Friday, May 27, 2016

Operation Just Reward

"Justice is a knee in the gut from the floor on the chin at night sneaky with a knife brought up down on the magazine of a battleship sandbagged underhanded in the dark without a word of warning. Garroting. That's what justice is."
 - Joseph Heller, Catch-22

Instead of musing on the unfairness of life, I thought I’d write about lifestyle choices. In choosing to use the term “lifestyle” instead of, say, life, I deliberately set the bar of philosophical depth at about twelve inches. I mean, you could still drown in this post, but you’d have to be pretty drunk.

Now, by lifestyle, I don’t mean the latest topic of the politics of division: transgender rights and all the carefully crafted euphemisms we now tiptoe through in such discussions. Due respect, but I’d be a neutered dog in that fight.

I mean choosing the penultimate stage of life – the one we chose while we can still compos enough mentis to be as independent as possible and minimize the responsibility for our own maintenance and upkeep.

No more lawns to mow. No more stairs to haul laundry down and back. Uber and curbside assistance. Grocery delivery. A landlord to replace light bulbs. Utilities included. In-apartment laundry. Proximity to life-flight and good ER response times. Seriously? Sadly, yes.

For my next trick: an apartment on the 16th floor of a building with a steakhouse adjacent to the “controlled access” lobby. My mission is to make this the next act of my lifestyle choices. The current act began when I bought an expensive piece of furniture from my sole savings in a color that wasn’t brown. I bought a comfortable couch in green and loveseat in blue: the colors of my freedom from brown and dark wood. Then, when my spouse died on the green couch, I sold the whole house and moved out of state, leaving my former lifestyle – real and imagined – behind in San Diego. I took the couches to Seattle, but they're staying behind when I move. I’m buying a new couch in greige.

While I will dearly miss Paulo, my imaginary pool boy, I’m thinking there will be a doorman. I’ll need to find some American heartland name instead of the vaguely un-PC Hispanic name. (I love the Hispanics, and taco salads and mild salsa as much as the next pumpkin though. I have a tremendous respect for the Hispanics. Ask anyone.)

My imaginary doorman’s name will be Corey. Is Corey. If there is any justice in the world for privileged boomers who outlive their spouses and live on double dip pensions and consult their tax advisors about where to invest that mandatory 501(k) distribution, it would compensate us by providing individualized Coreys to offset our failing health. 

The world’s most entitled generation will not go gracefully into the good night, leaving behind a totaled economy, political system, effective antibiotic treatment and, well, planet. We’ll spend our children’s inheritance first. Therefore, along with my prediction that the next trend in senior living will be leaving the coasts and moving to a small Midwest urban center or a mountaintop in rural New Mexico; and that seniors will take over Uber like we took over Facebook; I have one more prediction.

Expect an uptick in “assisted” suicides and sudden deaths in my generation, as our middle-aged former latchkey children implement Joseph Heller’s justice on their clueless parents. My apartment  pictured at left has a balcony and my balance is tricky these days... Corey, help!

Friday, May 20, 2016


When lilacs last in the dooryard bloom'd,
And the great star early droop'd in the western sky in the night,
I mourn'd, and yet shall mourn with ever-returning spring,

Ever-returning spring, trinity sure to me you bring,
Lilac blooming perennial and drooping star in the west,
And thought of him I love.

 - Walt Whitman, Memories of President Lincoln

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

For Now

Joe Gillis: I didn’t know you were planning a comeback.
Norma Desmond: I hate that word. It’s a return!
-       Sunset Boulevard

I visited Iowa. It’s not like any other place. Wikipedia says my new midwestern home town has extreme seasons – hot summers, cold winters. It feels so uncrowded it might as well be empty.  It feels new and clean after the moss and pollen covered surfaces here that are interrupted by ant hills.

Before I left Seattle, a rheumatologist x-rayed my hands swollen with arthritis and took some blood tests and when I returned for results after my visit to my latest forever home, offered to write a prescription. No thanks. I know a lot about what isn’t wrong with me; and a lot about what is wrong but isn’t bothering me. I got a referral to a dermatologist next.  My skin itches and I'm losing enough hair to make a small pincushion each time I shower.  

Meanwhile, I saw my new apartment. Building occupancy is a bit behind schedule. We had to wear vests and hard hats and be accompanied by a construction guy. The local news says that the most recent construction scandal/delay with the project was a complaint filed by a contractor a mere month ago. He complained of concrete dust that isn’t being cleaned up and poses a danger to workers exposed to it daily. The state is investigating, and the contractor was fired. This is just the latest in the problems that have plagued this historic building. After years of neglect, the building was to be renovated for condos a few years back. It was shut down for violating laws about proper removal of asbestos. The investor who spearheaded the upscale condo reno went to jail for a few years and then killed himself when he got out and was broke and disgraced. Funny, the sales agent mentioned neither, nor did she speak about the delay.

Back home, summer in Seattle is nicer than winter even though it pisses rain every few days and remains in the cool 60s. It doesn't rain enough to prevent plants from wilting or to wash the pollen dust off the cars. I’m going to have to figure out how to turn the outside hoses on. 

Meanwhile, I’ve been taking care of business inside. I fixed the problem of the collapsing bed by replacing 4 too-short 4” wide slats with six longer slats each 6” wide. I got some screen drain covers to catch the hair in the shower. I'm doing some leisurely unpacking, sorting, disposing, repacking of stuff in the garage. A casual observer might think they see more of a mess in the garage - but would be kicked in the nuts if disparaging comments slipped out. A casual observer would be wrong: that pile is empty boxes. The trash has been picked up. Another pile is to give away; and the final pile is to be consolidated and re-packed. So, shut up.

I’ll probably return to the midwest later this summer. Maybe by then either the rental agent will be able to give me a precise date, or I’ll get the hint that this place is cursed and look elsewhere. I'm pretty mellow about my return.