We are not alone

A new friend of mine, Janet Hulstrand, asked me if she could interview me about my downsizing efforts and my choice to donate all the money to Planned Parenthood and Immigration/Refugee services.  I was thrilled.  I was thrilled because she thought it was a great idea and wanted to know more about it.  Thrilled because maybe I can get the word out there to raise more money.  Tuesday morning, I donated $1100 to Planned Parenthood of Oakland.  Just from selling lots of my baseball memorabilia!!

IMG_5663.JPG

Janet does several blogs and she teaches a great writing course in France just an hour and a half south of Paris.  The one I was featured in is called Downsizing the Home: Lessons Learned:

https://downsizingthehome.wordpress.com/2017/02/10/creative-downsizing-selling-a-collection-for-a-cause/

I read quite a bit of the site and a number of blogs that Janet had written and relearned a lesson that I have to keep learning.  I am not alone.  There are many, many people out their with my problem, seeking help and doing something about it.  Everything is so much easier if we aren’t alone.  I got so much more done when another person just comes over to help me, it’s like borrowing energy!  Many, many books are being written about organizing, purging your house,  going thru everyone of your belongings and holding it.  Does this bring joy? Yes, it’s a keeper.  No, out it goes.  Not every book is for every person but I would bet that every person finds one of those books that speaks to him or her.

moving_on_coverb2.jpg
Linda Hetzer and Janet Hulstrand

Buy the e-book here:
Amazon
Barnes & Noble
Apple iBookstore
Kobo
(Important note: You don’t need a mobile device to read Moving On: you can download the book to your home computer or laptop by using a reader app, available free online.)

Please note that the authors wrote STUFF in capitol letters just as I do.  Go back to December and watch George Carlin riff about STUFF.  After you have a really good laugh, get your best friend and start looking at all the things you don’t really need.  I’ve come to the conclusion that when we have things we don’t need, it makes for a weight in our bodies, our brains get scattered and certainly we have less time.

This is a job/project worth doing.  Thank you Janet Hulstrand for making me Queen for a Day.  May we all have less THINGS when next we meet!!!

Learn more about Janet’s Writing from the Heart courses in beautiful Essoyes: https://wingedword.wordpress.com/the-essoyes-school/

http://www.theessoyesschool.com

A bientôt,

Sara

 

“Take me for a ride in the car car”*

Driving in the San Francisco Bay Area is a nightmare for me.  There are very few hours in the day when the roads aren’t packed with moving vehicles.  People aren’t nice.  They all seem to be in a hurry.  If you are in their way or they perceive you as an obstacle, you’d better not be having a bad day.  You will be honked at, be given the finger and many other things that if you are thin-skinned might make you cry not to mention have severe doubts about the humanity of Californians.

th.jpeg

When I first moved out here in the early 70s, traffic was a breeze.  People were nice.  They might pay your way across the bridge just because.  Of course, many of us were stoned but better stoned and nice than whatever this is and frightening.

traffic-jam-1231529.jpg

I was driving home from Albany the other day and the traffic down Marin Avenue was slow but moving.  Someone was turning onto Marin Ave from my right.  S/he had clearly waited as long as s/he was willing to wait and turned onto Marin missing me by centimeters.  I could feel my heartbeat skyrocket.  I’m in a rental car as I don’t own a car, don’t need one in Paris. Incidents like that turn me into a person I don’t like: angry, judgmental and scared.

148421596.jpg

When I was 16 going on 17 and learning how to drive, my father used to say to me “Sara, always drive defensively”  Being thin skinned, I thought he was criticizing me and I kept telling him I was a good driver.  I wasn’t.  I drove offensively.  I knew all the techniques for passing, driving in the snow, turning corners and did them well.  I drove like I was the only car on the road.  Now, being bullied and abused on the road here in the Bay Area, I know how absolutely correct he was.  I breath deeply.  I let anyone in who wants to go in front of me.  I stick the speed limit and pray the person tailgating me stays the one foot behind me.  I’ve noticed that I do arrive at my destination more times than not, feeling calmer.

