#%&@!#@!

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The nice part about age is you no longer care as much what others think. You dress how you want, look how you please, say what you feel, and do the things you want to do. That was one of the things I admired the most about my grandmother. 

Gramma lived until 98, and she was well known for speaking her mind. She was funny, sweet, and irreverent as hell. All the borderline raunchy expressions we knew as kids, we picked up from Gramma. My mother wouldn’t allow us to say “hell” or even “damn” at home. I remember sitting and giggling with Gramma (my mother’s mother) at some funny thing she’d said or something we’d seen together. 

2BC35592-15FB-468A-B585-3DF8E0C411ACBecause I couldn’t swear at home, of course, I swore like a sailor away from home. I swore at school all the time. My mother always thought swear words showed a lack of intelligence. I loved my mother, but I can see now that my mother was uptight and prissy as hell. Where she got that from, I don’t have a clue. Gramma was a stitch, and my aunt (my mother’s sister) was a lot of fun, too. 

I remember my mother being horrified when my aunt MaryEllen said, “If you can’t beat them, join them” about swearing (and her own teenaged children). In hindsight, my mother’s method didn’t work either. Her strict rules (she yelled at my poor father once when he said “kick him in the balls” when he got excited yelling at a televised football game) only made me want to rebel more. She didn’t make me more refined or softer spoken. 

F6367446-4A8D-456D-AEEB-5298DF5C3482This was a woman who watched AND laughed at Monty Python sketches, for pity’s sake. She had a sense of humor, but  she didn’t swear. Her favorite expression when arguing with my Dad was, “Oh, go soak your head!” I will admit that I have told my sweet hubby far worse in the heat of battle. 

I am who I am. As far as my mother goes, I might’ve respected her rules more if she hadn’t been so ridiculous about allowing others to speak freely. So what if I said “fuck” on the day of my father’s funeral? I was 28 years old, and she yelled at me like I was 7. So what if my father said “balls”? I do believe that was the only borderline thing I ever heard that man say. He never swore, at least not in front of my mother, but I can guaran-damn-tee it that he swore at work. 

I remember a conversation once when he was discussing his coworkers who were all older men than he was. He said something about how they all farted and they all cussed. My mother was thrilled, of course. She probably thought they were corrupting my Dad. He spent five years in the Army during WWII. Does she think the soldiers were all non swearing, gentle-bred men? It was the Army and it was WARtime!

I often think my mother would be disappointed in how I’ve turned out. I’m happier than I’ve ever been, rough edges and all. Sometimes I cringe internally when I hear myself (thanks, Mom). I swear more than my trucker husband does. My oldest son got worse at his first job. He worked at a car dealership with a bunch of guys, older mechanics. He came home with funny stories about one guy nicknamed “Hippy” who swore every other word. You had to laugh at some of the things this guy came up with. My youngest son swears, too. Who cares?

I know. My mother would. But my mother has been gone thirteen years. So I swear. I have five tattoos. I have pink highlights in my long, naturally curly hair. I wear black fingernail polish, leggings and rock band t-shirts. 

I also have two college degrees, one earned with a 4.0 GPA. I’ve worked since I was 19 (forty years). I’ve been married (according to Date Calculator) 10,451 days or 28 years, 7 months, and 12 days. I have two adult sons, 27 and 22. I have my own home, and I pay my bills on time. I read. I write. I play the guitar. I may not be outgoing, but I can fake it. I may not be a great housekeeper, but I’d rather do other things than clean. I may swear, but I don’t drink or do drugs. 

488723EF-9C98-4247-8212-234CD07D1636I can hear Toby Keith singing, “How Do You Like Me Now?”

I’m not positive my mother would like all of my rough edges (many of which popped out after she died), but I hope she’d find enough here to be proud of raising. 

How do you like me now, Mom? And I’m really not sorry I posted the word ‘fuck’ online for all the world to see. Shit happens. 

Images courtesy of Pinterest

Just Keep Breathing

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Today finds me at the Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Endoscopy Center, part of  the University of Rochester Medical Center.

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I’m here for a hydrogen breath test which tests for lactose intolerance and SIBO (small intestinal bacterial overgrowth). I’m here because I complained to my primary doctor that my belly issues are still not completely gone. So this seemed a simple test.

Yesterday I ate white bread, white rice, white potatoes, plain, baked chicken breast, unflavored black coffee and water.  I have had nothing by mouth since 7:55 p.m. last night. I got up today and brushed my teeth at 5:55 a.m. (it had to be two hours before my test). And they ask if you’ve done all this. I took my prescription medications this morning with the tiniest sip of water.

