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Saturday, January 27, 2007

Our editors request short, snappy blog posts, so I'm continuing the Baby Boomer generalization dissection of definitions posed in Wikipedia.

Like this one, for example:

"Many boomers focus desperately on the successes and failures of their children."

Anyone who ever attended a little league game can vouch for the accuracy of the above statement. Add beer to the mix and it's a free-for-all of parental puppetry.

Maybe Boomers are overcompensating with their own children because they were raised under a foreboding fear of SHAME "How could you do this, do you know you are killing your mother!" and HUMILIATION "What will the neighbors think!"

Maybe our generation was such a let-down after the pride experienced during World War II and we are trying to make up for it through our kids.

Maybe it's a futile attempt to make up for the loss of extended family, for working all the time, for our own neurosis, you know, some of the men never hugged by their fathers...Some of the women scorned for leaving the kitchen for careers.

I can tell you we weren't raised to dote on children. My brother biked 6 miles one way to get to football practice. My dad was at work and my mom didn't drive. The extent of parental involvement was attending the annual school Christmas concert, teacher conferences, an occasional game of Yatzee at night, and a summer trip to the Wisconsin Dells to ride the Ducks and see the Indians selling their wares along the side of the road.

I was brought up Lutheran and much like the people in Lake Wobeggon we learned at a young age 1)Don't talk about yourself (although lamentations were allowed) 2) Don't boast or brag about anything 3) Don't call attention to yourself and 4) If praise comes your way, deny it, practicing phrases like "are you kidding me? I hate my hair!"...."You mean this old rag?" .... "She got straight A's because the classes were so easy"

Who knows what is right or wrong, although some people claim to. The age-old quest of the sage, I suppose, is a life of balance, which, like a brass ring just out of reach on the merry-go-round, I can't quite seem to grasp.

Friday, January 26, 2007

MSN now has a new lifestyle page for Baby Boomers and I thought I'd take a look because I'm supposed to be one.

I was immediately horrified, coming face to face with a gray, mustachioed Dick Van Dyke.

Help me please, I am not one of you.

I used to watch that show when I was kid.
The best episode: when Laura Petri got her big toe stuck in the bathtub faucet. Because of that show, I never put my toes anywhere near a spigot. (See how educational television is?)

So I checked out Wikipedia to see who the baby boomers really are.

The explanation reads like some kind of rocket science. There are Baby Boomer #1s, those born between 1946 -1954; and Baby Boomer #2s (1955 to 1963) also known as Shadow Boomers; not to be confused with the children of Baby Boomers, Echo Boomers.

The defining moment for all 80 million of us, it said, was the Vietnam War, and the new generation of thought that blasted forth.

The blast was short-lived and seemed to take an about face.

According to Wikepedia:

Many boomers focus desperately on the successes and failures of their children.

The generation's tendency is to regulate personal behavior (as in alcohol, drug use, and the content of cultural creations)in a way sterner than that of the "uptight" adults that boomers knew during the Consciousness Revolution. As an example, boomers have been in the forefront of efforts to attack the pathologies (drunk driving, domestic abuse) of drunkenness and drug use. Boomer prosecutors have shown unusual willingness to impose severer sentences on criminal offenders, including "three strikes" laws and the death penalty.

Boomers have played a strong role in attempts to make America more overtly religious. Many have turned to fundamentalist Christianity as a solution to what they see as social rot. Thus, one finds a rise in creationist dogma and the promotion of prayer in public schools to an extent not known since the time of the Scopes Trial.

"Who am I?" someone screamed through my head, reverberating like a super ball.

MSN further divided boomers into categories: the Easy Glider takes each day as it comes; the Adventurer makes daring changes with his or her life; the Continuer continues to use existing skills, interests and activities but modifies them to fit retirement; the Searcher tries out different careers or hobbies to find something that will bring him or her happiness; the Involved Spectator cares deeply about the world, however, because of illness or other circumstances, they are not as involved as they used to be; and the Retreater, the only negative category, is confused and upset about retirement.

I hope someone figures out soon who those of us in the latter part of this generation are supposed to be.

I'm waiting............

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Rummaging through some old boxes in the attic I found all my old concert T-shirts crumpled in an army surplus backpack.

The disparaging part of this momentous find was the physical tiny-ness of these shirts. I wondered how they could have shrunk to doll-like proportions after lying in wait for over 30 years for the day an almost 50-year-old would look upon them and weep.

Could I have possibly been that size?