You may be asking yourself “Why doesn’t she take public transportation?” and I’d say back to you “you clearly don’t live here or been here for any length of time”  There is very minimal public transport here in the Bay Area.  Where I live in the lower Oakland Hills, there is a bus that stops about a block away twice a day: to take children to their various schools and to bring them home.  A variety of very powerful people have been fighting building a high speed train from the Bay Area to Los Angeles, even though the money was there, successfully.  If I don’t want to drive, I call Uber or Lyft.  End of story.

Oh but I miss Paris transport.  If it’s not the best in the world, it has to be close to the best.  Where I lived on Git-le-Coeur, I was 3 blocks from the M10, 1 block from M4 and across the street from RER B and C.  I could walk across to the right bank and be at M1 and on and on. And there were sidewalks everywhere.  I could walk if I wanted.  Here there are often no sidewalks so walking puts one in the street–with those drivers I’ve been talking about.

Not only do we not have public transport, when you drive and look in other people’s cars, 80% of the cars have one person in them, the driver.  The United States has always been a car nation, the idea of the Road Trip was born here.  The suburbs as an idea became a reality when New York expanded it’s roadways and people could easily get out to Long Island.  Now to drive from Oakland to San Francisco, a trip of about 10 miles,  often takes an hour and sometimes two hours.  Two friends of mine had moved to Oakland many years ago because they could get so much more house for their money.  Two weeks ago, they announced that they were moving back into the City.  The commute was ‘killing’ them.

Well, you get the idea.  If you love driving, don’t live in the city or it’s suburbs.

A bientôt,

Sara

*song by Woody Guthrie

Action and more

Thank you to all of you who sent me feedback and ideas from my last blog. I’m including a couple of sites on the Internet to look at if you are interested.    One site is:

http://lrsandbox.com   — Living Room Conversations

“Our vision is a world in which people who have fundamental differences of opinion and backgrounds work together with respect, and perhaps joy, to realize the vibrant future we all desire.”

Another reader who empathized with my inability to look at The Donald’s hair sent me a site that changes any photo or picture of Trump into kittens!!!                                                              http://www.businessinsider.com/make-america-kittens-again-google-chrome-extension-replaces-donald-trump-with-kittens-2016-12/#when-you-search-make-america-kittens-again-on-the-chrome-web-store-youll-easily-be-able-to-find-the-extension-all-you-have-to-do-is-hit-the-add-button-and-the-extension-will-be-enabled-on-your-browser-1

“When you search “Make America Kittens Again” on the Chrome Web Store, you’ll easily find the extension. All you have to do is hit the “add” button, and the extension will be enabled on your browser.”

Here is another full of advice for protestors so that we can maintain without losing our minds;                                                  https://medium.com/the-coffeelicious/how-to-stayoutraged-without-losing-your-mind-fc0c41aa68f3#.g6j2p7vkx

For my part, in a quiet time yesterday (I am a meditator, though not formal meditation), an inspiration came to me.  I am going to sell all my baseball memorabilia and raise money for threatened agencies that up until now have received federal funding.  I have chosen Planned Parenthood and Immigration services formed protect immigrants.

https://www.facebook.com/Memorabilia-for-Great-Causes-Planned-Parenthood-and-Immigration-Help-242909892821412/?pnref=story

IMG_0737.JPG

People who have known me a long time have seen me collect memorabilia for many, many years.  I love baseball.  My home team is the Oakland Athletics.  We haven’t suffered as long as Cubs fans but we suffer!!!  Even more than objects from the A’s, I love the history of baseball.  I’ve been to the Baseball Hall of Fame many times.  I saw Rickey Henderson get inducted and then Frank Thomas get inducted.  Those weekends are very exciting for baseball fans as almost every Hall of Fame that is able to travel makes an appearance.

IMG_0736.JPG

So I have Good Stuff!!!  My friend, Janet, wrote me to say, “Sara, I love that you’re doing this. What a great combination of downsizing and political action! Kudos to you!!!  Please look at the Facebook page and if you know any baseball fans who might like some memorabilia and help these causes at the same time, please refer them to the Facebook page.16266297_243084889470579_4236391502622134759_n.jpg16265285_243084329470635_8921306945482307247_n.jpg

Most of my stuff is signed.  I’ve waited in long lines to get the autographs.  I’ve made my way on to the field to get autographs, been to baseball shows and made bids at auctions. I can’t authenticate anything.  I’m asking you to take my word for their authenticity.  And remember that you will be giving to some great causes.

