Aging in America

Ahhh, the indignities of middle to late middle age! We laughed uproariously at age 40 birthday party, when they presented us w inflatable walkers, hemorrhoid cream, hair dye to banish the gray hairs, memory pills, you get the idea! We were not yet in that time frame, so it was funny! And we danced for hours, after that, with not a care in the world!

Bah humbug! No Viagra, Cialis, blood pressure pills, penis inflators, round the abdomen accumulating fat, which is anatomically disposed to be the landing place for any extra calories over necessary consumption based on activity. Soon, you won’t even see the penis, as the fat accumulates! Arthritis, as who knew joints go kaplooey with too much kneeling, bending, lifting, walking, running, even working out, which was supposed to be good for you? Who can do that anymore?

Go ahead, but the key word is low impact workouts. Long distance slow and easy, biking, in whatever way you can, weight lifting, but little by little, as tolerated. Walking, then up hills, as you are able, with gradually increasing distances. No more getting down on those knees, which are not constructed to withstand that burgeoning gut and increased poundage. I know, not everyone, but increasingly the majority are in this class, especially women who are proportionately designed to store more fat than men do, anatomically.

Invest in adult diapers, for the stock market will be overflowing its banks on this! Baby Boomers are aging out, and there are so many of us! Many are living long long lives too, which is a mixed blessing, because while you do everything right, eating healthily, exercising, losing weight, you are still trapped by your genetics, which will betray you at some point. Even  model specimen who does everything right recently found an abnormal EKG rhythm! Warning of mortality, no matter what you do. Take your hints, your vitamins, supplements, your regimen, your greens, lean meats, vegan or vegetarian with appropriate protein sources replacement, it doesn’t matter…

Look at your family history. What happened to your parents is not exactly destiny for you, but it’s a heavy influence. Then factor in your lifestyle, satisfaction, high stress, how your job either values you appropriately or not, how your kids are doing, and are they prospering? All of it matters. Also factor in risk taking, education and awareness of risks, like predilection for mountain climbing, skydiving, jet skiing, hiking alone, you name it…Do you maintain your car as the prudent do? Do you assess weather every single time before  you go driving? Do you drink and drive, or do drugs and drive? Do you text while driving? What about the next person who doesn’t pay attention or care?

Pantiliners, then pads, coughing and sneezing, stress incontinence, anal sphincter not tight anymore?? Oh my. Hair dying every 2 months, shower stool and bath bar for support, because elders past had fallen in the shower, with catastrophic damage. Can’t climb stairs anymore, out of breath on the hills…permanent disability issues. A panoply of ills, and lungs are at age 80 already because of exposure to very serious airborne contaminants, out of your control because of poverty of the past, or exposure to Ground Zero contaminants, not publicly admitted, with flimsy dust masks good for nothing, and especially not for residents nearby, in a zone with carcinogens everywhere burning for months and human flesh absorbing same…

It’s later than you think, Boomers. Time to make up and fill that Bucket List with your wishes, and your ability to fulfill same…because the Hourglass is running out of sand. Like Judy Garland in the Castle under the Witch’s clutches, that’s us. But this is no movie, and we don’t have any trio of Scarecrow, Tin Man and Lion to come get us. We just have the litany of the medical doctors telling us to quit smoking, lose weight, get therapy for mental illness, move, get a better job, drive less, walk more, as if any of these things were really in the realm of the doable…

We aren’t solo, most of us. We have to consider how our choices impact who we live with. If it’s a no go for them, many times that means it’s a no go for us too. Even if that means having to drive 70 miles each way to a job, or 100 miles or more. And weather impacts too, in the Age of Global Warming, increasingly severe storms, which may destroy your very home…and strand you on distant shores, because of flight cancellations. And that ever ticking I need to make more money…because that is security. Yeah, stress, beyond your control, because of tariffs levied on everything, even things you need, like food, water, medicine, rent, gasoline…and your salary doesn’t rise to compensate for that. Just suck it up. The 1% won’t be covering you (unlikely).

The American Dream is dying. Now if immigration would just figure that out, we wouldn’t have 15,000 arriving daily from other broken places, in search of something better….we don’t actually have it either. We did, but now not as much. Ask the millennials and the younger folks. What of rich America, every generation doing better than the last? That died too. Concentration of wealth in fewer and fewer hands will beget a 2nd American Revolution, because people lose hope and sustenance en masse. Democracy cannot stand on its ideals when the vast majority are denied the tools to get to at least the middle class, which is also dwindling. Look at the suicide rates too, of veterans and other people who are marginalized, and the incarceration rates as well, borne of desperation to earn a buck…

I count myself lucky, even with what is wrong with me, which is much. I lived in the times of profound change, and survived it well. And am inclined to help others as well, whatever way I can. I have a mission. And I can also blog all I want, which is good, because I have way too much to say. SHUT UP ALREADY, MARSHA! IT’S ENOUGH! 

