The Green Study “What’s on the B Side of that 45?” Contest: 2nd Place

2nd place goes to Kiri at The Dust Season for “Personals vs. Real Estate, Financing Available”. This essay made me laugh, while thinking that I might need a contractor or ten as well.

She was sent one Green Study Coffee Mug, a postcard from Minneapolis and $75 donation was made to the American Red Cross on her behalf to her local Red Cross Chapter.

“Personals vs. Real Estate, Financing Available”

By Kiri at The Dust Season

canstockphoto22518543I have come to the conclusion that, in terms of real estate, I am what’s known as a fixer-upper. Or, rather, a handy-man’s special. Now, before you interrupt, saying, “No, no. You are what’s known as a woman who’s been ‘well-loved’ and ‘priced to sell’.” Let me just stop you there. This isn’t that kind of post.

House hunting has brought me to a new appreciation of the dating site I am on…which shall remain nameless, but bears a resemblance to being the K-mart of free online dating. Not quite as well-known as Thatch.com or Dis-Harmony (names changed so I won’t get sued) but just as great at getting me out there on the market.

Looking at houses and being critical of poorly vented furnaces, lousy window installations and shaky roof construction makes me wonder, is this why I haven’t found a buyer keeper on my dating site? Maybe it is a seller’s market there too! Hear me out.

If I took a look at myself as a prospective home buyer might, I’d like to say I see the same solid construction and weather-proofed body of my twenties and thirties. I’d point out all the selling features: Look she’s maintained the furnace and all the pipes work. She even comes with ample storage.* This gal has everything you are looking for when it comes to putting down roots. But the truth would come out in the inspection, so what’s the point? I’m all about the disclosure statement, which would probably look something like this:

canstockphoto2439049This structure hasn’t been updated in a while. Still has original fixtures! Some wear and tear and it will need a new support beam sooner rather than later. The paint has faded a bit, but just needs a splash of color makes it look shiny and new again. Comes with child already attached. Warning, house has some issues: intermittent gas may cause an odd odor to linger in the basement. Foundation has shifted over time and the balcony is in need of buttressing.** And, if you watch a lot of comedy, it is prone to leaks.

When you look at all the flaws, it is hard to see why someone might be willing to put down an earnest deposit. But, I remind myself, someone did once before. He was a special homeowner, that guy. He didn’t notice the flaws and always played up the character and love gleaming beneath the clutter. He even put up with the kitchen’s tendency to feed him vegetables for dinner. So that’s what I’m waiting for, a buyer who can see past the cosmetic and value the classic. In that light, here’s my offer:

New Listing:

This little family model is ready for the right buyer. Presently it is built for two, but has room for growth. The property has a huge entertainment center—both outdoor and indoor—and you’ll spend so much time in the kitchen you won’t notice the squirrels in the attic. Don’t pass up this opportunity, this gal’s got massive potential.

canstockphoto6630357I took my listing down for a while for a lack of a committed buyer, but I am contemplating putting myself back out there and all this house hunting has got me thinking…maybe it’s time to spruce up my curb appeal? So, stay tuned for Next Week’s Installment of This Old Broad, where a team of workmen pinpoint my flaws and try to refurbish me for a quick flip!

Asterisk Bedazzled Footnotes:

*Not sure this is a selling point, now I come to think of it.

**It was too perfect. How could I not say it?

Congratulations Kiri!

Check out her blog and see what This Old Broad is up to:

You Hate Me, You Really, Really Hate Me.

Long-Term Sleep Deprivation = Permanent Brain Damage, or….

Home Buying for Morons, Part III: The Good, The Bad and the So Very Ugly

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The Green Study “What’s on the B Side of that 45?” Contest: 1st Place

1st Place goes to Dave at 1pointperspective for the “The Shoe Polish Chronicles”.  I found this essay to be poignant with a dash of Dave’s usual self-deferential humor.

He was sent one Green Study Coffee Mug, a postcard from Minneapolis and $100 donation was made to the American Red Cross on his behalf to his local Red Cross Chapter.

