Saturday, September 20, 2014

The “Mane” Thing About Getting Older

Earlier this month I turned fifty-five. Yes, I know, it’s amazingly hard to believe, considering I’ve been lying about my age for years. According to the Jane’s Domain calendar, this year I should have turned, oh, let's say, "forty-two."

But sadly, we can no longer fib about our age and get away with it. Former classmates with whom we went to grade school and who are now Facebook friends will out us in a second.

But I’m not really serious when I say I lie about my age. If someone has a “need to know” I will come clean with the correct decade of my birth.  But if someone guesses that I’m younger than I really am all bets are off. My standard response is, “Why, yes, that's exactly my age. How ever did you guess?!”

And then I change the subject.

But I’m seriously trying to come to grips with the fact that I’m no longer young. I understand that I have more years behind me than I do ahead of me. And it no longer startles me when a store clerk or server calls me, “ma’am.”

Things that looked okay on me in my 20s would look just plain silly on me now. I may have (barely) gotten away with the hot pink pants I wore back then, but now? Please.

And as for that dramatic cat eyeliner that made my baby blues pop when I was young? Nowadays – even if I could see in the mirror well enough to apply it correctly – it’d start melting into the wrinkles at the corners of my eyes before I left the house. This is partly due to the wrinkles themselves, but has more to do with the dreaded hot flashes that have started plaguing me lately.
When I neared my 40th birthday, I remember my mother telling me the “rule” that required that women over 40 had to wear their hair short. I believe she was quoting the “Official Old Lady Handbook” but she has never given me a copy, so I can’t be certain.  And for fifteen years I’ve been happily ignoring that rule. But lately I’ve been wondering if I don’t look a little silly with my long blonde hair.

So for the past month or so, I had been mulling over the idea of cutting my hair. Nothing as drastic as a pixie cut or anything, but just something a little lighter that requires less time to manage. And it would be, as my mother would say, more “age appropriate.”

So I looked up some hairstyles online that I thought I could live with. I copied and pasted them into a file that I could show Alissa, my Hairstylist Extraordinaire.

And yesterday? Well, we did it.  Okay, so Alissa did it. I pretty much just sat there. When all was said and done, I believe she cut off about 19” of hair. No, not really. It seemed like it, but 3-4” was probably closer to reality. Alissa then expertly wielded the hair dryer and flatiron and – voila! – I had a fantastic new hairstyle.

That was yesterday. 

Today? Well, today, I’m dealing with shorter hair that I can’t seem to style to save my life. Currently, I have it pulled back. So, clearly, there is a learning curve here.

So I think I’m glad I made the decision. Vince was complimentary, but he’s a smart guy. He knows I can’t glue the hair back on and it will take a while to grow out if I don’t like it. 

So I’ll have to work with my new style and I’m sure I’ll get it figured out. Yeah. Probably around  the time I decide the heck with the “Official Old Lady Handbook” and decide to grow it long again. Maybe I’ll even try to find a pair of hot pink pants and experiment with that cat eyeliner look again.

Not really. While I’m not ready to completely concede to Father Time, I’m also not willing to make a complete fool out of myself.

After all, forty-two-years-olds do develop some level of maturity. 

Heh, heh. ("Why, yes, that's exactly my age...")

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Go Speed Racer, Go! On Second Thought...

Someone in our household got a speeding ticket yesterday. I won’t mention any names…but it wasn’t me. Since there are only two of us living here, and the cats don’t have valid driver’s licenses, I imagine you can guess the culprit.

Ever since I traded in my white car for a red one, and bright red vehicles are magnets for those eagle-eyed laser gun handlers, I’ve been behaving myself on the roadways. Or trying to, anyway.

But my better half? Yeah, not so much.

So the unlucky ticket holder handed me the citation and asked me to pay it for him. It seems as if he doesn’t want to be reminded of his wrongdoing.

