Welcome to The Squeaky Pen

...where life is slow, and ripe with rural treasures

Thursday, September 26, 2013

If Thine Eye Be Evil...Get Yourself a Chain

I'll begin with this: I am so lucky to have my eyesight. I am blessed. I can see.


Aging is really rather interesting. A few years ago the glasses thing started. Now I've worn glasses for distance for many years, and in fact segued to contacts while in college. My glasses -- the one pair I owned -- spent most of their time on my bedside table, used at night, from bed, if I wanted to see what was happening on the TV across the room. I'm near-sighted, and back in those glowing days of youth could both see far and read close with the contacts in.

But eyes, as we all know or eventually learn, change as we get older. Suddenly I wasn't able to read with my contacts in. I either had to take the lenses out to read, or wear drug store reading glasses with the contacts in place. I vaguely remember buying my first pair of readers. They were multi-colored and kind of funky. Okay, I said, this is cool. My funky reading glasses make me look, you know, funky.

Sadly, a snowball only rolls downhill.

I can't begin to guess how many pairs of prescription glasses and reading glasses I've gone through in the past few years. If I'm not wearing my contacts, the prescription glasses go on and off: on to see, off to read. Inevitably, I'll set the glasses down somewhere ...on the sofa, for example...then I'll walk away and have no idea where I've left them. My glasses were missing for an entire week over the summer, finally found on a living room side table where, apparently, I'd been puttering with a curtain rod and set the glasses down so I could see; or I'll return to the sofa and sit on them. I've rolled over onto my glasses in sleep. I've found glasses under the bed, under the chair, in the car, in the washer (yes, in the washer). Not only do I have glasses all over the house, I also have broken glasses all over the house, and single bows. And the lenses of glasses that have fallen out. I have been known to be chatting with someone only to have the lens of a cracked pair of glasses pop out and fall to the table like an errant marble eye. As a contact lens person for so long, I'm like a dog that was never house-trained. If I didn't learn to take care of business early, there was no hope later on.

I have resisted, at the risk of looking like an old woman, making use of the glasses chain, that thing old ladies wear around their necks so when they take the prescription glasses off they fall complacently to the bosom where they stay until needed again to watch the squirrel running up the tree outside, or whatever. Instead, I've gone to the "one-eye method." The one-eye method is wearing a single contact lens in my dominant eye, and no contact in the other. This took some getting used to. There was lots of blinking and dizziness. I'm pretty much there now after a year of the one-eye method, but frankly it's still not quite right, although I am now able to read a restaurant menu and see who I'm dining with at the same time. I can't really drive at night with the one-eye method, though, so I have to be sure to tuck prescription glasses into my purse, along with a contact lens case. And contact lens solution. And handi-wipes to clean off contact-inserting fingers. No longer can I bound into the car unfettered and drive off into the sunset. With aging comes details with which I am not happy to deal.

A younger friend of mine mentioned last night that she's starting to go through menopause, and it's bothering her: vertigo and hot flashes. I wanted to say hahahahahahaha. Wait until the glasses thing starts. Right now she wears hard contact lenses, maybe the only person left on earth who does. She only wears her prescription glasses at bedtime. I haven't yet noticed if she has reading glasses, but she will. My hot flashes have come and gone, but I tell you what: I'd take them back every day if I didn't have to finally take the big jump and buy the glasses chain. Which I did. Today.

Yes, I am blessed. I have the wisdom that comes with age. I brush away drama that in youth would have caused tears and hand-wringing. I have friendships that are rooted in longevity and trust. I have a roof over my head, a working car, a couple of bucks in the bank, a brain with synapses still firing, a job, a house-trained dog. Yes indeed, I am blessed in so many ways, most importantly because I can see. 

And what I can see is the location of my glasses. They are there, 12 inches or so below my traitorous eyes. Dangling at the bosom.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

12 Years Later

12 years later...I woke up this morning, turned on the news, and saw my TV was tuned to the channel that is replaying the newscast from September 11, 2001. 

12 years later...I can still see the dashboard on my way to work, and the radio's digital face, when I heard that a second plane had hit the trade centers, realizing, alone in my car, that we were at war.

