Tag Archives: mid-life moments

the deli

Yesterday we went to lunch at a local deli. When we first moved here over 20 years ago, there were several locations of the local deli, including one downtown where I worked. Over the years the owners have sold first one location, then another, until now there are only two (I think) original delis left.

I was surprised to see that the menu hadn’t really changed at all. You still order by number, and number 5 is probably the perenniel favorite. It’s something like a battered, deep-fried chicken breast served on a bun with bacon, ham, cheese, lettuce, tomato, mayo or mustard. Basically it’s a coronary. Then there’s a super version of it, although I can’t remember what makes it ‘super’, that’s, well, quadruple bypass.

Hubby ordered the usual Reuben. I had a chili taco salad.

This particular location has seen better days as far as its decor is concerned. It’s dark, a bit seedy. The space was probably a shoe store when the shopping center was first built. Remember Thom McAn Shoes? Had those great big display windows on either side of the entrance. My dad bought me a pair of black and white saddle oxfords from good ‘ol Thom, in ’75 I think. I was in the eighth grade. All the cool girls wore b&w saddles. I used to love to look in the shoe store windows.

Well, at the deli the windows on one side are for dining, sort of a raised platform dining experience. The opposite window has a hand-painted board with Tom and Jerry extolling the praises of the soup, salad and sammiches.

It’s been years since I’ve had a taco salad from the deli. When I worked downtown our whole team would troop down the block to the deli, and my best friend and I would always order taco salads. There was interesting elevated platform dining in that restaurant too. We’d always try to get a big table in the upper level so we could be loud and goofy and not disturb the peace. Sometimes there were 10-12 of us piled up there, munching and complaining about management and stupid project requirements and unreachable goals and deadlines designed to be missed. It was kinda fun.

Of the mob of us, only 1 still works for the company and his job is to be the go-between for the system users on one side and the foreign, off-shore contractors (that used to be us) on the other side. Some of us were able to transition into web and internet development, or network administration. The rest of us filled in where we could until we quit or were advised to seek employment elsewhere. A few have moved away, including my friend.

So I sat there, eating my taco salad, the sights and smells of the deli bringing to the forefront of my mind all those people, all those lunches, ups and downs in our careers and our personal lives, Several of us had children the same year; now those babies are college freshmen. There were separations, divorces, remarriages, more babies, life and death itself, all celebrated around the tables at the deli.

The taco salad I had yesterday was just as good as it always was.

The memories were oh so much better.

in the crowd

Wubby is graduated, and lived to tell about it. He almost didn’t because his grandma and mom and dad just about cleaned his clock before we left home Saturday morning. For some reason he just wasn’t in a hurry, even though he was supposed to be at the church auditorium where the ceremony was held AT LEAST 1 HOUR before things started. We left 90 minutes early, to make a 15 minute drive that took almost 30 minutes because of traffic (everyone else going to graduation), arrived to find an almost full parking lot and a line of parents, grandparents, siblings, etc. wrapped around the building. We headed for the crowd as Wubby joined his classmates inside.

As we stood in the crowd waiting for the doors to be opened, I noticed an old acquaintance of mine in the crowd ahead of us. Actually, he and I used to work together. Our sons were born about three months apart. Later in my career I worked FOR him. Then I left and went to work for another company two blocks over. He’s still at the same place; his job went from programming to managing to outsourcing. I guess he’s one of the few, maybe only, people left in the systems area. I wasn’t surprised to see him there. I knew his son was in Wubby’s class; they just didn’t run in the same crowds. But I was really surprised to see how he had aged since I’d seen him last. I like to think I don’t look my age (don’t burst my bubble here, please!), but he and his wife both seem to have aged way past their late-40s / early-50s actual age. I suppose outsourcing your friend’s and co-worker’s jobs could have that effect on you. Thank heavens I don’t know about that.

Once the actual ceremony began the teachers all came filing into the auditorium wearing their black robes and graduate hoods (those that have advanced degrees…) and another face in the crowd caught my eye. Another co-worker, from the same company and systems team, now teaches math at the high school. Again, I knew this. But seeing him, wearing the robe (no hood) on the faculty of the school where my daughter will be starting in August, threw me. He and I, how to say…….well, we worked together. Our families were friendly for a while. The working relationship, the family relationship, both, ended badly in that, hubby and I will not allow our daughter to be in any of his classes. He looked old too, and I’m older that he is.

