Posted in Randomness

Being from Michigan, I couldn’t resist. I swear this is a real thing. Thank you, Ms. Carmen.

The 9 Stages Of ‘Goodbye’ You’ll Only Understand If You’re From The Midwest

If it doesn’t take you a full hour, you’re doing it wrong.

Megan Carmen Apr 29, 2019 Bowling Green State University 3M

The 9 Stages Of 'Goodbye' You'll Only Understand If You're From The Midwest

Everyone from California to Maine says goodbye, but only us Center State people truly know that goodbye means nothing unless it’s a true Midwestern adios. Whether its Thanksgiving at Grandma’s house or just a chit chat with a long time friend, goodbye’s are a special tradition here and they require several sections to properly portray your exit.

So, folks, without further ado, here are the nine stages of the true Midwestern Goodbye.

1. The “welp”

The beginning of every good ol’ Midwestern goodbye starts with the stand and welp. This means you know you have to leave, but you’re not getting out of there anytime soon. The welp only functions as a signal for others that you must begin the process of leaving.

2. The hugs

The next step in saying goodbye is the hugs. Everyone gets one, be it grandma, grandpa, your weird uncle, all the babies, even the dog gets a goodbye hug. This is by far the lengthy step, because a Midwestern hug is a whole different breed of long drawn out hug.

3. The walk to the door

Once everyone has gotten a goodbye squeeze, the walk begins. Every Midwesterner knows that no matter how many steps away the door is, it will take no less than 20 minutes to get there during the stages of a goodbye. You have to talk about how good the food was or when you plan to see each other next, no matter the subject, the walk to the door always takes a hot minute.

4. The doorway chat

Getting to the door is hard, but don’t even get me started on the mid-doorway chat. This conversation has literally nothing to do with anything and most of the time involves a lot of belly laughs. This conversation can range anywhere from five minutes to 45 minutes. We really hope you went to the bathroom before you tried to leave because if not, you start the goodbye process from square one all over again.

5. The “we really should be going”

This simple statement signals that you must end the doorway conversation and begin the descent to the car.

6. The second round of hugs

Once the first hour has elapsed and the sun is setting, the second round of hugs begins. This time, there is less talking but significantly more back patting and side swaying. This time, the goal is solely to get out the door and you really have your eye on the prize… the doorknob.

7. The hand on the doorknob

Almost there, the knob is in hand, BUT WAIT, there’s another conversation to go still, you can’t leave until someone says “goodbye” in a weird voice and sparks more laughter or your dad and uncle starting doing that thing where they quote movies until they laugh so hard they cry. At this point, at least an hour has passed and you’ve moved 10 feet.

8. The slow open conversation

As you make your way down to the driveway, there is yet another conversation about whatever may arise. Who knows what time it is at this point, all you know is that it’s been at least long enough to digest the huge Midwestern meal you just ate, and it’s time for a snack.

9. The window wave

Once you’ve FINALLY made it out of the house and into your car, you can fully expect that Midwestern hospitality window wave as you pull away. The only correct response to your grandma’s porch light flickering wave is a series of honks to let them know that you truly care about the traditional goodbye.

Posted in Randomness, Thoughts

Richmond

8 E. Broad St.

Richmond, Virginia, May 30, 2020. I drove with Meg to her latest travel gig then planned on a flight home on Sunday. She’d found a beautiful studio in the historic district of downtown Richmond, second floor of a building circa 1870 with 12′ ceilings and tall windows, hardwood floors and updated everything. I loved it for her! She was actually born in Richmond, though she left at only three months old. Still, we joked about her coming back to her birthplace and learning all about the area.

We had the landlords for dinner Friday night and had a great time. Later that evening, we found ourselves with front row seats to the first night of protests after the killing of George Floyd (*Note, this Wiki article on Mr. Floyd has interestingly removed any previous mention of him holding a pistol to the belly of a pregnant woman he assaulted.) At first I was rather impressed with how organized and peaceful it all seemed. Meg and I were hanging out our windows listening to the cadence of chants and watching history being made. People were shouting, cars were honking, but it was peaceful. The next night, though, what began peacefully in the evening hours, became something entirely different as midnight approached. There was a palpable change in the atmosphere. An ugly mood seemed to take over where the peaceful protesting left off. Suddenly I was nervous about having our windows open, and I proceeded to darken our room so we couldn’t be seen.

