Wednesday, June 18, 2008

New Beginnings

I wrote a corny poem for one of my female friends who recently retired from teaching. I thought you would enjoy some excerpts because the advice is applicable to new retirees in other professions as well. Please remember counting beats is not “my thing.” I don’t aspire to be the next Shel Silverstein.

The first year in the real world you still will care,
When teacher friends call to share.
The second year away, you’ll pretend to listen,
While teachers tell their stories about lousy discipline.
The third year out, you will think about anything you can,
As those still handling students tell you their master plan.
Year four, when you hear school personal discuss their school’s situation,
You’ll shudder when you recall you once enjoyed this kind of conversation.
Year five you will learn to change the topic with hopes,
Your friends will soon retire, so you can show them the ropes.

You will offer them the same advice I now give you:
In the beginning, have no planned schedule.
Your life will now be one long summer vacation,
With plenty of time to get your chores done.
Each day is a new flower for you to smell,
Pick it and use the time to play very well.
Mah Jongg, Bridge, photography classes, or just lunch,
You’ll find your place, I have a hunch.

Think of your new life as a permanent luxurious cruise,
That has a total blackout of standardized test scores and other school news.
There is a whole world to enjoy that is very real,
A world where schools are just one spoke on the wheel.
You’ll meet new people, who have never heard of detention,
Lesson plans, interim reports, guidance referrals, or external suspension.
And after a few years these teaching memories will be surreal,
And sometimes you’ll wonder why you made them such a big deal.
Like me, you will come to enjoy each day of the week,
And realize the world of retirement is anything but bleak.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

U2, The Platters, and the Bump

“What’s ‘the bump’ signify?” I asked my young friend. I was referring to what the newscasters called the cute gesture the Obamas did with their fists.

“Don’t ask me. I’m old,” she said.

“You’re not even officially middle-aged. How can you call yourself ‘old’?”

“Easy. When I watched the Grammy Awards, not only didn’t I know any of the songs, but when I heard the lyrics of some of the winners, I thought they were obscene.”

I laughed and recalled the first time I realized was no longer “with it.” I was glancing at a teen magazine and saw “U2.” I couldn’t figure out why an article about an airplane was in a magazine about entertainers, so I asked one of my students.

“I can’t believe you’ve never heard of them – they’re a famous rock group.”

At that point, I realized that if I asked my class about The Platters, they would say they were trays of food, and if I asked the same question about the The Four Aces, they would say they were cards.

When was the first time you realized you were clueless as to what songs were in the top ten in the country and who was singing them?

Oh - my husband laughed when he read this while I was typing it. He says a lot of the athletes have been doing “the bump” during the games, and it means the same as a high five. My husband's pretty hep for an ol’ guy!

Monday, June 9, 2008

Senior Moments

My husband was reading an article about early warning signs of dementia. He asked me one of the test questions. “If you wrote three things on a paper, would you remember what they were in half an hour?”

“I would remember what I wrote, but I would have no idea where I put the paper.”

Momentary amnesia has plagued me my entire life. When I worked, I hooked my keys to my belt with an elastic stretch loop before I exited my car. This stopped me from locking the keys in my car as well prevented me from having to spend half the day looking for them. I didn’t remove the key ring from my belt until I was inside my home. Then I hooked it to the strap of my handbag.

The first time I had my lifelong habit of momentary amnesia linked to age was the year I turned the big five-o. I had walked to the rear of my classroom and stood staring at my file cabinets. I wouldn’t have given my mental blackout a second thought if I didn’t overhear one of my students say, “She’s like my grandma. She forgot what she went to get.”

Panic set in. Did my constant forgetting have more significance than I was ready to admit?

That night my husband reassured me that I was not suddenly “losing it.” “There hasn’t been a day since we met that you don’t stop in the middle of a sentence because you forget what you’re talking about.”

At the time, I concluded my brain froze now and then because it was in constant overload and needed a short rest. However, now that I’m collecting Social Security, the momentary amnesia I’ve had my entire life takes on a new meaning. Many others dread dementia or Alzheimer’s or else there wouldn’t be so many tests and articles in magazines and newspapers about the topic. In fact, a few days after my husband’s question, there was an article in the paper about the medical reasons for “Senior Moments.” It seems my brain started shrinking around the time the rest of my body started stretching – somewhere in my fifties.

I put down the article and came to a serious decision: as long as I can remember the three things I would write on the paper, I would not panic because I don’t remember where I put it. A lifetime of experience has taught me it will turn up eventually - probably in the lint filter of my clothes dryer. When I get to the point that I can’t find the dryer, I will begin to worry.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Did You Know ...

Last week I informed a friend that salt air causes clothes to shrink. Someone told me this, and I agreed with her 100 percent. It is the only logical explanation for so many passengers on cruise ships to have their clothing suddenly become too tight. It’s happened to me several times. Everything fits me when the ship leaves Ft. Lauderdale or Miami for the Caribbean. By the end of the week, both my husband and I notice a sudden tightness around the waist.

Another unknown fact is that gold rings shrink if you leave them in an airtight vault. Why else would rings I bought 30 or 40 years ago not go past my knuckle? In fact, when I brought the rings into the jeweler to stretch, his wife agreed the airtight vault was the cause of the shrinkage. So did two other customers in the store.

Now if only the cleaner could stretch my pants as easily as the jeweler stretched my rings!