Laments About Arthritic Adventures

CIA? Me, a Spy? Oh, My

The Day The Agency Called

Diana Riggs as Emma Peel

I’m not sure what prompted the recollection. I was just sitting on the couch watching some silly spy movie for the 17th time with Handsome Hubby. Somewhere between the commercials, the snacks and nodding off, I engaged in a little middle-aged woolgathering, the way we of a certain age do from time to time. I remembered something I hadn’t thought about in a long time – my own, true-to-life, almost CIA spy adventure.

I was young. (Like I said, it was a long time ago.)

I had studied in the then-Soviet Union, had two degrees in Russian Area Studies – political science, history, language, and economics, and spoke Russian with some degree of fluency.

Then the CIA called.  Read more

Middle-aged Chatter

Why Do We All Talk to Strangers?

Do you remember the doll Chatty Cathy? If you grew up in the early 60s, you probably had one. Second to Barbie, this pull-string talking toy was the most popular doll on the market. I had a Chatty Cathy and loved her dearly.

And like my doll, I was a regular Chatty Cathy. I talked so much as a child that my family used to pay me to keep quiet. I’d get a nickel for every fifteen minutes I’d keep still. The truth is, I didn’t collect many nickels.

I wasn’t just chatty. I was really friendly. I once invited a total stranger over to our house. When he showed up, my mother won’t let him in, of course. But he wouldn’t leave. My mother called the police and that night both my parents gave me a stern lecture about not talking to strangers.

Yet, if I wasn’t supposed to talk to strangers, my middle-aged mother was setting a bad example. Read more

I Ache, Therefore I Am

Age Gracefully. I Dare You!

“I think, therefore I am,” Descartes said. Yet, as people age, many switch to a different, less inspiring paradigm, namely ‘I ache, therefore I am.”

I have, for instance, a cousin who spends entire telephone conversations reciting litanies of medical ills, without offering even one hosanna for the medical miracles that keep him alive and kicking and well enough to bitch and moan the whole time on the phone.

For my part, I have always vowed to age gracefully and suffer silently whatever slings and arrows come my way.

Well, that pledge has been put to the test lately and I confess, I have to give myself barely passing grades in the dignity and grace department.

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I Embarrass My Husband

The Subject is Flowers

I embarrass my husband. It’s true, I do.

It’s not my weight. My table manners. My political opinions or even my high-pitched snorting laugh. It’s gotten to the point he won’t be seen in public with me – or to be more precise – he won’t go for walks with me.

The path I take, he takes no more.

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From Broadway to Basketball

How I Went Head Over Heels for Hoops

Blame it on the state of the world. Blame it on the folks in Washington, D.C. Blame it on my children or my husband (my personal default fault mode). Whatever the cause, I have long yearned for moral clarity and distinct boundaries between right and wrong. I am tired of gray, of ambiguity, of uncertainty. I need to know who the good guys are, who the bad guys are, and that the outcome of things will be for the best – and to my liking.

And in my desperation, I turned – for the first time in my life – to a new source of solace. No, not religion. Sports. Yes, in the Spring of 2016 I unexpectedly became a devoted – no, make that a fanatical – Golden State Warriors basketball fan. I now proudly sport a tee shirt – make that an officially NBA-sanctioned-tee-shirt. Yes, I pledged allegiance to Dub Nation.

(And to think, just a short time ago, I had to ask my hairdresser what the “Dub” in Dub Nation was. For the uninitiated, non-Californian, it is slang for the beginning phonetic pronunciation of the letter “W” in Warriors which is “dub-bel-yoo.” Got it? Duh!)

But then something happened. Read more

The Cat Conundrum

When Music Mixes with Politics, Which Wins?

Do you remember Cat Stevens? If you are middle-aged, you undoubtedly do. And if you liked folk/rock music, you undoubtedly loved Cat Stevens. Well, I am middle-aged and I loved Cat Stevens. I loved him more than Gordon Lightfoot, on whom I had a slight musical crush. And I probably loved him more than the Beatles, who were my gateway drug to Rock ‘n Roll.

So, I cannot tell you how excited I was to learn that Cat Stevens was touring again. When I read the ad announcing his concert dates, I entered not only the date of his San Francisco concert in my iPhone but also – in all capital letters – with a 15-minute ringtone reminder for safety – the date and time the tickets would go on sale. I canceled my standing exercise class to stay home to buy the tickets at the exact second they went on sale. I sat by my computer, my finger poised above the “buy” button, all in an effort to get the best seats possible. Even so, the tickets I scored were a bit further back than I would have liked, row R, but no matter. Handsome Hubby and I were to set to see Cat Stevens in concert.

I started counting the days.

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Are You Still Sexually Active?

And other Signs you’re not as young as you think you are.

“Are you still sexually active?”

“Excuse me?”

“Are you still sexually active?” repeated the gynecologist, peering up and around my legs.

Why? I worried silently. Was she finding something ‘down there’ to indicate I wasn’t or shouldn’t be?

“Of course, I am,” I replied sharply, snapping my legs together to signal an end to that embarrassing and frankly insulting line of questioning.

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Name Banes

“What's in a name? that which we call a rose By any other name would smell as sweet;”

middle life crisis

So argued sweet, naïve Juliet about her love Romeo’s last name. Well, as we all know, the tale of Romeo and Juliet did not end well. While many lessons can be learned from this story of teen love gone tragically awry, for me, the lesson is that there is a lot at stake when it comes to your name. And sadly I’ve faced innumerable struggles with mine. Well, not innumerable. I can count them. In fact, to quote Elizabeth Barret Browning, “Let me count the ways.”

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