So in an effort to be helpful, I logged on to the city website to find out how much the fine was going to set us back, but I learned he cannot pay it online. He has to either pay the fine in person or mail a check – and I think I’m going to make him write it out.

Just because the guy in the Porsche was antagonizing him and playing tag on the freeway does not mean that he had to participate in the “boys will be boys” testosterone test. After all, he’s the one who got caught – not the guy in the Porsche.

But while I was on the website, I started perusing fines associated with various citations.

For instance, in the city of Dublin, Ohio, a person can get fined eighty-nine bucks for hitchhiking and the same amount for jaywalking. Wonder if they double the fine if a person is jaywalking while hitchhiking?

Some of the fines are pretty straightforward and clear. Like, we all know you aren’t supposed to speed in a school zone and there is a hefty fine if you get caught doing it.

But I didn’t realize people could get fined for driving too slowly. That’s a concept that I can’t really wrap my mind around. Driving in a 25 MPH zone feels unnatural to me. My car doesn’t like going that slowly and despite my efforts to keep it in check, it speeds up. All by itself. Honest! So it makes me wonder how many tickets could possibly be written for driving under the speed limit?  

There is a fine of $109 for having the beam of one’s headlights off kilter. Yikes. The one time I tried to replace the headlight on my car, I messed with the wrong screw and the headlight pretty much illuminated the sky instead of the road ahead. I tried fixing it, but only made things worse. So, after shaking my head and rolling my eyes at my pitiful mechanical skills, I took the car to an expert who fixed it with a few turns of a screwdriver. Probably he was snickering all the while.  But now I’m thinking it was a good thing it was daytime and I didn’t need to turn on the headlights on the way to the mechanic. Having to pay a $109 fine in addition to the cost of the headlight itself as well as the cost of the fix, well, that would’ve just added insult to injury.

If you’re as old as I am, you can remember when the 60s version of the modern-day mini-van was piling all the kids into the bed of a pickup truck. There were no seatbelts. But then, there were no seatbelt laws either. Apparently those in the back of the truck just knew they had to hold on. Today, there is a $99 fine if you have a passenger in the bed of a pick-up. Probably the cop would tack on the $51 fine for said passenger not wearing a seat belt, too.

So it was interesting reading about all the fines that Dublin, Ohio, can impose upon the lawbreakers amongst us.

Fortunately, I’m not overly worried about too many things on this list. I’ll have a serious talk with my car about the 25MPH thing. 

But the other person in our household should probably watch his Speed Racer tendencies.

And he should probably avoid guys in Porsches altogether.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Happy 5th Anniversary to My Vince

Today is our fifth wedding anniversary and some smart aleck, who shall remain nameless, said he lost a bet to Dad that we wouldn’t make it five years.

A lot you know, Andrew. Oops! He was supposed to remain nameless.

But I know he’s kidding. He couldn’t possibly have thought I’d waited nearly 50 years before finally tying the knot for the first time only to have that knot unravel before five years were up.

Clearly, I don’t rush into anything and I couldn’t possibly be called a trailblazer.

But I was waiting for the right person to show up. And I was truly okay with staying single. Forever, if it came to it. I think I’ve said it before, but I would much rather have remained single than to have been married to the wrong person.

But Vince is definitely the right person. He’s so good to me. He loves me for my good qualities and accepts me despite my faults and foibles. He lets me love him.  And we’re good together.

The relationships I had before Vince were good – but never good enough. When I was younger, I always thought if I did the wrong thing, I wouldn’t be accepted and loved.  There were times I was afraid to say the “L” word for fear I’d be rejected.  And there were times I thought I’d need to change and be someone I wasn’t in order to keep the person I was with.

That’s so sad. And thank goodness my mama didn’t raise no dummy – I got over those thoughts right quick!

But, seriously, I didn’t realize how easy love can be. And how, when you’re with the right person, life can be so incredibly good.

Don’t get me wrong – it’s not that we haven’t had our share of struggles.  But, for the most part, they are insignificant because we face them together. And we still talk about things all the time – the good, the bad and the ugly. That helps us connect with each other to resolve issues.  

