Things Ain’t What They Used To Be

Raise your paws, er, hands if you like your vitamins gummified…

I remember as a kid, having cod liver oil, liquid form, and I loved it. Haven’t found too many others that can claim their love of Cod Liver Oil straight from a spoon.

But we didn’t have as many choices back then.

It was Crest or Colgate. Coke or Pepsi. Batman or Superman. Hardy Boys or Nancy Drew. Up the down staircase we went, and it was fun. So was sliding down the banister. We played outside, sometimes ate dirt, well, not me, but some did I suppose, climbed trees without the fear of being arrested because in my little town it is now illegal to climb a tree apparently, rode our bikes without helmets or training wheels, and we could run our lemonade stands without a city permit. We could walk the dog without a leash, because in those days, the dogs were actually taught to heel. We didn’t have to pick up after them, it was a fertilizer for the grass, which did look greener, now that I think about it. And nobody stepped in it, because we weren’t in such a big hurry, and we actually could see where we were going without the constant distraction of cellphones, headphones, MP3 players, or notepads. How did we ever survive it all?

Then one day, Big Brother, who by this time was getting very good at meddling in all our affairs decided what the world really needed was more choices.

Fast forward to yesterday, today and tomorrow. We are now faced with a mind-boggling array of choices in all things consumer. What used to be a 1/2 hour shopping trip, now takes me over an hour, while I examine every product, every variation and choice, make sure the ingredients are healthy enough and have the proper nutritional values, decide which size is best, because in our ever-increasing narcissistic world, size really does matter, contemplate flavours I’ve never heard of, and try to get it all on sale before the expiry date ends, or they bring out the new and improved version which automatically renders what I just bought obsolete, and possibly on some recall list which I will find out about when I get home and watch the evening news….

Today, was a good example of the above. I ended up buying gummy vitamins for big people because they were on sale, couldn’t find any popsicles, so I had to buy mango sorbet instead, bought some cat food on sale, but not the kind my cat likes, but I’m hoping she will forget she doesn’t like it and eat it anyway….Agonized over my choice of available fruit, only to have it explode in front of the cashier, which sent her scrambling to get me another package of blueberries that wasn’t so volatile. Got home, went back because I was over-charged on a few items, couldn’t get the sale price on some others, forgot my list altogether and came home once again without Q-Tips…

Shop till you drop is no longer an option. It’s more like, shop before someone drops you, butts in front of you in the loooong lineup, gets in a fight with the cashier, slows everyone down with at least twenty coupons and blocks the way with an oversize shopping cart designed to make people purchase more in order to fill it up.

I don’t know why we need more choices on this already over-crowded, confusing planet. It’s only served to make people even more confused, cranky and self-indulgent.

Things ain’t what they used to be….why not though? Bring back the good old days, and soon please, the sooner the better.


Failure To Launch

I remember reading an article in the 70’s outlining my generation as the “Lost Ones”.

It predicted that we would have it all early in life, and then lose it.

Aww, the 70’s. Remember them?

Sex, drugs, rock ‘n’ roll, and all that jazz.

We were the first ones our parents really worried about as far as getting into illegal substances. The Rocky Horror reared its ugly head and turned an entire generation into cult movie followers. We swam with Jaws, ate spaghetti with The Godfather, Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest, worried about the Apocalypse, re-examined our faith with The Exorcist, and had a Close Encounter with a Taxi Driver on Halloween.

We moved out early, and stayed out, at least for most of our adult life, anyway. We went to university, and for the most part paid our own way. Life was good. And we deserved it.

The economy was booming, there was still such a thing as job security, and there were tons of good paying jobs to be had. We were a laid back generation, with hope for a bright future. But we had an issue with authority and weren’t afraid to let our opinions be known. Cynically optimistic as I like to call it.

We went on to invent Microsoft, Apple, and Dell, built the Space Shuttle and created the internet. We got married, had kids, cottages and bush parties. And no matter how the years passed, we still wore jeans and rode our bikes. In so many ways, we refused to grow up, to part with the 70’s idealistic lifestyle.

Suddenly, we became senior executives, were getting divorced, our kids were moving back home, or we were losing our executive positions and moving back in with our aging parents.

So what happened to the sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll teenagers of the 70’s?

The economy took a turn for the worse, that’s what happened….The government began to run up debts it couldn’t repay. We who once questioned authority are now being questioned ourselves….about ever increasing taxes, bad political decisions, and wasteful management of finances. Our sense of entitlement has now come back to bite us.

