Friday, January 27, 2012

My "Young and Restless" Days

Having a best friend gives great perspective about the journey through life that we have the good fortune to travel together.  Recently Nancy and I were talking about being middle-aged, how these “new” “older” bodies we are sporting are taking some getting used to.  We discussed what we missed most about our younger selves and we came up with the fact we both miss the attention we once received.  We both, in our own way, had the looks and body to turn a few heads in our day. 

One memory we still laugh over is when the two of us, back in the late 1970s, were walking down the street in Simi Valley, California.  As a car drove by us we heard a loud wolf-whistle and then a CRASH.  The driver apparently, in looking at us, rear-ended another vehicle.  Ahhh, youthful boasting.

There will be moments when a memory will pop into my head and I’ll have to smile because of the feelings it evokes.  One recent one involves meeting an actor maybe a year after I’d moved to southern California.  It was how I met James Beach and the experience of our short-lived relationship that is sweet in my mind because it showed how both na├»ve and ballsy I was back then.

I hadn’t been in California for very long.  I had moved there when I was 19 to attend Moorpark College’s Exotic Animal Training and Management Program.  It was 1977 and being in California after living a lifetime in small town America was invigorating for me.  You know that feeling when you are young that the world is just waiting for You?  That nothing is impossible?  That’s just how I felt.

There was a story in the local newspaper announcing that Actors and Others for Animals would be holding an event in the L.A. area.  I decided to go to the event.  While there, I was surrounded by crowds of people pushing and shoving as they tried to glimpse the actors participating.  I’m short and I couldn’t see a thing.  When I made it up to a roped-off area I still could see the actors were kept separated from the throng.  At some point I overheard someone say something about being a volunteer.  I had a moment of brilliance, or so I thought, and went up to one of the rope-keepers and announced that I was a volunteer sent over to help with crowd control.  My nervy move worked!  The rope was lifted and I was on the other side. 

My memory of what took place next is somewhat fuzzy; but I remember that I didn’t do any work at all.  I was escorted into a trailer and pretended I was supposed to be there.  Inside I sat down at a table with actors I recognized: Mark Hamil of Star Wars fame (very nice guy), Melissa Gilbert, Little House on the Prairie actress (snotty brat), and one I did not recognize but an actor nonetheless, James Beach. 

The day ended with my head in the clouds from my experience.  James asked to see me again and for many months we dated; he taking me to restaurants a huge step-up from what my budget could afford, he came to my 21st birthday party, and I was his date for a party honoring a soap opera I’d watched for years and one he was an occasional actor on: The Young and the Restless.  This is a memory that I’m not as proud of, but one that is pretty funny.

I was so anxious about looking good that I ate nothing the day of the event.  I borrowed one of my roommate’s dresses, a really cute one that I wanted to look perfect in.  I think I did.  At the event waiters walked by serving hor dourves and champagne.  I was introduced to many of the actors from the show, the one I most remember was the one who played, “Snapper,” actor David Hasselhoff.  That’s about all I remember.

The combination of nerves, empty stomach and champagne drove me soon to the ladies room where first I puked, then passed out on the floor by the toilet.  I awoke to one of the bathroom attendants reaching under the door, shaking my foot and saying, “Lady, are you okay?” 

I found my way back to my date.  James took me to his home.  Up to this point we had simply dated, had not gotten intimate.  This could have been James’s “lucky night” but being  the gentleman that he was, he tucked me into his bed and let me sleep it off.

I don’t remember the last time I saw James.  I don’t know whatever became of him; even doing an Internet search turns up nothing.  While James is lost to me except in memories, he did give me two photos of himself that I keep along with my other most treasured keepsakes.  Those photos and his sweet words to me: "To my Lisa, I have met 3 women in my life who were ladies, you are two of them. With all my love and respect, James Beach" along with those tender memories, will have to be enough. 

Yes, growing older is bittersweet, but I am so grateful I have those experiences to recall.  And as I have often thought, when I’m ninety-years old, I’ll look back on the memories I am making right now and recall that they, too, were sweet ones.  

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

A Necessary Nose Job?

I thought my breathing difficulties were a result of allergies.  For a few years now I’ve been trying both traditional and unconventional methods to find relief.  I have seen general practitioners who have prescribed every allergy medicine there is, including those horrible up-the-nose sprays; I’ve done Chinese herbs, acupuncture and cupping (see Can Acupuncture Cure My Allergies), and have come to consider the use of the Neti pot a daily necessity. 

Come to find out, however, that my problem isn’t pollen but anatomy.  My nose is too big AND too small!

As a kid, you know when your entire body is transforming into its adult look, some parts progress differently than others?  Well, it took a while for my face to catch up with my nose.  For years I dreamed of changing my big, hooked nose, removing the prominent bump and sporting a more subtle one with a cute up-turned tip.  I hated having profile pictures taken and avoided them at all costs.

See!  Too big for my face!

Thank goodness I made it through those awkward years and came to embrace my look, which includes a nose that, in my opinion, fits just right on my face.  I’m glad I didn’t fix it as my youthful vanity yearned to do.  Now, it seems, it may need fixing after all.

After the umpteenth doctor visit resulted in a recommendation to see a specialist, I was informed I have a pronounced deviated septum.  The doctor asked if I’d ever broken my nose, which I have not.  It was all three of my brothers who have. 

