Thursday, November 13, 2008

I'll Always be Younger Than My Friends & Sisters

Of all the intelligent and thought provoking things I've written on this humble blog of mine, I am surprised at the reaction to my "Birthday" post. Delighted and surprised. Always I want to be that thing that irritates you enough to stop and try to figure out what the hell it is that is making you so uncomfortable. If that thing is me, well then, I have done my job.

Like the tag that scratches your neck all day long, the sock that slips off your heel and into your shoe, the tiny fleck of popcorn stuck in your left molar. That is me. I am more than delighted. I am ecstatic. If I knew that it would be this easy, I would have quit dying my hair long ago. Or never have started.

To clarify a few fine points. We are born. We live one year and than we say we are one. But we are starting our second year. So, I am 48 this month, but really I am starting my 49th year. Math always fails me, but the truth never does. That, my dear friends is the truth. We are in our 49th year. Well, you are anyway. I have a few days to go.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Birthday Wishes

Phillies won. Obama won. The stars are in the heavens and everything is all right with the world. I lost in Vegas. I took hundreds of photos and I am featured in exactly four. I am not pleased with the image but it is me as I wrap up the 48th year of my life. I am nearly fifty and I look okay. I look 50. I like the way my smile, nearly unchanged since the photo on my fridge that Uncle Buzzy gave me. I am just one year old and I look nearly the same except my eyes have shrunk and my chin has disappeared. I like the smile because it is devilish and that part of me is unmistakable. It is kept under wraps some of the time but it is there and if anyone would bother to notice, they'd see it too.

The gift I have given myself this year is one of freedom. I cut my hair very short, sort of boyish. I am planning a surprise. I quit dying my hair. Soon I will surprise even myself as the image in the mirror changes from raven to white, or some place in between as the days go by. I've heard dire warnings from close friends and lovers. You will look old. You will look like an old commare. You will look like a grandma, says my sexiest friend, who actually is a grandma.

I spend a lot of time these days peering into the 10X magnifying mirror. I part the spikes in my hair and look at my scalp where the real me struggles to come through. Mostly white, I think, but I can't be sure just yet. I feel excited when I look at my real hair, like something special is happening to my body. A lot like when I first was pregnant and gazed in wonder at the small bump on my lower abdomen.

I feel brave. I wonder why women, myself included, feel so pressured to color their hair. Dark hair doesn't make me any younger and in truth, at this juncture, my value lies less in the way I look and more solidly in what I have accomplished and where I have been. What I have survived, lived through. Flourished.

I feel scary. I am thickening up my skin for the inevitable mistakes people will make. The age I may become in others eyes. Old. I like old. Antiques. Vintage linens. Old photos. Obama and I are the same age. He looks younger.

So then someone told me about Jamie Lee Curtis and the funny thing about it is that I am not much for Hollywood and don't follow pop culture too much but I was always sort of fond of Jamie Lee Curtis since watching "Trading Places". And Cher too, but that's another story. Anyway, Jamie Lee and I are the same age. Exactly actually. We have the same birthday and so I find out that she went gray too. I haven't seen pictures yet, but I know she is very thin and that kind of eliminates the old grandma look. I am not so fortunate.

I am testing myself. Trying to know if I have the confidence to be old in a culture that devalues aging. Wish me luck...

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Donations for Those in Need

Average yearly salary for these men in May 2008 was 950 million. I imagine times are really tough for them now. Donations can be sent in care of the US Taxpayer.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Praying for Obama

I received an e-mail from "Right Wing News" detailing all the stops Obama was making on Saturday. In addition to the disparaging comments and racial undertones, there was a creepy feeling that these people were stalking Obama. So, I did a web search on right wing groups and was appalled to see an advertisement for this T-Shirt. I thought these folks were Christians?

Why I Love Philadelphia

Ed Snider might own the Flyers but he doesn't own their fans. While Sarah Palin smiled for the camera, Flyers fans raised Obama/Biden signs in the background while the fans at center ice gave the thumbs down sign.

