Monday, 02 March 2015

Have You Ever Fainted? All About Mine

By Chuck Nyren

That's a lie. I don't remember anything about it. I fainted. Before and after the faint, I remember.

Before: 4:30AM. I awaken, I shamble, I pee, I flush, I shamble.

After: I'm face up on the floor. My guess is that I don't look very good. That's because my more-than-significant-than-I-am other looks down at me with a panic-stricken expression on her face.

"Stay there," she says.

I generally don't listen to her when she's dispensing advice but this time I do on the off-chance that she might know something I don't. Like, why I'm lying on the floor.

She comes back with the blood pressure taker. I hold up my arm.

I think back on what I don't remember. I know I didn't trip. So that leaves fainting. "I fainted," I say.

"Do you hurt?"

"Not really."

"You will. There's blood and your eye is really cut. That was a loud thud."

The cuff deflates. She looks at the reading. "You're blood pressure is very low."

"Yeah, I fainted."

"Don't get up yet."

I don't. "I really banged my head. I can tell. That's what you heard."

After a minute, I crawl sideways, grab onto the bed, get to my feet. I'm in semi-shock but feel relatively okay. "I still don't hurt that much, but that head bang - maybe we should go to the emergency room."

"We're going to the emergency room. Just don't fall down again until we get there, okay?"

In the car, all sorts of pains are popping up and throbbing on my lip, cheek, forehead, knee, arm, shoulder. "I really fell. Now everything is starting to hurt."

"You're a mess," she says. "Your head hit the bed board, then you fell on your knee, then kept falling till you hit the ground."

”How do you know this? Are you Sherlock Jr.?"

"That's what I'm guessing. If your head hadn't broken the fall, you'd be in worse shape."

A comforting thought. I'm hoping I won't end up like all those ex-football players where you shoot yourself in the chest so they can study your brain.

We're waiting for the doctor. I take out my phone and snap a selfie. My face and head are in ruins. Swollen, inflamed, red, yellow, black. Bloody slices every which way. Huge lip. One eye is pure pulp, the other partial pulp.

Actually, I kind of like it. I show her the pic and say I look like Rocky. She says I look like Uncle Fester.

Journalistic restraint prohibits me from publishing a complete headshot. Here's an eyebrow:


The doctor is a jolly sort, beaming and grinning. He orders the standard blood tests and a complete body CAT scan.

I'm wheeled off. I'm wheeled back.

"We have to do something about that eye," he says. "I think it needs two stitches."

Finally, some real pain - injecting a local anesthetic in my eyelid. He fumbles around with a needle and thread, looping and twirling and jabbing.

She leans in to watch. "Wow! You'd make a really great fly-fisherman!"

He's laughing. "Ha ha ha! My father-in-law would love that! He's always asking me to go with him. Ha ha ha!"

This fellow is poking a needle in my eye and the love of my life has made him laugh uproariously. Sometimes I don't think things are funny.

I'm stitched. "So why did I faint?" I say.

The doctor shrugs. "Let's wait for the tests."

He disappears.

He reappears.

"Nothing really wrong in the CT scan or blood tests, you're fine."

Good. I won't end up like any ex-football players or Mohammad Ali.

"A few little abnormalities," he says, pacing. "Potassium is down a bit. But what probably caused your fainting is what we call orthostatic hypotension. It's when you're lying down or sitting and you get up too fast. Blood rushes down your legs and your blood pressure drops and you get dizzy. But every so often people faint."

Oh, good. Not serious.

"But we'd like to move you upstairs to the hospital so we can monitor you for twenty-four hours."

Oh, good. Serious.

"Do I have to?" I say.

There is ominous rustling in the chair on the other side of the bed.

"No, you don't have to," the doctor says, shrugging again.

I look over at the rustling. There's no way the rustler is going to let me walk out of here.

"Okay!" I say. "Roll me right up to that hospital!"

And all I really wanted to do was go home and later go to the grocery store and strut around - and everybody would get out of my way, thinking I was a tough guy, a prizefighter, an escaped convict -

Or a goofy-looking idiot from The Addams Family.