We once fought out in the fields and demanded shelter, but now, all these years later, we are having a lot of trouble holding on. We are caught between generations, our aging parents who now are becoming our children, and our children who can’t afford to live on their own.

We are almost busier than humanely possible, still hanging on to classic rock as a comfort, still going to Stones concerts and wondering if our bell bottoms still fit. Dare we go there? Um…I’m thinking….no. Our parents stayed together, but our generation with its trail of broken relationships, broken dreams and forgotten promises has become more cynical than ever.

I remember wondering what kind of world our parents left us back then, and now I see how we mismanaged what we did have, over spent, over compensated and failed to really appreciate what we were so generously given by a generation who spoke honestly, knew the true value of a handshake, and the meaning of a dollar. We became wasteful, neglectful, treated everything as disposable, and our cynicism turned to outright resentment.

We only have ourselves to blame….

If this doesn’t apply to you, if you are still happily hanging in there, and I hope you are, please disregard. But, if for any reason, you can relate to anything I’ve mentioned, and I’ve left out a lot of course because of time and space issues, I hope you can relate when I say that our once ‘Lost Generation’ found it all, lost it again, and now is fast becoming invisible.

I dread to think what we are leaving the ones left behind….

Can You See Me Now?

I recently read several different articles on how women over 50, not only disappear from the radar, they become completely invisible.

Oh, I know this is true.

“Nice ass” has been replaced by “Nice ass grandma”. O U C H.

The only time someone really looks me in the eye is when they are offering me a seat on the bus. I appreciate the sentiment, but not the sentiment behind it. I am still steady on my feet thanks, I may even be on the way to bowling. I won’t collapse on a ten minute bus ride if I’m not sitting. Maybe they are just respecting their elders. Thanks, but respect someone more elder than me. I’m okay, really I am.

I’ve stood patiently in line, had people look right at me, then move in front of me. I have a standard comeback I like to use in this situation, and I’ve used it a lot lately.

Excuse me, but the line starts behind me.

You should see the look of shock on their faces. Someone invisible just spoke to them. How odd. Yes, get your hearing checked, and you might want to have an eye test. I am not going to become invisible because society says I should.

Funny, when I was younger, I did everything to become more invisible. I was shy and retiring and liked to remain in the background because more often than not, I felt socially awkward. I never fought for anything, never competed, never finished anything I started and  never expected that life would change me in ways I could hardly imagine.

But it did. And along with those changes, I became more sure of myself, more sure of what I wanted and where I was going. I had a better sense of direction and I was finally starting to head there.

That is until I found out I’m now almost completely invisible, or at least I’m supposed to be, and when it comes to matters of the heart, I’ve been invisible since I was 30 apparently. Wow, who knew? I always thought it was fate, but knowing it’s because I’m invisible, well, that just makes it so much easier to deal with.

My first clue should have been when I was called ‘Ma’am’ for the very first time. I thought to myself…hhmm, someone just called me ma’am, I hope I am appropriately dressed for the occasion. Sensible shoes, bundle buggy, flowered hat, white gloves etc.

I’m not going down without a fight. So be afraid…be very afraid. From the generation that wasn’t going to take it at 21. What makes you think we’ll take it at 50?

I’m more likely to voice my opinion at my age, and more likely to be right. I’ve had years of experience to fall back on. I have a lot more courage than I did at 25, am much more comfortable with who I am as a person. I try to surround myself with positive energy, I have no time for other people’s noise. I keep in shape, I don’t eat junk food, and I know my limits.

Any one who can survive to half a century is surely not invisible and they should not be so easily discounted.

There is years of wisdom in those over 50, and maybe that is what some are afraid of. We know something they don’t know, so it’s easier to ignore us, hope we go away, and leave it at that.

REALITY CHECKNot invisible, never was, never will be…the line starts behind me. And you can bet it will be a long one….

Are You Being Served?

Well, according to a recent survey, most of us are being served rudely, and we’re getting awfully tired of it.

As a teenager, I worked in the service industry. I was shy and not so people-oriented and was constantly bullied by rude, angry, demanding customers, some who actually made me cry. I remember being spit on because I gave someone the wrong order.  It was my first day. Another time I was delivering a milkshake to a sullen, disrespectful customer, who said I gave her the wrong flavour and she threw it all over me. Needless to say, that one made me cry too..haha! And this gentleman kept screaming at me because I didn’t honour a coupon he had, even though it turned out it was already expired. And that was pretty much the end of my service career. I was fed up working with the public.

Fast forward to the 21st century…

Well, the tables have turned, that’s for sure. All those rude customers have since given birth to an even ruder generation that all ended up in the service industry.

