Category Archives: Aging Well is the Best Revenge

Tiny New Light

I’m sitting on a couch in my daughter Rachel’s home in Chicago, holding my first grandchild, a boy, seven days old.  I’ve heard grandparents talk, ad nauseum, about the thrill of this relationship, but, as with having your first baby, you have no clue what it will be like until it happens.

I still don’t know the baby’s name.  Rachel and her husband, Jay, decided not to reveal it to our S smiling w Ffamily and friends until the bris—the circumcision and blessing performed eight days after his birth.  Traditionally, parents give the baby his Hebrew name during the ceremony, but Rachel and Jay wanted to do the same with his English name.  So they wrote it on his birth certificate and told no one else.

Months before, when they’d learned they were having a boy, Rachel asked me to plan the bris. I live in Colorado, so I wondered, how would I find a mohel—the man trained and certified to perform the bris—in Chicago?  Online, of course. The mohels are even rated on Yelp, and I discovered there are now female mohels, often former pediatricians, who refer to themselves as a “mohelet.”

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Marijuana Train Wreck?

“Isn’t it fun growing older in Boulder?” my friend, Sam, asked at a recent gathering. “Where else can you eat a cookie laced with marijuana and go to the opera? It’s legal, and it’s free!”

What?  Free legal medical marijuana?  Until the past week, that’s been true in Colorado.  But on July 1, the toughest regulations enacted by any state will go into effect.  At the same time, U.S. attorneys are threatening to prosecute the state regulators. Why? Because regulation will legitimize the business of medical marijuana, which is illegal under federal laws. Jeff Gard, a marijuana attorney in Boulder, says, “We have two freight trains heading toward each other on the same track, and it’s not clear who’s going to win.”

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Marijuana 2: The Wild West?

This is PART TWO about living in a state with legal medical marijuana, and why Attorney General Eric Holder is getting involved, concerned that this is de-facto legalization. To read part one, CLICK HERE.

After applying for a license to use medical marijuana, Sam* drives to the closest dispensary to his home in Boulder, Co. It’s called Holy Herbs and looks like a crash pad, with shabby display cases containing jars of grass and an old refrigerator filled with pot-laced edibles. A live iguana, the owner’s pet, sits in a corner.

Stepping over the iguana’s tail, Sam finds that at Holy Herbs, there’s no pretense about “medicine;” it’s about getting stoned. The clerk, Rebecca, who has a Ph.D. in physics but was recently laid off from her teaching job, asks Sam what type of pot he likes.

“I don’t know,” Sam says. “I’ve just bought whatever the dealer had.”

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Better than an Orgasm?

Gloria Steinem said not long ago, “At this age, remembering something is better than having an orgasm.” I get it. You try and try, then you stop trying, you think about the weather, you forget the whole thing and then, out of nowhere, bam! Here it somes. The name or word you couldn’t remember.

But how do you know if you’ve just had an age-related memory slip or if Alzheimer’s is knocking at your door?

For me, the alarm went off when I received an email from a woman whose name I did not recognize. “Hey,” she wrote, “I’m coming to Denver Friday for the state Democratic convention.” She asked if we could have dinner and could she possibly stay at my house?

Her name was vaguely familiar but I couldn’t pull up any associations. I went through the people I know who’re active in politics — nothing. I googled the woman, even saw a picture of her and still couldn’t place her. Either she knew me well enough to invite herself to stay at my home or she had outrageous chutzpah.

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The Zen of Swimming

Just watching the video made me anxious. I was sitting in my warm, dry home but I started to feel panic — water entering my lungs, struggling, choking.

I was watching a demo of Total Immersion Swimming (TI), given to me by Danny Peleg, my TI instructor, a former Israeli navy seal. The video showed a man swimming freestyle in a graceful, steady rhythm, barely raising his lips out of the water to breathe so you could hardly see when he was taking in air.

“I can’t do that!” I thought.

Danny Peleg – “Yes, you can.”

But this story is a testament to the fact that it’s never too late to learn something that scares you, and learning a new skill is the best antidote I know to depression and the blahs.

I grew up by the ocean, had swimming lessons and was constantly in the water, but I was never comfortable doing what was then called the Australian Crawl. Breast stroke, side stroke, backstroke—no problem. But with the crawl, I couldn’t manage the breathing. I’d suck in water, gag, sputter and after one lap I was exhausted.

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Fire! Again!

Just survived the second fire in Boulder in 2 months. This was much more painful for me personally than the last fire. The last one was way bigger and lasted longer, but that time, I only had to prepare to evacuate. This time, the fire fighters went door to door making sure we got out as fast as possible. I ran around for 45 minutes shoveling things into boxes, and trying to catch my cat. It took three firemen to corner her and stuff her into her carrier, scratching and squalling .

My cat watching deer from my office window, before fires

By the time I got to my friend Tina’s house, I was soaking wet, panting, and zonked on adrenaline. I couldn’t think straight. Luckily, I’d made a list of what to take with me after the last fire and tried to follow it, but: I took my computer but not the electric cord for it, took my printer but none of its cords. Grabbed all the jewelry and threw it in a box, and it’s now tangled beyond recognition.

The next morning, I woke up with cuts all over me and a terrible back ache. With adrenaline going, you don’t feel pain, and I was shocked to see blood on my legs and shoulder when I got undressed for bed. I lifted things I ordinarily would never try to lift. Bumped and slammed into things and felt nothing. Several friends tried to drive up to help me pack and load, but they couldn’t get past the fire barricades, so I was on my own. The closest I got to hysteria was when I couldn’t get the cat. I was the last to leave the neighborhood, and the fireman went for the cat so they could get us both out.

Today I’m putting everything back in order. Grateful the house is untouched and I’m okay. A sweetheart of a guy gave me a massage last night, which was the first time in 48 hours that my body let down and let go. For the first 24 hrs, it looked like the house would burn to the ground. My insurance agent had opened a claim. Another reminder – nothing is certain, we have little control over major things. Every moment is all we have. Spread the love.

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A Bear In My House!

I grabbed the phone, locked myself in a closet and dialed 911. When Officer Donovan answered and asked for my address, I screamed, “There’s a bear inside my house! And I’m alone!”

It began with forgetfulness. I put some eggs on the stove to boil, went downstairs to my office to answer emails, which led me to look up a website which gave me an idea and I started making notes. I smelled something peculiar, like burning plastic, and wondered if it was the computer overheating. A half hour later, I got up to get some water and remembered, the eggs! I raced up the stairs and found the rooms filled with smoke so thick it was hard to see. The eggs had exploded and the pot was a lump of hard black tar.

Cleaning up the mess, I opened all the doors and windows, hoping that cross drafts would carry away the smoke. I opened the garage and the door that led from the garage to the kitchen.

I walked back downstairs, brushed my teeth, sat in the hot tub (outside in the dark!), then started turning out lights and closing windows and doors.

I was heading upstairs when I heard a shuffling noise. One of the neighbors’ dogs must have wandered into the house. Then I froze. That was no dog! It was a bear, dark brown, with his rump to me as he padded down the hall between the living room and kitchen. He was at least four feet high on all fours.

“Get out of here!” I screamed, raced down the stairs and into my bedroom. What should I do? Call a neighbor? It’s 1 in the morning. Then I thought of 911, grabbed the phone and called it for the first time in my life.

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Go to Bed Makeup?

Here’s another fun part about aging: looking good takes more time and money, and I think we’ve got to draw the line somewhere.

For example: are eyebrows over or under the line?

I don’t know exactly when this happened, but sometime between age 16 and now, my dark, thick, Elizabeth Taylor eyebrows turned to wispy broken lines.

Before

I have friends who’ve had their eyebrows tattooed, but before resorting to a permanent measure I thought I’d consult an eyebrow specialist.

All roads lead to Valerie of Beverly Hills. In her lavender and cream salon, she does eyebrows for $75 while her associates do them for $40. Valerie is against tattooing because she says styles change and with time, the skin on your face will drop and your eyebrows may end up in the wrong place.

She sits you down in a chair, visible to all, and begins by coloring the brows to hide any gray. Then she waxes all around the eyebrows to create a clear palette.

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Tweet or Die?

What’s the scarcest resource of the 21st century?

Human attention.

That was the opening salvo at the alumni weekend of the Columbia Journalism School this spring. The theme of the weekend was, “The Future of Text.”

I earned a master’s degree in journalism from Columbia in the 60s. I’d never gone to an alumni weekend, but with newspapers, magazines and books expected to became extinct in our lifetimes, the choice is clear: adapt or die.

Columbia is determined to reinvent journalism. They’ve set up a new dual degree master’s program in journalism and computer engineering. (I’ve never met a journalist who could be an engineer, but I guess a new breed is mutating)

Columbia also created a department of Internet journalism, and they’re running boot camps in social media skills for their students and alumni.

It’s not enough to do great writing, they say. “You have to build, curate and enhance your online brand.” The school’s tech guru, Sree Sreenivasan, says “We still teach reporting, writing and storytelling, but your work has to be seen and your readers have to evangelize for it.”

I sign up for Sree’s two-hour workshop in social media. He says the Big Three are: facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. I’m already on two of them, so I think: I can do this.

 

He says the N.Y. Times just appointed its first social media editor, “to listen to social media and evangelize for it in the newsroom.”

Social media, he says, is where “radio was in 1912. TV was in 1950. The Internet was in 1996.”

Facebook has 400 million users. “It’s one of the biggest time sinks in history,” Sree says, and “it will continue to grow astronomically and consume people’s time.”

But here’s the problem. They’re constantly changing how facebook works and they don’t tell you when they make changes!

“Facebook is not helpful, transparent or easy,” Sree says. SO WHY DOES FACEBOOK RULE? Why doesn’t someone build a friendlier mousetrap?

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