Photo by Steve Helber

Police in SWAT gear quietly moved in and blocked a cross street between Broad and Grace, mostly watching and waiting as if alerted to something we weren’t aware of yet. Helicopters hovered over the city, and there was an eerie almost movie-set quality to the scene. A GRTC bus had been set ablaze along with a RiteAid store. A block over, dumpsters were ignited and tear gas was deployed. The pawn shop below us became a target, and thugs attempted to break in from both the front where it was caged and the back where it had a steel vault-type door. I saw several cops come running after them, one had his rifle drawn. They were chased away, but only temporarily.

The tension was ridiculous. When you hear the words, ‘things are fluid,’ you think you know what that means. But when you’re on the front line of a near riot, it’s the perfect description. The quiet becomes ominous. The adrenaline starts pumping, and fear, at least for me, outweighs curiosity. Meg was bolder, brasher … and angry. Around 3:00 a.m., via OnStar, she had discovered they’d gone through the parking lot behind our building and trashed and looted every vehicle, including her new GMC Terrain. She’d taken a video, which meant she could see them, and they could see her. Desperately trying to make her see sense, I reminded her it was just a car. It was just a car.

I was scheduled to fly out the next evening. Hating to leaving her there, I was grateful to the landlords who took her under their wing. They boarded up the first floors of their downtown buildings, and they had Meg and Luna stay with them a couple nights while she started her new job. The hospital, just a few blocks away on the same historic street, let her leave work early that first week to avoid any danger. Poor Luna, her anxiety apparent, has slowly begun to adjust to her location with the help of new friends and a wonderful doggie daycare just across the street from the apartment. Things have calmed down, but Meg hasn’t. She can’t sleep. Even though her building is quite secure, she doesn’t feel safe. Every night or weekend holds the the quiet threat of the unknown. This is an historic area with lots of reminders of the Confederacy and all it stood for. There continues to be organized, peaceful gatherings nearby, but thankfully her street has remained relatively quiet. Three weeks later her car is still being repaired. The landlord has put an extra lock on her door, and she bought security cameras for inside her place. She had been so looking forward to her time there. She’s met some great people and made several new friends right in her building. But it has certainly not been at all what she expected.

We’re going up to visit her in July. Maybe that’ll add some normalcy and fun to her time there. I hope so. It’s still a beautiful area, but I’ll be glad when she’s back in Florida again.

Posted in Randomness

Two months later

It’s been two months since my last post. Two months of COVID life and living (or not). It blows my mind how much can happen in just a matter of weeks. Before COVID, the TV was all about politics and the opinions of talking heads. I refuse to call it news anymore since, IMO, honest and factual news went out with Walter Cronkite.

The pandemic erased politics, and anyone openly complaining about it seemed uncaring and uninformed. We were blasted 24/7 with number of deaths (not number of recoveries) nationally and worldwide. Even deaths from the complications of other major illnesses became COVID-related deaths. (There was more money to be made that way.) Ventilators became SOP. (There was more money to be made that way. ) Face masks became the norm. (OSHA would disagree.) Social distancing, hand sanitizer, masks and percentages, vaccines, testing, checkpoints…these all became the norm.

Enter George Floyd, (*Note, this Wiki article on Mr. Floyd has interestingly removed any previous mention of him holding a pistol to the belly of a pregnant woman he assaulted.) and COVID took a place in the background. Suddenly social media wasn’t so social anymore. Friends were unfriended and families divided. Justice, injustice, tolerance, misunderstanding, lines drawn in the sand. Terrible images of American history were being destroyed while Hollywood started apologizing. Panderers embarrassed themselves. Marches, protests, Antifa, systemic racism. Suddenly, apparently, black lives mattered more than COVID deaths.

