Enough Said

Enough Said
A sampling of my columns and why the hell is my picture SO big?

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

January means a new start

Published January 21. 2015 4:00AM
Because this past holiday season was the first celebrated by our granddaughter, and the first for all of us celebrating it with her, I am thinking a lot about the firsts of life. Like first day of school, first car, job, first home and heartbreak.
My first school, on Pearl Street in Norwich, was a huge imposing building to me when I was little. I drove by about 20 years ago, (it was a Head Start Center then, I think), and I was amazed by how small and bleak it looked. My first teacher, Mrs. Homes, was exactly like Miss Shields, Ralphie's teacher, in the holiday classic "The Christmas Story." (Which our family has always actually called the BB Gun Story).
My first bike was a blue Schwinn and my first car was a 'hot' red '65 Plymouth Barracuda I used to street race. I always won. That was back when I was blond and stupid. I'm not blond anymore.
My very first boyfriend was named Barry. We were in third-grade together in Soprano-country, Elizabeth, N.J. My first real boyfriend was a less-than-perfect compulsive liar named Ray. And I know he was a compulsive liar because, at the time, I worked for an insurance company and peeked in his file. It contained doctor's recommendations. That wasn't why I broke up with him. He was also a jerk.
My first husband, (and first true love), is still my husband. He's not a liar or a jerk. He's a nice, hard-working guy, as honest as the day is long. I'm not quite sure what that cliché' means but it does apply to the man I eloped with three and a half decades ago.
When I applied for and got my first job I was excited but also felt like a failure. I had to go to work because I flunked my first semester at college. Working in the men's haberdashery department of a discount department store was not what I considered my dream-career choice, but it did get me the money I needed for a first, second chance, at a second semester of As and Bs.
Our first baby, now has a first baby of her own. Having a grandchild is the pudding on top of the frosting, on top of the cake. As the first grandchild she's the one showered with all the extra affection and attention we didn't have time to lavish when in the midst of raising her mother and her aunt.
Apart from the happy firsts there are the difficult ones too, the one's which break your will and your heart. The first hospital stay, death in the family and first passing of someone younger than yourself. The first time you don't get your dream job, or lose it, get laid off from it or fired from it. The first time the partner of your dreams doesn't show up or doesn't call.
The first time you look mortality in the eye, you realize that when first and final are in the same sentence, there is an end to all of this. Maybe, just maybe when that happens, it's the first time you get a second, or a third chance, to get the rest of your life right.
January creates a new first for each of us every year. Resolutions be damned, we get to reinvent who we are every time the ball falls. But wait, as they say in the 'as seen on TV ads', there's more. Every single month thereafter provides us with a new first, a new day one, a new start. Like we said in the '60s, "today is the first day of the rest of your life." If ever a cliché gives our paths meaning, that one does. Enough said.

Stressed and depressed for New Years

There's something about this time of year I find very stressing and it has nothing to do with the fear of maxing out my credit card. It has, at times, even had me demoralized, depressed and begging for my bed. No, it's not that it's dark by 4 p.m. It's the tradition of celebrating out with the old and in with the new when I'd rather be asleep. It's New Year's Eve Parties, the bane of the fuddy-duddy.

We had a New Year's Eve party once, about 30 years ago. It was before children, before DUI checkpoints, before Dick Clark got old and passed away still looking young. I miss Dick Clark Rockin' in the New Year, like I missed Guy Lombardo and his Royal Canadians when I was a kid and my parents were 10 years younger than I am now.

The problem with New Year's Eve parties when you are older, is that they start late and last long. You don't eat dinner until almost ten and if the champagne doesn't knock you out then the heartburn will. I can stay up beyond midnight easily, if I don't switch to decaf at noon, but my husband, he barely makes the last segment of MASH on ME TV which ends at 8.

The one year I remember best is the millennium flip. Some folks were convinced that 1999, as it slid into 2000, was going to upend every electronic device with a clock in it and usher in the end of the world as we know it. Computers were going to go haywire, experts said, crashing in a maelstrom of lost data. I was kind of hoping for that part - especially where banks were involved - mortgage, what mortgage? I don't think I have a mortgage with you guys, prove it.

Folks were hoarding food, gold and toilet paper. Some even fled to the wilds of the back woods to hide out from the chaos of the Millennium-Armageddon they believed the yearend would cause. Somehow, building latrines, chopping wood and beating your dirty laundry against rocks on the shore of an icy river does not sound like a New Year's Eve party I'd want to attend. Although roasting marshmallows over a campfire while the ball falls sounded like fun.
I watched most of the world's celebrations that year on TV. All day long they played and replayed the festivities from one side of the globe to the other. I remember thinking how amazing it was that we were able to watch yesterday's festivities half a world away today, and that over there it was already tomorrow. And this was before Facebook, where we can share tomorrow, what happened yesterday, today.
One year in particular was monumental to us. As the end of 1986 approached my husband and I were at an impasse. We had an important decision to make and we weren't sure if we should leave it to the almighty, or speed things along. Our second daughter was due and my obstetrician told us that he could schedule a C-section or induce labor, depending on which year's taxes we wanted to claim our newest deduction. We decided on letting nature take its course. Rachel was born on Jan. 2.

This year I think we'll be sticking close to home, although we've been saying that since we didn't need a babysitter. If a last minute invitation comes in I'm telling my husband he can decide whether we go or not -he's the one that can't stay awake. Maybe this year we'll just let nature take its course. Enough said.