12 years later...the feeling of horror remains as I drove into the parking lot of my office on Long Island and saw, across the bay, the towers burning.

12 years later...remembering the telephone calls that day from friends I hadn't spoken with in years, frantic, asking if I was okay. And finding out that my California friend Jan, who was in New York for a meeting, was scheduled to be on flight 93 from Newark to San Francisco...two days later. If the terrorists had waited until Thursday, Jan's flight would have crashed into a field in Pennsylvania. Jan was lucky...and not so lucky. She was four months pregnant when she was visiting Manhattan on 9/11. She lost the baby, a little girl we think, who would now be 12 years old.

12 years later...I can still hear the sobs of the fireman in the bar that afternoon, where I and co-workers went to have a much-needed drink. I wonder about that fireman now, who had retired just weeks before from the New York City fire company from which every person was lost in the South Tower. 

12 years later...my stomach churns at the memory of the rumors: that a 747 was crossing the Atlantic with a nuclear bomb, headed for New York City; that dozens of planes had been hijacked; that some might have chemical and biological weapons on board. My stomach churns at the truth: of fighter jets flying over my office; of the news that the towers had collapsed; at my conversation with a doctor friend, who said he rushed to Bellevue Hospital to help, and had nothing to do because most of the victims were already dead.

12 years later...when I see video of those jets blasting into the trade centers, obliterating people who were sitting at their desks having a cup of coffee, I cannot...cannot...get my head around it. That, and the images of people jumping from a hundred stories high to get away from the flames, and the sound of their bodies hitting the pavement.

12 years later...I still hear the voice of Memphis friend Gloria's husband Ed, shouting in the background while I was on the phone with Gloria that the Pentagon had been hit. This morning Gloria sent me an email saying how 12 years later she can't believe she's still so raw about the 9/11 attacks.

12 years later, I'm still raw too. And I'm still crying on the date our world changed forever.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Endings; And The Beginning of Something New

Like a wolf on a hill, I raised my head and inhaled deeply.

"Fall is in the air," I told a friend yesterday.

"We'll have more warm days," he said.

Maybe. But not too many.

Sometimes in summer, we (of course) have cold spells. It gets chilly, maybe with rain, then the temps rise again. This time of year the feeling is different. There's an edge to the chill, one that warns to enjoy what warmth there is because soon there won't be much, and for a long stretch. When I got up this morning I felt the warning in my bones, pulling on socks and scurrying downstairs for hot coffee. The green of the trees isn't so bright today. Grass is crackling. My cats are twirling and yowling. Harry has burrowed into his bed. We aren't much different from the animals, we humans, since animals we are (some more than others). We all feel it, autumn getting ready to boot summer out on her sorry behind.

Change is a good thing. I'm redecorating my fireplace room with a new floor and new paint, new window coverings, new artwork on the walls. It's a disaster at the moment, but come October I'll huddle back there with friends near crackling wood, watching through the glass as plump orange leaves -- Mother Nature's sailboats -- drift lazily out of blue skies, foretelling snow.

The kids are back in school and Jack-o-Lanterns are only weeks away. Facebook friends are lighting wood stoves, another season winding down. It feels good to put on a sweater.

Enjoy every one of these days -- every one -- even when work and laundry and dishes and life's mania get in the way. Spend a few minutes -- every day -- to stop complaining and take a deep breath to acknowledge that at least this day is a fine one, because you just never know when your days will end for good.

About Me

Newspaper columnist; blogger; author of Delta Dead; author of 101 Tip$ From My Depression-Era Parents; author of Australian Fly; editor: ...And I Breathed (author, Jason Garner, former CEO of Global Music at Live Nation), "A History of the Lawrence S. Donaldson Residence"; "The Port Washington Yacht Club: A Centennial Perspective"; "The Northeastern Society of Periodontists: The First Fifty Years"; editor: NESP Bulletin; editor: PWYC Mainsail; past editorial director: The International Journal of Fertility & Women's Medicine; past editor of: Long Island Power & Sail, Respiratory Review; Medical Travelers' Advisory; School Nurse News; Clear Images; Periodontal Clinical Investigations; Community Nurse Forum