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Sunday, January 16, 2022

Solidarity in Sisterhood

 


solidarity - noun - agreement of feeling or action among individuals with a common interest; mutual support within a group (Google).


Despite what the pessimistic pundits who post on Twitter may try to peddle (Say that three times fast.), these are trying, yet survivable times. When faced with seemingly interminable challenges courtesy of the pandemic, quite a few go on social media not only to eat up time spent at home, but to see how other peers are managing to entertain themselves while at home. My FB friends appear to be drinking designer martinis (chardonnay was last year's passion and now passe'.), cooking massive amounts of fatty food and eating it (nothing new), or finding nostalgic trivia games to post that only reveal how bored we all are with a menu with few blue plate specials that we haven't already tried. Last year's quarantine omelet, for instance, has long tasted ordinary and has recently become downright bland.  

For the divorced, single woman whose romantic possibility lives 3,000 miles away and who is a thin teetotaler, the aforementioned pastimes aren't an option. What I do when I want to feel alive in Death Valley (I know; the analogy is a bit extreme.) is reach out to friends if only via the usual or unusual means. Fortunately, over the years, I have formed separate groups of women friends and have found there is solidarity and survival in sisterhood. First, there is the Ya Ya Sisterhood, not original nominally, but unique in that we are a book club of five nearly all retired high school teachers, who once were colleagues in the same building, but not department. We find solace in the monthly critical analysis of mainly mediocre tomes; however, every once in a while, there will be one with characters to which we can actually relate personally. At which point, solidarity shines through via the admission of mutual feelings and experiences. 

A somewhat similar collection of "sisters" is the Bahama Mamas (six of us former middle school teachers. I taught middle school before teaching high school in the same district.). The moniker dates back to a weekend trip we took down to Atlantic City one summer. Because it occurred years ago, I can't even remember the connection between A.C. and the Bahamas other than the fact that both places have beaches on which similar assemblies of aging female tourists bask anonymously under umbrellas. 

Then there is the Sisterhood of the Traveling Sandals, three of us excessively immature, bosom buddies who tend to meet in person only once a year due to constraints of mileage. But when we do, our close-knit commonality is proven via our choice of footwear. Without prior consultation, we each tend to show up wearing a similar pair of sandals. On each occasion, we fatuously document the unfathomable coincidence via photos memorized on our smartphones and share them with each other via texts. 

There is one group that is made up of three biological sisters and two outliers (myself included), which I call "The Church Ladies" although one of us is Jewish. We tend to meet and greet only to celebrate our birthdays but have been doing so forever. 

Finally, there are the "Sex and the City Friends," my unofficial sorority of former high school friends who are so similar to Samantha, Charlotte, and Miranda that they could be their stand-ins. I suppose I would be Carrie as I am the writerly one who always seems to land on her feet but sans a full-time man. 

Most of the women in these contrived clubs are married, something that doesn't faze me in the least as I was once in that unfortunate state myself and can still draw examples of spousal idiosyncrasies, if necessary, to stay in the conversation. The point is that we are around for each other, existing independently from our biological sisters (except for The Church Ladies), yet possessing a heightened degree of camaraderie that often does not exist between relations. 

If you happen to be a woman and don't belong to a sisterhood, you might just want to form one of your own, especially if the cuisine of Tahiti is starting to look unappetizing, the trivia games, growing redundant and Zooms with your adult kids in Peoria or cousins in Oswego are getting to be on the dull side. Reach out to the gals, any number of them, but try Google Meet because you get a full hour free as opposed to forty minutes on Zoom :). 


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Thursday, January 13, 2022

Promises Made, Promises Kept, Regardless

 

covenant - noun - an agreement (Google).


I can't speak for most, but I tend to keep promises. A covenant mutually agreed upon no matter how trivial is, to me, hallowed ground. However, there was promise that I made and broke: my marriage contract. Yes, I know. It's a big one. The divorce was entirely necessary, though, as overlooking adulterous behavior was not a clause included in the marriage vows, the ultimate pact between a couple and God, and as far as I know, it still isn't. Still, there may be a few avant garde, extremely liberal partners out there who may sneak it in somewhere to seal the deal of an open marriage. It's just not my style. 

Last Thursday, the incidental covenant I made was an off-the-cuff accord between a patient I had just met in a nursing home, a stroke survivor, Janet, who was my aunt's roommate for a few days, and myself. Because the food in the institution of myriad get-well-soon wishes was sub-par and the complaints from both critics, Ann and Janet, verbose and sincere, I transmogrified into a contemporary genie wrapped in a faux fur Lord and Taylor coat and promised each a taste of what she was drooling for: my aunt wanted meat loaf from her favorite restaurant, Charlie Brown's (no relation to the adored Peanuts' character), and Janet, a piece of apple pie. Both were very obtainable desires that I could fulfill with little effort. 