Friday, October 10, 2008

McCain & Palin: Full of Hot Ayer

Watching McCain/Palin rallies on You-Tube tonight prompted me to say the rosary, maybe tomorrow I'll say a novena. These people are scarier than an NFL lineman on a cold, Sunday afternoon. The words, feelings and ideas they spew make me wonder if we are from the same country. Or even the same planet. While Palin continues to stoke the "Obama's buddy is a terrorist" speech, I am compelled to learn more about the infamous Bill Ayers. The Weather Underground, I remember in a vague way, mixed up with my first tie-dyed shirt and eating King Vitamin cereal while my dad watched the news. My research reveals that Bill Ayers was charged with "conspiracy to bomb" but the charges were dropped because of prosecutorial misconduct. What does that mean? I guess someone who should have known better did something that made the charges null and void. That was in the early seventies. I don't remember that at all, but by then I was busy acquiring a world class 45RPM record collection and riding my Sting Ray around town pretending to be an outlaw biker. I was born in 1960. Obama in 1961. I wonder what Barrack was doing then?

Saturday, October 04, 2008

No Interest Until Bankrupt

Saturday morning mail was full of the usual store ads in addition to the pre-Christmas charity requests. I keep hearing that the credit market is tight, so it was amusing to find a credit card offer, no interest until 2010 with a line of credit to 30K dollars. Heading for the shredder I glanced at the return address-WaMu-and I realize that I am being offered cash by a bankrupt entity. The political pundits have assured me that without this bailout, credit markets would freeze and businesses across the US would grind to a halt. I am not naive, my partner owns a small business, I know about cash flow. For larger corporations, I know that cash on hand determines their bond ratings and that sort of thing. I am well aware that money makes the world go round. I just don't believe that a 700 billion dollar taxpayer financed bailout is going to improve the economy so long as Americans continue to spend money they don't really have on things they don't really need. Banks have been happy to finance our shopping spree these past fifteen years and perhaps they too think that we can continue with all this deficit spending. I am not surprised. So does the federal government.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Natural History

I don't normally notice my age, or anyone else's for that matter but something interesting is happening to me and it is thoroughly age related. I have become a fount (or is it font, like print?)of historical knowledge mostly because I was there when it happened. Helping my college-aged daughter with some research, I came across an article about Jim O'Brien. Excitedly, I read on and saw another about Edie Huggins. My daughter has never heard of either of them and couldn't appreciate my story about interviewing these two local celebrities during my own college years. I even drove Jim O'Brien to my school in a musty old car that someone in the newspaper office borrowed from someone else's grandpop. I'd almost forgotten that period of my life, not long enough to even be considered a chapter, more like a non-sequiter that would have been removed by the editor. It was that short period just after high school, before I quit college, when I thought I would live my life as a writer. When dashing around Philly in an old Buick trying to find the place I was to pick up Jim O'Brien was as exciting as the whole of all previous 18 Christmases that came before it. By the New Year I had changed my mind. Or closed it. Or something like that. I think that was the part where the real editor came in.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Work & The Economy

Work and the economy. What does this little catch phrase mean? I am not sure but this week while the economy was on every one's mind, television and radio and sometimes simultaneously, I was thinking about work. More specifically, I am trying to devise a way to prove to my boss and her boss and probably his boss that their investment in me is worthwhile. There is plenty of anecdotal evidence to prove my value but when it comes to real numbers; dollars, cents and that sort of thing proving their return on investment has been a little, um, challenging. Frankly, I too would like to know that the work I produce results in a better bottom line. So, this week I gathered data, real numbers without funny stories attached and next week I intend to use that data to prove that I am worth the investment. This line of thinking has lead me to wonder if anyone has asked Mr. Paulson or Mr. Bernacke to reveal the data that suggests a 700 million dollar bailout is the antidote to Armageddon. A three page document with significant and powerful economic recommendations without a single piece of data to prove it's worth. I should work in Washington.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Tapped Out

In a previous post my poor math skills were revealed to the world and that deficit stands uncorrected. Nonetheless, economically speaking, I think I may be getting the shaft. Excuse the slang, there are probably nicer ways to say it, but I think it is time someone spoke clearly and didn't allow words to bundled up like the mortgage securities that are screwing me this very minute. For the past thirty years I have supported certain government programs that led many people to refer to me as a "socialist". I listened to your criticism, I sought understanding, I embraced your "free market capitalism" sermon. I was enlightened. I came to realize that healthcare, education, unemployment compensation, support for families with young children and many other social programs should not be supported by the federal government. In a free market economy, people should be encouraged to work and support themselves. People should not look to the federal government for handouts. So, you will understand my dismay at the turn of events this past week. I think I was just asked to sign a loan for 700 billion dollars with a line of credit to one trillion and I did this for the same folks who told me that handouts were bad for the country. I am sure that I can't afford this loan.

Drop an e-mail to your representative. It is easy and it is free.

