Last night, I listened to pop music of the 60’s and 70’s on the PBS TV station. It surged memories of my teens and early adulthood. I love the old songs. They carry charming melodies and lyrics. Reminiscing the old days and daydreaming come easily while listening to them. Baby boomers would agree that these oldies nostalgically remind us of our youth — days of fairy-tale dreams and overblown ambition, the restlessness for adulthood, the carefree spirit of gaiety, spunky defiance and miscalculated invincibilities. Maybe that’s why I like the old songs so much; they make me feel young again.
Here’s a little of me, or a lot of me, as I delve into the realm of transcendental precepts and keynotes of faith. This is Lent. It inspires reflections and self-examination hinged on a relationship with God, the Father who, with unconditional love, gave His only son to suffer and die on the cross for the redemption of humanity. I share with you my reflections from a place of vulnerability pivotal to the knowledge of self and to a deeper connection with one who created all. It is prudent to pause from mundane cares and tasks to ruminate on a higher plane, and dive into spiritual depths to grasp what is profoundly significant in life.
Carved out for you are teasers from blogs in Babyboomerlola.com — thought-provocateurs presented here in the hopes that you’d be enticed to read the full articles, if you haven’t yet. Take a curious peek, travel your mind, feel the pulse, enjoy the cadence; just click the titles.
… life isn’t just all about the gain … there’s something better, something deeper, something you can barely touch, but it’s just there, like a sacred hush. (Blog: Birthday parties – and all that jazz … or some of it )
The summers of my youth in the farm are clearly the nugget of the magic Auayan held for me. And the magic is still there … waiting for me to reach out … I have reached out. (Blog: The magic of a place haunts the memory – is there such one for you as there is for me?)
The crabs tantalizingly smelled like the sea. Our table reeked of the sweet-sour aroma of vinegar. No one cared. (Blog: Hard to refuse an “all you can eat” meal – especially if it pitches crabs)
I appreciate the chance to get up earlier than usual in the morning, pick an attire appropriate for the office, prim my hair and prep my face, fix a quick breakfast, take the vitamins and scheduled meds, wash the cup and plate I used, bag my baon (packed food) for lunch, check the stove, then out the door. Work is good for the soul, mind, body — and yes, the pocket. (Blog: The mystic about retirement)
I’m a sucker for birthday parties – other people’s birthday parties. The livelier, the better, rigged with balloons, glittering confetti, robust birthday greetings and singing, food in abundance, sweet cake with candles to blow, and all that jazz. For me, especially now that I’m a baby boomer, I’d rather have my birthday celebrated at a quiet dinner at home or a restaurant with family and/or close kins or friends. None of all that jazz – or, maybe, just a little bit of it. But that doesn’t mean I’m not grateful for full blown parties given for my birthday. Nor that I don’t enjoy the party. I really am not a party pooper. I just would prefer the other way … but that’s just for me. For other people’s celebration, I want all that jazz.
Is there a place you visited or stayed in that haunts your memories or continues to live in the heart? There is such a place for me. It’s my grandfather’s farm called Auayan or Awayan, an immense stretch of land in the northern part of the province of Camarines Sur in the Bicol region. Nostalgia prompts me to write about Auayan, more than 600 hectares acquired by Lolo (Grandfather), a surveyor, and which eventually was subdivided among his ten children. He also generously offered some hectares to Grandmother’s two sisters, spinsters who devoted to helping Lola (Grandmother) care for her children and the family home.
Auayan is a wide expanse of rolling hills and valleys bordered on one side by a river that gently snakes toward a bay in the far town of Libmanan. The puzzlement about this river, especially where it flows beside Grandfather’s farm, is that its slim banks glisten with white sand. Often, I wondered how the sand from the ocean’s shores got carried to Auayan’s river banks. The river beach, as I call it, stands out in a picturesque way against the turquoise glow of the waters. That’s another of my puzzlement: why the river always looks the rich shade of blue-green. Perhaps, because of abundant vegetation underneath the waters, like a thick blanket of vibrant moss on the river bed. But in the evenings, the waters turn a deep mysterious green that cascades in eerie silence.