My aunt's sudden passing that Sunday threw a wrench in my plans, but not completely. As I sat in St. Bart's Catholic Church enduring my aunt's funeral mass, a voice welled up inside of me (Whose it was, I don't know for sure.) and said, "Buy the piece of apple pie for that Janet woman, and do it today." Not being one to dismiss any decent directives (This one could've been from my aunt), I decided to fulfill my initial pledge and do it. 

After the repast, I found a bakery, bought a slice of apple crumb pie from a nice server who sealed it in a box, included a folded napkin and plastic fork, and put all in a brown paper bag. Small sack in hand, I ran over to the post office, borrowed (and returned) a Sharpe, scribbled "Janet, room 13" on the front of the bag, hopped into my car, drove the concealed dessert several miles up the hill, and dropped the promise off at the nursing home. Hopefully, it got to Janet. Hopefully, she enjoyed every morsel, every crumb of the crumb topping and didn't obsess over who could have left it for her. Hopefully, she understood the moral of the story:

Some covenants don't need a signature to bind them. 


#word of the day, #vocabulary, #writers, #writers and poets, #words, #inspiration, #optimism, #inspiring words, #humor, #spilled thoughts, #motivation, #inspirational thoughts, #inspiration, #inspirational words, #words of wisdom, #affirmation, #optimism, #poets and writers, #writers community, #writers, #readers #writing



Sunday, January 9, 2022

Published Writing as Sempiternal

 

sempiternal - adjective - eternal and unchanging, everlasting (Google).


There is a paradoxical aphorism floating around in the atmosphere somewhere: "The more things change, the more they stay the same." It has been airborne since 1849 when the French writer Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Karr penned it (Google) and released it to be quoted by Goodness knows who initiated the game of Telephone that persists in the present. I am always amazed at how total contradictions can make perfect sense, over time and in the present. Karr's really does, especially if you consider sempiternal trends in publishing and writing.

As I have found through personal experience with literary agents, the manuscripts that are being considered at present are those that reflect contemporary reality, what agents and publishers consider to be marketable. Most of the bestsellers I have read lately reflect politically correct or woke themes, such as autocracy, everyday lives within the LGBTQ or immigrant communities, Black Lives Matter, etc. Which are all valid, of course because the minority populations need a voice. If only the authors of the works could write like F. S. Fitzgerald, I might become addicted to what they have to offer. Unfortunately, most of these new releases are written on the seventh-grade reading level. Now whether or not that is intentional, I don't know. It could be that seventh-graders are doing the most reading these days, which would not surprise me.

The crux of this blog article is that the need to stay in the moment topically via poor, published writing is sempiternal and has been at least since 1922 when Fitzgerald's The Beautiful and Damned was released. In the novel about a riches-to-rags-to-riches, young married couple and their nearly never-do-well friends, Dick, the wife's cousin, is depicted as a poor excuse for a novelist yet is critical of his colleagues in literary crime: "You know these new novels make me tired...If true to life, which I don't believe, the next generation is going to the dogs. I'm sick of all this shoddy realism..." I tend to agree with this fictive emblem to an extent, the tiresome part. What is ironic is that the generation to which Dick was referring is now known as the "Last Generation," or the G.I. Generation, composed of wonderful people, not Weiler Danes, who saved the planet from Hitler and his miscreant mates. Today, we, the aging, senior population, feel the same way in the sense that we look around and prognosticate that Generation Z is bound to go the way of hounds just because their values (and writing) might not reflect ours. Who knows? They might wind up saving the planet from the next Hitler or even climate change. Who cares if they can't spell? They have spellcheck. 

So what's my takeaway today? Karr's, of course. Human nature may be one of the only constants in the universe. 


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Wednesday, January 5, 2022

Irritability Begetting Irritability?

 

curmudgeonly - adj. - bad-tempered and negative (especially of an old person) (Google).


Can irritability beget irritability? Right about now, you are probably wondering what stimuli emanating from the dark, dank day worked mutually to motivate this question. Two, actually. The second, a quote from F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Beautiful and Damned stimulated the first, which involves yesterday's visit to nursing home. First, allow me to provide some context regarding the novel: Anthony, the romantic protagonist in the book, is drafted into World War I, leaving behind his frail, emotionally capricious wife Gloria. Almost immediately after seeing him off to bootcamp via a train disembarking from Grand Central, she returns to her lodgings at the Biltmore to write him a protracted letter of love and longing. The third person omniscient narrator includes the following, post epistle: "The Anthony of late, irritable, weak and poor, could do less than make her irritable in turn." After reading this, I thought of the aforementioned question's first stimulus, my adventure to an area nursing home to visit my ailing aunt, the last of the Mohicans a.k.a. the G.I. Generation, who had fallen in her kitchen two weeks ago. At the conclusion of three days in the hospital, her physicians could find nothing wrong with her; ergo, they deposited her into a rehabilitation clinic, formerly known in pre-P.C. times as a nursing home. 

