TAKING MY TIME

Elizabeth Willis Barrett……….March 2016

I asked a friend the other day why I just can’t seem to get anything done.  The kids are gone.  I don’t work in the regular sense of having to get ready and drive to a job.  Of course, the fact that we’ve moved after thirty-seven years of living in the same wonderful house might have something to do with it, since there are boxes of accumulated stuff that begs to be brought into the light and given a permanent new home.   She commiserated and then gave the answer:  “Electronics.”

“Electronics?”  Odd answer, till I let my addled brain soak it in for a bit.  She could be right.  Electronics have hip bumped their way into nearly everything I do.  It has been interesting to contemplate how much time I could devote to other things if I were to totally delete electronics from my life.  For instance, I listen to lots of books in a month.  It takes time to go to the library to search for books on CD.  Then I have to download them to my computer and then upload (?) them to my phone.  Or, since I have gotten pretty tech savvy, I go to Overdrive on my phone and choose books from there.  But still, it takes time to decide and to put some books on hold and some books on a wish list.  And when listening, it takes time to “rewind” often to see what I missed because my mind wandered.  A great deal of time is also used up untangling my headset.  Don’t know how that happens.  The simple solution to this time crunching dilemma would be to quit listening to books.  But I am hooked and have found my “weed of read.”

Texting takes a vast amount of time from me.  I am a one finger texter even after practicing the two thumb method that even Brad has mastered.  It’s no good.  I can’t move out of the one finger slow lane. Then I have to re-read and re-text what I’ve written to make sure my real meaning has come through.  Phoning would be so much easier.  That used to be when I got all my tedious work done—when having a great conversation on the phone.  You can’t scrub toilets while you’re texting.

I really don’t watch much TV.  The final episode of Downton Abby has aired and I haven’t even watched it yet!  Do not tell me what happens! Thanks.  But when I finally do want to watch something in particular on TV, I have to relearn how to get it in the right input, look for the right channel out of about 300 and find the right remote for the sound bar.  It takes time.  Much more time than simply walking up to the TV to turn it on, raise the volume and find the right channel out of four.

Facebook takes time.  I just want to scroll through quickly to see if anyone has gotten married or died and invariably I will get sucked in by a “Watch this, you won’t believe it!” line.  Then that site takes me to another.  I mean, who could possibly pass up the opportunity to know what has happened to former child stars or how to tighten saggy skin?  Those things are very important to one’s social standing.   Then, because Brad and I have our computers on the kitchen table for our constant perusal,  he tells me of indispensable knowledge he has learned, and I am double whammied with imperative information.  All very time-consuming.

And speaking of Brad: the day is fraught with “Where’s the_______________?” and “How do you______________?” and “Will you please________________?”  I just get going on a project like riding full speed on a bicycle when those questions throw me off course like a stick in the spokes.  To be fair, I do the same to him and he is much more patient than I, but many minutes are spent in the answering.

Soft water has nothing to do with electronics, but I have found that it takes forever to wash soap off with soft water.  I spend way too much time in the shower trying to get the same feeling I used to get with hard water.  I will conquer that idiocy soon.

Another thing that takes too much valuable time is deciding what to do when.  Or standing in my crowded closet  trying to determine the best choice of apparel.  I think my brain is running in molasses mode while my ambitions are tumbling over themselves in a water fall.

I always assumed that when the kids were finally grown, that time would be in great abundance.  I thought I would have ample hours to pursue all my interests with lots left over to wallow in luxuriantly.  I was wrong.

Perhaps the world is spinning faster, pressed on by an impatient God eager to get this phase of His creation over with.  Perhaps my body and mind are just slowing way down so that it looks like the world is spinning faster.  Perhaps I should just enjoy every day with its allotted minutes and quit taking so much time to analyze everything.

Well, it’s time to get back to my To-Do List.  Maybe I should start calling it “To Don’t.”

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HUMBLE PIE

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Elizabeth Willis Barrett……….February 2016

Well, I’ve had another taste of humble pie.  Have you ever tasted it?  No? How could I describe it?  Bitter?  Grainy?  Unpalatable?  It is thoroughly disgusting.  It might taste like crow.  I think they’re similar.  When it comes to pie, I much prefer coconut cream.  Since coconut isn’t allowed in our house because of Brad’s strong aversion to it, I don’t get that kind very often.  But apple pie—at least Sam’s Club apple pie with the beautiful pastry lattice work—is a close second if warmed a little and piled with a great vanilla ice cream.