So here I sit. My side of the room is all people who are doing the breath test. All of us are starving. Every twenty minutes we get called into the room behind the brown door on the right in the photo. We exhale into a handheld device attached to a plastic bag and then go back out and sit down and wait to be called again. This goes on for three hours.

We all drank a sugar (lactulase) solution when we got here, and our bodies are now digesting it. The exhales test for the hydrogen in our breath. As you digest, your body breaks things down. A high hydrogen level indicates something isn’t working right.

My belly is percolating at the moment. I’m not sure if that’s hunger or something the lactulase is brewing up. I guess we’ll see. I hope it’s not gas. This waiting room is crowded.

Mostly this is just boring.

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I’ll let you know how I make out. I just want to go eat!

Fear the Reefer

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Music has always been a huge part of my life. I remember listening to 45’s on a record player in my bedroom as a kid. I had to be all of three or four; it was definitely before I went to school. I’d put music on and ride my rocking horse! I remember listening to ‘Charlie Brown’ by the Coasters (“Why’s everybody always picking on me?”). From there I progressed to one of the original, “boy” bands, the Osmond Brothers. Thank God I graduated to Neil Diamond not long after that.

My mother listened to Johnny Cash, Glen Campbell and Tennessee Ernie Ford, but I didn’t get into country music until I was much older. My older brother was listening to the Beatles, the Rolling Stones and Jimi Hendrix. I remember him listening endlessly to ‘Iron Man’ by Black Sabbath. That song was released in 1971. I also remember him listening to rock music on an FM radio station in his room every night, and if he was in a good mood, he’d let his kid sister listen, too.

Music was a constant at our house. What’s that cheesy slogan? Cotton is the fabric of our lives? Well, music is the fabric of mine.

Although I listened to music all the time growing up, we really didn’t see any of it live. My mother didn’t care for crowds and socializing wasn’t really her thing. We didn’t do concerts in the park or music at festivals. My family preferred their music on the radio or the record player.

One day my cousin and I decided to try our first live concert. I couldn’t recall exactly how old we were, but an online search shows the concert tour we were interested in took place in 1975. I was 16 and my cousin was 15. What my (naive) parents were thinking at the time, I have no idea.

At 16, I was quiet and shy and not at all worldly. In plain words, I had no fucking clue.

As big fans of Rod Stewart, we decided to go see his tour with the Faces (his band) when he played the Rochester War Memorial (now the Blue Cross Arena). Blue Oyster Cult was the opening act.

Rod Stewart and the Faces

My parents drove us downtown and turned around and went home. Innocently, we walked into the arena, excited to see our first show. We’d seen all kinds of concerts on television. They looked like a lot of fun.

We had seats right down on the floor. We were only a few rows back from the stage. We were so excited. We took our seats, and people began to settle in around us.

Everything was going great until the lights went down for the start of the show. A tremendous rumble almost like thunder began. The seats were hooked together in groups of twos or threes. Unfortunately, mine was not fastened to my cousin’s. The man on my other side leaned towards me and yelled, “Pick up your seat and run!”

Terrified, I asked what was happening. The rumbling roar was the people in the nosebleed seats rushing down towards the stage. They were going to run in and stand in front of us. Not knowing what else to do, I did as he told me. I almost lost my cousin in the rush, but she managed to stay close to me.

No longer comfortable or relaxed, we looked up in real fear and confusion as Blue Oyster Cult took the stage. They opened with their big hit, ‘Don’t Fear the Reaper’. To this day, I think they’re singing ‘don’t fear the reefer’ because as soon as the music began, that thick, sickening, sweet smell filled the air.

Up to that point, I’d lived a pretty sheltered life. I was as straight-laced as they came. I’m 59 today. I fess up. I’ve never tried weed. I had the opportunity. My brother offered it to me, at his house, just the two of us there. I was too scared to try it. He smoked it all the time. I wasn’t interested. I’m still not. I’ve smoked cigarettes. I never had the desire to try pot.

My cousin and I looked at each other. The scary crowd, the loud music we didn’t like, the grass in the air… This wasn’t what we’d signed up for. We got the hell out of Dodge!

White Tower (somewhere, not Rochester)

We walked back down the street to the White Tower restaurant. (This was well before cell phones). We called my parents who had just gotten home and made them come back and pick us up! So much for our first concert.

I can look back and laugh at this disaster now, but we were in tears when it happened. Of course, I’ve since been to many concerts, and I’ve seen and done things that would have shocked my 16 year old self.

Thank God we had the nerve to try again. We opted for something very close to a “boy” band the next go-round. We went to see Gilbert O’Sullivan at a smaller venue, and we had a great time. Then we waited several years and grew up a whole hell of a lot more before we tried anything riskier. We never did see Rod Stewart (or God forbid, Blue Oyster Cult!). I still fear the reefer.

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