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Thursday, March 29, 2007

Humor Break!

I interrupt all the so-so-serious posts of the last few days, lighten up and bring this funny message from George Carlin on AGING:

Do you realize that the only time in our lives when we like to get old is when we're kids? If you're less than 10 years old, you're so excited about aging that you think in fractions.

"How old are you?" "I'm four and a half!" You're never thirty-six and a half. You're four and a half, going on five! That's the key

You get into your teens, now they can't hold you back. You jump to the next number, or even a few ahead.

"How old are you?" "I'm gonna be 16!" You could be 13, but hey, you're gonna be 16! And then the greatest day of your life . . you become 21. Even the words sound like a ceremony . YOU BECOME 21. YESSSS!!!

But then you turn 30. Oooohh, what happened there? Makes you sound like bad milk! He TURNED; we had to throw him out. There's no fun now, you're Just a sour-dumpling. What's wrong? What's changed?

You BECOME 21, you TURN 30, then you're PUSHING 40. Whoa! Put on the brakes, it's all slipping away. Before you know it, you REACH 50 and your dreams are gone.

But wait!!! You MAKE it to 60. You didn't think you would!

So you BECOME 21, TURN 30, PUSH 40, REACH 50 and MAKE it to 60.

You've built up so much speed that you HIT 70! After that it's a day-by-day thing; you HIT Wednesday!

You get into your 80's and every day is a complete cycle; you HIT lunch; you TURN 4:30; you REACH bedtime. And it doesn't end there. Into the 90s, you start going backwards; "I Was JUST 92."

Then a strange thing happens. If you make it over 100, you become a little kid again. "I'm 100 and a half!"

May you all make it to a healthy 100 and a half!!


Tuesday, March 27, 2007

"Surviving" terminal cancer

What is up with all the public people lately who have decided they will whip terminal cancer? D-E-N-I-A-L, not just a name of a river in Egypt. Elizabeth Edwards, mets to the bone from breast cancer; Tony Snow, Prez Press Secretary, colon cancer spread to his liver. I think most Americans are totally deluded; the pharmaceutical companies and oncology specialists have told us so often (via TV/media ads) that NOTHING is unbeatable, that we'll live, perhaps, forever...that when REALITY (impending death) rears its ugly head, acceptance is out of the question. We MUST soldier on, suffer as much as possible, bring untold grief and sorrow to our loved ones who must "witness" our useless suffering. Is it a mad, mad world, or what?

IF I found out tomorrow that I had ANY KIND OF CANCER, I would have NO treatment. None, zip, nada! I would request I be allowed to put my life in order, share with my loved ones, and try to be kept comfortable as I was dying. Or maybe I'd opt for an early out, before the medical establishment got hold of me and would NOT let me die without suffering pointlessly? I just know I wouldn't stand up and shout, "Hey, I'll beat this cancer! Look at me, how brave, how optimistic, how hopeful I am!" I think that is doing a grave injustice to all those who are on their death-beds, still in denial.

I remember Michael Landon making his last appearance long ago on the Johnny Carson show. It was obvious the man was in pain, but as he tried to smile bravely (more of a grimace really), he declared he would whip the fatal pancreatic cancer eating away inside him. About two weeks later, he was dead.

I know when DH was diagnosed with acute leukemia (in advanced stage), and I managed to get the oncologist alone outside the ICU, he was NOT optimistic. I mentioned a bone marrow transplant, and he just shook his head, said that DH was past 55 and not a candidate. And even if he was younger, he had a serious heart condition. In other words, it was fairly obvious the doctor was being HONEST with me, if not DH. And what brought that truth home to me was when this oncologist put his hand on my shoulder, and just kept shaking his head. It all happened so quickly, I'm not sure DH knew he was dying...but I DID. I thought maybe he'd live a few weeks, no more. People told me to have hope, and I just thought they were crazy. Sure enough, he died within a week of being diagnosed, (sooner than even I expected) after his first chemo. He would have died sooner, had I not taken him to the ER, and sometimes when I think back about his last weeks, I believe he KNEW he had some form of cancer (which was genetic in both sides of his family) and was trying to die at home. He often told me he'd kill himself before he'd suffer the way his dad and sister did when they went through terminal cancer treatment and then, of course, died.

