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My autobiography "From Hungarian Refugee to Beach Bum and all the Lives in Between" may one day be written. When I place myself back in another time...I can smell it...I can hear the sounds around me...I know that the colors were different...the way that people talked...the sounds in an office...the hallways of a school or university...the fabric of our clothes. The process of communication is vastly different today than when I began my life. Imagine today telling someone aged 15 that they had to limit their phone conversations to three minutes each? YIKES!
At any time in your life it is risky to take a chance. The older you get and the harder it is. Even if you've been a risk taker when younger, the idea of breaking out of your comfortableness and trying something that might fail...that might make you less happy...or less content...or miserable...or lose your security...is risky. And then there is the matter of things. We've got lots of those. As much as we love them, they weigh us down. How do you take a chance with a ton of things hanging around your neck?
You have to pack up those things and put them away. Keep them out of sight and mind. Become one who does not need them anymore. No job to define you. No things to define you. Only yourself to define you.
Billions of people in this world. I see everything from behind my two eyes. It's the only way I can see. You too see from behind your two. And so it goes.
My perspective does change, yet appreciation for man's ability for hatred and cruelty is surpassed only by our capacity for love and goodness.
The magic times. There were many. Remember the 17 year cicadas? When you were little kids and we visited friends in Annapolis and their yard was full of them jumping everywhere and you ran around trying to catch then. They were so loud that it was deafening and we had to shout over the din. For weeks the carcasses could be gathered. If only someone could have found a use for them...jewelry, perhaps? Fertilizer? Crunch in the vegetable soufflé?
It was 17 years later when they came again. You were gone by then. Definitely not the same.
She really did wear four inch heels while vacuuming the house. We lived in university housing in Vancouver. My father was a professor and I was the oldest of three children. At four, I thought my parents were the most handsome and beautiful of all the parents I knew. My mother always wore pretty dresses, skirts and blouses, high heels, belts with classy buckles, cute shorts and tops. Her powder on her face was delicate and smelled wonderful. Red lipstick and brown hair. Dad was 6'5" tall, slim with wavy black hair. In my mind, were the perfect 1950s couple.
Stress will kill you. Alex spends so much of his day stressing about things he cannot control. I want to take it away from him, but he is 30 years old and has a life of his own…which is full of stress…which will kill him. He is trying. He is seeing a counselor and is addressing anxiety. I am very proud of him because he is building a business…from scratch he and his partner are building it…expanding for the third time in as many years. It’s stressful. Engaged to be married…it’s stressful, too!
“Are you pregnant?” I asked my daughter, who wants to be. It was done in an instant the first time. This time not so much. Perhaps her husband is anxious about the addition to the mix…the cost…the space…but my daughter is certain that it will be manageable. “I don’t think so” she says. It’s February and I was sure they would be expecting by October. She doesn’t want her daughter to be an only child. She and her brother were five years apart and she wants hers closer, but not likely at this point.
Really, Catholic bishops? Really? Are you insane? If only you’d spent as much effort exposing pedophiles instead of denying poor working women their birth control! Shame on you! I am so angry! Old white men dictating women’s health issues while disguising it under the guise of freedom of religion! Shame on you! Sitting in your gold gilt feeling no guilt. Shame on you! Allow us control over our bodies. Don’t you dare pretend this is about religious freedom. This is about control! I’ll bet the prescriptions for Viagra are covered by their health insurance! Shame, shame!!
The Baltimore Ski Club just got off the plane. It was like a co-ed middle-aged frat party! They shouted across the plane at each other the whole time. Thank god it was a morning flight because there appeared to be no drinking. There were only two of us staying on to travel to Seattle. Then the plane filled with people who looked so different from the travellers first onboard. Fascinating how in the United States the make-up of people is different in various locations. I am excited to travel the world to see if it’s true.
Very proud of my little brother who founded an organization called “Professionals Without Boundaries” now changed to “Professionals Without Borders” (boundaries apparently brought up some controversial imagery...). Working year round to raise money, to generate interest, to train students, to take them on experiences that will last a lifetime. Sustainable engineering projects making a substantial difference in the lives of a school, a community or a village…in Africa, South America or regionally at home, improving the quality of lives. He has named a successor which is great because often founders can’t imagine being replaced so no succession plan.
