Places

The Beatles, as they so often did, said it best:

There are places
I remember
All my life
Though some have changed
Some forever, not for better
Some are gone
And some remain
All these places have their moments

I’ve always formed strong attachments to places. The house I grew up in in Connecticut. The house we bought in France across the border from Geneva. My office. Yes, I have a deep love of my office. Because when the company gave me that office, it was as if I’d gotten the winning office Lotto ticket.

For 11 years, I’ve dragged everyone I know up to my office to see the view. I’ve even taken you, my bloggin’ buddies up there a few times, like when the space shuttle flew over on its last lap and when two Supreme Court Justices visited us immediately after the oral argument on Obamacare.

From my three large windows, I can keep my eye on all things Washington. I can see much of official DC and a big hunk of Northern Virginia. Nobody in Our Nation’s Capitol gets on a helicopter without me knowing about it. And I can tell you for a fact that Dubya’s motorcades caused a lot more disruption than Obama’s do.

My pictures all suck.  But this is from the building's own website (Photo credit http://www.rosslynoverlook.com/image-gallery.htm)

My pictures aren’t as good. This is from the building’s own website (Photo credit http://www.rosslynoverlook.com/image-gallery.htm)

 

As you can see, my office overlooks the Lincoln Memorial up the Mall to the Washington Monument, the Smithsonian, the Capitol Building. During the Inaugurations, from my office I could see the bunting hanging from the Capitol Building.  I can also see the Jefferson Memorial, the bridges, National Airport (which I will never, ever, ever call “Reagan Airport” while there is life in this body),  Arlington Cemetery.

The Iwo Jima Memorial to the U.S. Marine Corps is one of my favorite places to walk on nice days.  It lists all the major battles the marines have seen. The Iwo Jima doesn’t list the “Civil War,” though. Amusingly to this Connecticut Yankee, it lists “The War Between The States” because, after all, it is located in Virginia.

A picture from last night's walk.

A picture from last night’s walk.

The Pentagon is ahead, just to the right. Folks who were present that day heard the impact as the plane slammed into the side of the building there on the right, although no one actually saw it hit. They smelled the smoke, heard the sirens, saw the fire engines fly from every direction. For a while, when we were all still expecting an imminent attack on Washington, I worried that I might have a window on history to something I would rather not see.

View 4 Pentagon

That’s the Pentagon, behind the Netherland Carillion. Oh, and my window is very dirty. Gonna have to leave this place.

When there was a small earthquake in the middle of the day a few years ago, I watched (from my spot in the doorway) as government helicopters swooped in to inspect the bridges for structural damage before the ground stopped trembling. I’ve often imagined that drivers on the bridges must have felt like they’d suddenly stumbled into the filming of a James Bond movie, as the choppers dipped and spun to get a closer look.

A month after I started working there, a townhouse just down the road went up for sale. The ad highlighted the view from the rooftop terrace of the townhouse, and priced it at $2.25 million. I clipped the ad, taped it to the fridge in the kitchen with a note:

“Hey, we get PAID to look at this view!”

Sadly, today is my last day as an office space lottery winner. Monday, my company will begin the week in new office space.

I’m just not sure how I will be able to keep an eye on Washington for y’all.

Sigh.

 

Sigh.

 

 

90 Comments

Filed under Adult Traumas, Huh?, Virginia

A Missed Opportunity at The One-Eyed Pig

Normally, I don’t spend much time thinking about my own funeral.  But a few years ago, I attended the perfect funeral.  I decided that I want one just like it.  Because people told stories!

And of course, this funeral was held at a bar.  Which made it more of a party.

Not just any bar, though.  It was held in a slightly down-in-the-mouth watering hole, pool hall and barbeque pit.  But its name was what truly made it memorable:

Yelp Image

Yelp Image

Still, it wasn’t perfect.  Because on that very day, I missed a golden opportunity.  A chance to shine.  A chance to tell a story.  A chance to be remembered by a room full of people who would smile at just the thought of the, ummm, guest of honor, and of my story.

Damn.

Truthfully, I don’t know what happened.  It’s been decades since I had stage fright.  If I’d made a fool of myself the only people who would know it were strangers and family members.  My family has seen me fall/fail before; they love me anyway.  They have no choice.

