Your Ways

All my life, I’ve been told that old people are set in their ways. They’re rigid. Conservative. They don’t want to try new things. It made me dread growing old.

Now that I’m getting older, though, I’m beginning to have a different perspective on this subject. First of all, I know a lot of older people who are still willing to push the outer envelope. My friend Carole even jumped out of a perfectly good airplane on her 73rd birthday. That gives me hope. I think that as the baby-boomers age, they are less willing to quietly settle into that old folks stereotype. That makes me really happy.

On the other hand, as I start to develop more and more “ways” of my own, I totally understand the desire to be set in them. One should never overlook the wealth of experience that older people possess. We say that people become “wizened”, which means shriveled or wrinkled, but I like to imagine that it also means more wise. Most of us learn as we age. There’s a reason most of your teachers are not your contemporaries. Older people developed their ways through trial and error. They’ve survived. They’ve figured out what works for them. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, as the saying goes. I no longer see anything wrong with that.

As I settle into a routine that brings me joy, I’m less and less willing to change those habits. It’s only natural that I become less flexible as I become less flexible. I like the peace and quiet of not having a television. I like my Epsom salt baths by the light of my lavender candle. Cuddling with my dog makes me happy and reduces my heating bills. I doubt I’ll ever embrace Twitter. And I may say “hashtag” out loud, but I’ll always be thinking “pound sign”.

So sue me.


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I’ve met a lot of very rigid people in my lifetime. I always feel kind of sorry for them. It must be exhausting to get worked up over the minutiae of life. There is plenty of significant stuff to focus on.

For example, I know someone who writes furious e-mails to superiors if someone doesn’t leave paperwork at exact right angles to their desk edges. Seriously? Is that all you have to worry about? Then you are in pretty good shape in the overall scheme of things, if you ask me.

There are two types of people. The ones who ask themselves “Why is this important?” before overreacting, and the ones who don’t. The ones who don’t tend to lead very tense, miserable lives, and they pile undue stress onto those who are unfortunate enough to fall within their circle of influence.

It is important to have some sort of scale to determine what is worthy of your rage. Someone putting the dish soap in a place you haven’t specified should not get a reaction equivalent to someone firing a mortar through your living room window. If you think otherwise, you must be operating in a realm of post traumatic stress that’s worthy of professional help.

The older I get, the less energy I seem to have for petty foolishness. I can’t be bothered. I’d much rather take a nap. The planet will continue to circle the sun without my assistance.

Here’s a rule of thumb. I can go days, weeks even, without being truly angry. If you’re someone who gets angry several times a day… well… you might want to rethink things a tiny bit. Learn to bend or you will surely break. Just sayin’.


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Human Brick Walls

99 percent of all the Washingtonians I’ve met are really, really nice, unbelievably cooperative, and helpful. Because of that, they make the other 1 percent seem like the world’s biggest jerks. I have never seen anything like the bureaucratic brick walls that get thrown in front of you out here, and there’s no getting around them. None. It makes you feel like you’re in an insane asylum.

  • Someone was stealing my mail, so I had to get a locked mailbox. This caused the post office to stop delivering my mail. When I finally got through the red tape far enough to actually talk to someone local, they said they stopped delivering it because the shape of my mailbox is unacceptable to them, and because the postman would have to alter the angle of his hand by a few degrees to slip the mail in the slot, they would no longer deliver to that box. “Fine. I’ll eat the 45 dollars I spent on the damned box and get another one. Now will you deliver the two weeks’ worth of mail you are holding?” “No. You have to come and get it.” “But I work all the hours you are open.” “I don’t know what to tell you, ma’am.” So I guess my mail is being held hostage.
  • The property management company that handled the year’s lease on my rental place was more than happy to take my money, but after doing so, knowing that I was about to drive 3100 miles, they would not arrange for me to get the key on a Sunday unless I forked over another 150 dollars. Over my dead body. Fortunately someone was kind enough to let me camp out that night at their house or I would have had to sleep in the driveway.
  • My dogs needed heartworm medication for next month. The vet here would accept my Florida vet records as proof that I had gotten all the required vaccinations for the dogs. No problem. But when it came to proof that they were getting a certain monthly dose of heartworm meds, something they could easily sell me, no, they had to actually see and examine the dogs. Which cost me 250.00. Not a single shot, mind you. Just a look at the dogs and the sale of the pills. What, did they think I’d be selling Trifexis on the black market?
  • A sailing vessel captain offered to give local Bridge Operators a boat ride. We were all excited. But then the bureaucracy said it would be unethical. What kind of quid pro quo did they think the captain was looking for? That the bridge be raised up 30 seconds faster? Honestly.