In the book, "How We Die" by Sherwin Nuland, a physician, this excerpt explains what doctors understand and experience with cancer patients:

No one who has treated cancer patients will ever discount the power of the subconscious mechanism we call denial, which is both friend and enemy of a person seriously ill. Denial protects while it hinders, and softens for a moment what it eventually makes more difficult. As much as I applaud Elisabeth Kubler-Ross's attempt to categorize a sequence of responses to the diagnosis of mortal illness, every experienced clinician knows that some patients, never, at least overtly, progress beyond denial; many other retain large elements of it right to the end, in spite of every effort that might be made by a physician to clarify each issue as it arises. Explanations of the forecefulness of deninal's influence are themselves often denied.

Denial is one of two factors that immeasurably complicate our best intentions, when as physicians or the beloved of a dying person, we seek to enlist him as a full participant in choices that must be made in the days remaining. Few dying people with a clear understanding of the inevitability of their disease process are willing to suffer through heroic and debilitating attempts to fight off an end that seems close. It is in the "clear understanding of their disease process," however, that reason and logic sometimes founder, and denial is a major element that stands in the way. Denial is a significant factor, for example, in the surprising frequency with which dying people refuse to confront the nearness of circumstanes they anticipated when, while still healthy, they assigned advance directives prohibiting major resuscitative efforts. When the chips are down, almost no one wants his life to end, and one good way for the conscious mind to avoid it is for the unconscious mind to deny that it is about to happen.

The other hindrance to full participation is the refusal of many patients to exercise their right to independent thought and self-determination--in other words, their control. The psychoanalyst and legal scholar Jay Katz has used the term psychological autonomy to denote this right of independence. Many a patient worn down by the ravages of illness or overwhelmed by the immediacies of a dire situation will be unwilling or emotionally unable to use his autonomy. The need to be cared for and to be relieved of responsibilities is not easily dealt with under such circumstances, and it may lead to wrong decisions. But the problem may be lessened if both patient and caregivers reflect on it together. When this is done, a dying man will sometimes decide that he wants to participate more actively than he thought he could.

And one more important excerpt regarding false hope:

A promise we can keep and a hope we can give is the certainty that no man or woman will be left to die alone. Of the many ways to die alone, the most comfortless and solitary must surely take place when the knowledge of death's certainty is withheld. Here again, it is the "I couldn't take away his hope" attitude that is so often precisely how a particularly reassuring form of hope is never allowed to materialize. Unless we are aware that we are dying and so far as possible know the conditions of our death, we cannot share any sort of final consummation with those who love us. Without this consummation, no matter their presence at the hour of passing, we will remain unattended and isolated. For it is the promise of spiritual companionship near the end that gives us hope, much more than does the mere offsetting of the fear of being physically without anyone.

The dying themselves bear a responsibility not to be entrapped by a misguided attempt to spare those whose lives are intertwined with theirs. I have seen this form of aloneness, and even unwisely conspired in it, before I learned better.

And so, I conclude this entry with the thought/reflection that perhaps all this "false hope" by public figures is indeed, NOT a help, but a serious hindrance in allowing us all to learn ACCEPTANCE of that which we CANNOT change. Maybe they should think about THAT.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Spring into summer...

Pretty much what we here in the South are experiencing. It has been in the high 70s, low 80s this entire week, almost humid at times. Very little rain, which the forecasters say means we're already in a drought. About the only good aspect of no rain is that I won't have to get my yard mown often! On the other hand, the abundant pollen hangs in the air, triggering more problems with my allergies. Ah, spring is here...and summer is hot on its heels.

I have biked every other day this week, trying not to overdo. My knees have improved greatly, as long as I stay away from walking on concrete alot -- and wear cushioned shoes. Perhaps the warmer weather is helping, if this is the beginning of arthritis? And I have curtailed my calorie intake due to lack of daily aerobic exercise, and have dropped back to 105 lbs. I'd gotten to 108, and was NOT happy about that! As one famous actress said: "Hunger hurts but starvation works."

The pups are doing great. I do take them to the park occasionally for long walks in the wooded area, and they love it. Oscar will stand at the window, watching all the flashing scenery go by...but Rambo lies quietly on the seat. Rambo travels well, and could probably be taken anywhere. Oscar gets anxious, wants OUT, and whines sometimes. I have a large carrier that fits in the backseat well, should I need to take them on a longer drive -- like when I took them to the groomer.

