The President

I manage our household finances and while I’m very good at it, my husband Steve is better and I need help from time to time.  Today Steve was promoted to President of Prime lending.  I’m so proud.  Here is the link to the press release if anyone is interested.

http://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20171002006172/en/Steve-Thompson-Named-President-PrimeLending-PlainsCapital-Company

Steve is very humble.  When we were dating seriously 20 some odd years ago he said, “You are so much smarter than me, I better get an MBA.”  And he did, while he was working full time I might add.

He got home a little early today and in the late afternoon I was working on some stuff in my home office and needed to ask him a question.

“Can you please step into my office for a moment, Mr. President?” I called.

“Yes ma’am, CEO!  We all know who is in charge here!” he replied

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Strong, Silent Type

My husband is generally a man of few words and not someone earlier in our marriage I would have pointed to as a philosopher, but things change. Steve is Executive Vice President of Prime Lending. It’s a big job. Neither of us participate on social media and sometimes I feel like everyone in the world except us loves it. One day I asked him why he’s not on social media and his response was rather breathtaking.

“First of all, I don’t think I’m all that interesting and I don’t find anyone else all that interesting either. I aspire to a state of grace, not perfection. I always had pressure to be perfect and I’ve learned it’s not realistic. You can always be graceful and elegant, but you cannot be perfect.”

This must have been something that had been on his mind. The first sentence answers the question about social media. The other three seem unrelated to the question but so eloquently communicate something he’s learned over the years that he has obviously embraced wholly and make him seem pretty interesting.

It’s been fascinating over the past 20 some odd years watching this man grow, change and evolve. My bohemian albeit extremely talented and affluent brother once referred to him as “a banker with a soul.”

Amen

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Beetle

My grandmother called me “My precious Annie.”  For some unknown reason, my grandfather called me “Beetle” which was short for “Annie Beetle Bum.”  All my aunts, uncles and cousins on the maternal side of my family still call me Beetle.  Cute and strange.  I had an Aunt-in-Law whose name was Kioko.  She was Japanese and not fluent in English.  After 15 years she found out my real name was Andrea and not Beetle.  She was shocked. She didn’t know what sounded right or not right for an American woman’s name and Beetle was all she’d ever heard.

One time, 20 years ago at my sister’s wedding shortly after I had married, one of my drunk uncles came up to my husband Steve and blurted “You got the Beetle!”  Steve now calls me Beetle most of the time.  So sweet how things like that stick and perpetuate over so many years.

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Scary

“You have to be strong,” the woman in the waiting room at the oncology radiology facility said. “My husband has lymphoma everywhere in its final stages and we are cheerful and optimistic. It’s what you have to do to be with cancer.” Her husband will probably die. He is completely hunched over by what I suppose is osteoporosis in addition to the lymphoma his lovely wife told me has taken over his entire body.

That first day we went for Steve’s radiation treatment, I noticed a bell on the counter with a ribbon tied to it. On the ribbon it said I made it the whole way! I was so new to this idea of my youngish husband having to go through radiation that I didn’t quite get what that was. Then, when Steve was in treatment, someone walked out, picked up the bell and rang it. Everyone in the waiting room applauded and some jumped up to hug the person who had just completed the grueling months long, daily treatment of radiation. I suddenly got it and of course, was one of the jump-up huggers. But I was also in tears.

A couple weeks ago was Steve’s last radiation treatment for a mild recurrence of prostate cancer. MILD? Can you really even say that if its cancer? You really can’t. It’s cancer. In his case even though his numbers are low and very encouraging, you get only one shot at radiation. One. You can’t do it again because radiation causes cancer. What? We are trying to solve cancer with a cancer-causing agent? Yep. OMG.

On Steve’s last day I was in the waiting room, waiting. My husband is a very subtle and humble person. He is not a person who has a need to bring attention to himself so I wasn’t expecting him to ring a little funny bell. I just assumed he would want to get out of there and put it all behind him while we wait and wait for results of radiation.   He walked out, made eye contact with me, picked up that bell and rang it loudly with a huge smile on his face. I burst into quiet tears; I try not to be a spectacle either. People applauded, jumped up to hug him and it was a demonstration of how beautiful people can be when we realize we are all in the same damn boat. Cancer levels the playing field.

 

 


Where Am I?

Have you heard about Texas weather? When we told people we were moving here they said, “Well, clearly you aren’t moving for the weather, so why are you moving?!” It’s 8:30 pm, I have a sinus infection, Steve is on a plane hoping to get into Dallas/Fort Worth tonight from a biz trip. It is thundering, lightening and what I cannot reconcile is that it’s 92 degrees and HAILING! How is that even possible? How can it hail when it’s 92 degrees! Could it be 32 degrees High in the sky when it’s 92 down here?? (Notice I unconsciously capitalized high as if something supernatural is going on.)