It’s these human brick walls, these rigid people who refuse to be the least bit flexible or reasonable who leave a bitter taste in one’s mouth. I don’t understand the utter lack of consideration and douchebaggery. It stuff like this that almost makes me wish I were back in Florida. Almost.

I think I need ice cream.


The Judgment Trend

Lately I’ve seen a lot of stories about people who try to force their beliefs on others by attempting to punish them in some way. People leaving nasty notes instead of tips, saying they can’t tip someone because they don’t approve of their lifestyle, or leaving them a religious tract instead of a tip.

Yeah, that’s a great recruitment strategy. Show that you’re cheap and intolerant. That’ll make someone want to be just like you.

Many years ago, when a family friend’s children were very young, they were traveling through my state and decided to come to visit me. I was looking forward to having a nice old fashioned sleep over with the kids, whom I love very much. Movies, popcorn, the works. But their mother informed me, at the last minute, that they’d be staying in a hotel. Why? Because I lived with my boyfriend, and she didn’t want to teach her kids that living in sin was okay.

Just to clarify, I had been living with said boyfriend for 12 years, and this woman, who felt she had the moral high ground, had been married three times. One marriage had lasted less than a year, and she had started seeing the latest one while he was still married to someone else.

So I counted to ten, slowly. And I said to her, “It is very important to teach your children right from wrong. I agree. But I can’t participate in teaching them that if you disapprove of someone’s lifestyle you should shun them. I can’t participate in teaching them intolerance. I can’t participate in teaching them that if someone disagrees with you, they cannot be accepted. This is a rapidly changing world, and they are going to run into all kinds of people during the course of their lives. So feel free to tell them that you disapprove of living together without being married if you wish, tell them you think I’m going straight to hell if you must, but if they’re not allowed in my house, then what you are teaching them is how to be prejudiced and inflexible and closed minded, and that any and all experiences that don’t fit with their belief system are to be avoided, and that, to me, is tragic and unacceptable.”

We had a very enjoyable sleep over.


Bridge Symbolism

Having worked on drawbridges for over 12 years, I’ve come to know how strongly many people feel about bridges in general. Just publish your plans to demolish or replace one, and brace yourself for the public outcry. People love to walk and jog across bridges, and many’s the time I’ve witnessed marriage proposals. Fishermen often have their regular spots staked out, and people love to hop out of their cars during bridge openings to enjoy the weather. For some inexplicable reason, the mentally ill are drawn to bridges as well.

Another strange thing about bridges is that people view them as bigger barriers than regular streets, even if they are fixed span bridges with no chance of causing a delay. People will not hesitate to take a 10 minute drive on an interstate which has the same length of road without exits as even the largest of bridges possesses, but if their route contains a bridge, that same 10 minute drive is viewed as a hassle to be avoided.

What do bridges symbolize to people? In the tarot, the bridge card means progress, connections, and stability. Often people view bridges as the only way to reach a destination, and therefore bridges are a way to overcome obstacles. Bridges also represent transitions. “Crossing over” is a euphemism for taking that journey from life to death. Perhaps that’s also why so many people use bridges when they’ve made the unfortunate decision to end their lives, a decision which, speaking from personal observation, is made far more frequently than is reported in the media, and is also a decision which they instantly regret, judging from their screams on the way down. You can be fairly certain that any bridge that you cross that is more than 40 feet above the water has been a place where someone has died.

Perhaps my favorite bridge symbol, though, is that of hope. If you can just get over that bridge, you may find yourself in a better place on the other side. Some bridges are harder to cross than others. If you’re afraid of heights they can be scary. If feeling the surface shaking below your feet unsettles you, then your crossing can pose a challenge, but trust me, that challenge is deceiving. You do NOT want to be on a rigid and inflexible bridge. Not if you want to live. So in some ways bridges can represent a struggle, but one with the prospect of better things on the far shore. I find that inspiring.

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