It was Jeff’s funeral, my late sister Judy’s first husband.   Father to my wonderful niece and nephew.

In addition to my niece and nephew and their spouses and kids, of course, Jeff’s wife was there, along with Jeff’s two sons by his second marriage.  I’d gotten to know and like them at various family gatherings throughout the years.  Judy’s second husband was also there, along with his mother and sister.    Family gatherings in my family tend to be complicated.  They often involve more non-blood relations than blood relations.  Which is really pretty neat, if you ask me.

So Jeff’s funeral was well attended.  And since the bar was still open, in addition to family and friends, a few patrons stumbled in, surprised to find themselves at a funeral.  But the beer flowed, and nobody seemed to mind.  Or notice.

At one point, Jeff’s wife suggested that anyone with a story to tell about Jeff should speak up, and tell their Jeff story.

Now, it’s important to note that Jeff and I weren’t close.  Jeff and Judy had divorced nearly 40 years previously, and I had only seen him at big family events.  I was mostly at the funeral to support my niece and nephew, and to spiritually thank Jeff and my lucky stars that the two of them have been in my life.

Still, I did have the perfect Jeff story.

Only I didn’t tell it.

There was a room full of people, waiting to hear good stories.  Some who knew me, some who didn’t.  The perfect captive audience.

Only I choked.

I listened to other people talk about Jeff, how they’d met, how they’d interacted.  What a good guy he had been.  They were all perfectly acceptable stories.  Nice even.  But nothing memorable.

I knew that my story was better.  I would have been the star of the funeral.  Well, one of the stars, anyway.

Of course, that’s why I didn’t tell it.  Right?  I didn’t want to show anybody up.  Right?  I didn’t want to take the spotlight off the guest of honor.  Right?

Today is the anniversary of Jeff’s passing.  It’s time to correct my mistake.  Right my wrong.

Time to tell my Jeff story.

*     *     *

Wednesday afternoon study hall in ninth grade, held in the cafeteria, had assigned seats.  I sat at the table with three popular girls.  I didn’t qualify as a fourth popular girl.  They tolerated my presence.  More or less.

In the middle of the hour, Leah, the most popular and giggliest of the three, got a pass and went to the girls room.  She came back flustered, smiling.  Practically swooning.  She whispered to Karen, who immediately needed to go to the bathroom.

Karen came back just as excited.  Miss Williams, the study hall monitor and nasty old math teacher had to shush her and Leah up.

And then, of course, since there were three of them, Debbie had to take her turn going to the girls room.

Now I’ll admit, I was curious as to what was going on.  What was so exciting in the girls room?

I didn’t rate highly enough with them that they’d include me, tell me what was going on.  I sat there at the table while they exchanged notes, feeling left out.  Unpopular.  Friendless.

Study Hall ended, and the four of us at the table were held back for a moment by Miss Williams to be reprimanded for making so much noise.  But realizing that I hadn’t been included in the mayhem, I was let out ahead of Leah, Karen and Debbie.

I walked down out the door and was surprised to see my new brother-in-law, Jeff, standing in the hall, pushing a broom.  Jeff was young, handsome, and newly married.  In those days, and for the first few years of his marriage to my sister Judy, he took whatever job was available.  So Jeff had started working as a janitor at my junior high that very day.

And just as Leah, Karen and Debbie walked into the hall, Jeff put his arm around me, gave me an affectionate kiss on the cheek and flashed his amazing smile at me.

The three girls stopped and stood with their mouths agape, looking between me and Adonis.

You see, Jeff was drop-dead gorgeous.

This is why the girls were all flustered.  Jeff was a ringer for actor Jan-Michael Vincent.  Bot seriously good looking men.

This is why the girls were all flustered. Jeff was a ringer for actor Jan-Michael Vincent. The resemblance is uncanny, actually. Both seriously good looking men.

“Are these your friends, Lease,” Jeff asked, smiling at me and at them.

“This is Leah, Karen and Debbie,” I responded, not explaining that I wasn’t cool enough to be considered their friend.

“Nice to meet you,” Jeff said, smiling briefly at the girls, and then flashing me another big grin before giving me another peck on the cheek. 