Holy mother of menopause, what the heck happened here?

I teetered on a wobbly wooden ladder, my body wedged up into the hole in the ceiling as I hauled out a halter top with feathers, a floor-length cotton dress embroidered in flowers, a faded pair of bib overalls and purple hip-huggers with white polka dots (I'm not kidding).

"The Pretender" tour by Jackson Browne in dark Navy blue still has the rip under the arm from when the concert crowd, tired of waiting behind fences at Summerfest, broke down the gates and stampeded to gain good seats.

Bruce Springsteen's Born to Run concert T-shirt recalls a drunken friend who fled with my camera at the concert, then dropped it from the highest point in the Milwaukee arena.

Numerous tours of Neil Young and his band Crazy Horse flank the chest area of several articles of apparel that endured numerous washings in a futile attempt to remove stains from various high school, then college art classes. I know the exact shirt I was wearing when Neil's tour bus pulled into Alpine Valley one year, maybe 1979, and Neil stuck his head out the window to gawk at some picketing workers.

Here we are in the years, a bit bigger, but no worse for wear, at least that's what I keep telling myself, though it was no consolation, when, after lamenting the story to a friend he exclaimed "At least you still fit through the hole in ceiling."

Very loud




Yours is coming.........

Saturday, January 20, 2007

On female spontaneity at 50:

One minute you may be standing at the bathroom mirror brushing your teeth and noticing that a haircut is long overdue.

Your intent was to get the phone book out of the cupboard and make a hair appointment.

Instead you grabbed the kitchen scissors and the next thing you know the sink is full of frizzy locks.

The look of shock on your own face...


Thursday, January 18, 2007

We are facing a soon-to-be national crisis and I've yet to hear anyone in politics step forward with a plan.

I'm beginning to worry.

I'm talking about nursing homes and how they will handle the influx of aging rockers - all equipped with their own sound systems.

There will be music wars. While the Who's "Teenage Wasteland" blasts from one room, another is cranking out Led Zeppelin's "Houses of the Holy" to drown out the screams of Jim Morrison's "L.A. Woman" wafting down the fluorescent hallways. Not to mention the deadheads gathered in the sitting room jamming for 24 hours straight while nearby Beatle-mania fans still play the White Album backwards, ears bent close to the record player.

I wonder how the powers-that-be will get this aging group who grew up on the philosophy "question authority" to follow any rules. If forced to make pot-holders in craft class, exercise to piano music at the sit-and-be-fit activity and eat Cream of Wheat it may just give rise to geriatric anarchy.

They will want their twinkies and burgers, some incense to burn, Starbucks coffee, sleep number mattresses and yoga class.

If I could just find an investor for my "Rust Never Sleeps mini-mall rest home, the future would look inviting....

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

There's something about January and this time of year that lends a pallid droop to the face, a hollowness around the eyes and echoes of the brain bickering with itself.

Native Americans called this month the "Moon of Bickering."

And though we try to fight it off with all our strength, which of course is very little this time of year, it makes us crave white bread at midnight, toasted, with globs of butter.

Those in the know say it's the month in which incidents of suicides spike, the culprit most likely being the tendrils of self-doubt that drift (and this was scientifically proven during the Ken Kesey acid tests performed in Berkeley in the 1960s) out your mouth and nose, and proceed to strangle you while whispering in your ear "you don't deserve to be happy..."

The 6 a.m. banging of a snow shovel against my condo's sidewalk Tuesday rousted me from an ensuing fight between my capital self, wanting a paycheck, and the crazy woman who tries to talk me out of rising while it's still dark. She wants to leave for a northern California beach, and she wants to leave right now.

(What? Neil Young lives there you say? I didn't realize...)

Second only to smell, sound is a time machine, and the clink of the shovel sent me back to my upstairs bedroom, late 70s. It's still dark, maybe 5 a.m. and my dad is shoveling the driveway outside my bedroom window while everyone sleeps a warm sleep.
He's shoveling my car out of a house-high snow drift.

Tell me how you follow in boot prints that big?

Saturday, January 13, 2007

"What value is it to do the right thing only if you feel like it?"
Somebody said this.

Kudos to the communities in this nation that have banned dog tethering or chaining.

According to Unchain Your Dog it's happening from coast to coast and it couldn't be soon enough.

Even as a child my stomach lurched to see dogs living their lives chained to a doghouse. Imagine it. I mean, even caged birds sing, remember? It's because they're not tied up, a fate worse than death.

