Saturday, July 19, 2008

Trip notes

Firstly, I must say that my visit with my daughter and her family was the best ever. Enjoyed spending time with them and just relaxing in a picturesque setting that was sun-drenched and delightfully warm, but not too warm for the most part. Hey, like my daughter said, "We love the sun in Washington, since we are so sun-deprived most of the year!" Everyone's doing well and I'm so glad I got to visit them.

My granddaughter is very musical and now has a harmonica to play (which she's picking up quite naturally, much to my delight!). I tried my best to take in and soak up every moment we spent together; she's growing up so quickly.
Now... on to some observations from my travels. I am a people-watcher. During my layovers I learned a few things about myself. I like my personal "space" and prefer to sit in less populated areas. I don't mind chatting with someone if I am in the mood, but travelling is wearying these days and I would much rather read my book or catch a bit of the news on tvs that are mounted here and there in the terminals.

Sometimes I just like to sit and stare. It can be very therapeutic when you're just tired. Try it sometime. Don't stare at anything in particular... just stare blankly, with no visual focal point; and just breathe deeply. It's relaxing on the eyes, body and nerves. It's like the stare that you get just before your eyelids close and you don't even know they've closed. That kind of stare.

And, no, I am not talking about going to your "happy place." This is simply staring for the sake of staring. Got it? I highly recommend it; especially after you've been cooped up in a plane and have 1 of 2 choices: stare at the back of the seat in front of you, or sleep. I guess you could read or listen to music or use some electronic device once the flight attendant gives you the "all clear." Okay, so there are more than 1 or 2 choices. My point is... what was my point (oh, the joys of getting older and short term memory loss)? Oh yeah, it just feels good to have my eyes look beyond the seatback in front of me, so that kind of staring is relaxing. But, I digress...

There are many sounds and noises to be heard while one is sitting and staring blankly at the airport on layovers. The constant drone of people walking past, the boarding announcements over the intercoms, the at first startling and then annoying cries of overtired children who cannot nap or run amok as they would love to because their beleaguered parents are just doing their darndest to make it through the next leg of their flight. The children only know they are not happy (miserable) and their parents only know they must reach their destination without doing something horridly embarrassing in public they might regret (yes, parents are only human). Oh, I do not miss those days. I never took my children on any flights (lucky me). Just road trips... but that's another blog subject for another day.

The most annoying sound I heard was the incessant beep, beep, beep of the trams they use to transport folks who need a break from walking (physically challenged, parents of small children or many children, etc.) and have a substantial distance to get to their next departure gate. I did finally get used to the beeping, but then one lady driving a tram decided to honk her horn as well; while she serpentined her tram behind, bulldozed her way through and left behind the unsuspecting pedestrians she honked at, barely easing up on the accelerator to allow room for said pedestrians to move out of her way. So it was beep, beep, beep, honk-honk, beep, honk-honk-honk, beep, beep as she approached, and so on until she was out of earshot! That's enough to make someone go over the edge.

The most memorable part of my travel was on the 2nd leg of my flight, from Seattle to LAX. The plane was piloted by a father/son team. The pilot (father) was flying his last flight and then retiring. He gave us a very smooth flight and even made a turn around Mt. St. Helens so that both sides of the plane could catch a glimpse as we flew over.

As we were preparing to land at LAX, the flight attendant announced that upon landing the plane would be hosed off with water by a couple of LAX fire engines; but that there was no cause for concern: we weren't on fire. It was just a tradition for pilots on their last flight to have their plane hosed off on the runway as they taxied to the gate on their final landing. Needless to say, there was much excitement and applause by the passengers as we received our official "hosing down" there on the tarmac.

I was quite amused by the woman sitting in front of me as she was having a great time during the flight, chatting it up loudly with the man sitting on the end of her row (they were separated by a seat). She had imbibed at least 2 Screwdrivers and became louder and more animated and boisterous as the flight progressed. When the announcement was made about the "hosing" tradition, she yelled, "Hey everyone, we're history!" I'm sure she meant we were taking part in something historic, but those were her words nonetheless.

She then said, "Isn't it a tradition to kiss the pilot on his last flight?" As she got up from her seat after the flight, she said, "I'm going for it!" She nearly ran down the aisle to where the pilot was standing at the door and repeated, "I think it's a tradition to kiss the pilot on his last flight!" as her lips met the lips of the willing and smiling pilot; then dashed off just as fast as she'd arrived. He was still grinning ear to ear as I wished him a happy retirement shortly after his traditional retirement kiss. All in all, a very unusal but enjoyable and entertaining experience. Historic, in fact.

That's all for now...

Monday, July 7, 2008

Vacation = Great; Travel = Not so much

I am preparing for vacation at my daughter's in Washington near the US/Canadian border. While I look forward to my visit with her and my granddaughter, I am dreading the flights and the process that entails.

Don't get me wrong--I am happy to be able to travel what with all the skyrocketing fuel costs and such. I planned this trip back in March and it has paid off in grand fashion. It couldn't be a better time to not be at work. The weather's getting hotter and I returned to my office after a lovely 3-day holiday weekend to discover that the air conditioning is malfunctioning. In my office and the offices adjacent to mine, it is hot and stuffy and I find the fan is my very best friend on this typically Monday-ish Monday.

But, all one has to do is open my office door and the refreshing air conditioning in the hallway is reminiscent of the old York Peppermint Patty commercials that depicted people being hit by a refreshing cold blast of arctic air as they savored their dark chocolate covered peppermint candy. Yum, that sounds good right now... but I digress.