As each of the 400+ graduates crossed the stage, he or she had an opportunity to “smile for the camera”, as the entire event was being professionally videotaped. Wubby was his somber, serious self. Other students gave various thumbs-up signals, etc. It was entertaining. More so were the various cheers offerred by parents, siblings, friends, etc. of the graduates. Individual applause was not allowed, but shouts of “Hallelujah!” et. al. were present in large numbers. The crowd favorite was a father who shouted “I love you!” as his son crossed the stage, then shouted even louder “Get a job!!!” as his son received his diploma. There were also families with kazoos and rehearsed cheers. The video should be a hoot.

So, for now, wubby is officially allowed to wear his cell phone on his belt if he chooses, go to the bathroom when he wants, without a hall pass, and various other things he couldn’t do in school. The class valedictorian recited an exhaustive list of these little jewels; I stole two of them. In addition, wubby has a job at the church, which means he’s getting paid to do something he would do for free. Except he did call me at home this morning to ask me something and prefaced his question with “I’m not trying to get you to do my job, you just know more about this than I do….” and then asked me to help him do part of his job, sort of.

At least he still asks.

Next week we’re heading to the Grand Canyon for a few days. Then it’s another 10 days and it’s off to teen camp in the mountains. Another three weeks or so and he’s off to college. And before we know it, his sister will be following right behind him.

But I can’t be this old!

Hair

Husband just told me that there’s horse hair in the car. Figured I’d been to the barn and loved on daughter’s horse, thus transferring horse hair to the car. The problem is that I visited the horse yesterday, when he was driving the car that he thinks has horse hair in it from my visit to the barn that occurred when he had the car.

Confused? I was too.

Because it’s not horse hair. It’s my hair.

I drove the car on Tuesday. I got a haircut on Tuesday. My hair was short to begin with and now it’s shorter, but not short enough. I may have to get it trimmed some more this afternoon, so it will stand up on top and be spikey.

And it will start to be its natural color, which is a mystery to me since it hasn’t been its natural color since 1977 or thereabouts.

It’s CG’s fault. Yes, I’ve been too chicken to see what shade of steel grey is naturally growing from my head. I used to pay a professional to color my hair, but haven’t done that in quite some time. I have, however, become rather adept in doing it myself so that it at least appears to be a hair color that does occur in nature, on people. Just not on this people.

To me, grey hair is a badge of honor. Something that you earn from years of being a grown-up and dealing with grown-up issues the way a grown-up is supposed to. My mom has beautiful hair; her sister has beautiful hair. They’ve earned it. My mom earned it from years of working hard to take care of me and my dad, and her parents, and her siblings. She earned it working in corporate America, being a strong woman in a man’s world, telling the truth instead of saying what she knew people wanted to hear. She earned it from living through the illnesses and passing of her parents and my dad, her partner through forty-three years of growing up and grown-up life. She earned it by leaving her hometown and moving here to be with us.

Now she’s entering a new arena, uncharted territory. She’s in love, and it’s an amazing thing. My baby girl hasn’t really fallen for a boy yet, just her horse. But the symptoms are the same. She talks about her love; when she can’t be with her love, she wants to be, and counts the days or hours until she can be with him again. She wants to know everything about him, and each new detail adds another piece to the unfolding map of him. She wants to learn about his interests, and wants to share her interests with him. She wants to try things she’s never tried before, because he enjoys doing them.

The first time I saw my daughter gallop around the ring on her horse I was terrified and elated, all at the same time. Terrified: what if she falls off? What if she loses control of her horse? She could get hurt, very badly. Elated: man does that look like fun! They are both, girl and horse, having an absolute blast doing this. Yes, it looks scary, but look at them together! They aren’t scared; they’re having too much fun to be scared. Little girl lost some confidence with her riding abilities and is now afraid to gallop. I’ve encouraged her to try it again. Her abilities are more than adequate; she just needs to get past her fear.

Now I see my mom, preparing to do her own gallop around the ring. But this time I feel much elation; little fear. She knows enough about the things that should terrify her, and me. And yes, it looks a little scary to both of us. But, oh is she having fun!

It’s a picture of joy.

Back to my “horse” hair.

The question is not about whether or not I can handle the display of my hair’s natural color.

The question is: have I earned the right to wear it?

My little brother Buddy

Last Thursday I babysat my little brother, Buddy. He’s four years old and can be a handful at times. Yeah, I know that people my age don’t have four-year-old brothers, but my mom and dad had already made arrangements to adopt him when my dad passed away. So, two weeks after Daddy died, Buddy came to live with my Mom.

Buddy is very precocious, and too smart for his own good sometimes. He loves going on car trips, so I took him with me to run some errands. He’s actually much easier to care for when he’s in the car than when we’re at my house. He loves my dogs and is constantly wanting to play. Unfortunately, my dogs are getting on in years and just don’t have the patience for Buddy. They’ll play for a few minutes, then my dogs go hide and Buddy settles down and waits for my Mom to come for him.

