weekday mornings — cereal poured into bowls, fingernails clipped, quick kisses and good-byes for now.

Standing here on an empty hilltop in New Hampshire…I allow, just for a moment, the past to push hard against the walls of my heart. Being alive, it seems, means learning to bear the weight of the passing of all things. It means finding a way to lightly hold all the places we’ve loved and left anyway, all the moments and days and years that have already been lived and lost to memory, even as we live on in the here and now, knowing full well that this moment, too, has already gone. It means, always, allowing for the hard truth of endings. It means, too, keeping faith in beginnings.”

~ Katrina Kenison, The Gift of an Ordinary Day: A Mother’s Memoir


Notes:

  • Post Title & Inspiration: Aldous Huxley: “It’s dark because you are trying too hard. Lightly child, lightly. Learn to do everything lightly. Yes, feel lightly even though you’re feeling deeply. Just lightly let things happen and lightly cope with them.”
  • Thank you Carol  @ Radiating Blossom for pointing me to Katrina’s book.
  • Image Source: eikadan 

Put Your Heart to Paper


Saying “I love you” is easy. It’s three little words. What’s hard is going beyond that, going deeper than that. Expressing how you really feel. That’s why Hallmark asked real-life couples to answer simple questions about their partner without using the word “love” and captured their comments on video. We found that by removing that one little word, couples revealed how they truly felt and were better prepared to put their heart to paper. Watch what happens when you go beyond “I love you.”

Don’t miss other heartwarming stories at Hallmark: Put Your Heart to Paper


Thank you Rachel

The secret to a long life. Oh, Boy.

funny-old-age-men


Read more here: Spirit 88.3 FM – Avoid men and eat plenty of porridge for a long life, says Jessie, 109

 

 

The Joker

face-eye-portrait-black-and-white

It’s the end of a (very) long day, concluding with a work dinner. I drag myself out of the car, pulling my briefcase behind me. My shirt tail is untucked. My tie half undone. My shoes, dusty and scuffed. A disheveled, sloppy mess.

I’m hopeful that I can slither into the house and get a few minutes to myself. I enter. The house is quiet but for the soft murmur of a TV running on another floor. I slowly strip my shoes and socks, with my bare feet cooling on the wood floor. I’m in decompression. Hose me down with pure oxygen. Let Solitude rain on me.

And then.

There’s Thunder. Four legs storming up the stairs. Zeke’s bounding down the hallway. Dad’s Home! He wiggles in and out of my legs. Kissing (licking) my suit pants, leaving white slobber dripping from my crotch. Well that’s nice. Ah, just forget it. It just adds to your ensemble.

Susan rounds the corner. My Hummingbird spewing nectar all over. She’s talking. I’m listening. (Sort of.) The subject turns.

SK: Do you want some feedback? [Read more…]

5 Rules For A Happy Life

Charles-alan-murray

Charles Murray’s 5 Rules For A Happy Life:

  1. Consider Marrying Young
  2. Learn How to Recognize Your Soul Mate
  3. Eventually Stop Fretting About Fame and Fortune (Fame and wealth do accomplish something: They cure ambition anxiety. But that’s all. It isn’t much…)
  4. Take Religion Seriously
  5. Watch “GroundHog Day” Repeatedly

#4: Now that we’re alone, here’s where a lot of you stand when it comes to religion: It isn’t for you. You don’t mind if other people are devout, but you don’t get it. Smart people don’t believe that stuff anymore. I can be sure that is what many of you think because your generation of high-IQ, college-educated young people, like mine 50 years ago, has been as thoroughly socialized to be secular as your counterparts in preceding generations were socialized to be devout…I am describing my own religious life from the time I went to Harvard until my late 40s. I still describe myself as an agnostic, but my unbelief is getting shaky…Start by jarring yourself out of unreflective atheism or agnosticism. A good way to do that is to read about contemporary cosmology. The universe isn’t only stranger than we knew; it is stranger and vastly more unlikely than we could have imagined, and we aren’t even close to discovering its last mysteries. That reading won’t lead you to religion, but it may stop you from being unreflective.  Find ways to put yourself around people who are profoundly religious. You will encounter individuals whose intelligence, judgment and critical faculties are as impressive as those of your smartest atheist friends—and who also possess a disquieting confidence in an underlying reality behind the many religious dogmas. 

