Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving, my fine friends

I wish you all a fantastic Thanksgiving holiday.  May you have plenty to be thankful for.  As for me, I am thankful for so very much, and sometimes, I have to remind myself to not take anything for granted.
Tons of hugs and kisses on the cheek from me to you fine people. 

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

For Mary (and, of course, you)

Another night of tears.  Proud tears and, as usual, I couldn't even wait until after practice.   It always happens, the moment Julia steps onto the stage, I start breaking out in tears -- she isn't even sitting in her chair yet!!  For cryin'  out loud, somebody slap me so that I come to my senses and behave normal.  I just can't help it.  Then, I remembered that I don't even have a tissue with me.  Stop cryin', you know what you are going to look like when the lights go back on?  And so I tried really hard to keep it at bay with those darn tears.

Julia plays, amongst other programs, in the Kendall Honor's Orchestra (which is an honor's orchestra for the county I live in [the biggest in GA] ).  She is first chair and I love it, cause it gives me a straight view of her when I am ready with my camera.  Julia is playing the Viola (no, not the violin, the viola [deeper in sound]!!) for the past 3 years now and has put it in her head that she will go to Julliard or Harvard (as she still toys with her original plan of becoming a pediatric heart surgeon).  The concert was a success and as always, it has been professionally recorded.  Another Julia-CD finding it's place in my car stereo.

She plays all kinds of music.. from Tchaikovsky to Beethoven to Johann S. Bach; Stairway to heaven to Eleanor Rigby.  This morning, I woke up not feeling all too chipper.  One of my favorite songs for Julia to play just for me for my own private concert is Eleanor Rigby by the Beatles.  That song, for some reason, is in my head since I awoke.  Not the original version, but how Julia plays it.  That song somehow displays my mood I am in at the moment, while I am having my morning coffee.  The song in the included player obviously isn't played by Julia, but that's what it sounds when she plays it. (ggrrr... stupid player... to listen to the full song, i guess you have to click the link in the player...  )

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Another year about to mark the countdown

No need to speed up the aging process.  It is very wasted on me, I say.  Allow me to hang on to my youth, to my strength, to my desires, to my curiosities, to my willpower, to my love, and please to my mind, my memories, my passion and to what I am.  Don’t rush me through this aging line… I will get there eventually, I am sure.  No need of that extra push to move me along.  May I just stay here for just a bit longer? I like it here.  It is nice and comfortable and challenging.  May I just let the next person in line cut in front of me, so that I may enjoy this for a bit longer?  

You see, I am not done collecting. I am not done at all. I need to find more knowledge, more wisdom, more memories.  So please, let me stay here just a little bit longer and take the one who is rushing to get to the beginning of the line.   I am in no hurry to get there.  Please, I don’t mind you concentrating on those who don’t love their life, those who take all for granted, those who don’t appreciate this gift; those who don’t want to stop and see. Let them all go before me…I don’t mind at all.  I know I am not allowed to step out of this line.  But would it be so bad to let me skip a few steps?  What harm could it do?  You won’t even notice, I promise.  I will just stay here quietly and collect more of what this wonderful life has to offer.  I will just keep learning some more, make some more memories before hitting the front of this line. 

There is soooo much more out there that I need to see; that I need to experience; that I need to taste; that I need to touch; that I need to feel and that I have to share.  I just have to share it all.  I don’t mind you giving me a gray hair or two with every step I am allowed to not take. Go right ahead, so long you just keep me right here and so long those none-taken steps won’t count against me.  Let me stop counting those ole chalk tallies on the wall. I just need some more time now.  My mind is strong, my heart is still hanging in there… now is the time to keep collecting, don’t you see? Now I am still aware of everything around me. Now, my silly ole heart is still beating with me.  Now, my mind is not failing me.  Now my body is not failing me.  You see, it’s the perfect time.  But with every step you force me to take, I risk the ability of collecting.  Of remembering.  Of enjoying.  Of understanding.   And at some point, taking a step may mean losing what I’ve collected. So you see my dilemma, yes? Just please… let me skip…just a few times…don’t speed me along.  Please let me enjoy my place and your gift longer.  Much longer. 

Let me be greedy!  And be assured that this is no ordinary greed.  I am not sure how to show my gratitude, my appreciation; you just will have to trust me on this.  My word is good.  

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

The Stranger in the Mirror

It didn’t feel right… something just didn’t add up…  It was just not how it used to be... how it used to feel.  Pulling the comb through that frizzy, tightly curled hair is somehow still familiar.  The application of make-up is long in the past.  This powder blue make up case hasn’t been pulled out for at least a year and a half.  Memories are blurry and only show up every now and again, but only as bits and pieces and don’t make a lot of sense.  Catching that flaw is not easy to admit.  Understanding the change is not much fun at all.  Looking in the mirror only makes one wonder who that stranger in the mirror is, looking back.  Certainly isn’t a familiar face.  A stranger really… should I introduce myself?

