The Theory of Relativity






Life is a constant learning experience, isn’t it? Here I am tonight, innocently watching Uruguay and Italy play soccer in the FIFA tournament, when what do I see but an extreme example of the theory of relativity. It appears that one of the players, upset about something – and he’s been upset in this way at least three times before – reaches over and bites the person he’s upset with, a member of the opposite team. Does he get reprimanded? Does he get pulled from the game? Does he get a penalty at all? No! While the entire world watched and saw his opponent get bitten – and he flagrantly ran around showing his shoulder to anyone who would look – the referee (is that what they’re called in soccer?) apparently didn’t see a thing and thus could not call him on a penalty. The game continued, and Suarez was even instrumental in his team achieving their game winning goal. Instead of sitting in a penalty box (or at least that’s what they call it in hockey) he was being lauded for his achievements in the game. The bite? That was nothing. Too much fuss made of it, he said later.

Now, I don’t know about you, but here’s what I’ve just learned: If you’re a handsomely paid professional and international player of sports you can bite someone whenever the mood strikes you and put it down to “that’s what happens on the pitch.” (I did learn that word.) You get riled, you take a piece out of someone. With your mouth. It’s natural. We’re men. That’s how we handle the excitement.

If you’re a three-year old child,however – and don’t forget they’re watching all this nonsense right along with us – and you take a bite out of someone – and you do it consistently, as Suarez has – you are quickly labelled with a character flaw, sent to specialists, and perhaps even put on some kind of tranquilizing drug because of course, as we all know, biting is antisocial and very aggressive behavior. Unless you’re a professional athlete. Then, you’
re simply excited.

This is making me very sorry for the state of professional sports (as
if I wasn’t already), and very upset about how this all went down. Excuse me a moment. I need to bite something.

And so it starts…

It seems like such a trite thing to be writing about these days given the incidences of Alzheimer’s in our aging parents but I join the fray as many of my friends also deal with this tragedy. Thankfully, I have a big family that is caring and committed and involved with each other’s lives, and an amazing brother and sister-in-law who take the brunt of mom’s care in hand. Still, it is something we all have to deal with, no matter the distance on a daily basis. Mom has now been diagnosed as entering the middle stretch in the decline of Alzheimer’s. This woman who used to coordinate a floor full of engineers, who handled all of our family’s financial dealings, who managed to save enough to buy a home late in life despite having so little to put aside each month as we were growing up, who worked in an accounting office after retirement to keep her mind busy – is now unable to remember the name, actors, or story line of a movie she saw just five minutes ago, who can barely remember her children when they call, and who has lost the memory of all of her wonderful grandchildren. It might be the saddest thing any of us has to face. Lucky you who have parents whose bodies age but whose minds stay alert. Even as they wither in their arms and legs, you can talk about the new president or laugh about a book you both read. For those who face this horrible specter of aging, it has cleared any pathway to a gentle demise. We can’t sit around and share stories of “remember when.” In fact, “remember when” tends to create frustration in trying to do just that. Our lives have lost that link to the past, the one that our parents were proud – even eager – to share whenever they could. I wish I had listened more.

The Missing Ingredient

There are so many sad moments that are realized as my mother sinks deeper into the progression of Alzheimers – lost words, lost thoughts, forgetting the sound of my voice, being unable to share books and movies anymore – but this last one blindsided me. My mother shares my affinity for the beach, has always loved walking through the waves at the shore and sitting out for hours reading under the hot sun. So when my husband and I searched for our getaway a couple of years ago, it was with the beach chairanticipated joy of being able to bring her there and share those moments with her, to give a little back of the many times she brought joy to my life growing up. I didn’t know that by the time we had it set up, she’d be unable to fly on her own any more, and in fact is quite unnerved by the very thought of taking a trip on her own. Going to get her and take her back would require a hefty cost of both time and money, so for those bleeding hearts out there with that thought in their minds, it’s been considered and still sits as a last chance option. She must get here before she forgets who I am, of that I am sure. What I’m not sure of is whether or not she will remember that she loved the beach.

Sick… and Tired

Home sick today and feeling tired of the daily grind. Nothing new for most of us. Still, it made me remember a conversation we had on Sunday, when we took my husband’s elderly aunt to lunch for Mother’s Day. 94 years old, she’s almost deaf and almost blind although her mind is still sharp as a tack. Recently, she’s begun to wonder when she’ll die and has even mentioned that she’d prefer to not see another Christmas. She says she’s bored with life, especially since she can’t enjoy the things she used to – gardening, reading, enjoying the scenery where she lives in utopica Connecticut. My own mother is sharing similar concerns and I wonder if this is all we can expect. Is it really illness that ultimately causes our decline or is it a simple unwillingness to keep charging through the physical ailments? For me, I know that tomorrow I’ll wake with a renewed sense of wellness and enthusiasm for life, but when does it all begin to stop mattering? I’m on the road to 60 and I’m hoping that road goes for at least another 25 years!

Thursday Night in Fairfield County

charles-steinheimer-women-aviation-workers-under-hair-dryers-in-beauty-salon-north-american-aviations-woodworth-plant Is there anything better than getting your hair done? Last Thursday I sat in a noted hair salon in Fairfield County and looked around. A sea of heads sat at a  row of  sinks in various stages of color and cuts. Blonde heads beside brunette, with a newly lavender head thrown in. Chatter filled the salon as hairstylists  and colorists  chatted with their clients. Everyone was in a good mood. Everyone. Maybe they’d had horrendous weeks. Maybe their boyfriend had cheated on them, or their test  results had come back positive. Perhaps their sons were failing high school, or their daughters were pregnant.