I heard Dan Rather say that life in America feels like The Twilight Zone.  That is exactly how I would describe it.  Pulling all my memorabilia together, showing it to people and remembering when I got a certain item signed brings me back to the life I love.

A bientôt,

Sara

 

 

All my news apps

Sitting in my wonderful apartment in Paris, I felt very far away from the 2016 Presidential Election and the “peaceful exchange” of power during December and January.  I was sure that being back in the United States would make it more real, less dream-like.  Almost instinctively, I didn’t watch any news on TV except the PBS News Hour.  I had come to really appreciate the news stations in Europe that just report the news without opinions or jeering or humiliation – on either side.  It was refreshing, allowing me to make up my own mind.  The PBS News Hour is much like that.  Reporting the news and an expansion on the important stories during the hour.

Pbs-newshour.png

Still, I had news apps set to send me alerts of breaking news.  I had called myself a ‘news junkie’ before I left for Paris.  Now I just wanted to stay on top of the news, know what’s going on.  Last night’s news had me looking at Trump’s hair for more than 2 minutes—I think his wig, or whatever it is that he wears, had slipped and made a big ball on the left side of his head–while the announcers reported on his first full day in office.  I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry.

This morning, I woke up very depressed.  Of course, other physical health things that I’m feeling a bit powerless over are happening to me and certainly add to the blues.  But I haven’t felt this kind of depression in a very long time.  A lot of my good friends have been suffering since the Election.  I was far away and, even though I feared the worst, I just wanted to stick my head in the sand and “give the guy a chance”  As mostly billionaire white men were asked to be in his cabinet, I started fearing for the people who voted him in.  How are they going to feel when they start losing subsidies and whatever little health care the ACA had given to them?

Later this morning, I got an alert from the NYTimes about another executive order signed.  Suddenly I just couldn’t take it any more.  I have no control over what’s going on in Washington but I do have some control over how I’m going to feel each day.  I went to my iPhone settings and turned off all my alerts from my news sources.  I may stop the domestic digest of the NYTimes and only get the International digest.  I can handle that much better.

While I was writing, my friend Barbara sent me a YouTube clip “Make American first, the Nederlands second”  It made me smile, I need to smile.                                                                     https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mX_uFqc3WHI&feature=share

I also believe that the antidote to my depression is action.  I will have to do something.  Something that I’m able to do after a hip replacement surgery.  As a university student, I was very active protesting the Vietnam war.  I was a follower then.  I wouldn’t have admitted that at the time.  I couldn’t think very clearly for myself.  Plus, I was not alone.  Being a protester in the north against the War was almost a social event.  It’s important to me that I think clearly, that I do my protesting in a way that fits with my values and beliefs and my capabilities.

This is an on-going saga.  I’ve got four years to perfect my protesting.  One thing I will say about Trump.  He is definitely a unifier.  He has unified my friends and so many others, witness the Women’s Marches all over the world, in a way that hasn’t existed in a very long time.  More to be revealed…..

A bientôt,

Sara

 

La La Land

I’ve always been a fan of escapism: TV, movies, books, it doesn’t matter.  But there is something about going out to the Big Screen that does the trick without making you feel groggy  or hung over.

So while in the midst of my surgery anxieties on Tuesday, I took myself off to see La La Land by Damien Chazelle.  Since this isn’t Paris, I had to choose very carefully the theatre and the roads and availability of parking.  Without too much trouble, I arrived at BayStreet 16 AMC Theatres in Emeryville to see one of the Oscar contenders: La La Land

La-La-Land-2016-movie-poster-emma-stone-and-ryan-gosling-40144499-620-893.jpg

As the film started to roll, the screen announced that La La Land was filmed in panavision and therefore Cinemascope, in very large letters, filled the whole screen.  The curtains pulled back just like in my youth.  Coincidently, I saw Mr. Chazelle chatting with  Ben Mankiewicz on TCM classic movies channel last night.  Ben said “You filmed this film all over Los Angeles, yet you’ve tried to make it look like it was filmed on a backlot.  All the old films from the backlot days tried to make it look real”  Mr. Chazelle said he was aiming for something in between: magical!!!

large_9jCIVAHdlOspeutt6v232LpXjrr.jpg

The two men were introducing The Umbrellas of Cherbourg (go see it asap if you haven’t already seen it.  Go see it again if you have!!!) Mr. Chazelle agreed that this film was one of the biggest influences on La La Land.  I think he said he has seen it 17 times.  That’s close to my record of Singin’ In the Rain.  So even though, I’d seen Umbrellas of Cherbourg, I watched it to see the influences.  I liked it so much better this time around.

