Worry Haiku

Worry pecks our hearts

Nibbles away our comfort—

But we can choose peace.

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Sadly, This is What We’re Living These Days….

Does anyone read “The Week”magazine? I like it because it breaks down current issues into easily-read “bites,” such as politics, controversial news, people, international news, as well as art and leisure, business and so on.

But I especially like the Editor’s Letter, written by William Falk, Editor-in-chief, most of all. In the February 17 issue, the letter in its entirety gave me the chills. See what you think:

“An extremely pregnant woman was standing in a crowded New York City subway car, hanging on with one hand as it swayed back and forth, waiting for some decent soul to offer her a seat. No one stood up.

When the mom-to-be—The Week’s managing editor, Carolyn O’Hara—painted this grim tableau for me the other day, I was appalled but not surprised. It’s just another manifestation of what I’ve come to think of as our country’s “eff you” culture.

Norms of civility are eroding at a galloping pace, and giving way to an unabashed rudeness—a me-first ethos in which people feel they owe nothing to anyone. You see it in every aspect of life: drivers who speed up as you try to merge onto a highway, blocking you from “getting ahead”: pedestrians who batter you with elbows, bags, or umbrellas and glare rather than apologize; morons who bray loudly or let their children run wild in restaurants and other public places, oblivious to the irritation of people all around them. Eff you if you don’t like it.

What’s going on? My guess is that several factors are conspiring to make us all more self-centered. Modern workplace culture is brutally Darwinian, with employees knowing they’re disposable at any time; in the struggle of economic survival, everyone is our competition. Our personal electronic devices encapsulate us in a bubble of personal preferences—customized music, videos, news, texts, Facebook updates.

“The commons” of shared information, culture, and basic values is fading away. My reality trumps yours; in fact, your very existence in my space is an intrusion in my *bespoke world. Our politics has become toxic, and laced with fear and resentment; each faction sees the others as existential threats to their way of life who must be silenced, conquered, crushed. Where does this eff-youism lead?

Nowhere good. C’mon people: We’re all stuck with each other, and life is a lot easier—and more pleasant—when we grant other folks the right to exist.”

I realize that in the techno/I-want-it-and-I-want-it-right-now world we’re living in that no one seems to have much patience anymore, but jeez, how does bullying and selfishness make things any better? Answer: things are only better for the bullying selfish jerk who gets what he/she wants without regard for anyone else.

Sadly, no one seems to be appalled (or surprised) by this behavior. It has become a “me first and the hell with you” culture on just about every level.

The saddest thing is that the more selfish and uncaring we become, the less joy we have in life. It’s a lonely life that stubbornly insists on being first in line, first to grab that first hot pizza slice, first to gun the motor when the light turns green, first to bully everyone out of the way.

This may work for a while, but sooner or later, we are going to need help, and where will that help come from if we’ve been pushy, rude, unpleasant, nasty and selfish to everyone? It reminds me of the lion and his pride; once he shows any weakness or should he become old and helpless, the pride will turn on him and oust him for a younger, stronger (more selfish?) leader.

However, it’s not too late to make positive inroads into this “me first” culture. I can’t say that it will be easy, but it can be done, person by person. If we can just remember that putting out good brings good back to you, things can and will change. Of course we are going to run into those folks who don’t want to change, who want to be first at the expense of everyone else; who in fact do not want to waste their time being kind or polite to others.

But how about if we just try? This, like anything else, can become a habit, and habits do often bring about change. I haven’t given up on this country or this world. In fact, I’m going to do my level best to be kind, forgiving, positive and upbeat to a sickening degree. If this doesn’t help bring about change, at least it may help keep me from becoming pushy, rude, unpleasant, nasty and selfish. More than usual, I mean.

*Bespoke: usually this means ‘custom-made,’ as in a custom-made suit. In this case, it means a world you have made specifically for your own pleasure and convenience.

Retirement Chic

I started working in the ’70s, and I wore what all women wore for business at that time; mini skirts, empire waist dresses, platform shoes, fish-net stockings, etc. We were still wearing mod clothes from the Beatles era, including butterfly-sleeved sheer dresses and tons of necklaces. We all looked cute as hell.

The deadly and soul-destroying bland “I’m a responsible working woman” suits came later on….the less said about those, the better.

As the decades went on, we wore the Madonna look, the Cher look, the Annie Hall look, and we followed right along with all the fashion trends. It was a lot of fashion and makeup fun, and we all looked great.

Now that I am retired, I have found my own “retirement chic.” It can (and does) include such things as:

  • black yoga pants (so comfy and so forgiving!)
  • wild-colored tunic tops
  • slim jeans
  • cocoon sweaters
  • ankle boots
  • colorful cotton tops with embroidered yokes
  • stretchy zip jackets
  • sneakers
  • strappy flats
  • cotton socks (wild colors especially)
  • LL Bean jackets
  • colorful gauze dresses
  • sandals
  • LOTS of jewelry

The basis for this fashion trend can be described in one word: COMFORT. Let’s face it, as we grow older, things that never used to sag DO sag. Our perky bits become droopy, our taut faces become a relief map of everything we have experienced throughout our lives, and age spots become the new Connect the Dots game.

