Thursday, August 22, 2013

Thoughts in quest of a light bulb

Spiritual Cinema Circle

It started with the hanging light in the back hallway going poof!

I've never been out of spare light bulbs, or any other staple for that matter. Ditto paper products, bread, or basic foods. Lately, however, it seems I've been running madly, if only to keep slightly behind where I should be.

Sighing in exasperation, I hopped into my car, thinking that the run to the store and back would be quick--and in my usual autopilot mode. Alas, the car battery was not responsive, for the second time in two days. The AAA rep came out, jumped the battery, and pointed out to me that the dashboard dial was on a position that was draining the juice. Oookay, after having this vehicle for almost five months, now I know...*wake up, Valarie, huh?*

The rep did advise that I "drive it around for awhile, maybe 20 or 30 minutes" to recharge the battery before turning it off. Because my planned trip to the store was only about 5 minutes tops, where to go in this impromptu day trip?

I drove down Olive, and turned left on San Fernando, going deep into Glendale's industrial zone, and past Los Feliz. I used to work in this area, and was struck by the changes to the business landscape that had happened in a relatively short span of time. Gee, the world has a way of moving forward, whether or not I'm paying attention...

On purely a whim, I turned left, and then right into Forest Lawn. Perhaps this post will creep some people out, and for that, I apologize. That's certainly not my intention. It's just that this trip of recharging my car battery had now turned into a journey of unexpected reflection.

"Resting places," a pleasant euphemism for cemeteries or burial plots, have always held a fascination for me. The older the plot, the longer I may stand and ponder about this person under the headstone, and those touched by this departed soul. Visiting a grave is a very intimate way to touch a microcosm of history.

I feel even more strongly since being personally affected by the Grandview Cemetery debacle (see my previous post of July 12, 2012).

So, back to my field trip. I slowed my cruising speed to a crawl, and shut off my car stereo as a gesture of sensitivity. I got it; being drawn here (yes, I believe I may have been) was about recharging a piece of my soul, even more than recharging my car battery.

At one of the first turns, I saw a sign, "Flower theft is punishable by law." Flower theft? Really? Is nothing safe? Who does that kind of thing, anyway?

I found myself looking for some hearses, or funeral coaches as they are known in the industry. When I was able to go to Grandview, and sit by the crypts where my relatives are interred, there was a particular hearse that seemed to be always parked nearby. As I would look up and address my late husband's crypt, I would joke to him that someday I would be rich enough to buy one like it, just to raise the eyebrows of my neighbors. Since we shared a nonconformist, slightly dark humor, I liked to think he was laughing with me...

What stuck me on my drive through Forest Lawn this day was that I saw people who were celebrating the life of a loved one, not just mourning their passing. And I thought, That's how I want my loved ones to remember me--happily. There was a large gathering at a picnic table here, someone seated in a lawn chair by a grave there, all to stop and reflect.

Somehow, the issues of a car battery and a light bulb were put in another perspective. Both were irritating in their moments, but were parts of a larger mosaic.

Breathing more calmly after this tour, I exited onto Glendale Avenue, and headed to the store. I'm glad I took this detour in the meantime.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Night Watch

Here I'm starting a post at 1:15 AM. Yes, my classical music is providing a lovely acoustic backdrop, and I can hear crickets outside my window...but given my usual busy Sunday pace, I have no business being up now.

I've struggled with periodic bouts of insomnia since I was a teenager. Now I attribute it to my arthritis, and the last few days have been particularly challenging. Not being one who is fond of staring at the ceiling, I may as well get up do something productive, and pray that blessed weariness will overtake me soon. I've read various articles that speak of insomnia being a common occurrence among us "oldsters," and sometimes when I check in with my Facebook/high school pals at this time of night, it is a theme that binds us.

Pain aside, I think I'm getting accustomed to what has come to be called a "new normal." I've already regained much of the mobility in my knee, so I've decided to give up the use of my temporary handicapped parking placard about two months early. It's a deliberate gesture of hope and confidence that I've finally regained my stride. The physical therapy, despite my high copay, has proved to be a sound investment.

Insomnia also seems to help me come up with ideas that, in the frenzy of daytime, would not occur to me. With the rest of the house quiet, I can let my mind wander without waiting for Mom to call out and have my creative flow interrupted. Making my to-do list for later on, or having flashes of insights about complex treatment plans, are wonderful benefits of such stolen bits of time.

A feeling of acceptance is coming over me. Without sounding nauseatingly Pollyanna-ish, I have a strong sense of confidence that my second half of life will be successful, that my legacy will be one that does my bit of the world some good. Tony Bennett turned 87 yesterday, and still has a career in full swing. That should be the case with me in 31 years.

Nighttime is also good for exploring all things nostalgic. Somehow, in the past couple of hours, I began reflecting on things that came to be comforting touchstones of my childhood -- the Reader's Digest that was always on the coffee table, for example. What articles I used to devour in those compact little issues, and still think of today.

Well, the Ultram finally seems to be doing its job, so I'm going to reacquaint myself with the mattress. 'Night, all.


Carlos by Carlos Santana

Something appropos from the Beatles: