Expect laughter! Expect learning! Expect lasting ideas!

/Bobbe White/4/14/18/

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“I don’t have enough time to write.” That’s me whining, So are there hidden time slots anywhere within my day?

 Options:

  1. Rise earlier. No thanks. I turn into a cranky toddler by 7:30pm.
  2. Retire later. Equally bad idea. Lily White, the black Lab rooster, wakes us at 6:00a.m. Sharp. She naps all day. We don’t.
  3. Utilize lunch hour. Hmmmmmmm…

 Scientific testing:

  1. Took laptop along to work this week. It’s an old MacBook from Korey. I’m grateful and love it, but it’s heavy to schlep in my bag and the battery is weak.
  2. Brown-bag lunch in car with Mac.
  3. Write: one hour. Go!

 Results:

Monday: Pushed front seat back; Mac still hits steering wheel. A few co-workers pass by in the parking lot, but it’s not that unusual. Others read in their cars.

 Tuesday: Pushed seat forward. Moved to the back seat. Better. Co-worker inquires later, “Why were you sitting in the back of your car?” She doesn’t really get it. I get it. It’s weird.

Wednesday: Back seat – day two. Sun heats car. Drive around block in search of shade. Alas, trees are still bare. Back to the lot. Great: sun glare. Trap black tissue paper (I happen to have) in the window. Note: buy baby screen. Then MacBook battery goes kaput. Sigh.

Thursday: Warm day again. Relocate to gazebo (with electrical outlets!) near parking lot. Pre-school class finger paints on gazebo floor. Only two inquire what I’m doing. “Working,” I say. We easily co-exist here.

Friday: I WANT TO WALK, NOT WRITE, THIS LUNCH HOUR! Urge is strong. I beat it back, because I promised myself a test week, and “I’m Not Throwing Away My Shot!” (Lin Manuel Miranda, Hamilton) Head to gazebo. Weather turns blustery. I end the week where I started…in my car.

TEST RESULTS: I did it! I found five, count ‘em, FIVE, extra writing hours this week. Yes, I want more, but for now, I can thrive on five. Well, technically, five-ish, give or take an ish. There’s eating time. Tick. Text message check time. Tock. And a couple of rabbit holes I may’ve found while checking emails. Tick. Time is so precious, no? I realize there are tick tock leaks everywhere. But time was there all along. It requires discipline to harness some of it.

I realize it can’t happen every week, but whenever I feel out of time, it’s obvious there’s a bit of time to carve out of most days. How about you? Where do your tick tocks leak? Look closely…extra time might just be there to read, write, nap, fold clothes, knit or wrap gifts. It was in your back seat the whole time! bw

 

 

 

 

 

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/Bobbe White 4/5/18/

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Most of my writing referenced Dad, be it customer service, strength or humor. It was safe to say that Mom lived in his shadow, but was no shrinking violet. I looked up shrinking violet: it means shy or timid. This was not my mother. Call her, “Quiet Steel.” Man, she was/is a strong woman! Most acquaintances did not experience this quality about her. Here are examples.

 

CRYING: I’ve seen Mom cry, oh, maybe three times in my life. If she’s 93, this averages once every 31 years. Not often. It doesn’t mean she was unfeeling and certainly, it wasn’t that she didn’t feel sad at times. She just expressed it without tears. She was a soldier when all else crumbled around her.

 

WARM & FUZZY: Not. My sister, Cathy, and I regret we didn’t get many hugs, kisses or “I love yous,” from her. This was just Mom. It is one thing, however, Cathy and I have vowed to do differently with our own children and grands.

 

DRILL SERGEANT: If swim practice was scheduled, my fanny was in the pool, on time, every time. She slid on ice into a ditch once, on the way to practice; we eventually made it. Piano lessons? We were there. Dance class: in our tutus, on time.

 

DISCIPLINARIAN: Whenever we went out to dinner, if we even hinted at misbehaving, Mom pinched my thigh. YOWSER! I’ll be good. I’ll be good. She didn’t tolerate back talk or eye rolling. Cathy tested this more than me; I remained very afraid. At age four, I shoplifted (one and only time) at Illinois School Supply. I was so excited about my colored pencils I showed everyone in the car. She made my sister march me right back in the store and confess. Geez.

 

HEBREW SCHOOL: Every Thursday. Get over it girls and learn something.

 

ORGANIZATION: Mom planned and executed. She made a list for everything. Even into which dish the broccoli should go. We never – I mean NEVER – went anywhere, when she didn’t say, “Do you have your raincoat?” Even during a ten-year drought, we’d have our vinyl raincoats or ponchos rolled up tight and stashed. Just in case. (See photo of Bobbe in her raincoat, age 2. Yes, even then.)