“Lease, you’d better get to class before we both get in trouble.”

The four of us walked on down the hall.  But instead of walking ahead of me as they would normally do, the three girls included me in their conversation.  They wanted to know all about the gorgeous guy who had just kissed me — twice — right there in the hall.

But I just let them wonder.  The four of us walked into Miss Williams’ math class, and I sat down with my friends.  My real friends, who liked me even before they met Jeff.

Sadly, Jeff didn’t last too long as a janitor at my Junior High.  All the girls spent way too much time in the hall, staring at Jeff.  Jeff was always polite and gentlemanly, worked hard, and always had a peck on the cheek for me, especially when the popular girls were looking.

On this anniversary, I raise my glass to my handsome brother-in-law.

Rest in Peace, Jeff.

And thanks for that one time in school when I was considered cool.

93 Comments

Filed under Adult Traumas, Family, Humor, Wild Beasts

Happy 80th Birthday, Gloria Steinem

Elyse:

Happy Birthday, Gloria! And thanks for all you’ve done!

I LOVE the quote — and I had those glasses too!

Originally posted on Life in the Boomer Lane:

Steinem

 

Gloria Steinem turns 80 tomorrow. Life in the Boomer Lane knows better than to assume that most people are aware of those people who have shaken up the world in ways that change us forever. So, for those of you who missed Gloria Steinem, here is a quick review: She was hot enough, as a young journalist, to go undercover as a Playboy bunny in 1963 to expose the misogynistic world of the Playboy empire. She was prolific enough to have authored several bestsellers. She was witty enough to have coined any number of memorable phrases, including “This is what 50 looks like,” on the occasion of her 50th birthday. She was creative enough to have co-founded New York Magazine and to have founded and run Ms Magazine. She was feisty enough to keep going, in spite of women who were threatened by the idea of taking their lives into…

View original 282 more words

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Filed under Humor

When YOU were 21 …

What were your plans and dreams at 21?  Are they different from the dreams you had at 31?  At 41?

Did you make any decisions at 21 that you would change if you could?

Did you want to have children when you were 21?

Would you change anything?

Image credit Beststuff.com

Image credit Beststuff.com

*     *     *

The daughter of a close friend of mine is 21 years old.  R will be having some medical procedures in the next several months that might impact her ability to have children in the future.  R does not want to have children.  Ever.

But R’s mom, has asked that R freeze some eggs, just in case.

Just in case R changes her mind.  Just in case R’s future spouse wants to have children.  Just in case humanity is threatened and we need every able-body to procreate.

OK, last one is mine.  But I think you will agree that with the way things are going, it could happen.

Would you please tell me your story in the comments? Or draft a post and link to it in the comments.

Here’s mine:

At 21, I was dating a man I was certain I would marry.  Erik and I would remain in Boston.  I had just started my first year of college (I’m a late bloomer) and planned to finish my degree within 4 years.  I would somehow get back into acting and singing.  And life would be good.  Up there in Boston.

I didn’t give a thought to having kids.  They were not anywhere in my conscious thought except for my fear of unintentionally creating one.

Looking back 36 years I can tell you that I was wrong about much of this.  Mostly, my life changed, and as it did, I changed my mind on most of it. 

Because Life’s what happens when you’re making other plans.  At least according to John Lennon.

Photo credit:  Trashthedressonline.com

Photo credit: Trashthedressonline.com

I ditched Erik.  I left Boston and moved to DC (with Erik), a place I’d never been to when I was 21.  I never finished college, which makes me a seriously late bloomer.  I did not get accidentally or intentionally pregnant; instead I struggled with infertility for several  years.  I was right about one thing:  life (in DC and the other places I’ve lived without Erik) has mostly been good.

Interestingly, at 25, when I had my drastic GI surgery, I still wasn’t terribly concerned about having kids.  After my surgery, something occurred to me:

“Will the surgery affect my ability to have kids?” I asked, during a checkup in my hospital room after the surgery.

“It shouldn’t.”  Dr. Herbert Hoover responded (yes, that was really his name.  It still cracks me up.)

“I’m not really all that worried,” I said.  “I’m not completely sure I’ll even get a date in the future!”

