I Finally Get It: I Don’t Get it

I thought I understood my son’s love for Washington State University, after all, I have always done my best to imagine myself in another person’s shoes. I had empathy, an understanding of another’s plight. But even the most empathetic person on the planet cannot walk in the shoes of a true Coug.

Through Mom’s weekends, WSU graduation and a recent trip to Pullman, I have watched my son’s immersion in the Coug culture. From embracing the crimson and gray (everyone wears the gear over there 24/7), hanging out at The Coug or Valhalla, or just saying “Go Cougs” to anyone with the WSU logo displayed anywhere on their person, there is a camaraderie among this group like nothing I’ve ever seen. I think it hit meIMG_8509 hardest when we went to the WSU home football opener in September as we watched a music video on the big screen displaying all the joy of living (if only for a few college years) in the Pullman family. The key line of the song brought a tear to my eye—more than one in Brett’s expressive hazel eyes—“It don’t matter where we go, we always find our way back home”.  I almost thought I understood, but I don’t think I ever will.

I went to the University of Washington and although I only spent two years there, I have many wonderful (and not so wonderful) memories of my time on the UW campus. The contrast between my beginnings there in a sorority and my final days participating in campus protests against the Vietnam war, is a clear indication of my evolution in my two and a half at UW. I learned a lot about life there, but I never felt the bond to the school that I see in my son’s devotion to WSU. So, I ask myself today, do I have to be a Husky just because I spent some time there over 40 years ago? This is a question I have been pondering for the last couple years.

And now as we count the hours to this year’s Apple Cup, I must decide where to place my loyalty. I can never truly be a Coug because I didn’t attend classes in beautiful Palouse country. But, sadly, I don’t feel much passion for a school I attended so long ago—Sonny Sixkiller is no longer there, right? I feel a hell of a lot more love for the loyal, passionate Cougars.

So, although I will take a lot of heat from my UW friends, I am here to announce: I am defecting. Although I can never know or understand what a Coug feels, I want to feel as much of that passion as an outsider can reasonably hope for. Sadly, I will never know the depths of WSU loyalty in my son’s heart, but at least I know that I don’t know.

In other words, I finally get it: I don’t get it.

Go Cougs!

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Flight Risk

My European adventure ended almost a month ago now—so glad I made it back. Was I worried? Yes! I thought I might be spending my golden years rotting in an Icelandic jail—at least until they deported me to the USA at the request of TSA.IMG_8782

After seven days in Europe with body scans and beepers and luggage sent through x-ray machines—not once but five times—I thought it was clear that I was not transporting illegal explosives in my three ounce shampoo bottles or cocaine in baby powder containers. But, Noooo. The Transportation Security Administration in the United States called their goons in Iceland and instructed them to check me one more time and this time, much more thoroughly. I was, apparently, a flight risk!

I almost missed their call. The incident happened on the final leg of our journey as we were changing planes in Iceland after our flight from London—with less than an hour layover. I was buying a candy bar and a chips to carry me through the seven hour flight home to Seattle (don’t judge me) and was on my way to line up for boarding, which was to start in ten minutes. Then my son gave me the news. “Hey, mom, they just called your name over the PA system.”

Were they going to give me an upgrade to first class? I was feeling pretty giddy as I walked up to the desk, only to find out I had been ‘randomly’ selected for further screening. My eyes were as wide as saucers and I’m sure they assumed I was guilty of something as I protested the search. “My flight is boarding in ten minutes!” I said a bit too nervously. They most certainly thought I had something to hide, but honestly, I was just afraid my son would be going home to Seattle and I would miss the flight. That’s not entirely true; I was also afraid I would be subjected to a full body cavity search and despite my lack of human touch in recent months, this was not how I wanted to re-open that door.

As you might have guessed, I survived the incident. I am not writing this from an Icelandic jail, but from the comfort of my living room. The TSA folks did not make me strip, but they also did not smile as they unzipped and searched my bags, instructed me to remove my shoes and dusted me for drugs. Although I admit I am easily flustered, this was especially unnerving as the TSA employees seem to revel in their authoritarian role. Despite my fears, they allowed me—again without a smile—to proceed to my gate without subjecting me to further humiliation. I guess being an old white woman has some advantages. Those with darker skin and more unusual names likely had a more difficult experience.

So, I survived the scrutiny in the final hours of my trip. I’m happy to say this was the only negative experience of my week in Europe. I will try not to dwell on the stern faces of the TSA employees and remember the joy and beauty of the first one hundred and eighty hours of my journey. Although a few of those hours were spent sleeping, we had plenty of time to enjoy three wonderful countries.

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Table for One – Take Two

I’m back in Whistler this week (my annual timeshare trek) and once again asking for a Table for One.