What is it about “all you can eat” that just draws folks to restaurants that pitch that on the menu. I admit, I’m a sucker for it, aren’t you? When I’m with a group and we struggle with the very important decision of where to have lunch or dinner, and someone interjects, there’s an “all you can eat” seafood place – no need to push me. I’ll push everyone else. It’s a mindset that can be deceiving. Can make you think you can eat as much as you want, with no consideration at all for the capacity of the stomach, nor its ability to digest large and mixed portions. Darn the advertising draw that’s so powerful. I go anyway.
So, last weekend, I attended a church fundraiser in Palo Alto, an event I always look forward to every year – an “all you can eat” crab dinner. It was no surprise that 90% of attendees were baby boomers or older. Is it this generation that falls easy prey to “all you can eat” offers? Or, is it this generation that worries less about calories? Or, is it this generation that scrimps on meals every day for health or other reasons, that a big break is so welcome. I’m glad I went. The crabs were meaty, plentiful and free flowing. The heads and legs kept coming. I wondered if the sponsor cornered the entire supply of the Bay Area. I was afraid to ask – didn’t want to jinx the table service.
This Lola still works, part-time, three days a week. I appreciate the chance to get up earlier than usual in the morning, pick an attire appropriate for the office, prim my hair and prep my face, fix a quick breakfast, take the vitamins and scheduled meds, wash the cup and plate I used, bag my baon (packed food) for lunch, check the stove, then out the door. That’s the routine for work days which, I admit, I’ve gotten the hang of and which I miss during prolonged vacations. This routine could all flow in a rush or in a slow, pleasurable progression. Either way, it’s rooted in my system.
What I’m saying here is, partial retirement seems best for this baby boomer. While having some days off is necessary for errands, appointments, personal chores and rest, maintaining a regular work schedule on other days provides variety and challenge, two ingredients to sustaining vigor, interest, positive outlook and the excitement of anticipation. Work can be a motivation to stay healthy, for what good is determination if the body is not able or lazy. But knowing there are urgent matters to complete or deadlines to meet can goad the body to move and overlook the pain or the tiredness, even the laziness. Work is good for the soul, mind, body — and yes, the pocket.
Last night, I heard an energetic rendition of a waltz by Chopin. I stopped working on my computer and immersed myself in the piano music by my house guest. It was moving in the sense that it made me stand up and perform fancy footwork on the floor to the rhythm of the piece. Suddenly, I stopped my swaying and sycophantic moves and sat down. A memory so vivid crossed my mind. I allowed it to float fully into my consciousness.
I was a young girl, lying on my thin pillow, ready for sleep at around nine in the evening. Something kept me awake, however. It was that same piece by Chopin played over and over again in hopes of perfecting it, perhaps. I remember the music came from a beige-painted 2-story house across the river, just almost the opposite side of ours. Our house stood around 12 meters from the river bank that was dotted with a few banana plants and a couple of sampaloc trees with branches often laden with lumpy fruit pods. Sampaloc pods contain seeds embedded in fibrous substance which, when ripe, are sucked for their tangy sweet and sour flavor. Thinking of that river reminds me of sampaloc.
I ask myself why I don’t engage in cooking my favorites often anymore. For one, my children are grown and married and living away from home. I would have loved to cook for my grandson, but he, my son and his wife are an hour’s drive away. My husband had gone to the beyond two years ago. He loved the few cuisines that I mastered, though he really was the master chef at home. He had such talent, creative skill and speed in cooking, he never failed to amaze me. Cooking was not his profession; it was a hobby and a passion. The man of the house often was the toast of the party, and I was very proud of him. Adding here, that I always cleaned up plenty after him. Small pay for the gourmet dishes laid out on the table. So, cook for myself? Hmmm … not much motivation there. Unless there’s a party to prepare for at home … or a potluck to contribute to … or, I’m craving my own favorites, like now.
I’m sitting in front of my laptop, searching my brain for what I can write about this moment. So, I think about today. A lot of happenings, true, but so little to write about. There mustn’t have been anything that interesting to share. OK, what about what I ate for lunch. That came from my sister who now and then gives me samplings of her cooking. I can’t say much about the food, except that it was a delicious dish of bitter melon sautéed with eggs and tomatoes; I gobbled it all up. So, what about my dinner tonight? That was good, too. Oops, too bad, I didn’t cook that either. I bought it from an expensive high-end grocery store in the neighborhood. Can’t tell you how that was made either, except that it was one of the best stuffed cabbage I’ve eaten. Think, there must be something!