She has so many stories to tell… so many experiences to share… so much advice to give… but the brain just keeps scrambling the stories and they just keep coming out so wrong.  Giving up… not wanting to tell anymore… no more humiliation of that old age.  Knowing people like Howard Hughes in person, having driven in his car many times and remembering that he was an anal person, yet carried a distinctive and not so pleasant odor is just not all coming back to the fullest.  Remembering that the family came here from England to Connecticut and then on to Yuma is only a blur.  The smile that automatically forms when seeing the turquoise jewelry that was made by the family with the help by real Indians, is only short lived.  Knowing that the first husband’s hands where involved in building one of Americas monuments, the Hoover Damn, is of no proud recollection anymore.  Even that the last husband worked on the Space Shuttles, beginning with the very first one, has very little, if any, meaning today.  And those boxes full of old photographs are nothing more than black little squares as the eyesight is a long departed friend.

It used to be so easy getting out of bed.  It used to be no thought at all which shoe goes on what foot.  There was never a question of what kind of food was preferred.   It used to be a weekly activity to sit at the white round table in the kitchen near the sink and write long letters of the weekly occurrences to stay in contact with family and friends all around America.  Using the phone to call friends and check to make sure they don’t need any help.  These days the mailbox is empty and collecting dust.  The phone hasn’t rung in a long time.  Visitors are scarce.  Friendships are a long gone memory as she is the only survivor of her own past.  All four husbands have past and the last is a heartfelt and very seldom thought without any relating feelings.

All these years;  88 years… building memories only to forget them.  Only to not recall how warm she felt in the comfort of her husbands.  The joy she had raising two children.  The pain she felt when her son died way before his time.  The fun that was felt deep into the bones when competing in ballroom dancing.  The likings of movies with Alan Ladd.   All these wonderful memories are lost in time,  never to be remembered with joy by her.   The question “was it a nice life?” or “was it all worth it” can never be answered by her…this woman who does not recognize her own reflection in the mirror.

[I wrote this blog three years ago about Lewis' Grandma.  Today, she is turning 91 and the words in this blog have not changed for the better.   Today, remembering is not at all a task for her.  Today, she rather confuses the past with the present.  Her short term memory no longer a good friend to her at all and her long term memory shrinking to something that even her daughter has a hard time making sense of.   We will go, as every year, to celebrate her birthday.  It’s not easy to look into her eyes, wishing her a happy birthday, when the meaning for her for an occasion such as this means nothing at all anymore.   She will eat the cake, give us a smile and then insist on going back to bed.    She is clearly a case of “When the organs outlive the mind”.   Today, however, I raise my glass and wish her a Happy Birthday!]

Monday, November 9, 2009

The Good, The Bad, and the Indifferent

"In the Moment has left a new comment on your post "My Baby's big Day":

Here I am again, with a request for you. I know that you are busy and have so much going on... Today, as you are probably well aware, is the 20th anniversary of the falling of the Berlin Wall. You were there, maybe not at the wall, but in Berlin as this was happening. Could you tell us about your memories of that time, and how it all strikes you now... I would love to hear your feelings, as for you, not all of this has been the best of things that could happen, though the world views it as a wonderful thing... As a Berliner, please, if you could, tell us about your feelings about the wall, about the wall coming down 20 years ago, and anything else that you might want to add, with your own, lovely, unique way of saying things. I would love it... and your followers would to, I think... huge hugs for a great day! And thank you... for everything."

Hard to believe that it has already been twenty years since that day;  The day I stood before the Berlin Wall, at the Brandenburg Gate, with hundreds of people waiting for something to happen.  It was our turn to open the borders.  Not so fast!!!  East Berlin and West Berlin becoming one city again?  That cannot be done.  It should be done though.  And after all, Reagan was asking really nicely to Tear that Wall down.  Everyone who was there had a different reason for being there.  Some were looking forward to finally having that ugly thing gone from our streets. Some were there in the hopes to greet their family members who were forced to live "on the other side".  Some were there 'cause there was the word spreading that there is a huge party at the wall.  Actually, most of us young folks where there for the party.  Take a drink, pull up a chair and let me tell you how this day in history went down for me.