This morning my contemplative morning route around the pond was shattered by a man in a rickety tri-cycle-like contraption being pulled by a pack of verbally-abused huskies. The guy screamed every expletive in the book, mostly the phrase "(Insert name of some people's Creator here) damn it!" every ten seconds, while the thing on wheels careened and overturned and the dogs left a trail of nasty, poor-grade dog food excrement. Yeesh.

Though I know nothing about the sport of dog sledding this looked like some kind of lesson in pain, the screaming rated "flinch-level."

This brought to mind a sight I saw traveling along Highway 23 in the county, a rural residence with about 50 husky dogs tethered to igloo dog houses. Most stood or sat atop their little shelters...Probably waiting to be set free.

I know huskies are athletes, and like Springsteen, are born to run, but to be tied up when they aren't running, this act still makes my stomach turn.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Technology, video games, television and computers are blamed for the sedentary lifestyles of Americans.

I blame gym teachers who physically and mentally tortured young minds in the sixties to the tune of "Go you chicken fat, go."

I still have nightmares about Mr. Lewer, (who, rumor had it back then, lived in the sewer and ate manure) our gym teacher for the duration of grade school.

If it wasn't for him I believe I could have nurtured some kind of athletic achievement, although my brother insisted there was no one in the world as lacking in coordination as I was.

I don't know if Mr. Lewer had experience in the military, but he was a foreboding presence, who in his spare time, held smokey poker games with two sixth grade teachers over the noon hour in the ball storage room off the gym.

For girls, the humiliation of donning gym clothes - ballooning, blue shorts and a white, short-sleeved blouse - was coupled with the fact our locker room consisted of a circle of lockers set in front of the entrance to the gym. We undressed inside that "corral" with it's peepholes and peering points for leering young boys.

Using humiliation as a tactic, which believe me, wasn't necessary with our pasty-white winter legs, way before our mothers let us shave them, or even use deodorant, Mr. Lewer marched us into the gym and made us line up by height and "sound off" by calling out our numbers.

Though I've tried to block out the worst tortures endured, some of the highlights include pelting each other with stinging rubber balls, often in the face, during raucous rounds of what was called "murder ball;" being weighed as everyone watched, the amount called out so it echoed through the gym; being forced to run what seemed like miles around and around the athletic field with shorts stops to puke along the way; and the requirement of climbing to the top of the gym ceiling on a large rope, and if you couldn't, being forced to "hang and swing" at the bottom while everyone counted in unison.

Once I took a forbidden drink out the bubbler during a rare "open gym day" and was forced to stand in the corner through several classes. He then took me in a small room where he had his own bed, although it was supposed to be for the kids who couldn't stop puking, and grilled me as to whether I was "having any problems at home."

Good old Mr. Lewer. It was with great pain I kept my mouth shut when he showed up at a grade school reunion a few years back. I had promised my twin friend Jane, who organized the gathering, that I wouldn't raise any ruckus but it took all my strength, and a few stiff drinks.

So for all those out there wondering how I could possibly fall and hurt myself just putting on socks, blame Mr. Lewer.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Poor Willow, the missing greyhound that tugged at the heartstrings of people who knew her plight is dead, found lying near railroad tracks in Waupun after a two-week run from domestic life.

Maybe he was having flashbacks of his life as a racing greyhound when he and his pal, Dahlia, decided to bolt through an open gate in their back yard.

I can relate. In a former life I raised collies and showed them, which is a whole 'nother story. If anyone has seen the movie "Best in Show," it's right on in its hilarious depiction of " purebred dog people."

Much of the fruits of my 12-year-long hobby entailed "flushing money that grows from the tree in the back yard" down the toilet.

My last collie was named Pearl, a blue-headed white female who came from Vermont. She was a payback puppy from a male I had sold.

Collies are noble creatures as anyone who loves or read the works of Albert Payson Terhune knows, but Pearl seemed to suffer from a form of dog ADD.

One day someone, let's say a teenage boy related to me, was blowing off Black Cat firecrackers in the back yard firepit, strings of 100 at a time, when Pearl freaked out and vaulted a five-foot chain link fence as if she were Bambi's father bounding over the forest on fire.

She was gone for 11 days, during which time I learned from Sheboygan's Search & Rescue Team that some canines freak-out when they run away, lose their minds and become feral.

Of course, that would apply to Pearl.

She could hear our voices but would run the other way. She was spotted often by neighbors, a white flash disappearing into the tall pines that populate the Northern Kettle Moraine State Forest.

