Stop Complaining

44e83a1c-f0ec-48d8-b5c5-ba6f4e2fa171

Stop Complaining 

Stop Complaining 

My New Year’s Resolution is to start writing and stop complaining, in other words, stop complaining about not writing and start. That was sixty-five days ago, I have not done either, which leaves me on the brink of becoming a statistic, joining the  92% of people making resolutions who fail to keep them, or since we are in the first week of March, part of the 80% who give up. Sounds grim.

But let’s think this through, if there are 365 days in a year and we are sixty-five days into the year that leaves 300 days to turn things around, so too early to give up.  Right?

On the up side, although I have done no writing, zero, zip, zilch, twenty-one days have passed and I am not complaining about it, well at least not aloud.

Twenty-one days is considered a benchmark in establishing a habit, good or bad.

Sounds like progress, but maybe not really, the complaints stay in my head, and find visual outlets, strong ones.

For example, when my husband (aka Mr. Wonderful) reminded me for the third time to return a friend’s phone call; rather than my ranting he had already reminded me several times, and that I had NOT forgotten but plan to do it later; I smiled and said, “Thanks for the reminder,” then envisioned stuffing ten indoor snowballs in his mouth.

Not the best outcome, but I am not complaining, well not aloud.

Will Bowen author of “A Complaint Free World” deviates from traditional views about complaining and touts this popular American pastime as being helpful. I agree but have failed to convince Mr. Wonderful complaining has value.

Bowen says the first step to a complaint free world is to define complaining. The dictionary definition is “to express grief, pain and discontent,” his; a complaint is “an energetic statement focusing on a problem rather than the solution,” and if we stick to the facts, and remain neutral eliminating negative attitudes, we will engage in healthy communication.

So on Sunday when Mr. Wonderful questions, before noon, for the fifth time, if Ellen is coming on Saturday, I correct him without the “tude” and say, “remember we discussed going to the Funky Pelican for Happy Hour on Friday and the Bass Sports Store on Saturday, there is a free lecture on Fly Fishing. She is coming on Friday afternoon,”  feeling I am making progress and understand he has been distracted by the Daytona 500, and Phil Mickleson’s one point off the lead golf performance.

In his lectures, Bowen delivers a strong case that once engaged in discussion that focuses on the solution rather than the problem we will discover how we want the world to really be.

I like his point and realize we do not have to keep quiet about Donald Trump’s tweets nor resort to a strong visual, as Kathy Griffin did, what was she thinking.

The next morning Mr. Wonderful asks again if Ellen is coming on Saturday, I focus on the solution, not the problem and suggest we write her arrival on his calendar.

.  .  .  .  just saying

 

A Lost Pearl

81070be8-4105-4dda-b88e-eac682dc7c17Picture Male Tufted Humming Bird by Ray

 

A Lost Pearl

Flash Fiction

The last time I saw her, she was young; youth sparkled in her eyes. Now the sparkle is gone, the jade blue color diminished by time; her convictions etched in lines across her face. Her once narrow nose is broader, broken from standing up for others. Her chest sunken with anger, not there the first time we met.

“Pearl is that you?” I inquire.

She strains to turn towards me, her range of motion greatly compromised.

“Yes, I’m Pearl,” Her voice recalls dignity, and she pauses to ask, “Have I had your acquaintance?”

It was 1971; we got on the Concourse Avenue bus each with a child in hand. She took notice of my bruises and we became friends.

I take the seat alongside her and gently touch her forearm, “Pearl, it’s me Rosa . . . . Rose, remember. . . .” I expect her to ooze with gladness, say, “Lordy, Lordy, Rose, how are you?”

Instead, she says “Rose? Can’t recall a Rose, refresh my memory child.”

If she remembers me, she would never mention beatings, and hiding in safe houses. I remind her of Bainbridge Park; how we would meet after lunch, let the children play in the sand box then walk them to sleep in strollers.

