Saturday, March 10, 2012

Retronyms, Monikers, and the Pink Haired Lady

I attended with my husband at the hospital yesterday for his pre-op exam. While he was getting an ECG, I staked out the gift shop and ran into a former acquaintance of mine. Although I recognized her right away, (she has the cutest little pixie face that would look awesome under a hat), I couldn’t determine the context. 

Our conversation began with, “Excuse me, do I know you?” We progressed through the when’s and where’s, summarizing the last 29 years, and ended up exchanging business cards.

That’s a lie. She gave me her card (it’s impressive), and I dug through my purse but came up empty. If you’re not well organized by the age of 59, will you ever be?

My former cohort felt she needed to explain the fact that her email address contains the word ‘cougar’, so I got to thinking about how much we worry about the impression we leave with others. After all, when she knew me before, I was working as a nurse, and now I’m the pink-haired hat lady. What must she think?

How much of ourselves do we reveal through our selection of online monikers, blog titles, and Facebook images? And how much do we care? Are we free to be playful with our internet identity? When I registered for this blog, the titles I wanted—Hat Chat, Frock Talk, Vintage Verbiage—were unavailable. I considered Freelance Floozy, but what impression would that leave?

I enjoyed re-connecting with my former acquaintance today; a girl I knew from the days before retronyms like ‘snailmail’ became part of our lexicon—back when the impression we made on others resulted from our day to day, face to face, human interactions.    

Does anyone else agonize over this sort of thing, or is it just me?

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Thursday, March 8, 2012

My Dog, the Surgeon

Auggie Doggie as a pupp (an anniversary gift from my husband )
Who says veterinary bills have to be high? We have just returned from the dog doctor and it only cost me $26 bucks! Better than that—Auggie, my Border Collie/ Australian Shepherd mix, didn’t require any treatment. It seems he took care of the problem himself.

Two weeks ago I noticed a small growth on my dog’s chest while I was petting him. It freaked me out (although not as badly as the time another dog of mine ate some carpet, and had trouble pooping it out. How do you put a dog in a cab when there are 18 inches of nylon coil hanging out of his arse?) 

Anyway, I immediately put Auggie (short for Auggie Doggie) on a raw foods diet and budgeted for the worst. Although I worked as an RN for 18 years, I couldn’t bring myself to examine the area, so I had a friend (formerly a vet in Bulgaria) take a close look at this ugly black protruberance. He advised me to clip the hair around the area, clean the spot (it now looked like a nipple) and apply some antibiotic ointment twice a day for a week, after which he promised to take a second look.

That plan fell apart the first day. There’s no way Auggie would keep a cone on. Actually, I could only stand five minutes of him racing back and forth shaking his head, so I stopped with the ointment and let him lick the darned thing.

I found out on Friday that he could do more than just lick the area. I heard a yelp, and discovered he’d bitten off whatever was there. Bigger freak-out! I made an appointment with the veterinary hospital, (surely the base of this would have to be excised), but the doctor told me there is nothing left to remove or biopsy. Probable diagnosis: a wart. Let’s hope it doesn’t grow back.

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Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Husbands and Boyfiends: Keeping it Straight

Yesterday, a former boyfriend (notice how I avoided the word "old"?) was featured on the front page of our local newspaper, for—of all things—reaching the age of 60. The firefighter-turned-human-rights-complainant has been forced into early retirement. See what I mean about cultural expectations?

Besides making me a believer in synchronicity, the article got me thinking about the fact that I had a life before Jim (my husband), whereas now I have a life because of him. I am a mother, grandmother, mother-in-law, writer, museum director, entrepreneur, and a whole lot more. None of these things can be taken away from me just because I’ve reached a certain age.

We need to plan for each life stage, so that we don’t retire from life before our time. Lots of on-the-job skills are transferable to new occupations or hobbies, and it is entirely possible to learn new skills, as anyone who tries to keep up with the latest techno-gadgets can testify. Well, that’s enough navel-gazing for now. I have deadlines to meet, an installation to prepare for, and a dog to take to the vet.

For today, that’s what becoming 60 looks like. 

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Monday, March 5, 2012

Back to the Future

Norma at Six Months 
I've decided to take a look back before going forward. Check me out. This was me at the same age my granddaughter is now.

There are no props to look at, no context really. This diaper-clad cutie is not surrounded by hats and books, cameras and computers, dolls and dresses, as I am now. Just Norma; just her, just me.

I recognize the eyebrows, the lips, and the long waist.  I've still got the cleavage, and can pick things up off of the floor with my curly toes. All good stuff. The pinch-able upper arm flesh is kind of back, though, so I'd better get to those push-ups.

As babies go, there's not much of a bum there. Still isn't. In our family, we call that particular genetic trait "The Thomas Bottom". Distinguished sounding, don't you think? It comes with great legs, so I've never really minded not being able to properly fill out the ass of my jeans.

That's a happy-looking baby, with no idea of what lies ahead for her. I think I'll try and recapture some of that, starting today.

It's hard to believe I used to inhabit her little body. Is reincarnation just a gradual process?  What do you see when you look at your baby pictures?  

Wayne Gretzky, Jean Béliveau, and Gary Carter

Leaving the Chidren's Hospital, 1974 

Wasn’t it Gretzky who said, “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take”? Well, I took a shot and told a few of my friends about the blog I have started. This morning, when I checked my emails, I found the very response I’ve been dreading: “You are not turning 60 this year???”

It’s a nice message, oozing with incredulity. But isn’t that’s the problem? If people can’t believe I’m turning 60, why tell them? Will my older friends think I’m a wuss? Will my younger friends consider me too old to hang around with? Last week I heard the news that Gary Carter died. For an afternoon I relived my former life as a Montreal Expos fan. I met Carter shortly after I graduated as a registered nurse. It seems a lifetime ago, and I guess for Carter, it was.

I felt the same way a few days ago when I heard the news that Jean Béliveau had been hospitalized following a stroke. I was with my youngest daughter at the time. “Who is that?” she asked.

That’s right, folks. I am old enough to remember (a very active-on-the-ice) Jean Béliveau. He also made regular visits to the teen ward of the Montreal Children’s hospital, where I worked at the time. (That’s me above, leaving work after a day shift in 1974.)

In the 70’s, I was the kind of hockey fan that took autographs, stood front row at the Stanley Cup parades, and went to the airport when the Canadiens won ‘away’ games during the playoffs.

I have lots of stories, but rather than bore my daughter, I decided to keep the memories to myself.

Maybe that’s it…getting older simply means we have more stories. Take a shot at something, and let me know how it turns out. At the very least, you'll end up with a great story.

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