BANG, ZOOM TO THE MOON, ALICE!!! – RALPH KRAMDEN, CHARACTER OF THE HONEYMOONERS, played by the late great Jackie Gleason.

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Parenthood

The vast majority of people consider their being parents one of the big milestones of life, that their decision to have children is an integral part of who they are, and who they want to be.

But the interesting thing in this is that no one really knew what it was they were deciding, in getting pregnant, or in planting the seed. Of course a certain percentage did not even make such decision, they just found themselves on the route, say by inebriation, partying, youth games, libido being what it is in the teenagers, both then and now.

You might say that of course we knew what parenthood was, ahead of it: by babysitting, by observation of other people’s interactions w their own, at the park, at school, parties, etc. By looking backward to one’s own parents, with you, and your siblings. But the truth is it is a chiaroscuro look, to use an art term: like looking at it through a glass darkly.

Until you have been in it post delivery, taking tyke home, raising him or her, and getting through all those years of caregiving, which you willingly undertook, and then figuring the hard work was over, at age 22, or college graduation milestone, and tyke is now able to earn his or her own keep…well, the truth is your assumptions have been upended.

At no point did you anticipate all the peaks and valleys of this role. That your role does not end, ever. Even in the horrible case of a child dying, you will always find that they changed who you are, and who you will go on being, even without their presence. But the majority will not have this happen to them, fortunately. Did you know that the role included a major leap of faith, that your thoughts and expectations will not match up with the reality??

Did you know that while your children do reflect you somewhat, they are not a rubber stamp? They will be who they are and who they want to be, or who they may be limited to being, by virtue of disabilities, that you didn’t figure on. They will encompass both you and your chosen mate, by the environment you create together, as well as how your genetics stack up, together. The personality is at least 60% of your genetic traits, so choose wisely.

For those who have chosen the adoption route, that is a kind deed, but of course when the child grows up, with the given love, he or she will not reflect you exactly, because of the aforementioned link of personality with the genetic makeup. There will be significant differences. I have a cousin by adoption, whose father told me how horrified he was that a daughter he had, when grown, decided to bear 5 of her own children, with a mate, but that the money situation was going to be beyond her ability to care adequately for all of them. And then he added that he raised her to only take on what you can carry yourself, to not expect from the parents, to be a burden. But she went on her own road, and the father was bitterly disappointed in her decision, because he was not going to be Daddy Warbucks. Some of the children had special needs as well.

This father was certain that it played out this way because of personality differences and a sense of entitlement, despite teaching to the contrary. And 5 children makes it rough to go out and have your own career as well, and what of a family car or a need for a big house, or the endless laundry, keeping track of doctor’s appointments, meals, all of it, times 30 years, and longer…because it’s never ending. He thought that his adopting a child was going to be different than how it turned out.

But that is what I am getting at here, in this treatise. No one really knew what they were taking home in a car seat and a blanket swaddle. How it would turn out. Who would this little person become, beyond the squalling that is their communication of need?  I hope your adventure turned out well for at least most of you, but you made a very big life decision in becoming this parent. And you did so blindly, effectively. You had no real idea what the result would be, and by virtue of neglect, abuse and other societal ills that are still prevalent, the clay you shaped in this child could be a gift to the world, or a mass murderer. I am often fond of you get what you put in, and that karma rules, so do your best. The observations you made of others were merely a dress rehearsal for your own adventure, of little Jane or Henry, who is not you, but is partly so, and who will be your greatest work in this life.

The only thing you can do is to choose very well who is going to be your mate, in this enterprise, because there is no escape after the fertilization, and later birth. This child will reflect the other parent as well, at least somewhat. And to those who are only having a child in order to increase their status in the world, and to pat themselves on the back, taking others to raise those kids, with no concern for their welfare, well, do the world a favor, and recognize there are already too many narcissists out there, who beget chaos upon the world. Every child deserves two parents who are committed to him/her.

Those who abandoned the pregnant women, or who raped them, or committed incest, well, you can figure what I’d say to these miscreants: repent and do good, or the damage done will come back to you. And the penalty will be at least tenfold. Parents, teach your sons how to conduct themselves! And parents of girls, don’t put the entire burden on your daughters, which is unfair. They deserve their freedom too.

Picture Note: Me with my mom, and newborn baby Magnus, in San Francisco, CA. Child of a close friend.