Next Time: My hospital stay, just like an episode of House MD, with epiphanies and Differentials bouncing off walls.

[INVITATION: All elders, 50 and older, are welcome to submit stories for this blog. They can be fiction, non-fiction, poetry, memoir, etc. Please read instructions for submitting.]

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Friday, 27 February 2015

Chasing Rainbows

Over the Rainbow is the number one on the "Songs of the Century" list compiled by the Recording Industry Association of America and the National Endowment for the Arts.

The American Film Institute also ranked Over the Rainbow the greatest movie song of all time on the list of AFI's 100 Years, 100 Songs.

It was adopted (along with Irving Berlin's White Christmas) by American troops in Europe in World War II as a symbol of the United States. Garland herself performed the song for the troops as part of a 1943 command [according to whom?] performance.

In April 2005, the United States Postal Service issued a commemorative stamp recognizing lyricist Yip Harburg's accomplishments. The stamp features the opening lyric from Over the Rainbow. The song was also used as an Audio Wakeup call in the STS-88 Space shuttle mission in Flight Day 4, which was dedicated to astronaut Robert D. Cabana from his daughter, Sara.

The song was honored with the 2014 Towering Song Award by the Songwriters Hall of Fame which was sung at its dinner on June 12, 2014.

Now, like everybody else, we are forever chasing rainbows, or looking for a pot of gold - a simple truth most of us won't admit to. Even fewer people admit to finding one.

Now by pure un-academic chance I have harnessed, or found a way to make rainbows.

You may call it simple - where is the money to be earned? Or Trademark or Patent Pending? Or the question comes to mind, can I change the world, or even my life with this discovery - maybe like Soupy Sales who got all those kids to send him money?

Or am I a modern day Pied Piper? Will you look at all those kids following my method. My wife said that I could never keep a secret. Oh well, here is my secret.

A CD disc, silver side up. The photo illustrates a disc sitting on my window sill with the sun shining on it. No pictures, no film, no water, no hose or thunderstorm.

I can make or project multiple rainbows with multiple discs or use a light source shining and reflecting off the disc.

If I make someone happy somewhere - just think a 70-year-old retiree, trained in the scientific method just stumbled on another world wonder.


[INVITATION: All elders, 50 and older, are welcome to submit stories for this blog. They can be fiction, non-fiction, poetry, memoir, etc. Please read instructions for submitting.]

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Thursday, 26 February 2015

In the Morning...

By Henry Lowenstern

my dreams come to a stop
when my clock-radio wakes me up,
I open my eyes,
and slowly rise
then, back to bed I flop.

[INVITATION: All elders, 50 and older, are welcome to submit stories for this blog. They can be fiction, non-fiction, poetry, memoir, etc. Please read instructions for submitting.]

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Wednesday, 25 February 2015

Patchwork Of Memories: Part 2

By Joyce Benedict

I am always amazed at the bubbling up of memories of events long ago as I’ve gotten older. So vivid. Almost like they occurred last week yet what did I eat for breakfast? Who called me yesterday about the ad listed? Did I write down that appointment from the dentist’s office? Forgetting grocery list on kitchen table?

Lugging home milk cartons I recalled recently, vividly the Silver Lake Dairy that home delivered milk placed in the metal boxes by one’s front door. You left a note - butter, eggs, milk which was always pasteurized with cream on top.

Flavor? What happened to flavor? Is it my taste buds or has beef, baking potatoes, rye bread, milk lost a certain flavor I remembered?

Oh, sales people. Remember them? Well-dressed and always there to assist you in choosing whatever you needed. Oh, yes, they knew their product or helped you find what you were looking for.

Take hospitals. I saw my share of them through my school years.They were quiet places back then. Nurses in their white starched uniforms always there. Clean sheets every day maneuvered while you were in the bed! An art lost.

Back rubs every day. Devine. Tonsils and adenoids were removed as standard procedure. Yes, forgot the pain but my twin sisters and I relished the endless ice cream served to sooth very sore throats.