My own belief at this age is this: the less skin shown, the better. I really don’t think that people want to see my wrinkled cleavage, my spotted legs or my gnarly toenails. All that is easily covered by a few “retirement fashion tips:”

Love sandals but hate the sight of vein-y feet? Easily solved—buy strappy sandals or flats.

Love tank tops but hate showing your *wubbies? No problem: try cap-sleeved or short sleeve tops instead.

Love low necklines but hate your wrinkled and spotted neck and chest? Easy fix: try the tops with criss-cross straps at the neckline, or the ones with lace inserts.

Love tops that show off your midriff? If yours is still firm and flat, good on you! Show it off. But if the midriff has fallen into disrepair like mine has, cover it up.

There’s no need to stop being fashionable as we grew older. As beauty is 90% illusion anyway, wear what looks good on you with pride. But most of all, comfort is king. I spent the best years of my life suffering in high heels, tight waistbands, and tons of makeup. I’m spending this time in my life in comfort and fashion; my fashion!

*Wubbies—that flappy skin under the arm from elbow to armpit.

 

Pairings

I love cooking shows, especially the contest shows like “Chopped.” I thought I knew a lot about food, but these shows have opened my eyes to many different cuisines as well as foods I had never heard of.

They usually mention “pairings,” as in “things that go well with other things,” like coffee and doughnuts. Which got me thinking about “pairings” I’ve enjoyed over the years, such as some of my own favorites:

  • Macaroni and cheese with a side of sliced raw red peppers
  • Egg salad with crackers
  • Tomato soup with a grilled cheese sandwich
  • Apple pie with sharp cheese
  • Wheat toast with smushed fresh avocado, topped with salt and pepper
  • Wheat toast with cream cheese and apple jelly
  • *String cheese with red grapes
  • Cut-up Pink Lady apples spread with Teddie peanut butter
  • Spinach salad with toasted garlic naans

…and so on.

For me the whole idea of “pairings” is to enjoy sweet with salty, hot with cold, spicy with mild, etc.

Then there are the frankly bizarre ingredients used in some of the Chopped episodes. For those who don’t follow the show, the basic premise to the competition is this: you get a basket of four ingredients to be used for an appetizer, another basket for an entree, and one more basket for a dessert. Generally, there are 30 minutes allotted to make each dish.

Some of the strangest things/pairings I’ve seen on the show to date are:

  • chocolate-covered crickets
  • goat brains
  • durian (surely the world’s stinkiest fruit)
  • emu eggs
  • squid ink
  • pickled pig lips
  • sheep tongue
  • eel
  • haggis (look up the ingredients—just don’t eat anything first!)

So there you are; pairings from the sublime (for me, anyway) to the ridiculous. By all means, watch some of the shows; they are nothing if not entertaining! And do try out some of my pairings, too; they are pretty good. Feel free to tell me some of yours, too!

*When I say “string cheese,” I don’t mean those gloopy processed faux mozzerella sticks, I mean real Armenian string cheese, made from sheep’s milk. It comes in a salty thick braid, bristling with tiny black mahleb and nigella seeds.

Half the fun of eating it is pulling it apart into chewy strings, and enjoying the light crunch of the seeds.

 

A Permission Slip to Have a Lazy Day

Ever feel guilty when you spend the day doing not much of anything? I’m the kind of person who not only writes “to do” lists, but has to check off each item so that, at the end of the day, I can feel I’ve accomplished a few things.

It’s a bit on the OCD side, but I do sleep better when, at the end of a day, I can say, “There! I did this, this, that, and this, too.” (I feel just a bit smug, too.) The hard days are those when I feel that I wasted a perfectly good day.

It’s not like I’ll get a gold star or anything; it’s that feeling of accomplishment, small as it may be.

Yesterday was definitely a lazy-bum-for-no-good-reason sort of day. It’s only been ten days since my knee revision surgery, and of course there is pain and itchiness all around the incision that’s driving me nuts. Depending on the pain level, I can walk with or without cane or walker. I can manage stairs if I am careful, and I try to keep up with my exercises to keep the knee flexible.

But then there are the ‘poor old me’ days when all I want to do is curl up under a blanket, drink lots of cold water and read. My appetite is crap; nothing tastes or looks good; and the poor Crankee Yankee tries so hard to pick up things to tempt me.

I find that for a lot of the time I want to just sleep; which works out great for our five cats. For them I am a person-shaped heating pad, and they cluster all around me, snoring lightly and purring mightily. It’s actually a pretty nice way to spend the day, until that old *nosey parker, Guilt, creeps in along with them.

It whispers, “shouldn’t you being doing something now?” “Don’t you think you’ve slept long enough today?” “There are dirty dishes in the sink, you know!” And so on and on.

Well, after other surgeries in the past that caused me to be sleepy for a long time, I have learned to shut Guilt up. All I have to do now is to say (out loud, of course) “Beat it! This is my lazy day! I’ve EARNED it! Go AWAY!”

Try it yourself, and tell Guilt to take a hike!

*Busy body.