My cats are well too. However, I do wonder if what happened to Kitten might have been the result of the rat poison found in so many premimum brand-name cat foods? The vet had sold me some of the Science diet in cans when I first took Kitten in, and said it would be good for her to eat the wet food. She got worse and worse, and then I lost her. She was soooo weak, she could barely stand or walk only a few steps, then collapse. I've checked all my other cat/dog food, and had none of the recalled items. But that does worry me about Kitten, and is very sad.

The thing is: First we had a lot of E-coli outbreaks in human foods, then tainted peanut butter recalls, lots of odds and ends like this. NOW the pet food. Color me paranoid, but I can't help wonder if something sinister is afoot -- like some nutcase doing testing to see what will do the most damage before it's noticed in the food chain/supply! Scary. Just never know what you're getting any more -- either at the grocery store or in a restaurant.

Otherwise, I went to the library today, got a load of good books and three DVD movies (which the library rents). Had to buy a few groceries, run some errands. Was busy most of the day. Next week one day I plan to take Oscar out to see my mother at my sister's house. She'll enjoy seeing him. Mother seems to be stable, and is doing well, considering her terrible health condition.

This whole neighborhood has been abuzz with lawnmowers going all week -- and I got my yard mowed for the first time. The guy next-door did a great job, weed-eating and trimming everything for a very neat look. I have planted ten small Leland Cyress cedars in the backyard, and it's a real pain to get around those...but he did a good job.

Guess that's it for now. I'll end with the lyrics of an old ballad that seems somehow appropriate to my acceptance of being a widow now:

"I wish I were a single girl again"

When I was a single girl, I went dressed very fine,
Now I am married and have a drunken man to mind.
Oh, I wish I were a single girl again.

When I was a single girl I done as I pleased;
Now I am a married girl with a drunken man to please.
Oh, I wish I were a single girl again.

He goes down to town and stays all day
Drinking and gambling and wasting time away.
Oh, I wish I were a single girl again.

And when he comes home it's a curse and damn,
Wishing I were dead and he had another dram.
Oh, I wish I were a single girl again.

Spring to go to, and cows to milk and feed,
And the four little children a-crying after me.
Oh, I wish I were a single girl again.

Collected by Harvey H. Fuson
"Ballads of the Kentucky Highlands"
London, 1931, p 118

Yep, there's a worse fate than being single and a widow. Marrying a no-good man -- which I sure will never do! (sigh)

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Premonition, Movie Review

Yesterday I went to see the movie, Premonition with Sandra Bullock. All the previews had captured my interest; anyone who has lost their husband/wife could not help being fascinated by the premise: If you could go back in time, do something/anything different, could you have prevented the death of your loved one?

This is a good movie for widows/widowers -- yet a word of caution. It is confusing at the beginning, and you wonder if you can figure out what the heck is happening. This could have been filmed in a better way, and in a novel, it would have been much easier to understand what the protagonist was thinking/feeling. IF you are recent widow/widower (less than a year) you might want to skip this movie until more time has passed. An older lady (obviously a widow) sitting behind me began crying almost from the start, and cried all through the movie. I didn't cry, but near the end of the movie, I began to feel very...stressed. Almost like I was reliving the trauma of my own husband's death.

All in all, a fairly good movie. Most people who haven't lost a spouse wouldn't get quite the satisfaction of the final answering of something most widows/widowers suffer with the rest of their lives. And since I don't want to give away the ending, I'll leave it at that.

I will say that one of the most important things my doctor ever told me, after DH died, and I was lamenting about not "being there when he died," was when she said, with a shudder, "Be glad you were not there. Those images would never leave your mind, ever." The movie clarifies this in an intense way for widows/widowers that could never be expressed in words.

Otherwise, life here goes on. I've decided to let my next-door neighbor mow my lawn this summer. He mows yards part-time, and can just mow mine when he mows theirs, and his charge is reasonable.

I've also been looking around for a new sofa/loveseat, but can't decide what kind yet. I let my nearly new set go, sold it, and only have an older sofa now, and wicker set. I'll probably get rid of the older sofa/wicker set on Freecyle. If you haven't checked into a Freecycle online group in your area, it's a great idea. You just post what you want to give away, and someone nearly always will come pick it up. I gave away all the many indoor plants left from DH's funeral -- since I had no place inside to keep them -- on Freecycle.