I can hear the hail smashing against the the skylight in my kitchen. This is also tornado weather, something brand new to me. Tornados are a “warm weather event” I’ve been taught. Lovely. So I stay awake with my sinus infection, two dogs freaking out about thunder, my husband on a plane circling around, still trying to get my arms around what the hell is Texas….


Bubbles

The other night my husband Steve was stressed and achy so I drew him a bath. I lovingly put in Epsom salt for the aches and a nice smelling bubble bath product for the scent and the bubbles. Bubbles when you are in the bath over age 50 are a really nice idea. His bath was ready and he got in. I hung around in the bathroom with him. We’ve only lived in this house about 8 months and we haven’t taken a lot of baths.

“This bath has a Jacuzzi function, did you know that?” Steve asked me.

“Yes,” I replied.

“Have you ever used it?” he asked.

“No,” I said, “I don’t like chaos and Jacuzzi’s seem chaotic to me.”

“I’d like to try it,” he said.

“Okay,” I replied, “Let’s see if we can figure this out.”

Steve laid his head back while I fiddled around with the controls on the touch screen. Nothing was happening and then suddenly the jets sputtered and sprung into action. And I mean action. The bathwater and bubbles suddenly looked like a gigantic vat of boiling water on steroids.

Then the bubbles began to grow.

And grow.

“Before we knew it, bubbles were rising up from his waist to his chest and then threatening to envelope his face.

“How do you turn this damn thing off!” he shouted over the rising bubbles and the noise from the jets.

“I don’t know!” I yelled back as I was bailing bubbles with my arms and throwing them into the shower.  I had to keep bailing bubbles because they had begun to spill over onto the floor while I had visions of them filling up the entire bathroom.  This was a race against time.

“Try anything and everything!” I yelled, “Before those bubbles cover your face!”  I frantically kept bailing bubbles into the shower.

It seemed like and eternity but he finally did something that worked and the jets stopped. We stood there staring at each other. Bubbles everywhere! In his eyebrows, his hair, my arms and everywhere else.

“Relaxing bath, honey?” I asked. We burst into hysterics. “Steve, I’m going to go get my phone! I need a picture of this for my blog.”

“No, you’re not,” he replied.

Sorry, no photo!


Anti-Social

“It’s a lot easier being older,” my husband said the other day.

“Why?” I asked him.

“It’s easier making decisions. I put more value on my time and what I spent it on so that expedites my decision-making. I don’t spend time with people I don’t want to spend time with or do things I don’t want to do.

I had to laugh. Indeed, he and I are not the most social people. He said that humans are hard wired to be in tribes and groups and that we somehow missed that wiring. We have an inner circle of people we like spending time with, even in Dallas now, but we generally have no interest in meeting new people. Steve works long hours and we also love to spend time alone together.

Shortly before Christmas we were standing on our driveway at our new house in a gated community and a neighbor whom we had not met walked by and said, “Oh, hi! Are you the new neighbors?”

“Yes we are,” I said.

“Oh great! Then we’ll see you at the annual Christmas party up the street!” she exclaimed.

“Well,” I hesitated, “I’m not going to say we are anti-social….”

I heard Steve chuckle behind me. He loves that I’m the more vocal of the two of us and handle these types of things.

“…..but we just aren’t the type of people who like to meet new people,” I finished.

Her demeanor changed slightly and then she blurted “Oh, I totally get that! There is hardly enough time to see the people we already know!”

“Exactly!” I said, “Nice talking to you and have a great evening!”

After that exchange, I didn’t want to say nice to meet you.


The Wizard of Oz

One of the less than lovely things about Texas is tornedos. Apparently we don’t get as many as places like Oklahoma and Kansas but we do get them. Take the day after Christmas for example. 11 people in the Dallas area died in tornedos and a house 15 miles from ours was demolished. I’ve learned that when people die in tornedos it’s usually either a traffic related incident caused by the tornedo or they are hit with flying debris. So, If you are out and about, you have to quickly figure out a way to get out of the car and somehow take cover.

I’ve only been in Texas just over two years and the only other places I’ve lived are California and Arizona. In California we worried about earthquakes, landslides, houses sliding down hillsides and wildfires. In Arizona we obsessed over rattlesnakes, scorpions and a particularly threatening cactus called “Jumping Cholla”.