Flying to Seattle to spend some time with my family. Brother Steve has his big fundraiser for Professionals Without Borders -- renamed from Professionals Without Boundaries because it appears that "without boundaries" was a phrase which didn't sit well with some people -- tonight and I'll be squeaking in just in time to change my clothes and head over to the event. It feels good to be able to support my younger brother in this endeavor because he founded the organization and it is doing good work. The fundraising event which is an elaborate silent auction and live auction grows each year.
I remember the first time I heard Gil Scott-Heron. I was driving home on Northern Parkway -- we lived in Mt. Washington in Baltimore -- it was dark outside and I hear a man speaking on the radio with some fine music playing and he is rapping but I didn't know it then. I was so moved by his words and couldn't wait to tell Barry when I got home about what I had just heard. It would be a few years before Rap would be mainstream on the airwaves and the messages were much different than heard on that night.
Having dinner with my good buddies Mack and Cynthia. Artists turned realtors. Mack is a baseball nut. A fanatic! Cynthia is passionate about yoga. Both like good food and drinks. Mack is an excellent mixologist and has an assortment of liquor that puts some bars to shame. Although today the bar scene is becoming quite sophisticated. Cynthia is a sculptor who kept herself afloat in Brooklyn by working as a carpenter. Mack is a musician born to an Italian mother and African-American father in Manhattan. Learned to drive at 35 to drive a truck cross-country settling in Seattle.
Helping my mother take piles of photos and frame them -- removing older ones -- hanging them on walls -- re-working the menage on the mantle. Printing photos at the "drug" store and buying frames and organizing it all.
We all get older in stages.
She is at the moving one pile from this place to that place but never really getting to the bottom of it. But things are still clean. Her apartment is clean, clothing is clean and her person is clean.
I remember when Everett started coming over with some spots on his shirt.
Tonight was my sister Niki's big event. I helped her write two applications so she could be nominated for Seattle's events association's annual awards. She was nominated in both categories and won both! I am now officially her awards application author. Unfortunately, my sister has terrible taste in clothes and wore a navy blue chiffon number that was very short with a full sleeve on one side and no sleeve on the other with something sparkly on a diagonal across her front. But, her live-in boyfriend really loves it!!
Seattle does close down pretty early, though. I was surprised.
I spent Valentine's day with my mother at one of her favorite restaurants: Salvatore's. When Navaal was alive it was his favorite so my mom and sister Alex go there when it's a special occasion. I used to love that place! I was surprised at how ordinary it is compared to how it stood out many years ago. The foodie culture has exploded and we demand so much more from our restaurants these days. Now Salvatore is of an Italian restaurant class versus a foodie destination as it once was. It's a matter of both the restaurant's and my changes.
Yesterday it was lunch with Gloria and Allan and seeing the Gauguin exhibit at the Seattle Art Museum. An interesting and tragic life that man had.
It was unsettling to see how much Allan has withdrawn since his surgery. He is walking like an old man where his feet don't follow one another but rather dodders back and forth. When I talked to Gloria about it when we were alone she burst into tears. It broke her heart that it was noticeable to others because of course it is painfully familiar to her. She is losing him slowly.
Last night was the big family get together at Alex's house. People brought things -- I bought a ton of food and helped get ready. Alex provided good red wine. We were all having a very good time when suddenly Alex flipped over two people checking their cell phones during our sit down dinner. "If you want to check your phone just get up and walk into the other room but don't do it at the table" -- within a few seconds they did it again. She went ballistic and my sister-in-law got up and with Steve left the party.
Friday I had lunch at Campaigne on Post Alley by the Pike Place Market with Patty Shipman with whom I've been friends since I was 16 years old. We kept meaning to have a photo taken of us but forgot.
Saturday afternoon Cynthia and Mack hosted a happy hour with three of my Pullman friends: Annie Grosshans, Marsha McCroskey and Robyn Tarbet. I forgot to take photos of that event, too! I've known those girls since 9th grade -- Cynthia came to Pullman in the 10th grade and became very close. We lost touch but re-connected again sometime.