Yesterday, upon my arrival at the facility, I braved the entrance requirements, similar to Ft. Knox's, but in the modern age of Covid, found her room, and then spent twenty minutes with my aunt and a jocund roommate who had no idea how long she had been at the home, which she termed "a prison." Ensconced in a wheelchair, my confused, glum aunt was slumped over a table littered with used Kleenex, presenting quite a different portrait than what I had viewed previously. At the beginning of the month, she had been nestled comfortably at home, fully cognizant of her surroundings, mainly lucid, and quite jovial. Unfortunately, her circumstances of late (poor treatment at the rehab center) set her on an emotional collision course within a mere 24 hours, terminating in her curmudgeonly, irritable attitude. Which I fought valiantly by interfusing one comically ironic comment after the next between the bouts of complaints that she hurled furiously and gratuitously at innocent me and the unsuspecting roommate. Because my aunt is borderline senile, she kept repeating the myriad criticisms, managing to duplicate the phrases with acute precision at given intervals. As a result, I started to lose the battle of positivity and began to feel irascible Impatience creeping in, which prompted me to depart abruptly with a promise of take-out meatloaf should I decide to revisit in the near future. With that, I discovered a panacea for all curmudgeons–edible cuisine preferably from a decent restaurant–as I was able to leave my aunt salivating with the vague semblance of a smile on her face.

When I arrived home, I relayed the anecdote to my daughter with a postscript of "If I ever turn into an irritable curmudgeon, please shoot me," providing a simple answer to the initial question: Can irritability beget irritability? Yes, it can, if you let it. And I did. Patience is a human virtue that I continue to work on as I walk through life. 

How about you? 


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Monday, January 3, 2022

The Doppelganger and the Parallel Universe

 

doppelganger - noun - double of a living person (Google).


The other day as I was reading Amor Towles's recent release Lincoln Highway, I was reminded of a term that I haven't heard in a while: doppelganger. The professorial character of Abacus suggests that Ulysses, a heroic presence whose aim is to locate his missing wife and son after he (Ulysses) returns from military service in World War II, is the realization of Homer's fictive character in the epic adventure The Odyssey and ergo, his doppelgangerAbacus's epiphany is perhaps the most intelligent moment in a novel that is otherwise mediocre YA posing as adult fiction. The idea of an alter ego also arises in Mary Shelley's classic 19th century Frankenstein as the creature inhabits many qualities of his creator, Victor Frankenstein. (If you haven't read either tome, choose Shelley's over Towles's if you are looking to read something that is truly well written.)

There are a few people out there who feel as though somewhere in the world or universe, they have a doppelganger, someone who is their body double. I, personally, haven't gone this distance. I have a hard enough time dealing with myself as a sole entity as it is. Knowing that I have a twin running around out there would cause me additional stress. Of course, I jest. 

What may be even harder to imagine is a parallel universe of doppelgangers who are living our lives elsewhere in another galaxy. To tell you the truth, I have an easier time picturing a parallel universe here on Earth. Although I cannot fathom the possibility of another New Jersey somewhere else on the planet, there are days when the weather here matches the weather in L.A. although it is not supposed to. For example, on Christmas, it was 55 degrees and raining in both places. Maybe climate change will cause more of these meteorological anomalies to appear more often? Who knows? Stay tuned.

The point, at least I think so, is that originality is not commonplace. If it were, we would not prize it as much as we do. The truth is, we might have met someone very similar to ourselves already: a soulmate, the near doppelganger (and perhaps didn't especially care for the person), or have been to a place that gave us strong feelings of deja vu. When in that situation, we might wonder if it is possible that we are reliving a past life in the present. Now that's a whole other nut to crack. Maybe next time...:)


#word of the day, #vocabulary, #writers, #writers and poets, #words, #inspiration, #optimism, #inspiring words, #humor, #spilled thoughts, #motivation, #inspirational thoughts, #inspiration, #inspirational words, #words of wisdom, #affirmation, #optimism, #poets and writers, #writers community, #writers, #readers #writing





Thursday, December 30, 2021

Omnifarious New Year's Resolutions

 

omnifarious - adjective - comprising or relating to all sorts or varieties (Google).