The Pleasure of Agape (A Greek term)

Insomnia induced love of learning and quest for knowledge sent me to my computer at 4am. I needed to know the history of my alma mater, the Bronx High School of Science, specifically what of inventions made by alumni of the school. So if one cannot sleep, getting such information will certainly suffice to this task…

But seriously, I feel like this decision to attend, post admission offer, in April 1978, when I was but 13 years old at the time, to enter in 10th grade, because of having skipped 8th grade, in a special NYC program of that era, I was given the biggest opportunity of my so called life, to date at that time. I was given the door to a better life, right then. I was thrilled! Of course then, some folks started to look at me like I wasn’t a lightweight, because one must beat 30,000 other test takers for a slot, a seat at a grand table, which puts you on a trajectory of who you are, and where you are going in life.

Even some boys whom I was interested in looked at me differently, because I had made it in. Did this mean I was going to get my heart’s desire then? It was good news that the ratio of that era was 57% male, 43% female. And I knew how to dance too! We had practiced at the Mosholu Montefiore Community Center recreation room. I was developing confidence too, in the romantic arena, having been an early bloomer. I had a virtual harem of men! I can recall that many boys were feeling their libidos as high school went on; some teachers as well! Even though my own experience in that regard was sedate, and I knew quite assiduously not to be romantic too much with any boy in my own class of 1981. Boys were going to brag afterward: other girls had intimated, and then reputation was going to ruin.

And so, when someone in particular caught my fancy, I recalled my warning, most strongly, to not let it go too far, on a date. Yes, boyfriends, year after year, but quite sedate…limited sexual activity. However much one wanted otherwise. The Bronx Science crowd was verboten. Men already out at college might be safer, even though I was under age, for them, by virtue of statutory rape laws. If they were under 18 though, and so was I, well, I was an early bloomer, and not as clear cut. I was quite ready, and in love at the time. And so, it happened.

The early years stayed with us a lifetime, as I am now 55 years old! Writing my memoirs in prose, short forms, as our attention spans have shortened by virtue of using cell phones and computer/tablet screens too much, so I write little snippets of my life, when the urge strikes. Even today, I manage to surprise my dear cohort, my sisters as friends, my brothers as both lovers and friends, because what to make of the limited activity of youth?? Was it lovemaking? Or was it just a tease? In any case, never enough, not then, not now. The shadows of those years remain, with an asterisk, what if?

What if the particular boy then, the one I fancied, had been an actual full length lover? Well, of course, the silent voice says that that would have wound up as an experiment, just a course to see what it was like, and then inevitable breakup. We were going to different colleges, far apart geographically. And the chemistry might have screamed yes, but clearly that would not be enough, not then. We were going places, academically, and professionally, in life.

And then, looking back, isn’t it better actually to have a life friend, whom you truly love, in a holy way, without the taint of early sex, well, not much, anyway…and the answer is yes. To have had sex all the way then would have meant the friendship would have had no chance to flourish, and then we would have gone our own ways. And another boy turned man who was a lover, just once, he stayed around too, but we have to put the brakes on, every time. And so it goes, this life tale. The boys know who they were, and are. And I am most blessed to call them both friends, now and always! Even with that past. We accept our life journeys, wherever they lead us.

It is our destiny to be singing “WE Go Together!” From beloved Grease, movie, 1978….aged just 14 that year. Unreal this life. I am still grateful, even if my birthday prayer is the same every single year, and still unmet. But my friends are worth EVERYTHING! I love them all, with everything I have and more! God bless them all with long, healthy lives filled with love!

And there was a Dr. Gluck substitute teacher, who reminds me of a ducky these days…I wonder why that is, how the brain twists tendrils of memories, to such forms. And the boy turned man, he went on another path also, not as a ducky….but he inhabits my dreams. What say you, my dear comrades?? Is there such a thing as fate, in love?

Analysis of “Dancing in the Dark”

IMG_3289Dissatisfaction with self, poverty, looks, address, lifestyle of young rebellious teenager, up all night, with a horndog look at the female wares on display, at the hangouts. Just give me a look, that certain look, and I’m all yours! A dance first, then straight to the Promised Land of plenty and a comfy bed, with you, yonder comely woman, eager. But I need that money first, that animal magnetism, that POWER, to get you. As it is, I am no one, with a massive itch to be that guy, the one everyone wants, and my power is in my song. And my Wranglers, on an album cover, with patriotic colors, a bandanna, and a guitar, which is my bitcoin in the race to get what is coveted, nay needed: a Woman!

Bruce Springsteen is a master of the poetry of song. The metaphors are surreal, and the melodies stick with you, year after year, dance after dance. They become your on Earth religion. You cannot ever have enough of it. They seep into you, like a cup of melted chocolate, so sweet, syrupy, rich and thick. You cannot untaste either the hot chocolate or him. They are inextricably linked. And so, Bruce becomes the unattainable, which he was once himself, when he was hungry as this artist, with nothing, nothing but the insatiable itch, that needed scratching. I am personally glad he got what he wanted and also what he needed. He had had some major success already, when Born in the USA hit, in 1984.