I don’t babysit Buddy very often, so when I do it’s because my mom is doing something important, or travelling and doesn’t want to take him with her, so he stays with me. Last Thursday Mama really wanted to get her house cleaned up and Buddy tends to get under her feet and wants constant attention when she’s cleaning. And he’s afraid of the vacuum cleaner.

Buddy is a papillon. You know…a dog with big ears and a long silky coat.

I’m babysitting Buddy again this Wednesday while Mama travels to east TN for a day. It’s her turn. Last Thursday, and the Thursday before that one, he drove over here from TN. So, it’s her turn to drive over there. Buddy isn’t sure what’s going on, and seeing my mom pay attention to someone other than him is rather confusing to him.  He gets clingy and whiny, he wants to play, he wants to be in Mama’s lap, he is JEALOUS.

I, on the other hand, know exactly what’s going on, and think it’s, well….interesting, to say the least. Exciting? Certainly, for Mama. Weird? Most definitely.

Mama has met a gentleman friend.

T.G.I.F.!!!!!!!!!

Thank God it’s Friday!

Thank God it’s February!!

Thank God it’s FINISHED!!!

Pick one; they all work for me.

FINISHED: I am officially disabled, according to the Social Security Administration. It took 3+ years, 2 lawyers and 300+ pieces of paper, but my case has finally been decided. I’m not exactly sure what this will mean for the family, but for now it means that I can concentrate on getting better and learning to live well (w/ or w/out fibromyalgia) with less. Less money, less stuff, less stress. Funny thing, the first doctor the SSA sent me to, in May 2005, found that I was severely disabled. Severely. And the claim was denied, twice. That’s not really funny, is it?

FEBRUARY: I hate January. Hate it, hate it, hate it. It’s cold, dark, the after-the-holidays slump time. I haven’t been able to read, or write, or concentrate on much of anything. My birthday is in January and is always a non-event because it comes on the heels of my son’s birthday. From 2004-2007 I at least had a week in Santo Domingo to break up the January slump, but not this year. I did receive quite a few notes from the Dominican ladies this year, all sending get well wishes. As Eyeore says, “Thanks for noticing me.” Anyway, January is gone, thank goodness. Spring is coming.

FRIDAY: Friday is my favorite day of the week. Period.

I’ve been thinking about time, and timing, the past week or two. Since my SSD case has been decided, a 3-year waiting period ended and a 3-month waiting period begins. Those 3 months of waiting for income to be established will seem as long as the 3 years of waiting for a decision. It’s weird how time expands and contracts. When we’re children it seems like Christmas takes forever to come. As adults we turn around and Bam! it’s Christmas again. My son turned 18 last month. He can’t be 18! It’s not possible that it’s been 18 years since he was born, but it is so. Time moves, and we either race to catch up with it, or turn around to try and slow it down before it runs us over.

And timing….well, let me tell you. There was an article in the local paper last week about a 29-year-old who plead quilty to a sexual assault that occurred about 4 years ago. This man was already in prison, convicted of another sexual assault that occurred around the same time. Here’s the thing: this 29-year-old man was a member of our church as a child and early teenager. He has some diminished mental capacity, but attended middle and high school and graduated. When he was 12 or 13, I can’t remember exactly, he made very inappropriate sexual overtures toward me, at church. He was almost grown physically and could possibly have overpowered me. I was able to talk him into leaving me alone. Seeing his name in the paper, convicted of a second sexual assault, made me realize how close I came to being a victim myself.

Then there’s the murder case. I testified as a witness in a murder trial back in 1994. A local woman was kidnapped and murdered, her bank cards stolen and used to track the culprits’ movements until they were apprehended. I was behind the two men who kidnapped her, in a line at an ATM, during the first 24-hour period after her disappearance. I have a knack for being behind people who don’t know how to use an ATM and I remember thinking “Here we go again…” but something was different. These guys were trying to figure out her PIN. One kept trying the card while the other stood a distance away and was looking all around, very suspiciously. They gave up and left, I got my money and ran back to the car where my husband was waiting for me. I told him to leave, quickly, because something bad was happening. It was like I was super-aware of what they were doing and that there was bad karma in the air. I found out why a year later, when the police called me to look at a photo line-up.

Timing. I could have been attacked, if the timing had been just a little different. OR kidnapped, or worse, if the timing had been a little different. The letter from SSA came at the exact moment in time when I needed it most, when I was thinking that I couldn’t stand one more day of not knowing what was going on with my case, or my life.

Things are going to change, again.

And it’s about time.