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.
Embarrassed to admit, but I’ll say it anyway. Technology perplexes me. It frazzles me. For the past week, my web consultant and I battled the consequences of shifting to a newer version of the domain site, supposedly, to benefit from additional features. We were too excited with the prospect of enjoying the advantages over the old program, and either failed or refused to expect challenges and issues with the updated mechanism. The thrill of having something new was just too irresistible, for me at least.
The result – definitely heartaches for me, and headaches for my web consultant. For this Lola, heartaches sprang from not having the look I wanted for my website, the same look that I was content with on the previous site version. For my web consultant, headaches built up from having to grapple with technical changes and adjustments required for the visual presentation, and weaving through a mysterious web of computer codes. And, yes, having to deal with my frequent “nags”.
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.