I'm still reading, "How We Die," and have a very long passage I want to post, as soon as I get a chance to type it out. I'll end with this quote about whether there is "intelligent life" in the cosmos by a famous astronomer:

"It’s sort of like your attitude toward mollusks,” he said. “Are you hostile to them? Are you in favor of them? Do you try and support their work? Maybe intelligent life is so common that, aside from people on Phi-2 Orionis making a catalog of all the intelligent critters around, it’s of little consequence.”--Seth Shostak, on search for SETI

Friday, March 16, 2007

How We Die

A book title, and I highly recommend it. Written by Sherwin B. Nuland, a doctor.

I'm only half through the book, but it is interesting and absorbing...not for the faint of heart, or those who think (hopefully) that humans can escape the carbon cycle and death. WHY do Americans, especially, seem to think they can cheat death? Why do they think medical professionals have all the answers? Maybe too much media hype, huh?

Let's face it folks, we are all gonna die (as poets and philosophers have known and written about as long as human history exists). Not all your wishing, hoping, false ideals and drugs (very expensive) will stop the progression of human aging. Yes, you may get a face-lift, a body-lift, but INSIDE, you are aging. And that is HOW doctors look at us mortals, the humans who come to them seeking miracle cures.

I suggest you read this book, pronto. And thus far, I am in total agreement with the author in some respects: there is far too much denial and avoiding the inevitable (which results in SUFFERING) for those obviously on the way to death. Acceptance is a highly under-rated virtue for Americans who are aging and dying. You can avoid dying of cancer, for awhile; you can avoid dying of "hardening of the arteries" for awhile; etc. but you CANNOT avoid dying.

One thing you can count on: you are probably going to SUFFER because your so-called "loved ones" cannot bear to let you go, and therefore, extend your suffering and misery as long as possible.

Sad, but true. Get ye a "living will" and objective attorney for your "executor", ASAP.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Rainy Thursday Thoughts

I do wish Blogger techs would quit messing with the format in the post writing area. Every time I log in lately, they've added something that is not only unnecessary, but just complicates the simple act of WRITING a post. Jeez!

Rainy day, which we needed; the pollen has already started turning everything green. I'm glad I got the Bradford Pear cut down; there's lots of those trees in this neighborhood, and I swear they smell like something has died and is rotting. A fog of that stink hangs in the air, and has made biking something to be endured. Maybe the rain will get most of the stinky blossoms off the trees.

My mother is still living with my sister, and seems to be stable. I talk with her every day or so, but as to be expected, things are starting to get dicey out there. At first, my sister and bro-in-law were managing -- but now that the lawnmowing season has started, bro-in-law has to work at that. My sister works part-time, and getting someone to sit with mother when they are gone is becoming a real issue. None of us can stay there 24/7, and that's another reason mother should have remained in the nursing home. Her presence at my sister's has disrupted their lives, and I wouldn't be surprised if my sister gets sick over the stress -- or it affects their marriage. Mother has always been extremely SELFISH, and in my opinion, since she has never prepared in any way to take care of herself financially, she could have simply asked to remain in the nursing home. She's on the best program for impoverished people, and it would all be paid for by government assistance. As it is now, someone is going to have to pay a sitter -- because mother cannot be left alone. She might get up and fall, or whatever.

Let's just say, I could see this coming way back weeks ago. Like watching a slow-motion train-wreck, and I am not going to be part of it. I'll visit, but I'm not sitting out there for hours, when mother could be in the nursing home and NOT need a sitter. I have my reasons, and anyone who has read this journal, knows those.

I'm trying to make a decision about whether I want to buy a lawnmower and try mowing myself. Or just hire it done. I'm getting estimates, and will compare those first. If I knew my knees would continue to improve, I'd just do it myself. I'm tempted, but if I invest in a mower, weed-eater, I'd be wasting money if my knees get worse.

Right now, I have good days and bad days with my knees. I don't bike every day, usually every other day; I can't tell any difference though, and don't think the biking is the problem. I'm fairly sure it started with walking the dogs on the pavement. As long as I wear shoes that are well-padded, my knees get better. I take the dogs to the park occasionally, and walk in the big grassy/wooded area, which is easier on my knees. IF I'm not fully recovered in four weeks, I'll go back to the orthopedic doc and have an MRI done.

