Monday, May 21, 2018

Health and Money

It seems that if I'm not sharing news stories on social media, my social media ends up being all about health and money.

Health and money... money and health.  Trying to make ends meet on Social Security.  Trying to get the medical tests scheduled.  Struggling with medical bills that should have been/are/ might be covered by insurance.  Dealing with pain, blood sugar drops, anemia, migraines...

And yet these are the two issues most on my mind these days, and the issues that make me feel so isolated.  I don't socialize as much.  I have no money to go places, and the free places? Well, with the way I've been feeling, being anywhere too long, or sometimes just leaving the apartment is out of the question.  I haven't even gotten the dog to the dog park in days.

Things aren't DIRE.  My rent and utilities (in fact all my bills) are up to date.  I have food in the apartment, probably enough to last until my social security arrives.  What I don't have is money for the iron formula my doctor wants me to take, and money to get a couple pairs of pants (I only have two).  I'm not dying anytime soon that I know of.  I'm pretty sick most nights, and that makes me tired and gives me grief with pain and migraines during the day, but it's not like chronic illness is something new to me... and that I don't expect an increasing share of bad days as I age.

But what this all does is isolate me, and makes me feel even more like an outsider, someone who doesn't belong. 

Here in Petaluma, people have or come from money.  People have much higher incomes, and those who don't have family members (or ex-husbands) who are well heeled and pay for their apartments and give them spending money.  It's hard to explain, "No, I don't have $5, not even in my bank accounts, so I won't be going to senior bingo", or to exercise class, or to any of the other things around here that "just" cost $5.  I gave my last $5 to the senior center.  That day I saw the lawyer and went to a Middle Eastern dance exercise class.  Obviously one of those things they let me in free for.

I don't have people over here. I have limited seating.  My futon is just about it, that and two wooden chairs, and a slipcover chair that currently doesn't have a slipcover on it.  I need to replace the futon mattress (or the futon with a couch!) and get the cover for the chair, then I can invite a few people over.  Of course, it's hard to meet people to invite over when I don't get out much.

Now I'm not one of those seniors with overflowing apartments, with all the walls covered and everything stacked and packed throughout the apartment.  I believe in minimalism.  The one neighbor who came into my apartment looked around for a comfortable place to sit, and said "well, this is nice.  I suppose this is all you really need" but couldn't sit in the too low chair, and was too uncomfortable on the lumpy futon.  My walls are pretty bare right now (at least until I get some frames for some of my prints and photographs) and I do want to get some painting done, but there is hardly room on my little table for my printer AND my little folding easel. 

I know things will get better with time.  I have some medical tests coming up next week that will hopefully give me some answers. I have a financial plan which has allowed me to steadily increase my credit rating and pay off the car repairs, vet bills, and cost of my eyeglasses from last year, and I've got a shopping list of lower cost but still fairly nice things on that I can use to at least make my apartment more manageable.  But so far it's been some of those little things (toasters and the second hand smoothie machine that doesn't smoothie anything, the desk chair from the rummage sale, the spring coat...) that has kept me with less money in my pocket to do some of the things I want to do socially. 

Friday, May 18, 2018

Where were you in '62?

This weekend is Petaluma's salute to American Graffiti, which was filmed, in part, right here in Petaluma.

(click image to enlarge)
Map from Cruisin' the Boulevard Inc. 
This afternoon the celebration kicked off in the parking lot of the shopping center next door to the apartments, with a speech by the mayor and viewing of classic cars which would, tomorrow morning, be cruising through downtown Petaluma.

Of course I meandered over to take a look.  Many of the classic cars were from years after 1962, including some really nice Mustangs and some Camaros (I favor the former over the latter) and some reproductions (including the police car) and some of the actual cars and props from the movie.

the mayor kicks things off, and announces scholarship winners

this year's t-shirts and other memorabilia for sale

line from the movie, written and signed by Candy Clark, who played "Debbie"

"That's almost a motorcycle, and I just LOVE motorcycles!"

