Things I don’t want to deal with

You know how sometimes you can’t sleep so you wake up late and grouchy but you make yourself go jogging anyway.  And the jog is more of a slog because the sun is blazing down on you and your allergies are in full dress rehearsal for Peer Gynt or something.  But you get home and find cold watermelon that’s already been cut up for you in the fridge.  And you smile.

That was me this morning. In addition to the cold watermelon, good coffee, and the company of my two sweet cats, I came across a post by Anne Lamott lamenting the end of summer and the loss of Robin Williams.  In her own inimitable, sliding down a hillside kind of prose, she was also reminding her readers to live and to be and to do.    She said this: “How did that change us, his death? Did it lead to an awakening for you, about the preciousness and precariousness and brevity of life? Did you stop hitting the snooze button?”  and this: “How did Robin’s passing help us commit to tearing down the stigma of mental illness? How many of us actually went to an advocacy site for the mental ill, and got educated, or offered to help, or just told the truth about the people in our families suffering; or ourselves? Not me, baby. But a closest friend’s son killed himself two weeks ago, ten miles away. Beautiful boy. Today I am going to spend some time at Glenn Closes’s site:http://bringchange2mind.org. I’m going to donate in the name of my friend’s son. We do what we can. We do what’s possible.”

Doing what’s possible and mental illness are subjects that I’ve been consciously pushing away for the last month.  You see, while we were in Italy soaking up the sunshine, scenery, and Vino Nobile, a dear friend lost his battle with depression and committed suicide.  We were (and still are) bewildered and heartbroken, but we were also on vacation and could avoid fully processing our grief.  We entered plenty of churches to admire frescoes, architecture, artwork of all kinds, and I said a little prayer in each and every one.  It was comforting to me.  My husband transferred some money into an account set up for our friend’s three small children.  It was something that he could do, and he really needed to feel like he was doing something.  We couldn’t attend the memorial because we were out of the country, and we didn’t talk much about our friend because Tom was too sad, and I was too pissed-off at the dearly departed to want to talk about it.

But we need to talk about it.  Tom is helping plan a local memorial for his pledge-brother and scuba-diving buddy.  I will probably make cookies or pasta salad or some sort of comfort food.  We will share stories about our formerly free-wheeling friend, and we will laugh, we will be sad, and we will live and be and do.   Before that gathering, I will try to educate myself on mental health advocacy and ways to help–including helping myself to be less angry.

As a side note, I need to write to our friend’s widow, and I found these words to be helpful.

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Useful and Beautiful

I now use a beautiful fused-glass tray to store my dish sponges.  Yep, ordinary kitchen sponges and a vegetable brush on a not-inexpensive tray.  I’ve been wanting to designate a place for sponges because I hate leaving them in the sink or on the counter because they leave spots or  just encourage the mold that likes to cling to the grout immediately under the lip of the counter above the sink.  (I promise to go clean that as soon as I finish this post.) We’ve tried a wire basket and a ceramic mouse as sponge holders, but neither one of us was happy with their looks nor performance.

Then two weeks ago we were having lunch with some friends in Marin who have a small but beautiful kitchen that looks out onto the hills and water.  Now, my friend J is one of those women “who does everything more beautifully than you”.  She’s thin and pretty and can identify birds by their calls.  She’s a lawyer and a Pilates instructor.  She’s climbed Half-Dome and hung out with The Grateful Dead.  You know the type.  As she was cleaning up after lunch, I noticed that she used a colorful ceramic tray to hold her sponges.  Good Idea!  I began my hunt for one of my own.

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Things I had no idea existed

Berkeley has its own version of Shakespeare in The Park.  Who knew?  Not me.  So when a friend suggested that people meet up in John Hinkel Park to see a performance of “Henry IV, Part 1” by The Free Theater, my reaction was “Huh?”  Husband and I pondered the suggestion, and after reminding ourselves that we like to support fledgling theater companies and try new things and hang out with friends, we decided to go.

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Doubts and shorts

I loathe and despise all those articles and advice columns that presume to tell women what not to wear. You’ve seen them: the little headlines that seem to pop up everywhere like 24 things not to wear after 30 or Ten things middle-aged women should Stop Wearing Now! and other such condescending tripe. From my point of view, every woman is different and should wear what she likes.

Yet, I recently found myself wondering if I were too old to buy genuine shorts.  I moved to the Bay Area fifteen years ago and, since I’m usually cold here, I have not needed to buy new shorts.  But as I was packing for our recent trip to a warmer climate, I noted how shabby all my shorts have gotten and how tightly some of them fit!  So I commenced the search for sturdy new hiking shorts.

I confess that I attempted to buy longer shorts.  I tried on pairs similar to this and this. Yuck and Ick.  With the shorts hitting just above the knee, my shanks looked bony and lumpy.  That one vein that bulges (and has since I was 19) appeared to be lit by an interior neon glow that highlighted my scars and reverse pigmentation spots.  I returned dejectedly to the rack.  And there they were.  Hanging mistakenly on the sale rack was a pair lovely olive shorts that were not long, but had a decent inseam.  The price tag was absurd for  shorts; I tried them on anyway.  By revealing some nice smooth thigh, the shorts made my shins look less discolored and misshapen.  I bought them!  And a skort too! Take that, fashionistas!  And I was deliciously comfortable in the 95-99º temperatures that the Italian summer had to offer.

So, I promise to never read, and certainly never write, anything prescribing or proscribing what other people should wear.