Good news: I've learned I'll have COBRA medical coverage for another two years. That takes a load off my mind, since I was worried it would end next Fall. As long as I pay the premimum ($366.00) each month, I'll be eligible for it two more years. This covers drugs, hospital, doctors, vision and dental, the same coverage we had with DH's job.

I've been reading a lot lately, finished several good novels. TV is nothing but reruns, so it's nice to relax at night and read.

I'll end with another quote from "Party of One" about loners and friendship. The author says most loners only have ONE good true friend, and that's enough. I agree. Hords of so-called friends would demand waaaay too much of myself.

Here's the quote:

"She was not a loner. So could she be blamed for not always listening? For trying, sometimes, to escape? But she always came back although sometimes not right away. I made a good choice in her. Fine investment, as an investment, for loners, friendship always is. We are still friends. We have laughs... Even so, I do not seize the phone and call her, or anyone, when I feel miserable. This is one of those acid tests that separate the true loner from the person who is alone but would much rather not be: even in the gloomiest gloom, it is not my instinct to talk it over. Not that I am sufficiently brilliant as to console myself every time. It is more of a wallow. But instinct is instinct, and instinct will out."

Monday, March 12, 2007

Wally Carlson

Years and years ago I corresponded with a guy in Washington state. He was brilliant, a member of MENSA, but eccentric, a loner. We probably shared no more than a couple dozen letters (the old-fashioned postal paper/pen kind in those days)...and exchanged some of our poetry. As with so many of my past correspondents, I have no idea whatever happened to him.

I do remember he lived alone in a small innovative dwelling, never married, planned never to have children; he was in his 30s, and probably kept that lifestyle. At any rate, reading about loners lately, realizing my own solitary nature, I remembered him, looked through some of my notebooks I'd kept of correspondents' poems. I found one of Wally's poems I'll post. Who knows, someday he may come across this site and we'll catch up on all the many years since we last communicated.

Solitary Duet

I walk down cold, wet, shiny black streets,
empty, as far as the eye can see
a street sweeper motors its way round the corner,
swirling and swishing its way past, off into infinity
once again I'm alone

The sound of my footsteps echo off the walls
empty buildings with darkened eyes reflect my soul
shadows creep by, hurried along by the wind
hours melt, one into the other
I'm here for the duration

Another soul appears in the distance,
her work-weary pace, slow and deliberate
we share:
the dark of night
the blowing wind
the chilling rain

Onward we go, collars up
rain-soaked hair, flat against our heads
feet sloshing in damp shoes
so much in common

Weak fires burn in these time-beat souls,
combined they could lift us above the rim,
of this self-made grave we stroll
some things aren't meant to be

We pass on separate sides of the street
the corner of my eye is all you get
that's all there is
once again I'm alone
silent soldier of the night
marching towards the dawn

--Wally Carlson, 1984


It's obvious he is a loner, and recognized that loner nature in myself as well, though at the time we were corresponding, I was fighting my true nature. I had other obligations, couldn't manage to live the kind of life I wanted, even for writing. I just thought it was interesting how much insight he demonstrated in this poem, about me and about himself (and loners in general), though we never met in person.

Alas, handwritten letters have gone the way of the dinosaur: extinct.

Friday, March 09, 2007

Brief Update

Today I took my two little dogs and long-haired cat for grooming. The dogs got baths, nail trims, rear-end glands expressed (yep, it's important and Oscar DID have a bit of a problem), and the cat was supposed to get shaved. The groomer who worked at this place before had quit, but they said they could still do it. Uh, are you sure?

I've learned in the past that Princess, the long-haired cat, can get wild when you start messing with her knots. Usually a very calm, loving, laidback cat, she goes ballistic when you pull on her hair. That's how she ends up with the knots: brushing she likes; picking at her knots, she doesn't.

At any rate, I dropped the crew off at 10:00 this morning...and the groomer said he'd call when they were finished. I got busy back at home, doing lots of cleaning while the dogs were gone. Changed their bedding, moped and waxed the floors, did various stuff like that. By late afternoon, I was getting worried, so I called the groomer. Seems he had spent lots of time with Princess, and still didn't have her all shaved! LOL Not surprising. He said he'd shave a little, then have to let her calm down some (and probably try to calm himself too!) Anyhow, I finally went to pick up the dogs around 4:30 because I missed the them so much I couldn't wait any longer.