“The Shoe Polish Chronicles”

By Dave at 1pointperspective

 “Every time I go to one of these things, I feel like I’m just getting closer to the head of the line” – An old man’s comment to my father-in-law at a funeral they were attending.

canstockphoto9123679I’ve been trying not to get older, but deep down inside, I know I’m destined to fail. The music I like, the things I find funny, my worldview, my hairline; all of them conspire daily to put me in the middle-aged-to-old-guy bracket. I remind young women of their kindly old uncles, and I remind older women that their husbands aren’t the only ones to whom the years haven’t been kind.

I exercise, when my joints aren’t rebelling against me. I try to eat right, especially when I’m not ordering off the dollar menu. I try to stay positive and upbeat, knowing that negativity can easily morph into grouchiness.

Then there was a death in the family. It wasn’t an unexpected passing, and as the years tick by, attending funerals has become a more common fact of life. I was busy helping make arrangements and tying up loose ends. I needed to get some shoe polish. The years of weddings and funerals had taken their toll on my lone pair of dress shoes. They were a well made pair of shoes. I’d bought them for job interviews over twenty five years and multiple careers ago.

canstockphoto12881001I went to the mall, because that’s where the shoe stores are. At the first store, I asked one of the sales guys where they kept the shoe polish. He looked at me as if I had wondered which aisle the cheese spreads were located on. I saw the 20 watt bulb flicker on in his head, and he told me they didn’t carry shoe polish. I imagine the bulb in his head was one of those new-fangled screw-in fluorescent jobs. As I walked from store to store on my fruitless search, I recalled the wooden box my Dad kept out in the kitchen cabinet containing several tins of polish, along with rags and brushes. The box was awkward and too sturdy for such flimsy contents, lord knows where it came from.

We weren’t really a dress shoe type of family, and my brothers and I tended to grow out of any shoes before they were scuffed enough to benefit from polishing. Be that as it may, the shoe polish box was there in my head, a relic from a bygone era. I could picture it in the bottom of the cabinet. I could almost smell the polish. The box and its contents are long gone, existing only in memories.

canstockphoto0426281As I repeatedly failed to find a store which sold shoe polish, I felt more and more like some sort of fossil who was trying to find a replacement needle for his Victrola. Victrola! Even my analogy was antique, in truth, I was more like a fossil trying to find a copy of The Archies Greatest Hits on 8-track or LP.

The funeral was the next day, so shopping online wouldn’t do. I finally found an old fashioned shoe store in the middle of town and picked up a tin of ox blood polish. Upon closer inspection of my shoes, I realized the entire odyssey had been in vain. Even polish couldn’t bring those shoes back. I returned to the store and bought a new pair of dress shoes and exchanged the polish for the color of the new ones.

I wore my new shoes to the funeral, knowing they would forever be linked to this passing. I’ll surely wear them to more funerals and weddings. Perhaps I’ll never have another occasion to buy a pair of dress shoes – these might take me to the finish line. In any case, I won’t likely be able to find my new tin of polish by the time I need it.

Congratulations Dave!

Check out his blog for a little perspective:

This Ain’t No Vodka Stinger

A Weiner By Any Other Name

14 Seahorse Court

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Gratitude and Notes from The Green Study

canstockphoto0021896First and foremost I would like to thank the 227 subscribers to this blog. My stats page says 3,565 followers but I think we can all agree that most of them are spammers. Needless to say, it cuts down on the thank you notes I should write, but won’t.

I’ve been blogging for almost three years and wow – what a journey. Okay, that’s some Emmy speech-making bullshit. What isn’t bullshit is that I’ve had the honor of connecting with so many of you. You’ve been kind and funny and generous and just weird enough that I’d invite you to a party if I liked groups of people, which I don’t, so that ends that awkward moment.

This has been a blog about nothing and everything, with much time lately spent down in the well of my navel talking about my journey (please read that phrase in a pompous voice, because that’s how I wrote it).

It all started when I was a little girl, dreaming about having my own blog…I begged my mummy and daddy every holiday and birthday. “Please, please, can I get one of those computer things, so I can tell a large audience what rubbish parents you’ve been?” Unfortunately, the computer at that time was housed in several buildings and there wasn’t enough wrapping paper.

canstockphoto14735381Anyway, where was I? Oh yes, thank yous. Thank you for reading, commenting, liking and putting up with loads of unfocused nonsense about middle age and general disgruntlement. On that note, tomorrow I start publishing the winning entries for The Green Study “What’s on the B Side of that 45?” Contest.

canstockphoto14646220_edited-1 copyAlso, I got overly ambitious in 2014 and in August started a changing lifestyle blog called TGS Zen Garden. I post once a week about my exploratory journey (cue pompous voice) to living a healthier, happier life. I write about the change to a plant-based diet, the challenges and obstacles of staying fit, learning new habits, etc. And I pass on resources I discover along the way.