There was the man that delivered ice for the refrigerator ice box. We walked to school and walked home throughout all my school years. An hour for lunch. Sometimes walked home, sometimes to Benny’s luncheonette who had the cleanest deli ever. His tunafish sandwiches piled at least two inches high (or so it seemed) on great rye bread.

Aging brings awareness and perspective of blessings. How grateful I became to remembering my Father’s rules about guys, parties, dating etc. No party could be attended without chaperones. Usually two sets of parents lurking in the shadows.

All school functions chaperoned. You were home by 10PM on a date, OR ELSE! If we just watched TV in the playroom? Well, Father trekked down to his workshop with a casual, “Enjoying the show?” How dearly grateful I am for those rules and parameters of behavior.

My high school love left the east with family to go back to California. I was heartbroken. A few years later, in the service, he returned. Though we had a spare bedroom he had to leave our home by midnight as sleeping arrangements were made with a neighbor. Seems these rules should be returned. Less welfare, fewer unwanted kids, less mental illness.

When TV came it was endless laughter and enjoyment with I Love Lucy. Entire family watched together along with other enjoyable shows. Popular songs one could hear words that evoked good feelings. Families ate together.

I will never forget when Peter Jennings announced on the six o’clock evening news that a woman had cut off her lover’s penis and thrown it into a field. I could not believe my ears. Of course we all know what TV is today. Pills offered for every malady with extraordinary side effects while others promise forever, rapturous sex.

Where has love gone? Courtship? Dating? Learning about one another and letting love bloom naturally? Quite frankly, I am very happy I was not a part of the sexual revolution.

Would you put a finger in an electric socket? Well, sexual energy is that powerful and today souls are shattered without love and commitment. The needs of men and women so different. It will never change. I think the young women are very foolish today.

There are good and difficult aspects to every generation. I am glad I was born when I was and my Father cared as he did. And because I respected him, with the fear of pregnancy so great, I minded my P's and Q’s until Mr. Right came along last year in college.

The music? (you mean screaming) today, casual sex, crude language on TV, endless commercials every four minutes, skirts up to you know where, breasts hanging out, non-stop violence, sexual crimes depicted. Rapes by the thousands in every country. Little to enjoy viewing or listening to. Sad.

At lunch a year ago, a dear friend leaned across the table, lowered her voice stating, “Joyce I DO believe the world is going mad!”

What memories will bubble up for this younger generation when they reach their Golden Years?

[INVITATION: All elders, 50 and older, are welcome to submit stories for this blog. They can be fiction, non-fiction, poetry, memoir, etc. Please read instructions for submitting.]

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Tuesday, 24 February 2015

And The World Gets Through Its Day

By Arlene Corwin of Arlene Corwin Poetry

And the world goes on without me.
And the world gets through its day.
And you never start a sentence with an “and.”
As I contemplate the boil on my gum,
The germ that could remove me in a night,
I take offense, collected sum
Of steam a dissipating stream
Which no one would so much as modify
One nano-second’s schedule for.
Earth without an Arlene in it
Without one adjusted minute.
Ants don’t change their habit-dance,
Corroborating colleague ants
Who pass away, heads bitten off.
Gigantic are the forces
Pushing onward, forward,
Nodding towards mortality.
This very day
My childhood friend rings up to say
His chemo has been discontinued, insufficient.
Chemicals were not enough.
Stupid crab has gotten tougher,
Shifting upwards towards the head.
And the world gets through its day.
And the world goes on without one.
And you never start a sentence with an “and.”

[INVITATION: All elders, 50 and older, are welcome to submit stories for this blog. They can be fiction, non-fiction, poetry, memoir, etc. Please read instructions for submitting.]

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Monday, 23 February 2015

Orthorexia, Healthy Food and "Piecing Around"

By Dan Gogerty who blogs at Cast

One syndrome I’m quite sure I won’t get is orthorexia - a new kind of eating disorder defined as “a pathological obsession for biologically pure and healthy nutrition.”

