Apparently, some people like to Cry

by Mémé

This article from the NYT piqued my interest.   You see, I HATE to cry, and rarely do.   Sentimental stuff doesn’t turn on the waterworks.    Most of the the crying I have done in my life after childhood is the hard, ugly, devastated and/or frustrated kind.     The only kind I have ever found cathartic is the one associated with biological reaction to a sudden physical injury.

The author states:

I cry. I am a crier. Crying releases the anger and frustration. Crying gets the sad out, and it humbles me in a good way. In the aftermath of crying, I experience clarity of thought and a burst of productivity.

And then she lists her favorite ways to make herself cry.   In the internet era, she likes to seek out soldier surprise homecoming videos, tragic gofundme campaigns.   And there are the old standbys –  books like Beaches, TV shows like This is Us, and apparently daytime TV such as Ellen deGeneres.

Are you someone who finds crying a welcome release?   Do you seek it out?   What odd things make you cry?

 

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What’s in a (middle) name?

by Mémé

From time to time we have discussions on names, and trends in names.   Unfortunately, the anonymous nature of the site means that we can’t relate much of anything about the actual names used in our families.

Do you have a middle name?   Do your kids have them?    Is there something in your ethnic or regional background that dictates what is used as a middle name or how many or the order?    What about using two or more last names from both sides of the family?  How about Saints’ names?  Or the Southern custom of using  a family surname for a middle name and going by that instead of the more vanilla first name?

And if you feel like it, please share some of your real ones.    In my immediate family the middle names are  Biblical:   Asher, Isaiah, Ruth, Elizabeth, Jochebed (pronounced yō-‘HEH-but, Moses’ mother), Abraham.   Except for me.  My 1950s mom was assimilated in the fashion oand didn’t want to be ethnic, so it is Beth to honor my late grandmother, Beile (BAY-luh).

Words

by saacnmama

This is a very verbal group, and we are fortunate to have some great writers here. Whatever our level of writing skill, it’s clear that we all like words to some degree; how else would we stick with a group that communicates nearly exclusively in writing?  By this point, most of us have a good guess of the others’ ages. But stepping into the wayback machine, we may have deduced which generations others belong to partially based on vocabulary.

 Do you use any of these words, or have you used them in the past? I never slept on a Davenport or asked anyone about “tricks”, but I not only said “mood ring” and “pet rock”, I had them (a magic 8 ball and Twister too). I still catch myself asking someone to “roll” down a car window and referring to “tape”.
Of course, this is not a complete listing. And there are words the next generation may find embarrassing that we don’t see as problematic. Have you caught yourself using any of these words or phrases? Are there others you have consciously dropped?

 

by Mémé

“How does a word get into a dictionary? It gets in because we use it and we keep using it, and dictionary editors are paying attention to us. If you’re thinking, “But that lets all of us decide what words mean,” I would say, “Yes it does, and it always has.”Dictionaries are a wonderful guide and resource, but there is no objective dictionary authority out there that is the final arbiter about what words mean. If a community of speakers is using a word and knows what it means, it’s real. That word might be slangy, that word might be informal, that word might be a word that you think is illogical or unnecessary, but that word that we’re using, that word is real.”    

Anne Curzan

Link to ted talk on the subject

Have you adopted new words from your children, or colleagues, or social media?

 

 

 

When time runs out to mend a relationship

By Mémé based on a post by saacnmama

Have you ever had a break in a significant relationship, one that you intended to mend, but the person died before you could?

S&M mentioned that seeing praise in the memorial comments for the traits you knew back in the day makes it all the more strange.

Sometimes a break is mostly a matter of drifting apart.   I am sure most of us have been on the sending and receiving end of mid life facebook inquiries.   Sometimes there is follow up, sometimes not.

0ther times there was a clear event or series of events that caused the break.    If we were primarily at fault, we can look to the well known  9th step of AA and other recovery programs.   “Make direct amends to persons [you have harmed], except when to do so would injure them or others.”   Making amends is not merely apologizing or asking forgiveness, but taking action to repair any harm, if possible.

And reaching out to someone when we feel that we are the aggrieved party is very tricky.    “I forgive you” is probably not the best opening line, even if it is true in a spiritual sense.

I recall a book in the 1980s, something like  how to make peace with you parents  (even if they are dead).      That one was helpful to me.  I think my Mom recommended it in the days before we had become close again.