It was a sleeping beauty then – in December 2017 when I was on tour with my relatives in Legazpi, Albay of the Bicol Region some 330 kilometers south of Manila, Philippines. Mayon Volcano, as in my other past visits, hid her face behind low cottony clouds. She is said to be bashful. My opinion is she’s veritably private, what with streams of visitors from various parts of the country and the world, eager to see her, waiting for the cloud cover to lift so they can view her alluring face.
Romantic legends tout Mayon as a timid maiden known as Maganda (meaning beautiful). Maganda captivates numerous suitors that lie frustrated on her slopes, because the elusive lady is imperious and difficult to please. And when she concedes to occasional outbursts, suiters scramble down her slopes away from the fuming maiden. Almost untouchable, but imperial in a mysterious way – poised proudly with a perfect cone magnificently pointed to the sky, and graceful slopes shaped by eruptions of the past, the latest of which was in 2013, and then now. And now, what audacious, impertinent prince kissed her that she is roused?
Jet lag – for me, it happens not upon arrival at the destination but upon arrival back at the place of origin. Why is that? When traveling through different time zones, the destination gets no jet lag. The body clock doesn’t seem to need any adjustment. Doesn’t the body recognize the difference there? But upon return to the place of origin, the body stresses over the time difference when, in fact, that’s always been what it had been used to before. Or, is the body just tired from all that traveling. Hmmm … the jet lag lags.
I opened my refrigerator to reach for a snack and settled on cold spaghetti. I teetered between microwave or stove heating – but decided to eat it cold, with the rich tomato sauce curdled around the noodles. It was really good! Didn’t need any heating. The coldness gave it a fresh snack-like zing. I ate it all. The problem is, that was my dinner – not my snack. Oh well, I looked at it as early dinner, or, I simply skipped dinner. I got peachy full anyway.
Try cold spaghetti – it’s awesome!
“The Acropolis!” Several of us in the bus chorused as we passed lighted houses on the hillsides on our way from San Francisco Airport to the Peninsula. Obviously, several of us high school students remembered our Greek studies. Those that didn’t simply exclaimed “Wow” multiple times at the lovely sight. We were all very excited. For some twenty high school students from the Philippines, this was our first day in America. From the first step off Pan American Airlines, I could hardly contain myself. I knew, the rest in my young group were like me, eager, happy and anxious.
I was in Palo Alto, California for a three-day orientation along with other American Field Service (AFS) scholars from Asian countries, several decades ago. We stayed at Stanford dorms in Escondido, two tall structures a few stories high – a rarity since at that time there were few (if at all) buildings in Palo Alto that were more than a story high — two buildings that stood like twins easy to spot even from El Camino Real, the same that stand even now on campus, stalwart through the decades.
Ever wonder why boys and girls seem frivolous? They’re quick to giggle or laugh, quick to find something funny, quick to react, quick with their wits, quick to emote, and quick to forget. I know, because they’re young. A 26-year old, who’s not much older than the teens in the party, steered my attention to the three girls obviously enjoying themselves and finding amusement in reading each other’s cell phone messages and viewing each other’s pictures. The girls acted giddy, without the alcohol, but with just plain entertaining tete-a-tete and banter between them. Girls in their late teens, squirming and laughing as they exchanged cell phones and indulged in such hilarity enough to make everyone else around jealous.
My sister in Palo Alto did it again. She arranged a surprise birthday party almost a month after my birthday. She‘s very good at it – always manages to pick a day when I don’t suspect there’ll be anything special happening. It happened last Sunday, when I scheduled a regular visit with my pasalubongs (gifts/treats upon arrival from a trip) from the Philippines. I looked forward to a chat over merienda (snacks) or perhaps soup, and regale her and my brother-in-law with stories about my vacation and updates on family and relatives there.