Who doesn’t want to “change my hair, my clothes, my face?” Only the privileged are satisfied with their identity, and all it represents, like the royalty of England, or the celebrities of the Red Carpet, America, both NY and LA. The glitterati. The curvaceous, tall, well oiled robber barons of industry, the alumni of the Ivy League, the rich, the famous, the actors, singers sometimes, the tall, the beautiful. Even the ordinary citizens who play on The Bachelor and The Bachelorette are exceptional in their looks, and all make a living, to a certain degree. Otherwise they would be screened out. They do not represent the masses; they are other. Bruce was once one of us, the people, in his self doubt and ugliness, uncertainty about self, just a massive, gnawing hunger, and a talent, and a refusal to give up, even when the deck was stacked against performers retaining the rights to their own songs and performances. Bruce persevered and won! He is a legend today, still making music, still melancholy, but still opening up to us, his fans, who revere him.

And when Courtney Cox dances with him to this song, in the video, we are with her too, fulfilling a life dream, as we imagine we are her, up there. Dancing in the Dark, but everyone watching, mesmerized, because “this gun’s for hire,” and we are the bait, because we are WOMAN! THAT WHICH CALLS OUT IN THE NIGHT, A NEED, AND A WANT, BUT IT BURNS ACUTELY, AND WE MUST HAVE IT, or die trying. Such as it is, for me, in Bruce, and other men I have hungered for, some of which were caught, some not. And the music still slumbers arousal in me, as I see myself, dancing unadorned, in my birthday suit, in the mirror, and it satisfies, yet not. Because the need is nigh. Yes, tired we are, as it has gone on too long. I could just die from want of it. And that would be ok too, as an outcome. At least the unslaked thirst would abate then.

Even as we dance in the dark, and the light of day, naked. But in my apartment, because it’s verboten elsewhere. I am glad Bruce made his dream come true, against all odds. And made the Earth so much better for all of us, his fans. We are legion, the world wide. My love reaction is for him, and another, but he shall remain nameless, as it’s unfit for the light of day. Yes, I “…gotta stay hungry, Hey baby, I’m just about starving tonight…” He and   I have that in common, a burning desire, which does not let up. “I’m on Fire” is also a Bruce song. He got what he wanted, but I am a lonely poet, toiling in obscurity, on a lonely planet.

Please, God, let me have him! The object of my affections! I am so him, and he me…but only in my dreams. Like Fantine in Les Miserables, death is preferable to endless calumny, suffering. I am worthy of his love! But yet, it does not matter. I am forever dancing in the dark cave of silence, which is inky black and has no exit. My poetry is my voice. Crying out, forever, until my voice is finally silenced. At least it will live on after my voice. That is a consolation. Like a song it is, my voice, after I’m gone.

Shadow Lover in Garden

Zinnia, poinsettia, hibiscus, English breakfast tea and scones with jam, finger sandwiches on a silver platter, candelabra of sterling silver, long, tapered flames, and thou.

Succulent filet mignon, butterflied lobster tail, drawn butter, shrimp cocktail, Dom Perignon, Moët & Chandon, raspberry velvet, drizzling down, baked alaska, gingerbread latte, black and red lace teddy, fishnets, high heels with mirrors in the interior of the heel cut outs, red lush lips, tousled hair, gussied up, but easily taken down by his hands.

She sets a scene for him, of everything he wants, and has hungered for. Her mission is to fulfill his red room fantasy, in so many ways, and he likes to reveal things in pieces, not all at once. She is a student of his many desires. And she matches him in ardor, but also exquisite patience. She is studying him, to make herself irresistible to him, no matter her flaws. She lives and breathes for him, wishing to make this so.

She will have him. It is inevitable. Like a spider, she is crafting her lair for him, and when he sees what is coming, he will devour her. With abandon not seen on screen nor in cinemas. But in the flesh. And when he has this, he is hooked, because she is a master of her emotions and knows that they were meant to be, from yon far forest, known recently as Hyde Park.

The world is her playground, and the only thing is he has to say the word. She will spin her web and they will scream in ecstatic relief. G strings, stilettos, lace and tutus, cut out bras, edibles, syrup and whipped cream on body parts, name it. She is a voyeur and an exhibitionist, so the combinations are infinite. Shades up or down, dark or light, eyes open, and all other orifices as well, for him, her shadow lover, of which he is real, but who knows who he is?

One thing’s certain, her hairdresser probably knows. Because she’s the female bartender. Yay, to be single, free and in NYC! It is an interesting tale to tell, of which the book is threatened, but we aren’t free to disclose. The mouth is however open in other ways.