Sunday, January 01, 2017

Collecting My Thoughts and Other Things

I considered posting yesterday. All day I thought about the things I might write about: cleaning, collections, pastimes, taxes, summing up the greeting card 'season,' etc. Also, my boycott of football.

I didn't do any cleaning yesterday. But I did on Thursday, I even moved the furniture to get the vacuum behind and around and under things. So the 'living room' area of the main room got cleaned pretty thoroughly. I'd actually started on it the day before.

When we moved in, we had a heavy coffee table I couldn't move. We gave it away and I have those trestle tables. I have an area rug I can move. I've got sliders on all the furniture like that heavy hide-a-bed couch. I have to move the couch to get to all the shelves above it. See below. There are vestiges of former collections on those shelves. Book and barware.

Gosh...I've had so many collections. The globes for a while. (All but the smallest were given away.) The Bendable Posable figures. Many remain in my possession, but some are gone. Old toys. Many gone, a few remain.

I was thinking of pastimes because I played tennis yesterday. The Saturday game consists of all ladies somewhat older than I am. One is so distracted that she never knows the score and seems angry when I tell her what it is. One I have the following conversation with repeatedly: "Thirty-love." "What?" "Thirty-love?" "What's the score?" She also moves only one or two steps on any given point. It's a bit frustrating. The third is my regular partner for my Tuesday and Thursday games as well and, while she's the oldest at 85, she moves a little and is engaged in the game and score. Still, these other ladies play and I play with them although it is more or less frustrating depending on the day. Some of the ladies I play with also have other pastimes. Mah-jong and Bridge, for example. Really. I can't believe I even know people who play these games. Many also participate in debutante balls for children. Seriously.

My major pastimes are tennis, reading and television. Yesterday, we watched a little (very little) inane NYE coverage. FFP watched football. I checked the score occasionally to see how much longer, but mostly I read and worked puzzles. (Puzzles are my major pastime and literally it passes too much time and becomes a time waster.) I'm boycotting football for a ton of reasons. Not that I was contributing much but my eyeballs to it before.

We did get a holiday card yesterday and I suspect we'll get more next week. I may respond to this one or not. It has to stop somewhere. I'd never gotten one from this person before. They are an employee at one of the charities we give to, but it's a personal card. I'm probably going to take the lot of them down from display today. Another year of winter holiday.

I also thought about my taxes yesterday. I organized the spreadsheet for the mortgages we own to get that to the CPA for preparation of 1096/1098 forms for the government and mortagees.

Today is the last of Holidailies. I only missed two days, I think. Will I continue blogging here. Well, maybe. It's been kind of fun and cathartic.

Friday, December 30, 2016

True Facts

This was from Thursday's edition of The New York Times. The truth and the facts have been the subject of much discussion lately. The truth is so elusive, though. Even if you see it in print in a reputable publication it may be overridden in subsequent editions with corrections. I found these particularly amusing for some reason. The beautiful part of the online world, of course, is that, while it is guilty of spreading lies, the wonderful obituary of Vera Rubin can be subsequently corrected there whereas a clipping would rarely be matched with a clipping of the corrections.

This charge to write every day leads to some interesting choices, doesn't it?

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Social, Media and Social Media

Seven years ago I had been in a protracted period of fighting my Dad's health and maintenance problems. I posted some tweets (which got sent to Facebook) and today they are in a stream on Facebook called 'On This Day.' So seven years ago I was dealing with lots of issues that, I guess, I can now look forward to in my own future. (Unless I get the bus hits me, instantly killed, death. One never knows.)

Social media keeps us informed of the drumbeat of normal folks. There are friends and acquaintances who end up in the emergency room or having surgery or suffering at home. I'd never know about it but for social media. People create art and plays and music and pictures and snippets there on social media are all I ever know of it. There are lots of real stories there, too, Links to genuine news media. And links to junk and lies. I skip most of it. (Yes, Carrie Fisher is dead. Her mom, Debbie Reynolds, too. No, I don't think that there is a war or Christmas or cops.) I read three newspapers and dispatches online from a couple more. I read The New Yorker. These publications employ fact checkers. 

