September 30, 2009

The Offer and the Chicken

Every person I know in this life lives in and around Bucks County, PA. If the location doesn't ring a bell, imagine the breads of Philly and Trenton. Bucks is the meat. And it's been my home my entire life. I know, I know... I need to get out more. I hadn't traveled much as a kid, other than whatever campground we could reach in a day. Now getting out into this sparkling country has become terribly important to me as evidenced by a vacation in Arizona, a trip to the everglades and most recently a drive from Florida to PA by way of an extended stay in Colonial Williamsburg, VA.

And then Kelly had to go and get me thinking...

My friend and former coworker moved back to California, where life in a seaside college town is apparently waaaay more fun than fighting with Jersey drivers. Her new digs feature a small downstairs apartment where little me has been invited (possibly even seriously) to live. Come on out, she says. Share living expenses and get away from the East Coast tension. So, in the spirit of my anal brethren, I made a pro/con list. Yes, even early middle aged people do this.

Problem one: Family. I live (and I'm not kidding) three streets away from my parents. I like this, keeping them close for parental hugs and such. And I'm an eight-time aunt of darlings aged 16 down to not-quite-born. This is an important role to me, being childless myself.

Problem two: Money. A cross country drive and all the gas/food/motel expenses is a wee bit out of the pocket change range. I'm a single gal, after all and far from independently wealthy.

Problem three: The furries. Can you imagine me tooling down the road in my rental van, towing a Neon-full of cats behind me? How do I sneak them into the motel each night? And did I mention my 13 year old dog (still recovering from a second cancer surgery) gets carsick?


Pro one: Weather. My multiple sclerosis is no fan of heat, which brings symptoms I'd be just as glad to live without. And the cold steals what little circulation I possess. San Luis Obispo is, by all accounts, the happy medium.

Pro two: Living. Yes, aside from travel, my thirties have been as unexciting as my twenties. I'm not a chance taker, I don't get up and go, I haven't the pioneering spirit. So I watch as opportunities pass me by. But I have no man (and no expected prospects), no offspring, no monumental debt. So why can't I get up and go. The wonder of technology will help me stay in touch with loved ones. Do they actually require my presence here? I don't believe I'm that important to anyone. MS has given me challenges but I'm not disabled, darn it. I want to live and see and do!

Pro three: Housing. I have ready-made and available housing in a new state. How often does that happen? Four walls and a new beginning. Who wouldn't love that?

But... sigh. Though I've considered all the angles (while I was supposed to be working, I might add), I know that I'll never go. I will live in Pennsylvania for the rest of my days, regretting yet another missed opportunity whilst surrounded by loved ones.

Honestly, that's not such a bad deal.

September 26, 2009

Generational Technology

Today, a new participant in the social experiment known as The Internet will wander onto the game board. My father, who has knowledge and experience on the world wide web, will now have access in his own home.

You'd be surprised at the number of 'previous generationers' online at any given moment. I speak to Medicare patients all day long and often hear the word 'e-mail' drop from their lips in the same sentence as 'colonoscopy' and 'pacemaker.' Our parents, grandparents and occasionally beyond are typing their way into this instant-news, viral-video, mass-networking world. My generation has become enslaved to our keyboards but if you look at the person surfing the web next to you at the library, chances are they've got a few decades on you.

It has given me pause, though. Is the Zaedah found online someone my father will recognize in real life? Is there anything connected to my penname that I wouldn't want him to see? What will he learn of his child by roaming in cyberspace?

Would he be proud?

I'll have to let him answer that. I can only hope that I have been true to myself and the ideals, passions and beliefs that he's long seen in the flesh-and-blood me. I will welcome my daddy to this wired land and gladly guide him to everyplace his little girl inhabits.

And though we live a mere three streets apart, I expect an e-mail often, Poppa Smurf!

September 23, 2009

Aging with the Wizard

Tomorrow I shall be 35. No, that's not a typo... 35. That's three and a half decades down and I'm still the height of a twelve year old. On a stool. With platform shoes. Tonight, however, I will be the age my height suggests and those shoes will be ruby. And big sis is in on it too!

We're going to watch the Wizard of Oz, which turns waaay older than myself and thus has earned a coveted screen at our gigantic, overpriced and admittedly impressive theater. Yup, Dorothy's back on the big screen for a one night, one showing engagement. And I will see her in all of her newly digital glory. Why? Because I can.

