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06/01 Direct Link
I was forty-seven when I was first called a senior. At McDonald's, ordering a coffee, I questioned the bill: "I think it should be more."

The oh-so-young clerk smiled, "You got the senior coffee."

I exploded, "I'm not a senior!"

"You're not?"

My son, back at our table, laughed, unable to understand my distress. He thinks being old is cool. We both agree that he has the soul of a wise eighty-year-old, while I'm stuck at eleven. (My son says eight, but we won't go there.) I told this to my sister, and she immediately nodded: "I can see it."
06/02 Direct Link
June 2--thirty years ago, I graduated from college with a B.A. in creative writing that qualified me for a secretarial job--but not much else back then. Yet I learned a lot--mostly, I gained confidence that yes, I could write. Just like years later, when I went back for an online MFA, I learned a lot--but mostly, I learned to make writing a priority in my life and acquired more discipline. As a writer, you need confidence that your words mean something, and discipline to write the words. I am grateful--today I write for a living and have just been promoted.
06/03 Direct Link
My son looks forward to being a grey-haired curmudgeon, telling young uns about baseball back in the day; emotionally, I'm getting ready for middle school. No wonder I enjoy my critique group for writers of kids' books! No way am I ready to be labelled "senior" and hate assumptions that I'm retired. When I hear of passing torches to the next generation, I want to yell, "Wait! I haven't had my chance yet!" After a not-fun childhood and lonely young adulthood, I'm just catching up; I want to ask Powers-That-Be for an extension--as though Life a term paper with deadlines.
06/04 Direct Link
In "Fault in Our Stars," I relate more to Augustus than to Hazel. Augustus fears oblivion; the worst part of dying young, for him, is knowing he won't have a time to make a splash at anything, that his name will die when his body does, that he won't be remembered the way John Lennon, Shakespeare, or Beethoven is. Hazel's values are less selfish--to her, being remembered by people who love her is what matters, and it gets her that Augustus wants more. My brain and moral compass respect Hazel's viewpoint--my heart and my gut want to make a splash.
06/05 Direct Link
I don't get into dystopian fiction and only read the Hunger Games trilogy because my son raved about them. Of course, after I read the first book, I was hooked and had to read the next, although from time to time I'd ask myself (and my son), "WHY AM I READING THIS???!" Children murdering children, as ordered by a horrible future government, doesn't exactly make for light pleasure reading. I did like the hope at the very end--but that's when hope showed up, at the very end. I'm naive, but I prefer envisioning a utopian Star Trek sort of future.
06/06 Direct Link
June 6. Seventy-year anniversary of D-Day, twenty-four year anniversary of the death of my mother, and sixteen-year anniversary of my favorite cat. (Sorry, current felines.) I read my half-brother's Facebook post about our uncle's D-Day service and what a good man he is--yet this uncle, the brother of my father, never acknowledges any blood connection between us; he just nodded to me at my father's funeral. I suppose I expect too much from people--but that doesn't take away the sting.

My feelings about my mother, complicated--with her illness, it was dangerous to love her.

My feelings about my cat, simple.
06/07 Direct Link
My son went to see "The Fault in Our Stars" with me yesterday, despite anticipating a theater packed with twelve-year-old girls. He texted a friend while we waited in line: "I've never felt taller, Blacker, or more male." We both had read the book, although I loved it more--but he liked the movie more. Maybe it was the audience, clapping and shrieking when the handsome male lead appeared, clapping and shrieking at the kissing scene, loudly sobbing when the handsome male lead dies. Hard to feel intimate connection to characters I loved--and I felt like laughing at the over-the-top weeping.
06/08 Direct Link
Dunkin' may not be the best place to write today, as old guys are talking politics and badmouthing Obama. I'm not the Obama "Yes We Can!" fan I used to be, but he's no worse than any of the other politicians running their town or state. They're all more focused on getting re-elected and keeping power than on helping the people they serve--although they love to trot out "ordinary" people, be it the Republican's Joe the Plumber (I think that was his name and occupation) or the guests at Obama's speeches. Plus, whenever someone criticizes Obama inordinately, I suspect racism.
06/09 Direct Link
"I Hope You Dance" plays at Dunkin' Donuts and as always I feel a catch somewhere inside, tears close, remembering M. These lyrics were on the funeral home card listing her dates of birth and death, and the song fit her; she always strove to live and appreciate life fully, despite having low vision, being hard of hearing, enduring three bouts of cancer and not-fun treatment--not to mention losing parents in young adulthood. But she was unfailingly cheery, listened to your problems without hinting hers were worse, always ready to plan fun adventures, whether to museums, coffee shops, or bookstores.
06/10 Direct Link
I like participating in writing events, like the Grateful May and now Joyful July online events. I like going to write-ins even though I don't know a soul and am usually the oldest person in the room, conspicuous (at least in my mind) for my lack of success. I like NaNoWriMo, pledging to write a 50,000 word novel or to reach some other lofty goal--last November, I finished my memoir. I like having writing buddies and going to free open houses, and when I do write alone, I like being at Dunkin' Donuts amidst people treating kids to ice cream.
06/11 Direct Link
Forty-one years ago, I graduated high school. My feeling one of failure--I'd just missed the valedictorian and salutatorian spots. As I type this, I think--what a snob I was and am, that that bothered me then and now. Of course, before I got the number 1 spot sophomore year, kids would mock me--somehow class rank was a tool that made people be nice to me. I was hungry for praise, for people to see something special about me. Seventh and eighth grade, I was mocked daily, my lunch thrown over the spiked-top fence, then home to a constantly cursing mother.
06/12 Direct Link
I arrive, first time at a Meet-up write-in, feeling like the awkward shy extrovert I am--and I put salt in my cafe au lait, assuming shakers at a coffee shop would be nutmeg or cinnamon. No. But the coffee cost over three bucks, so I'm not about to dump it (plus that would make me even more conspicuous than I feel) so I add more splenda and figure, hey, salt and sweet is a good combo anyway, right? Right? The group is more ethnically diverse than the NaNoWriMo gatherings I've attended, but everybody's much younger than me. Do I belong?
06/13 Direct Link
Today, talking to S. about my dad, comparing him to my aunts and uncle, I had an epiphany.