But I'll keep reading social media. Because I want to know if you are sick or hurting, lost a loved one or are just enjoying life by eating, drinking, going to shows or movies, and visiting with family. It is a pulse for my family, friends and acquaintances. The other day I realized how much some people rely on my feed for a pulse of what I'm doing. I got an email from someone asking if we were all right. Because I hadn't posted in a day or two. 

I hope social media keeps going as a through line to people's real lives. But I hope we rely on real media produced by journalists to give us news.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Old Friends

I've been married to my husband (FFP) for over forty years. But I've known one friend I met up with today even longer. The other three ladies at this somewhat every year gathering (we couldn't figure it out last year) I have known for a long time as well. Decades.We all became friends somehow. I worked with two of them. The friend I've know the longest in the group was a workmate in the early seventies, before I moved to Austin and met FFP.

Yes, I met LG at work. (Her name is Linda, too. Hence initials. I go by LB a lot. Too much Linda confusion.) She and I went to the same college. I didn't know her there but met her when she interviewed for a job at the company where I'd landed after I graduated. She got the job and we became friends. She'd gone to Europe the summer after she graduated, I think. I was envious of this. We both made friends with a guy ten or fifteen years older than us who was a true Europhile and travel maven. I think these two (and the mind-numbing job with no future) inspired me to quit that job in 1972 and, armed with a three month Eurail Pass, a miniature camera and some clothes and a small amount of money, book a flight on Icelandic Airlines for Luxembourg. That trip is a long story for another day, but when I returned I got a job again, but at a new place. My friends at the other place and I stayed in touch. After I quit that next job to take one in Austin and before I moved, my friend LG and I went to Europe. Also, a story for another day along with the other trips and meet-ups I had with her over the years.

LG took this picture of me on a trip to Russia in, I believe, 1993.

Another friend at the meetup today, Pam, I met through LG. LG ended up in the LA office of the company where we worked together. Pam worked there, too. (They had escaped the era where this company never promoted women by sticking around.) They became close friends and travel buddies. They were both laid off from that company after years there, I think. LG ended up spending a year in Berlin and then, in a crazy twist, getting a job at the company I was working for in the last years of my career. So LG moved to Austin, but still spends time in LA with Pam and traveling with her. Pam visits Texas for the holidays, Hence this meetup we try to do each year between Christmas and New Yera's.

Another friend, Deb, I met on an airplane flying into Austin in the '80s. We were both on work trips and had seats next to each other. We determined that we both played tennis and that we only lived a couple of miles apart on the same street. She took my phone number but never called me. I told FFP about it and he determined her number from my knowing her name. He used the phone book. Remember phone books? We ended up getting together socially. After a while, we realized we had the same birthday and that our mothers had also had the same birthday although she was a year younger and her mother had been a year younger than mine. Her mother and father had died young and Deb became close to my parents. (Who never met a friend of mine they didn't like.) Deb wasn't married and her nieces and nephews kept coming to 'visit' and staying for a long while. Then Deb got married. in our backyard when we lived in the big house. Deb visited my mother in the hospital after her Multiple Myeloma was discovered in the few months between diagnosis and her death. Four years later Deb was diagnosed with the same cancer. She is a 10-year survivor, but it's been a long struggle. I don't think we've taken any trips together, but we've had many adventures around town.

The fourth friend at this lunch is my friend SuRu. (Letters from first and last name.) We became friends when a mutual friend was living in UK and sent a box of presents home to me but didn't want to send SuRu's gifts to her and included them in my box with instructions to deliver them. SuRu and I have been pals for years. We've done some traveling together, too.

SuRu took this picture of me at Lake Lucerne back in the 90's I think.

We've grown old in these decades. The oldest in 70 and the youngest is 62. Only the youngest still works. We told stories from our lives over lunch and worried about world events. It was good to see everyone. I took everyone one of my greeting cards and wrote a little note to go with it. I need to get together with them separately and catch up even more. I doubt I'll ever do any travel or meet-ups in distant spots with any of these gals again nor will we have any of the more adventurous activities of our past. But we have lots of memories.And I'll cherish them as long as I can remember them.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Trivial Things

Pet Peeves? Trivial things that bug you when people are fleeing bombs and scrounging for food in other parts of the world. Yep, I've got them. And I bet you do,, too. I try to laugh them off, though. I read my newspapers. A story about a starving teenager who died after eating poisonous roots in Venezuela or a Middle Easter family trying to assimilate in the U.S. after fleeing and spending years in a refugee camp, that's the perfect antidote to the trivial things that irritate me. Still, I think I'll write about them!