A broken nose looks good on my brothers, Jim and Joe,
it wouldn't flatter me, though
However, I admit, with a nose my size and with my tendency to be clumsy (see My Own Worst Enemy) my nose has seen its share of solid objects such as doors and floors, so many of them I have “gotten my nose out of joint” a time or two.  The doctor also remarked that my nostrils are very narrow; I may have a large schnoz in length, but the width is what is causing me problems.  Whatever accumulates (my friend, Linda Lou will just hate this reference, she doesn’t like snot references) gets congested and has nowhere to go. 

The solution to this problem might have to be surgery.  Yuck!  When discussing this with the doctor I was asked if there was anything else on my nose I’d like to fix, “Many people take this opportunity to change their look,” he remarked.  I wasn’t sure if this was a trick question, trying to get me to admit my motivation was all a ploy to get insurance to pay for a new nose, but I said, “NO!”  I like my nose just the way it is.  I just wish it would allow me to breathe without having to use a finger – not UP it, but to the side of it, opening the nostril to allow air to get in.  My thoughtful husband actually took a picture (not posted here for obvious reasons of vanity) of my sleeping in this pose. 

I have a follow-up visit with a plastic surgeon that specializes in noses next week.  We’ll see what he has to say.  While I hate the idea of surgery, the thought of living several more decades with labored breathing thanks to the nose I inherited from my dad seems less desirable. 

That old saying, “Be careful what you wish for” really is true.  Maybe if I’d not wished for a nose job in my youth, this wouldn’t be happening to me now!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Taming the Wild Beast

Taming animals is one of those skills I am really good at.  I just brought home a young Lovebird
who has never been handled before and it will be fun to see him (or her?) get used to me and become a pet. 

I have the patience required for this type of task; I can sit for hours watching an animal and allowing them the time needed to accept me.  I know I would have been as good as my hero Jane Goodall or DianeFossey, two primatologists whose work I admire.  When did I discover this talent to tame?

When I was ten years old my grandmother sent me across the country to Aberdeen, Washing to spend a few weeks with an uncle.  In the cluster of homes where they lived, I wandered around the property and came across a shaggy dog that was terrified of people.  I spent hours coaxing the dog to come to me and the satisfaction I felt when he did has stayed with me all of these years. 

When John and I owned Acres of Animals Pet Shop we purchased a Lesser Sulphur-crested Cockatoo from a bird breeder.  “Use this one as a breeder, that’s all she’s good for,” we were told.  This poor thing was in the worst shape.  She was so petrified of people even looking her way she flew into the bars of the cage.  This behavior resulted, at some point, in her top beak-point breaking so it was blunt rather than sharp as it should be.  Her feathers were as mangy as that Washington dog’s; they were broken and every time she hit the cage, another would break and bleed.  I thought I’d see if I could tame her.

It took a few weeks.  I would turn out the lights so the room was dark (birds cannot see in the dark).  With thick gloves on I would reach into the cage and grab her as quickly as I could so she would not bolt and hurt herself.  Then, I would hold her against my chest speaking softly, stroking her.  Just like this little Lovebird she would wait for an opportune moment and try to get away but I would have a firm, yet gentle hold on her.  I did this routine several times a day.
One afternoon I was multitasking; I was holding “Pee Wee” (she was so small and fragile, that seemed a perfect name for her) while eating a bean burrito.  A small bean had landed just outside my mouth and Pee Wee stretched her neck and took it.  She ate that bean while sitting in my lap.  I was able to release my hold on her and from that moment on she never tried to escape from me. 

It was another one of those moments that sealed my love of animals and inspires me to reach out to them to show them some humans are worth knowing.
To this day I continue my efforts.  Just read North Las Vegas Cat Tales.

There’s a new cat on the property that I just know was left behind.  He meows when I talk to him but he is just not ready to accept that I won’t hurt him.  I have been able to get rather close to him when he feeds but he stays just out of reach of me.  I hope he allows me the opportunity to give him some contact; he looks haggard and sad (that’s called anthropomorphism, placing human emotions onto animals).  I’ll let you know if I am a success.

I have a few talents that I’m proud of, and being an Animal Tamer is one I am happy to possess.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

A Progressive Resolution

I asked my husband what he would like to see or have happen in 2012.  It took him a minute to think about it, but before answering he asked me what I hoped for.  I said something peculiar: “Progress.”  When he finally answered he had more concrete goals: get our mortgage refinancing completed (it’s been taking months!). pay off his truck; you know, practical stuff. 

I’m still trying to figure out my response.

Progress.  What am I looking for progress on?  True, with the economic slump came a halt in our immediate plans to move to Oregon, but the dream is still alive; I haven't given up on that.

Employment for me has been spotty, with student enrollments causing cancellation of classes, leaving our finances on shaky ground.  Do I plan on making my work life more stable by finding a more secure job and income?  I am not ready for that commitment just yet, but it may be inevitable. 

Our property is coming along nicely.  We’ve expanded from around the perimeter of the house to plant trees, vegetables, and flowers on many more sections. 

Maybe I envision the progress I’m making on the grounds as part of my 2012 plan. 

Or, maybe that much-talked about European trip will finally take place.  I want to travel so badly.  There are so many places I have yet to see, even right here in my own country.  Maybe that’s what I’ll be concentrating on. 

Whatever my progress is, I’m excited about what will unfold in this new year. This picture of me and John on this New Year’s Eve

show a couple who have progressed from young marrieds to middle-agers on the cusp of their quarter-century together.  The progress of time shows on our faces, but the smiles haven’t faded; for that I am grateful. 

What do you see for yourself in 2012?  Whatever it is, I hope you attain it.  I also hope you have continued health and happiness. 

Keep checking my blog and I’ll keep you all updated on my Progress! 

in 2012.