But no matter how hard we try, we always joke that we can’t hope to measure up to the longevity of my parents’ marriage. Not that our marriage is doomed – but my parents have been married for sixty-two years. Given our current ages, I’m pretty sure we won’t still be kickin’ it in fifty-seven years. (Or if we are, it’s a good bet that we won’t remember our own names let alone the fact that we’re married to each other!)

I have been blessed with parents who have shown me, by example, what real love and commitment is all about. They have had their share of ups and downs and have lived through raising four children (some of whom were angels and some of whom were…well, never mind!). They have had more than their share of medical scares and hospital stays. Yet through it all they stayed true and strong and in love. They still smooch every morning and every night. (Ooh. Sorry if that was too graphic.)  They still hold hands when they go for a walk. And they love each other – plain and simple.

I believe that is what I have found in Vince. I hope we don’t have to worry about medical scares and hospital stays – and I know we don’t have to worry about the raising the four children thing at this point in our lives – but I look forward to the years ahead we have together. And I’m grateful for every moment.

Happy 5th Anniversary, Vince. I love you!

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Gratitude Challenge. Part II.

So yesterday I started making a list of things I’m grateful for because I was challenged by my friend, Amy. I was supposed to write down three things every day for five days that I’m grateful for and I was supposed to challenge three additional people every day to do the same thing.

But I didn’t. I was sort of busy last week and it got by me. Oops.

So yesterday I wrote down half my gratitude list in one fell swoop and posted it in my blog. And I didn’t challenge anyone in particular to follow in my footsteps. I didn’t follow the “rules.” That’s me – the Maverick.

Nah, not really. Generally speaking, I’m the epitome of the Rule Follower. I’m a Maverick only in my dreams. 

But I get it. The point is to get more and more people to realize all they have to be thankful for. Sort of like the ice bucket challenge for ALS – or the “Pay it Forward” movement.

I really get it. Because the world would be a much kinder place if we all challenged one another to find gratitude and joy in life rather than in things to complain about.

So I have some more things to add to my Gratitude List:

#8. I’m really grateful that I don’t have to eat kale every day. Vince has decided that kale is “good for us.”  Whenever Vince uses the phrase “good for us,” I cringe. Because it usually means that it won’t necessarily taste good, but we still need to eat it. Sigh. I’ve drawn the line at Brussel sprouts and Kimchi. But to show you what a good wife I am, I added a big handful of kale to our fruit smoothies this morning. Good for me, eh?

#9. I am grateful for running water and working toilets. Hey, don’t scoff. Some people don’t have these “luxuries.” ‘Nuff said. (Oh, except for the fact that I’m grateful I didn’t grow up in the “olden days” when you had to use an outhouse. Yeah, I’m really grateful for that.)

#10. This is going to sound stupid, but I’m grateful for the kind things people do for strangers. I get choked up every time I read about a Random Act of Kindness, even if it’s something as small as paying for the coffee of the person in line behind you. Heck, it makes my whole day when a stranger smiles at me or opens the door for me – so I try to do those little things for other people, too. Because who knows? Maybe I can make their day a little brighter. It does become a little awkward, though, when a stranger and I are both trying to hold the door open for each other at the same time. Then it becomes a little less  an act of kindness and more sort of a power struggle.  (“After you.” “No, please. After you.” “No, no, really…!”) Ah well. It all works out. Eventually.

#11. I’m grateful for chocolate.

#12. I’m grateful that even though I can only hear out of one ear, I can hear perfectly fine out of the other one. And even though my eyesight is horrible and I’m legally blind without corrective lenses, I’m grateful that I can wear corrective lenses and see stuff. And I’m grateful that even though I’m not the absolute sharpest knife in the drawer (oh, be quiet!), I have no complaints about the brain God gave me and the creativity and sense of humor he gifted me with. And, yeah, okay, sometimes my sense of humor gets a little lost, but a little chocolate always helps. (Hence, #11 on my list.)