I’TGS Writesve also recently restarted, for the third time in as many years, a fiction blog, TGS Writes. Short stories, once a week, as I work on strengthening my storytelling skills or, as I like to think of it, lying my ass off to you. It’s starting out well. My first story morphed into a tale of robot boobies. There’s an O. Henry Award with my name on it somewhere.

As goals go for 2014, I’ve awkwardly reached many of them. I haven’t done standup comedy yet, but there’s always next year to make a complete fool of myself. Also, my desire to sing “Stormy Weather” while stretched across a baby grand piano will have to wait until I can learn to sing, drink more and bedazzle my flannel shirts.

It’s been a marvelously uncomfortable year and fortunately it won’t end on December 31st, because next year it will be about rejection. Lots and lots of rejection as I sally forth into the world of publishing and do embarrassing self-promotional things even worse than this post. I hope you stick around for the ride, because I think things are about to get very funny. And you know I’ll tell you all about it.

I hope you have an enjoyable holiday season or a blessedly short one, depending on your disposition – thank you for sharing 2014 with me!

MichelleSig copy

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Making Life Changes: Some Imagination Required

You can’t do that. What about X, Y, Z? Remember when you tried that and how badly it turned out? Stop being so selfish. Think about your family. Why should you get to do that when everyone else is blah, blah, blahhing? What will so-and-so think? WHAT IF…?canstockphoto8669552

It’s been a year of transition for me. I am not a preternaturally happy person on the surface and the stress of making changes has made me a less-than-agreeable human to be around. But I’m having moments, glimpses of the lighthouse beacon of a nearing shore. I’m headed in the right direction.

Yesterday, I drove home from the post office after dropping off my packages for the holidays, and felt this odd sense of happiness. I’ve got the flu, I’m exhausted and truth be told, I’d rather run someone down with my car than have a conversation with them. But happy. What the hell?

Historically speaking, I’m the over-doer, the over-the-top gift-giving fool that alternately makes people loathe and love me. This year, I’m done with everything in record time. My list was shorter. I gave what I wanted and I’m spending my time more judiciously.

It was easy – why hadn’t I done it before? Well, I just hadn’t imagined it, this idea of just doing what I thought was important. The flu distilled things for me – I could only do what I deemed a priority, before collapsing into an unhappy pile of used tissue and Vicks Vapor Rub (I smell pretty!).

I’ve been thinking about change a lot lately. Change is hard. We are creatures of habit, of our own thought patterns, of our hardened paths of operation and survival. But we are also creatures of great imagination, the ability to choose, the ability to not live a rote life. It is our imagination that fuels change. If we can imagine a day in our own happiness, what would it look like?

Wcanstockphoto2148080hen I was in my 20s, my imagination was that of a world traveler. I would travel and drink native booze and cavort with the locals. It was very nonspecific. Apparently I was a gun runner, since there was no source of income in my imagination. And no STDs, because I imagined being very well-traveled. In reality, I worked in a bunch of menial jobs, halfheartedly got a college degree, dated unlikely partners and spent a lot of time running in place.

canstockphoto21767863In my 30s, my imagination seemed a murky stereotype. I got married and had a child. I lived, still live, in a suburb in a small ranch-style house that looks exactly like the other 20 houses on the street. It is a life I value and love, with a family that I’d never imagined I’d have. But occasionally, the Talking Heads will play in my mind…”how did I get here?”

canstockphoto21047372And then the 40s came, as did a constant sense that where I was at, was not where I belonged. Things started going a little sideways for me. I left a full-time job to be a stay-at-home loon. While working from home, I did all kinds of uncomfortable things – learned a martial art at 43, became an intense parent volunteer, learned yoga badly, took up painting, wrote a novel, learned some rock climbing (and panicked falling), gardened haphazardly. An all-over-the place dilettante, with a failing grade of Incomplete.