Friday, August 29, 2008


Loyal readers (all 3 of you) know that I supported Hillary Clinton for President of the United States and much of that support was related to the fact that she is a woman. Having a female fill the highest leadership role in the country, and possibly the world, would have been a real catalyst toward a more egalitarian society. Fortunately, Hillary Clinton had a remarkable legal and professional political career that made her suitable for many reasons other than her gender. I have been quietly adjusting to the reality that I will not have the opportunity to cast that vote and as much as I like Hillary for president, I did not support her as vice president. There is nothing second string about Hillary Clinton. Strategists are interested in people like me. If I am not in it for Obama, there might be a chance that I will be in it for McCain. McCain's advisers are looking closely at what people like me think, what I care about, what I relate to and dream about. They want to be my girlfriend. Today, in the naming of Sarah Palin as McCain's vice president, they figured they found a way to do just that. Palin is cute, she is a mom of five kids and a spunky 44 year old. She is the kind of person who could really be my new best friend. Driving in the car, listening to NPR, I hear coverage of McCain's 72nd birthday and realize that by the end of just one full term he will be 76years old. Considering my new girlfriend as President of the United States is not comforting. It is, in fact, downright petrifying.

Myspace Tshirt Generator

Saturday, August 23, 2008

The Drink Is On Me

Photo Courtesy of Wikipedia

In 1984 the Federal Government enacted a measure that withheld federal highway money from states where the legal drinking age was below 21. The goal, of course was to force states into raising the age to drink alcohol and it worked. For those of us in the Philadelphia region, it meant an end to long summer nights partying in the clubs down at the Jersey shore. The act was a death knell for places like Wildwood, NJ where the under 21 crowd filled dance and comedy clubs to capacity and made a "Vacancy" sign on a weekend night at any of the islands hotels rarer than a steak at Neil's. What it did not do in all of it's 24 years on the books was stop underage drinking. In fact, many people contend that it actually increased alcohol consumption by those under age 21. Instead of dancing and gathering together to hear the latest comedian while enjoying a cocktail, now young adults hole up in someones dorm room or basement where alcohol and the drunks it produces actually are the entertainment. Binge drinking has increased since 1984 and according to JAMA (The Journal of the American Medical Association) 30% of high school students admit to binge drinking at least monthly. This "all or nothing" approach to alcohol has not done our country well. Last weekend our nephews (age 18 and 20) from Italy came to visit, they will be here for another two weeks. Today they accompanied another family member to Penn State where the opening of Fall class is heralded by rounds of Beer Pong and Keg Stands. They were amused and confused by this riotous behavior and are baffled by the allure alcohol holds for American teens. They share their experience with me while sipping wine at dinner. I ask them if they remember their first drink and they laugh, it is inconsequential and therefore not memorable. I doubt most American kids would answer that way. Perhaps it is time we reconsider the way alcohol is presented to American youth. Instead of being illegal until some arbitrary age, it should be introduced slowly as something to be enjoyed in the same manner as fine food. The National Minimum Drinking Age Act is set to expire in 2009. Mindful consideration and intelligent conversation should precede any decision to extend the Act.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Lucky Throws a Seven

The evening we brought our puppy home, I remember thinking that she could be with us until the kids were teenagers. Watching Ali & Mark, not even school aged, as they argued over what we'd call her, imagining them grown was impossible. Since we brought her home on Friday the 13th, we decided to call her Lucky. And that we truly were. This tiny ball of fur grew into a dog that found the greatest joy in our company and we in turn felt safe and secure with her in our lives. She drove us crazy when she'd bark furiously when the kids dove into the pool. She embarrassed us when she'd try to eat the mailman or pizza delivery guy. She'd surprise us with her patience when the cats would stroke her fur or the kittens jump on her back. Lucky would always be ready for a late night Wawa run or a walk around the neighborhood with Melissa. She'd hang on the porch with Mark and Brian and the rest of the boys. She'd charm Ali's friends by stretching into their laps for a tummy rub. And Sarah decided long ago that she was "just the nicest dog in the world". Lucky was a good dog. A good dog because most of her life she lived unnoticed. Under the table while we ate. Sleeping next to our bed while we chatted long into the night. Laying next to the couch on movie night. Smiling in the breeze while we worked in the garden. This past year Lucky started to slow down. She wasn't as quick to greet me at the end of the day. She'd sleep longer and harder and stare at the stairs for a minute before climbing them. I realized that unimaginable time was close. A few months ago my carpenter Dad decided that Lucky should have a special box made for her "just in case". I was appalled to think that he was making her a coffin and instead I made jokes about his efforts as though they were just the antics of a foolish old man. With age comes wisdom. Lucky passed away today.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Coasting Along