It was just another night hanging out with my friends until the word came in that we all have to gather at the Brandenburg Tor, NOW.  No more needed to be said after "a huge party is going on" and we all got into our cars and head towards Tiergarten.  The streets were full of people; most equipped with lots of beer.  Singing and screaming was going on, something we Germans are really good at when we are drunk.  We finally arrived at the Wall, right by the Brandenburg Gate.  Some of my friends decided to join the party right away and climbed up the wall and stood where no man has stood before (and especially not for that long without hearing some shots fired by the East German guards).  We then all danced and sang and partied and were totally sucked into the atmosphere and the mind-set of setting free our fellow Germans who were trapped and mistreated on the other side.  To make a point, some thought it to be necessary to light up a Molotov Cocktail, toss that over in the direction of the chariot and set the flag of the DDR on fire.  Still, no shots!!!  We were a young ignorant people who thought to be rebellious and fight "the man" and we can be the heroes for saving our sisters and brothers. (not taking away any credit to Mr. Reagan here!!)  Finally, we are all free!!!  Whoo hoo, may I have another beer, please?  Most of us youngsters were already quite drunk, whether it was from our surrounding happenings or from the actual demon we call alcohol.  And now we all had enough adrenalin running through our bodies that we can be invincible.  Out came the tools.  would you believe me if i told you that some actually had those tiny metal hammers in their pockets?  It's true!!! And they started to hammer away.  Until, finally, the borders are opened.  People from the East started to storm through and into the West, some on food, others by car (well, a Trabant [the east german soap box they liked to call "car" ] didn't really qualify as a car, did it now?)  Some came with all they could carry and left all else behind, knowing they'd never return, others walked slower as if they needed to dip their tows into the cold water first.  And we greeted them with beer and champagne.  People who didn't even know each other hugged and shared tears.  Some offered total strangers from the East a place to stay as a wonderful welcome to the West. Tears were shed and dried.  Happiness all over the place.  Yesssssss... we are now unified and nobody, NOBODY could change that ever again.  Or could they?

The Flip-side to the reunification:  The government decided that the people new to the "Golden-West" ,as we were often referred to, needed money to spend.  With a passport in hand, they could now go to any bank and receive 100 DM (Deutsch Marks) for each person registered in their passport (usually parent and children).  I worked for a bank at the time and was put in a teller position to hand out the "welcome-to-the-west" free money and at the end of the day, I counted the scratch marks on my hands, as some people grabbed the money as quickly as they could and ran.  A few days later, it was detected that some of our new "friends" have figured out how to trick the system and get more money.  Car businesses boomed for a short moment as our new friends were hungry for BMW's and that oh so luxurious Mercedes Benz.  Car dealer's were more than happy to talk those lovely people into a ridiculous loan and secured their bonuses.  Hotel chains also got hit by folks from the East, as they booked their rooms but left without paying.  Newspapers reported that some actually had the guts to leave a message on the mirror, such as "It's now our time to get what was taken from us for the past 40 years".  This set quite a lot into motion.  And then us regular folks learned what it meant to now be re-united.  Grocery stores ran out of groceries faster than they could re-stalk the shelves. Some stores had to stay closed for days before they received new groceries to sell.  We received quite the tax hikes (income tax today is anywhere from 40%-65%) and when that was still not enough, the government now took hold of our NET-income ('cause they didn't already tax the heck out of our GROSS-income!!).  They promised they would only take 1% from your monthly NET income for only one year.  This money was to be used to re-build East-Germany.  20 years later, the government takes now 3% of your monthly NET income, raised sales tax  and today they are at 19% (already, talks are suggesting to raise sales tax to 25% this coming year), is taxing your monthly social security check, hiked the cost of health care ( oh yes, for you out there thinking that we German's have free health care.. we never ever had FREE health care and it didn't come cheap either!!! ), increased unemployment, added a regulation to your social security (no longer will you receive such payments if you don't have a private retirement account in place.. and yes, that too, is being taxed!!).  Don't forget the cost of making Berlin the capitol again, rebuilding Friedrichstrasse to a luxury shopping street, shifting the city center from Ku'damm to Potdamer Platz (as it was a long time ago), rebuilding almost all embassies, oh yes, and the change to the Euro came with a huge price-tag as well.  And the list goes on and on and on and has not found its end as the government keeps on growing.

Germany is a great Country.  Now that's a statement that finds friends and opposition alike. No need to bring up certain twelve years!!!  In my view, however, it is a great country, from its historical standpoint.  I was born and raised in Berlin.  A city founded in 1237 A.D. and with the fall of the wall, we from the West, have once again access to the place where it all began.  Where Berlin came to be.  Since the wall was already up for some years when I was born, having access to our own history like that was and still is rather exciting.  With the fall of the wall, we gained much access to our own history that was kept for so long behind the wall and not very appreciated by the people of the East.  My recent trip back home to Berlin in August 2009 still showed, how divided this city still is.  The big concrete wall was torn down only to be replaced with an invisible wall in its place.  With the East and the West evolving as two very different cultures and two different education systems (German history as well as world history was taught very different over there then us kids in the West were taught). East Germans and West Germans alike agree and disagree whether the fall of the wall was and is a good thing.  With the government doing its thing, can you blame them for bringing up questions?  Nobody, however, seems to argue about whether or not it was a good thing to bring together the people of the West and the East.  This was a wonderful idea.  Most of us do agree. Now, if we could only get rid of about 90% of the government who seem to have taking the New Germany as their own personal piggy bank.  But regardless, the Germans have not lost their taste for good beer and a good conversation, regardless where you are coming from and what's your background.  And so we say "Prost" and hope that the German people will never be physically divided ever again!!!

