Wednesday, April 30, 2003

(OK, OK, my public is clamoring for continuation of this blog. Well, it's a quiet, refined clamor. Well all right dammit, it was just one person. So I'm easy. Sue me.)

Reading the Obits

I've started doing something I never thought I'd do: reading the obituaries. It started after my father-in-law died last fall. Soon after, I saw that the father of a grade-school friend had died; I went to the Visitation that night and saw CT and her sister, whom I worked with in the late 1980's, and got another bonus: the sister had also worked with a guy who was in grad school with me, and he was there, too. I hadn't seen him in *years*.

Then a couple of months later, I saw that the mother of one of my best friends in high school had passed away. I'd lost track of KE and no amount of googling had unearthed her. Now at this sad occasion I would be out of town and couldn't even attend the Visitation. I called the funeral home and gave them my phone number to pass on to my friend. (It was a long obit; KE has twelve brothers and sisters! Unusual in the Protestant denomination we'd belonged to.) The next weekend KE called me from her home on the East Coast. We caught up on all the happenings in our lives over the past 25 years, and now we email each other a couple of times a month. She hasn't changed a bit; just the sight of her name in my emailbox brings a smile to my face.

A two-minute nightly scan of the Deaths page over a couple of months, and two heart-warming re-contacts. The behavioral scientists call this "intermittent rewarding," and it's one of the most powerful conditioning tools known. (It's especially effective in fostering and maintaining gambling addiction.)

So now I read the obits almost daily. I look at the last names first to see if any ring a bell. I think I've seen the parents of a couple of grade-school-mates but we weren't close enough for me to try to contact them.

Then I look at ages. I'm amazed at how many people die in their 40's and 50's! And I have that sneaking feeling that oldsters before me have admitted to: "I'm older than that! I beat her!"

Aha. So it's the Grim Reaper I'm playing hide & seek with here. That's probably why I finally started sorting through the old photos, and reading my old journals, too: totting up, as the Beatles said. I'm at that time in my life when I'm looking back, seeing what I've been through, what I've accomplished, and where I've failed. What's changed about me and what hasn't.

While I'm resolutely forward-looking (nine inch nails vs. the Beatles; Bright Eyes vs. John Denver), this process is necessary, I think, to keep me grounded--or maybe it's to give me a firm springboard for whatever the next step is.

I feel like I have gained some wisdom and that's a direct product of all my fuck-ups. Reading my journals, I realize that there are some areas about me that are still the same, and shouldn't be. In other aspects I've made huge strides--sometimes because of a lot of work, blood, sweat and tears; other times I have no idea how I got from There to Here. There are regrettable gaps in my journals, and even more numerous and gaping ones in my memory.

I don't feel the scorn my younger self expected to feel at the Now Me for reading the obits (which could serve as a nick-name for this whole process). I feel pretty content right-now-this-minute, and that this is right for me now.

And...I'm a little pleased that I have that compassion for myself. That above most other things is very hard-won indeed.

Wednesday, April 16, 2003

Unless something extraordinary happens, I won't be posting here any more. I just don't have the time or the inspiration. You may find this message for months to come, because doesn't give us a way to cancel our Blogspots. They just leave them hanging out here until they decide to move them to archives, and after that--they don't say how long--they dump them off their servers.

So, don't come back! All you'll see is this message! Visit my web site (it's not updated *much* more often than this blog) if you want to see what I'm up to.


Thursday, April 10, 2003

I'm considering dropping this blog. I so seldom have time to enter anything, and it's only going to get worse as we get more into the wetlands growing season (now through September). I don't know that anyone's reading it anyway.

Just in case someone is, and someone *else* has dribbled coffee down their fronts at this early hour of the workday, I'll supply a Handy Hint from Terry: First, try to do this while the coffee is still damp. Go into the restroom of your choice, wad up several dry paper towels. Stuff them under your shirt, or pants leg, or wherever the coffee stains are. Take another 2 or 3 paper towels and run them under the tap, get them a little wet. Daub the coffee spots. The underlying science here is "capillary action," that tendency of water to follow very tiny tunnels--if you've ever had a nurse hold a spaghetti-thin tube to a drop of blood on your finger and watched the blood rise up the tube all on its own, you've seen capillary action. Anyway, it's also a matter of diffusion--molecules tend to move from an area of greater concentration (the wet paper towels) to an adjacent area of lower concentration (the dry paper towels) until equilibrium is reached, or until you are satisfied that the darn spot is gone and remove the diffusion system (the paper towels on both sides of the fabric). Capillary action and diffusion will (this is my theory) drag the coffee stain with the water, out of the fabric and into the underlying dry paper towels. For dry stains (like you only noticed you'd dribbled *after* the meeting with clients), you may have to use a two-step process. Put a drop of liquid soap (like, out the bathroom's hand-washing soap dispenser) on the wet paper towel and dab the soapy solution into the stain; throw away both under- and over-sets of paper towels and repeat without soap to rinse the soap (mostly) out.

Be forwarned: You'll have a big blob of water on your shirt until it dries, so don't do this unless you can hide out in your cubicle for awhile.

Boy, if I keep rewarding readers like this, soon there won't be *room* for all the hits this blog will get.

Monday, April 07, 2003

It's obviously been a long time since I posted an entry here. If anyone is coming around to read this, I'm sorry about the paucity of entries. I don't know how often I'll be able to post; if you're really interested but get tired (as don't we all?) of coming around here and finding nothing new, you could email me and I'll send you a little note when something new goes up.