There is simply no way for me to have photographed all the cars.  In addition to those in the reserved spaces, there were many classic cars scattered throughout the parking lot.  Apparently, this was the biggest Petaluma's Salute to American Graffiti yet.

Here's a taste:

these cars were actually outside the main area, there were way more cars than reserve spaces!

inside the reserve area, you can see the booths in the background.

and there was one vehicle... obviously NOT a classic, which took advantage of a spot in front of three grocery stores... advertising ANOTHER grocery store:

There were also silent auctions and other fundraisers going on during this, some to buy AEDs (emergency defibrillators), and some to support the Petaluma High School auto shop program.

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Mothers (to)Day

When I was a young mother, holidays and birthdays were planned far in advance, and celebrated to the fullest.  I doubt that when my daughter was 2 that she understood that spending $2000 on Christmas presents and clothing and food and the tree was an outrageous amount for the 1980s.  I'm not sure my son understood that the ponies I'd rented for his birthday one year didn't arrive because of the wet weather.  I've hired clowns, baked for days and sometimes weeks before holidays, made my own Easter Chocolate Rabbits (and painted them in detail with dyed white chocolate) and no matter how poor we were (there was a year I cut up my towels to make teddy bears, cut up my clothing to make dolls, and bought a dowel to make a hobby horse) that every effort was made to make that day special, to make my kids aware that they were the center of my attention, and that this was all for THEM.

By the time they became teens, a lot of that fell by the wayside, and I would step aside and let them celebrate with their friends more.  They weren't as interested in spending the time with mom, and I was disappointed in some regards, but in others, happy, because this was the kind of independence that healthy kids develop:  they start to fledge.

I think that's where Mother's Day comes in, because the mom is left back at the nest, in most cases, when the youngsters fledge.  Her work isn't done until they leave the nest for good.  So she's still sticking around to support her babies until she knows they can handle it on their own.  Now with birds, they take off one day and there's no looking back. With humans, that varies to some degree.

I am not so old yet as to be feeble, but I'm not a young chick anymore. I think my kids still picture me as that fighting single mom who managed to buy them a house, who drove them cross country with few possessions to start a new life, who always managed somehow.  Oh, they know on a rational level that there's nothing superhuman about me, but they still expect, on some level, superhuman results.  I think they think I'm out here, a thousand miles away, adventuring.  And yeah, to some degree I do that... I mean, I keep LIVING, not merely surviving, the best I can.  But on most days I have to deal with chronic pain,  I have to wonder "is this new tumor cancer this time around?", I have to struggle with keeping food on the table and a roof over my head.  Life isn't all whale-watching boats and hikes in National Parks.

I am not Super Mom.

So on days like today, when I haven't seen any of my kids in about two years, when it's a day celebrating motherhood, I try to make that day as special for me as I made holidays for them.  Today I'd planned special meals for myself from breakfast to my evening treat of dipped strawberries and red wine.  I planned on making it a housework-free day.  I planned to just spend the day celebrating motherhood.

But to be honest, I'm just not feeling it.

My apartment is in the front of the building, near guest parking.  Today I'll have a front row seat to the same events that played out at Easter, only magnified:  cars rolling up and unloading men and women with flower and balloon arrangements to see their parents, some with grandchildren in tow.  Elderly (a little older than me) women in their Sunday best being lead out to cars by their grown sons for a Mothers Day Brunch.  This place is a hive of activity on holidays.  Then there are a few of us, the women like me, who remain behind, alone.  And while being alone is tough on a day to day basis, on birthdays and holidays it can feel like a gut-punch.

Maybe I expect too much.  I don't expect ponies and clowns.  And I can't say exactly what it is I want, what I need from today.  I just didn't want it to be something more than the little joy of knowing the laundry machines would be open for use because everyone else was out celebrating.