#13. And, finally, I’m grateful for my brother Andrew. He recently celebrated a birthday and listed on Facebook the top three things in his life – his wife, his dog and his boat. A long conversation ensued where it turned out I was far down the list falling somewhere below his cherished ball of twine. Or something like that. Shows me where I stand with my brother, doesn’t it?! So I wanted to write a special note to him to show him I’m SO GRATEFUL for bratty brothers. But, seriously, Andrew is a kind, giving person and he has a great sense of humor. He’s pretty darn smart and I love him a lot. And just because he’s #13 on the list does NOT mean he’s the last thing I’m grateful for. I said mine were in no particular order except for #1. (This is an especially important point given that I said I was grateful for “toilets” and that is listed above being grateful for my brother Andrew.)

#14. Darn it. I can’t be grateful for just one sibling – I have to include the other two as well. I’m grateful that my brother John is in my life. For whatever issues he has had, the one thing he taught me was how to be generous. John was way better at sharing than the rest of us were.  My mom used to say that John would give you the shirt off his back even if it was the only shirt he had. Personally, I think that’s because John likes to walk around shirtless so he can show off all his tattoos, but that’s just a theory. 

#15. And, finally… (No, really, this is the last one I’m going to write down. I swear!) I’m really grateful for my sister Denise. There truly is no one in your life like a sister. She and I shared a room growing up – and even shared a couple residences through the years as adults. I love her so much. She and her husband Joe make the long drive from Milwaukee to Ohio several times every year to spend time with family – and it has given me the chance to be a part of their lives and watch my niece, Chloe, grow up. And for that and so much more, I’m truly grateful.

So there you have it. My Gratitude List. Is this all-encompassing? Nope, not by a long shot. I would’ve had to include my cats, Twinks and Jinx, and a whole slew of other people by name. But it does make me realize that I have much to be grateful for. And even if I don’t write down these lists on a regular basis, it has given me a new perspective.

I guess that means I can’t complain about anything today.


Where’s the chocolate?

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

And for Today’s Challenge…

It seems as if everyone on the planet lately has been pouring buckets of ice water over their heads. Not me. I’d far prefer making a donation. I can barely dip my toe into the Atlantic Ocean even in these, the Dog Days of Summer – so I’m not sure I could take a whole bucket of ice water.
Nevertheless, this avalanche of Ice Bucket Challenges clogging up Facebook and Twitter feeds has been a good thing since donations have increased significantly for ALS research in the past month or so, particularly compared to the same period last year.  So I say keep on dumping that ice water, people!

But I was recently challenged to do something that was far more do-able. For me, anyway.

Last week, my friend Amy challenged me to write three things for which I’m grateful every day for five days. And each day I was supposed to challenge three more people to do this.

Have I completed this challenge? Um, no. Perhaps a better question would be, “Have I started this challenge?”

But it’s a great idea.  I’m no Mother Teresa and I can definitely use a little more attitude of gratitude.

So instead, I think I’ll write a blog today about some of the things for which I’m grateful. In no particular order (except for number #1, of course!) here is my list:

     #1. I'm grateful for my loving husband, Vince. He is “my person.” (You’ll get that if you’ve ever watched Grey’s Anatomy.) He loves me unconditionally. And sometimes, boy, there are conditions for which he could easily say, “This ‘for better or worse’ stuff is for the birds!” But he doesn’t. And I feel truly grateful that we found each other at this stage in our lives.

#2. For my family. At first I was going to lump “family and friends” in one category, but it’s better to separate them. Why? Well, because we don’t choose our family, for one thing. On the other hand, my family – my parents – did choose me and made me “theirs.”  They chose to take home and love a kid whose birth parents gave her up for adoption. I have never questioned that my family is my family.  I have felt loved always. Even when I was a bratty teenager. Or maybe especially when I was a bratty teenager. (Not that I can really remember that far back.)