For many years I’ve enjoyed my alone time up here—time to look within—but for god’s sake, there’s just not that much more ‘within’ that I want (or need) to see. After eight years alone, I know myself pretty well and I have to say I’m a little tired of silent introspection, but I guess that is better than talking to myself—I swear I’m not there yet!

 

Since 2010, Whistler has been my quiet place, a place to watch the sun dance on Fitzsimmons  Creek as it rushes between Whistler and Blackcomb mountains; a place to sit on a bench in the middle of the crowded village and observe human nature; a place to wander the trail to Lost Lake wondering if I might encounter a bear; and, of course for me, a place to travel the green path of the golf course in search of a ‘birdie’.

After all these years, I still enjoy all of those quiet pursuits, but this year the silence has been deafening. I’m ready to rock and roll, damn it! I want someone to share my table, skip down the village path with me, travel up the mountain in search of bears and as night falls, dance under the stars.

I’ve got to say, I have a pretty nice life—lots of friends to share my various interests from golf, to writing, to casino runs, to baseball games. And, I often have family or friends at my table—rarely a table for one when I’m home. But, I’m not home. I’m two hundred miles away, wishing my someone (that special guy who has yet to sweep me off my feet) would knock on my condo door and ask me if the glass slipper fits.IMG_0786

I know, I know. I’m not supposed to show my vulnerability on social media—I’m supposed to post stories to make everyone envy my life and make you wonder why yours isn’t as perfect. Social media is a snapshot of our lives where we try to show our best side, our accomplishments, our humor and our superior intelligence. But, there are times when it might be helpful to speak our truth, to open our hearts and spill our guts. To those of you with perfect ‘Facebook’ lives, I’m happy for you (and a little envious). For the rest of us, let’s enjoy those rare moments of greatness before the inevitable shit hits the fan.

My wish for everyone reading this is that you find your soulmate or, if you’ve already made that connection, appreciate the one you have—or had.

And, if you are my soulmate or you know where I might find him, give me a call. I don’t want to spend another year in Whistler at a Table for One.

 

P.S.  This is a sequel to a blog I wrote in 2015:  Table for One  https://jmaydaze.com/2015/09/07/table-for-one/

Starry, Starry Night

Imagine eight people, six of us senior citizens, lying flat on our backs on a hard-planked dock staring at the night sky. McCall, Idaho was the scene of this line-up and, oh, how I wish I had a picture of our troop as we all turned our heads to the right to glance the crescent moon, then centered our gaze on the sky above us. The bright glow of the moon tempered the vividness of the stars, and still they were more glorious than anything we see in the city.StarryNight

I don’t know all the constellations, but the Big Dipper was clear and from there I saw a sea of brilliant stars poking out from the haze of the Milky Way. As satellites crossed the sky, a shooting star brought a collective gasp from the family of eight. Yes, we are a family although we are not all related—we are connected by distant relatives who somehow brought us all together on this night. When we compared our stories, it seemed impossible that we’d be together one day. Yet, here we were, sharing the same beautiful star splattered universe.

As I traveled into the corners of my mind, the collision of these eight souls in such a vast universe filled me with wonder. I wondered why we had all met, then I realized it didn’t matter why—my mysterious grandmother seemed to be the glue between us—we were together and it was a beautiful night, one I won’t soon forget.   cresent moon

The last thing I wondered on that night, was how we were all going to get our aging butts up from that hard surface without hurting ourselves. Despite our arthritis, artificial knees and hips, I’m happy to say we all arose and spent the next two days enjoying the company of this new-found family.

Thank you, TJ and Kathy for bringing us all together.

Hit by a Bus

Anyone who’s had a near death experience will tell you to live each day as if it were your last. You never know what’s around the next corner. You might step off the curb and get hit by a bus.

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Abbey Road (watch out for that bus, guys!)

Life has no guarantees and although the odds of being hit by a bus are rather slim, I met that one-in-a-million person. A bus took his life—not a near death experience, a real heart-stopping death—but, a voice deep within encouraged him to come back. There was more he needed to do.

I can only imagine how that encounter changed his life. I’m sure he looks at his two children with wonder, knowing they exist only because that bus didn’t finish the job when it struck him down so many years ago. And, although the road to recovery was excruciating, I believe the ordeal handed him an appreciation of life most of us will never fully understand.

Before I heard my friend’s story, I thought I was living a full life—but, was I? For years I put off following my passions, assuming I could ‘think about that tomorrow’. But, what if I were hit by a bus today—what would I have missed?

As time passes (so quickly these days), the remaining years become more precious. I don’t have to get hit by a bus to realize the urgency of following my dreams. If I die tomorrow, I don’t want to be glued to my rocking chair. I want to be on a private jet heading to Bali, in New York signing copies of my best-selling novel or playing golf at St. Andrews in Scotland…again.

