Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Overcome by Shyness... Press 7 to Delete This Message

The following is a quote from Shakespeare’s  Hamlet:

This above all: to thine own self be true,

And it must follow, as the night the day,

Thou canst not then be false to any man.

I am a filterer.  I take into consideration other’s feelings and I am careful about what I say.  By that I mean I think before I speak. 
Sometimes, though,  I would love to be candid and respond by “mine own true self" to those whose filters have clearly become clogged.  On the other hand, giving them the benefit of the doubt, perhaps it is just that they have basked too long in the bliss of their ignorance and their filters have combusted. Whoosh! Gone!
 One of the things I  decided to work on, here on this blog, is to find my true self.   Not an easy task, especially since I have to wade knee deep through a thousand critical voice messages stored in my brain.  Apparently, my memory does not have a limit as to the number that can be stored there and there is no way to erase these messages by simply pressing 7.   
 One of the earliest messages left on my “brain voice recorder” (I will refer to it from now on as my BVR) is one which I play over and over again.  I have to rewind (okay, my BVR is old, and uses tape) all the way back to one of the earliest messages.
"At the tone please leave your message:”  Beeeeep.
“Hello, Mrs. C.  This is Mrs. Harris, Lynda’s second grade teacher.  It is Feb. 1, 1954.  I wanted to let you know that Lynda is improving in overcoming her shyness. She cooperates very nicely and is very helpful in the classroom.”
Now, of course Mrs. Harris wasn’t the first one to implant such a message.  
My mother told the following story many, many times. 
Imagine this in my mother’s voice:  
“I’ll never forget this."  (She always started off a story with that sentence and believe me she never forgot this one.)  
“When  it was time for Lynda to start school, there was an orientation at Lincoln school in June for the children who would be starting school in September.  It was held in the auditorium at an assembly which included all of the students  in the school.  At the end of the assembly, Miss Kelly, the principal, asked each of the new kindergarteners to come up on stage and say their name.”
“And do you know that Lynda would not go up on that stage.”  
"She was so shy, she just wouldn’t go up there.”
" All of the other kids went up and said their name, but not Lynda.  Nope she was just too shy.”
So, first of all “thine self” are you shy?   
I decided to do a little research. 
Google led me to the Wellesley College’s psychology department's website and to this link.   It contains a little quiz titled “How Shy Are You?”
This was the result I got after taking the quiz: "Your total is 46. You are somewhat shy. Most shy people score over 39 and a few reach the possible high score of 65."
Okay, I would agree with that assessment.  I am somewhat shy.     I know I have come to depend on that evaluation of my personality as an explanation (okay in the vein of "true selfness”, maybe sometimes an excuse) of certain behaviors of mine. 
But, Mrs. Harris, is this really something that I need to overcome?  
Today I make this declaration.  I will embrace my somewhat shyness.   I will rewind my BVR back to 1983 and replay what that nice man (who found me in a corner all by myself and was the only one to ask me to partner with him)I met  in an assertiveness training class.  When asked to give a first impression of your partner he said the following:
“Lynda, I find you to be a gentle lady and quite charming.”
Aww, pshaw.  Really? 
Message Saved.

I have created a page for Anna's Diary.  It can be found under the Tab titled Anna's Diary.
I have posted all of the entries to date there, starting with January 1, 1929.

Here is the catch up entries from Anna’s diary:

Sunday July 21, 1929
Dinner at Mrs. Naps.  Left about three to go see Mr. Nap who is away on a farm for his health with Margaret.  Stayed overnight.  Junior loves it. 
Monday, July 22, 1929
Came home today from Stockton, NJ with Mrs. Nap and Junior.  Good trip home.  Very tired and straight to bed. [On today’s roads it would take 1 hour and 15 minutes to get from Anna’s home in Newark, NJ to Stockton, NJ.]
Tues. July 23, 1929
Went to 360.  Baby caught his thumb in the car door.  Quite upset and Dr. Murray not in.  By night it was almost all better.  Transaction of Fireman’s Shares.
Wed. July 24, 1929
Went to Ocean Grove with Edythe to see her mother-in-law in her car.  Junior along.  Stopped at Allenhust for a while.  On way home stopped at Dream land Park.[couldn’t find any info on Dreamland park]
Thurs. July 23, 1929
Mary phoned. Met her and went down town to get info at the Provident Loan co.  She was very interested in it.  Home 4:30 for supper.
Friday, July 26
Today is St. Ann’s Day.  Edythe for lunch.  Drove back down town with her.  Charlotte here doing the laundry.  Supper at 360.  Went to Branford.
Sat. July 27, 1929.
Home all day.  Peg here from last night.  Lounged all day.  Jean home at 2.  Had supper at the “Green Door"  on Clifton Ave.  Went to Naps re: banquet.
Sun. July 28, 1929
Drove Mrs. Cryer to N.Y. to ferry for boat to Boston. Mr. Cryer very thin and still sick.  Went to Cousin Meg’s for data on her car.  Home early.
Monday, July 29, 1929
Home all day.  Slim here to fix drainage.  Jean came home for supper.  Marietta phoned to ask about where to give Dinner Dance for Jeawel on Sept 15th pin honor of passing her bar.
Tues. July 30, 1929
Mrs. Nap phone to say she had a letter from her husband at the farm.  He is in need of several things and she asked me to driver her out on Thursday.
Wed. July 31, 1929
Home until noon.  Went to 360 and had long debate with Mother and Father on Paren Love to children. They misunderstood my argument entirely.  