Friday, November 6, 2009

My Baby's big Day

So here we are, it's Senior night for Jenny tonight and I even know what that means.  As my girls grow up, I am more and more Americanized.  What will I do when they are out of the house and living their own lives?  They are the ones teaching me the newest lingo, correct my English, and roll their eyes when I just don't get it.  I shall stay on topic.  Senior night.  Jenny is all excited and sad at the same time.  Marching Band is coming to an end, but if her team keeps winning, there is always another Friday of meeting with her buddies and going crazy in the stands.  Four years of High school marching Band and once that's over she still has her concert band going, but whom are we kidding?  It's just not the same, although she enjoyes the sophistication and is proud to be first chair flute, marching band is just quite the different animal, which fits her crazy personality really well.  Senior night is also bringing along Realization.

I still remember her first day of school in America.  I didn't know what to expect, starting with the fact that a school bus will stop at the house and pick up my little girl.  It's funny, I can still bring forth the image in my brain of her turning around mid way up the bus stairs, looking at me and wearing that big, big smile.  And when she returned after what felt like an eternity, but really have been only 4 hours, she couldn't stop talking about her first day in school.  By the time she was 13, she had been in more schools than grades. 

Now that it is Senior night, I am close to tears.  Next month, my little baby is turning 18 years of age.  I still catch myself often, staring at her and getting lost in memories.  I can still feel her tiny hand in mine, still recall how soft her baby feet were, I can still hear her baby laughter.  And now, this is her last year of High school.. why the heck did time have to run this fast?  

She will be off to Hawaii this coming summer to study Marine Biology.  She will grow into womanhood while away from home, away from me.

This is soooo crazy.  I didn't sign up for this when I had my girls.  Where I come from, we keep Family together.  Your children move out and move perhaps down the street or to the other side of town, which usually is just 30 minutes away at most.  In America, the sense of family seems to get lost with the beginning of college and that makes me sad.  All I will have from here on out are maybe long weekends and holidays with my Jenny.  But then I will feel how my mom must feel, I assume.  My mom was such a proud grandma for Jenny's first two years of life.  My mom doesn't show emotions openly.  When I told her that I was pregnant, she got up and left without a word.  I must say, it was an odd feeling she left behind.  Four hours later, she returned and handed me a huge bag.  Inside, all you need for a new born and on her face, a little smile.  These days, she hardly knows the girls.  Every time we come for a visit, my mom smiles and takes the girls away on shopping sprees and gosh knows all the things she does with them.  I have to say, I am afraid of the day Jenny moves away.

But tonight is her night and I will join her in her smiles and laughter.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Good morning, my fine friends

My weekend started out with me sitting in front the fire place Friday evening.  WOMAN MADE FIRE without the help of a male.  First fire for this season and I was rather proud of myself.  Lewis and Jenny left for the Friday night football game (our team won again.. still undefeated, GO DAWGS [see, i am almost fully Americanized !! ] and Julia spent the evening with her friend in her room.  I had a nice and quiet evening.  Nerdy as I was, I prepared some tea, got my Archeology book out, unplugged my laptop and placed it in my chair as well.  The tv running in the background, but I don't recall what was on as I got lost in my text book.  It was nice, but it also came to mind that this might just be a glimpse to my future :-(

Saturday, Halloween... my girls usually participate in these festivities, but not this time around.  Jenny dressed up as a cat and Julia just threw on a jacket and they both sat outside in the cold handing out candies while Lewis and I watched how the Gaters beat up on the Bulldogs...  I like how Lewis gets sucked into the game (he used to play the game in high school and college), yelling "what the heck are you guys doing?" ... all I can do is shake my head at the man flipping out while sitting on the couch as those pour guys have to actually be in the game.. LOL

Sunday was a quiet day.. a bit of more future planing, but not too much.  We are movie junkies, so we went to the movies and watched Cirque du Freak ...  wasn't bad, but at the end one could say  we could have waited for the release on DVD..

Time to come to an end... gotta get to the gym and start the ole day ;-)

How was your weekend?  Did you do anything fun, sensual and/or enticing???