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Up n At ‘Em

May 23, 2018

Conversation with my doc during my annual physical, as I got ready for my Pap smear. She is a treat.

Doc: And I see you got your colonoscopy?
Suebob: Yes, I stayed awake
Suebob: It was entertaining. I got to see my shiny colon. I expected it to look horrible and it was all pink and clean
Doc: Well, of course it was, considering the prep they do. I never wanted to see mine. I saw enough in medical school. It was like when I had my kids. I said “No, don’t show me. Just get them out and clean them up.
Suebob: I was kind of afraid of the colonoscopy
Doc: Yeah, people generally are
Suebob: Well, I assumed that…you know the position for the Pap smear? I thought it was going to be like that, but with your buns up and everyone looking at you…
Doc, laughing: Oh, no, no, they put you on your side, right?
Suebob: Yes, and I was all covered up. It was very discreet
Doc: They don’t even have to look, they do it so often. But back in school, we did rectal exams like that for prostate cancer
Suebob: What?
Doc: Well, this was training, and they were volunteers. We would come in and there would be a whole room lined up on both sides with men with their butts out there…
Suebob: [Shrieking]
Doc: I know. At least they got paid for it.
Suebob: And at least it was before social media.

Perfect Stillness

May 20, 2018

I began meditating in earnest in January. I committed myself to half an hour per day for 40 days, and I did that thing. Even on days when I had no time. Even when I didn’t want to. Even when I really, really didn’t want to, I still did it.

Here’s how I meditate: I just sit there. I begin by saying “Quiet the body, quiet the mind,” but that’s it. Then I just sit there and breathe and come back to breathing instead of everything else and then do that 1,000 more times, then the timer goes off.

I keep hearing about fancy meditation things – bells and candles and prayer beads and guided meditations and such.

One day, an ad for a free meditation app popped up in my Facebook feed, so I downloaded it. There were a handful of free guided meditations and videos about meditating on it, then everything else you had to pay for. Typical.

I listened to a 5-minute guided meditation, which was actually kind of nice. Then I started my regular practice of just sitting there.

BOING went my phone. BOING. BOING. I had forgotten to silence the thing.

I looked at it. There were a series of texts.

“Hi, Suebob!”
“This is Chad from The Annoying Meditation App!”
(Why all the exclamation points, Chad? I thought we were supposed to be calming down here!!!)
“I just wanted to know if you need any help getting started with meditation!”
(Yes, Chad, the help I need is for you to quit texting me.)

I deleted the app and went back to just sitting there.

Ah, much better.

Chi and Me

May 13, 2018

I have taken Tai Chi a couple times, once from a good teacher and once from a bad one. Tai Chi Chuan is a series of 108 movements meant to exercise the body, calm the mind and improve the flow of vital energy – chi.

In the search for a new, good teacher, I went to a Tai Chi class at my favorite yoga studio. I found it wasn’t the Chinese practice, but a shorter, American version that was created as warm-up exercises for the longer form. The short form, Tai Chi Chih, took on a life of its own.

Halfway through the first class, I knew this was My New Thing. I felt like I was born to do this. I left class so happy and with so much energy that it was almost like not being me at all.

That was three weeks ago and now I have taken classes from three different teachers, including a class at park on Saturday morning at 8:30 in a neighboring town, which meant I had to get up at 6 to have breakfast, walk the dog and drive over there.

During the third class I took, someting remarkable happened. I felt the chi. Not as an imagined thing. As a real force. The chi is not some woo-woo thing. It exists just like my hand exists and my pants exist.

I was doing the closing movement (each exercise has the same closing movement) and suddenly my left hand felt it. I don’t know what I did, but my teacher instantly knew I felt it.

She said “I spend years teaching people to try to feel that.”

I know I’m going to teach this class someday. Mark my words.

In case you’re curious, here’s the founder doing the opening warm-up.


May 12, 2018

Back story: I answer my phone with my name because my phone number once belonged to Jim Schwartz, a guy who does some kind of financial thingy. For the first year I had the phone number, I got at least a dozen calls per week for Jim.

After blocking hundreds of numbers and explaining the finer points of the Telecommunications Privacy Act to a bunch of people (“It doesn’t matter if you are a vendor. You STILL need to comply!”), I’m down to about one call per week for Jim, but I still answer the phone that way for unknown numbers just in case.