Don’t misunderstand me. I’m not saying what happened to Mr. Floyd wasn’t wrong. It was very wrong. And while I agree black lives matter and I applaud the demonstrators in their peaceful movement, the difficulty for me is what’s getting lost or ignored in the movement. I cannot understand for the life of me how intelligent people of all races and ethnicity don’t see that this is being used for political gain by the very people they believe are on their side. Why are we still our color or our race? Why haven’t we learned from the horrible riots of the ’60s that ravaged the country from Los Angeles to Newark and Detroit to Miami? Did Martin Luther King and Bobby Kennedy die in vain? We had President Obama in office for eight years! Seriously, after all of that, if things haven’t changed, don’t you wonder why? Let’s ask ourselves, WHY HAVEN’T THINGS CHANGED? Who is perpetuating this division? And more importantly, why?

Using race as part of our identity keeps the division alive!

Morgan Freeman has it right: “I’m going to stop calling you a white man, and I’m going to ask you to stop calling me a black man.” Can’t it be just that simple as a place to start? Black lives matter.” Think about it.

Posted in Thoughts

Struggling

Our new vocabulary: COVID-19, flatten the curve, coronavirus, Muhan, China. I can’t say I would have missed any of these words had I never heard them uttered. What they have caused worldwide is indescribable. They keep saying we’ll get through this, and I know that’s true, but I do believe there will be a new normal at the other end. And while we’re in the midst of it with so many unknowns and so many restrictions on living a life; seeing our plans fall by the wayside, being unable to to do so many things we used to take for granted; well, I realize some of us handle it better than others.

Social media can be such an eye-opener. People post such deep, philosophical thoughts – typically someone else’s – and then others ‘Like’ them or ‘Heart’ them or whatever. I read them trying to imagine myself posting similar things, and I find myself literally tearing up, unable to form a coherent thought or opinion about them or even caring to. Rather, I find myself at the precipice of the ‘rabbit hole’, a term a friend and I coined that describes that almost irresistible tunnel one can fall into with almost no will to stop. And at the bottom of that hole is darkness.

I know we’ve all been there. I was there for many years until my only feeling was the non-feeling of apathy. I haven’t been there in awhile. But I now catch myself at the edge, recognizing the danger and pulling myself back from it. I do all the things I would suggest to someone with my mindset. I keep busy, I ride my bike, I pray, I read and knit and do crossword puzzles. I occasionally allow myself to sit in my car at the beach with the windows open and let the negative ions try and balance what’s going on inside. A string of pelicans alongside me can bring a smile to my face. The ocean does seem bluer at times, and the vacant streets make it a pleasure to drive through our normally bustling vintage beach town. Driving home I play music and make a feeble attempt to sing along. Once there, tv news is avoided, though I will admit it’s time to ban it from my phone, as well. I cannot affect it, but it can certainly affect me.

A good movie in the evening helps. A good night’s sleep would help even more. I feel like an ungrateful child, telling my inner self to pull up my big-girl panties and knock it off. I have my mom here and David, both amazingly cheerful no matter what. And even though I feel as if I’m breaking some law, I do see my grandkids once in awhile and even some friends. I’m one of the very lucky ones, and I know it. I absolutely do know it.

But right now, like a million others, I’m just struggling.

Posted in Thoughts

It’s Like a Bad Movie

Well, here I was all ready to write about the various visits from family, when suddenly there’s new words in my vocabulary and a (hopefully temporary) new way of life.

I don’t watch the news anymore; I haven’t in quite a long time since there’s really not a thing I can do about what’s out there anyway. But when it directly affects me and mine, then I read as much as I can, avoiding the sky-is-falling sites, and go from there. This COVID-19 thing affects me and mine.

Suddenly it feels like we’re in a really bad sci-fi movie. We are, for the most part, confined to our homes. Playgrounds and beaches (beaches!) are closed. Shopping centers, amusement parks, theaters, gyms; you name it, they’re closed. In fact, unless you’re a grocery store or restaurant that can offer take-out, you’re closed (or will be). Even the almighty Amazon has had to change the way they’re doing business, focusing now on getting the essentials to those who absolutely need them and relegating the inessentials to an unknown distant delivery date. Bad human behavior has shown itself to be as diverse in its volatility as any B movie could conjure up. In fact, if someone had written into this movie that across the globe people would be hoarding toilet paper, would you have believed it? Wouldn’t you have wondered, ‘Who writes this crap’?