My writing impulses got stronger and more insistent. Sometimes, I’d think, well, if I don’t accomplish anything else, I guess I can say I’m a writer. I think I just heard the wail of a thousand dedicated writers. But it was a daydream to me. I’d always written, but it was mutated and unrecognizable – work emails, flyers, newsletters, personal correspondence. It was easier to imagine being a writer than, you know, actually writing like one.

canstockphoto18826089I began blogging nearly 3 years ago. The habit of writing, the interaction with other writers, the positive feedback (not always earned certainly, but encouraging) – it changed my imagination. I was writing regularly. I learned of NaNoWriMo, participated and wrote the first draft of a novel. My imagination expanded. Could I do more of this?

Vagueness, though, is hard to implement as a life choice. I could see the possibilities, but not how to get there. I began to think, “If I were a writer, what would my day be like? What are my priorities? How do I want to spend my time?”

How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.                    Annie Dillard, The Writing Life (1989)

I’m in the specifics and logistics phase now, trying to carve new habits into my time. Each new imagining of what life could be like fuels one more decision to make it today. It is, for me, a slow and sometimes grinding process. Because change requires not only imagining how you spend your day, but imagining yourself differently. You have to block out old messages and tune into your own voice.

canstockphoto6423560It’s make-believe, a trip on the little red trolley. But it will, in the end, be the thing that gets you there. I am a writer. I value my family, my health, and learning. I spend my day living my values. Rinse and repeat.

This last week, for the first time ever in my life, I stuck to a daily writing schedule. It wasn’t like anything I had imagined. I was sick, coughing and sneezing and occasionally whining out loud to no one in particular. But there were moments when I was happier than I’ve been in years. Imagine that.

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Winners of The Green Study “What’s on the B Side of That 45?” Contest!

canstockphoto14735381Thank you to everyone who submitted entries to The Green Study “What’s on the B Side of That 45?” Contest. As I’ve beat the subject of being middle-aged to death on this blog, I decided to drag some other old fogies into the mix. People really put on their reading glasses, hiked up their polyester pants and put what they could remember down in words. Impressive, really. And when I can find their essays, I’ll be posting them one by one on this blog over the next few weeks.

Since I have the flu and can barely function, making decisions about the winners was tough. In addition to the top three winners, I’ve added 3 honorable mentions and thrown in some prizes for fun.

1st Prize goes to Dave at 1pointperspective for “The Shoe Polish Chronicles”, which will be published next week as a guest post on this blog. He will be sent one Green Study Coffee Mug, a cheesy Minneapolis postcard and I will make a $100 donation to the American Red Cross on his behalf to his local Red Cross Chapter.

2nd Prize goes to Kirizar at The Dust Season for “Personals vs. Real Estate: Needs Work, Financing Available”, which will be published next week as a guest post on this blog. She will be sent one Green Study Coffee Mug, a pathetic Minneapolis postcard and I will make a $75 donation to the American Red Cross on her behalf to her local Red Cross Chapter.

3rd Prize goes to Fransi at 365 and Counting for “Aging Gets Better with Age”, which will be published next week as a guest post on this blog. She will be sent one Green Study Coffee Mug, a lame Minneapolis postcard and I will make a $50 donation to the Red Cross on her behalf to her local Red Cross Chapter or their International Disaster Response fund.

Honorable Mentions: These three entries, listed in no particular order, included a poem, conflicted internal dialogue and inspirational thoughts. Unique and expressive, I couldn’t leave them out. I will publish each of these as guest posts to my blog, send them a Green Study Coffee Mug, Minneapolis postcard and donate $25 each to the American Red Cross on their behalf of their local Red Cross Chapter or their International Disaster Response fund.

Ruth at Travelling True North with “Life in the Midlife Teens”.

Meryl at Six Decades and Counting…Life Reinvented with “My Time is Now”.

Don with a “mid-life crisis” poem.

Thank you to everyone who participated in my bit of midlife silliness – enjoy the upcoming posts over the next few weeks!

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Flu as Poetic Inspiration

canstockphoto1160815When I get sick, things get very, very dark in my mind. I spiral downward into the morose thoughts of a depressive, luxuriating in my misery, knowing it is likely temporary. In the throes of corporeal suffering, I often turn to poetry. Poetry seems to speak when my sore, raspy throat produces nothing but squawks.