Many folks have shifted their diets to include healthier food (that’s a good thing) but ironically, some are cutting out important sources of vitamins and minerals (not so good). As a report in Popular Science says,

“This can lead to fragile bones, hormonal shifts, and cardiac problems, along with psychological distress and entrenched, delusional thinking.”

Wow - that sounds like the disclaimer at the end of pharmaceutical ads on television.

Before continuing, I’ll list my own disclaimer - I like kale. We planted a dwarf variety of the bitter veggie in our garden last summer and from May until September, it was the gift that kept on giving.

Kale humorGogerty

I usually eat it disguised with other greens, tomatoes, jalapenos and an olive oil dressing. We had many other nutritious items in the garden and we are lucky enough to live in a community that offers plenty of healthy options.

But I can’t imagine living by leafy greens and tofu alone. I’ll probably continue to “piece around.”

That means I’ll keep sampling various items even if a headline blares out a dire warning. “Cut the Cheese” some health article might proclaim. But my homemade quesadillas with pepper jack are calling.

“No Meat” someone else cries out. But stir fried veggies with chicken and a bit of sweet and sour sauce can’t be bad for you. And what about the egg? For a while it was almost banned to the toxic zone and now it’s all sunny side up again.

I think most agree that balance is the key. We all know that a junk food obsession is detrimental and each consumer needs to be smart about what diet is best. The FDA’s food pyramid may look a bit pedantic, but it’s probably a good reference.

However, the health folks don’t include cake, pie and cinnamon rolls in most of their blueprints for smart eating. That’s where “piecing around” really helps. The term comes from my Granny Faye.

We kids would hover over a chocolate cake or a fresh-baked cherry pie and when the chance arose, we’d fork out a small corner or cut off “just a sliver” to pop in our mouths.

“Quit piecing around,” Granny would say. “You’ll spoil your supper.”

Nowadays I eat a lot less sugar but Mom still pulls out cake or her amazing homemade cinnamon rolls when we visit. As Dad says, “We’ll just throw these out if you don’t eat ‘em. We’re saving the good stuff for real company.”

So I take a small slice or half a roll, eat small bites, and then - of course - cut off “just a tiny bit more.”

Orthorexia might be a disorder, but piecing around is a happy obsession.

Food pyramid humorGogerty

[INVITATION: All elders, 50 and older, are welcome to submit stories for this blog. They can be fiction, non-fiction, poetry, memoir, etc. Please read instructions for submitting.]

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Friday, 20 February 2015

My Mother Named Me Fritzy

By Fritzy Dean

An all too familiar experience has just occurred. I've been introduced to a new acquaintance. As I shake their hand and repeat my name, the person says, "Fritzy?"

Yes, that's right. I smile and nod.

And then, here comes the refrain I have heard my entire life. "But what's your real name?"

Well, it's really Fritzy. No, it is not a nickname. No, it's not short for anything. And, yes, I'm sure you did once know a little dachshund puppy named Fritzie.

I remember being quite angry with my Mother. Not only did she name me Fritzy, but she spelled it wrong! It was truly not uncommon to have little girls back in my hometown with masculine sounding names. I personally knew a Billie Jean, a Bobbie Sue, a Frankie Lee all made feminine with an "ie" at the end.

When I complained, my Mother pointed put there were a Kathy, a Betty and a Peggy all of who had names ending in "y.”

"Oh," I wailed, "why didn't you name me Linda?" But, NO, she reserved that one for a younger sister.

In the small grade school I attended, I was always the only Fritzy. We had two Kathys, (one with a C and one with a K.) plus two Saras and several Marys. But in every grade only one Fritzy.

It marked me in a way, made me different. Of course, in those years I wanted desperately to fit in, to be like everyone else.

I won't bore you with the amount of mail I get addressed to Mr. Fritzy Dean. I will tell you about recently signing in at a new doctor's office.

Of course, I had to fill out paper work. When I handed it to the receptionist, she glanced and handed it right back, saying that I had not noticed that last names go first on their forms. I assured her I had noticed.

She (with raised eyebrows): So Dean is your last name?

Me: Yes, that's correct.

She: That means Fritzy is your first name?