The engineer from the maintenance department tells me the climate control computer and probably a motor and/or a fan belt are likely the culprits in our sweaty situation. Suffice it to say that my nickname for our building seems more apropos than ever: shake and bake. It's either too cold or too hot depending on where your office is. Yes, I am glad to leave that stuffy, sweaty office behind for a few days.

Anyway, the bottom line is this: it will be well worth it when I see my daughter and granddaughter at the airport in Bellingham, WA and my real vacation begins!

Think I'll take a good friend's advice and bring a good book to read during my long layovers!

That's all for now....

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Why are Hollywood and society in general not able to accept growing old gracefully?

Last night a friend of mine rented a DVD called "My Mom's New Boyfriend." The lead role was played by Meg Ryan. I took one look at Ms. Ryan and was astounded by her "new look." She is barely recognizable as the Meg Ryan I have come to know and like as an actress. Her penchant for "cute" roles was obviously because that's who she was: cute. Now she's obviously had some "work" done on her face and to me she looks more like Elizabeth Montgomery from the 60's/70's TV series Bewitched (although my friend says she thinks Ms. Ryan's mouth looks like Michelle Pfeiffer's due to the lip job).

I ask you: what does Hollywood have against letting actors and actresses (mostly actresses) grow old naturally and gracefully? We're supposed to grow old. We were never meant to stay youthful looking. That is for the youth. We had our youth. It's okay to move on and become old and older and elderly.

In fact, I will go as far as to say that it's not just Hollywood, but our society in general that puts pressure on folks to jump on the "I want, no I NEED to stay young-looking, feel young, and act young in order to enjoy life and feel good about myself" bandwagon. I say HOGWASH!

There's nothing wrong with not feeling like you're 18 or 21 or even 30 anymore if you are not. It is okay to feel your body growing old. It is natural to slow down a bit. Wrinkles and gray hair are not leprosy. They are part of the natural aging process. Why feel bad or get down on yourself about it? Age happens if you are alive for a few decades past 30. What's the big deal?

Acting your age is a good thing. Young people are supposed to be more energetic and impetuous. Folks who have been around a few decades hopefully have a bit of life experience under their belt and can be a great source of wisdom and history for younger people. We even tend to look at the elderly as if they are a burden to our society and lifestyle. That's a shame. We are wasting a very precious resource when we cast off our older generation as if they no longer have any use or cannot contribute anything to society anymore. But I digress... that's another subject for another blog.

It's the person who is brave enough (and that's ridiculous to even type!) to allow him/herself to grow old naturally who has my thumbs up. Because there is a level of maturity that says, "I don't care what other people think or say, this is who I am and I am not about to try to change the way I look, feel or act in order to fit into someone else's idea of who I should be or how I should look or act at my age."

It is not just actors and actresses. Look at Joan Rivers and Barry Manilow. Their skin is so tight from the face lifts they've had that they look unreal. Joan Rivers looks like an alien and Barry Manilow looks like he had a smile plastered on his face, like a clown mask. Do they really think this is attractive or appealing?

I have noticed a trend in some commercials, however, which has given me cause for hope. Some companies are advertising products using actors and actresses who appear to be aging naturally and gracefully. They have gray hair and wrinkles, for crying out loud! They don't appear to have had any "work" done. It's so refreshing. Now if only Hollywood would get a clue and let the well-established, well-recognized actors and actresses grow old naturally (if not gracefully) in front of the cameras... perhaps the youth of our country and the world would not feel compelled or pressured to follow the lead of those who have felt it necessary to mutilate themselves in order to keep their jobs; to remain a vital part of the industry known as Hollywood.

I read a brief article in some magazine at a doctor's office that had a poll. In that poll, they asked aspiring young actresses (not actors, mind you) if they would ever consider having cosmetic surgery. The answer was an unanimous albeit very disturbing YES. The responses were generally something like, "Oh, of course. I am sure at some point I will need that." How sad that at such a young age, they have already been indoctrinated into this damaging and deceptive mindset.

Let me ask you something: when you buy a product, do you want the real thing, or do you want something that only looks like the real thing? Because by forcing actresses and actors to have themselves mutilated in order to keep their jobs, Hollywood is selling us FAKE PRODUCTS.

I know, that's not exactly headline news. Hollywood has always sold fake products. But when people allow themselves to be manipulated into doing something so obviously desperate, there is something very wrong. It is unconscienable. Nobody should have to mutilate themselves like that to please someone else, or to fit into someone else's idea of how they should look. That's all cosmetic surgery is: mutilation and deception for the sake of appearance.

There are many women who are in places of prominence and power who could (and should) be taking a stand on this issue. Why are women allowing themselves to be so manipulated by the status quo of Hollywood and the media? It's cosmetic surgery, it's thin bodies, it's lifestyle. It's all a bunch of lies.

Hollywood: WAKE UP AND SMELL THE COFFEE!!! It's time to get real. It's time to stop giving actresses the boot when they start to show signs of aging. IT'S NATURAL AND IT'S REAL AND IT'S RIGHT TO GROW OLD. Pretty and handsome are not defined by or limited to any particular age. Get a clue.

What about you? Are you sick and tired of this facade of youth that our society and Hollywood and the media are throwing in our faces, as if it were the most important thing in our lives? I'd love to hear from you. This is your opportunity to speak up and be heard.

That's all for now...