We Made It!


I could’ve quit but I didn’t.

It’s not like it was such a big deal. I didn’t paddle a kayak across the Atlantic Ocean or ride my bike from Jersey to L.A. I didn’t climb Mt. Everest or swim from Cuba to Key West.

All I did was blog every day in November. Nothing extraordinary. Words on a page. That’s all. I put words on a page every day in November.

I won’t even say it was hard. It wasn’t hard. But I will say that there were times when it was a wee bit difficult.

I had a huge project to finish in November.

I had cochlear implant surgery in November.

I had Thanksgiving in November.

I had the Green Bay Packers in November.

And anchoring it all, I had blogging every day.

November was a month that took a little grit. It’s November 30th and I’m all in one piece. I got everything done that I was supposed to get done. I was a trouper.

I finished my big project after much frustration and angst. I had my cochlear implant surgery, had my head bandaged like a WWI veteran and slept sitting up. I weaved my way around my house, making everyone nervous about whether I could make it down the stairs on my own. And then I drove my car to the bank.

We made Thanksgiving dinner and it was pretty decent. There was a full table – in more ways than one.

I sat for four hours in the rain and watched the Green Bay Packers lose to the hated Chicago Bears and got tears in my eyes when the beloved Bart Starr and Brett Favre, Green Bay’s legendary quarterbacks were honored at halftime. Never mind that I sat on the floor of the ladies room under the towel dispenser during the 2nd quarter wringing out my drenched gloves and bemoaning my fate.

It was a month of a lot of little nadirs. And a lot of trusting that everything would be okay. And it was. A lot of family members watching out for me, putting a strong arm under mine, spotting me when I started to waiver, being normal but not. So many good hands I was in. They helped me get well fast.

A couple of times this month, I heard my dad talking. “There’s no quit in that old gal,” he’d say. Usually, it would be about a car or maybe about his 80-year old mother rowing her boat out to the middle of the lake to fish for sunfish with a cane pole.

“There’s no quit in that old gal.” I’d like that to be said about me. Not about blogging. About me.



Waiting for the Brass Band

Jan - Purple 2

There’s a brass band way down the street. Part of me is excited for its arrival on my doorstep and part of me wants to lock the door and draw the shades.

It’s been very quiet in my head for the past ten days. The ear that got the cochlear implant is essentially dead at the moment, not working, out of commission, not even the tiniest sneak of hearing while I wait for the implant to be activated later this week. The other ear with the hearing aid has stepped up, doing the hearing of two ears, a workhorse of an ear for sure. But without that hearing aid, there is almost no hearing happening.

The sensation of having gone over the wall to the land of the deaf is pretty overwhelming. But I have to tell you this. There is a serenity here that is hard to find in the world of noise and talk. But the serenity holds hands with boredom. I can do plenty to amuse myself. I can think great big thoughts. I can read important books. I can write this blog.

What I can’t do is have much of a conversation, casual or otherwise. Today, while we were walking, I asked my husband if he thought that we would start chit-chatting more after my implant is activated. “No,” he said, “we never did chit-chat all that much.”

We did. He just doesn’t remember.

So Thursday, the brass band is showing up. That’s when I see the audiologist and the implant is activated. I’ve been warned that it will seem like an onslaught of noise, a cacophony, and that seems extraordinary and awful at the same time.

I wonder if I will even know how to act when I can actually hear what people say. This will sound strange to you hearing folks out there but hearing people will require me to acknowledge and engage with them. If you aren’t deaf, you really just can’t ignore people. If you are deaf, folks get used to it. They even start to count on it.

I admit that I’ve become a bit of a Boo Radley, more comfortable putting soap dolls in the crook of a tree for people to find than actually having conversations with them. But I decided I wanted out of this life and now I have to do what comes next.

I have to open the door to the brass band and be happy about it.

Pull the Wings Off Butterflies

If I was Donald Trump’s mother and I witnessed him jerking his arms in the air in mockery of New York Times reporter Serge Koveleski, I would have slapped him across the face. In front of God and everybody.