I just read two disturbing things regarding human behavior. In the first, a woman deliberately coughed, sneezed, and spit on $35,000 worth of food in a grocery store forcing the store to dispose of it. And this was intentional! The second involved a masked customer who was irate because he felt that an associate was ‘giving him attitude.’ When asked to leave the store, the man removed his mask and yelled and spit in the manager’s face! Really?

At the same time I read heroic and inspiring stories of the selfless men and women in healthcare and public safety who, despite their odds of contracting this wicked virus, continue to do their jobs day and night. I hear of the good neighbors willing to share what they have. I’m enjoying the plentiful impromptu videos musicians are sharing online just trying to ‘do their part’. Thankfully this list is long and encouraging, if you look for it.

While I can’t say this is the avenue I would have chosen, some of the consequences of this vile thing are not necessarily bad. Interestingly enough, the ozone is healing, there is little or no smog in the formerly polluted air around the world. Families are spending unprecedented time together, people are working from home and kids are learning online.

Will this be our new normal? Outside of the inconvenience of not having our swimming pool, card games, and social activities available, outside of not being able to see my family and friends right now, it’s been rather interesting. Gas is cheaper, traffic is lighter. Will people realize perhaps some of the good that has happened? Look at the projects getting done, the new hobbies taken up or rediscovered, the creativity that is drawn from having to find new and interesting ways to keep kids occupied. Parents are on social media sharing ideas and commiserating with with each other. We’re so used to ‘plugging in’ when things get to be too much that we forget what it was like before this technology arrived that has robbed curiosity and creativity. I’ve seen more interesting and creative ideas on social media than I ever did before! (Now if I could just find a store open for supplies…)

Check this out for some perspective:

Posted in Randomness

Well, 2020 hasn’t disappointed yet.

  • 1/1/20 Happy New Year!
  • 1/5/20 Mom arrives after six-hour delay out of Traverse City.
  • 1/6/20 Learn we have an accepted offer on a new home in Plantation Oaks.
  • 1/10/20 Phone interview for new transcription job.
  • 1/11/20 Notified that my condo tenant committed suicide and now prepping condo for sale.
  • 1/13/20 Job offer with Allegis Transcription.
  • 1/15/20 Start date with Allegis coach x three days (keeping in mind said coach and entire Allegis support team is on Pacific Standard Time).
  • 1/20/20 Released from coaching and offered remote transcription position as independent contractor, minimum 100 pages per week.
  • 1/20/20 House closing.
  • 1/22/20 Let’s move NOW – First night in new home.
  • 1/23/20 Making earnest attempt to get required pages in while moving and unpacking.
  • 1/26/20 Small birthday celebration at new home for friend.
  • 1/31/20 Brian and Laurie stop by on their way north.
  • 2/8/20 Pretty settled in now. Up at 6:30 and working till 10:00, finally able to breathe.

And so now it’s time to relax a bit, enjoy our new home knowing it’s our last move. I relish having my 93-year-old mother here for the winter and take great pleasure in watching her with her great-granddaughters. She sleeps late, plays computer bridge, does crossword puzzles and reads Danielle Steele to her heart’s content. We’re on the second go-round with the entire Downton Abbey series (thank you, David). I know this time is precious, and I want to be present for all of it.

Posted in Moving forward, Randomness

Goodbye 2017. Let us never speak of it again.

Wow. I don’t think I’ve ever been so happy to see a year end as this one. Maybe I say that every year; I don’t know. But 2018 HAS to be better than ’17.

It started off well enough … mini-vay-kay in January at Reed Ranch with all the family; I so enjoyed that. Met a very nice, very fun but rather self-absorbed man who I pretty much knew immediately wasn’t going to be forever, but what a sweet-talker – and he loved to dance! Made for a very fun birthday. Hibernian party in Michigan in March. Not a bad spring. Work was going okay; I got a new boss that I rarely saw, and I got a raise.

Then … karma? Bad ju-ju? I don’t really know. June came, and everything fell apart. The man thing fizzled as fast as I could say the “M” word in response to a question that had absolutely nothing to do with him. Heart-hurt and confused, I tried looking forward but with too much hope and too little confidence. Ann, my cohort, left Kindred, work became more stressful. Met a few nice guys but no spark anywhere. I did buy my own condo, and I got to see my kids in August.  And then hurricanes, condo repairs, floor floods, identity theft, unexpected slights by former friends, an overly-stress-filled job, my Anita moving away; meets and break-ups faster than a speeding Bonanza causing me to again question myself, my appeal, my worth.