“Yes, I remember sunshine and playgrounds, how is your boy . . . ?”

“Danny, Dan, he’s at Fordham University; studying to be a lawyer.

Danny was five when I made the decision to leave the morning after a beating. I phoned my sister, asked her to get him from school, and left a note for John saying I didn’t want a divorce, and wouldn’t fight him for our son.

I worried about leaving Danny behind. Pearl said, “Don’t fret; your boy be fine,” and hooked me up with people.

John was a New York City Police officer and protected by his brothers, but the force would not ignore his beating a child.

Sill, I moved every four months with a new identity.

Three years later, the Richmond Virginia Newspaper reported the hunt for the killer of John McGill, a NYC Police Officer shot in the line of duty. I went home;  stood next to his coffin, widowed with a pension; my eight-year-old son at my side.

John had never mentioned I was gone to anyone on the force.

Now Pearl dozes next to me, and her head bobs from side to side startling herself. “What was I saying?”

“We were talking about the time we brought the boys to the Bronx Zoo and rode the train around the park ten times. You packed potato salad and fried chicken; a stranger asked to buy your picnic lunch.”

The mention of potato salad crystallizes in her milky eyes, “I remember the day you left, bruised and wearing borrowed clothes; it broke my heart knowing I’d not see you again. How you been?”

“I never got to thank you, Pearl. . . .” She interrupts my attempt at gratitude and explanation of regret .

“Hush, Woman . . . tell me something that will make me smile.”

. . . . just saying

A is for Acerbic -The Alphabet Series

   GE DIGITAL CAMERA

   The Alphabet Series is an approach bloggers use to infuse new life or creativity into their writing.

   “Acerbic” is the first post in my series “New Thoughts For Words”.

   “Acerbic” draws on personal experience and is published in FWA, Let’s Talk by Peppertree Press.

   The challenge for that Anthology was to use a dialogue format to present your short story.

   To tell you the conversation below is between two women in a doctor’s waiting room is cheating.

                                                                                                                                                                                         …just saying

Acerbic

“Unacceptable!  My time is of value, too.  Why aren’t you complaining?”

“I was told the doctor was running late when I signed in.”

“This is ridiculous.  I’ve been waiting more than twenty minutes.  My appointment was for nine fifteen.  What time was your appointment?”

“Well, I’m not sure; I think nine thirty, why?”

“It’s better if everyone is out of sorts.  I can complain for you, make something up, like your dog is in the car, sick and needs to be taken to the Vet.”

“Reading here is as enjoyable as anywhere.”

“Boy, you people are annoying, must you be so perky and pleasant?”

“You’re upset.  Why don’t you thumb through a magazine?  There’s a travel article about Hawaii in this one.  Have you been there?”

“You think looking at pretty pictures of places I can’t afford to travel to will help me… what?  Be happy I have to wait for a man, I pay to tell me I’m sick.  And looking at colorful advertisements won’t help either.  I’m Acerbic.  My parents and grandparents, on both sides, were Acerbic and proud of it.”

“Acerbic?  Is that … American or … a religion?”

“Acerbic is a way of life.  You got a problem with that?  Our dispositions are generally crabby.  We find fault in others quickly and enjoy being sarcastic.”

“Golly gee, everyone feels crabby from time to time.”

Golly gee?  Golly gee, we’ve been sitting here over a half hour.  Can’t you pretend you’re a little annoyed?  That wing back chair looks awful uncomfortable.  These doctors are all the same; think they’re better than the rest.”

“His nurse said the doctor had an emergency, it sounded serious.  Are you really Acerbic?”

“Our whole neighborhood is Acerbic.  We don’t like friendly.  People yell, ‘Don’t park in front of my house, jerk’ and threaten, ‘If your dog pees on my grass, I will call the police!’  Although things are changing.  Someone, I can’t find out who, moved my garbage pail out of the street on a windy day.”

“You don’t mind if I read my book?’