 

THE SOFTER SIDE OF SHIRLEE: In 1970, some unusual events inspired Mom to write the booklet: “Love Is…” It is profound. She never promoted it, obviously, when I unearthed a shoebox full of them in their house. I also found a treasure she wrote and here it is. It’s rather deep and I had no idea Mom’s brain was so prophetic. It almost makes sense it was written in the 70’s, except I know mom didn’t smoke pot! (I’m sorry, Mom, I realize I could get my thigh pinched for that one!) Interpret it to your own needs…

 

WALK WITH ME

Shirlee Schecter

April 4, 1971

 

Walk with me in the sun or in the dark – the sun melts your tension and the dark holds you close to let you think. To walk alone is to free yourself from the bite and snap of the scene about you- to feel the wind, whether it’s warm or cold, is like a shower in the morning that wakes you and makes you tingle and get alive again to face what will still be there or what is yet to come-

 

The walk alone is needed; but to walk with another is better. To talk is to walk with the mind as well as the body. It can be brisk and pointed, sharp and stimulating; or it can be quiet and meaningful and an easing of doubts and soothing to a tired soul. One can be alone and walk, but then you walk with your God; and in thinking, you talk with your God and you are not alone.

 

To walk with another is to be aware of sharing, but even then, two alone cannot live on an island and survive for long; neither can just two walk together. Each one must reach out to many whose lives touch and whose paths meet, some in love and some not.

 

A family shares and family loves; and where there is strain within that unit, you find an ingredient so vital that it pursues your whole direction. One cannot turn off the emotional self- you are surrounded by it and cannot walk away from it – it can surround you like barbed wire and there is no escape, then you walk in a circle; but in walking, you are doing, and to live and survive you must do something. Then you are making the motions of being alive and find there is always a way out of the circle that seems to close in like a whirlpool in the water, first pulling you down, then releasing you once more to tread the water up and thereby walk again to life –

 

Walk with me and share life with all those who touch my life –together. –Shirlee Schecter, 4/7/71

 

 

GROCERY

Nurse White shops for Korey’s recovery. (Note: side pocket wine is for the nurse.)

 

Last week, Korey, needed a nurse for post- dental surgery in Washington D.C. Mom to the rescue! Does having four wisdom teeth pulled in eighteen minutes count as surgery? I don’t know, because:

  1. I never got wisdom teeth. (Hold the jokes.)
  2. If the dentist looks 12½ years old is it called, “Surgery or science class?”

In either case, me helping her was laughable. Neither of us likes blood. In seventh grade, Korey missed school the day after getting her ears pierced, because a blood droplet was on her earlobe. Me? I could never look at Nick’s, appendectomy incision. Not even once.

Preparation

During the morning, I made multiple trips to the grocery and CVS. Here’s the shopping list:

  • Hefty bags: gallon and quart
  • Dish soap
  • Charmin
  • Bounty paper towels
  • Glade
  • Hot pad

These were supplies for teeth extraction? Anyone who visits a child, sibling or parent shops like this for the host. I met friends along the way: Deli Shop Sammy and Young in the grocery. I purchased obligatory ice cream, pudding, Jell-O and Sprite too.

 

Appointment

I’m unsure which of us was more nervous. Friday @ 1:30p.m. Korey arrived from work. I walked from her apartment. I’d have been on time, except D.C., like many cities, has 2311 M Street, Northwest, Southwest and East-by-Northwest. Of our founding fathers’ brilliant ideas, street naming wasn’t one of them. My walk was supposedly .6 mile. Google said 6.7 miles! Guess who was going to be late and lost? Korey answered my S.O.S. and I recalculated.

 

Recovery

Korey was a good patient (ice, rest, fluids, “This Is Us”) and Saturday night we went out for pasta!

 

Normalcy

As scheduled, Korey conducted a 2-hour webinar Sunday, for associates. We silenced the T.V., phones and apparently everything but Bobbe. As the webinar commenced my throat tickled, forcing me to stifle coughing with a pillow. It wouldn’t stop. I considered available remedies, such as honey, Jack Daniels or peanut butter. Desperation. I landed on almond butter. It tasted weird, but worked.

 

I read for a while, then decided to nap on the couch, falling asleep fast. Before long, Korey was wiggling my big toe, “Shhhhhhh. They can hear you snoring!” I couldn’t do ANYTHING quiet. I got up and read again. Jeff texted us, “What’s for dinner?” I replied and Korey informed me that our family-wide text was crawling across the webinar screen. Jeesh.