But back to humble pie.  I’ve had to eat it a few times lately and I still haven’t developed a taste for it.  The last serving came on Friday.  Because Brad was so concerned about me after I received the traffic ticket, he was going to be my ally and get to the bottom of Policeman X’s rudeness.  He called the commanding officer and a few others at the top.  Fortunately, those higher ups were busy and couldn’t get back to him.

Our very good friend Officer B came over, however, taking some valuable time from his beat.  All policeman carry video cameras so all of their doings are recorded just for the likes of me.  Before Officer B sat at our kitchen table, he had watched the video of the police officer giving me the ticket. I thought, of course, that he would tell me how misused I had been and how sorry he felt for me and that Officer X could have handled things much better.

He didn’t.  In fact, he said that he would have done and said the same things if it had been him giving me the ticket, excepting that he would have lightened up a bit just because he knows me. I learned a lot.  Because I made such a public fuss and according to Officer B was in the wrong, I feel a need to tell you what Officer B taught me in case an officer stops you on his way to keeping Gilbert safe:

—Most traffic cops give out about 40 tickets a day. I was just one of many.

—Officer X was not upset with me.  He was just doing his job.

—He was not rude or overly unpleasant.  That was my perception.

—You cannot get out of the car when you’ve been pulled over, even if a grandson is waiting.

—Police also have to protect themselves and don’t know if you are a harmless grandmother or a pistol totin’ one.

—It is routine to do a background check on everyone pulled over.

—Most people do not pull over where the officer tells them to.  They try to find a more suitable spot and once in a while that turns out to be a very dangerous place for the officer.

Officer B offered to take me in his patrol car any time I want to get a feel for all a policeman has to contend with.  He said a Friday night would be the most exciting.  Although a wild police ride would be a unique thing to add to my bucket list, I’m a little too wimpy to schedule it just yet.  It was a very generous offer though.

Gilbert Police Force, you’re doing a great job.  Carry on!  I’ll try to quit impeding your progress.  And someone—pass the pie—coconut, please.

HALLOWEEN? SCARY!

Kyle

Elizabeth Willis Barrett………………November 1, 2015

I need to add to my list of disliked holidays.   I have made it very clear that I am less than a lover of Christmas.  I’ve said it so much that people who I didn’t think were aware of my idiosyncrasy, have become a bit confrontational.   I will probably have to write more on that subject since we’re now in November.  But today I will talk about my least favorite of all holidays:  Halloween.  For many, Halloween is their all time favorite holiday, even embracing it more than Christmas.  I don’t understand it, but I realize it.

Last night I HAD to go to a Halloween party.  A HUGE one.  Probably about 1500 Young Adults in an unsuspecting park.  We couldn’t even go late because our car was used for Trunk or Treat and had to be decorated. At least I didn’t have to do the decorating.  Plus, we figured we’d have to stay until the bitter end because of the same dilemma—our trunk was needed.  Young Adult hours are considerably later than Old Adult hours, so I was bracing for a late night of wandering and schmoozing.  Brad is a great schmoozer.  I am not.

Since we had just returned from a two day outing with some of those Young Adults and hadn’t slept the long and peaceful sleep of the undisturbed, I was anxious to give up Halloween all together and crawl into my own dependable bed for a long hybernation.  But no, I had to quick get into some kind of Halloween costume and hurry over to yet another gathering.

I have one go-to Halloween costume that takes no elaborate preparing, makeup or clothing.  Well, two.  I was going to wear a gray sweatsuit but I must have packed it when we crazily got the notion of selling this house and moving—more on that another time.  So I just wore black pants and a black shirt and safety-pinned socks all over me.  I went as “static cling.”  I don’t know who first thought of that as a costume.  Probably someone else who hates Halloween and wanted to get to some party with the least amount of preparation.

It is a little hard to “static cling” yourself, but Brad was busy trying to get ready and I didn’t want to ask him to stop and help me.  He has a floppy hat and some fake glasses that hold a fake mustache so he thought he was in great shape costume-wise.  Unfortunately, he had packed his glasses at the same time I was packing up my sweatsuit so he had to scramble for a costume.  Quickly he chose my second go-to costume: a ham sandwich.  This was a little difficult to create since I had also packed up the construction paper that would have provided all the colors we needed to turn him into a memorable ham sandwich.  But I hadn’t yet packed a roll of butcher paper and thankfully found a roll of green plastic table covering that hadn’t yet been included in the packing frenzy.  I cut out two pieces of bread from the brown butcher paper and two lettuce leaves from the green plastic and quickly safety-pinned them to Brad—a piece of bread and lettuce leaf in front and a piece of bread and lettuce leaf in back.  At least the ham was authentic.  He would also have made a believable bologna sandwich.