Yeah, the US is a big country but most people live on the coasts. I wonder why my grandfather didn't go to the other one. The one that is funky, where the weather is always pleasant and the people better looking. Too tired maybe after the long trek across the Atlantic or perhaps living on the East Coast allowed him a glimpse of home or at least a glance at the horizon that led the way back to the Adriatic Sea. Which makes me wonder why he ever left the place at all. That place more lovely than even California.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Adding It Up

I woke up yesterday with a great plan that, because of my poor math skills, cannot come to fruition. I heard about a lottery with a three hundred million dollar jackpot. I also read that there are three hundred million Americans alive today. I believe in synchronicity and live by the mantra that "all things are meant to be". So, I woke up believing that I was meant to win the lottery and then share it with my fellow Americans. I announced at breakfast that I would soon be distributing a million dollars to every person in the country. My partner's choking sounds, as well as my son's blank stare were disappointing. "You two are so selfish. Our family will end up with five million dollars. What's so bad about sharing the rest? I don't need three hundred million. Think about how happy I could make others. Every person would be a millionaire. You guys are greedy!" I grabbed my bag and car keys, intent to get my tickets early. "Lorraine," my partner is pushing away his heart healthy and perfectly awful oatmeal, "Three hundred million dollars divided between three hundred million people. Please, do the math." I am completely irritated now as I did the math twice even before I got out of bed. There are five in our family, counting my dad, and a million each is five million dollars. The rest of the country gets a million each too. Duh. Three hundred million people. Three hundred million dollars. "Lorraine, that is a dollar per person. If you win, everyone gets a dollar."

Tonight I found out that I did not win, so none of us will be getting our dollar. I apologize, I really did want it to work out. Nevertheless, I have another idea and the math works. I read in the Washington Post that the United States will spend three trillion dollars on the Iraq War. This time, using a calculator, I figured we could have given every man, woman and child in the United States, ten thousand dollars instead. It equals three trillion. You can check my numbers, they are real. So, for my family, that is 50 grand. You might have five kids and a spouse for a whopping 70 thousand. I think I've figured the way out of our economic slump.

What could ten thousand per person buy? A few years worth of health insurance. A decent car. A really great vacation. A few years at a state college. Pooled together, like in a family, we have a hefty down payment on a house. Invested by a recent college graduate, a comfortable retirement.

I might not be good at math but I know what we got for our three trillion was not a good deal. And for some people, those who are fighting in Iraq, those who died there and the families and friends impacted by that, it has cost far more than money could ever buy. You don't need to be good at math to figure that out.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Girls for Girls

I am recovering from a Valentine induced chocolate high and while I am sure that I am not totally sober, I am sober enough to have regretted accepting the chocolate in the first place. While in a stupor, I was told, by the man that gave me that succulent, calorie ridden treat, that he wasn't voting for Clinton. Big deal, you think, he gave you chocolate (and a wonderful home cooked meal), let him vote for whomever. I would agree except for what he said next, "because she has big hips". Hillary Clinton is a women and grown woman, on many occassions, have hips. They allow us to have laps big enough for multiple children to lie upon. They allow us to swing and sway as we flood the dance floor at family weddings during the Motown Medley. Hips give strength to our mid-sections as we heave and pull and squat and scrub during spring cleaning. Hips, like shiny, black patent leather Mary Jane shoes, are uniquely female. When my male counterpart said, "I am not voting for Clinton because she has big hips", he was saying, "I'm not voting for Clinton because she is a girl".

I'm taking the high road. No arguments, no cajoling, no intelligent dialogue. I'm reaching out to the women in my life, the ones I know well, the ones I've yet to meet. While you consider your choices in the primary election, consider the many things you've heard about women and girls since childhood. Playing on that empty lot with the neighborhood kids, "Girls can't play football". Sitting in class in elementary school, "Girls can't do math". Behind the wheel at 16, "Oh no, another woman driver". Listening to the corpulent man next to you in a restaurant talk about how he "doesn't do fat chicks".

There are some things women have that men do not. Hips are one of those things, friends are another. Pass this on to all your friends and join the "Girls for Girls" campaign. Together we'll prove that "girls can too be president". And wear your shiny shoes so that I'll recognize you in the supermarket.