Me: That’s right.

She: Fritzy is your first name? Fritzy?

Me: Yes, it’s Fritzy. Is there an echo in here?

I truly believe that we grow into our names. I am certain I am a different person than I would have been if Mama had named me Linda. Over time I learned to embrace being a little bit unusual.

Now, I happily tell folks I was the first grandchild and I was named for my grandfather, Fritz, who adored me because, of course, I was an adorable infant and maybe, just maybe, because my mother named me Fritzy.

[INVITATION: All elders, 50 and older, are welcome to submit stories for this blog. They can be fiction, non-fiction, poetry, memoir, etc. Please read instructions for submitting.]

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Thursday, 19 February 2015

The ROTC Dance

By Vicki E. Jones

It was the spring of 1963, and the night was expected to be quite cool. A male friend had invited me to go with him to our high school’s annual ROTC (Reserve Officers Training Corps) dance, though, and I could not disappoint. Attire would be very dressy, almost formal, and I had to wear an evening gown.

My evening gown had thin little spaghetti straps and no matching jacket. The only dressy jacket I had wasn’t warm. It was dressy and looked decent with my evening gown, but not warm.

Being 16, how I looked meant everything. So that’s what I wore even though I knew I might be chilly. And being chilly came at a bad time: I had a cold-type virus and was not yet over it so I was more sensitive to the cold than usual and had a cough that I couldn’t get rid of.

Sam, my date, was a good friend who had been active in ROTC for a long time and I always enjoyed his company. He said that the evening’s on-stage entertainment would include a hypnotist.

I had never seen a hypnotist in person and I knew it would be an interesting evening with good food, live music and a number of people that I already knew.

Partway through the evening, the hypnotist asked for a volunteer, someone willing to be hypnotized. Sam encouraged me to volunteer and the next thing I knew I was sitting on the stage, facing the audience.

The hypnotist then asked me what I would like hypnosis to accomplish for me.

I told the hypnotist I would like to be hypnotized out of coughing and he promptly went to work. To my surprise, and no doubt the surprise of the audience, it seemed to work well. When he was done I was no longer coughing and I left the dance cough-free.

That night I slept much better than previous nights since my cough was gone. For the next two days I didn’t cough either. Then, on the third day, the magic wore off and the cough came back and was much worse than before.

It felt like it was down in my chest. My chest soon hurt from coughing. My mother promptly called my pediatrician who had Mom bring me in that very day.

The doctor ordered a chest x-ray and I soon found out I had double broncho-pneumonia. I had paid a price for not coughing - I had not been expelling mucus and it would have been better for my health if I had. Not coughing had caused a problem.

I was put on an antibiotic and had to stay home for a number of days. I was not allowed to go out at night for the next two weeks at which time the doctor took another chest x-ray to make sure my lungs were clear and the broncho-pneumonia was gone before I went anywhere at night.

I learned two valuable things from my experience. First, health comes first. Wearing a jacket that was warm enough and didn’t go perfectly with my evening gown would have made more sense. And second, never let anyone hypnotize me because it may do more harm than good.

And that was the first and last time I had anything to do with a hypnotist.

[INVITATION: All elders, 50 and older, are welcome to submit stories for this blog. They can be fiction, non-fiction, poetry, memoir, etc. Please read instructions for submitting.]

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Wednesday, 18 February 2015

Is My Number Up?

By Bettijane Eisenpreis

As I walked into my bedroom today, the number on my digital clock immediately jumped into view — 9:11. nine eleven – it will never be just a number to me, or millions other, since that fatal day in 2001.

I am incredibly lucky. My son Steven – my only child – delivered an envelope to a firm on the 89th floor of the World Trade Center just ten minutes before the first bomb went off.

I am twice lucky in that I did not know he was there until he was safe at home two hours later. I always thought there was a God but now I am sure of it. At least God – or whatever Power is up there – was there for me.

But how do I explain what happened to the almost three thousand people who perished that day? Must we simply say that their number was up on nine eleven?