I just couldn't believe how much companionship the dogs are; they are always doing something, wrestling, whining, playing, in and out the doggie door (sometimes bringing in a surprise like a twig or chew-bone they've dug up) the house seemed too quiet without them here. Dogs are more demanding than cats, but if you live alone as I do, they are truly company. I was so glad to see them, and they were excited to see me too. When I started to leave this morning, they turned to follow they always do, and the groomer had to pull them away by their leashes. Whoo boy, I felt sad leaving them there, but glad they were so happy to see me return.

Princess is still there, and the groomer promised to have her shaving finished sometimes tomorrow. Said he would not charge for her overnight stay! Fine by me, since it costs about one-quarter of the price for a groomer to do this instead of the vet. I miss her, but she needed shaving badly.

My knees are doing much better, though I have stopped biking/exercising for the past few days. It has always been so difficult for me to just NOT exercise, but I know that if I will lay off the biking/indoor cycle, my knees will heal faster.

Had a bit of trouble with the renter house; the ceiling fan had quit working, and I hired an electrician to check it out. Didn't cost much to be fixed. The renter couple have worked out great; they pay before time each month, keep the yard in good shape. Their baby is cute, and I took them a gift back in December after the birth. The girl is already back at work, and her mom keeps the baby during the day. No mention of marriage; kids sure have changed since my day. However, the boy does seem crazy about the baby son, and that looks to be a good sign.

Otherwise, life goes on... We're having beautiful weather, mild and sunny, though storms are on the horizon for tomorrow. Early Spring, I believe.

I'll end with this quote from "Party of One," regarding organized religion:

"To some loners, the very premise of two people, much less two million, agreeing on anything, much less on which type of headgear will catch God's eye, is so principally flawed as to make every mainstream faith seem hilariously funny."

Monday, March 05, 2007

"Party of One" thoughts...

This book, "Party of One -- The Loner's Manifesto" by Anneli Rufus should be required reading for everyone, but especially for those of us who are innately loners. I loved it, every single word, and there's so many quotes I want to post I'll be adding one at the end of each entry for some time to come.

Nature or nurture? I think eventually we will have to realize that biology/genes DO make up more of who we are, what we become, than anyone wants to admit. There have been several "loners" in my family, especially in my paternal family. My father was obviously a loner, being a trucker, and then alcoholic perhaps to medicate himself when he couldn't be alone. With an extrovert wife and four kids, how could he be alone - except when in the cab of his truck? My paternal grandmother was notoriously known for her loner traits, though when people visited HER, they always got a warm welcome. She just rarely, if ever, visited others. One of my great-uncles had the reputation of being "curious"...another ruralism for "loner." There was one distant male relative who was said to have abandoned all family, and lived under a cave back in the woods most of his life. Genetic, yes, it looks like a good possibility.

I am realizing that my life NOW is fine. I am finally coming to my senses and accepting who I am, and have always been -- except that I had a husband/marriage/obligations I could not abandon. I am happier now, and don't feel the pressure to socialize, although when I DO see people (neighbors, family) I am friendly. It is simply that I do not NEED to be around people as often as most extroverts do. And feel completely drained if I am forced to stay in the company of people too long. The book truly defines why this is natural for some people, and why it should be acceptable.

Otherwise, life here goes on as usual. I rented a great movie Saturday, "Match Point," and really enjoyed it. I finished the book, reading off and on all weekend. Sunday afternoon I took my dogs to a nearby park, and walked them in the grassy area so it wouldn't harm my knees, which are continuing to improve.

The weather has been a bit cold, but sunny and beautiful.

I don't keep up as much with the news, but who can miss the 24/7 coverage of the Anna Nicole drama? Thank God, they finally got her body in the ground! Ugh. The war rages, soldiers are killed daily, and all the masses can think about is Anna, Anna, Anna Nicole. Get over it, she's dead, folks. For the life of me, I just can't imagine why all those Iraqi's don't want to be like the majority of Americans! (sarcasm)

I'll end with this quote from the book:

"They say isolation drives you crazy. Sure it does -- when you don't get enough of it."