It was late in the afternoon when darkness was starting to creep in. I knocked. She promptly opened the door. We hugged and lavishly exchanged new year greetings. The house was dark. She said she needed to open the lights. I walked to the receiving room. Total quiet. I looked to my left and considered imagining statues on the floor. I blinked. My jet lag and adjusting body clock must be playing tricks, I surmised. I turned to my left again and realized the bodies were frozen as they crouched on the floor. Then it hit me – they’re springing a surprise. But no one dared move for many seconds – just eyes staring at me. Very strange – shouldn’t they jump up and yell “surprise”? Then I heard my sister’s voice loudly greeting, “happy birthday!” Was that the cue? The bodies moved in a wave that began with the younger ones. The seniors slowly stretched and carefully got up. A very interesting and lovely mixed group, I should say. – late teens, middle-aged and seniors.
I’m back in California, my home away from home as my youngest sister puts it. Seven weeks of vacationing in the Philippines around the holidays are enough to get pampered all over again – with “angels” (appreciative name for household help) in the house, who would refuse being served like a queen? I didn’t. I luxuriated and loved every minute of it. Having taken residence in the US for over 40 years, I realized I missed this kind of lifestyle – well, somewhat. And every time I went to visit, this was what I looked forward to … well, for a period and to a degree.
I most enjoyed my vacation in the Philippines especially due to frequent and close bonding with family members; visits of far places to see relatives I hadn’t seen or spoken to in years; touring new attractions that were undeveloped areas years before; seeing tall commercial establishments where there were barren fields and small sari-sari (mix or hodgepodge) stores before; and indulging in exquisite authentic Filipino cuisine. All these were what made my vacation remarkable – and will make me go back to visit again.
After five weeks of being away, of being pandered in comfortable ways by house “angels”, for some strange reasons, I started to be antsy. I longed for the “eat whatever I want days”, or “not eat until I’m hungry days”, or “wake up and get up late for breakfast days”, or “do my own thing” days.
I’m looking forward to fireworks in the neighborhood tonight. Though I hear that a fireworks ban was declared this year, many predict it won’t be widely followed — in the Philippines? It’s where over the decades, ushering in the New Year has been celebrated in the loudest fashion and with the most spectacular fireworks displays in the sky. But we’ll see tonight. I still look forward to witnessing the traditional, garish way of celebration.
So how has 2017 been to you? For me, it went by so fast, regardless of what the sage says that time goes by more quickly when you’re older. I heard some young folks claim it went by like a breeze.
Battling the cold and cough is far too much of a struggle, especially when they linger past the one- or two-week scourge. More than a struggle, it’s an embarrassment trying to suppress a sneeze or a cough because of the perceived threat of contamination to those adjacent to you. When you burst out sneezing or coughing, you can’t help but get the furtive looks, or imagine you’re getting them, like darts thrown your way. Worse, people start walking away from you – or you imagine them walking away when in fact, there could be a perfect excuse for that, like the need to get a glass of water, or go to the restroom, or the conversation’s just plain boring. Even sadder is when folks who swear they’re fond of you turn their stiff back on you and walk away. You feel abandoned, like no one cares about your battle. Then you’re inclined to indulge in a one-person self-pity party. And just sulk away.
I have procrastinated too long. My suitcases are waiting to be packed, a task I need to do in preparation for my return trip to the US a week from now. The urgency of the chore is to make sure my heavy items purchased for pasalubongs (gifts to family members, friends upon arrival) can be accommodated within the weight restriction: 50 lbs. (or 30 kilos) for each of two check-in luggage. By the looks of it, I may have some excess weight. Now the question is – which do I leave behind? Perhaps, some clothes? Perhaps, some candies? Perhaps, some gifts from relatives here?
Now, see my dilemma? It’s best to procrastinate. I don’t need to make the decision now. But every “now” turns to a yesterday. I’m bushed, just thinking about this. Too much pressure … I’d rather nap over this.
Naga City in Camarines Sur, Philippines held a population of ~67,000 during my youth. Now, the booming metropolis is populated by some 196,000, according to the 2015 census. Around 167.3 miles south of Manila, Naga sits as the reigning queen in lush Bicol region touted for its perfect cone Mayon volcano in the province of Albay; Cagsawa Ruins, a bell tower and belfry emerging above ground while the rest of the church was buried underground during a massive earthquake in Daraga in the 16th century; the pink sand beach of Irosin, Sorsogon; the hot springs pools of Panicuason at the foot of Mt. Isarog in Naga, among many other wonders.