I am once again on the receiving end of rudeness and disrespect. And it’s coming from where you would least expect it this time. From the people whose business I support just by being there. I am a customer, and I know the customer was only right when they were yelling at me, oh yes, I know that now, for sure.

One generation later, the customer is wrong, nobody can spell anymore, and anyone over the age of thirty is a suspect.

I have battled it out with phone companies, cable companies, financial institutions, all who make me press 1 for English, and then 5 more choices follow that, and then if you are lucky enough to get a real live person, they argue, put you on hold, hang up on you, or you somehow get disconnected, they keep switching you to other departments who have no idea who you are so you have to keep going over and over the same information with them because the information they have is totally different from the department you just spoke to that transferred you there. That’s if they transfer you to the right department at all. I have had to call back several times and go through the entire procedure again because of being ‘accidentally’ disconnected. Want to complain to a supervisor? HA, good luck with that.They are usually out to lunch….never to return somehow.

I find all government employees especially difficult. They love to argue, and talk down to me  like I just fell off the turnip truck. They get my name and address wrong, I have to repeatedly spell it over and over while they struggle to dot the i’s and cross the t’s. I don’t expect they will pronounce my rather easy, 5th generation Irish name correctly. Uh, no, not happening.

I have been followed by security through high-end downtown stores who suspected I was a shoplifter, a jewel thief, or just casing the joint. I was banned from an open house on a street in my neighborhood because they were asking over a million and the agent presumed that I wasn’t a serious buyer. Really? Well maybe I knew someone who was. And I did. But too bad, they lost my business, and I wouldn’t recommend them.

I have been insulted in grocery stores, scolded for not bringing my own bags, shoved out of bank lineups, pushed out-of-the-way when a seat was available on a bus and some young guy felt more deserving. I have waited patiently in pizza places only to be passed over time and time again, because I was too short to see over the counter. And I have almost been rundown several times on the green by drivers on cell phones, talking, driving, giving me the finger and running the red.

These are indeed dangerous times. Not so much for the service workers, but the customers who are supporting their industry.

When did we become the enemy?

I wish I had become an investigative reporter. I could have really done some serious probing into when the customer crossed that thin line between being always right to being ignored, insulted, and treated like a big pain in the butt to the now holier-than-thou, almighty service worker. Please allow me to pay homage to you and thank you for the privilege of being allowed in your place of business, where I don’t expect you will get my order right, or even hear me as I give it to you…

Yup, this turned into a rant, but I just wanted to make the point that I have never yelled at anyone as a customer, I usually try to treat others the way I would like to be treated. Call me old-fashioned, but I was not raised by wolves….and I am very disappointed at those who continually bite my ankles because they know what I know. Dealing with the public sucks. Just don’t take it out on us…we’re the ones paying your salary.

Some Wisdom From The Generation That Can Spell

As a writer, I owe a lot to my readers. I owe everything.

Anyone who takes the time to read my blog is paying me a huge compliment.

They are telling me I matter. I have made a subtle difference in their day. They are reading what I have written and they might even share it if I am lucky.

But right here, right now, I feel lucky just to have readers.

Even if everyone doesn’t always agree with my style, or what I write about, they are honouring my willingness to put myself out there through the written word.

I am no longer just a voice in my head, a closet writer, or something the cat dragged in.

I have a tiny voice in the literary world and it is being heard.

My readers make me think like a writer. They push me forward, they expect my best and they fire-up my already over-active imagination.

I am not concerned about a huge fan base, seeing my name in lights, writing the next best-seller or appearing on Ed Sullivan, just happy to have a few readers who understand me.

My readers keep me humble. I draw my energy from them and I give it back in what ever article I am putting my heart and soul into. That can be somewhat risky, writing sometimes leaves me vulnerable. But I trust my readers, I know they mean well and I hope they think the same about me.

It’s a relationship built on trust, give and take, and sharing. I am giving myself as a writer and my readers are giving me their attention.

Who are my readers?

Only you know for sure.

All I know for sure is that you are out there somewhere. We are in this together. I am being read and without you, I am invisible.

I hope I never disappoint.


The Five Voices In My Head

Sometimes, my head is busy.

I mean that in a good way.

I thought I would give you an ‘inside’ exclusive to the stuff in my head. Welcome to my nightmare …er, stuff in my head…I repeated myself, yes, I know that.