 

Korey was beyond frustrated. We tried. We really tried, but Murphy’s Law of Silence ruled: the quieter you try to be, the noisier you will become. What can I say? This nurse was a helpful, but noisy one. And, yes Virginia, there IS a tooth fairy. Even at age 29.

irv profileIt’s been quite a week around here, since Dad died February 22nd. In honor of the fact that he died on George Washington’s birthday, a profile picture which I thought looked a bit presidential is  featured. Also, before we go any further, I apologize that this post at least twice as long (or more) than I prefer and probably you prefer. If it’s TLTR (too long to read), just do what you can. No rules here.

Let’s just say, “Alzheimer’s Disease – or any form of dementia- is one ugly beast”. I hate it and what it did to Dad and so many others. I hate that many of you are currently in its grip with your own loved ones. But hate is an ugly word, so let’s focus on some good stuff, shall we?

What I learned: that even in the darkest hours, humor can bubble up through the tears.

And yes, there were some bubbles of humor during his last week. First, Dad’s very mean roommate, bless his gnarly heart, caught me at a bad moment. Really bad:

Him (growling): “Is it time for me to go into dinner yet?”

Me: “I don’t know.” (Queue major snotty attitude, like a bitchy 13-year-old in puberty.)

Him: “Why don’t you know?” (Dripping with sarcasm.)

Me: “BECAUSE I DON’T WORK HERE!!!!!!!” (Note: all bold caps and multiple punctuation marks.)

Him: “That’s the problem. Nobody works around here.”

All staff in earshot: (laughter).

Boy, did that feel good. Don’t cross me, Buddy. I bite back. Hard. Fortunately, there was a private room open and Dad was moved into it for privacy.

Funeral arrangements: I had many questions:

“Do we put britches on him?”

Funeral director: “It’s a good idea, in case the body would have to be exhumed for an investigation, DNA match, and etc. (Uh-oh…they’ve Googled Dad’s cousin, Mickey Cohen!)

“Underpants?”

Funeral director: “Yes.”

“Socks? Shoes?”

Funeral director: “Socks, yes, shoes are optional, usually not.”

“But Dad was a shoe man. He MUST wear shoes.”

Funeral director: “That’s fine.”

We started coordinating the outfit. I’d ordered (Thank goodness for Amazon) an Ohio State golf shirt, representing two of Dad’s favorite things: Buckeyes and golf. Jeff contributed an undershirt (Dad ALWAYS wore one under his golf shirt), slacks, socks, belt and Topsiders.

I delivered the outfit to the funeral home. Then it hit me out loud, “WAIT! How is Jeff’s 10½ shoe going on Dad’s size 12 foot?

Funeral director: “It won’t.”

“Will you just cut out the heel?”

Funeral director: “Probably. “It’ll be like he’s wearing CROCS.”

Me: “I don’t think so. I’ll be back.”

There was one obvious solution and the universe delivered. Dick’s Sporting Goods golf shoes were on clearance: Walter Hagen’s, $29.99. YES! Anybody who knows me knows I love a good theme: golf it was. It was my secret, because few shared my humor, except for Dad. I’d explain at dinner, after the burial. It was out with the Topsiders, in with the cleats.

We held a private graveside service with military rites. Dad probably would’ve wanted a parade and fireworks, but it was going to cause much anguish among some family members and wasn’t worth it. Let me just say, “Every veteran deserves military honors.” The meticulous flag folding, presentation, twenty-one gun salute and Taps were so touching and deserved. (In my opinion, he deserved a 42-gun salute for his P.O.W. deal, but Dad hated rifles anyway, so never mind.)

Traditions: If you’re unfamiliar with Jewish burials, you need to know the casket is lowered during the service. Unlike other religions, the mourners leave and the crew finishes later. After lowering, the funeral director, Jeff, pulled a strap out from one end. A vault company employee, we’ll call, “Harvey,” tugged and tugged, but Harvey couldn’t release his strap. It was stuck under the casket corner. As a last ditch effort, HE JUMPS IN THE HOLE! Yes, he did. I looked at my Jeff wide-eyed, then at our son, Nick. You could hear Harvey’s boots land on top of Dad’s new roof. The grave was deep enough, that Harvey disappeared from sight. He climbed out with the strap, as if from a swim pool. I mean, how else would get out, right? Each corner of the metal frame, which held the casket, had a plastic cap on the four corner domes, to protect from scratching the casket, if contact was made. One of the four caps fell into the hole. We heard Harvey groan, as if to say, “Noooooo, not again!” Yep, HE JUMPS BACK INTO THE HOLE!  I look at Jeff again wide-eyed; this time smiling, then at Nick who is wide-eyed and nearly smiling.  My girls are snickering/crying/stifling soooooo hard, they can’t contain themselves. They were audible. The officiant looked at them, smiling nervously, as if they were out of order, which they both were and weren’t. It WAS comical, you have to admit. I wasn’t much better, holding my program underneath my eyes to cover my full smile. I was crying (not from grief); the substitute rabbi and funeral director wouldn’t know which kind of tears were falling. All I could think about was Dr. Seuss’s “Hop On Pop!”