Let's start with fashion, given the photo. It's a reflection of me in loose-fitting jeans, a jacket, and cap.The shop is a fancy one on West Sixth Street called Julian Gold. Look at those shoes! Here is my attitude toward fashion: I try to dress neatly in uni-sex style. I want to be comfortable and not look too out of place. Not to say that I don't like fashion. Just on other people. I like a great variety of clothing on others, men and women. Although...

Let's talk about purchasing jeans that are already ripped. I'm OK with ripped jeans, but wear them out and let the denim slowly fill the lint trap in the laundry. Personalize them. This is a really popular thing right now, the ripped designer (and no doubt expensive) jean. (Unless it's already on its way out. I hate the keeping up part of fashion.) I do like runway shows, though. Great theater. Just don't asked me wear 99% of what's shown. :)

Yes, I put a sideways smiley face up there at the end of that paragraph. A colon followed by a close paren. I don't really like emoticons. Even less do I like emojis which are actual pictures. Use your words, people. Type out pizza or merde. Oh, maybe it overcomes language barriers, but, on my phone, they are mostly too small for my old eyes to make out. So, if you are really on a car trip driving through saguaros don't put a car and a cactus emoji. Just say you are driving to Marfa or something.

Oh, Marfa. Oh, all the places that hipsters go where I don't really see the point exactly. Especially Marfa. But also Santa Fe and Aspen a little bit. Sigh. I'd actually take being in downtown Austin over a lot of these places. Where I lived for eight and a half years.

And, yes, I love living downtown. But I'm tired of being asked over and over: "Do you like living downtown?," "Where do you buy your groceries?," and "Don't you hate the traffic." I've been here over eight years. If I hated it, I think I'd find a way to move. I buy my groceries at (1) the deli in the building; (2) Trader Joe's which is 100 yards away; (3) Whole Foods (which is 1/2 mile away); and (4) all the same places you buy them (Costco, big grocery stores) when I'm out in my car which, thank you very much, I don't have to do a lot SO the traffic doesn't bother me nearly as much as it does others! I don't ask other people "How do you like living here and having to drive downtown in the traffic to see just about any live show?" I don't ask them if they mind having to drive every single time they want groceries because they cannot walk to any place to even get a six pack. But I might start asking these questions. Maybe just on social media, though, and not at parties and such so as not to make a scene.

Ah, yes, social media. I love Twitter and Facebook. But I don't love the attitude and baiting. But, also, more trivially, I don't love memes (I don't really like the word either). Especially memes that are just a picture that is really words. A poster with words to be big on the social media and get attention. I despise those memes that say "I'm about to drop some of you who won't read this to the end, copy it to your feed, etc." Oh, please do! Drop me, that is. I love it when someone expresses their own thoughts, takes a picture of the kids and dogs (even the adults) or generally marvels at what is going on around them. I am moved when you mourn your relatives or pets. However...

We all know Carrie Fisher is dead. Genuine news outlets have reported it. The year 2016 did not take her or any of the other unfortunate celebrities who passed this year. Leave it to the Academy Awards and such for the tributes. Unless you have a 'me and Carrie' story. That would be interesting. (Although, yeah it was too bad. She was only 60. And I just saw that my own husband shared the story. So there you go. He did so to say what a great writer he thought she was as well as an actress. So, OK)

I'm sure I have other pet peeves, little things which don't matter but, in the moment, make me forget that I'm well-off, well-sheltered, well-fed and don't hurt anywhere at the moment. There is the way millennials cross the street oh-so-slowly when I'm waiting for them at a stop sign (even when they aren't buried in their phones). There's the way, when I'm the pedestrian, that cars occupy the crosswalk I'm using even though I'm trying to get out of it much faster than the average millennial. (Granted these behaviors aren't every millennial or every car, but still, irritating.)