Friday, July 20, 2012

Lynda Grace and The Food Angel

She was little and old; very very, old.   Puffy snow white hair framed her face.  Time had been kind to her, though; for the lines etched on her face were gentle ones.  They were kindness lines and smiley face lines.  And there was something vaguely familiar about her.  
Her gnarled hands were shaky as she reached into her cart and tentatively placed her groceries up on the belt.  
The young cashier robotically passed each of her many items over the scanner.  The equally as young bagger paid little attention to the woman; obviously more interested in hearing the dramatic tale of woe being told by her co-worker.  I was annoyed at the bagger for handing the woman her packed bag instead of placing it in the cart for her because the woman was clearly having difficulty managing that.  
By the time I got in line she was almost done checking out.  Her basket was overflowing with groceries in “green” red bags.  “That will be $258.98,” said the cashier.  
She opened up her purse, you know one of those old fashioned ones with the snap closures, and took out a worn leather wallet.  One by one, she slowly counted out three one hundred dollar bills.
I was so curious about her.   I wondered why she was buying so much food.  I thought of several scenarios.   She probably lived with one of her kids and she contributed by doing the food shopping.  Maybe she was stocking up her pantry for the “Grandma’s Back Porch Cafe” that she has been running for  the past 60 years.  Or perhaps she was a food angel, buying and delivering food to those in need.  
She thanked the two girls.  I wasn’t sure why she was, thanking them that is.  But I guess that’s what food angels do. 
I thought, of course, that the cashier or bagger would offer to help her out to her car because she could barely push her cart.  But they didn’t.
All the while I was checking out, I kept thinking about the woman.  I finally realized the reason she looked familiar to me was because I identified with her as a not too distant future mirror image of myself.  
There is more to this story.  I hesitated about telling the rest of it, though, because I am not happy about it.  But, this is my blog.  It is the place where I try to take a long hard look at...well me. 
So, after I left the store, loaded my groceries into my car, and started driving towards the parking lot exit, I saw the old woman.  She was still there having a hard time getting her groceries into her car. 
And I thought about stopping.  I really did.  But I didn’t. I didn’t stop to help the food angel.  What stopped me from stopping?  
Since then I have done a little self analysis about the incident.  Okay a lot of self analysis.  
I figured out that my shyness and trust issues took precedence over my basic instinct to help someone in need.  The saddest part is that I let the opportunity to help a person with whom I had empathy pass me by. 
I just know that I would have left that parking lot with a smile on my face if I had stopped to help the food angel.  
And that’s the lesson I learned. 

I have created a page for Anna's Diary.  It can be found under the Tab titled Anna's Diary.
I have posted all of the entries to date there, starting with January 1, 1929.

Here are the past few days from Anna’s diary:
Wed., July 17, 1929
Received word from Princeton College that Bill passed his entrance exam unconditionally.  He won four year scholarship at $1000 a year for Princeton for 4 years.
[Bill is Anna’s brother.]
Thurs. July 18, 1929
Jewel got news today that she passed the “Bar”. Lunched with her and Edythe.  I went to 360 to get a big chicken dinner ready as Ma is away to shore.  Celebrated for Jewel.
[Jewel is Anna’s sister.]
Friday, July, 19, 1929
Met Jewel and Edythe for lunch.  Had a talk with J. regarding E. affair.  J. is going to ask Mr. F. for advice about it.  He suggested talking with both E and C.  She agreed.
Sat. July 20, 1929
Home all day.  Went to see Grandma M with Baby.  Had supper.  Her bad day.  Went out to visit her friends.  Came to 360 with me afterwards until 1:30.