We dumped bags of dog food along the roadways, another trick we learned. One day we got a call that she was sighted and I tore down the road to see her peering out from some brush along the side of the road.

I threw liver out the car window at increments until I was close enough to grab her. The minute I touched her the light bulb went on again and she kind of collapsed in my arms.

Lassie she was not, but "Pearlie Girl" had a good heart and now lives in Minnesota with a registered nurse.

Friday, January 05, 2007

Today is "French Day" at work.
None of us have any idea what this means, and therein, lies the beauty.

We think it may be just an excuse for assistant news editor Tom Guenther to bring in his Brigette Bardot records, but c'est la vie....

I told you early in this blog I would someday explain what "Days" are in The Reporter newsroom, oops, I mean "Information Center." Silly me.

It's a way for those who work the Saturday shift to exercise the collective conscious, somewhat like the Borg, because, alas, we have no access to a "Holodeck," in which we could act out our fantasies, meek ones, of course, like making a living beading hair on a pink-sand beach island, wrapped in a tie-dyed sarong while sipping drinks made of mangos and papayas.

In that life we have perfect toes because we would never have to wear wool socks to bed to keep warm.

It started one day when Gary, the page editor mentioned it was the anniversary of the Concert For Bangladesh.

Gary: "I have the album!"

Tom: "So do I!"

Sharon (near hysteria) "Me too!"

As if, somehow, that were miraculous. (I told you we need real lives).

I won't bore you with details of how we brought our records and forced everyone else to bring in something from the sixties and how editor Mike Mentzer brought "The Letterman" and we tittered, "he is such an innocent!"

Since then this obscure theme day has been relegated to select Saturdays, the pathetic-ness of it being it is no more than a display table set up amidst the mad pounding of key boards, the scanner sounding and pages being sent to the press by deadline.

Some highlights: "Jimmy Hendrix Are You Experienced Day;" "Beatles/Apple Day," which required everyone bring something made of apples; "If There's a Rock 'n Roll Heaven You Know They've Got a Hell of a Band/Thanksgiving Day;" and "Gloria Day," any Gloria.

It's always a free day. Participation and/or an explanation is not required. Since no one is told what to do or bring it's a delightful surprise to see a rare collector Beatles album turn up or a fringed leather jacket, circa 1973.

Or hear sports editor John Casper's horror story of the night he was having dinner with his parents and the debauchle that occurred over reciting the wrong Jimmy Hendrix words, a phrase, in fact, many of us have gotten wrong, John, believe me. Don't be so hard on yourself.

But just for the record it is "'scuze me, while I kiss the sky," not " this guy."

If you viewed the ragged lot of us, personalities that would probably never meet or share a passing glance in real life, it's a very "groovy" happening.

After all, who knew Brigette Bardot could sing?

Take it from me, she can't. It was laughable, at best, although the guys called it "soothing." ;-D

Monday, January 01, 2007

The year 2007 has been a long-time coming (insert David Crosby here).
I could hardly stand the wait.

As I understand it, every seven years our cells regenerate, which means we all get new hair, skin, finger-nails, all that good stuff.

If you do the math, since I'm turning 50 this year, it's the start of a whole new 7-year-cycle, and the year is 2007!

It's going to be a big one, people, believe me. I'm giddy with anticipation....

Here's some more cool stuff from the world of numerology about the number 7 I gleaned from Suite 101.

There are seven main planets in the zodiac.
There are seven continents in the world.
There are seven wonders of the world.
There are seven colors in the rainbow.
There are seven days in a week.
There are seven seas on the Earth.
There are seven petals in the Lotus, the Sacred Seat of Lord Buddha, regarded as the most sacred flower by the people of the Eastern countries.

The book of Revelations, refers to the following:

The seven heavens.
The seven thrones.
The seven seals.
The seven churches.
The seven spirits of God.

Ezekiel speaks of “The seven angels of the Lord that go to and from through the whole earth.”

There are seven generations from David to the birth of Christ.

Egyptian religion repeatedly talks of the seven spirits.

Medically, it is established that every seven years, biological changes take place in the chemistry of human beings, both male and female.

It is commonly said all over the world that every person on this Earth would have six other persons living somewhere with the similar features and looks making it a total of seven persons being look-alikes for each and every one.

Astrologically the number 7 represents the planet Neptune and the zodiacal sign Pisces, a lover and peace maker.

Let's hope, with all the hope we have.