Been awhile, hasn’t it?
I’ve been busy building a company while working full time, too busy to keep this blog at the level I need it to be.
But all that busy-ness will come to a crashing halt next Wednesday as I’m wheeled into the operating room for a total knee replacement. This time my left. My right follows suit after the first one heals.
First surgery. First experience of staying in the hospital. Then a longish three month (minimum!) recovery.
I’m excited about walking pain free and cane free. Eventually. I’m curious about the surgical procedure-the plan now is to avoid a general anesthetic and do it via a spinal block and a “cocktail.” I told them to make it a double. And I can’t imagine what having an entire three months or more to focus on getting better is going to be like. I’m the woman who dictates emails to Siri from the shower. I’m writing this during my commute. I’m accustomed to doing at least three things at once.
Focus on me? Seriously?
Thing is I’ll need an outlet or two, for recording this journey, for thinking aloud, for pondering what comes next.
And while what I have to say may not always be joyful–or at times loud enough to be noise, you’re welcome to stick around to how the story goes.
I want to make a few things clear: I don’t wear a tin foil hat so “they” can’t read my mind. I don’t have a working theory on who was on the grassy knoll. While I find the 9/11 “evidence” of the Truthers interesting, I’m not sufficiently naïve to believe that we’re ever going to learn the whole story behind that fateful day—from anyone. And it never dawned on me to buy a used missile silo to hunker down in when the Mayan calendar ended.
Granted, the past week, I’m thinking one might come in handy.
I openly admit to being a news junkie. It’s an occupational hazard; I’ve worked as both a reporter and in PR. The internet and my Kobo have made it a lot easier to get my daily requirement of three to four papers (this is easier to accomplish when one of the things you get paid to do is to know what’s going on) and at least a couple of respectable news websites. Lately, I’ve started collecting headlines—and there have been some doozies.
Let’s see—in the past week, an unmanned drone was spotted flying over Brooklyn. We’re getting buzzed by another really big asteroid that we didn’t see coming until it was nearly on top of us. North Korea is threatening to end a 60-year armistice and seems to think it has the firepower to hit the US with a nuke. There’s all the coverage of the upcoming papal conclave, much up it spiced up with quotes from St. Malachi warning of what happens if the next Pope happens to be named Peter (perhaps a moot point now since Archbishop Angelo Scola has jumped ahead in the odds).
Then there’s the oddest one of all—Israel Battles Swarms of Locusts from Egypt—which is not only biblical in the most literal way but if you consider the plagues Egypt is said to have suffered before releasing Moses and his people, it’s a long overdue irony.
It’s not that I think that any one of these events is some sort of dark sign of the coming of the end of days—although I’m sure there are those that do. And I’m almost willing to bet that every one of these things has happened before—although the last time a pope put in for retirement, none of us were here. The overwhelming part is the concentration of multiple strange, and in some cases, dangerous, events happening at the same time. Twenty-four hour news channels don’t help; they fill space by broadcasting these stories over and over, often with a far more sinister headline each time.
But I have to wonder if we’ve somehow become immune to the horrors threatened in the news. Did something change in the nearly a dozen years since 9/11? Have we become so accustomed to the possibility of terrorists planning destruction and death right under our noses, so blasé about natural disasters, so numb to what far too often feels like the last gasps of civilization that we just don’t have the collective adrenaline to react? If something really bad—something big, life changing—was reported to be headed our way, would we be able to consider the ramifications, maybe figure out some kind of solution—or would we just file it under yet another bad news story.
A steady diet of fear is a lot like the boy who cried wolf. With so many warnings—and the ever-present insinuation that the end is near—there’s a very real danger that we might ignore a true peril until it’s too late.
Ever notice how the people who criticize what you do and how you do it tend to be those who have accomplished very little in their lives. You know the type; we’ve all got one or two in our past. Those whose lives have been an absolute waste; whose only success has been in making those around them miserable.
I’ve also noticed that the people in my life who are the most supportive—sometimes to the point of gushing (it’s ok, sometimes you need that) are those who are the most productive and accomplished.
It’s a confidence thing.