“Of course I mind.  I get it.  Why not say shut-up?  Add please if you have to.  It’s easy; watch my lips, ‘Will you please shut-up!’ ”

“No, tell me about your life.”

“Actually I had a great childhood.  We owned a small cabin not far from Route. 95 below the Georgia border.  Dad named it Acerbia.  It was a retreat where we could be sour and discontent on weekends and during vacations.  You know, say nasty things about neighbors and relatives.”

“Was that fun?”

“Are you kidding, of course, the best.  By the way, they call me Unfortunately.  I’m Unfortunately Fortunato.  What’s your name?  Not that I care.”

“Unfortunately is a first name?  And Fortunato your family…?”

“Mom wanted an Acerbic name, nothing cheerful or common like Hope, Joy or Grace.”

“That had to be a difficult name for a child.  Did she think it was a mistake?”

“No, Difficult and Mistake are my brothers.  Mother named them good, too, because Difficult is in prison and Mistake, chronically unemployed.”

“Was that a surprise?”

“They still haven’t called anyone.  All they do is talk on the phone.  Someone else has to complain.  You can do it.  I like your pink eyebrows.”

“My eyebrows are pink?”

“Yea, they match your lipstick, compliment that bluish tint in your hair, and look cool on a woman your age.”

“My hair isn’t blue! I’m not that old.”

“Isn’t that book you’re reading in large print?”

“It’s easier I don’t have to remember my glasses.”

“Most seniors get a little forgetful.  It’s normal, not a problem unless you can’t remember what glasses are.  You know glasses magnify things, right?”

“I know what glasses are for and I didn’t forget them.  I do not need them to read a large print book.”

“Did you hear that?  The receptionist called Ms. Fortunato.  That’s me, Unfortunately.  Doc’s ready for me.  Have a rotten, day”

“You too, and my eyebrows aren’t pink!”

P.S. I welcome your comments.

Is Life a Bowl of Cherries?

800px-Bowl_of_cherries_with_colours_enhancedFinally, the air has a chill and I need long sleeves this October morning.

It is high tide, and dirty seaweed decorates the beach. The shore line looks ugly but the sky does not. Pewter grey clouds hover above angry white caps. In the distance a shirtless boy, pounds the sand intensely with his small fist and I share his anger. Dad sits behind him talking into a cell phone.  No one smiles or says good morning when I walk by, shake my head, and think about the world.

The waves slap each other and drive home a recent expectation of parents playing with kids.

On my return trip, Dad is picking up shells and pointing out turtle nests to his son and I forgive his digression and reevaluate my assumptions.

I bristled at the cell phone, but is it any different from a live conversation, probably not.  Fathers teach children to wait and not interrupt.

My father’s words “Life is tough, TUFF,” dance in my head and I reminisce about being told, “You’ve had enough fun this week,” and so, I was not allowed to go to the movies with friends. I could not argue. I did have fun.

We fabricate an idealized world in which every day is happy; and we are disappointed when it is not.

Perhaps this wise Dad is teaching his son to find the happy moments in the day.

Life is just a bowl of cherries.

                                                                                  …just saying

Ha Ha Baby Boomers

Aging & Attitude

Statistics show that as you age you laugh less. The elderly lose their sense of humor, no Shit Sherlock! What is there to laugh about?  We cannot see, cannot hear, and cannot remember.

A recent News Journal article informs us of the latest national disaster, sarcopinia, the wasting away of the elderly. Who needs a new word we cannot pronounce, and reminds us of things, we do not want to remember.  It is no surprise, the elderly feel depressed, and lose humor.

I heard that if you cannot get out of the car or off a chair, it is from muscle atrophy. So I started going to the gym, now have muscles and can get out of the car, couch or chair easily.  I just cannot straighten up once I am standing. I am stiff and cannot unbend.  I have termed the condition de-stiff-i-tiz-ing. It is not an official medical condition but most Baby Boomers suffer with it.