"I don't know if my dad ever said he was sorry--but in the end, he was a real dad to me. We all mess up --it's how we deal with our screw-ups that matters."

And my dad was only able to move on and be a real dad after letting go his guilt for deserting me.

My aunts and uncle instead push me out of their minds and lives. Wish I could totally forget them. You think, by age fifty-nine, it'd be easy.
06/14 Direct Link
Lately I sit at coffee shops revising on my Chromebook, rearranging words like puzzle pieces rather than actually creating anything new. They say writing is rewriting--still. Sometimes I look at a revision and wince, realizing it's actually worse than an earlier draft, and I scurry to find the original version, praying I haven't accidentally deleted it. I have such a dread of wasting time. I miss the way I wrote back at C. College, when words just seemed to pour from my soul effortlessly, when I was angrier, more passionate, and my writing reflected this. I'm a happier person today--still.
06/15 Direct Link
I have mixed feelings about Father's Day; my father was never around, and my son's father was undependable. Yet, my dad spent the last Father's Day of his life with me, and by then, he was a good dad. My favorite memory--a phone call on my last birthday before he died, when we talked for an hour--and he forgot to say "Happy Birthday." That was the gift--that we could talk an hour an the phone for no special reason. Nowadays, my son has decided that I deserve two days since I do two jobs--why pass up an excuse to celebrate?!
06/16 Direct Link
Six month anniversary of left knee replacement surgery. I can now walk four miles (well, almost--the last four blocks, my son says I used him as a cane) and I'm back to swimming laps (albeit by the wall, teacher by my side). I'm grateful--especially remembering horrible isolation, stuck in this apartment for days, not even able to take out garbage.