Never mind that he is running for President which, as his mother, I would know he has no business doing. How his horrible behavior reflected on me would trump, as it were, any other prevailing interests, including his misbegotten notion that he should be the leader of the free world.

I will not countenance a child of mine being a complete and utter asshole. Trust me, this isn’t hypothetical tough talk here.  I’m no travel writer talking  about places I’ve never visited.

What I learned long ago, not quite soon enough but in time, was that my disapproval as a mother is power-packed and toxic like the poison on an arrow piercing through a South American jungle.

My children are all adults now. And, happily, the occasions when I feel compelled to show any disapproval are rare, nearly non-existent. But, quite frankly, one doesn’t have to use a weapon to appreciate having it. As all the Cold War arms racers would say, it’s better to have a nuclear bomb hidden somewhere in Nebraska than to stand on the shore with a slingshot.

Unfortunately, Donald Trump’s mother died in 2000 so she is not here to do what any mother in the universe would do if she caught her son making fun of a person with a disability. This means that Donald Trump is now a boy without any fear of the poisoned arrow. He thinks he is home free. He thinks he can pull the wings off butterflies and nobody can stop him.

So I say to all the mothers out there: if you caught your own boy behaving this way, mocking someone, being cocky and cruel, and bringing shame to your name, what would you do?

I think I know. Send the arrow.







What is the What by When?


Jan and ElizabethLast year I asked my daughter for advice about make-up. She is a person who has consistently great taste and always looks terrific. So it seemed a smarter idea to ask her for advice than to sidle up to the overly made-up person at the department store cosmetics counter and sit on one of those stools while passers-by watched the impossibility of it all.

Clearly, something needed to be done with my face. I was washed out, feeling faded and nondescript.

She seemed a little exasperated, suggesting that I might think about asking for advice on matters having to do with business or blogging, gently reminding me that she is an expert in a lot more things than make-up. (She’s the communications and marketing director for one of the country’s largest chambers of commerce.) Exasperated or not, she quickly diagnosed my washed out problem, tried a new eye shadow and blush on me and then sent me a supply in the mail. See a problem, define a problem, solve a problem.

So lately I’ve been thinking about my blog.

I don’t think my blog is washed out, faded or nondescript. Although some readers might argue. I think I have a style and a niche. I get good feedback. I occasionally get republished. It’s all pretty satisfying in terms of my blog being something that I’m proud of. But I think it could be better, bigger, have more impact.

So I asked my daughter for advice. She asked me for my blog’s analytics which, thanks to WordPress, I had readily available. Followers, views, visitors. Days, times, months, years. All of it’s there. She looked at that and asked me about my goal. I thought about it for a while. Well, not really, typically I say the first thing I’m thinking and, in this case, it was this: I want to make a name for myself.

Instead of saying the daughterly thing, the comforting thing, the dismissive thing which would have been, oh mom, you already have made a name for yourself meaning, really, be happy with what you have because who would expect you to do very much more than have a nice blog with a lot of nice readers, she asked me this:

What is the what by when?

Tell me this, she said, and we’ll work backward from that. My first reaction was, wow, my daughter is treating this request from me as a legitimate thing, not a mom looking for reassurance thing but an actual project, a real challenge, a legitimate thing. This, of course, made me sit up a lot straighter than I had been just minutes before. Nuts. She’s actually taking me seriously! So what’s the answer? What is the what by when?

I don’t have an answer but I love the question. And I love her for asking it. It made me feel like a million bucks.


Smile Everlasting

1940 Roy with Majorie in background at Chrystal Lake MI _002

Today is my father’s birthday. He was born November 25, 1913.

Incredibly, I didn’t know that until he died and I read the date on the card the funeral director handed me when I walked in to my father’s service in 2003. He died about three months before he would have turned 90.

I knew his birthday was in late November. And I knew he was born in 1913. But his birthday was a vague event, something that happened around the time of Thanksgiving. It didn’t have its own space. If it did, my father kept it to himself.

No fuss for Roy. It wasn’t his thing.

This is my favorite picture of my father. He is just a person in the world. Like he’s given no thought to time passing. Had no worry about it and no reason to measure his days.