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The cholla (pronounced choy-a) is perhaps the most feared and hated cacti in the southwest desert. If you brush up against one, you will know why. The plant has pads that separate easily from the main stem. The spines easily attach to your clothing, your skin and your shoes. Since the plant is covered with spines, it’s difficult to grab and dislodge the pad that has found a new home with you. Why are they so difficult to remove? Unlike other varieties of cacti with solid spines, cholla’s actually have hollow spines. Because they are hollow they can easily attach to whatever they touch with their needle like sharpness. If there is moisture, such as with skin, the tips actually curve once they have made contact, locking their spines in place just underneath the skins top layer. OUCH! But, I digress….

When the tornedo sirens blared the other night, my husband and I and our two golden retrievers hunkered down in the inner most room of the house, which is my husband’s closet. If you have followed my blog for some length of time, you might recall that I have that closet well stocked for an event such as this one.

Here are the contents of our shelter in Steve’s closet:

  • water for humans and water/water bowl for dogs
  • snacks for humans and treats/chew sticks for dogs
  • a battery powered American Red Cross emergency weather radio
  • a battery powered, super mini flashlight
  • a battery powered lantern
  • two battery powered personal spray bottle/fan contraptions in case it gets really hot
  • back up batteries for all that battery operated crap
  • a blanket
  • a little nightgown for me in case it gets really hot
  • reading glasses in case I have to run in there without mine
  • 2 bottles of wine, a wine opener and doggie Xanax
  • a deck of cards for gin rummy in case Steve or Tim are in there with me and paper/pencil to keep score since we’ll be drinking all that wine and would no way remember the score

I’m not kidding. All that junk is beautifully organized in Steve’s closet.

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So, while Steve was fumbling with the tornedo radio, I was texting my sister in California. My sister Lisa always has and always will live in California. We were born there and she is a beach girl.

The tornedo radio is saying we are in a life threatening situation and to take cover immediately, I texted. So we are in the safest place in the house, a closet, with the dogs.

That must be freaky, she responded, are you scared?

I am kind of scared, I went on, the radio just said the tornedo touched down about 15 miles from our house.

Ooooh, she replied, I didn’t realize they touched down.

I chuckled to myself. Just like me two years ago, she knows nothing about tornedos. I think she was thinking of hurricanes.

Think “twister”, Lisa, I texted back, like The Wizard of Oz. 

Oh! she exclaimed, Is Toto with you?

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Wow. That Was Weird.

Life is so bizarre the way time marches on and next thing you know, you are not young anymore and things so foreign like not being able to eat onions, an occasional slight limp because of hip surgery, wanting to sit down and rest a little in the afternoon, avoiding crowds and noisy restaurants, the push up bra gathering dust, living in Texas and desiring sleep more than desiring dancing just somehow creep in.

Today is, of course, Valentines Day.  It is also my 17th wedding anniversary.  I cannot believe it’s been 17 years! While I have all the years of memories, in many ways my wedding day seems like a year ago.  I am blessed with a wonderful man who adores me and whom I adore and for the most part an amazing marriage.

The perspective of the young and that of the not so young couldn’t be more different.  I remember being young thinking I would never have a wrinkle and that somehow I was immortal.  That youthful attitude may be by divine design because young people have to stay very motivated to keep things moving as older people slow down and begin to realize the truth about living and dying.  I can’t remember who came up with the idea of Social Security, was it Franklin D. Roosevelt? Whichever president it was, he was thinking along those lines.   Once a few people you love die or survive something dire like the terrifying diagnosis of cancer and its treatment, your bad hair days suddenly don’t seem so tragic and your values and priorities shift tremendously.  Things that used to freak you out and that you were a control freak about like red wine on the rug, algae in the pool, a door ding on the car, a stain on your favorite sweater, a burnt Turkey at Thanksgiving or a broken fingernail are close to meaningless.

It is such a complete switch from what it felt to be young, that when people my age say, “I feel exactly the way I did at 29!” I have no idea what they are talking about.  I say, “Really? God, I feel the opposite of the way I did at 29.”  And for me, aging is not all bad.  I like slowing down, at the risk of sounding cliche, to take notice of a breathtaking sunset, to behold wildlife, to truly listen to someone I love, to watch the brilliance of ants at work, to write just for fun, to take that little rest in the afternoon and to tell my complete truth without fear.  I am also so comfortable in my own skin now that I don’t take notice of someone judging me because I am so clear that that judgment is not about me.  I no longer judge others and that is so freeing.  I naturally try to connect with people instead of compete with them.

Surely there is a method to this folly and I do believe in a higher power orchestrating this to some degree.  I think there are some people who are very clear on why we are here and what we are supposed to be doing.  I am not one of them.  I do the best I can but I’m bewildered a lot of the time.

My mom has a friend and somehow they got talking about what might be on their tombstones.  He knew exactly what would be on his.  Wow. That Was Weird.