In search of story

January 8.21: Coping


A reflection, dear reader.

Today I turn 78. One becomes reflective when one turns 78 in a year of chaos and disease, when fear and rage, loneliness and grief dominate the human stage. But I was born into World War II. How can I not ask if anything has changed?

Food was rationed, bloodshed headlined daily newspapers, freight trains crisscrossed our lives carrying tank parts and spewing cinders, radio was high-tech, my mom and grandma walked to the corner store, a can of bacon grease ennobled every kitchen and bobby pins every dresser. Coal shoveled into furnaces. White shoe polish a household staple.

You have met my cell phone, humble flip-top that it is. You know it stopped working last month and then mysteriously started working again. Then, a couple days ago, it developed new problems. You may congratulate me vociferously: this time I did what any kindergartener would have done and googled the wretch. I learned that the trick was to put the phone into Airplane Mode and then toggle it out again.

Dear reader, who in the name of heaven would have the least inkling to do such a thing by way of problem-solving? I was irrationally proud of myself and at the same time miffed that I live in a world in which my life experience and hard-earned education seem useless.

As you know, this week has been hideous here but obviously something this mortally serious doesn’t just happen out of nowhere. And so I become 78 in a country with its principles in tatters. In a world where I need to know about Airplane Mode to have a working phone.

I have decided to look at it this way: 78 candles is a lot of light.




15 thoughts on “January 8.21: Coping

  1. LOL! Happy Birthday!! Well, if one has to be 77 and then 78 in order to compose such poignant and peace-giving poetry as yours, then I will look forward to it all.

  2. How did you know? One thing I’ve learned for sure through these years is that fun and fattening go together. I don’t have all the details worked out yet, but I feel sure tomorrow I’ll almost regret it. Almost.

  3. Happy Birthday to my friend with the best ability to use the English language that I know. 🎂 Your phone story could not have been more timely since I’m neck deep in that myself. I also found it quite poignant when you said “life experience and hard-earned education seem useless.” That is so true but hard to accept. Oh well, let’s dwell on fun, sweets, and lots of light. 🙂

    • Hear, hear! I’m all about the sweets and light, but I’m hard put to find the fun these days. Although I admit I find laughs in the darnedest places. I’m sorry to hear that you too are struggling with phones — it’s such a discouraging part of life. I totally agree that it’s hard to accept that our life experiences and formal educations seem useless, so I am working to NOT accept it. I’m also trying to not split my infinitives.

      Thanks for the Happy Birthday! My plan at the moment is to splurge on cholesterol and make myself a cheeseburger for dinner tonight. Doesn’t that sound decadent? Dessert has not yet been determined because it takes serious thought, but I wouldn’t be surprised if my car drove right up to Handel’s ice cream today all by itself.

  4. Yes, we’ve come a long way, baby! You definitely deserve whatever decadent way you may choose to celebrate. Handel’s sounds like an excellent option. I’m thinking of you today and sending love and good wishes.

    • Thank you! A long way indeed. Could either of us have seen back at Purdue the years as they would play out? I doubt it. But we navigated them and here we are. I am now navigating my way to Handel’s!

  5. Again, Happy Birthday dear friend. Handel’s is required!! ?Salted caramel?? Or something new. Great love!

    • Thank you! At the moment I’m torn between Chocolate Malted with Caramel and Peppermint Stick if they still have it. Will I be forced to get both? It is not impossible. Maybe there will be Tutsi-Fruitsy in Flavor of the Month and I’ll have to try that!

  6. A very happy birthday for yesterday! I trust you got the ice cream or other sweet pleasure? I feel I get good use of your education and experience from afar, so I am pretty sure you do. The flight mode is a kind of reset without having to turn it off and on again. It’s the phone version of a refreshing night’s sleep. I hope there is not information on the card that might be useful to people with bad intent. I know we should assume good intent but…

    • Thank you! Indeed I did get ice cream — and in the middle of the day, too, just to prove it was my birthday and I could do what I wanted. Then my wonderful family — all masked — came to the front door in the evening, handed me a giant polka-dot gift bag with cards and a personal-sized birthday cake plus a big bouquet of roses, then gave a lusty rendition of the Happy Birthday Song followed by a few elbow bumps and then took off. A true COVID birthday party.

      Of course I had no idea about Airplane Mode except it’s used on airplanes. Card? You mean the SIM card? Is that vulnerable when I switch to Airplane Mode? I assume good intent only from people I know. People “out there” are all villains until proven otherwise.

  7. Oh! I can be a little slow at times! I did think of that with the old ration card, and I couldn’t see anything that wasn’t public information. Thank you, though, for thinking of that! I can easily make mistakes in that regard, and I do want to be wary.

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