It was years later, when I’d started dating and then married John, that the idea of having kids became important.  To both of us.

It was not to be, and we happily adopted Jacob.

As an adoptive parent, I feel a little bit funny giving R advice.  Because I am glad I have the son I have, and I wouldn’t have him if I had, or had been able to, freeze some of my eggs.

So, nope, I don’t ever wish I had a different kid.  He is mine, and I love him and John loves him.  We always will.

We couldda done without the heartache of infertility though.

So, my bloggin’ buddies, what were your thoughts at 21 about having kids?  Did you change your mind or were you right at 21.  Are there other things you projected, at age 21, that would occur in your life that didn’t?

Please either tell me in the comments, or write a post and link back here.

150 Comments

Filed under Humor

Freakin’ Friday Feature! TwinDaddy Does it for Me!

Today I received possibly the best honor since I received my Oscars in 1983.  And I’m pretty sure I didn’t deserve this one, either.

Yes, today, TwinDaddy of Stuph Blog honored me by featuring me, Elyse(!) of FiftyFourAndAHalf.com on his relatively regular Friday post:  Feature Friday!

Now if you don’t know about TwinDaddy, I must tell you that he and I met over a gun control post I wrote.  He disagreed with my anti-gun stance.  Strongly.  But politely.  Respectfully.  He and I have debated this issue, along with many others on which we disagree with respect, facts and humor.  Of course, I continue to always be right, but TwinDaddy is always — and I mean always — a terrific guy whether we are agreeing or disagreeing.

But TD is more than that.  He is a sensitive, father of three incredible boys that he loves deeply and is not embarrassed to let everybody know.  He’s a fun writer of fiction and other stuph including poetry (even I don’t go there!).  He writes about feelings, deep, sometimes dark and sometimes light, feelings that really point out how alike we all are.  He writes about his struggles with depression, divorce and parenthood.

In short, he writes about life.  And his is worth sharing.

In addition “his” blog is filled with all kinds of stuph by not just TwinDaddy but also by Revis and 1Jaded1!  Three Mints in One! Each of them have their own stories to tell, and they are well worth reading.

Actually, I’m pretty sure that TwinDaddy is an anarchist — which is way far to the left of my socialist tendencies.  He is trying to destroy the world.  You see, most every week, TwinDaddy features one of his bloggin’ buddies in a post, asks them to pick some of their own special favorite posts, and asks his followers to read their stuff and THEN asks them to follow those blogs.  Basically, TwinDaddy shuts down the economy of the United States along with virtually every English-speaking country just about every Friday.

It’s been a busy day for me today, so I couldn’t give TwinDaddy the accolades he deserves until now.  So what I’ll do is carry forth the love.  To prove just what an honor being Featured on a Stuph Blog Feature Friday is, here are the other folks who have been so honored:

The Mercenary Researcher

Guapola

The Matticus Kingdom

Daises From Dust

Behind the Mask of Abuse

Rarasaur

Alice at Wonderland

Knocked Over By A Feather

33 Grams of Blog

So you can see, I’m in good company.

Thank you, TwinDaddy, for featuring me today.  But mostly, thanks for being such a good bloggin’ buddy.  YOU Seriously Rock!

Google Image

Well, I said you rock.
And you write poetry.
You wanna make something out of it?
Google Image

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

58 Comments

Filed under Bloggin' Buddies, Family, Huh?, Humor, Taking Care of Each Other, Word Press

I Coulda Been a Contender!

Have you ever wanted to leave a different impression on folks around you than you actually do?

Yeah, me too.

In high school, boys found me cute.  Now to all you high school age boys reading this, please note that the way to a girl’s ummm, heart, is not via the word “cute.”  By the end of my senior year, I had had it with that word.  I’m sure it had nothing to do with the fact that my older sister, Judy, was seriously sexy.  Nope.  Nothing to do with that.

As I entered English class one day, my friend Jonathan was still chuckling over something adorably cute I had said or done in the class we had together earlier in the day.

“Elyse,” he said, chuckling, “you are so cute!”

“Really?” I responded.  “Damn it, I always wanted to be voluptuous.