Because I'm old enough to drive and, despite snickering in the back, I can actually reach the peddles. Because I grew up watching this movie which, by line of logic, means I actually grew up. I'm paying with money earned from my grown-up job (or as grown-up as selling air can be).

My sister doesn't know where we're going yet, as I think the birthday girl is entitled to surprise other people instead. And I can only hope she'll be as excited as me to see a movie at ten o'clock at night and then get up in the wee hours of dawn for the activities that adulthood requires. I hope she'll join me in the reverse aging process, marveling at munchkins and flying monkeys and a yellow brick road I'm fairly sure scientists have yet to unearth in reality. I'm about to hit the 'old threshold' according to family, coworkers and my traitorous hair color. I don't care. Tonight I'm still 34 going on twelve.

Mind you, I'm so old now that the sense of thrift has set in and I bought the normally four dollar candy ahead of time at the dollar store. Sue me!

September 20, 2009

The End of Humor

Several years ago, writing had become a multi-generational affair. My father cites my writing as his inspiration to pick up a pen and record his own thoughts and experiences. Over time, he made a binder for all of his children, filled with memories from days gone by and considerations of the world now before him. But it's been awhile since he's added to that binder...

He didn't think we were interested.

I doubt I'll ever convince him of how wrong he is. But two days ago, after a hiatus, he finally picked up the proverbial pen and made a new entry called 'Humor.' In it, he reflects on a solitary childhood and how he overcame loneliness at school with humor. It became, he tells us, a shield as hard and protective as a turtle's shell behind which he could hide the true person inside. Daddy explains how he now lives Bruce Springsteen's 'Glory Days,' when one is left with boring stories of days gone by.

My dad can tell a story like no one else. He infuses so much life into a simple recount of the day or a remembrance of long-buried relatives. They're anything but boring. And while he acknowledges that he's been putting that humor away, because the world is too busy, because his family is too busy, because his health is weakening along with his spirit.

He is now the unsmiling face we see on the photos of Native Americans. His ancestors.

He says:
"So I have put the humor aside and will now just wait for the spirit to leave me."

No time soon, I pray. Because there is such value in this man of wisdom and love. Because no one is a better example of everything little girls want to find in their future soul mate. No one can live up to my daddy. And no one has stood by me, lifted me up and made me whole like my parents. I need his stories and the humor that comes not as a shield but as a genuine part of his spirit to remind me of who I am, where I come from. If he will listen, I will tell him not to put his thoughts away but preserve them as he has in the past. If he thinks no one cares, no one's interested and no one has time, he need only look at his daughter.

I am standing here, ears alert, waiting to hear his voice.

September 15, 2009

The Name Project Update...

My little Facebook social experiment continues, gentle readers (see blog entry dated 9/12/09). I shall have some raw data coming your way soon, an initial compilation of what I've learned about we fabulous women. The dozen new friends I have made (lovely ladies hailing from all points on the globe) have been a delight and I will strive to add to our numbers. A Facebook group is in our future.

For the time being, I wanted to share a few responses I've received from willing participants (no arms twisting was committed in the making of this project...

"You know I have thought we should all get together for so long now. Can you believe how many of us there are???? I wonder what we all look like? How we behave? What is really in a name!!! Good for you Zaedah for branching out to connect us all. Let's make it happen! : )"
"Hey... I've accepted your friend request to support your quest, Have fun
collecting Amy Blacks.

So I guess I wasn't nuts after all. And it appears I've infected my brother...

"Cool idea sis. Maybe I'll give that a try. Hope there's not to many of me,
one is toooo many."

If you don't share my name, it's never to late for a legal alteration!

September 13, 2009

Cat Hoarder Test

Apparently, I am one of gazillions that has become interested, shocked and occasionally appalled by A & E's new show, Hoarders. Here we feast on folks with minor trash disposal issues, credit card love and enough food storage to carry one through the Apocalypse. But yesterday I saw one that made me ponder my own household collection...


Sure, we've seen feline adoptions gone mad on Animal Cops too and many head shakes ensued. But the 71 year old woman on yesterday's program was a prime example of too much love and no good counting skills. When questions, Shirley put her cat population at 20-25. If only. As law enforcement began the task of rounding up the brood, the final tally was 75 cats, a host of them dead. And she had no idea! What kind of scent can rampage through a house that can successfully mask the smell of rotting corpses?

