Dichotomous: something with seemingly contradictory qualities.

That’s how I have often described myself.  Early this morning when I mentally started writing this that’s what I thought this would be about. But after a whole lot of thought that would be such a simple description but humans are not so simply described. Humans are more complex than either/or.  I have always seemed to be a person who went from one extreme to another and spent a lot of mental energy dragging myself to the middle.  I wonder now why I did that – why did I feel i could not feel and act on all my interests, desire, passions. I’m not talking about anything irrational here.

For whatever reason I spent the first part of my life craving stability while harboring a deep need/want to kick everything over and just go; just be. I stayed in residences too long, I stayed in jobs too long, I stayed in relationships too long.

And all the while I wanted to be the girl in this song.   It was the 60’s and a part of me wanted this life and to be that girl.

But my need for stability and certainty kept me tethered to other people’s expectation of how to live and who to be. Except – that was only the public me. It looked like I was following the middle line albeit in a slightly rebellious way.

I didn’t have the opportunity to go to college full time after high school so I worked the 9-5 and went to school at night. Maybe it was a working class thing, or maybe it was an Italian thing, maybe it was just time times (remember I was born in 1946) but my father alway said “Girl’s don’t need an education” and yet he was always educating me. My parents never knew I was taking what y’all call college prep courses in high school; they never knew I applied to college.

As soon as I could I moved out of my parents home into my own apartment and LIVED ALONE! Holy crap you have no idea what a hell storm that kicked up. The only way an Italian-American girl left their parent’s home was in a wedding gown or a coffin. Me, I left by bus.  1967 – it was a very good year.

The living alone thing was also shocking to most people – even the more liberal minded folks. Lots of girls my age flocked to NYC in those years, chasing a little fun and a husband. They lived 3 and 4 to a 2 bedroom apartment in Manhattan. Me, I was chasing freedom.  And other things. A studio apartment in Queens was more than good enough for how I wanted to live.

So I was, at the same time, the good girl and the bad girl. More often than not the good girl is who people saw (despite my living arrangements; time normalized that.) It was the good girl who stayed too long and tried to look all even and level and middle of the road. It was the good girl who was just a little afraid of giving up what little security and stability she had.

I spent 20 years being the woman who could sing this song.  I remember the time a gentleman of my acquaintance said to me, very seriously, because I was known to run in those circles, or at least on the perimeter, “I didn’t know you knew Billy Joel”. I said “I don’t know Billy Joel, why do you say that?” He replied “I would have sworn his new song is about you” And that song was this one. I didn’t know quite to make of that so I asked several other gentlemen of my acquaintance what they thought.  They all agreed – that song was very much about me.

I had become, to a certain degree, the person in those earlier songs who I admired. I can’t say that I did it consciously. I just was being me, the real me. The only thing missing was the wandering. The moving from here to there. The wanderlust was tamped down. Stability won the day in the practical but the freedom loving, no strings, risk taking, confident bad girl, she lived too.

And she still lives, but only in the recesses of my mind. I have physically lived in so many, many places these past 30 years and learned that there is no place called home. Wherever I am that is my home until I move on to the next. I’ve learned that I love that. I crave that.

But, now it is not the need for stability and security that holds me back but rather responsibility that holds me down. Being the good girl keeps me where I don’t want to be. Keeps me being who I don’t want to be.

But there’s the trick, I am the wild child and I am the responsible child; I am both but I have to tell ya, I miss that wild child. Oddly enough it is the responsible me that has caused me more grief and pain (and money!) than the wild child every did. And all the regrets are laid to the door of the responsible one.

The wild child, the bad girl, she regrets nothing. Only that she let the responsible child win. That she regrets.


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After you've turned off the light, and closed your eyes

and settled down to sleep – what are you thinking?

Does that seem an odd question? Do you just close your eyes and !Boom! you’re off to dreamland? Or do you start doing mental gymnastics – jumping around all the things you have to do tomorrow or the things you did did today that are bothering you?

Or do you decide on what you want to dream about – mentally saying “I want to dream about ____”  Someone told me that they count backwards from 100 – I tried that, I lose track and it’s boring and I still don’t fall asleep.

Sometimes I try to sing myself to sleep, in my head singing, not out loud singing. I may start with the Doxology and move on to the Sanctu Kyrie part of Anthem . I’ll sing these over and over in my head. I guess I fall asleep eventually. One way or the other, most of the time, I fall asleep eventually.

If my brain decides I have to relive a variety of embarrassing, painful, uncomfortable incidents from the past, well then, there will be no sleep at all. Sometimes, I’ll just tell myself “Stop that, don’t think about that, think of something else”.

Sometimes I have conversations that could only take place in my mind, never in real life. Or, if some event is happening the next day I will rehearse what I will say and do. The time before sleep is never without thoughts, lots of thoughts, some conscious, some unbidden.