People who have done well with their abilities and their circumstances are simply secure enough to enjoy and celebrate the accomplishments of others. Those who haven’t been able to summon the effort or the determination or the talent to take their lives somewhere lack that confidence…and the only way they can feel any sense of superiority is to cut others down to their size.
How can someone respect or appreciate effort and hard work, commitment and determination, sacrifice and ambition if they’ve never experienced those things.
Both of these kinds of people are going to be in everyone’s life. Hopefully we get blessed by more of the confident supporters than those mean spirited ne’er-do-wells. Sometimes that just comes down to luck.
But we all have the ability to determine how much the attitudes and commentary from both groups are going to affect us. To achieve anything, you have to fill your life with those who support you. Their confidence in infectious. Granted, no one accomplishes anything by blocking out all criticism. You need to go when you’ve gone off track so you can figure out how to get back on. But learn the difference between constructive advice and someone who is faulting you for trying to achieve something they can’t. They’re limiting, fearful and lack direction—and no one who wants to succeed at something can afford to keep this kind of person close. They simply aren’t worth your time.
Be choosy. Choose those who will lift you up to reach your goals, not those who plot to pull you down.
I hate those four words. They reek of old fogey-ness. Outside of a few progressively less credible stories about how my father walked five miles to school in hand-me-down shoes, uphill both ways, in grueling heat with snow up to here (Seriously? In southern New Jersey?), I was pretty much spared that attitude growing up. And whenever I sense that “these kids today….” feeling building in me, I shake it off and try to remember some of the genius stunts I pulled at that age.
But the truth is, as you get older, the present does tend to compare less favorably with the past. Sure, it’s a sign of aging, but whether real or romanticized, there are things, attitudes, even foods that I really believe were better twenty years ago. It’s true items were built better. My first washer and dryer, bought in 1987, for half of what you’d pay today, are still going strong in my sister-in-law’s ex-cottage. Double stuff Oreos have roughly the same amount of cream as the original ones used to. Aluminum foil is noticeably thinner and weaker. And Popsicles, chocolate milk and cheese slices aren’t anywhere near as tasty as they were when I was a kid.
Most of the differences in taste can be blamed on the removal of the fat, salt, sugars, etc, that used to be in the foods that apparently should have killed us all before we got out of our 20s. Funny, to my aged and jaundiced eyes, most little kids these days look oddly pale and more than a reasonable percentage seem to have a permanent runny nose.
I guess we were all too full of preservatives, and artificial flavors and colors to be worthy hosts to germs. My favorite food at the age of ten was peanut butter Space Food Sticks, which were quite healthy, but incredibly sweet and had the look and texture of brown PlayDoh®.
Call it nostalgia or romancing the past, but now that it’s summer, the evenings remind me of the ones many years ago when all I had to worry about was getting home by the time the street lights came on. I suppose I’ve been moving away from the simplicity of my youth for decades, but it’s only now that I really feel the distance I’ve come.
I think the real clincher in my recognizing that this world is no longer a place I recognize came this week courtesy of a local story that has shocked my city, and much of the country and beyond. Three teen girls, a 16-year-old and two 15-year-olds have been arrested for human trafficking. They allegedly lured even younger girls to an address via Facebook or some form of social media, held them hostage, drugged them, then forced them to commit ads of prostitution.
Beyond the horrific nature of the crimes—and thoughts of the damage done to the victims, I can’t get past thinking what kind of a place this world has become if such young teens, children really, somehow got the idea that it was ok to sell other children into sexual slavery—that people could be bought and sold. Yes, kids are cruel, teen girls can be particularly so, but this goes so far beyond even the outside fringe of the worst that could be expected from young women of this age. It’s sad, it’s disgusting, and I fear that it’s an extreme sign of how complicated and ugly things have become.
Whenever there are conversations about excess, greed, plunging morality and that sort of thing, you can count on someone raising a comparison to the fall of the Roman Empire. With its corruption and sexual deviance, at least among the upper class, it was weak and ripe for destruction. I can’t help but wonder if the 2012 end of the worlders are taking a hard look around and simply hoping for a fresh start.
Because if this is the kind of evil that children are now capable of… it certainly doesn’t bode well for the future.