 

We finally got to the party.  Once again I found myself climbing to the side of the minority.  Of the 1500 gallivanting through the park in their very clever costumes, most looked like they had a love affair going on with my un-beloved holiday.  Halloween was well honored and celebrated.  And to be fair, I had a very good time visiting with friends and commenting on superb creativity.

I like my life.  I like what I do.  I have always considered time to be a very precious commodity and I’m heading to the scarce end of it.  The thought of taking valuable time to decorate the house with ghoulish specters or to dream up time-consuming costumes just doesn’t sound very inviting.  I’d rather take the time to practice photography, or practice writing or practice my “just the right size” guitar.  And now that Halloween is over, it will only be minutes before the need to prepare for Christmas will be hollering at us from every direction.  Aaaaaaaaaa!

I give thanks for the welcomed holiday in between—Thanksgiving.  My favorite.  I’m with my family—the absolutely most important people in the whole world—for an un-pressured  day of good food and gratitude.   And all Thanksgiving asks of me is some beautiful fall leaves and one huge, delicious meal……Plus lots and lots of thanks.  I’m up for that.

 

 

ANOTHER AGING VENTILATION

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ANOTHER AGING VENTILATION

Elizabeth Willis Barrett…………..March 2014

 

The other day Brad and I drove separate cars to a detailing shop so Brad could leave his car there to be detailed.  There was a slight problem owing to the fact that  Brad hadn’t brought the shop’s address or phone number and thought he could just find it.  But he couldn’t.  It was sort of my fault that he couldn’t find it because there was heavy traffic on Baseline.  Because Brad knows how much I hate to turn left when there is even a moderate amount of cars whizzing and honking by, he turned right which was very thoughtful since I was following him.  But that put him in unfamiliar territory as far as the detail shop was concerned and he couldn’t remember if it was closer to Broadway or Southern.  The lack of knowing made for several turns and backtracking.

Finally I called him (thank goodness, he remembered to bring his phone which isn’t always a given) and said I would just park somewhere and he could tell me where to find him after he knew exactly where he was going.  Trying to follow him in tight circles behind the wheel of a potential weapon didn’t seem like a very safe thing in my opinion.

“No,”  he said.  “It’s here somewhere.”

Finally he did find the detailer after stopping a couple of times and squinting at the road sign to see if it said Broadway or Southern.  And, by the way, which comes first—Broadway or Southern?  It’s funny how things like that escape your mind at times.  Again, I will take some of the responsibility for getting lost.  No, I will take a whole bunch of the responsibility, since my left turn phobia made him come at the shop from a different angle.  What’s a little more guilt added to the great weight of guilt that I insist on carrying everywhere I go?

When he finally left his car with the attendant and got into mine he was very frustrated.

“I don’t want to be old,” he said.  “That’s what an old man does: wanders aimlessly and slowly and shuffle-y looking for things.   I don’t want to act like that.”

“Neither do I,”  I said as I pawed through my purse, forgetting what the object of the pawing was.

“See,” he said.  “That’s what your mother used to do.”

“What?” I asked.

“The rummaging.  The rifling through your purse. That’s what your mother used to do.”

He was right.  I felt just like her as I pawed with seemingly no purpose.  A definite sign of aging.  What a pair we are, Brad and me!

“Aaaaaaaaaaa!

The drawbacks of the aging process  hit me once in a while and I just have to vent.  I feel like Diane Keaton’s character in the movie And So It Goes when she splays her arms and says with an emphatic grimace, “I’m sixty-five.  Uuuuuuuuuu!!!”

I do not like growing old.  There must be a better way.  I know, I should be glad to still be here on this fabulous earth and I should enjoy every minute and relish the now.  But aging is a big deterrent to relishing the now.

The other day I found a hair on my chin.  A dark hair!!! What was that doing there?  I have always been blond.  How long had it been growing?  How many people saw it before I finally did?  What would make a hair grow on a chin that has never had a hair before?  Weird things happen as you grow old.

Another sign of my own aging happened when I bent over to pick up something off the carpet.  I couldn’t tell what it was and I turned it over and over until I felt my mother slipping into me again.  She had done that action often in her old age, turning something over and over in slow motion trying to determine what treasure was indicated by a scrap found on the carpet.