What happens in your head when you put it down to sleep?

Ah, technology!

The virus lockdown stuff has had little to no effect on our lives. My husband has been telecommuting for 12 years now. We only ever left our apartment to go grocery shopping and doctor’s appointments – so no change there.  We have been living in social isolation all these years now. I’ve never really adjusted to it so my angst is just business as usual.

Therefore I rely on technology for everything – social stuff, business stuff, shopping stuff, entertainment stuff. My computer and my internet connection are my be all and end all. That said…

Yesterday our internet went out around 1pm and didn’t come back until 9pm! Hoo-boy that’s a long time to be disconnected from my “life”. The upside was that I got a lot of administrative work done – boring bits and bobs that I have been putting off (procrastination thy name is Grace).  Luckily I had done all the bookkeeping on Monday so bills had been paid (end of month bill paying, you know).

That left the evening. My husband usually watches the news from 6pm-7pm and then watches ‘entertainment television’ until 9:30 or so. He eats his dinner while watching. Me, I rarely eat dinner and I never watch “television” in the living room because a) there is nowhere for me to sit and b) I have little interest in anything on offer and I can’t pay attention to anything for more than an hour – seriously, 45 minutes is really my limit for sitting passively and looking at something.

I get the kitchen cleaned and closed for the day by 7:30pm, take out the trash and then I – well I will watch one bit of entertainment – Lately my go-to is Escape to the Country on YouTube. I LOVE house hunting shows. I got addicted to these when we watched them on Acorn or BritBox – neither has had any new ones so I’m catching up on 20 seasons of the show via YouTube. I can actually filter the episodes by host (I have a huge crush on Jules Hudson LOL and I can avoid Alistair whatever-the-hell-his name is).

Last night we had to resort to Scrabble and dang I had a good night. Usually my husband wins by a wide margin, last night it was my turn – 297 to 196! Go me! I think the funniest part was I seemed to have a theme going. I started with ‘doth’ and proceeded to ‘fain’ and ‘thwart’ and later building on that to ‘athwart’ – You see the theme, don’t you. I thought it was hilarious.

It’s always a good day when I can beat my husband at Scrabble – the only technology needed was my brain!

P.S. – These new large print keyboards are da bomb! You have vision issues? Big finger issues? Shaky hand issues? You so gotta look into one of these.

Clicky, clicky

While I’m waiting for my new tech toy I’m still typing on a keyboard.  We are an all Apple household except for keyboards. I never liked Apple keyboards, even the extended ones that I’ve had (I need that numeric keypad).  The keys seem too small for my fingers (I have big hands) and I need a steeper angle.

I found a terrific keyboard – Matias mechanical keyboard for MACs . One of the pros for this keyboard was the little riser feet – you could have the keyboard almost completely flat or flip them out and get a steeper angle. Also, best of all, all the ‘extra’ symbols are printed right on the keys – need the degree sign – easy to find, it’s printed right on the key, just click ‘option’ plus the key and voilà. Actually the accent over the ‘a’ in voilà is also right there on the keyboard – quick and easy. One of the downsides to the keyboard is that it is huge without the keys being any larger than a regular keyboard – bummer. I’ve had two of these keyboards, and they are a bit pricey, can’t remember why I had to replace my first one but…

Last week I was working at my computer and I saw a tiny black ant, I smooshed the fellow and then saw another, and another! What the heck? Where were the ants coming from? I don’t eat at my desk; checking along the window sill, along the baseboards – no hint of ants. I mentioned it to my husband and he said “Hey, I’ve noticed the same thing but only on the desk with my work computer.” (My husband has 2 desks, side by side, one for his work computer and the other for his personal computer.) The only connection I could find is that the desks with ants are both next to windows, and yet, there is no indication that the ants are coming in through the windows. Hmmm…

After a week of smooshing ants I was getting really annoyed and puzzled by the ant situation. Then I noticed they seemed to be coming from my keyboard! WTH? I flipped my keyboard over and gave it a good shake and here come a few more. I did the same to my husbands keyboard with the same result. Question answered (more or less). So the keyboards were tossed. My Matias and my husband’s Apple keyboard. I gave my husband my old Apple keyboard and I resurrected, from the “techie stuff no one uses or knows what it’s for” box a wireless, tenkeyless Apple keyboard. I swear that thing is smaller than a phone keyboard. I then searched for new keyboards.

Without going into a lot more background of the whys, I found a keyboard for old people – big keys printed with big letters – easy to read and use. They come in several configurations including black printing on yellow keys, how that is helpful I have no idea. I bought white print on black keys for my husband, it was a bit pricey, and I found a (much) cheaper keyboard for myself that looked like it might suit my big hands (and lousy typing skills). His was a winner, mine, not so much. So, I broke down and bought myself the old person’s large print, big keys keyboard too.