The bottom line was (sorry, bad pun…) Dad would’ve absolutely LOVED this series of events so very much. He would’ve been crying from laughing (i.e. “Craughing”) if he’d been on the outside looking on. In fact, he’d probably said out loud ,”OH MY GARSH!”

Sidebar: In support of the vault company and the funeral director, Jeff Spear, for whom I cannot say enough good things, they were probably sweating bullets. We decided this might happen a lot more than we know, as most of the time, the mourners are not present. Leave it to the Schecter’s to have Murphy’s Law of Laughter*. It truly was the best and most fitting end to a sad situation.  

A serendipitous moment occurred when I attended POUND class on Monday morning, after the funeral. Two of the songs were: “Raise Your Glass,” by Pink, and “Thanks for the Memories,” by Fallout Boy. Coincidence? I think not. Those two songs are now part of my play list, because we did, (raise our glasses) and we are (thankful for the memories.)

One last thought: I thought for sure I’d be finished with my book on aging parents, before any of our parents died, but whenever we put an assumption out there, the universe proves us wrong, right?  This is such unusual, therapeutic material, for possibly the final chapter, and for which I’m most thankful. I think it was meant to be Dad’s final gift to us: laughter. I’ll take it. RIP Irvie. 1924-2018.

The end. Yes, that it was. Quite the ending.  bw

*Murphy’s Law of Laughter: “At times when you shouldn’t be giggling, the oddest thing will set you off in uncontrollable laughter.

 

 

Valentine’s Day: Complete your own silly s

Thankfully, candy carries more weight than flowers for a bunch of us. Gone are the days when flowers elevated your office status. The truth is, the majority of us do not receive bouquets. That being said, we will receive our share of deliveries today at work. None of them will be for me. But that’s okay, because this year -like every year- I buy my own. Yes, I do. Around the year 2001, I decided it was time to start completing my own silly self. One rose. One sprig of greens. One bow. One vase. One card. One message, “and you thought I forgot!”

Gone is the envy and the angst of no bouquet for Bobbe. Jeff just doesn’t do flowers. He can cook. He can clean. But he doesn’t do flowers. Don’t ask me why. I got them once, in 1977. And then I got the bill! Holy baldy! That seemed frivolous. Now we exchange cards. Well… one of us did. That’s okay too, because I’m completing my own silly self now and today that includes a valentine bag and cards to distribute around optional participants at the office. Nothing says, “Throwback Holiday”, like making your own cards, buying candy, keeping Jeff out if said candy and finally preparing the bag. Honestly, I don’t remember V.Day preparation being so much work when I was in third grade. While I watched the wild run of Shaun White, I finished my bag. He’s a wild dude on the half-pipe and I hope we are related somewhere, because he is the reason behind my theme this year. Obviously, in my world candy outweighs flowers. And nobody will be happier with my haul than Jeff. (Sure hope there’s chocolate.) okay, gotta hop so I can pick up my rose before work. And you thought I forgot! Bw

 

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Why I Gave Him the Finger

give the fingerTo those I’ve interrupted, “Guilty as charged”.

 

It’s recommended that we find our “third place” to write, do taxes, work, read, pay bills, think, study, sketch, paint, workout or meditate. I tried a Third Place on Sunday.

 

What and where is your third place?

 

It’s not home, or work.

 

It is a neutral, mostly distraction-free zone. Think: coffee shops, parks, libraries, gyms and beaches.

 

Third place-why? First and second places tempt us with many diversions, such as:

 

-Laundry

An instant burning desire to wash, dry, and fold every last article, which includes ironing Jeff’s Jockey’s or sockies.

 

-People

Without hesitation, you’re outside the house or down the office hall chatting with neighbors and co-workers, whom you’ve ignored for years.