Today the phone rang.

Suebob: Hi, this is Sue Davis.
Unknown dude: Nuh uh
Suebob: Pardon? THIS IS SUE DAVIS.
Dude: Silence.
Suebob: Silence.
Dude: HELLO?
Suebob: Yes?
Dude: Davis???? Where’s Michelle?
Suebob: You have the wrong number.
This is the part I love.
Dude: No, I doubt it.
Suebob: Yes, goodbye.

Reader, he waited about 15 minutes and called BACK.

To give the callers for Jim Schwartz credit, once I explained that I was not Jim Schwartz, none of them ever said “No, I doubt it.”

Girl Problems

May 5, 2018

So remember my last post when I talked about mom having a crush on a guy at her home? A much younger guy?

Well, now there’s intrigue. When I visited Thursday, she told me that “that young one” (another lady at the home, Laurene, who is in her 70s — so a young floozy) and her guy are flirting with each other.

Mom made a little face where she pursed her lips and waggled her head disapprovingly. She thinks Ron and Laurene are into each other. Both are married. Laurene’s devoted husband visits almost daily. Ron is just charming to every person he speaks to.

It’s an unvarnished look at how we make up stories in our heads. This isn’t real. Mom’s age, cognitive and memory issues make it obvious.

But how much of my life is exactly like this? Most of it, probably. The filters in my brain create the world I see – whether people are kind or mean or helpful or stupid.

I think this is the reality behind what trite books like “The Secret” are trying to get at when they say “You create your reality.”

It’s not that thinking about a red bicycle will make a red bicycle appear on your porch, and that thinking about cancer will give you cancer.

It’s that you can look at every situation and every person in a multitude of ways, and those perceptions are up to you. You may wake up and say “This is not my beautiful house. This is not my beautiful wife,” like the Talking Heads song says. Or you may wake up and say “This life is so amazing and beautiful and I love my home and my wife.”

I often look at the world, especially when it seems ugly, and think “Wow, all of this is a product of choices.”

Now I’m thinking that even my choice to see it as ugly is the more important choice. What’s out there? It depends on what is inside.

Blast from the Past

April 30, 2018

My mom’s old helper, whom I will call Anita, called tonight.

This was remarkable because Anita left about 3 years ago for an 8-week temp job in another state and had never returned.

Despite the fact that she and my mother were very close – she often told me how much she loved my mom, and they spent their time together yakking and laughing like schoolgirls – Anita never called. Never sent a postcard. Nothing. Mom was heartbroken.

I texted her. I called and left voice messages. I sent Facebook messages. I begged. I told her how mom asked about her every day, how sad Mom was, how she asked “What have I done to make her hate me?”

Nothing. Not a word.

Mom’s helper after Anita was Anita’s niece.

So when the phone rang at mom’s and I didn’t recognize the number, I expected a telemarketer. I answered tentatively.

When I realized who it was, I put her on speaker and handed the phone to mom. “Hi gorgeous!” Anita said. “It’s me, Anita!”

“Who?” Mom said.

Anita tried to explain who she was. Mom didn’t remember.

“Did you come in the afternoons? Rose, is that you?”

“No, it’s Anita, Anita, remember?”

“I’m sorry, honey, there were a lot of people and I’m sure you were one of them, but I just don’t know.”

When I took the phone back from mom and walked out into the hall, Anita was sobbing.

“I love her so much and she doesn’t remember me!” Anita said. She was bawling hard.

“Well, she’s having a hard day, and her memory isn’t what it used to be,” I said, holding myself back.

“I was gone and then I lost her number…” she cried.

She lost her number. Her NIECE was mom’s caretaker.

“Ok, then, goodbye,” I said. I was short with her because that was the best I could do.

I thought about yelling at her, telling her how much she hurt mom. But she knows. What good would it do? I hope never to see her again.

I’m just writing this down to remind myself of this lesson. Make the phone calls. Write the letters. Stop by and visit. Sooner than later. Sooner than too late.

A Little Flame

April 28, 2018

Remember back in November when I thought Mom was dying? Ha. Six months later and she is still alive, alert and enjoying lemon meringue pie.