 

 

A Totebag change

by July

Starting Monday, May 7, Mémé will take on the role of co-administrator for the blog. Thank you, Mémé!

What does this mean for you?

Submitting post topics:

  • You may submit posts to Mémé at: memetotebag @outlook.com
  • You may continue to submit posts to me at: gntotebag @gmail.com
  • And, of course, you may continue to add post requests in the comments to the SUGGEST TOPICS page in the header of the blog.

Any and all blog communications may be directed to Mémé or to me. We will be in close contact with each other to coordinate all administrative functions as needed. Two administrators looking out for smooth blog operations should be better than one!

Mémé has some ideas that I think can revitalize the blog conversations we have here, so I look forward to that.

We welcome suggestions or comments. Long live The Totebag!

Any other topics on your mind? We have an open thread today.

Multi generational living

by Mémé

My older daughter has been living with us for more than a year now. It has been just fine. We don’t have a giant house, but the finished ground floor (walkout with patio) is large and has a modest adjacent bathroom with shower and room for lots of storage. She has a parking space across the street for her car, public transit access, a WeWork desk in the financial district, the big tv and loveseat partitioned off by a large IKEA divider (we only requisition it for Patriots games or movies when she is away), good internet service, and a well stocked kitchen (she cooks for the family sometimes), and I try to make meals for “2 ½” just in case, and there is no need to label the food containers in the fridge – if something gets eaten, so be it. For the first year the room was not configured as a permanent studio apt – but this summer’s flood required a reno and that fact papered over two thorny issues – the grand piano, not used for several years, needed to go to storage to do the floor and so it wasn’t a sad rite of passage into senescence for my husband, and also, fixing the room up nicely was a no brainer, so it was not a conscious acknowledgement on either my side or hers that the relaunch isn’t imminent, with all that implies.

What has been unexpected for me is that I really enjoy having another adult around. She helps out and takes up some of the household burden in subtle ways, and not so subtly in that I can leave DH without a lot a worry. I also have someone else besides him as companion. The downside for him is that I have someone else besides him as companion. I have to be more attentive about scheduling couple time. On the other hand, we choose to leave for a few days or longer more often to get away and alone, and it is easier to do so because we don’t have to make arrangements for the animals or other empty house worries.

Of course, I want her to get steady work, consulting or traditional, and move into an apartment again. She lived on her own for 17 years starting at age 20 and still has a decent retirement nest egg, if not much left in the after tax accounts.

Totebaggers, please share your experiences, if any, with multigenerational living and any other thoughts.

Pies

by Mémé

I love pies. Double crust, lattice, open face. Sweet – Fruit pies of all kinds, lemon meringue, key lime, transparent (such as pecan), tarte tatin (for me, not so much cream pies). Savory pies, too. Turkey or chicken pot pies, English pub pies, quiche.

For chicken or turkey pot pie, I use Pillsbury crusts. I sautée coarsely diced onion and carrot in butter, then add chopped mushroom. After that gets cooked a bit (more butter usually needed) I add flour and cook it a bit more (not quite a roux). Then add some broth, the chopped chicken or turkey, shredded parmesan. Then the green veggie, either uncooked English peas or cut up sugar snap peas, and some coarsely diced red bell pepper. Last step is to stir in some sour cream (stop cooking it now). Salt and pepper to taste. If the stock isn’t flavorful, maybe a little herb mix. Then into the pie shell, put the other shell on top with slits and crimp the edges, and into oven at 375 for 40 min. I use an aluminum ring around the edge of the pie plate to prevent burning.

My dessert specialty is very tart strawberry rhubarb, usually lattice top. Secret ingredients are orange zest and a beaten egg along with the flour to bind.

Totebaggers, share your pie preferences and recipes, please.

What a drag it is gettin’ old

by Mémé

There was a recent post on so-called superagers. I pooh-poohed all that in the comments, but I would like to advance another point of view with some seriousness.

After a certain age one needs time, and we who are privileged have the opportunity to take it without having to work for pay well before death is imminent. Time to recover from physical activity. More time to perform tasks, both mental and physical, that formerly you could do quickly or from “muscle” memory without conscious thought or planning. Time for double takes or less than instantaneous recall so that you can be sure you are proceeding or speaking with accuracy.