We were out to dinner, a table of ten, dear friends who shall remain nameless. After paying the bill, everyone stood to leave and a uniform moan ricocheted off the restaurant walls. A few of us were quick to laugh, covering the additional groans people spewed as they hung to the back of chairs, shook legs awake, and de-stiff-i-tized to reclaimed stature. There was no giggling.

Men actually laugh less and stop laughing sooner than woman, around fifty. (Mr. Wonderful sports a Grumpy tattoo, gotten on his fiftieth birthday.) That statistic may change once the numbers are in on Viagra, although after four hours a man could permanently lose all ability to chuckle.

The humiliation does not end.  A woman attending a wedding went outside to smoke, after extinguishing the cigarette with her foot, bent over to pick up the butt and toppled in her kitty cat heels. Fortunately, her dress did not blow over her head and no one was around.

This never happened to grandma. She could smoke indoors, did not worry about green and thought gym was a man’s name.

So here are my tips for Baby Boomers. (Will someone think of a better term, PLEASE)

  • Replace old toilets with new Hi-Boy’s(the taller  ones).
  • Park in the same spot at the mall everytime.
  • Write down the make, year, and plate number of both cars you own and keep the information in your wallet. (Forgetting where you parked is one thing, forgetting what you parked is another.)
  • Stop telling people you do not remember their name.  They do not remember yours either.
  • Do not smoke when wearing high heels.                                                                                             
                           …. Just saying

Betty Blasé and New Horizons

Aging & Attitude

“I’ve become blasé,” said a woman at the New Horizons Brunch for new members, ending our conversation that threatened to become passionate. She smiled, and took a step back to distance herself from me. She wore ‘big-girl’ shoes with a large fake rhinestone separating her first two toes.

“Blasé what a wonderful word,” I respond, but fail to keep her engaged. The crowded breakfast nook engulfs her lack of interest. Soft wrinkles languish her face, her tone aloof as she snaps her neck to suggest she was not always apathetic, it is an acquired skill.

She wears it well like a sophisticated article of clothing, dance attire.  I want to be blasé. Blasé could be  equivalent to Botox or Juvederm injections and cheaper.  Her skin glows.

My mind escapes to a fantasy world and I morph into Betty Blasé, a new and improved self.  When motorists drive in my trunk during the day, I flip the rearview mirror to ‘night-vision’, instead of yelling, “wrap yourself around a tree, see if I care,” and as they speed by, adjust the air conditioning, calmly.

I feel in control of my emotions and straighten my back to stand a little taller. The room is decorated in damask lined drapes hung high upon the wall and sparkling glass tables.

Surely, I can learn indifference when the Bagger in Publix double wraps my chicken in plastic after I hand him cloth and painstakingly explained the chicken gets naked next to my eggs and butter at home in our refrigerator.

Several New Horizon members drift towards the front door ready to leave.  I promise myself the next time a group of kids covered with tattoos and reeking of profanity pass by I will NOT mumble, “You kiss your mother with that mouth?”

I exchange goodbyes with the host and mosey towards my car thinking, it is conceivable to yawn at newspaper stories debating those guilty of pet abuse; Obama, who ate dog or Romney, who transported Seamus, a pet, crated on a car roof.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 Just Saying

 


Vintage Vanity

Aging & Attitude

I never wore an itsy bitsy teeny-weeny yellow polka dot bikini. I wore a one piece swimsuit with a zipper up the back that I could swim in. I loved that pink and white plaid bathing suit. A darker pink piping set off the waist, and it was fully lined. That was during my teenage years when we swam down at Puffy’s creek or at Jones beach on Long Island.

I never owned a Rabbit fur coat. I had a fake Leopard fur coat bought on sale in Macy’s department store. The large collar and hem trimmed in black fake fur.  This Bo Derek style outer wear was stored in a clothing closet and admired when I opened the closet door, too good too be worn.