Voice Number One:

Well, that would have to be Art Bell. Any Coast 2 Coast listeners out there? I started listening about 18 years ago when he was all about Dreamland, and his show had a more political slant. It changed over the years, and became more about conspiracies and the unexplained.  And then one day, Art retired and was eventually replaced. I can still catch his reruns if I am lucky. I’m hoping for a comeback. He has the best voice in radio, no question. No one can replace Art…no one…

Voice Number Two:

My writers’ voice. I think I’ve always had that. I had a long walk to school, and I would devise elaborate stories in my head to make my walk more interesting. I used to pretend puddles were lakes and that I was flying over them. Or sometimes I would pretend that the ‘red cars’ were chasing me, so if I saw one coming, I would literally, hide behind trees, or hit the ditch. Yes, I was that weird as a kid…haha! Well, at least I had a vivid imagination, and I was never bored or lonely back then. The voice grew with me, and my stories changed, but the urge to write them all down remained the same.

Voice Number Three:

That would be Morgan Freeman. Yes, he frequently gets in my head and narrates my life story, such as it is. I wish you could hear that, he does an awesome job….nobody does it better.

Voice Number Four:

The voice of my parents. They frequently remind me to look both ways, tie my shoes, eat my vegetables, remember my manners, all that parent stuff that everyone is aware of. I am always reminded of bits of wisdom from them that I ignored back then, but can remember without any trouble now. Proof that even if your kids look like they aren’t listening, they are, and it will come back to haunt them later. It always does.

Voice Number Five:

I guess that’s the ME voice. Not to be confused with my writers’ voice. So, I guess that means there are two of my own voices in my head, telling me different things. Sometimes the ME voice reprimands me for something, sometimes it tells me I did good. Sometimes it encourages me to just get through, one day at a time, and sometimes it’s just all blah, blah, blah and some ranty stuff. So I immediately replace it with music. Like U2, Billy Joel, Eddie Money, Santana, Eagles, Meatloaf, Eric Clapton, Cat Stevens, Sarah McLachlan, Loreena McKennitt, Enya, Jann Arden, and all kinds of classical music. And then, I have all their voices in my head as well.

Oh, one more, not a voice, just my cats’ purring, which is very faint at the best of times. Not to be outdone by her meowing which has all different sounds according to her mood and what she is talking about.

I’m a lot more selective about the voices I allow in my head now, then I used to be. I’m not going to let just anybody rent space in my head, because, there just isn’t enough room for everybody. It’s already crowded…and I need to hear some things over and over to help me get through, and then there are other things….well, let’s not go there…

Hey, anyone else want to be a voice in my head? I may have room for one more…just saying is all.

How To Survive A Zombie Attack

I have a confession.

You make me want to be a better writer.

Soooooo, I went and bought a book on English Grammar Drills and I’m having a blast working my way through all 150 exercises.

I’m sorry, I love grammar. Don’t blame me. It’s in the blood. But I’ll get to the zombie part later.

Nouns, adjectives, articles, post-noun modifiers, pronouns, subjects and predicates, gerunds and infinitives, noun clauses, verb tenses, simple verb complements, multiple verb complements, adverbs…..I’m feeling all tingly.

I never knew about count and noncount nouns till I got this book. Regular plurals and irregular plurals were the stuff of nightmares. Possessive nouns are what I called my ex-boyfriends…Dare I get into comparative and superlative adjectives? How about multiple true adjectives?

And then there’s articles….oh please, hold me back….definite, indefinite, it’s all music to my ears.

Post-noun modifiers are way more fun than a trip to the zoo. Pronouns, hhmm, yes pronouns, absolutely yummy!

Gerunds and infinitives are verb forms used as nouns.  How fun is that? Noun clauses are way more fun than even Christmas…

Oh, I’m sorry, I’m being so rude…. I forgot to get you a coffee, you’re going to need it. Trust me…

Aww, verbs, base, present, past, infinitive, present participle and past participle…WOWIE-WOW! Present perfect tenses, progressive tenses, future perfect, I couldn’t make this stuff up if I tried. Everyone appreciates a compliment, including verbs, spelt, complements, of course.. All zero-complement verbs are action verbs. Who knew?

Adverbs modify something, such as verbs, adjectives and other adverbs. But, you already knew that, I’m sure.

If it wasn’t for all this grammar stuff, I wouldn’t be here writing anything. I wouldn’t know how.

I can’t believe I got through all this in school.

And that is where the zombies come in. Ya, I know, I made you read all that stuff, just to get here. No fair, sue me…

If it wasn’t for all the biking, bowling, yoga, walking and other stuff I do when I’m not writing, talking about writing, reading about writing, hanging out with writers, doing writing exercises, and contemplating dangling participles….I would most certainly be a total zombie.

Moral of the story: When fighting zombies, the pen is indeed mightier than the sword.