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Changed my mind...

about moving to Wordpress. I did make three journal entries there, but wasn't too impressed with it. And the time wasted trying to learn all the new-fangled stuff, how to post pictures, etc. didn't seem worth the effort. So here, in one post, are my last three entries:

Posted yesterday:

I Know You’re Out There…

The title of a book I recently read by Michael Beaumier. Hilarious, sad, deeply thought-provoking and zany. Not easy to accomplish in a non-fiction book, but he did it all! Based on the author’s time at the Chicago Reader (alternate newspaper) as the “Personals Editor” this is a great read! And has so many insights into the longing, the desperation, the angst and the sorrow of those “searching for love” by placing personal ads. Though it deals with a print publication, most of the material could also apply to those placing online personals ads today.

Here’s a few of my favorite quotes:


Adventurous Slutty

Athletic Flat-chested

Average-looking Ugly

Beautiful Delusional

Contagious smile Drug Addict

Emotionally secure Heavily Medicated

Fortyish Forty-nine

Free spirit Junkie

Fun Annoying

Old-fashioned Closed-minded

Open-minded Desperate

Outgoing Loud and obnoxious

Rubenesque Grossly Fat

Voluptuous Hugely Fat

Young at heart Old


Athletic Watches Football on TV

Average-looking Hair on ears, nose, back

Educated Patronizing

Fortyish Fifty-two

Friendship first Sex required

Fun Drunk

Good-looking Dumb

Honest Liar

Huggable Fat

Likes to cuddle Mama’s boy

Mature Old

Poet Writes bathroom graffiti

Sensitive Gay

Very sensitive Very gay

Stable Charged, but acquitted


….love is more difficult than sex–less sticky, but, oddly, more messy. People who get all squeamish about sex should consider how much worse love really is–there’s no process, no money shot; you can have safe sex, but love will always be a dangerous and risky thing. Sex is basic–even incredibly stupid people can figure out how to do it eventually–but love takes skill, and when you screw up love it hurts. There’s no preventive, no magic pill, no vaccine to inoculate you from the dangers of love.


If it weren’t for drugs and alcohol, no one would have anything to read because no one could bear to write.


Knowing what I do for a living, people will oftentimes offer me the chance to pontificate on the mysteriies of love and desire, but I am hardly equipped to do so. It would seem to be a matter best left to poets, playwrights, and heavy drinkers–they try, but even they must inevitably throw up their hands in sputtering, wordless furstration.


One lady told me she wanted to meet a man of depth and thought, a man who contemplated the state of the world and his place in it. So I gave her what she asked for–a poet, a professor of literature at a college downtown. Sadly, she got him at a low point. Life, he told her, was meaningless, love was a delusion, and the best any of us could ever hope for was to die and be forgotten.


And the last words of the book: “Love….real love, is when you realize that you’re in a race to see which of you is going to die first. And the worst thing in the world is when you lose.”



My knees are improving, and I’ve been able to ride my bike every other day. The city finally painted on the lines for “bike lanes” and created a bike route on city streets. I rode it one day, and it’s tough at some points, steep hills! But at least they do have a designated bike lane in some places now.

My mother seems to be doing fine at my sister’s, and I hope that continues.

I got the special insoles for my shoes today, which I’d ordered from an online store. I hope these work better, but I really don’t think I can ever walk the little dogs. They seem to have adjusted to not walking in the neighborhood, and run/play in the backyard some of the day for exercise. Still love them to death!

Horrible weather here yesterday, but nothing in our immediate area.

At last I got my income taxes done Monday, and I’m getting over $7,000.00 back. The main reason is that the retirement roll-over took out taxes, and should not have. I’m just glad I was able to recover most of that, and add it to my savings.

I also received my book, “Party of One” today, and can’t wait to read it. I’m sure I’ll have lots of quotes to post soon, regarding being a loner.

That’s it for now.


on March 3, 2007 at 5:05

About Solitude & Hermits

This is a topic that has ALWAYS interested me, and in fact, I have several books on the topic. I mean, think of what it must be like to live FREE of societal pressures, march to the beat of your own drummer, do your own thing — independent of others’ opinions, interactions, etc. Would this scare you to death, the idea of being totally alone, or would it perhaps create a sense of unlimited possibility for a life of the mind?