If you want to get an idea of what a New Year's resolution is, all you have to do is look on Facebook. At this time of year, you'll find omnifarious ones: big/small, complex/simple, extraordinary/mundane, unique/ unoriginal, verbose/concise, etc. You get the picture. According to history.com, the Babylonians were the first to make New Year's resolutions some 4,000 years ago. Apparently, they were the originators of New Year's celebrations as well. I always figured that crew knew how to party. I'm wondering, though, whether their resolutions were similar at all to ours. If I am right that human nature doesn't change over time, then they probably were. Did they keep their resolutions or break them as we often do? Perhaps. 

Because we tend to forget during the course of a year, perhaps it is more important to note ideas for change on January 1 and reflect back on them at junctures. Even though we may not actually accomplish what we set out to do initially, at least we have a written record of our positive intentions. 

Personally, I like to keep my resolutions simple. In 2022, I will continue to strive to live my life sans complications, sans conflict. Like Ebenezer Scrooge in Charles Dickens's A Christmas Carol, I will keep the spirit of the holiday (love) in my heart throughout the year. (I kind of do this materially because I Christmas shop for others throughout the year.) At the center of love is giving unconditionally without the expectation of reciprocation. 

This morning, I wrote down a passage that had been reprinted twice on FB, something that is worthy of repeating again. Unfortunately, I don't know who the originator is, but here goes:

"If you wronged me, it's all good. Lesson learned. If you're angry with me, you've won. I let it go. If we aren't speaking, it's cool. I wish you well. If you feel I've wronged you, I apologize; it wasn't intentional. Life is too short to be anything but happy and at peace."

What I like most about this staccato surrender to an unnamed former friend or family member is that the writer composed it after emptying herself/himself of herself/himself. The tone defines humility. The emphasis? "It's all good." This person understands that to be happy and at peace, concessions have to be made; onus must be taken. All of the negativity must be let go so that in retrospect, everything, even the egregious things, are "all good." (Notice how the author doesn't ask for anything in return. There are no conditions, just acceptance. There is genuine love present here.)

Maybe this year, we should all make a mutual resolution just to let go of the omnifarious, omnipresent negativities that hold us back from being our best selves, from being truly content, from loving freely sans the expectation of receiving.

Just a few thoughts on this dark, dank day in December. 

Happy New Year!!!!!!


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Monday, December 27, 2021

The Year in Language

 


deplatform - verb - to ban, boycott or otherwise limit the influence of someone on a platform, usually a social media or other public forum (TIME, December 27, 2021/January 3, 2022)

The one magazine that I subscribe to and actually read is TIME, a source of more reliable news than most periodicals. I'd like to think so, anyway. At the close of each year, the editors feature a page of neologisms coined or used generously during the course of twelve months. Deplatform is one of eleven featured in the year-end issue. I chose it because I actually deplatformed my former plumber, brother of a deceased close friend of mine, on Facebook due to his disrespectful, misinformed, political posts. Usually, it takes a lot for me to unfriend anyone. This particular person overstepped the borderline of decency, which to me, is a good reason to cancel anyone on any social media platform. (I'm sure you can relate.)

On January 20, 2021, I began writing this blog on blogspot as well as on Tinder, a site on which I no longer post since it represents pornographers as well as artists. I guess the creators must feel as though there is a fine line between the two, which might be logical as there are one or two similarities :). We live in that kind of world, one which is politically correct but not essentially ethical. My initial purpose for composing was on the selfish side because I wanted to attract an audience for my writing since I am looking to publish a memoir through an existing publishing house. Today if you don't wish to self-publish, something I have been doing since 1997 and now have growth tired of since there is so much competition, you have to jump through extra high hoops to prove that there may be a market for your manuscript. Since I no longer care whether or not my book gets picked up (The agent who had been encouraging me for a year wound up being a phony.), at present, I write to share not only possibly unfamiliar vocabulary but slices of life and lessons learned that readers might or might not be able to digest.  Ergo, my purpose is on the selfless side, a side of the street that I always like to occupy. 

I thank all of you regulars (Maybe two of you?) and all those who have visited once or twice for reading this column. 

I am hoping that life will treat us all a bit better in 2022. 

Happy New Year to all! 

#word of the day, #vocabulary, #writers, #writers and poets, #words, #inspiration, #optimism, #inspiring words, #humor, #spilled thoughts, #motivation, #inspirational thoughts, #inspiration, #inspirational words, #words of wisdom, #affirmation, #optimism, #poets and writers, #writers community, #writers, #readers #writing


Solidarity in Sisterhood

  solidarity - noun - agreement of feeling or action among individuals with a common interest; mutual support within a group (Google). Despi...