Monday, July 16, 2012

To V or Not To V? That is the Question!

I’ve been discovered.  Yay?  Uh, no. 
In April I participated in the Blogging From A-Z Challenge.  It was a great experience.  One that I thoroughly enjoyed.  
There was a side effect, though, which I am not thoroughly enjoying.  
To encourage and or make it easier for readers to leave comments, the hosts of the challenge suggested that we turn off moderation and word verification. 
I did both.  During the challenge and a month after the challenge I would get an occasional comment that was clearly a piece of spam   Blogger is great in catching those and none made it to my blog.  The real issue for me is that I have the setting turned on in Blogger to notify me of comments to my blog.  Even though Blogger sweeps the spam comments into a spam folder, I still get an e-mail notifying me of each and every comment.  It doesn’t matter whether it’s a spam comment or a legitimate comment. 
Now, it seems that I have been flagged as an easy spam target.  Have the spammers spread the word? Has the one or two occasional spammers told one or two more and then they told their friends and so on and so on?  Judging by the number of comments now in my Blogger spam folder it certainly seems that way.  As I said, since I am being notified of every comment via e-mail, I am getting 10-15 e-mails a day in my inbox and 98% of those are spam comments. 
I googled the question: “What do spammers get out of leaving spam comments on a person's blog?”
The search returned an easy to understand explanation written by Jim Connolly on his blog Jim’s Marketing Blog. The post was titled “Why Your Blog Comments Don’t Get Published”.
The following is an excerpt from his post:
“Why do spammers do this?  They do this, usually just to get backlinks for their site or client’s sites.  Each backlink is seen by Google similarly to a vote.  The more backlinks a site has, the more votes it gets and theoretically, the higher that site will rank in Google’s search results.  Comment spammers place these links into comments and then use software to attack thousands of sites; trying as many sites as they can, that have no spam protection.  Sites with no protection are flagged as weak and their URL distributed, meaning they get more and more spam!”
I wondered if I should turn word verification back on.   I had a delusional moment and thought that by doing that it might discourage my many, many readers from leaving their many, many comments.   
After spending another few moments indulging in my fantasy of being a famous blogger, I snapped out of it and faced my blogger reality.   I don’t have hundreds and hundreds of readers and therefore I don’t get hundreds and hundreds of comments.  Oh, wait, I take that back, if you count the spammers, then I actually have gotten hundreds of comments.  
I am quite happy, grateful and fortunate enough to have a few favorite blogger friends who kindly and consistently leave thoughtful and encouraging comments. 
I would not be happy if they found it too difficult to communicate and were discouraged from leaving their much appreciated comments.
 So, that’s my dilemma.  Word V or no Word V?  That is the question.  

I have created a page for Anna's Diary.  It can be found under the Tab titled Anna's Diary.
I have posted all of the entries to date there, starting with January 1, 1929.

Here are the catch up entries from Anna’s diary:
Friday, July 12, 1929
Home all day.  Peg and Flo came for supper.  Went for a little ride then took girls home.  Bed early.  Very tired from driving Mr. Nap day and night yesterday.
Saturday, July 13, 1929
Home all day.  Jean home at one.  Had lunch.  She took a nap.  I had working streak on and cleaned house thoroughly.  George & Marietta came over in evening.
Sunday, July, 14, 1929
Jean went to Mass first.  Home and then I went.  Had dinner here.  Took a nap.  Then went to 360 later in the day.  Left Junior there and went to movies with Jean.
Monday, July 15, 1929
Home.  Went to bank to see books on insurance.  Talked with Dick about investments.  Decided to keep At&T and Penn R.R.
Friday, July 16, 1929
Home all day.  Went to 360 in afternoon.  Stayed for supper.  Ma & Pa away to shore.  Jean played tennis.  I came home with Baby. 

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Yoga on the Bay with Crabs and Old Men

This morning I need to leave.  It’s urgent.  I tell Ross I will see him later.  He asks where I am going and I simply say, “Out”.       
     I need to be out.  Out of doors, outside of the walls.  I find the perfect spot, I think.  I take the stairs so I can sit up above.  Up high,  where I can watch what is happening way below me.  
Up and out.  Here is where the air is breathable. 