As an older person, those quick meals on the fly or bits of reading/podcast when I can fit them in lose appeal. I would just as soon skip a meal as scarf something down. And read books in an easy chair, stopping when I reach an actual stopping point and not just the end of the commute. I am also not under the tyranny of the clock for most household tasks. There is almost always tomorrow if I don’t get to something. Or if I really need to spend time on preparing a meal or on the garden or the grandchildren, I don’t have to do with one eye on the start time for my next task. (Although I do need electronic reminders because I have lost the ability to keep all that in my head when there is an actual appointment.)

I know that when I get overscheduled, my body simply tells me to stop. Despite a clean bill of health from my physician this week, and terrific “numbers”, I am currently dealing with a pinched nerve “headache” (still abating), my thumb joints ache all the time, and if I don’t eat on the right schedule and in the right quantity my digestion lets me know its displeasure.

Totebaggers, where do you fall on the continuum between near constant activity/ stimulation, much of it enjoyable, and stillness/recuperation, some of which may seem like unnecessary indolence?

‘To be of use’

by Mémé

To be of use
BY MARGE PIERCY

The people I love the best
jump into work head first
without dallying in the shallows
and swim off with sure strokes almost out of sight.
They seem to become natives of that element,
the black sleek heads of seals
bouncing like half-submerged balls.

I love people who harness themselves, an ox to a heavy cart,
who pull like water buffalo, with massive patience,
who strain in the mud and the muck to move things forward,
who do what has to be done, again and again.

I want to be with people who submerge
in the task, who go into the fields to harvest
and work in a row and pass the bags along,
who are not parlor generals and field deserters
but move in a common rhythm
when the food must come in or the fire be put out.

The work of the world is common as mud.
Botched, it smears the hands, crumbles to dust.
But the thing worth doing well done
has a shape that satisfies, clean and evident.
Greek amphoras for wine or oil,
Hopi vases that held corn, are put in museums
but you know they were made to be used.
The pitcher cries for water to carry
and a person for work that is real.

This poem was read at a memorial service I attended recently, for an indomitable woman who spent the last 30 years of her life in making lives better for battered women and their children in many concrete ways. She was fierce, and never took no for an answer when government or recalcitrant donors or journalists or NIMBY types stood in her way.

I sat for quite a while after the final song. I am not ashamed of the way my life has gone – a few regrets at missed opportunities and personal failures – but I like to think that I continue to take good care of my family and with respect to the rest of the world I try to do what comes to my hand to do. But this woman extended her hand every day of her life.

Please share your experiences with this sort of individual or your own thoughts about your place in the wider world.

‘Indecisiveness is the number one reason for failure.’

by Mémé

“Indecisiveness is the number one reason for failure. Lack of ability to make a decision in a timely manner causes most people to fail with their projects and plans. Identify this challenge and decide to no longer let it be a setback from your success.”

I searched for a quotation to use as the opening for this post, and I got this from a motivational speaker whose book is titled No Excuses.

We often talk about the qualities we wish to develop in our children. Being Totebaggers, after the obligatory nod to future happiness, we usually rank conscientiousness before self actualization, grit before reliance on natural talent. Adventure is laudable in its (youthful) place, but making tradeoffs and being in an overall secure position are the way most of us have conducted our lives and we would prefer our children end up that way too.

In looking at my own life, I would like to propose another quality that is not usually mentioned – decisiveness. I do some vague thinking about what I might want to do at a future and foreseen decision point, but the time comes I take a shockingly minimal amount of time to act. In consumer matters, this is evident. When we bought the townhouse, I went onto the local real estate site, went out alone one weekend in our neighborhood, preselected 3 places, took DH the next weekend, we picked one and made an offer. Done. I was thinking about a new Camry so I put some cash in an account, a very short friend mentioned that she was getting a new RAV4, the lightbulb went off, I spent one evening on the computer and bought the car the next day. But in much greater matters as well. Going to grad school, changing jobs/retiring, getting a divorce (4 mos from move out to initial decree). Obviously not all of my hasty choices work out optimally, but I am always moving forward and if I turn out to be wrong I just pick myself back up and make a change if necessary.

So do you agree with the idea that decisiveness of this type is a positive quality? Can it be developed? Do you think that extended reflection or analysis paralysis is like other “innate” personality traits that are impossible or very difficult to change?