Had a very early flight yesterday morning. Slept terribly because I was so afraid I would not wake up at 4:30am. But, I did and was showered and ready to go when Chuck called at 5:00 as my back-up caller. The flight went smoothly and when I arrived home, Chuck took me to a lovely dinner.
Today it is my CT Scan day and I am jet-lagged which only adds to the fun. My swiftly planned trip to Seattle meant I had to re-schedule the Scan and my appointment with Sardi is Wednesday!
The retirement game has many facets not the least of which is how much money do we need to do it? What part of our desired lifestyle is necessary for mental health and spiritual well-being and what part is dispensable?
How long do we expect to live? Asks the financial planner type...the standard today is 95 years...really? Because I don't want to live that long. Neither does my husband. But I don't want to run out of money either. What if we did live to be 95 fucking years old? What do we do then?
Today it was official, the CT Scan and radiologists report came back showing that all was well. Still cancer free. Now two years and three months post surgery and one year and four months post chemotherapy I am finally beginning to be able to say "well, I may have a recurrence, but I really don't think so!". And, it appears that my doctors both think that way too.
I am mentoring three women. Nancy is 77 years old and a competitive swimmer who was not sure if she should do the surgery. I convinced her that she should.
Lisa is another mentee who had already had her surgery but was going through a bad time. Sardi's assistant called and asked me to talk to her. I did and then visited her. I keep in touch with her regularly. She is doing much better now and is even working from home now.
Vicki is still in the hospital having had a 13 hour surgery! Mine was only 10. She had had two prior surgeries with other doctors and it was a mess inside. Fortunately they were able to completely hook her colon back up and she's fine.
So one financial guy says "oh you don't need to worry" you've got plenty of money. He is interested in having me move some money into my State retirement account. OK will probably do that. He is free because I'm in the State retirement system. But, he cannot advise me regarding my husband's assets nor any that are in both of our names because he's not worked for the State.
I talk over the phone with numerous folks who would be happy to assist me with "wealth management" on a $5000 monthly retainer!!!!!! Really? That's $60K per year!!!!!!!!!
Preparing for the big retirement party tonight. Got the program together -- instructed all the players -- at this point it's up to everyone to deliver. Picking up one of Jacqui's oldest bosses at the airport -- he's flying in from Albany, he's on the program and it's a surprise. Got to have at least one surprise. Have representation from many facets of her career. Ray Feldmann and Mike Golden are co-MCing the program -- they are the classic dick and dack -- funny, smart and can play off each other very well so it ought to be pretty irreverent and a bit raunchy.
Yesterday was Jacqui's Retirement Party which included 100 of her closest friends at the Sons of Italy Lodge in Little Italy in Baltimore. Friends from long ago and recent times joined in a fun evening. There were roasts and toasts and poems and dancing and food and wine and smiling faces. Posted 50 photos on Facebook this morning. I did wake up with a hangover and debated about working out. So glad I did it in the end because, my hangover went away while listening to Amanda Marshall's "Oh, my god! I woke up with a snake tattoo" -- so funny!
Went to see the movie "Pina" about a German dancer / choreographer whose dancers created a film about her work upon her death. I HATED it so much. I tried so hard to like it but 40 minutes into the film I whispered to my companion, "do you hate this as much as I do?" and she said "yes" and we left. What self-indulgent crap! The fascinating thing was that the dancers were all about how they felt while they were dancing and moving...but they were conveying NOTHING with their faces -- no feeling at all -- just heavy German shit!
We've had a very easy houseguest for three days. He is going home tomorrow. Last night we went to dinner with one of Chuck's experts. He is Southern but interesting guy in spite of it. He was interested in my family's story as he remembered vividly the Hungarian Revolution on television as a young man. I emailed him my mother's article on our escape and Chuck sent him a copy of Fall of the Red Star.
There is a lot of interest nowadays in the revolution and it may be because of the turmoil in the Middle East.
WBAL TV did an interview with me and Dr. Sardi for a Women's Health segment. I only wish I didn't have a miserable cold. But I think it went well. I get asked by his office to speak, to mentor, to be a spokesperson. I see it as a good sign that I'll keep getting better. After all, they wouldn't be using me if they thought I'd keel over dead, now would they?
The woman who interviewed me was also fascinated by the Hungarian story so I sent her my mother's article. She is also trying to publish...
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