Slow motion is becoming more of a companion to me and not an amiable one.  What happened to my drive, my focus, my hitting the deck running?  And weight that used to roll off without much trouble has become attached to my middle and it seems to delight in giving me a backache.  Arthritic thumbs add to my annoyance.

If age was honored and respected and not snickered at, it would help a little.  This might be a good time to move to old-people-loving China.  Hopefully, Brad will go with me.

NAPOLEON DYNAMITE??

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NAPOLEON DYNAMITE??

Elizabeth Willis Barrett………..January 21, 2015

The first time I saw the movie Napoleon Dynamite was in Rexburg, Idaho, with my husband Brad, and my two youngest—Kyle and Allison—who were in Rexburg going to school.  We had traveled all the way from Arizona for a short visit and had some hours to kill.  And they were definitely killed in my opinion.  Shot through.  Kyle and Alli had seen the movie already and couldn’t wait to watch it with us.  There had been so much hype about it that I was ready to have a great experience with half my family.

It turned out to be a very slow day at the movie theater.  We got in our seats after the film had started and since we were the only ones in that particular theater, they started it all over again just for us.  Kind.  If they had started from the ending and played the whole thing backwards, it would have had the same effect on me.  I was completely unimpressed and once again my lack of humor sense was made manifest.  That was truly the dumbest movie I had ever seen—up to that point.  I think Nacho Libre would create a very close race if the two should run a 1/2 marathon together.

Kyle and Allison kept looking at us to see our reaction to this very unorthodox film.  Most of the time they could hear Brad’s reaction because he was laughing uncontrollably.  If there had been anyone else in the theater they might have asked him to keep it down.   But I must have seemed like a matronly Queen of Hearts at a quilting bee.  Not a guffaw, not a snicker, not a smile escaped my pierced lips.  I think my left eye brow was raised during the whole pitiful showing.  The movie wasn’t funny.

Again, as I have been made very aware of on many occasions, I was most likely in the minority.  I think I am in a perpetual minority.  I would be standing practically alone in a group of 1000 people if we were to choose sides of a room according to our likes and personalities in a variety of categories.

“All those who like chocolate go to the right side of the room.”  I’d be left alone on the left.

“All those who prefer Barbra Streisand to blue grass music go to the right side of the room.”  I’d be left alone on the left.

“All those who love to stand outside and chat rather than clean out a closet, go to the right side of the room.”  Again, I’d be left on the left.

This would not be a good thing to do on a boat.  The weight wouldn’t be balanced.

As we came out of the theater at the end of N.D., the sweet girl at the candy counter asked how we’d liked the movie.  In answer, I turned around and waved a bemused hand at Brad.  He could barely walk because he was bent over in hysterics with Kyle and Allison laughing, too, mostly at him.  He loved Napoleon Dynamite.

When attributes were being handed out in the pre-earth life, I believe Brad was first in line at the Sense of Humor counter.  He can roll into a belly laugh quicker than anyone I know and at the slightest provocation.  I was probably queuing up for other qualities (I’m not sure which, at the moment) and totally missed out on the Humor distribution.  My Dad and sister are wonderful at seeing the funny side of things.  They must have been in that humor line.  You’d think they would have let me have cuts or something since I probably wasn’t patient enough to wait behind 4,376,000 other humor wanna-haves.

I wish now I had put in more effort to obtain a sense of humor because laughter can imbue the soul.  Maybe a little humor blew off the counter in my direction, though, because I do love to laugh with friends and family.  And even though Napoleon Dynamite did nothing for me, I once laughed right out loud in Three Amigos.

GET OUT OF MY MORNING!

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Elizabeth Willis Barrett………….January 13, 2015

I love mornings.  Not that I have gotten up early enough lately to claim their full benefits.  When I’ve had to catch a very early flight to Seattle or Salt Lake or take someone to a 5:00 am job appointment, I realize how much I am missing by not getting up at 5:00 every morning.  Getting to bed in a timely manner to allow a 5:00 am reveille hasn’t happened for a while.  But it really is a shame to miss those early hours when the sun is beginning to stretch and blaze its promise across the sky.  It is so beautiful and renewing.  To me, morning is when the vital doings of the day must be done. As the day moves along toward sunset, it seems to collapse and press down on all the remaining minutes leaving them rather unproductive.