I gotta say, while I don’t particularly need the large print aspect I do love the the large keys part.  I’m not sure how much it will improve my typing skills (I’ve already fixed numerous typos) but then I’m still getting used to it. I miss my special symbols keys on the Matias and the cheapo replacement I had bought had some nifty shortcut keys (like a key to take a screenshot, that was cool) but I am enjoying it.

I suspect if anyone has read this far you are bored to death  but who knows someone might find it useful.

Here's the thing

I have learned to keep my opinions to myself, at least publicly, keep my mouth shut and mind my own business. It’s been a long hard lesson to learn and sometimes I forget.

I wanted to write about all the things I don’t say but that kind of goes against the lesson I’ve just told you I’ve learned. So I have all these important conversations in my head. Or I pour them out on my long suffering husband, most of them anyway because there are some he wouldn’t be interested in. Actually I doubt he is interested in  any of them .

On the hot topics of today his most recent response was “Most people aren’t you and me.”  Well, yes of course but I can’t help but say, over and over, “How stupid can these people be?”  I can understand something intellectually but be completely flabbergasted by it emotionally.  Intellectually I understand that most people’s prejudices are rooted in fear, emotionally I don’t understand that because emotionally I don’t understand why they are afraid.

On a more personal and specific note re: minding my own business –

I think I mentioned recently that my female DNA contributor, who I have had no contact with in 25 years, died in May at the age of 103.  And that my niece contacted me through Ancestry to inform me of this event.

My niece is 46 years old and the last time I saw her she was a baby. Her father has been on my ‘no contact’ list longer than her grandmother had been. Perhaps 20 years ago my niece and I made contact and exchanged emails and then that contact ended because it was difficult for her to be a member of her family and be connected to me at the same time.

She obviously knew her father and her grandmother were not part of my life and she was torn between loyalties and obligations to her immediate family and her interest in getting to know me. I never shared my reasons for closing these people out of my life because they were obviously a huge part of her life. My story is not her story.  I accepted this disconnect; I had no desire to make her life more difficult.

Several times in those 20 years she made hesitant overtures to re-connecting and then backed away. I always respected her decision. Besides you can’t make someone like you or want to be in touch with you, can you?

So where is this going? I did reply to her message and and she replied that she has been trying to understand her family and it’s dynamics; that she hadn’t had any contact with her father for a year and half and that yes, she would like to go forward with a relationship with me. Ok, we became friends on Facebook, she has all my email addresses and then – crickets.

I have decided that I won’t try to contact her again, not gonna push my way into her life. Admittedly, when I responded to her initial message I did say some un-positive things about her grandmother, nothing about her father, you don’t trash other people’s parents unless invited to, but perhaps that was too much. Her relationship with her grandmother is her story, and my relationship with that same woman is my story.

Totally my mistake there, I should have remembered to keep my opinions/thoughts/feelings to myself. But it also reinforces my newest lesson learned – not to pursue connections when the other person seems to have no interest in such a connection. I’m easy to find, if someone wants to find me, they can. I’m not running after people any more. It takes two tango, and I’m tired of being the only girl at the Sadie Hawkins dance.

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It IS a Thing…Dilly, Dilly

I’m not much of a woo-woo person but there are some alternative practices and methods that I support wholeheartedly mainly because I’ve tried them, they work. Acupuncture, hypnosis and aromatherapy – all of them worked for me. Maybe I’m easy or suggestible (I am so not); cynicism is my first reaction to anything even remotely woo-woo but sometimes I suspend disbelief and go with it.

Aromatherapy, specifically lavender, is my go-to soother.  It is actually one of the essential oils that even the medical establishment acknowledges as having a calming effect and can be helpful with sleeplessness.  (There are links at the end of the post if you are interested in what the ‘experts’ have to say.) Essential oils will not cure any illness but they will alter moods, and sometimes that’s all you need.

Whenever a friend expresses that they are stressed or having trouble sleeping I send them something made with lavender essential oil – most times a candle, often sachets and most recently, cologne.

As I was preparing to write this I started researching lavender and my oh my does it get complicated and I won’t bore you with the details of types and places, it is more information than anyone really wants to know, unless you are contemplating becoming a lavender farmer. I will say that if you use essential oils then you must bite the budget bullet and get the best because a lesser grade or a diluted essential oil will, quite frankly, stink (literally and figuratively).

But the scent of lavender and the various colors of purple are a bit of an obsession with me.  A fairly new obsession I might add. Until I was in my early 50’s the color red and scents like Obsession, warm spicy scents (before Obsession I wore Tabu, Shalimar and Coriandre) were my identity, now it’s purple and lavender.

I believe in an essential self and that as we get older that essential self manifests itself more and more over the self that we created when we were young. When we longer have anything to prove we can be who we really are – I’m lavender scented purple.

Aromatherapy Links:
Medical News Today, Healthline, Mayo Clinic, Web MD, Wikipedia

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