Besides being the center of the colorful, age-old tradition of the week-long and widely attended Penafrancia fiesta, Naga also is home to the old and charming Penafrancia shrine of the Lady of Penafrancia, and the handsomely renovated cathedral. The city grew and expanded the past decades. The presence of several prominent universities underscores the high quality of education in the community. What were small streets of modest residential areas are now commercial hot spots. The increase in restaurants, hotels, stores and shopping malls speaks to the buzzing business life of the city.
I miss my 8-year-old grandson, who calls me Lola with a perfectly rounded “O”. He in California, and I in the Philippines, I watched him on facetime weeks ago as he very attentively rehearsed for a piano recital: a skippy Minuet and a winsome adagio that he was aiming to perform with perfection. Quite obedient to his father’s request, my grandson repeatedly practiced the pieces, as well as the introduction to his performance – of course, to my sheer delight, because I don’t tire watching this darling boy at all, playing music or just playing, or doing anything at all.
This is the rainiest December that I know in all my vacationing in the Philippines. December 2017 is not at all like last year’s when it was warm and feeling almost like summer. The upside is the temperature is definitely a bit cooler, perhaps much too colder for regular residents. The breeze is extra delightful, especially because the grown bamboo, mango, guava and citrus trees in the garden fan the air with a balmy freshness. Nearby is a small mountain of thick vegetation that further fans the breeze.
It has started to rain again just now. I enjoy the lulling pitter-patter on the ground and the tiled balcony floor outside. It makes me want to take a nap – but not just yet, lunch is almost to be served. I think I would love the champorrado (chocolate flavored thick and lightly sweetened porridge) from yesterday’s breakfast. It was a hit; so there mustn’t be any more left. And with the champorrado, I would have chosen the tuyo (salted dried herring) – that, too, all gone, a definite favorite with the champorrado.
Today, I’m in my brother and his wife’s home in a suburb of Las Pinas, Philippines, for a week’s staycation. I’m sitting in the patio converted receiving room. To my left is a tall and wide grilled window bordered with pots of bougainvillae bearing newly opened fuchsia, white, yellow and pink blooms. True to its reputation, the orange one is slow in flowering. It is through this window that I peek through the curtain of vines and flowers to watch the spectacle outside.
Sitting on my favorite polished molave wooden chair, I savor the aura of a Philippine setting. An observation suddenly loomed. I’ve always assumed that roosters crow at the crack of dawn. Now, I realize that cock-a-doodle-doos sporadically toll all times of the day. Chicken calls echo from various distances like a continuous repartee, and at times, like choral refrains. The resonance doesn’t bother me at all. In fact, it delights me. After all, I don’t hear symphonies of cock-a-doodle-doos back home in Palo Alto. Perhaps, I should record them for nostalgia’s sake.
Heaven opened up to admit a sweet angel, and that’s my Mama, known to grand- and great grandchildren as Lola Nena. She passed on November 7, 2017, 29 days shy of her 101st birthday (Dec. 6). Her masses and funeral services in Los Banos, Laguna, Philippines memorialized death as a passage to life eternal with God, but they also celebrated the life God gave her on earth, a life anchored on family, love and faith.
Jitters attacked me. It was the night of the junior-senior prom at my American high school where I was an exchange student. The grand ball of the year, where high school seniors and juniors swept out of their ostentatiously decorated cars in their best gowns and tuxedos, where girls became ladies hanging on to the genteel arm of their handsome escorts, where boys turned gentlemen opening car doors and pulling chairs for their ladies. It was a splendid night of putting on the ritz. The opening event was a march of the voted homecoming king and queen and their royal court. Having been voted by the school population as third runner-up for homecoming queen, I was thus designated as a princess of the court. That night, I felt like a pampered princess in a lovely apple green machine-embroidered cotton gown sewn by my American host Mom. My escort, blond, blue eyes, six-foot tall and all seemed like a prince. The prince, however, was terribly shy and barely spoke 30 words that night. He could have been a frog. If he croaked, I would have jumped in sheer delight. Bring two bashful youths together, and the game plan is a disaster … though now, quite quirky and funny to me.