In January, we moved her to a truly lovely home with 5 residents. It’s in Montecito, so she’s Oprah’s neighbor.

The place is run by two Polish people. There’s a woman my mom calls “Doris” or “Dorothy” because she can’t remember her Polish name. She is former nurse who loves to decorate for holidays and keeps every surface in the home shining clean.

And then there’s the man. He’s one of the most caring people I have ever met. Maybe 45 years old, strong, stocky, with a cute accent. He calls the ladies “Darling” and “Sweetheart” and makes little jokes with them as he takes them to the restroom, makes their beds, wipes their chins.

Last time I was there, Mom leaned over, eyes gleaming. “I have fallen in love with that guy!” she said with surprise in her voice. “I just did!”

I glanced from my mom, 92 years old, in her wheelchair with her catheter bag, back hunched – over to him.

“Ok,” I said. “Just don’t let his wife find out.”

Keeping Watch

April 25, 2018

As I walked the dog around the high school area tonight, choir practice was getting out. It was about 9 pm.

After almost everyone was gone, one girl remained. She stood near the lit-up statue in front of the school.

She had long, straight hair and artsy glasses with chunky sienna-colored frames. She held her phone in her hand. I could tell from the way her shoulders were hunched that she wasn’t happy waiting by herself.

I let Abbie mosey around the lawn on her long leash. We made one lap. Two. We went over and sat on a bench for a bit. We moseyed some more.

I didn’t say anything to her.

I saw a car pull up and her shoulders dropped. She ran to the car.

Abbie and I began to walk away and the girl’s dad drove her off.

She doesn’t know me and I don’t know her, and I don’t think I ever will. I just want parents to know that some people are watching your kids and they’re not all bad people. Some of us are looking out.

Keeping Up

April 16, 2018

When my dad first died, of course I worried about my mom. They had been married over 60 years.

She was sad, of course, but nowhere near as devastated as I had feared. Some parts of her new life gave her great joy, and none more than having 100% control of the TV remote.

As a faithful wife of the Greatest Generation, my mom had never for a moment inconvenienced my father by watching any shows he didn’t want to watch. She sat through endless years of endless seasons of baseball and football, never complaining, standing by her man.

With him gone, mom was free to explore 256 channels of cable fun, and she found what she truly loved fairly quickly.

My mom loved the Kardashians.

She watched every dang Kardashian show she could rest her eyes on, sometimes the same episodes over and over.

The problems were two: she wanted to share her newfound love for the K’s, and she has a terrible memory for names.

Cue me perched in a recliner chair, trying to muster up an interested face while my mom recounted what had happened on last night’s episode.

“The one, you know, the one who married that basketball guy, she came in and just ignored that other one, and the mother didn’t like that but she had to leave with that guy, is he her husband or I don’t know, I don’t think he’s the father of all those girls…”

That’s my problem in life folks. I just can’t keep up with the Kardashians.

April Foolishness

April 1, 2018

I haven’t been to the gym in a while. I mean, a long while. Since I last went, babies have been conceived and born and have begun walking. I keep my membership for 2 reasons: blind hope I may someday get my butt over there and the fact that my work reimburses me for my membership.

I recently changed credit card numbers, due to fradulent activity on my account. The gym called and left 2 messages for me to update my information. Two messages in two hours.

I called back and gave the woman, Shelly, my info. She was very nice and friendly. She told me she noticed I hadn’t been in in a while and wanted to give me the option – if I needed it – to freeze my account. I wouldn’t be able to use the gym, and they would just charge me $10 per month.

I said “Shelly, I feel like the only time you ever call me is when you need to…”

“To talk about billing!” she said sympathetically.

“Yes,” I answered. And it makes me feel like no one cares about my health. Would you or someone call me once a week to remind me to come in and work out?”

This was my April Fools joke. I was waiting for her to sputter in shock at my audacity.

“Sure, I’d be glad to!” she chirped.

Joke was on me! “Oh, Shelly, you’re too kind. I was just messing with you because it is April Fools.”

“Well, when you said it, I thought, wow, there are a lot of times I wish someone would call and check up on me, so I said yes.”

“Have a good day, Shelly.”

“Ok, hope to see you soon!”

There ARE nice people in the world.

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