Mysterious, isn’t it?canstockphoto14211413
A turn of light
Above some stumpy
Mountain,
The way a screen porch
Frames a bunch of haggard trees,
The way we squint

At what we love.

“Honeymoon” by Cornelius Eady
Hardheaded Weather

Between nose blows and cups of comforting tea, I read Jane Kenyon and Pablo Neruda and an old favorite, William Wordsworth. Poetry of death and aging yields unexpected meaning. Mary Oliver and W.H. Auden become my muses. In my own writing, I use more expressive and melodramatic language, likely influenced by Nyquil and misery. Characters are more likely to be frail or murdered in the novel or story I work on for the day. Vonnegut seems a lot funnier.

canstockphoto23029728Ink that enchants me,
drop after drop,
guarding the path
of my reason and unreason
like the hardly visible
scar on a wound that shows while the body sleeps
on in the discourse of its destructions.

“The Blow” by Pablo Neruda, Translated by Ben Belitt
Five Decades: Poems 1925-1970

I rarely write my own poetry. Not since I wrote an angsty poem about a dead high school classmate have I been interested in writing verse. It was put in the high school yearbook next to the picture of a beautiful 16 year old girl. The poem was quite awful. I don’t know what the adults in charge were thinking.

for forty yearscanstockphoto10667307
the sheets of white paper have
passed under my hands and I have tried
to improve their peaceful

emptiness putting down
little curls little shafts
of letters words
little flames leaping

“forty years” by Mary Oliver
New and Selected Poems, Volume Two

I once wrote a Haiku about my cat in a sunny window. My words formed the shape of a cat. I was 10. Since then, my words seem to take less shape. This is the moroseness of a flu bug. Other people’s writing always seems better than my own. But it’s not a bad thing to turn down the volume of one’s own narcissism and listen to what words have been assembled by others.

Dcanstockphoto19838329ead my old fine hopes
And dry my dreaming but still…
Iris, blue each spring.

Ome Shushiki
Women Poets of Japan by Ikuko Atsumi (Editor), Kenneth Rexroth (Editor)

With my desire for brevity and clarity as a writer, it is odd that I shy away from writing poetry. But it has always seemed a magical art and that I am not ephemeral enough in my thinking to be lyrical. I want to leave the magic unrevealed. I don’t want to know how it works. I don’t want to tinker with it and take it apart. I just want to accept its purpose in my life to inspire, comfort and remind me of the beauty of simple language. Especially when nothing else penetrates the fog of snot.

If you would leave off your play and dive in thecanstockphoto3977052
water, come, O come to my lake
Let your blue mantle lie on the shore; the blue
water will cover you and hide you.

Rabindranath Tagore
The Gardener

See, I would simply write “Skinny dip, yo.” But what an entirely different frame a poet can give the scene.

For now, I must languish in bed,
wrapped in yesterday’s clothes that
wend around me like old phlegm.

No, I’m not a poet. And yes, I need a shower.

Here are a couple of online blogging poets:

Heed not Steve‘s haikus.
He amuses me often,
which doesn’t take much.

Kathryn combines artistry and poetry.

What’s your favorite poem or poetry on or offline?

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The Green Study “What’s on the B Side of that 45?” Contest

Michelle at The Green Study:

It’s the last day for The Green Study “What’s on the B Side of that 45?” Contest. The newly designed prize mugs have arrived and they’re lovely. Join the fun! It’s a great way to promote your blog and help out the Red Cross. What it’s all about? Read below:

Originally posted on The Green Study:

canstockphoto14735381There’s a mild to confusing uprising amongst my peers on and offline. We are beginning our journey to being codgers.  I’m 47. I’ve been feeling the midlife pinch for the last couple of years and of late, have become somewhat belligerent. I’m quitting things left and right, savoring every “No”, feeling like I can’t do one more thing that is asked of me.

Housework has all the appeal of a colonoscopy. Career trajectories have slumped like my bust line. I’m just waiting for the hump to pop out and to start eating my meals with all the relish of a POW. At 4am, 10am and 4pm respectively. I’ve been hanging out with senior citizens a bit much lately and am getting the brush off from a 10 year old who does not wish me to walk her to the bus stop. Fine. I didn’t want to stand out in the…

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