But, I'm off to a movie. I'm walking there, not driving. I'm sure I have some pet peeves about movies or their audiences. But I'm oh so lucky and who am I to complain.

Monday, December 26, 2016

Holiday Cards

As December (and Holidailies) began, I wrote about the tradition of sending snail mail cards during the season.

It's time to sum up the season. I'm sure I'll receive and send a few more. But here are the stats to date: I've gotten 45 cards in the mail, I think, that weren't from charities or businesses. I've sent just a few more than that. We put them all on the small cubby hole desk in the dining room or on the screen that hides (well sort of) our step stool, ladder, and vacuum when they aren't sitting somewhere else in the apartment.

We got every variety, pretty much. Pictures of the family and pets. Wreaths, trees, snow, penquins and all that. I checked my database for each address, made note of receiving the card and, usually, sent one in return. I saved the stamps off a lot of them. Just to make the pictures below, really. The post office seemed intent on obliterating most of them with a large, messy 'Seasons Greetings' stamp.

I have noticed, this year, scores of 'cards' that were actually emails or Facebook posts. I like these, but they are fleeting and they don't usually have the added benefit of confirming the address in the real world nor getting a little personal, hand-written note.

I miss when we did more communication like this although when I sent hundreds I had to automate and print labels and stamp or pre-print return addresses. I will stick all these cards in a box with my leftovers of the ones I sent and, next year, I'll toss them, maybe saving one or two really great ones. They made me happy whenever I glanced at them in the apartment. There was a time when we had more ephemera and it was fun to save it: letters, cards, ticket stubs, playbills, pamphlets, etc. In storage I have a ton of it but lately less and less gets created and less and less gets saved. I'm both glad about this and sad, too. Meanwhile, I'll be looking through the boring mail for the next couple of weeks hoping for cards and maybe replying with one of my own.

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Christmas is a Day of Rest

I missed writing anything yesterday. I was going to scoop up goofy pictures from facebook and put them here. Today will be a day of rest from many things. The picture was taken Friday of the long-suffereing husband (FFP) at Austin's Headliners club. They have a party on December 23 every year. It's from 11-2. I had several Bloody Marys. That's me in the mirror, post eating and drinking. We didn't do anything much after the party. Before the party we walked over to the bookstore (our local independent, BookPeople which is about a half mile away) and got a book we'd ordered. (Because we don't have enough books.) I think, after drinking in the middle of the day, I was pretty well finished. We read and watched movies.

Our Christmas Eve was jam-packed because we made it so. We went to the Armadillo Christmas Bazaar and heard a set from a band we like (Albert and Gage) and then we had an enchilada lunch at El Alma. It was a balmy day so we walked across the river to do this and, after lunch, walked up Doug Sahm Hill and through the dog park to say 'hi' to Stevie Ray Vaughn.

We read until time for our early reservation at Fixe. We had biscuits, steak tartare, pork roast,and barbecued beans. The roast was enough for six people (or more), but we knew going in that we were going to take a lot home. (If I ever get hungry again, it will be breakfast or lunch.) We had a bit to drink. A cocktail, some wine. We bumped into someone we knew who was alone at the bar and the three of us dined and dished.

It was still early when we packed it up. Fixe is a block from our apartment. We sat down and read a bit and were dozing, but, yes, we roused ourselves and went out again! We walked the five blocks to the Elephant Room and met up with our friends Butch and Linda. I drank a Guinness. FFP was down to diet Coke at that point. We lasted a set and Butch sat in for the final number and it was all we could do. The late show at the Elephant usually goes to 1:30 a.m.

By midnight, I was reading David Foster Wallace's "String Theory" (a collection of heavily foot-noted essays about tennis) in my bed. I fell asleep a few times squinting over the footnotes. And sleep.

Today is Christmas. And Sunday. I plan to publish this without editing and curl up in my chair with The New York Times magazine puzzles and CBS Sunday Morning. Maybe at the end of the day I'll write about my Christmas Day. I bet I don't get out as much as I did yesterday!