#3. I'm grateful for my friends.  I have this annoying belief that friends are for life. Even when we move away or our lives diverge, I still think of a friend as a friend.  Call it being stubborn, if you like. But because of that stubbornness, I have had friendships that have lasted for decades. My friends have helped me get through some rough times. But they’ve also been there with me through the good times. Hopefully I’ve been able to return the favor.  Plus, we’ve pretty much collectively kept the “adult beverage” industry in business. So for all my friends, I’m eternally grateful.

      #4. That even though my foot is all kinds of messed up and I’ve been wearing a clunky boot for a month now, at least I can still get myself from Point A to Point B. I’m clumsy and my footwear is not fashionable in the least, but I can still navigate the way on my own two feet. For this, I’m grateful. Besides, I was clumsy before I started wearing this clunky boot.

      #5.  For living in a country that allows me freedom of choice. I get to choose who to vote for, what religion to follow and I can pretty much wear whatever I want. Some people think our rights are becoming more and more restricted – and in some respects, I don’t disagree – but at least I don’t have a government telling me that because I’m a woman I don’t deserve to be educated. Nor am I required to wear a garment that completely envelopes my face and body when I’m out in public. And, oh sure, there are those humid days when my hair is a frizzy mess and my makeup slides off my face as soon as I apply it that I think it’d be a fine idea to cover up the whole mess, but at least I’d get to make that choice.

        #6.  I'm grateful for my home and my ‘things.’ I know that we shouldn’t value things over people – and I don’t. But ask a homeless person on a frigid day in February if he’d be grateful for a roof over his head. So I’m grateful for that. And I’m grateful that I have a comfortable bed to sleep in every night. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve tried to value “things” less – like that latest designer handbag that at one point I thought I had to have. Instead I value the time I get to spend with my aging parents and the opportunity to return some of the love and kindness they’ve extended to me throughout my entire life.

      Hmmm.  I’m not sure I was supposed to get this chatty on the gratitude thing. So I’m thinkin’ that this blog is not going to make it all the way to 15 things for which I’m grateful.  Hey, this might be something for which you should be grateful. 

Looks like it’ll have to be a two-parter. Egad.

I’m not going to challenge specific people because I don’t want to make anyone feel obligated. But I think it’s a great idea for all of us to at least take a moment out of our busy lives and think about what we’re grateful for. Even if we do end sentences with a preposition. (Is that still a thing?)

And, okay, #7. I’m grateful I had some pretty awesome teachers who taught me enough grammar and spelling that I’m halfway decent at stringing words together to make sentences and paragraphs. Any mistakes I make are not because of them.

Tune back in tomorrow for some more of Jane's Attitude of Gratitude. Same bat time. Same bat channel.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

The More Things Stay The Same

When I was growing up, my family had a traditional supper every Saturday of hot dogs, baked beans and coleslaw. 

Every Saturday.

This is the one meal my dad prepared for the family. He may have been a great Metallurgical Engineer, but he was not exactly known for his gourmet cooking skills and I’m guessing the only meal he knew he could prepare for our family of six was hot dogs, baked beans and coleslaw.

But over the years, Dad perfected his Saturday night meal. He liked to tell us that his blend of dressing for the coleslaw was a secret recipe that he couldn’t reveal under threat of death. And he’d always “doctor up” the baked beans with a little ketchup, a squirt of mustard, a pinch of brown sugar, and a dash of Worcestershire sauce.

For a change of pace, he’d sometimes carefully cut the hot dogs down the middle and insert a sliver of Kraft American Cheese in each dog. I’m pretty sure he was able to make a single slice of cheese stretch for the entire family.

Frugal? Oh, yeah. I could tell you stories...

Or he’d toast the buns in the broiler.  This didn’t happen often since broiling is an exact science and we had charred hot dog buns one too many times.  Probably he was working on his secret recipe dressing for the coleslaw and not paying attention to the burning buns.