I never owned a London Fog trench coat.  I wore a navy blue raincoat with an empire waist and hood, purchased at Lerner’s.  I had black patent leather go-go rain boots and kept dry with a bubble umbrella. I have a picture, taken at the Bronx Zoo, of myself wearing this outfit, and remember feeling quite pleased with my look including the shag wig, I wore.

I never wore jeans, stirrup pants were my favorite, and proud to be the first to wear bell-bottoms, in my dorm. These orange pants coordinated with a gold and orange box plaid mini-skirt and a matching gold crepe blouse. The blouse had flounce sleeves with military buttons on the cuffs, and a wrap around neck sash that tied in a bow. I can picture the outfit in Alexander’s store window on Fordham road in the Bronx and still smile.

I never avoided looking in a mirror, til now. The reflection is unrecognizable and I hear myself saying, “Why does that woman look so familiar?” aloud, and realizing it is me, worry about Alzheimer’s.

I never thought I’d wear elastic waist pants, funny hats or moan getting up from a chair.

I never thought myself good-looking, was never boastful, conceited, or big-headed, but loved those outfits and the way they made me feel.

Damn, I guess it is too late to be vain.

                                                                                      . . . Just Saying

Uncle Sam Shenanigans

Aging & Attitude

Uncle Sam Shenanigans

(Conversation between Uncle Sam and Mr. Working Middle Class)

“You know Mr. Working Middle Class, Congress is going to raise your taxes.”

“No way Uncle Sam, you’re kidding, right?”

“Am I a Kidder?  On Fox Sunday News, Democratic Senator Dick Durbin said, ‘I can’t believe, that at a time when working families in this country are struggling paycheck to paycheck, when we need them to have the resources to buy things in our economy, to create wealth and profitability and more jobs, that the Republican position is they’ll raise the payroll tax on working families? I think that just defies logic.’

“Me too, I already pay enough income tax.”

“No, they’re leaving income tax alone. Payroll tax, well really Social Security Payroll tax, FICA, you pay half and your employer pays the other half, Social Security Entitlement.”

“Social Security Entitlement, don’t you mean Social Security Benefits that I’m entitled to because I gave you money from my pay; and my employer matched that amount, to invest for my retirement and health care.”

“Right, only I didn’t invest all of it, but let’s stay focused on the Republicans. It’s not a real tax increase, call it a take back, or take away….your pay will be less because you can’t get the tax break you got. Don’t look so puzzled, payroll taxes were reduced by 2% for a year so working people could buy more stuff and stimulate the economy, create jobs. It’s time to start paying your full share again. Republicans, simply don’t want a lower rate extended.”

“Oh, I get it. Just like Bush gave the wealthy tax breaks and now it’s time for them to start paying their full share again.”

“Yes, only Republicans are smarter, they’ll never pay the 3.25% surtax on income over one million proposed by the Democrats to cover the deficit created by your 2% break. And nobody will notice when they extend their tax breaks, again.”

“Republicans have a better plan?”

“Yuppie, Republicans want to pay with cuts elsewhere. House Speaker, John Boehner recommends:

  • Freeze Federal Employee’s pay until 2015
  • Reduce bureaucracy by 200,000 jobs through attrition
  • Raise Medicare premiums for the wealthy
  • Deny unemployment benefits and food stamps for incomes over seven figures”

“Won’t that increase employment? People earning one million dollars are eligible for unemployment and food stamps?”

“Get real, the wealthy live paycheck to paycheck too.”

“Neither of these bills will pass.”

“You got that right, Mr. Working Middle Class.”

“What’s Congress going to do?”

“It’s an election year, extend the 2%, and borrow to cover the deficit. Don’t be so concerned with the wealthy.”

“You got to be kidding me.”

“Do I look like a Kidder?”

                                                                Just Saying 

Thanksgiving Turkey & Christopher Columbus

Turkey and Christopher Columbus

Aging and Attitude

Writers can be odd thinkers. Their thinking is not peculiar, insane, or eccentric; they think differently. In my case, thoughts of cooking a turkey attach themselves to Christopher Columbus, the explorer.

