First of all, I would be honored if everyone could check out my new publishing platform, called “Yahoo Contributors Network” and read the first entry I have published on there called “Ode to a Woman Un-Liberated”. It's a tribute to my maternal grandmother, Fanny Triebwasser Vogel, whom I never met, because she died about seven years before I was born. The loss affected my mom deeply, and from everything I heard about her, I wish I had known her. She was only 50 when she died of breast cancer in 1948, in the days before mammograms and chemotherapy.
Time flies so fast that I’m baffled when so-called well-meaning people ask “How do you fill your days?”, or “What do you do with your time?”. Even as a child in non-techno times, when children’s television on weekends ended in late morning, I can’t recall too many times when I complained about boredom. Yes, when the cartoons ended on a Saturday morning, I would turn to my mom -- especially in bad weather when I couldn’t go outside -- and say “M-a-a-a, I got nuthin’ to do today”. Since the only suggestion she could offer was “Why don’t you bang your head against the wall a hundred times?”, I just stopped trying to get her to commiserate with me. You see, in the 50s and 60s, moms cleaned the house every day. I don’t know why they did this, especially in a 4-room apartment, but they did.
When I grew up in the “Projects” until I was twelve, I could always knock on the doors of the many children in my building and ask someone to come play. Often we played in the hallway to get out of the way of our moms, who were cleaning house. If the weather was clement [is that the opposite of “inclement”?], we were outside. Even when it snowed, we were outside building snowmen, having snowball fights,or otherwise playing in the snow. When we needed to warm up, we went inside the building for a while, but never in our apartments unless we had to use the bathroom. And, even then, we’d better be just seconds away from peeing or soiling ourselves, because our moms didn’t want us upsetting the routine by sitting on the toilet too long. I don’t know if any apartments in the projects had two bathrooms -- maybe the larger apartments in the “double buildings”, but at 3677 Nostrand Avenue, every family had one bathroom. And if you were unlucky enough to use the toilet after your mom cleaned the bathroom, she got angry with the timing. “NOW you have to go to the bathroom?! I JUST cleaned the toilet!”. I never understood this, because eventually the toilet had to be used, but after I went, she cleaned the toilet again”
Anyway, I always had the set of World Book Encyclopedias, and I deided it would probably take me forever to get through all the volumes from A-Z, so when the TV ended for me, and the weather was not conducive to going out, and I couldn’t find a friend available, there was always the World Book. I started with “A” and I don’t remember what letter I got through, but I never got to “Z”. My sister and I still joke about watching “Wide World of Sports” and there was always some old movie on. My mother would look up from her cleaning, as we checked the TV Guide [there were only channels 18.104.22.168.9.11. and the educational public-TV channel13], and when we said the name of some old movie, often she would say “Ooh girls, that’s a good one. Watch it!!”
So these days I take those memories and apply it to modern times. I am on the computer most of the day, going through activist types of emails, and signing loads of petitions. Sometimes I am writing articles or poems, reading books in my Kindle, or watching something on the TV. I now have over 1000 channels, and more TV programs to watch on the computer, not to mention games to play. What do I read? Right now I read a lot about nutrition, and I have also downloaded a lot of books for free on Amazon. I have a lot of books on various eras in history and I want to brush up and review the science I so hated in middle school and high school. So I have a bunch of reviews in biology, chemistry, and even neurology. I have changed my eating habits. I was out with two friends last Saturday and one of the women put her French fries in front of me. I didn’t take one, so the other two women shared them. I had a sandwich, and enough bread to satisfy myself. Inside the read were tomatoes, fresh mozzarella [I rarely take in any dairy anymore], and basil. My diet consists of mostly raw foods that come out of the ground. I don’t eat meat, I do eat fish like sardines, salmon, and herring to get the calcium and omega-3, and I pick my vegetables according to what nutrients I want to have. Tomatoes for lycopene, mushrooms for vitamin D [I just learned about this], sunflower seeds for vitamin E, turmeric and chia. I add other things from time to time like avocado, berries, broccoli, etc.
So thanks for asking, everyone. I have no problem filling my time. Most nights, I’m lucky I have an aide to remind me that it’s time for bed. Otherwise, I would probably never get in bed. Knowing you have limited time on this earth reminds me of all the time I wasted, especially with stupid relationships with men and women-- friends and other more intimate pursuits -- that I tried to keep together when they weren’t working anymore. I have wasted so much time in activities that would lead nowhere, and especially in jobs that meant nothing besides a paycheck. I wish I would have worked harder in science class. I wish I wouldn’t have wasted so much time. I want to learn anything I can. I have downloaded on my Kindle a lot of free books on subjects I have long forgotten -- everything from world histories to reviews of biology, chemistry, neurology, and nutrition. If I lived to be 100, I would not have time to get through all this.
Until 2004, I was an independent and active woman -- a former airline sales exec and then a high school educator. Then my body kept betraying me. I was finally diagnosed with ALS/Lou Gehrig's Disease -- confined to a wheelchair and unable to speak. With life at a slower pace, I learned to live a more conscious and mindful life -- buying, eating and other choices. I listen instead of talking, and I observe instead of running and rushing.
Saturday, June 18, 2011
What Do I Do To Fill My Time?
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I don't know if you remember me, but we used to chat occasionally a few years ago (about ALS mainly). Your article just came through on my Facebook feed and I was drawn to read it! It never ceases to amaze me how much we have in common. I grew up in very similar surroundings and like very similar food. When I retired very early, a lot of people asked me what I would do and how I would keep from getting bored! Well, I agree totally with you--boredom is simply not an option. Time flies by so fast and I have the opposite problem--how to keep up with all the things I want to read, games I want to play, TV programs I want to see. I'm actually behind on all these things! Sounds funny, but it's the absolute truth! :-)
I have been following your blog for a whole and really appreciate your writing. I just wanted to say that it's funny what your're writing about moms cleaning the house every day a few decades ago. Thankfully, motherhood has changed into more focus on spending more quality time with the children instead of lots of time spent on meaningless ironing of napkins and underwear..(or sitting smoking in the kitchen).
Hello sweetie. I really appreciate your love for learning. I try to get my Dad to understand that he can use his mind to continue to learn things but he refuses to use it for anything other than expletives and pseudo bulbar outbursts. I wish to show him how others with ALS are coping, yet know that he is well progressed into the late stage of the disease. I poured my heart and soul to try to get him to have your perspective and drive to learn and use his mind but he just cant or wont. I appreciate our love for knowledge and life. Continue to teach us. Love ya. Shalom.
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