My doctor won’t agree – comfort food medicates my stress. But hey, I’m not so bad. On a scale of 1 to 10, I’m likely 8 on narrowing the gap between choosing food that’s good for me vs. less healthy comfort food. That’s definitely leaps of improvement from what it was when I was decades or more years younger. The redemptive part is, when I pig out on comfort food, I make it up with pots of nourishing food. Then I reckon I’m forgiven.
I sat at MacDonald yesterday, gobbling up a quick lunch of nuggets and French fries to gulps of diet coke. This is not the usual – just had to satisfy a sudden hunger while shopping for the best buys at Walmart. Up to now, I tell some friends that store offers considerable discounts on certain items that are of quality. Some of them look at me like I’m kooky. I don’t want to push, but if they take up my suggestion, they’ll see that I wasn’t exaggerating.
Anyway, while sitting at MacDonald at the end of the wide store corridor, I delighted in watching people go by – a pastime that I sometimes indulge in, especially when there’s no one to converse with. I noted grandparents with little kids in tow; mothers pushing baby carts while their husbands looked bored and chose to sit inside the burger joint; youths, probably students from the nearby community college, poring over sales before proceeding home; teen lovers holding hands as though strolling in the moonlight; men hurriedly unloading cartful of groceries perhaps trying to make it home before dinner preparation. But my attention was particularly caught by a two-year old toddler yelling “Lola, Lola” beside me. I looked up to look for the Lola (Grandma), only to see her parents and big brother who seemed too mature for his young age. Where was the Lola? Could that be the reason why the toddler kept calling for her. Likely, the Lola opted to stay home to either ready the next meal or watch the house, or just rest for that day. Wouldn’t it be splendid for that toddler if her Lola was with the family, delighting on a juicy burger sandwich and salted fries, with the little one grabbing some of those slender slices?
Dire effects of disasters and calamities in various locations tug at our hearts. Thousands of families are suffering. When a sector of the population is hurting, we all are. A thread runs through humanity and connects us all. We cannot turn a deaf ear or look away. Stark photos and dismal news of misery confront us every day. It’s true, we never abandon the hope that circumstances will get better, that a brighter tomorrow will dawn. But for that tomorrow, now is the time to extend a helping hand. Several organizations in the communities facilitate donations. Google them for addresses, or watch for their announcements and reminders in the media.
Bandit and Pebbles. I’ll never forget them. The first, a German shepherd, and the second, a golden retriever half breed, two lovable dogs my daughter and son-in-law raised some years back. Bandit and Pebbles are gone now, but I think of them with deep sentiment. They broke my fear of dogs, and they were the first dogs I learned to love.
I remember Bandit and his very regal stance, head held up high, ears always flexed upward, smooth silky black hair, and a mischievous grin from ear to ear. Looking very much like a handsome prince-dog, definitely of royalty. He was super rambunctious in his youth, constantly on the run and gallop, almost like a horse. Not only did he exude charm and grandeur, but distinct intelligence and smartness. It seemed like he could read minds. But what I remember most was his protective and loving nature. In his advanced years, cancer weakened him. His passing broke my daughter’s and son-in-law’s hearts. That was especially hard for my daughter. Bandit was her first pet.
Papa gave me permission to attend a dance party! I didn’t have to ask. It was friends who asked him. I was 18 then, a very diligent student of an all-girls college, who chose poring over textbooks and novels than partying. But this particular one, I really wanted to attend. My secret crush (SC) was going to be there. Besides, I practiced the twist so many times before the mirror to ready for this shindig. Perhaps, Papa and Mama thought I was getting to be too much of an academic recluse, so they said yes. The boys were surprised. They expected a no.
It wasn’t all books for me. My extracurricular activities at school dominated my scholastic schedule as well. Theater/drama was my first love. Next was folk dancing. I was often on stage for one or the other. I even fantasized becoming a stage singer. That became reality when I was picked for the role of Laurie in Oklahoma, after a score of challenging singing lessons, of course. I was ecstatic. If my voice didn’t ring so awesomely broadwayish, my passion for drama kicked in the spice in my performance.
