Not for Sissies

So the last six months in particular, I have had a few odd breakouts of ailments including two bouts of bacterial infection in my sinuses. Don’t worry, this won’t be a list of what’s wrong with me; I am fundamentally pretty healthy.

I am not used to getting sick and I am not used to be knocked out and fatigued when I am sick. I am an energetic, active person and this is alien to me. Yes, I know, it has only been a week, but really.

Nobody really tells you or describes to you the specific and detailed changes that happen to you as your body ages. Maybe that is for the best. Maybe if we knew in advance, we would live in terror or perhaps take the easy way out. I don’t know.

It starts in such a subtle way, little things you don’t really notice at first. Then the changes start to cumulate. Some bother me more than others. It bothers me that my skin is no longer smooth and beautiful; my arms and legs look as my grandmother’s did. My neck which is long and was beautiful is now pouchy and inescapably old. All the sun damage from long ago is visible. Arthritis has snuck in a bit to various parts of my body. It doesn’t hold me back but it does mean I don’t spring out of bed in the morning, I stretch and give myself a minute.

On my bad days, I completely understand people’s compulsion to “correct” surgically the signs of aging; the things they don’t like about themselves. I sometimes think there are just a few small things…

The funny thing is, I loved my Grandmother more than almost anyone and her skin being crinkly didn’t bother me one little bit. And when I look at my face on a good day, at the lines on it, I think I have earned them -laughing and crying. When I am able to be kind to myself I think I have used this body hard and long and by some miracle it serves me still and mostly pretty well.

I'm glad I didn't know that growing old was not for sissies. I am also glad to know that I am not a sissy. I am working at aging as gracefully as I possibly can because I am keenly aware that it is so much more wonderful than the… Click To Tweet

I’m glad I didn’t know that growing old was not for sissies. I am also glad to know that I am not a I’m glad I didn’t know that growing old was not for sissies. I am also glad to know that I am not a sissy. I am working at aging as gracefully as I possibly can because I am keenly aware that it is so much more wonderful than the alternative. I am not done yet. sissy. I am working at aging as gracefully as I possibly can because I am keenly aware that it is so much more wonderful than the alternative. I am not done yet.

Listen to the River

“Mama, Mama many worlds I’ve known since I first left home.” I was, as I often do, listening to the Grateful Dead in my car. And hearing those words sent me reeling through my past. I have heard these words a thousand times but for some reason, they had particular resonance this day.

"Mama, Mama many worlds I've known since I first left home." I was, as I often do, listening to the Grateful Dead in my car. Click To Tweet

And I have had one amazing long strange trip, to quote another song; and many worlds. It is hard to write about memory and about past life without lingering at the regrets. They are easier to stop on than the joys but with an effort, I remind myself to stop on those too.

I left home for college at the age of sixteen, it was 1969 and peace, love and protest were in the air. Along with weed, pills and mushrooms. I lived on a barely finished campus on Long Island but mostly with an artist and his entourage. His portrait of me at that age still hangs in my bedroom, a lovely reminder of the good.

I left college before I turned eighteen and traveled the country working, singing, hitchhiking, going to Dead and Jefferson Airplane concerts. From the age of sixteen until who knows when I had the wonderful fortune to see so many of my icons and my heroes, in concert in mostly small venues. Jackson Browne, James Taylor, Pete Seeger, Little Feat, Bonnie Raitt, Dexter Gordon, Betty Carter, Etta James and so many more. The music has always been the thing for me. I feel most myself in music and closest to G-d in music.

I have lived and worked and sung in California, Arizona, Ohio, Massachusetts, Florida, New York, New Jersey, New Mexico. I may have forgotten a few. And I take many memories from them all, music, food, local idiom. I have sung jazz, gospel, country, country rock, folk and now Americana (that’s what they call old hippie folk/rock these days) and traditional and original Jewish liturgical music. What a road.

