Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Not much to say….

Lately blogging has taken a backseat to writing deadlines for paying work and possible paying work. And, those who know and poke fun of my volubility will chortle uncontrollably, also lately I haven’t had much to say.

That alone should be worth writing about…but it’s not.

I was going back through old blog posts the other day to find a recipe I know by heart but still wanted the ‘written down’ version. Unlike some writers, I loathe reading anything I’ve penned once it’s done. So many words, so little time…why re-read mine? But I was struck by my sincere prolific-ness in earlier posts.

Why did I have so much to say previously and so little recently? The aforementioned work is one reason.

What drew me to writing and journalism initially is the love of other people’s stories. Even though I have the joy of making up all the stories my mom and I write now, once upon a time I was a reporter and taught reporting for umpteen years.

This week I’m playing ‘girl reporter’ and interviewing a friend of mine for the West Virginia Writers, Inc. spring newsletter about workshops he’ll be giving at the group’s annual conference this summer.

People are always sharing their tales with me. My older son, Erik, says it’s the invisible neon sign flashing on my forehead that certain folks can see. He’s got it too. So does my friend Karin Fuller, newspaper columnist extraordinaire.

But some stories are not mine to write.

Today a thousand miles away a memorial service was held for the father of one of Erik’s best friends. Paul Becker, father of Benny, Abby, and Nina, died at his home last week.

I knew Paul as an extraordinary father to an extraordinary son. My own son is moving through this week in a trance, wishing he could be with his friend. Another friend, Alex, just had to return to college. He wishes he could be with Benny too. Ironically, childhood friends Alex and Benny attend separate out-of-state colleges across the street from each other.

I got started thinking about all of this looking for a recipe for Alex, who’d planned to bake for his friend what the boys all used to call my ‘magical squares.’

I think today, as in the wonderful book “Like Water for Chocolate,” chocolate chips aren’t the only ingredient in those cookie bars, which I plan also to bake and send off to Rhode Island.

Today this is a tale about loss and love and wishing all stories only had happy endings.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

On Aging

"The great secret that all old people share is that you really haven't changed in 70 or 80 years. Your body changes, but you don't change at all. And that, of course, causes great confusion." -- Doris Lessing

Earlier this week I paid five bucks for a small cup of black coffee at a local bakery cafĂ©. No I don’t live in Seattle or New York City. The caffeine actually only cost me a dollar, but I left the change in the tip jar.

Somehow the adorable 20-something barista and her sweet-as-pie 30-something co-worker and I got on the subject of age. Twenty thought I was her mother’s age and thirty concurred, which would put me roughly a decade younger than I am. No, I didn’t ask them if they needed new glasses, but I did leave a 400 percent tip. Made my day, even though I am still skeptical about their eyesight.

Part of it is the gene pool. My maternal grandmother smoked, drank, and sunned and didn’t look ravaged by age. My mother doesn’t smoke or drink. She has an aversion to garlic and eschews the sun. A waiter once asked her, quite seriously, if she was a vampire. She’s not. But she does look younger than her chronological age.

My chubby face helps I guess, but lately I’ve spent a lot of time peering closely in the mirror. Fine lines are etched around my eyes, freckles (age spots?) have appeared where none were before (I spend a lot of time in the summer walking in the sun), and then there’s the gray hair.

I stopped dyeing years ago, preferring gray to the black or brownish-orange hues that always resulted. When I started the process of un-processing, one of my friends was horrified since silver telegraphs a person’s age much more loudly than dyed tresses do.

When it comes to ‘maintenance,’ I’m low or no, a trait my husband appreciates (and which helps make up for some of my less…charming…characteristics!).

When I was approaching 50, the one person who could console me was my 90-year-old great aunt. You really can’t complain to someone her age that 50 is old.

My late Grandpa Rock would have been a century plus one on Thursday. He died when he was just sixty and I was ten, setting off what seems like a long pattern in my life of people I love and adore going way before their time.

So I’ve decided to spend less time on narcissistic nose-pressing against the mirror, and more on aging, if not gracefully, gratefully.