Read all five rules here.


Image Credit

My Zen. Is My Zen.

donuts,bread,sweet,dessert,

It’s Saturday, late afternoon.
Dinner out? Or eat in?
I take inventory of the fridge. Eyes pan from the top shelf to bottom. Not feeling it here.
I take inventory: Sweat pants. Shower-less. Shave-less. Matted hair.
Eat in.
I grab a pencil to scribble out my wish list.  I’m about to hand it off.

No chance. You’re coming.
Why?
I’m not listening to you complain that I didn’t get you what you wanted.
Oh, come on.

The K’s are in the car.
You could have put a hat on.
I could have stayed home.
(Silence)
[Read more…]

Runner. Grounded.

back-pain

6am Thursday:
12” snowfall overnight. DK working from home.

SK: Are you going to shovel the driveway?
DK: No.
SK: No?
DK: No.
SK: (Eye roll) You’re going to let me do it? Again?
DK: I’ll do it this afternoon after I finish my calls.
SK: No you won’t.
DK: Are you going to keep riding me on this all day?

6am Friday.
3” of additional snowfall overnight.

SK: Are you going to shovel the driveway?
DK: No.
SK: No?
DK: No. Not before work. I’m not showering again.
DK: Just leave it until I return tonight. It will warm up and melt.
SK: Really? You’re kidding right? (She heads outside to shovel.)
DK: I told you to leave it. (She has this Thing about a clean driveway)
SK: How do you plan to get out?
DK: Get out of the way. I’m going to ram through the piles with the car.

2pm Sunday.
DK ventures outside to clear the back steps. SK opens the door.

SK: Why don’t you use the steel edger/chopper to break the ice?
DK: Oh come on. Really? I’ve shoveled show before. Get inside.
SK: OK have it your way.

(Mumbling. Girl telling Canadian how to shovel snow. What’s next?)
I get after it.
I bend the show shovel trying to break the ice.
I lean on it to try bend it back.
I look through the back door to see if she’s watching.
Coast is clear.
I stomp through the snow to get to the garage to get the steel chopper.
I start slamming the ice.
On the third swing, I hit concrete.
Cold, vibrating steel.
Shooting, stabbing pain in my lower back.
Air whooshes out of my lungs.
I fall to my knees. (Dear God help me.)

SK: What’s wrong?
DK: My back.
SK: You’re joking, right?
DK: Does it look like a joke? (I crawl upstairs to bed.)
SK: (Laughing) Do you see any irony here?
DK: No. I don’t actually. None.
DK: I do see you getting enormous pleasure seeing me keeled over in pain.
SK: Oh, come on. Big Man clears 2-steps. I shovel massive piles of snow. (Still laughing)
DK: Stay away from me. Way back.

Snow forecast 3″-5” tonight.


Image Credit

Passages?

love-sex-aging

OK, I need help interpreting the illustration:

  1. She’s single and sleeping alone. Courting suitors?
  2. She’s married. Shares her bed.
  3. She’s married. Shares her bed with another.  Their child.
  4. The family gets a dog. Dog sleeps in bed.  Less room on bed. (This is all sounding close to home.)
  5. She’s pushed out of bed by husband, child and dog? Further separation?
  6. Empty Nesters pull together?
  7. She’s alone. (Husband deceased? Divorced?) Finds peace in meditation and being alone?

Source: “Passages” – NY Times Sunday Book Review


I had to do something. I have no shame.


Moved. No words required.


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