Jonathan’s mouth, no doubt, is still hanging open.

Years later when I played basketball for a law school team (I was an honorary student at the time with gym privileges), I wanted to be tall.  Very tall.  Sadly, tallness is something you cannot fake.  Especially if you are 5 foot 2.  Damn.  And did I mention that I’m slow, too?  Yeah.  Molasses.

But I’m resourceful, so when my opposing guard, all 12 feet of her, hovered over me whenever I got down court towards my basket, I improvised.  I shot the ball from center court.  Of course I made the shot.  Alas it was before you got 3 points for such skill.

Shooting hoops is a skill that has helped me throughout my lifetime.  I am never, ever, out of reach of the trash basket.  Yes, I am that good.

As I’ve aged, though, I reluctantly accepted the fact that I would never be either voluptuous or tall.  So I wanted to be intimidating.  Physically intimidating.  At 5’2″.  You got a problem with that?

You’ll be pleased to know that now, and for the near future, I could scare the hell out of you.  Or anybody.  If only I’d remember to.

Where I live, the guys who design the roads like to pretend that we are waaaaay out in the country.  They do this by insisting on putting one lane bridges over bridges that cross streams connecting two pieces of major roads.  These road designers either have bizarre senses of humor or a sadistic streak.  Maybe both.

As you drive towards the one lane bridge, you note a white line and a “yield to oncoming traffic” sign.

(Google Image)

(Google Image)

It’s terribly quaint.  You are expected to take turns.

But this is 2014, and there are lots of overachievers around here who flunked only one course on the way to their advanced degrees:  Turn Taking.

On Sunday, I approached one of these bridges, slowed down, and stopped at the white line.  It was the oncoming car’s turn.  After the driver of the oncoming car went, I started forward to take my turn.

Flying down the hill towards me and the one lane bridge I hadn’t yet reached, was someone who didn’t know how to take turns.  And she wasn’t going to stop her Mercedes SUV for me.

My mouth ran on with some choice words, but my foot wisely pressed the brake, and the collision that would have otherwise occurred, didn’t.  But I was, pissed.  And swearing.  And really wishing that I was a frightening, imposing looking person so that I could chase after the asshole and confront her.  Yell at her.  Threaten her.  Teach her how to wait for her bloomin’ turn.

A mile down the road I stopped short and pulled over.

“SHIT!” I shouted as I realized that I had missed my chance.  My chance to stand in front of someone and scare them.  To make them wonder just what I am capable of.  To wonder if they would be able to survive an encounter with me.  All 5’2″ of me.

Because you see, these days I’m a wee bit scary looking.  I look like I’ve been in a knife fight.  Like an abused wife.  But like someone likely gave way more than she got.

Yup.  You can call me Scarface.

Remember last month when I told you about the Valentine’s gift I got? You remember, don’t you — I got melanoma!  (Although, I would have preferred flowers.)

In the intervening weeks, I’ve de-melanoma’d.  Yup, I’ve had it taken out by a plastic surgeon.  And while I will look just fine in two shakes of a dog’s tail, right now I look a bit intimidating.

OK, So I have no makeup on.  Sue me.  Just Don't Mess with Me!

OK, So I have no makeup on. Sue me. Just Don’t Mess with Me!

AND I DIDN’T USE IT!  I didn’t chase after her and make her fear for her life!  I didn’t teach her how to take turns!  Damn it!  I coulda been a contender!

*     *     *

This was just a little ditty to let you know that I had my surgery, that I am now cancer free and just fine, thank you very much.

But what about you?  Did you do what I told you? (No comments from you, Guap!)

Save your skin.  Right now.  Listen to me, and follow my instructions precisely:

  1. Go into your bathroom
  2. Take off all of your clothes
  3. Examine your skin
  4. Check spots, moles and discolorations carefully
  5. If anything doesn’t look right, if you have a bad feeling, if something is bigger or darker or just different, go to a dermatologist and have it checked out.

Even though I look pretty scary now, I won’t for long.  But I won’t forget to use what I have — I will intimidate assholes for several weeks until my scar fades.

But you know what?  The real way I’ll get back at folks who don’t know how to take turns is to take away their sunscreen.  That’ll fix ‘em!