If I had my way, I would wake up to an empty house with all other occupants hard at work somewhere else.  I wouldn’t need to help anyone find a missing phone or satchel or point out that the peanut butter is right where it has been for at least the last 10 years.  I wouldn’t hear the radio blaring out heart deflating accounts of kidnappings and murders and political sniveling.  My psyche is so fragile that an overheard bit of bad news acts like a stiff scrubbing brush to my good humor and sense of well being.  And although I really love to hear new insights on religion and the way of the country gained by deep spousal study, morning is not the time to pour any new found truths into my brain.  In the morning, the mixer of my cerebrum is whirring with other ingredients and extra bits and pieces are likely to get flung aside, my congeniality with them.

In the morning, I’m trying to concentrate on my weekly list.  It is a very long to-do list that I usually write out during Church on Sunday. I want to get on with the day and that list without any interruptions.  That is probably a very selfish desire.  But I’m just trying to put on my own breathing mask first so I can help others put on their breathing masks, so to speak.  And to me, that means getting certain things done in the morning.

For instance, if I don’t “stretch with Jane” before 8:00 am, the opportunity for that particular get-it-done item will be gone for the day. Without this stretching (which I have tried to do every morning for about 30 years since I discovered the wonderful DVD of Jane Fonda called “Start Up”) my aging body will just quit moving all together, and what help would I be to anyone then?

Next, I need to be totally ready for the day—showered, dressed, blown, curled, contacted, made up.  It is very deflating to look in the mirror at mid-day and realize that several of these points didn’t get addressed.  Of course, by then even the addressed items must be re-addressed.  If someone wants me to do something—after my morning, of course—I want to be ready.

There are about ten things I really want to get done each day and morning is the best time to do them.  Without distractions, I could easily get them all done by ten or eleven and then I would be eager to get on with the interaction and saving of others.  Not that anyone will need saving by then or want to interact either.

Again I find that I am not only thinking outside the box but outside the universe of my family and friends who are ready to engage way before I am.  Maybe they’ve already secured their own breathing masks and they are trying to help me with mine.  As usual, I could use some help. That universe has tried for years to teach me that warm, wonderful people are far more important than crossing items off my lists. So, come back into my mornings and my days and my nights and I will try to be more discreet as I’m making a list and checking it twice.

CHRISTMAS—–AGAIN!

Christmas Nativity

Elizabeth Willis Barrett…………December 9, 2014

Well, it happened again. Christmas arrived before I did with it’s carols and lights and trees and store hype while I am still back in flags and fireworks and patriotism.  Christmas just seems to be on a faster track than I am.  I need time to allow the great Spirit of Christmas to seep in slowly so I can adjust and clear my head of incidentals like bill paying and house dejunking and family crises and Church callings.  But Christmas doesn’t tip toe in quietly and slowly raise the blinds until you can get used to the light.  No, it jerks you awake with a thunderbolt of hoopla which I never seem to be prepared for.

Part of the problem, perhaps the biggest part, is that Thanksgiving came a week late this year.  A whole week!  There should be a law against that.  Why can’t Thanksgiving be on the 3rd Thursday of November, not the fourth?  That would help immensely.  Then as soon as Thanksgiving is over we could be more attuned to Christmas and its incredible hustle and bustle. Actually, I think we’re all trying to do the H & B all year long and just accelerate the moves in December.

Last year I made a great attempt to be ready spiritually and physically for Christmas, trying to do something every day in its honor.  I was inspired by Scrooge’s classic sentence, “I will honor Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year.”  I sort of petered out by June but I was more ready for the season when it came barreling down the calendar and blasted into December—or rather, October.

But this year I can’t gather the warm blanket of Christmas wishes around me tight enough and I’m rather hanging out of the season’s joy.  Here it is December 9th.  Many of my neighbors’ lights are twinkling like little Christmas giggles and their trees are triumphant in their showcasing windows.  But our house stands in unlit shame and the Christmas tree still needs to be dragged from its year long cardboard entombment across the dry grass of the back yard and into the house that has just been scrubbed clean by the God-sent cleaners.

The many “So, are you all ready for Christmas?” inquiries made by well-meaning OCD individuals, who are just looking for conversation, embellish the problem.  They make you feel that if you are haven’t lit, hung, decorated, bought, wrapped, baked, read, visited, photoed, written and sent by the day after Thanksgiving, you might as well not bother.

This is about when my yearly mantra chimes in, “I will just make it through this year’s celebration and do better next year.”

But wait.  I can change that.  I can fling that sentence out of my head’s storage of useless jabber.  The years are thinning out for me and to miss the full joy of even one irretrievable Christmas would be counter to a life well spent.  So ready or not, it will not be hard to fill my mind and my soul with these sentences instead.  They can bring peace not only to me but to all:

And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.

For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.

What else matters?  Merry Christmas!