 

th.jpegI

I digress.  La La Land pays homage to Singin’ in the Rain (in the beginning and throughout the movie).  Boy and Girl meet the first time while in cars and immediately piss each other off.  Boy runs into girl again and almost knocks her over.  Finally boy and girl meet a third time and the attraction begins.  Neither Emma Stone or Ryan Gosling have great singing voices but that’s part of it’s charm as in Umbrellas of Cherbourg.  On the other hand,, they do seem to be very good dancers and I would have loved to have seen more of them dancing.  Listen to the two of them sing “City of Stars”.  Ryan Gosling is playing the piano and he is GOOD, very good!!!

The story is age old: trying to make it in Hollywood, the ups, the downs.  Everything about the movie is charming: the actors, the singing and dancing, the ordinariness of the characters played by the two stars and, as in many Gene Kelly movies, there is a fantasy number that is beautifully produced and executed.  I want to tell you the ending but you must go find out yourself.

Rotten Tomatoes calls La La Land Chazelle’s love letter to a by-gone era.  Yes! A wonderful era full of singing and dancing and the opportunity to escape and forget the present with it’s anxieties and powerlessness.  It worked for me!!!

A bientôt,

Sara

 

 

Making an informed decision

At some point in my thirties, I flew to Princeton from my home in California to visit my mother.  She was still teaching at Rutgers University Medical School.  For the first and last time, she tried to fix me up on a blind date with one of her medical students.  I don’t remember his name but I do remember it was the first time I heard the moniker ‘MDeity’. It was a moment when something fell into place.  “That’s exactly it” I thought.  It’s a fight to get oneself on equal footing and give and ask information.

I was told on December 19th that I needed hip replacement surgery, that the alternatives that had been suggested would only put off the inevitable and not be very helpful.  Since that day, I have received no other information.  Last Friday after a week and a half of trying to reach his assistant, the surgeon himself confirmed February 13th as the date I would have the surgery.

Over the three day weekend, I chatted up many people and the first question they asked me was “Will it be posterior or anterior surgery?” Huh?  Do I have a choice? or is it made for me?  Today is January 17 and I still haven’t met the doctor.  I have been trying to put together a network of support for myself and I have no information and have just found out there are two kinds of surgery.

I am very anxious, I will admit it.  Being able to meet with a doctor, bringing in a list of questions helps me quiet the scary voices.  And for the most part that has been my experience.  I belong to Kaiser Permanente and they have excellent physicians and surgeons and I’ve always felt treated as if I were an intelligent woman.  So what is going on?  I wanted to throw a temper tantrum in my living room as if I were five years old.  Instead, I called a friend and complained.  It did feel better.  Then I spent the next hour and a half on the computer reading about the two different kinds of hip replacement surgery.  I had to sort through the advertisements disguised as informative articles.  During which time, I was informed by e-mail that I had an appointment tomorrow with the orthopedist.  He only does posterior surgery.  If I want the anterior surgery, he has to refer me to someone.

I now know what the bones in the hip look like.  I know the part that will be replaced and I learned about the muscles that get cut and repaired (that’s where most of the pain comes from in the healing process) and the other long, ropey looking parts of me that the orthopedist has to push to the side to get to the hip.

Maybe I should have done this reading sooner.  I want to know exactly what will be happening to me.  I also have to do a lot of work.  My home has 55 stairs up to the front door.  I cannot come home to my house.  So I asked some friends, whose children are long gone, if they would accept me as a house guest/patient.  They have two small stairs to their front door!  I have to have people who will shop for me, cook for me, visit me, cheer me up.  I’ve been busy and, I realized, assuming I’d be meeting with the orthopedist and getting information from him that I know nothing about.

I am convinced it’s my job, and your job, to not let physicians get put into the MDeity role. We all have to do our homework.  But something else is happening also.  Doctors are given X amount of time to be with their patients.  They all have an enormous load.  I think what happened was a lack of time.  I fell through the cracks. And that caused me to feel extremely anxious, under-valued, even invisible so that my normal pre-operation anxiety blew up into fear and anger.

At my age, I probably can look forward to more than a yearly physical.  Shit happens and the older we are, the more shit happens!  We have to stay informed so that we don’t get abused in any way but also to make very good use of the time given us by overworked doctors.  I will arrive at my appointment with my long list of questions, I will act like an intelligent woman who deserves respect and I hope I make an informed decision between the two types of surgery.   Wish me luck.

A bientôt,

Sara

Interesting reading:  http://jaykrusemd.com/hip-surgery/posterior-anterior-total-hip-replacement.php

Stuff

When I learned that I was having hip replacement surgery and would have to stay in California for awhile, I had to move out of my Paris apartment.  I had to make decisions about what to do with all my stuff.  Stuff to put in storage in Paris, stuff to throw out, stuff to sell, stuff to take back to the US.

In 1986, the comedian George Carlin did a comedic piece about Stuff.  I remember laughing and identifying but never thinking it was a problem for me.  But when I started putting all my belongings in different piles, it was a nightmare.  I had so much stuff (I’m using this word on purpose because I can’t find a better one), I felt embarrassed and didn’t want my friends to see my living room.

I told my friend, Joy, that I couldn’t believe how much stuff I had.  Her response was “Well, you like to shop, Sara.”

Confronted with such a huge pile of my belongings every time I walked into my living room, I couldn’t help but think and ponder.  I realized that I have a hard time walking out of a store without buying something.  I have a hard time passing a favorite store that is having a sale.  I rarely buy retail.  I tell myself I’m saving money.  HA!  The way to save money is to not spend it.

soldes.jpg

In France, there are two state mandated Sales (Les Soldes) each year.  One in January and one at the end of June.  Each one lasts about 6 weeks.  These are not 10% off American sales.  These are true sales that start with 30-50% off and go deeper as the weeks go by.  I would count the weeks to the sales in Paris.  I had my favorite stores.  The first winter, I actually bought things I needed.  Living in Paris demanded much different clothing than living in California.  But as each sale came and I made my regular trek to each store that I loved, I started buying things that were lovely and nice but I certainly didn’t need.  It was just that it was a SALE!

Em-5-300x224.jpg

Then there is Emmaus.  Emmaus was founded so that people who truly didn’t  have much money could buy furniture, clothing, books, porcelain etc that they couldn’t afford anywhere else.  Wealthy people donated their possessions–beautiful things.  Somewhere along the line, Emmaus opened it’s doors to everyone.  The large Emmaus that I like to go to is in Bougival, in the western suburbs of Paris.  One had to have a car.  I would talk Barbara into going every couple of months.  I would find things there that I would never be able to buy elsewhere.  And just because it was inexpensive, I would buy it.  I never left Emmaus empty handed.

http://www.thegoodlifefrance.com/emmaus-shops-in-france-great-for-second-hand-bargains/

For almost a month I was dealing with STUFF. I went into a bit of shock.  I felt like an addict.  I cancelled a trip to Bougival.  I was going to donate things but I was afraid I would spend money.  I actually paid a friend to take clothing to Emmaus for me. I started unsubscribing to all e-mail communication that I receive from stores I like to shop at.  I learned the January Sales would start a week after I left.  Phew! I wouldn’t even be tempted.

I know I’m not alone with this problem.  And I may not be alone that something happens that shines a huge light on a problem area in one’s life.  I’m talking about it so that this information really sinks in.  I promised myself that from now on, before I take my credit card out of my wallet, I would ask myself “Do I need it?” “Where will I put it?”

I won’t do it but it might be interesting to calculate all the hours I have spent in my life dealing with my stuff.  All that time.  What will I do with this extra time?  For right now, I have empty out my garage of Stuff that I don’t even remember that I have.  I have to clean out a large storage area that also has things I haven’t thought about in three years.  I don’t have to worry about what I’ll do with my time.   I just have to worry about doing it before my surgery!!

A bientôt,

Sara