66 Comments

Filed under Cancer, Driving, Health and Medicine, Hey Doc?, Humor, Melanoma, Out Damn Spot!, Stupidity, Traffic

Obama Is A Weak Leader: A Generic Republican Interview

Do you ever feel like another blogger has occupied your brain?  Well I certainly did when I read this guest post by the brilliant  List of X one of my very favorite blogging buddies.  Please send him a message in the comments — a strong message!

*    *     *

From the start of the Russia-Ukraine conflict, every Republican leader and right-wing pundit has criticized Barack Obama for not being tough enough on Russians. If we could interview a generic Republican leader, the interview would go something like this…

Journalist: “Generic Republican Leader, would you have a few minutes to talk about Barack Obama’s response to the crisis in Ukraine?”

Generic Republican Leader: “Yeah, sure.”

Journalist: “Do you agree with the way Obama is handling the crisis?”

GRL: “I don’t. Obama has proved himself to be a weak leader. He needs to be strong, and get tough on Putin.”

Journalist: “And do what?”

GRL: “Obama needs to lead.”

Journalist: “How?”

GRL: “By being a strong and decisive leader.”

Journalist: “Which is…?”

GRL: “Which is the opposite of a weak leader like Obama.”

Journalist: “So what, do you think, is Obama’s weakness?”

GRL: “He’s not a strong leader.”

Journalist: “But what he should do to become a strong leader?”

GRL: “He should act decisively.”

Journalist: “And by ‘act” you mean…?

GRL: “Not mince words, like he does.”

Journalist: “Should military option be on the table?”

GRL: “All options should be on the table – military, diplomatic… but not vegetarian, I hate that option.”

Journalist: “Do you think it’s time for diplomacy?”

GRL: “No, it’s time to send Putin a message.”

Journalist: “But not for diplomacy?”

GRL: “No, because we’re just going to send a message, and we’re not interested in anything Putin has to say to us.”

Journalist: “So what message should Obama send to Putin?”

GRL: “It has to be strong message.”

Journalist: “About what?”

GRL: “That we’re strong and we’re not going to stand for it.”

Journalist: “And what should we do if Putin ignores our message?”

GRL: “We should act.”

Journalist: “Act how?”

GRL: “Decisively.”

Journalist: “But what should we do exactly?”

GRL: “We should put an end to Putin’s imperial ambitions.”

Journalist: “Would you oppose Obama if he proposed a military action?”

GRL: “Yes.”

Journalist: “Would you oppose Obama–

GRL: “Yes.”

Journalist: “Sorry, I haven’t actually finished the question.”

GRL: “Oh. I thought you did. What was the question?”

Journalist: “Would you oppose Obama–

GRL: “Yes.  Absolutely.  My answers still stands.”

Journalist: “So what do you propose?”

GRL: “We need to send him a strong message.

Journalist: “To Putin?”

GRL: “No, to Obama. What about Putin?”

Journalist: “You also wanted to send a strong message to Putin.”

GRL: “Right. Then we need to send two strong messages. Or we can just send it to Obama and copy Putin on it.”

Journalist: “Shouldn’t Obama, as president, send the message himself?”

GRL: “No, he’s too weak.”

Journalist: “But it’s just a message. Obama can just type it and press ‘Send’.”

GRL: “No, Obama needs to physically print the message and walk to the mailbox to send it. Otherwise Putin will see that Obama is too weak to even walk to a mailbox. We need the president who can not only talk the talk, but also walk the walk. We need a strong president!”

Journalist: “Do you think Putin is a strong leader?”

GRL: “Yes, definitely.”

Journalist: “So do you think Obama should be more like Putin?”

GRL: “………….Have I told you that Obamacare will kill three million jobs?”

Journalist: “Thank you for the interview. Any last words for our readers, Generic Republican Leader?”

GRL: “Yes. Vote GOP in 2014! Unlike Obama, we have a clear, strong, and decisive foreign policy!”

78 Comments

Filed under Bloggin' Buddies, Campaigning, Criminal Activity, Disgustology, Elections, GOP, Guest Posts, Huh?, Humor, Politics, Stupidity, Voting, Wild Beasts