Fear of Fears

Fear of Fears

Other than a couple of crisis periods in my life, I was never one to go running to a shrink.  But this time, I was convinced there was something wrong with me.  Anxiety?  Social Phobia?  Post partum depression? I was never afraid of anything, and now, all of a sudden, I seemed to fear everything.  Driving at night; getting lost in bad neighborhoods; not being able to walk long distances; even going on a roller coaster.  So fearing my fears, I ran off to a shrink. “I need some medication,” I told her.  “I keep turning down invitations because I’m afraid of everything.  I made excuses to get out of going to a wedding because I was afraid I’d get lost driving there.  I turned down meeting friends at a football game because I was afraid my back would give out doing the long walk from the parking lot.  I don’t use my symphony tickets because I’m afraid to drive home from the city at night.  What’s the matter with me, Doc?  I was never afraid of anything.  Now I’m a trembling bowl of Jell-O!” So like shrinks do—because they can charge you more if they draw it out instead of just telling you the cold, hard facts right away—she asked some pointed, embarrassing questions. “How’s your vision at night?” “How does your back feel when you have to walk long distances?” “What happens to you when you ride a roller coaster?” So when I filled her in, she lowered her voice to a whisper as if she were telling a dirty joke she didn’t want others to hear, and said “Age.”  Yes, that dirty word we knock ourselves out not to own up to.  She explained the difference between irrational fears and simply being prudent about growing old. If you get dizzy and lightheaded and lose your balance...
My Toes Are Not Pointed!

My Toes Are Not Pointed!

I want to complain about shoes.  At my age I suppose I should resign myself to clunky black orthopaedic space boots but the fashionista in me rebels.  I can still remember the days when I commuted into New York City by train from the suburbs in my business suit and stilettos.  They weren’t 5 inches high like they are today, but they were a good 3½ inches.  I made the kids breakfast wearing them, dashed off to the train station, ran through the parking lot, caught the train and often stood the entire way, and then walked in them from Grand Central to 21st and Fifth Avenue.  I worked the entire day in them, including dashing out to stores at lunch, walked back to the station at the end of the day, and cooked dinner in them and put the kids to bed before taking them off.  They were like an extension of my legs!  And they looked great! Those shoes had pointy toes and thin soles that offered no cushioning.  Orthopedic docs told me I’d pay a price—they would throw off my back alignment and ruin my feet.  A small price to pay for legs that looked great! So here I am today with a bad back and bad feet.  The fact that I tore my ACL on a plane to Paris (don’t ask!) also gave me a bad knee.  It’s painful to walk or stand for more than 15 minutes and I spend a lot of time looking for a chair to sit on.  Wearing the correct shoes really helps a lot, but exactly what is the correct shoe and where do I find it? My needs are simple.  For my knee it’s essential that the shoe be flexible.  For my back I need the heel to be raised exactly one inch—anything less or more hurts.  For...
The Women’s Movement:  Did It Work?

The Women’s Movement: Did It Work?

Gloria Steinem, Betty Friedan and the women’s movement made a huge difference in this country.  Many of us are old enough to remember a time when Harvard and Yale were for men only, when women were turned down for jobs because of their gender, when there was no “equal pay for equal work,” and no school sports programs for little girls. I was one of a handful of women at an all-male university.  I paid the same tuition as the guys yet I wasn’t permitted to enroll in an art appreciation class because my presence would “hinder class discussion.”  I wasn’t even allowed in the gym.  After graduation, I entered what was then a predominantly male profession and was turned down for jobs, told bluntly, “we don’t hire women.”  The strangest part of it all was that it never occurred to me to object to these incidents.  Like many other women, I just accepted it.  It was the way it was. When the women’s movement was in full swing, I ran consciousness-raising groups in my living room while my husband went out with the guys for the night and my kids were asleep upstairs.  I was living the life of a traditional suburban housewife and mother—and I loved it.  No complaints with my choice.  Still, the sting of days past made me aware of the unfairness and the need for change. Fast forward to today’s world.  Many things have changed for the better.  When I talk about the way it was, my daughters—both professional women—can’t relate at all.  What discrimination? they ask.  They haven’t experienced it personally.  Although they don’t vocalize it, my impression is that they think women of my era were radical extremists, over-reacting to being “slighted.”  The lack of appreciation in today’s generation for what my generation accomplished for them disturbs me a bit. But then...
Joan Rivers: “Too Soon, Joan…Too Soon”

Joan Rivers: “Too Soon, Joan…Too Soon”

“Joan Rivers is dead!!!” my daughter texted me. Shock. We knew she was hospitalized in very serious condition, but dead? Total shock. And yet, why? Joan Rivers was 81 years old so it shouldn’t really be shocking. My daughter and many others knew that I idolized Joan Rivers, not because I was a fan of her comedy, although it did make me laugh, but because I admired this woman who was unstoppable, who succeeded against all odds and came back from every adversity. The award-winning documentary that gave us a glimpse into her workday was really inspirational to those of us still in the workforce at an age when we’re supposed to be sitting in a rocker on the porch. Seeing her energy, her quick mind and her attitude made us think we could do it, too. And in high heels! So around my house, no one was surprised that I actually felt a loss for a woman I didn’t know, but imagine my surprise when the entire country responded the same way. A special edition of People Magazine. A memorial service that so many turned out for. Media coverage everywhere. Yes, she was a celebrity but this was beyond just celebrity memorial. Joan, it turns out, was an inspiration to thousands; the multitudes who have experienced adversity, who have known what it’s like to be treated unfairly, had family tragedies, faced discrimination in the workplace, had children turn on them, spouses leave them, financial problems, and felt just plain tired and old at the end of a work day. She always came back and so we could, too. But this time she didn’t come back. There’s a scene in her reality show where she’s talking to her daughter, Melissa, before going into yet more cosmetic surgery and she tells Melissa not to worry, that if she never woke...
Get My Point?

Get My Point?

My six-year old grandson shares this with me but I wonder if anyone else does.   I prefer to use pencils.   I still remember the butterflies in my stomach that first day of school (100+ years ago!) when I left my mother’s safety net and walked apprehensively into that great big building.  There on my desk was a lined blue notebook and a box of crayons and I had brought my new pencil case (does anyone besides me remember pencil cases?) with a sharpener, an eraser and about six pencils, carefully sharpened to nice points.  I was in heaven and loved school the rest of my life. Technology has brought us a long way.  Like most others my age I’m on the Internet constantly, and I tweet and post.   I use Word and have an IPhone, an IPad and a Mac.  But I still have my love affair with pencils. They last forever, sharpening keeps them just right, and yes, you can erase!   Ever try to recover an e-mail you sent by error?  And you can doodle while you think.   Ever try to doodle on Word?  (You probably CAN doodle on Word!  But if so, I don’t know how.) Certainly eliminating pencils will save trees.  I read somewhere recently that an envelope company was going out of business because after all, who mails anything anymore?  We all pay our bills online and e-mail  our documents.  My local post office downsized to a small storefront and in both my town and the adjoining one the beautiful, big former post office buildings with the marble floors and murals on the wall have been turned into trendy restaurants. But I still take joy in holding and using a pencil. Am I a lone voice in the wilderness? Do you still prefer paper and pencil? By Rosy Prose  ...

« Older Entries Next Entries »