For Jews, of whom I am one, numbers are incredibly important. Every time I agree to collect money for a worthy cause, many of the donations come in multiples of eighteen, puzzling my non-Jewish neighbors.

The ancient Hebrews were economical fellows. Why invent a whole system of numbers when you already had letters? So “aleph,” the first letter, is one, “bet” two, and so forth. The letters for eighteen spell “chai” (life) and are therefore very lucky.

My Hebrew is rudimentary to put it kindly. So I have no idea what the letters are for the number 9-11, and I am not sure I want to find out.

Ordinary Jews like me have traditionally been discouraged from studying numerology. Scholars have looked on it as a pseudoscience, scoffing at those who would attribute significance to numbers, while at the same time investing it with a dark power.

It is perfectly fine to give $36 or $72 to the UJA instead of $25 or $50. But if you start investigating the letters of your Hebrew name or trying to predict events based on the secret meaning of dates, you are suspected of practicing black magic – which, the scholars insist, they don’t believe in. But which is evil anyway.

Don’t think that the superstition attached to numbers has escaped us enlightened modern people. If your favorite grandchild is born on 9-11, you are probably delighted that the baby has arrived and is healthy but the date is bound to give you pause.

Perhaps, when the birthday rolls around you look up to the heavens and breathe an extra prayer that another year has passed and all is well.

My father-in-law was born on May 19 and died on January 19 – which my mother-in-law always saw as an omen. When I learned that my baby was due in May, I prayed that it would be any day but the 19th, knowing that my mother-in-law would invest his birth with all sorts of eerie significance.

And when was he born? You guessed it! But the good lady is now at her eternal rest and Steven is alive and thriving. So there!

If you think we have risen above such superstitious nonsense, I need only say, “I’ve got your number” or “Your number is up” to give you pause. These phrases have become part of the language.

Why don’t we say, “I’ve got your letter” or “I’ve got your word?” Think about it.

[INVITATION: All elders, 50 and older, are welcome to submit stories for this blog. They can be fiction, non-fiction, poetry, memoir, etc. Please read instructions for submitting.]

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Tuesday, 17 February 2015

A Visit From a One-Percenter

By Marc Leavitt of Marc Leavitt's Blog

It was a cold winter, in year twenty fifteen,
And we wondered each day if our spring would be green,
We thought, before bedtime - each one of us renters,
Homeowners, or homeless, and non-one-percenters.

Our money was gone, we hoped for a miracle,
Plastic maxed out, we were getting hysterical.
We’d stolen from Peter, as we tried to pay Paul,
And had over-due bills; we could not pay them all.

At Christmas, we put paltry gifts under the tree,
They went to the children, but we skipped you and me.
We went up to our bed, turned the thermostat low;
The oil tank nearing empty, the heat came up slow.

We’d spent every penny of our last jobless checks
And pawned the big TV, in debt up to our necks.
But we hoped as we shivered together in bed,
That things would get better, as our government said.

Then just as I started drifting off into sleep,
I heard a strange noise, some car horn’s discordant “beep.”
I tore open the window, saw a Ferrari;
It was bright red and sleek, quite delightful to see.

The old man behind the wheel, a fine-looking type,
Looked well-fed and jolly, as he puffed on his pipe.
He was dressed to the nines, in a fancy new suit,
And I knew from his Rolex, he had piles of loot,

There, sitting beside him, on the passenger’s seat,
Was his well-dressed girlfriend, her high fashion complete.
He smiled when he saw me, and broke into a speech,
Full of clichés on virtue those rich men all preach.

“If you want to succeed, you can do so; work hard,
Or join all the losers cutting grass in my yard.
If you tax the rich too much, it hurts all of us,
“Trickle down” ideas work, so cut out all your fuss!”

“Now, I have to leave,” he said, revving his engine,
“I hope that you’ve accepted, my wealth is no sin.
I’m off to the airport so my new jet can fly
Me to Paris this weekend. Good luck, and goodbye.”

[INVITATION: All elders, 50 and older, are welcome to submit stories for this blog. They can be fiction, non-fiction, poetry, memoir, etc. Please read instructions for submitting.]

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