I just want it over. I know there’s no guarantee that 2018 will be any better than ’17. I realize that. I understand it’s what we make it and even more what’s in my head. I know all that intellectually. I do.

But 2018 holds at least some promise:  A new floor!  Ireland in March!  A healthier, more active me. And Meg is closer, though only through February.

I actually have no idea why I think 2018 will be better. It certainly starts off with a bang, at least through March, but then … but then?

It’s funny (not?), but part of me so wants a relationship with someone who will love me for me and want to share in my life. Another part of me wants my independence, my quiet, my space. Where is the balance? What is it? People do it all the time, but can I? I used to see myself either in a long-term relationship or even married again; I thought that’s what I wanted. But that was in the long run. When does the long run begin? I was presented with the possibility just recently in a ‘too-good-to-be-true’ scenario. I was offered the world and more, but I’d have to leave mine. Part of me wanted to pick up and go. Just go. But another part of me…the deep-down part of me said, ‘Wait a minute.’  While it all sounded good in theory, I just didn’t know about giving up everything I’d worked so hard for these past years.

I wonder, to get what I think I want, do I have to leave this … my life … and go to ‘his,’ whoever he turns out to be? I’m not sure I want to do that just yet, if at all.

Posted in Family, Mom, Randomness

My Family. My Clan.

When I say my Family, I mean my growing-up family, my parents and my 10 siblings. Maybe there needs to be a name for that since, when I speak of ‘my family,’ people typically think I’m speaking of my own kids. But it could also mean the whole Clan which would include upwards of 85 people. 

At the beginning of January 2017, my siblings, spouses and I gathered at Reed Ranch in northern Michigan with our mother to celebrate her 90th birthday and spend time together over a long weekend. We rented two lodges within walking distance of each other, and we were lucky enough to spend some wonderful quality time together. For me it was memorable because, living in Florida, I don’t get to see them as much as I used to. I was able to spend quiet time with my older brother Chuck as we drove together to our destination. I realized how much I miss him; he’s a great guy. I had a blast with my sisters Kathleen and Molly playing cards and laughing. I enjoyed watching Pat ice fishing on Lake David. I got a kick out of Kevin’s cold-weather gear with his long coat and Russian-style hat. I was entertained by Brian’s witty responses to discussions held around the fire. It’s always special seeing Terry because he always reminds me of Dad. Sean and his quiet demeanor always surprises with his humor, and Mike’s sweetness and off-beat funny side adds so much to the mix. Danny didn’t make it, unfortunately, and missed out on making memories with mom and the rest of us. And mom was in rare form, thoroughly enjoying having her kids around her, rising mid- to late-morning to  that first cup of coffee (“The nectar of the gods!), coming out with her cane to dance to ‘All About That Bass,” playing the piano while we sang along, being thrilled with the amazing birthday memories made into books and posters. Meals were made and shared, stories were told, and laughter abounded.

It was wonderful going back to the Katy Lee lodge and sitting around the beautiful fireplace that brought back so many childhood memories, sipping that late-night toddy along with Chucky, Kevin, Brian and Laurie, Sean and Cathy. There’s an indescribable sense of belonging in a clan like ours that I’m not sure everyone has in smaller families. Oftentimes new members tend to shy away or get nervous about attempting to penetrate this crowd, but repeatedly we’re told how accepted they felt by everyone. Maybe that’s because there was always room for one more with mom and dad, and so there was never a question of not accepting.

I have to remember to cherish those times and tuck then away for the future. Right now, we’re all pretty happy and healthy. Now at 92, Mom is no doubt silently wishing she could join her Charlie, but we’re all still glad she’s here and in good form. I added up her grandchildren and great-grandchildren: 63, with one on the way. 63 extended offspring! She and Dad could never have known what they were creating all those years ago. Yes, there were certainly challenges coming from such a large clan, and that’s only from my perspective as the third born. I can’t even imagine the challenges my parents faced! But I consider myself one of the Lucky 11, three girls and eight boys, with spouses, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren.

My family. My Clan. Those words conjure up quite the memories.