     Soft murmurings of the others who are here don’t disturb me, but comfort in an odd way.  
     The man in jeans is engrossed in his book.    I am so curious to know what he is reading.     
     The two couples seated across the way nibble their bagels and sip coffee from their paper cups. They gleefully chat about what a nice spot this is.  I silently agree.
     The street painters in their neon orange shirts stop by,waiting, I guess, for the yellow and white lines to dry.   
     The ladies arrive with their mats. They say hello as if I am one of them.   And I am I guess, just not really. 
        "Thirteen to drop in,” the instructor says,  describing the cost of the session.
     They start by taking their shoes off, and sit cross-legged on their pink, blue, purple and lime green mats.
     There are eight and the instructor is nine.   She plugs her portable player in.  The music is so soft that I can barely hear it. I hear flutes, though, I think.
     Kristen, the others call her,  speaks as softly as the calming flute music.
     A woman struggles to climb the steps, the ninth and last one to join.  She is not slim like the others, but as she gets into position and joins in she is as flexible as the others.
     Uh oh, downward dog.  It’s the only yoga instruction I am familiar with.  The less than slim woman says she can’t do the dog.  The instructor says, “Yes you can" and shows her how.
   Sh uh, sh uh, sh uh,  the yogis say.  I figure out that I can pretend to play with my phone and secretly take their pic. 


  I turn my attention to the picture window view of the bay behind me.  The water does really glisten with tiny sunlit wave top gems. 

 I am entertained by all of the activity down on the dock.   

 Boaters launch their crafts and then sail on by. 
Crabbers patiently wait for their cages to fill up.  

 Loungers relax under their brightly colored chair umbrellas. 

     I observe that each and every person stops along the way to spend a few minutes gazing out over the water.  I wonder what compels us to do that.  Are the answers out there?

     I hear the old men talking somewhere down below.  I can’t see them, but I can hear their gravely
 old-man laughing sounds as they tease each other.  “You talk like an old man”, one old man says to the other.
     The yogis are finished and they are not quiet now.  They gather in pairs and threes to chat.  As they head down the stairs they greet the old men below. 
     I’m going to miss the flutes and the soft speaking instructor when the yogis leave. 
     I felt almost invisible sitting in my corner.    And I realize this feeling is one with which I am very familiar.  I am a listener and an observer.


So perhaps this is what my blog will become.  I will travel around with my laptop and perch, like the gulls, and just watch what happens.

I have created a page for Anna's Diary.  It can be found under the Tab titled Anna's Diary.
I have posted all of the entries to date there, starting with January 1, 1929.

Here are yesterday and today's entries from Anna’s Diary:
Wed. July 10, 1929
Home Corinne still here.  I went to see her mother.  Had a talk.  Put and Charlie came over.  Made sandwiches in kitchen for them.  Very warm.
Thursday, July 11, 1929
Went to MRs.s Nap at 10:30 a.m. Drove Mr. Nap away to farm in Stockton, NJ.  Wargner’s farm for his health.  Returned at night about 11:30. Overnight at Mrs. Nap.

Monday, July 9, 2012

The Day I Met Pippin’s Mom

She has a Yorkie named Pippin.

This part is played by an actor who looks like the real Pippin.
I have a Maltese named Rico.

This part is played by Rico himself.

Rico and Pippin are buds.   In fact they hit it off the first time they saw each other, which was about three years ago.   Pippin goes for his walks at the same time that Ross or I walk Rico.  So, for the past three years, several times a week, Pippin’s mom and I have been regularly exchanging pleasantries while Pippin and Rico sniff and run around each other.  Pippin and Rico get bored rather quickly, so the conversation between Pippin’s mom and me is usually brief and is mostly about the weather.  
“Hot enough for you?”  "How do you like this weather?”  "Did you survive that snow storm?”  
You know, stuff like that.
Yesterday, as Pippin’s mom and I talked about how our air conditioners have been running non stop because of the unbelievably hot summer we have been having so far, Rico and Pippin started pulling to let us know that they wanted to get on with their walks.   So, Pippin’s mom and I said our usual “have a nice day” and I started to turn around to continue our walk in the opposite direction. 
But, yesterday, something out of the ordinary happened.  Pippin’s mom stopped and asked if everything was okay with me.  She commented that I looked like I had lost a lot of weight.  Normally, my inclination would have been to smile and say, “yea a little” and continue on my way.   Perhaps it was the kindness of her words or maybe it was the concerned look on her face, but this time I blurted out, “My son passed away 7 months ago and I have been having a hard time.”  She expressed how sorry she was to hear that and I felt comforted. 
She confided in me that her daughter recently suffered the loss of her husband from the evil that is cancer and I expressed that I understood.  
We talked quite a few moments more, and by the way, not once mentioning the weather.   When it was time to get going because Rico and Pippin were done being patient, we once again told each other to “have a nice day.”   
“By the way, I said,  my name is Lynda.”  She responded with, “And I am Joan.”

