Escape With An Oldie But Goodie

2013-08-14 16.59.06It has been one heck of a week. I shall not go into the sorid details, but suffice it to say I’ve come out on the other side clean and meek and reformed. So to speak.  I’m going away for the weekend to sit and look at the lake and play with my grandson and go for walks and watch cheesy videotapes (no TV). I don’t get phone service up there, which is probably a good thing (except I’ll have a lot of posts to read when I get back).

So I wanted to leave you with some fun reading from June of 2012. It’s about a disease I still have….Italktoomuchitis.

Happy Memorial Day!



Chit Chattin’ Chatty Cathy

doll Chatty Cathy

I subscribe to a few blogs where the author has broken out of their silent shell, finally finding a voice that is sparkling and true.  It’s not easy sharing something as personal as one’s self ― especially if that “self” has been suppressed for longer than one can imagine. I appreciate their efforts to finally let the world know who they are.

I, on the other hand, suffer from Italktoomuchitis.

I don’t remember when I contracted this disease.  It certainly wasn’t in grade school (too ugly), nor high school (too busy trying to get pinned). I worked in downtown Chicago for a PR department, but trust me, it was far from glamorous…or talkative. ( I was rather submissive in those days.) Found love, got married and had babies. I didn’t think of myself as overly verbal back then. But now I wonder — when did I become so…chatty?

Chatty is a relative word. Those of us old enough can remember the “Chatty Cathy” doll.  Pull her string and she’d say a half dozen things. What a novel idea at the time. For those of you a bit younger, this phenomenon was a highlight in Steve Martin’s tirade in Planes, Trains and Automobiles: “It’s like going on a date with a Chatty Cathy doll. I expect you have a little string on your chest, you know, that I pull out and have to snap back. Except I wouldn’t pull it out and snap it back – you would. Gnah..gnah…” Well,I’m beginning to think I’m that doll — and I’m the one pulling the string.

These last few years I think I’ve carried the chatty thing a bit too far. One question and everybody knows what I had for dinner last night, why I think my cousin’s child is out of control, the cramps I had this morning, and how much my dentist charged for root canal. I spill my son’s secrets to his wife, and tell my customers not to buy today for it goes on sale tomorrow. What is wrong with me? Since when have I become this effervescent fount of non-interesting information? I find I want to respond to everything. I have an answer for everything. Whether or not it’s informed. I find I have little patience for opinions other than mine, and need to comment on every and all things that come my way. Fortunately, I keep my mouth shut most of the time, but believe me, sometimes it’s a struggle.

I wonder if it’s that old person syndrome. You know ― the older you get, the less you care about what others think.  That seemed like such a cliché when I was younger. All those old fogies saying what they want to, not caring if they offend this person or that.  Most over 70 were a little crotchety and unreasonable, but hey, maybe they just weren’t thinking straight. Pre-Alzheimer’s and such.

As I got older I started to get where they were coming from. Now that I’m teasing the 60 mark, I’m finding those outspoken 70-year-olds weren’t so far off the mark after all.  Having spent a lifetime trying to get my thoughts and opinions across to others, I can see why caution is thrown to the wind and oldies say just what they think. I’ve been questioned and second-guessed more times than you can count; I’ve been unsure of my choices and bothered by the choices of others. I sometimes wonder if I should have turned right instead of left, if I would have made a difference, if I should have said something back then.

And I have gotten to the point where I’m tired of not being listened to.

I’m not saying that my opinion is any better than anyone else’s. We know the world by what we’ve experienced. I have kept my thoughts and opinions respectful and private. But in suppressing the nonsense that runs constantly through my head, I find myself talking and sharing more than when I was 20. It’s like the filter is broken. And I wonder — is that a good thing or a bad thing?

Through this need to reveal more than the neighborhood stripper, I find myself volunteering information that no one is interested in. Well, maybe they are, but in a superficial sort of way. I think we all do that — we listen to others babble their life stories, their grocery store nightmares, their crazy family history or their list of illnesses. We listen because we really do care. Not that we can do anything about their stories, but because we know that sometimes others just need someone to listen.

Often the babble that comes out of other mouths has nothing to do with what’s really going on inside. Maybe the storyteller suffers from insecurities, or illness, or loneliness. Maybe sharing the story of their kid’s accomplishments is a way to assure them that they did a good job as a mother or father. Maybe all they want is to be noticed. To be cared about. To be liked.

Many things fuel our chatter — or lack of. Where we’ve come from is not nearly as important as where we are headed.  If chit chatting about great recipes or the knucklehead in the cubicle down the hall gives us a little clearer sense of self, I’m all for it. We all need to get the chit out of our heads so we can think clearer and feel stronger. And as long as the chat is not destructive, there’s nothing wrong with a bit of babble at the bubbler.