But my parents were from the era where wasting food was a sin, so we’d have to scrape off the blackened bits from the bun. You can imagine how much we enjoyed eating hot dogs on those nights.  We may have been thinking “Ewww, this is gross!” but we were never bold enough to say it out loud.

Dad still makes hot dogs, baked beans and coleslaw for supper on Saturday night, but he is likely taking a few shortcuts since the meal is only for two nowadays. I doubt the broiler has been used in years and I even spied some store-bought slaw dressing in the fridge the last time I visited. And, fortunately, baked beans come in a variety of flavors now so no “doctoring” is required.

Tonight, we’re having friends over for dinner. And in the Domian tradition, I’m making hot dogs, baked beans and coleslaw for supper.

Now, we have an old-fashioned hot dog griller, so everyone will prepare their own dogs. We’ll have all the fixins’ to make as fancy a dog as one could want – with chili, cheese, chopped onions, sauerkraut and all manner of condiments. 

Our “famous” coleslaw is an Asian coleslaw with crunchies and a delicious sweet and sour dressing.  And I may even “doctor” the baked beans up a bit in honor of Dad.

So I’m looking forward to supper tonight, although I can’t vouch for my guests. They may come to the table thinking, “Ewww, this is gross!” 
But – unlike in Dad’s day – we’re all of legal age and I can make sure to have enough adult beverages on hand that they won’t think too much about the meal.

Now off to the store I go.  Hmmm…I wonder if I can buy a single slice of Kraft American Cheese? 

Yeah, and I might also need to pick up extra strength adult beverages.

Happy Saturday!

Friday, August 15, 2014

Lessons Learned

Like millions of people, I was astonished and so very sad to read about Robin Williams’ death earlier this week. As the days have passed since then, I’ve watched and read tributes to him and watched clips from many of the movies he made through the years. And, I have to admit, I’ve gotten choked up and have shed a few tears, too.

He was only 63. And he had such a gift. Sure, he was a comic genius and was able to make us laugh. But he was also able to make us cry. And to think. 

But I’ve also read many stories about his acts of kindness and generosity. And that, to me, speaks volumes. By all accounts, he was a good man. So even though I was merely a fan and didn’t actually know Robin Williams, the world seems a little dimmer without him in it.

And he was only 63.

Lauren Bacall also died this week. In contrast, she didn’t take her own life, but instead was felled by a stroke. And she was only 89.

Only 89?  I imagine you’re thinking, Surely that was a typo, wasn’t it?

And, okay, I will concede that at 89, Lauren Bacall lived a good, long life. Oh, and stop calling me Shirley.
(Yeah, if you get that reference, you might just be old, too!)

But my point is this: While a life well lived is a good life, to Lauren Bacall’s loved ones, eighty-nine is merely a number. And they are no less sad or grief-stricken because she has passed.

My grandmother was 95 was she died. And I was devastated. Not that her death was unexpected since she had been in failing health for a number of years. But I was still devastated. She had lived a good, long life, too. Yet I knew I was going to miss my Nanna for the rest of my life.

Most of the time I’m able to go through my days thinking that I’m going to live forever. Contemplating reality is not all that much fun.  But there are moments when I realize how fleeting life really is.

This week was one of those weeks for me. And I realize how quickly sixty-three years can go by. Or eight-nine. Or almost fifty-five. (Yeah, that would be me.)

There are moments I can’t believe how old I’ve gotten and I wonder where the years went.  And I lament the wrinkles around my eyes or the aches and pains from the arthritis that is beginning to invade my joints.

But in times like this, I need to remind myself to be grateful. To stop focusing on the little annoyances and instead be happy that I’m here. To live. To experience both joy and sadness. And to love – really love – the people with whom I share my little piece of the world.

So my hope is that we all can be a little more grateful and loving and generous with our time and our talents. I mean, the world should be a brighter place with us in it – shouldn’t it?

Thank you Ms. Bacall and Mr. Williams for sharing your talent and your light with us. I hope you’re at peace and are now shining among the stars. 

Say hello to my Nanna for me, will you?