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Swilcan Bridge at St. Andrews Yep, that’s me!

And, if I should happen to meet my demise by bus, I hope it’s while crossing Abbey Road.

The time has come for taking a few more chances—not anything life threatening; I’ll leave the bungee jumping to the youngsters—but I’m ready to dive into the deep end of life’s pool. So, the next time I ponder whether to eat the cake, drink the wine or kiss the boy, I’ll indulge myself. The cake will be loaded with delicious calories, the wine will be held in my best wine glass (the red plastic cups will be saved for the Seahawks tailgate) and the boy I kiss will know my passion the moment our lips touch.

The bus may be just around the corner, but before it hits, I’m all in.

Planes, Trains & Automobiles (and don’t forget buses, cable cars and a boat)

“Two minutes to spare”, Brett informed me as we settled into our seats on train from Dublin to Galway. The taxi driver had been amazing, navigating the traffic and construction to get us to the train station on time, but when we discovered our train was on the end of a very long track, we ran (faster than I thought I was capable) to catch it before the doors closed. We made it and settled in for a two-and-a-half hour ride from the east side of Ireland to the far west. Little did we know that our final destination, the Cliffs of Moher, would consume another two-and-a-half hours on a bus ride down the coast. So, on the last day of our three-week European adventure, we spent ten of our fourteen travel hours on a taxi, a train and four buses, but when I saw the Cliffs, I knew each bump in the road had led us to a place like no other.

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Cliffs of Moher

The majestic Cliffs of Moher set against the Irish mist is something we have all seen in pictures, but feeling the fear as you approach the edge and witnessing the massive formations in person is beyond compare.

And as beautiful as our last excursion turned out to be, our first was every bit as breathtaking as we traveled from Bergen to Oslo to explore the fjords of Norway

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Fjord tour

by train, bus (down the steepest road in northern Europe) and a windy three-hour boat tour. At the time, I thought we had seen the best and the rest of the trip would be bland in comparison. Boy, was I wrong!

Eleven days later, we traveled from Munich to Zurich by bus, Zurich to Lauterbrunnen by train and Lauterbrunnen to Murren by cable car—halfway up one big-ass mountain.

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Sunrise in Switzerland

When we got to our room, we stepped out on our deck and faced a mountain in front of us and a valley way, way, way down below. Fear of heights is not one of my phobias, but believe me, I was holding tight to the railing on our deck for these pictures.

Three of the most beautiful sights on one vacation is more than one should expect, but there was so much more…

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Make America Kind Again

I am heartbroken. I love my country and I feel like it is being torn apart by our new President.

makekindHe says he wants to make America great again. What does that mean? When was it any better than it is right now?  Does he mean he wants to go back to a time when white men ruled, women couldn’t vote and people of color were relegated to the back of the bus? I must admit it would be nice to go back to a pre-twitter universe so we wouldn’t be bombarded with half-truths and outright lies from the man who is in charge of our nation. Doesn’t he have better things to do than criticize Meryl Streep and Saturday Night Live?

Despite his penchant for twitter, he does seem to have time to ban law abiding citizens from entering our country from certain Muslim countries. Interesting that no terrorists have ever entered from these countries, but have come from the few he kept off the list. Oh, I guess the fact that he has business interests in Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Afghanistan and Pakistan may be the reason these countries did not make his list. This is reprehensible and even those who supported his presidency should see the hypocrisy here.

The people who have been left stranded include children and spouses of American citizens, students, scientists and others who may have left to visit relatives, not knowing return would be near impossible. Many have spent eighteen to twenty-four months being vetted to make sure they are not a threat (yes, it takes that long to immigrate, but we have been led to believe these people just leave Syria and hop a plane to the US—no, that’s not how it works). These people are trying to escape ISIS. They are on our team and we should welcome them, not send them back to be slaughtered by the real enemy. Continue reading

Family Ties

Growing up, my family was small—Mom, Dad and Sister at the core. Our extended family ties were more like loose threads, connected only on holidays and special occasions but I remember those occasions as if they were yesterday. My grandparents, aunt,uncle and all the cousins in my parents’ back yard…img_3095

This year, after more than forty years, all my cousins reunited in my back yard. Faces have changed with a few wrinkles that hadn’t even begun to erupt at our last meeting. But, when our eyes met, I saw the teens and young adults I remembered so vividly from a time long ago.

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Half of us

I can’t remember a day in 2016 that touched me more than that day on my back deck, remembering our past, sharing our journey over the past forty plus years and looking toward a future with all of us more firmly connected. My heart was full that September day and even now it feels like it could burst when the memory resurfaces.

