More Thoughts from the Mind of an Aging Woman

I am sorry to have to bring this up, but I think it needs to be said.  Anything but grape jelly/jam/preserves on a peanut butter and jelly sandwich tastes like a gross violation of PB&J ethics.

Coloring my hair to get rid of the gray makes me feel younger and more confident.  Why?  I know this is true because I went without coloring my hair for at least two months, watched the roots grow out gray, and felt old and conspicuous.  There’s got to be something wrong in all of this.  Is it just me?

Here’s something to get you thinking – why not?

Isn’t the Peace sign just the coolest thing in the world?

Summers of Long Ago

Growing up in the Bucktown neighborhood of Chicago in the 1960’s was something special.  We played Cowboys and Indians, Army, Statues, or other games in the streets without any worries (well, the kids didn’t worry; can’t speak for the parents).  We ran up and down the creaky wooden stairways and halls of the corner apartment buildings (usually without the apartment residents yelling at us).  We strolled the side streets and hung out in the playgrounds until dusk, oblivious to any concerns of drive-by shootings, child abductions, or pedophilia.  In our realm, our reality, the world was pretty much safe, secure, and (for the most part) revolved around us.

The excitement of summer usually involved running after fire trucks to see what was burning (this time) and watch in awe as the firemen raced to extinguish the flames.  I remember once one of the junkyards (what is today’s politically correct term for them?)not too far from us had a fire, I think it was a mound of tires that time, and you could see the smoke from miles away.  And smell it too.  There were apartment buildings that burned sometimes, and the occasional warehouse fire too.  If we were walking around the neighborhoods and happened to see smoke off in the distance, we took off in that direction and didn’t stop until we got to the scene.

I mean, what else was there to do that was exciting and adventurous for kids during the summer?

We were city kids.  We didn’t know about summer camps or summer enrichment programs.  Most of our moms were stay-at-home moms.  We didn’t need babysitters or daycare – we had each other.  Cousins and neighbors and a few school friends.

There were failed attempts to learn to how swim at Holstein Park.  There was a summer dance that the park’s rec facility one summer Saturday (all I remember is “The Age of Aquarius” playing, the black light posters hanging on the walls, bell bottoms, and a lack of kids in attendance).

There were bike rides to Logan Square and very long walks to Downtown Chicago where we’d sometimes ride the subway and el back home.

There were hours spent sitting at the Clybourn station doing nothing but talking with my girlfriends and watching train after train come in and go (okay, I admit that we’d sometimes put those purple and white quartz rocks on the rails to watch them get obliterated when the train’s wheel attacked it).

Shopping for the latest Ray Bradbury (I will miss you) paperback at the downtown bookstore (wasn’t it Cokesbury?).  Buying candy and bottles of Pepsi® at Clem’s, the corner candy store.  Walking across Damen Avenue to the library to pick up something I hadn’t already read.  Falling in love with the mind of Sherlock Holmes and the voices and souls of Elton John; Gordon Lightfoot; Judy Collins; and Peter, Paul & Mary and wishing and wishing for something special to happen if only just one time in my life.

I won’t lie and say I don’t miss those days.  Not the running after fire trucks part, but having someone to hang out with day after day.  Even when we were simply sitting on the concrete stairs that led from our front yard to the sidewalk, frying ants with magnifying glasses, listening to the FM transistor radio, playing with our Barbie® dolls, or creating masterpieces with our colored pencils and crayons – all of those things meant we were spending time with people who mattered.  People, kids actually, who cared about each other and didn’t even realize it.  It was a given.  These were people we wanted – we chose – to spend time with.

Why does growing up and getting older have to mean that the closeness we had with our childhood friends has to evaporate?  Why do relationships and careers steer us so far away from the happiness we knew as kids?  I’m sure this isn’t true for everyone, but I’d bet it is for many, many of us.  Do we ever look back and wonder what we lost along the way?  And is there a way to recapture what we’ve left behind?

What Happened?

What the heck happened? Just the other day I merged onto US Route 4 after leaving Josh on the campus of Castleton State College to start his first semester at the college, teary eyed and dealing with many different emotions as I drove home. Today it’s almost two years later and I feel like I’ve fallen through a time warp. What happened to the last two years?

Many hours spent studying for certification exams, dealing with a host of issues around the house, lost inside vacillating between wanting this and wanting that (relative to many, many things) – yes, many time warps of many degrees. Or is it that age is playing a part in this?

I was driving home from work this evening and all of this hit me upside the head. It’s July 18 – a good part of the summer is already gone and yet I feel like I’ve just stepped into the heat. Maybe it’s the incredibly hot weather; maybe it’s lack of proper sleep (been tossing and turning a lot lately); or perhaps it’s just a midlife crisis (how long do those last anyway?).

Time is driving me crazy. I pump a lot into my days – I get to work before 7:30 am, I rarely take a lunch break, and I’m usually out of the office around 5 or 5:20. I cram a lot into those hours to take advantage of time as much as I can. But then after I get home I usually crash in front of the TV or find myself playing Forty Thieves solitaire or Angry Birds or Gardens of Time when I need to keep the mind exercised. Bit sometimes I get mentally exhausted trying to decide what to do next. I don’t always want to shut down because I like to keep engaged.

Problem is, a lot of the time I’m trying to determine what I really want out of life. I haven’t totally figured that out yet. And it seems like I’m running out of time. After all, I am 55. When does it become too late? Does it ever become too late?

Backyard Birds – July 2012

I’ve been on vacation this week and getting tons of stuff done around the house.  Mostly, I’ve been spending time in the backyard – sanding and staining portions of the deck, weeding, cleaning up the backyard.  Josh has been helping a bit too.  Of course, taking some time to sit patiently and wait for candid bird photos is particularly enjoyable.  I usually post the pictures on Facebook, but today I decided I’d post them here instead.

And here’s one of the roses on the rose-bush I bought from Wal-Mart several years ago.

Common Ground on the Hill’s Music & Arts Festival

We spent last weekend at the Carroll County Farm Museum attending the Music & Arts Festival. Yes, it was terribly hot, especially on Saturday, but we had a god time. The variety of live music was exceptional. Bluegrass, blues, Celtic, old time, classic rock … just about anything. Here are some pictures with more to follow in a separate post (these were taken with the iPad; the others on my phone).

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There’s an App for That, but …

Jamie and I decided to have dinner at Olive Garden this evening. When the check came, we handed over a $20 gift card along with my credit card. When the waitress came back with the receipts, I looked at the bill and was figuring out how much to leave for the tip, not wanting to short-change her based on the lower amount due as a result of deducting the gift card amount.

As I was calculating the tip in my head, Jamie says, “you know there’s an app for that (meaning a tip calculator)”.

I quipped, “yes, but I have a brain for that.”

And Now a Few Words …

Okay, maybe more than “a few” … some thoughts and concepts …

~ You will never “find the time”; you have to “make the time.”

~ I suck when it comes to figuring out where to put punctuation in relation to quotation marks. Anyone else have that issue? Any pointers (something I’ll remember)?

~ It’s impossible to grow old gracefully when you’re working around a bunch of 20- and 30-somethings. Nope, it ain’t gonna happen. All you can think about is your graying hair and your expanding waistline.

~ Some of the best thunderstorms pass through in the middle of the night when you’re asleep. Sometimes you get lucky and a loud clap of thunder will wake you just in time for the storm’s end.

~ You’re never too old to learn something; you simply have to be open to the pssibility that there’s a better ( or faster, or less expensive) way to do something you’ve done all your life.

Expect more of this as my brain exudes thoughts …

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