Alas, sometimes I think my only solution is to wire my jaws shut.

I Get On My Nerves

52-I Get On My NervesAs I flirt with middle age and all the delights it brings, I also fear I am becoming a parody of myself…I am becoming the kind of person that drives me crazy.

 Let’s take the heat/cold thing, for instance. Because of the Big “C” meds and the Big “M” change-of-hormonal/body-life thing, I get hot flashes that would make Jumping Jack Flash jealous. I can’t tell from one minute to the next if I’m hot or cold. On sweater. Off sweater. On sweater. Off sweater. Sleeveless t-shirt. Shorts. Long Johns. I can’t decide if I need a fan or a blanket.  I might as well stockpile both, seeing my needs change on an hourly basis. All I know is that if I sat next to me at work or on the sofa I would make me nuts.  I am becoming the fidgety fussbudget no one wants to be around. It might not be as irritating as the person who chews their nails or spits tobacco, but it comes close. 

 Or how about this cold thing I’m fighting? Sneezing, hacking, clearing my throat of unwanted phlegm (don’t you just love that word?) all day long gets on my nerves – and I’m the one doing it! It makes me want to stand up and scream, “I can’t stand you anymore! Go Home Already!”  But being one of those long suffering, dedicated employees/spouses/parents, I know the world cannot go on without me, so I do the best I can to hide the irritating evidence.  I hold my sneezes silently inside (providing for that occasional bug-eyed look), blow my nose slowly (and hopefully discretely), and suppress my cough with water and sugar-free Werner’s.

 Is my patience level decreasing as my age increases? Am I becoming one of those sniveling, snorting, mumbling “old people” my mother warned me about?  My tolerance level seems to be upside down these days. I don’t mind my grandbaby’s whining/screaming/eh-eh-eh-ing all the time, long after my daughter-in-law has thrown in the towel.  Cereal thrown all over the floor, stones shoveled in the driveway, chewing the leg off the $10 Darcy Donkey I bought him at the last Gaelic Storm concert – so what? I credit it to him being a brilliant, inquisitive, experimental child.  Yet listing to the blood curdling screams of an overtired, over stimulated child in the store makes my dander flake.

 Have I always been this way? I’d like to think not. But it seems the older I get the more exaggerated any and all symptoms and reactions become. I find I have no tolerance for slow poke drivers, cell phone chatting drivers, and hot-shot, hot-rod drivers. I get bent out of shape when the cart in front of me at the checkout line has 30 items instead of 20 when I only have 10. People talking with their mouths full or slurping their soda or cracking their gum make me want to pop them in the chops.  I can’t stand commercials on television or radio, so half the time I sit in complete silence to read or write or drive.

Why am I so irritable? Is it just my time of life? Or is it that the world around me has become a lot more obnoxious in the past 10 years? 

I try and be Christian, I try and be Mother Teresa. After all, the hacker with the cough may have bronchitis. The screaming, tantrum baby may have intestinal pains. The cell phone yakker who isn’t paying attention to the road may be consoling a distraught friend or relative. The person who pulls out the bottom towel from the stack, leaving the remainder to topple worse than the Tower of Pisa, might have some sort of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, and the thought of an untouched towel soothes their nerves.  Everyone has reasons for what they do, for the way they behave.  We are not all privy to their secrets nor their weaknesses.  The Goddess encourages us to be easy going on those around us. For others it’s the Sufi Way. And I want to give the world the benefit of the doubt.

 On the other hand, the yakker on the cell phone is going to drive into someone or something one of these days; the 30 at the 20 checkout fellow is an in-charge, defiant, control freak; the sneezer without a Kleenex will undoubtedly one day spread the plague; and the towel puller is just a slob who doesn’t clean up after themselves. In a world where we are doing our best to teach our children manners and to respect each other, the role models driving and working and shopping around us often leave much to be desired.  I’m always saying I’m old school, but I would never talk to my elders (or anyone else, for that matter), the way some do. I would never leave a mess in a store for someone else to clean up (oh..that’s their job), cough in someone’s face, or bully someone.

 I’m not saying I don’t talk on the cell phone while driving, or take more than 20 to the 20 check out. I do go to work when I’d be better off at home under the covers, and often talk before I think, making more work for myself than need be. But I am sorry for my misdemeanors; I do say thank you and please all the time. I hold doors open for those behind me and stop my car in the middle of parking lots to let people walk by. I try and say something nice to everyone I chat with, and bring extra food to parties even when I don’t have to.

 I just don’t want to make myself (or others) put up with the mumbly, jumbly world of On Sweater, Off Sweater, Cough Cough Cough. That would be enough to make everyone scoot their chairs a little further away.

 Unless I make it into a dance move…