But here, in this den of optimism, lives were stalled for  an hour or two as hope made them temporarily (or lastingly?) beautiful. Thin hair had bounce. Grey  hair had color. Curls showed up where straight had been king.  Whatever the hope, whatever the wish, it was granted for a brief period of time. And for a time,  we all believed that it would last. God, I love having my hair done.

Where To Draw the Line

When I started this blog, I wanted it to be humorous and fun but it seems to be turning into a place where “who I am” is becoming clearer and clearer. The recent Boy Scouts tag sale is a great example. The sale itself was awesome. By the day, the site became loaded with items brought in for sale and on sale day, the signs were up, the cars filled the roads nearby, and by all accounts it was a success. The Boy Scouts are clearly a focus in this town, a place the community backs wholeheartedly. But should they?

The Boy Scouts have come under fire lately for their entrenched position against openly gay Scout leaders. Their rationale is that the young men under their leadership will become “prey,” that they won’t receive the well-rounded experience they would under a straight leader. I know that many agree with this, and it has been the cause for many heated conversations lately. To my mind, a perv is a perv. They’re in our classrooms, coaching on our playing fields, walking down the street, and yes, saying mass on Sundays. Being gay is not a prerequisite for perversion. In fact, many of the worst in our communities are not gay at all. More importantly, if we’re going to restrict gay men from being Scout leaders, then why are they not restricted from being teachers, coaches, fitness instructors, after-school leaders and… well, the list goes on.

The bottom line for me is that if you as an organization or company dictate the “kind” of people who will work for you, then it better be because your “kind” means hard-working, loyal, responsible, reliable, creative, or dependable. If not, then you’re not my “kind” of company/organization.

What Am I Looking For – Transformation or Transfiguration?

customer-service-700x466I don’t even know how to start today’s blog. I’m frustrated and angry and actually at an impasse and it’s all due to Expedia. After years of purchasing trips easily and efficiently, they seem to have undergone some kind of backwards transformation, in other words, not the good kind. In the past week, my wonderful husband and I have spent numerous hours – yes, hours – on the phone being transferred from person to person, being asked to hold for 20 minutes for a supervisor, being hung up on, being told they don’t have our information any more, rebooking over and over again, and then finding that the trip we thought we had booked was verified by the airline as not ever having been ticketed. If we hadn’t called them directly, we would have found that our flight wasn’t booked, and in fact, was going to go up the next day. Ah hah. Hence the delay. Keep the customer waiting and waiting until the prices go up, and all of a sudden you have $200 extra, just the amount you need to cover the travel insurance they purchased and for which you have to pay after they rebooked. Now, I don’t know about you, but when I reach out to a company, I want to feel welcomed, I want my name to be known, my worries assuaged, my t’s crossed and my head happy. Like the young man who met me only once at a meeting and then when he saw me at an event, immediately greeted me by my name. I was, for a moment, transfigured. I knew what customer service was supposed to be and it lived in that young man of only 16. Now why can’t a company that is older than 16 and rolling in both experience and dollars not make every customer feel as if they are being treated as well? And then they wonder why Amazon and Zappos are growing by leaps and bounds. Welcome to transformation, gentlemen. It’s called customer service

Unplanned Obsolescence

A relative of mine, at that critical mid-point in her life, was laid off from a very good job. Good pay, good benefits, good resources for living. Like many others of that age, she was dumbfounded and has struggled to find her way since then. This is what happens to those of us lucky enough to get older. We find ourselves in the position of being paid too much, perhaps, or not being quite as well on top of the latest technology as they expect us to, or maybe we’re just not as flexible and willing to put up with things as we did when we were younger. For whatever reason, we face what I like to call Unplanned Obsolescence. We still have the skills, but someone has deemed them not worthy of today’s workplace. We have the smarts to interact with people in an intelligent manner and form relationships that are meaningful and viable for our workplaces, but we’re not doing that via Facebook or Twitter or Linked In, we’re doing it by phone, in person, and if pushed, email. The value has gone from our lives because the value we bring to the workplace isn’t perceived as it used to be. We know this. We saw it happen to our parents, and they saw it before them. This is the sucky part of being on the road to 60. We look back and feel proud. We look ahead and feel… what? I’d like to say the clock ticking, but even a clock has suffered from obsolescence. We still wear them on our wrists but now they’re a phone. And we all want one.

Walking with someone other than myself

Everyone knows I’m not the greatest walker. I prefer to have a destination, a goal in mind. Point me towards a store and I’m on it. Tell me to simply walk for 20 minutes and I’m less than eager. Still, I find that once I start walking the air gets to me, the sights and sounds start to mingle into my psyche, and lo and behold, it becomes a lovely outing. When I’m by myself. When I’m with someone, especially the husband, something happens. We start to have discussions about which road to take rather than my usual “let’s turn here and see what’s around the corner.” We watch out for holes in the road, people being bothered by our presence, cars going by. On my own, I rarely notice these things. Which is why the bottoms of my pants are usually drenched in water from the damp ground – I’m like a kid who has to be told to go around puddles! – and I will stare long and hard at something before I realize someone is watching me watch them. Why not? That roof with the green shutters and pink trim is supposed to be stared at, is it not? If I’m watching for puddles I’m missing the best climbing tree I ever saw sitting in someone’s front yard. So I’ve decided that if I’m going to walk with someone, it will be in addition to my own walks. These walks will have a purpose. Mine will have none. The road less travelled has always been more enticing.