I have had multiple careers. I have never been a moneymaker but I have been able to support my family. And I have had the great joy of doing both good in the world and the things I love. Of course, there were a few jobs along the way that weren’t so interesting.

I have been harassed and abused. I have been loved and amused. I have loved and I have been disappointed. I am a mother, the greatest joy of my life; and that came from doing good. I am in an entirely new and alien phase of life so there will be more to talk about.

There is so much to tell but these are my thoughts for today. Many worlds I have indeed known, and there are more to travel through.

Passions and Passion

After 14 years in Florida there is one thing that strikes me almost every day. And it is a silly thing.  You can’t get cold water from the tap.  The water is always tepid, even when it is relatively cold.  Now northerners don’t laugh, I said relatively cold.

And in an odd way, the part of Florida I live in is kind of tepid too.   There is great beauty, in the ocean, the waterways, the sunsets, the sky, the flowers.  But it is a lazy kind of place, it is not busy.  It is a place where people move slowly, especially in the summer.  It is a place of simple pleasures and , to be honest, many things I am not interested in to varying degrees.

I am very lucky, I have been able to find and indulge my passions here; somewhat.  While my access to live music of some of the kinds I enjoy is very limited, I have found wonderful people to make music with. I have to admit, it took ten years or so.  I have been able to work on writing, although consistency is still a bitch.  I have been able to teach, which I dearly love.  And so, I have my passions, despite my tepid water.

But I have now learned that it is possible to have passions, but no passion.   And so it is.  The indulging of my passions is sometimes serious work here in this tepid place.  I travel, I invite people for meals, I support the symphony society, and so on and so forth.  But I can’t drop in to a place with folk music, I can’t walk to a market or see musicians on the street.  I can’t even go to Trader Joe’s without a significant drive.

[tweetshare tweet=”All that being said, there are trade offs everywhere you go.  And the good news is that at least some of your passions go with you anywhere you go.  Now if only there was some passion to go with those passions.” username=”@trienahm”]

On Becoming September 2016

It is an odd thing, this life.  Just when you think things are settled and you feel as if you have a sense of knowing where it is all going, BAM it changes.  And even stranger, just when you feel as if you know who you are, BAM, you are shedding your behaviors, people and places like a snake shedding its skin.

I think being part of a couple gives you this odd sense of safety, of invisibility and of belonging.  No matter how difficult your relationship may be, you are not “single” in a world of doubles.  So what to do? Shed my “double” skin and set about discovering where I am in the world, in my life.

I was listening to public radio and heard a story about an amazing exhibit of Matisse and his various contemporaries, essentially his career, being brought to the art museum in Oklahoma City from Paris.  Without stopping to think about how odd that might sound, I made a reservation to go to Oklahoma City for the weekend.  I am, after all, single.  My son is a grown, sort of, man.  I can do whatever I want and could afford to do it.

And before I could get too scared, I went.  And I went all over, did many things, ate, listened to music, visited art, gardens and memorials, talked to strangers and had a great time.  People are curious about you when you go places by yourself, especially as a woman of a certain age, and that makes it easy to talk.

I have a most dear friend who, when I say I am afraid to do something, or can’t do something, says “remember who you are, you can do anything”.  What a wonderful thing to be reminded with love and admiration.   So it isn’t really about “becoming” it’s about “getting back” to the self you lost, suppressed, ignored, forgot about.  It is about doing the things you love, the things that bring you joy; it’s about rediscovering those things and the pleasure they bring.  Or as my brothers would say, it’s about getting your groove back.

blogging is weird

So… once again, life has intruded on life and I have been away too long.  Here on some part of the downhill side of life there is so much to do that it is hard to know where to start, or continue.  Bloggimg is weird because it feels very private when you are doing it.  But you know, somewhere in the back of your mind, that there is at least the possibility that someone you have never met will read what you wrote.  It is a most public activity in the end.  So, all you readers out in radioland, I am hoping to be back.