I do wish the nurse had told me that I could stop Celebrex, had encouraged me to get off of it--now my stomach is wrecked and I can't even take Tylenol to relieve tendonitis pain--still, could be much, much worse!
06/17 Direct Link
Monthly breakfast with H. Our sons went to high school together, although they traveled in different friend circles. Somehow H. and I fell in the habit of IHOP breakfasts where we enjoy coffee from carafes and pancakes, chat about jobs and families and the things that stress us. We both work in social services, but our lives are otherwise different--she has a strong marriage, owns her own home and has tenants. Yet we value each other. When I had knee surgery, she drove me and my son to the hospital, picking us up at the ungodly hour of five a.m.
06/18 Direct Link
When I was a feisty feminist teenager, I couldn't understand the fascination of "Pride and Prejudice," with its plot line focusing on women finding husbands. But back then, if women didn't marry, they were likely to end up homeless. In some ways, Elizabeth, the protagonist, is a feminist: she insists on marrying for love, refuses the stupid Mr. Collins and his offer of security, demands to be seen as a logical human being who is worth something more. In Mr. Darcy, she finds someone who appreciates that she speaks her mind--amazing in a time when women can't even own property.
06/19 Direct Link
So many times, walking, I have great 100 word ideas, but now I struggle to remember just one. Of course they say you should always carry a notebook. But I like to treasure the walks themselves, not use them as creative fuel (for that, there's coffee). I like to feel that I don't have a care as I enjoy leafy trees so high they've looked down on generations of neighbors, passing folks with terriers that need to sniff and check me out, moms or babysitters pushing strollers chatting on cell phones, and the wonderfully nostalgic jingle of ice cream trucks.
06/20 Direct Link
Tomorrow is the first day of summer, the longest day of the year. Cause for celebration, and yet, it's bittersweet, as the days will now start to grow shorter. I love May, when suddenly days stretch longer and it's light at seven then seven-thirty, and now, in June, eight p.m.! There's something deliciously luxurious about the extravagance of extra daylight hours, harkening back to playing outside on A. Avenue with other kids, moms in our courtyard building hollering down orders to come in right now while we tried to capture last fireflies or sneak in one last game of tag.
06/21 Direct Link
Such fun to eat breakfast at Dunkin' Donuts on a Saturday morning just after eight a.m., listening to pop rock, able to check email and Facebook whenever I like. Only cloud in breakfast sunshine--young clerks automatically, smilingly, give me the senior discount, the bill at least a dollar less than it should be. I don't look at my receipt for confirmation, just smile and give my usual dollar tip since I plan to park myself at a back table and write. I hate being labeled. Rather, I hate labels that focus on limitations. I'd love if they labeled me writer.
06/22 Direct Link
My son considers me a shy extrovert; I think he's right, though I'd rephrase it to shy, awkward extrovert! I go to J's book signing, happy to meet a critique group member in person, but I don't stay long, shy, uncertain if my chatting with J is taking him away from people he'd prefer talking with. I probably didn't stay over ten minutes, though it took half an hour to get there, forty-five minutes to get home. I felt awkward when he asked to whom he should sign the book--"Me..." Still, I'm glad I went--that's the extrovert part of me!
06/23 Direct Link
Seniors chat at McDonald's in Spanish, Polish, and English, and I, a near-senior, type on my Chromebook, still arrogantly dreaming of literary fame and fortune, unable to laugh and discard dreams as silly. But I don't stop often enough to appreciate dreams that have come true--a loving son; relationships with long-lost half-siblings and their families; good friends; a job I love that consists of writing, and that helps people; having been published a little; belonging to a supportive critique group; being able to walk miles and (almost) swim laps; being able to write, whether my stuff gets published or not.
06/24 Direct Link
Twelve years ago was the regional deaf-blind conference, and M. was still alive, and we were both so excited about my new job; the closing banquet celebration, complete with drum band, was full of joy. Yet M. was suffering from cancer much more than I realized at the time; three weeks after the conference ended, she died. Is her spirit still alive in some dimension? I don't mean the cliche "in my heart" nonsense--of course I'll always remember her, duh. Does she still actually exist? Will I ever see or communicate with her ever again, other than via one-sided prayers?
06/25 Direct Link
Ms. P returned the following Monday; she was already immersed in leafing through a pile of assignments when they filed in the room that morning. She looked up to flash smiles at them.

"I'm sorry I left so suddenly that day; that wasn't fair to you," she told them, standing, leaning against her desk. "My little brother--all I could picture was him, and I was terrified. I wasn't thinking. I'm sorry."

The classroom felt super quiet. R. wondered if she'd ever been in a classroom with a teacher apologizing to the class.

"So I want to know--how you are doing."
06/26 Direct Link
My son has imagined my future true love, and his name is Cliff.

"I'll walk in here, and you two will be sitting on the couch, playing Scrabble. He'll be beating you--he's better at Scrabble than you. He has a full head of hair, but he's got a bit of a paunch," and my son points to his stomach. "He's a gentle guy. He doesn't hate sports, but he's not a sports person."

My son continues to outline details about this imaginary guy. I'm glad he can picture a romantic future for his mom; I haven't been feeling so hopeful.
06/27 Direct Link
Helen Keller's birthday. Too many people think her main value was in overcoming deaf-blindness and don't appreciate who she was beyond that. She was a wonderful write and an advocate who wanted to change the world, angry at the oppression of people because of income or race or gender. A Southerner, she was astounded and repelled when she learned of slavery. She fought for people with vision loss, but she didn't stop there. She was a radical in many ways, with very different political views from her teacher. How insulting, that many accused her of just parroting her teacher's thoughts!
06/28 Direct Link
Today David's birthday, and I think of him--my half-sibling, yet we were as close as strangers. He never accepted me; once, when Dad was visiting and David called, he asked if he could speak to "my" father, emphasizing "my," and he identified himself as David, not Dave, although no one in the family called him David. But I wasn't family to him. Of course, because of my mother's illness, David is far from the only relative not to claim me; perhaps I think of David because of I'm close with half-siblings who miss him, and I wonder what I missed.
06/29 Direct Link
What will I write for Joyful July? I believe in joy, although I don't always feel it. I think what holds me back is fear--too often, I live in "what if's." What if that weird temporal slope to my optic nerve that puzzles my ophthalmologist causes me to go blind? What if these arthritis-like pains that my doctor and OT shrug off as age and weather-related get so bad that so I can't write any more? But maybe I should start thinking of joyful "what if's." What if I meet my soul mate? What if I get my books published?
06/30 Direct Link
I expect too much of people. I call my OT; she'd asked for updates after suggesting I see my doctor about weird arthritic-like pains I've been having, and she'd always seemed so caring before. I emailed her about my appointment, then called afterwards. But I could tell she wanted me off the phone--probably she doesn't know any solution. The doctor said it's aging and weather and had few ideas; the OT had no new ideas, had to rush off to a patient. I feel shrugged off, no one acknowledging how serious this is. My God, I write for a living.