Sorrow engulfs much of the news in the media these days. Human suffering is magnified. No heart can stay callous to the pain of tragedy and loss. Lately, we often are reminded by the mounting numbers of people divested by calamities as hurricanes, terrorist and criminal acts, and the ravages of war.
Reading or listening to the news can be a painful experience. Stark photos tell the stories. In recent weeks, hurricanes in Houston, south Florida, the Caribbean islands, Puerto Rico, then, earthquake in Mexico City, and lately, massacre in Las Vegas, not to mention isolated stabbings and shootings in other cities in the US and abroad – all these run a cord through humanity, and humanity trembles. Devastation, loss, grief and uncertainty induce fear that castrates hope. Yet, in the midst of profound suffering emerges the triumph of the human spirit: resilience, courage, determination, patience, re-birth of hope, the strength of faith. The selfless service of responders and volunteers, the outpouring of help, sympathy and prayers all manifest that in this world, love is not lost, human hearts care.
I just finished reading the book given by my daughter, “Wired to Write” by Lisa Cron, after two months of dabbing on it. Finally last week, I determined to pore seriously over her insights, ideas and instruction like a student cranked up to get an A in the exam. Two-thirds of the book flew by with every thought and suggestion mentally chewed into fine morsels for my brain to easily digest. The goal? I want to be a better writer. I want to know the knots and bolts of tight storytelling, be it in an anecdote, novel or script. Up the ante, a common phrase in Cron’s book, and that’s exactly what I aim to do.
Up until a few years back I shied away from admitting being of the baby boomer generation. I didn’t wish to be considered “old”. I remember my daughter, when she was a 21 year old working in an investment banking company, had told me of a smart 27-year old investment banker who was interested in her. She discouraged him from showering attention on her because he was “too old”. Too old! I thought, what does that make me, decades older – ancient? When my son’s wife became pregnant, I was elated, yet I planned to ask that I be called Mama by my grandchild. But when my grandson Eliott was born in July 2009, I couldn’t help celebrating the thought that now, here’s one who will call me Lola! It has been that way ever since. Without embarrassment, I can declare to the world, I am a baby boomer Lola, graciously and gracefully advancing in age and somewhat wiser — once a blooming teen of the 60’s, a lover and hater of tissed poofed hair, still a nostalgic for old romance and hootenannies, still a swooning fan of Beatles songs, and now a striving student of the modern tech world, an aspiring poet and songwriter, a dreamer, a doting Lola very much in love with the cantankerousness of youth. Also now, a very “young” blogger.
What is it about the invading tech world that many (generally speaking) of my generation fear, refuse to learn or grapple with, ignore, or not have anything to do with. I may be among the brave few who use and depend on computers for regular work. But don’t ask me to troubleshoot a technical glitch. I’d rather leave that to the much appreciated and revered IT department. I probably could resolve the bug if I put my mind to it; but no … I decide that the IT person can do a better job. I don’t tinker with the fledging gadget because I cling to the crazy notion that the machine might either blow up in my face or completely break down. Silly, but I don’t dare risk it.
For over four decades, my husband drove Ms Daisy. I was Ms. Daisy, happy to get from point A to point B without the knack for learning or knowing directions. He liked driving and rendered me this service as one of the perks of love. I graciously accepted and enjoyed being the sitting queen.
When he passed nearly two years ago, I intensely grieved over the loss of my love — and sorely missed my driver. I had to re-learn driving skills and confidence, thanks to my son’s thoughtful gesture of enrolling me in driving school. Now, Ms. Daisy drives, and more, I’ve learned to gas up the car, steer up to car wash lines, and go to auto service shops whenever a warning light pops up on my dashboard. I relish the thought that an ability has been added to my list of “can do’s”.
Still about my visit in that car shop — what was I thinking! Did I assume that car repairs always ended in a good car wash? Honestly, I did. Wasn’t it that way in early days? I told the customer service guy that I’d get back my car after the car wash following the repair. He looked at me strangely like I was from another planet. Quite respectfully, however, he said, “Ma’am, it’s not done anymore. Maybe many, many years ago, that was part of our service, though I don’t recall when that stopped.” Oh no, that wasn’t my intent – reveal that I came from the ancient world. Of course, I was dismayed. I wanted to save a trip to the regular car wash.