I have created a page for Anna's Diary.  It can be found under the Tab titled Anna's Diary.
I have posted all of the entries to date there, starting with January 1, 1929.

Here are the past four days from Anna’s diary:
Sat. July 6, 1929
Home all day long.  Put and Charlie are in Newark from Quincy Mass.  Staying at upsula.  Ted invited them over for supper.  Corinne and Peg here overnight.
Sunday, July 7, 1929
Put, Ted, Peg, Charlie, Jean and I went to Peg’s at Fort Monmouth for dinner.  Then bathing at Belmar.  Walk in Asbury. On Pier in Long Branch.  Much traffic coming home.  Left 11:30.  home 2:30.
Monday, July 8, 1929
Corinne staying with me for a few days.  Stayed home all day.  She was expecting a call from Bert but missed it by not being at home.
Tues., July 9, 1929
Corinne still here.  We were home all day as sit was extremely warm.  After supper Bert came over to see her and Put and Ted, Jean and I went to Mt Prospect. 

Thursday, July 5, 2012

The 24/7 Stuff of Our Life

Yesterday we didn’t do the traditional 4th of July celebrating.  We planned on getting to the beach early.  But it was a dark and stormy morning...
We had no invites to picnics or back yard bar-b-ques.  The kids were off doing their own thing.
So it was just Ross and I trying to somehow make it our own holiday, just the two of us.
In a few days Ross and I will be celebrating our 11th wedding anniversary.
I retired (at a very young age, mind you) 10  years ago and we moved down the shore (that’s Jersey speak for beach).  Since we moved, it has been pretty much just the two of us.
We have been side by side for the usual stuff of life...engagements, weddings, births and deaths. We didn’t have kids together, but together we have kids.
When I think of our years together, it’s the day to day, the 24/7 that is really our stuff of life.
Even though we weren’t young together, we have managed to stuff a lot of stuff into our lives as we grow old older together.

So yesterday, for our 4th, we went to C & G’s Country Cafe in Tom’s River for breakfast and I had red, white and blue waffles.  

After breakfast we went to the mall.  And the two of us together, picked out clothes for me :). Red skinny jeans, a white top and blue jacket.  The looks I got from Ross as I paraded in and out of the dressing room, well my, my it’s as if we were newly weds :)
 As we lunched together on the water at the Bayview Terrace restaurant, Ross pointed out to me where   the township fireworks display would be, if we were so inclined, which we weren’t.  We talked about the plans we have for Sunday.  Plans to attend a different kind of celebration.  A Celebration of Life in honor of Jonathan.   Jonathan and Ross, were first cousins and lived two doors down from each other.  They grew up together and were more like brothers.  Ross and Jon kind of lost touch with each other over the years as they each went their separate ways to do their own life’s stuff.  But, a little while ago, Jon called Ross to tell him that he was very ill.  Jon  was frightened and cried as he told his “brother” that he probably was not going to be around much longer.  And Ross cried when he got the phone call last month that Jon had passed away.  More of life’s stuff.
When we got home we did the stuff we do, the dog walking and the laundry doing, the TV watching and the knitting.   As I sat outside on our front porch in my green L.L.Bean Adirondack chair with the green and white striped cushion,  I thought about the life Ross and I share.   I thought about how my sister Elaine and I joke about how the true test of love is whether you are willing to change your partner’s diapers, when and or if the time comes.   I am and I will.
By the way, Ross, thank-you for rescuing me from that evil frog who was sitting under my green and white striped L.L.Bean cushion.
He’s Real

Today is July 5.  It has been 7 months since my Joey passed away.  Ross has held me and comforted me every one of those 214 days.
I miss my son.

I have created a page for Anna's Diary.  It can be found under the Tab titled Anna's Diary.
I have posted all of the entries to date there, starting with January 1, 1929.

Here are yesterday and today’s entries from Anna’s diary:
Thurs. July 4, 1929
Fourth of July.  Went to 360 and went to cemetery with Mother and Father.  Went to see Grandma M.  Took her out for a ride then went to Mrs. Nap to shoot Baby’s fireworks.
Friday, July 5, 1929
Mae Harrison came over for lunch.  We had a long talk.  She told me all about the trouble she is having with her husband and another woman very sad.