 

-Eating: Before starting, you need a little snack, which turns into a full out pantry and floor sweep for crumbs, expired spices and old food in the fridge. Sure, the kitchen sparkles after this effort, but you haven’t done one intended thing yet.

 

-Revamping space

Home closets, credenza drawers or under your work desk are favorite diversionist destinations. A simple pen search evolves into sorting envelopes, medications and paperclips. There’s something safe about diving deep into closets, drawers and other dark spaces.

 

Why are these activities appealing distractions? Google it. I’ve decided to term it: “Ostriching”.

 

Ostrich defined:

A flightless swift running and the largest living African bird with long neck, long legs and two toes per foot.

 

Myth: ostriches bury their heads in sand to avoid predators.

 

Fact: they would die from asphyxiation.

 

Fact: When nesting, they dig shallow holes to bury their eggs. From afar, ostriches appear to be burying their small heads, when they’re simply tending their eggs.

 

 

Human ostriches (i.e. procrastinators):

People who refuse to face reality or accept facts, such as finite time. While ostriches are actually engaging in functional activity in their nests, humans, on the other hand, creatively try to avoid the intended task by burying their heads into places like closets, washers and refrigerators.

 

Our third place isolates us from distractions and enables us to stay on task.

Starbucks was my third place Sunday morning. I sat in the corner with my ear buds inserted and thought, “I don’t know anyone here!” Which was shocking. Then, a man, whom I scarcely knew, approached me while chatting, but I couldn’t hear him, of course.

 

I decided I had to give him the finger or he’d stay all morning. Mom always gave me the finger too. The “Wait-one-second-I’m-in-the-middle-of-something-on-which-the-survival-of-the-human-species-depends” finger. To further indicate my intention to stay on task, my eyes remained on my paper; ear buds stayed inserted. I felt (a little) bad being rude, but these types of people are easily encouraged and hard to disband.

 

What I learned

  1. If you want your time uninterrupted, you must be willing to protect it.
  2. When I happen upon someone who’s obviously busy, I will resist the urge to engage him or her in mindless chatter. Unless my pants are on fire. bw

For most of my life, January was the draggy, first month of the year. That was all. Then in early1988, January became the month that forever made me a better Bobbe. I found out I was pregnant. (Forgive me, in the olden days, we didn’t say, “We got pregnant.” It still confuses my brain.)

 

Shock was the word. A baby! A baby? I mean after eleven years of marriage, it seemed unlikely to everyone. Our families, while elated, but shocked. My boss did the jaw drop. Nobody else was privy to our early news. We’re funny like that.

 

Jeff, the forward thinker, and I talked endlessly about how a pregnancy would change plans. The most immediate battle was, “You probably should save your two weeks of vacation in February for your maternity leave.” WHAT? We’re going to mess with my vacation now? This did not set well, as I had not yet learned the lesson of sacrifice for what’s truly important. I felt selfish and defiant, but I lived for a winter vacation! I can hear what you’re thinking. “Pathetic.” I reluctantly agreed,

 

Our quietness proved wise, when three weeks, later on a cold, grey January day, the ultrasound tech said: “I shouldn’t be the one to tell you, but there just isn’t any activity. I’m so sorry” I’ll always remember her kindness, because my OB/GYN lacked it. I can still recall his approach. “Twenty-five percent of all women miscarry, but 90% of them go on to have as many children as the want.” Good information, but not for somebody like me, who for the first time, needed someone more therapeutic than statistical.

 

I realized doctors are more suitable for some patients than others. It never mattered before, but now it did. I changed docs.

 

I went to Mom and Dad’s to miscarry, seeing as Jeff was out of town. Mom slept in the other twin bed. As we lay awake, she told me she was having empathetic labor, right along with me. She was no stranger to the process. My in-laws sent a touching card that read: “After the rain showers, the rainbows appear.” I have held onto that thought and that card for thirty years.

 

Various “deals” were made with God and myself, namely, “If I have the chance again, I won’t blabber about ruined vacation time. How immature! I won’t complain about any of it!”

 

Fast forward, our daughter, Korey, was born January 31, 1989. Her arrival redefined the month for me forever. January now holds great promise and large lessons. As a result, I believe I never took my children for granted. Ever. At least, I don’t think I did. I occasionally stomached gobs of guilt, when I missed certain milestones, but guilt is the gift that keeps on giving and regardless of whether it’s about children, or a partner or a pet, guilt helps us to instantly redefine misdirected priorities.

Our hardest lessons give us the most needed gifts. What life-changing event reshaped your attitude? Care to share? Bw.