However, what I got from that repair shop as I spilled out my car woes was remarkable customer service — a respectful listener, a sympathetic look, efficient response, accurate diagnosis, and quick recording on the computer. “Needs oil change and a checkup,” he advised. “OK, I’ll wait,” I said.
A brown little bird whizzed by my ear and flew into my home as I opened the patio door to reach for the broom standing in the corner. A surprise and unexpected visit from a winged intruder I quickly named Tweet-Tweet was, for the first three minutes, a playful flurry that I enjoyed. When that novelty wore off, anxiety settled in. How could I make Tweet-Tweet fly out the open door! With no thought of catching it, I just wanted to shoo it away, out the open door. It read my mind if it had any brain at all. I decided, yes, definitely with a brain in its tiny pointed head. It expertly avoided me, often with exultant chirp-chirps that teased and irritated. No, that’s not all correct, Tweet-Tweet amused me, too. Strangely, I found myself chatting back with a lilting chirp-chirp version of my own that aimed to top Tweet-Tweet’s. When I did, Tweet-Tweet stopped fleeting back and forth, alighted on a ledge far above my reach, and ogled at me with its round black eyes like I was a friend, or plain crazy. Then it resumed circling the living room with such graceful elegance and no qualms, no shame, like it was master of the house. For one fleeting moment, I considered keeping it for a house pet. Quickly I abandoned that ridiculous thought when it fluttered about my head in taunting fashion.
What do you do when you fancy what you’re eating to the max, and feel like you’re in seventh heaven? Do you close your eyes with an ethereal smile? Do you roll up your eyes in disbelief of what you’re savoring in your palate? Do you grunt and exclaim “Wow” in between munches? Or do you look down at your food and pray over it in utter gratitude?
I swing my legs under the table as I chew with gusto. I was unaware of this quirk until my husband pointed it out to me. Some years ago, while I was contentedly eating at the table, my husband relaxed on the couch watching his favorite TV talk show. He finished his dinner ahead to catch a feature on 60 Minutes. That was fine with me because I appreciated some quiet time with my food, intending to catch up with the day’s chats after his program.
A strange memory popped up – my first painful encounter with defeat. It was in the fourth grade when I robustly volunteered for a needle threading contest: walk fast ten yards to the person holding up a needle, thread the needle in lightning speed, and … easy, I thought.
The first to thread the needle, I stopped right by the human post. I couldn’t understand why some zealots in the audience were waving ferociously at me. Were their waves victory gestures? I smiled triumphantly back at the waving people. But suddenly, my smile froze when I realized something was wrong. The other contestants were rushing back after threading the needle. Then gripped with the sad realization, my heart suspended in mid-air, anger with myself followed over “youthful stupidity” fringed on lack of focus. I was too busy listening to my thoughts of winning, and failed to hear the full instructions.
I am a baby boomer and a Lola (Grandma). Shhh! Don’t ask … wondering how old I am? It’s just a number – and I’ll keep you guessing.
Babyboomerlola.com offers meanderings from the heart. Looking back over the years, I recognize how much more I know now, how remarkably I’ve experienced the nuances of life, the summation of which is the wisdom of what and how much I’ve learned – through all the mesh and mush: gaiety grabbed, foolishness treaded, anxieties bashed, choices snubbed, ambition seized, triumphs celebrated, dreams chased, hopes abandoned, and wise counsel followed or wasted. The vortex of this wisdom is the humility of realizing the vastness of opportunity, experience, insights, lessons and care bestowed in generous measure by love and blessings.
My blogs will share observations, memories, thoughts, feelings, reflections. They will reminisce the “old days”, see how they compare with the changing times perhaps with some nostalgia sufficient to elicit gratitude for what was then that effected what has become. There, too, will be tid bits of significant trivia of the day, or flashbacks of episodes meaningful enough to remember and tell: random musings, mind teasers, contemplative cliffhangers, stories that may run the gamut from interesting, instructive, sophic, intriguing, amazing, to humorous or simply ridiculous or foolish.
I invite you to come step into my world – or, take a peek and linger a while. With variations, it could be your world, too.