Thank you especially to my cousin in Idaho who suggested this reunion. I can’t wait to meet you on your home turf next summer. And, thank you for adding your beautiful wife to our family—so glad to finally meet her!

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Out-of-towners (Idaho to be exact)

As Thanksgiving approaches, I can’t think of a better time to share these feelings. I continue to be so thankful for my immediate family—my son, sister, brother-in-law, nephews, niece-in-law and grand-niece—and am glad to know there is room for more thanks and more love. Our hearts are unlimited and adding my cousins and their wonderful spouses to that space in my heart was a gift I wasn’t expecting.

The funny thing about family–you don’t get to choose them. They are chosen for you through birth, adoption and circumstances that are often stranger than fiction. My family is no exception. On this Thanksgiving Eve, I am thankful for the circumstances that brought these wonderful people into my life. I love all of you!

 

 

 

Mom

Mother’s Day is two months away—too long to wait to share my thoughts about my mom.  Her time is short, at least that’s what hospice tells us.  But, to be honest, hospice has been giving her ‘less than six months’ for over a year now. She may well make it to Mother’s Day this year, next year and the year after. For most of my life, she’s battled one ailment after another, always expecting each year to be her last and now, after eighty-seven health challenged years, these may truly be her final days.

I wish she could read the words I have been saving for over a year. Not only are her eyes too clouded with disease to see the page, her dementia precludes her from understanding the simplest thought. Perhaps I should have said this all before, but it was probably a conscious decision on my part to wait until she couldn’t respond. This way I don’t have to worry about whether she understands or accepts me—I get to say what I feel.

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Mom 30 years ago

Anyone who knows me well, probably expects me to pass judgement and criticize the woman who pushed my buttons from my late teenage years on. We were never on the same wavelength and after years of trying to explain myself and justify who I was, it has come to an end. We have agreed to disagree, not by any verbal contract, but by just giving up. And, maybe that’s a good thing. I guess I probably pushed her buttons, too.

Mom had a rough beginning—she was placed in an orphanage at eighteen months of age. She has no recollection of those days, including her birth parents or her subsequent adoption by my grandparents, but I’m sure they left a scar. Could that be the reason she has always looked at life with a critical eye? Her criticism and judgement still stings at times, but what hurts more is the fact that I sometimes find those traits creeping into my personality. She taught me to look for the flaws in those around me and here I am doing it again. Sorry, Mom, I want to blame you, but I’m a big girl now and it is time I choose a different path.  I’d like to think I have been traveling the positive path for a while now, but that negative thing creeps in there once in a while.

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The Special Bond

Six years ago today I lost my Dad. I felt the life leave his body as I held his hand, comforting him in his last moments–or was I grasping those tired old fingers, hoping for one more more day with this wonderful man?

We had a special bond, there’s no doubt about that.  When I look in the mirror each day, I see his eyes in mine and as you can see from this old picture, we also shared the same ears. But, it was more than that.

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Two peas in a pod

My mom said we were two peas in a pod and even though I knew this was not meant as a compliment, I was proud to be in the same pod with my dad. We may have gotten on Mom’s nerves, but we always understood one another.

Only a few hours after Dad died, my son came to me with a poem in hand. He had spent those few hours writing me a poem to honor the special bond he saw between Dad and me. I want to share that poem with all of you here.

The Special Bond
By Brett Miller
12/22/2009

There are things I will never know about this man;
I’ve known him for but twenty-one years
But you were his biggest fan
To him you confessed fears, and for him you shed tears

He and I spoke of our love for the game
Shared laughs, and thoughts of the years of my prime
I respected and loved him; what you had was not the same
You had a bond shared but once in a lifetime

He was your hero, your inspiration, but mostly? He was Dad.
A loving father who was so very proud of you
But he was ready; he wouldn’t want you to be sad
Even though he had to know you would shed a tear or two

But now you know that he is in a better place.
Let yourself smile and think “How could he not be?”
Imagine the joy that would be on his face
At the very least, now he is finally free

Though we will not speak to him again
His legacy lives in his brilliant daughter: you
And also in how I am shaped as a man
Remembering these good things is best to do

I loved him, Mom, and I love you too
But no one will ever love Bernard Jack May the way you do

As I read and re-read this poem, I know Brett is right, my dad and I had a special bond. But, as I look back over more old pictures, I see Brett had quite a special bond with his Boppa (his name for his grandpa–long story I’ll save for another day).

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At the State Fair

I guess the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. Brett inherited his love of words from my dad as well as his intelligence and awesome sense of humor–or was it from me? I am the link between the two of them and just maybe, we are three peas in a pod. I’ll share my pod with those two guys any day.