I have been exploring/researching the topic online, and found a couple of books out recently I haven’t read. One is titled, “Party of One - The Loners’ Manifesto” by Anneli Rufus. I read excerpts, and found an online group for discussion of this topic. And oddly enough, suddenly I realized this is truly ME; I have always been introverted, prefer being alone to being with almost ANYONE, and have suffered greatly over most of my life due to this “affliction.” But the main thing is that there seems to be a movement afoot (including some psychologist) who think loners have gotten a bad reputation. Most of us do no harm, and simply want to be left alone. It was such a feeling of relief to realize, almost in a blinding flash: “I don’t have to ever find another male companion; I don’t have to force myself to find friends; I don’t have to apologize to family for simply BEING WHO I AM.” Ah, the joy of understanding one’s self in the deepest sense.

I LIKE being alone, always have. My marriage was a good one, by most standards, but there were many times when I preferred BEING ALONE. Writing is a solitary activity, but I don’t know if wanting to be alone came first or the desire to write. Sort of like the chicken and egg thing, which came first? Not sure. But as a child, I LOVED my alone time when at my paternal grandparents’ farm, and felt most myself then. I don’t hate people, but I have always had a depth of understanding about human nature: the paradox, the conflicts, the angst and misery of our human condition.

I think I am on the verge of a new writing project, dealing with solitude and living alone, the joys and rewards (and pitfalls, such as taking care of a home, etc.). The main thing I have realized though is that frankly, I am NOT miserable alone. I think also that I will remain alone the remainder of my life — and it’s nothing to apologize for either. There are many others like myself, and we are happiest alone.

BTW, my appointment with the orthopedic doc went well. He said I had a bit of arthritis in my knees, but was in good shape for my age! Told me to not exercise/walk the dogs for a couple weeks, and I should get better. Also told me to get a special shoe insert (Stenco) that prevents the foot rolling inward (over-pronation) which I knew I’d had from the time I used to run/jog. I can use it in any shoe, and it should correct the problem with my knees after they are healed.

Here’s a few quotes about loners/solitude to end this entry:
Solitude, though it may be silent as light, is like light the mightiest of agencies; for solitude is essential to man. All men come into this world alone; all leave it alone.
– Thomas De Quincey

Society is the cave. The way out is solitude.
–Simone Weil, The Great Beast

“Solitude: a return to the self” is in fact the title of an excellent and thoughtful book by Oxford University psychiatrist Anthony Storr. He notes: “The current emphasis upon intimate interpersonal relationships as the touchstone of health and happiness is a comparatively recent phenomenon. Earlier generations would not have rated human relationships so highly; believing, perhaps that the daily round, the common task, should furnish all we need to ask…” Storr provides an interesting history of how mental health came to be equated with the quality of social relationships, and argues that a preference for solitude, self-understanding, and a more muted social presence can be also be compatible with robust mental health.

True loners have what Anneli Rufus, 44, books editor of the East Bay Express and author of the recently published “Party of One: The Loner’s Manifesto,” refers to as a low tolerance for companionship. She compares being a loner to someone who’s hypoglycemic and can’t eat a lot of sugar. “That’s how I am with companionship,” she says. “I mean, I have friends. But you know, like an hour or two, and then it’s time to go home. It appalls me that people can spend so much time with each other.”


That last quote is especially TRUE for me. I can be with people, talk, enjoy them for a SHORT TIME. But to be with someone ALL the time, never AGAIN.


on February 26, 2007 at 4:07

New Day Dawns…

Today I’m moving my blog to Wordpress. Blogger had gotten so loaded down with pop-ups and ads, it was distracting. I’m hoping this site will provide a better experience — for my writing and for readers.

I’ve been have a lot of trouble with my knees for the past week or so. Probably all that walking on the hard pavement when I was taking the dogs for walks. I knew I shouldn’t have done it, but it was so much fun. Now I’m suffering the consequences, can’t bike, can barely get around. I have an appointment Friday with an orthopedic doctor for an exam/evaluation. I sure hope it doesn’t result in some kind of surgery.

Believe it or not, the tree guys are here finally removing the two large trees that I wanted taken down. One was ruining my car in the driveway; the other was an old pecan tree that had worms, and made mostly a mess around the house. Lots of noise going on, but I’ll be glad to have this done — no more raking leaves in the Fall either.

Mother is being released from the nursing home rehab tomorrow, and going back to my sister’s house. Hospice has been called in to help, so I don’t know how that will all work out.

Otherwise, my critters are fine and I’m coping. That’s all I can expect right now, I suppose. Have had a bad couple weeks revisiting the loss of my husband last year, but maybe once today is over, I’ll go forward and not look back so often. I hope, anyway.
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