My roommate and I have often said that anyone entering our home would likely think we were on the cusp of hoarding. But I have devised a way to judge our proclivity by the hoarding standard. It's quite simple... if you can answer (correctly) how many cats you have, you might not be a hoarder. Especially, in my opinion. if the number is still a single digit.

We have eight. We know their names, birthdays, quirks, manner of arrival and can accurately run down their varied medical conditions and vet visits. And, in fairness, we are two households combined and one of the critters is a foster cat. There. I feel much better. So here's to Zazu, Zimba, Zorro, Bugg, Reuben, Stitch, Pudge and Montana!

September 12, 2009

The Name Project

Have you ever wondered how many people share your name? When I was young, I saw an article in Time magazine and was surprised to find the author's name was my own. So I grabbed a phone book and noted two or three locals enjoying my moniker. Years later the advent of the internet allowed me to search worldwide for others with my rather simple name. The numbers were, frankly, staggering. There's a lot of ME running around the globe!

I haven't thought about this little game for some time, until last night. Out of momentary boredom (and we all know how dangerous those can be) I plugged my name into Facebook's search engine and the resulting list was 500 names strong. There were a few variations but for the most part, I had several hundred ladies who'd either been born or married into my name. And so, in the spirit of my uber-friendly mother, I decided to say hello to a few handfuls of them. I sent friend invite with a quick explanation (because no one likes a stalker). In the first few hours, I received 7 replies.

I look forward to reading every profile, every synopsis of a life lived under the same umbrella. An eager eye will be cast to the similarities, the differences, the stories learned on a screen. Perhaps a few cyber-friendships may be constructed on this foundation of a name.

More to follow...

September 11, 2009

Every Generation's Question

It seems to me that every generation is called upon to answer a variation of the age-old question; "Where were you when?"

On this day, we ask our friends, coworkers and occasionally strangers, "Where were you on 9/11?" Eight years on and still we are curious. Why? To gauge the impact on others, to engage in remembrance of a shared experience, to fulfill what the previous generations know. My parents ask the question in reference to John Kennedy. Their parents asked because of Pearl Harbor. Perhaps we'll tire of the game one day, but at present I can still recall every detail of the 12 hour day I was working when I learned of the first plane's crash.

As we recall events today, most do so with a shake of the head and a reverent voice, telling our day with the remnant of disbelief. I sometimes wonder how those who championed the hijackers tell it. Where were they when our country was changed. Do they revere the killers? Do they shake their heads? I don't expect to meet anyone who sides with the perpetrators and must therefore contend myself with the empty act of forgiveness. They killed people I don't know and though the day shook me, it will never approach the pain of those who buried a loved one or gave their lungs for the cause.

At the Veterans Administration call center, we received a call from a vet how said aliens were attacking. In minutes another man informed us that a bomb went off. Soon the story trimmed the fantasy fat and veered toward truth. We were attacked. And then Peter Jennings took over our radios to give us the play-by-play of a day gone terribly sideways. Without televisions, we relied on callers to update us on the visuals. Another plane struck. The Pentagon was breached. A plane was missing and thirty employees began scanning the ceiling tiles. The bulk of the day was thereafter spent talking among ourselves in shock-tainted tones.

The drive home is what I will remember most strongly and will always mention when this day as recalled. I will speak of the man who stood on the side of the road at 8:00 pm with a huge American flag. He waved it solemnly and I will not deny the tears that welled. On that day, everyone I knew had become a vocal patriot and this man showed his pride in the most beautiful display I'd ever seen.

We no longer look up at every airplane overhead with suspicion as we did in the days following 9/11. There are less flags flying, though more magnetic ones remain on cars than I can ever remember seeing prior to the event. Distance dulls the perspective and time lessens the wound on most days. But today, on this anniversary and every one to come, our minds reverse the tape and replay our day. The day we were slapped, the day we stood up again, the day we united. The day we survived.

I am an American. I wave my flag. I remember where I was when...

September 10, 2009

Entry Number A

Wisdom should pervade this first entry, but alas it is rarely found at the end of my fingertips. Thus I type from this place of sporadic confusion, planning nonsense as only the mortally silly can. I lack wisdom, therefore no self-help book shall ever bear my name. I cannot promise sage advice nor enlightenment, only the ramblings of a scattered mind on this stark white blankness that is the waiting entry.