Thanksgiving is a week away and Columbus Day Sale events are fresh in my mind. I could purchase a turkey on sale and cook it perfectly.

A bigger issue may be fueling this association.

Christopher Columbus questioned conventional thinking that the earth was flat. He was a trailblazer.

I am not in his league, but why do ‘people in the know’ or chefs say, “cook a turkey breast side up”?

For years, I have secretly roasted a turkey breast side down.  Recently, my discretion was revealed to a few close friends. They were speechless. Fearing they would consider me mentally ill, I explained.

“A turkey dries out breast side up as the juices sink to the bottom of the pan, so we baste the bird frequently. Why not turn the turkey upside down and stop opening the oven door?”

I was ready for their concerns and cautioned myself, do not mention your view on gravy.

“The bird will sit lopsided in the pan.” Several exclaim.

“So what, does it need a perfect tan?” I say.

“The pop-up button letting you know when it is done will not pop.” They announce in high-definition.

“The pop-up button doesn’t always pop-up.” I counter.

Christopher Columbus was not the only one to consider the earth might be round.

Perhaps I am not a lonely turkey renegade. 

Please cast your vote below for breast up or breast down. 

Just Wondering      

                                                                             

Water Bagging

Aging & Attitude

 What is Water Bagging? Water Bagging is a newly coined phrased (by me) referencing an experience that can occur in public bathrooms. Water Bagging has a snappy ring, sounds like water boarding minus genuine torture. The similarity, other than the obvious H2O, is the incident left me feeling victimized and asking, “What can be done legally?”

My mission was to exchange an ink cartridge that went dry printing a few Sud0ku grids.

The customer service person at the local super store said, “Wthout a receipt or the packaging, I can only give you ink.”

“That’s fine.” I said. Did she think I wanted money?

“Go get a new one; you don’t have to wait in line again when you come back.”

Great, I hike to technology, grab a new HP cartridge and a second one, just in case, and skip line.  She checks me out with a reminder to save the receipt and off I go. Life is good.

I  see a restroom, do not ‘really’ have to go, but slip inside. All the stalls are in use. The handicap stall frees-up first and since not previously used by a handicap person and no handicap people are in line, I hurry in.

Thanks to an ABC story, “Your Purse Could be Making You Sick” about pseudomonia, straphylococcus aurews, EColi and salmonella invading our homes due to women putting handbags on the floor, I look to hang my bag on the back of the door. The hook is missing. My handbag is small with two handles and closes with a snap, but not snapped. I dump my bag on the edge of the sink and start to undo my slacks.  The bag slumps into the sink, no big deal, until with my pants down and a plastic grocery bag on my wrist notice that like Niagara Falls, water is pouring into my handbag. Tripping, I grab the handbag out of the sink and begin tossing the contents into the plastic bag strangling my wrist. Once the handbag is empty, I pour mega amounts of water out, puddle walk to the toilet, sit with the bags on my lap, and pee, studying my wet stuff.

The ink from the receipt is bleeding and threatens to blotch up several items.

The automated paper towel dispenser is just beyond my reach, wiggling closer (my pants are still down) I manage to activate the release of brown paper by flapping my arms. I wipe things dry while standing.  A couple of deep knee bends later my pants are secured and nothing has touched the floor.

Leaving, I stop to use a noisy hand dryer hoping to preserve the needed HP ink cartridge receipt, conflicted about searching my handbag for ear plugs to prevent loss of hearing from these mother of devices.

Does Water Bagging happen to anyone else? What are the numbers?

Legislation may be need, definitely a grass roots movement, Women United Against Automatic Flush Toilets, Soap and Paper Towel on Demand Dispensers, and Hot & Cold Water Request Valves That Only Work When You Do Not Want Them To.

We could start a protest similar to Occupy Wall Street, but still pay taxes, babysit grandchildren and sleep in beds.                                                                                                             

                                                                                           ….Just Saying.