Suzanne Olsen's Humor Blog - I don't offend some of the people most of the time

Author: Suzanne Olsen Page 1 of 44

Regrets – not today

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You might be saying to yourself, “I wish I’d learned how to play the piano as a kid – I’ve always wanted to play – but it’s too late, I’m old and it’s foolish to start now with these arthritic fingers and the joints all knobby and covered in warts.” Or you’re saying, “I’ve never exercised in my life and now I’ve got pain in my knees and heart troubles and my doctor says I ought to exercise – it would make my life so much better – but I’d look like an idiot walking around the block all by myself and Harold won’t go with me, he never goes anywhere except to the Mr. Suds Bar and Grill for a few cold ones, the lazy bum.”

Or maybe, when you finally go for that walk, it feels great, and the birds chirp and squirrels frolic and the sky is blue and the grass is green and you get angry with yourself, and the whole world at large, and Harold in particular, because you didn’t do it sooner. “Why didn’t I do this years ago, before I got so stoved up I can’t even hoist myself out of my recliner and have to scooch up to the end of the chair and rest there for a minute and then start rocking back and forth until I get enough momentum, and then I lean way forward and put both hands down and push with all my might and if I don’t get it all perfectly in sync so that I’m propelled straight up onto my feet, if I wobble even a little and fall back into the recliner, I’ll wet myself because I really, really, really need to go. Why didn’t I start exercising sooner? Why?”

I’ll tell you why. You weren’t ready. You were a mess, and maybe you didn’t even know it. A lot of us do (or don’t do) things because we have some dumb fear that keeps us in the same wacko patterns that have made us afraid we’d be less happy if we did things different, even when common sense and our gut feelings tell us we need to change.

I’m in that pattern right now with eating. I’m a healthy eater – plant-based, lots of fruits and vegetables – a pillar of respectability when it comes to diet EXCEPT at Christmas time, when all the homemade goodies get exchanged. People feel compelled to open a can of sweetened condensed milk and mix chocolate chips in there and heat it up and cool it down and call it fudge and put it in a pretty tin decked out with Santas and holly and give it to me in December, often with a side of butter cookies in the shape of Christmas trees with green sprinkles. Who can resist? Not me. I gain 10 pounds from sugar every holiday season. Then the whole months of January, February and March (and sometimes April and May) are spent chastising myself for doing it because (every dieter knows this formula):

1 pound gained in 24 hours of binging = + or – 3 pounds lost in one month of strenuous dieting

Usually it takes longer, because once the sweets addiction takes hold, you spend at least the first half of January eating every piece of concentrated sugar you can find, even down to those round disks of white hard candy with red streaks radiating out of the middle that taste like peppermint – I think they’re called Starlight mints. They always have them in at restaurant cash registers where the management is cheap and happy not to have to  keep re-filling the bowl because no one eats them. Sometimes my husband grabs a couple and hands me one and, so as not to hurt his feelings, I put it in a coat pocket and it stays there all summer and the next winter I put my hand in the pocket and the candy has drawn in a little moisture from the humidity and gotten itself gummed up and turned pink all over and leached out of the wrapper and stuck to the inside of the pocket and I tug it out with my fingers that get all sticky and there’s nowhere to wash them off. You know the ones I’m talking about. In January, when I’ve gone through all the existing sweets and exercised enough willpower not to buy anymore, I’ll resort to eating one of those things because there’s always at least one somewhere in the house. Then, like a drunk in a mud puddle in the rain in a movie who’s reached rock bottom, I know I have to stop. No more sweets. No more McDonald’s fries between meals. No more eating chocolate chips right out of the bag just before bedtime so I can’t go to sleep because of the caffeine buzz. I’ve hit bottom, and I’m overcome with regret.

But consider this. Whenever you come to the point that you want to change for the better, whether you’re 18 or 89 – that’s the best time to do it. Before that, you weren’t ready. You weren’t even capable of doing it. It was not possible. You were too scared, too tired, too busy, too lonely, too afraid. And now you’re not.

 Maybe you realize you can’t blame Harold anymore, the no-account bum. You don’t need him to help make you better – you only need you. Right now.

I’ve taken up a couple of hobbies, and that voice in my head is telling me I’m stupid because I didn’t do them when I was younger – when my body and mind were nimble. “You’re an idiot, you know that, don’t you? You should have done this instead of having your girlfriends come over and calling up boys and saying, ‘Who do you like,’ for hours and hours when you could have been using that time learning to play the banjo.”

For some reason, right at this point in my life, I’ve gotten brave enough to do a couple of things I’ve always wanted to do, and I’ve resolved to do them with the zeal of youth, and appreciate my progress, no matter how slow. Even once around the block – that little accomplishment – is better than sitting and feeling the life flow out of me like a receding tide.

Up now, UP! Let’s rise up and do something extraordinary – you and me. Let’s stretch our bodies and minds and be the best we can be today. Let’s take piano lessons, learn to sing or dance, take an online class to become a rocket scientist.

And if Harold, the no-good bum, or the voice in our head makes fun of us, let’s not listen. Just for today.

Happiness and Losing Stuff

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I was going to copy a letter from Pope Francis, such a smart guy, to give us hope fin all the turmoil, but I can’t find it – along with my keys and cell phone. At church our priest read the letter for his sermon and I thought, “This will be my blog this week – rather than giving a mild chuckle to the millions and millions of people who read this blog faithfully (or maybe that’s just one person – Pearl), I’ll give them Pope Francis’s take on happiness, and how we can have it even with the Capitol being stormed and all the other sad news we have.”

Doggone it. I can’t find it. Let me see if I can remember what he said. 

Believing

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Don’t panic – this isn’t about religion, although that’s when I had the revelation. I read a chapter in the Bible every day, and some of it, especially in Genesis, sounds a lot like a Marvel comic plot line – somebody makes a man out of dirt and takes one of his ribs and makes a woman, then she does something bad and so does he so they are cast out, and one of their sons is jealous and kills his brother. Later a man makes a giant ark and puts two of every living thing on it and floats in pouring rain for 40 days while the world is destroyed by a flood. If you’ve ever been on a Royal Caribbean cruise you can see how two of everything would fit. Still, some things are hard to imagine, even when you really want to believe. That’s when I had my revelation – about believing, and life.

To believe you have to have faith – against all odds and maybe even all logic. That’s true about religion, but it’s also true in life. If you want to be successful at anything – a career, a sport, learning to play piano – you have to believe you can do it. Others may believe in your and encourage you, but if you don’t have faith in yourself, you won’t succeed. You’ll give up.

New Year’s Resolution

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We’re all doing the best we can. That’s what I started telling myself over the Christmas holidays.

People catch up with each other this time of year. When they start talking about their problems, I say (or think), “Why don’t you just…?” Then I insert my unsolicited advice. They react with something like, “Well, I can’t do that because…” so, ever helpful, I offer another bit of advice – I’m an endless fountain of solutions.

In a Zoom room full of people I can solve all their problems in a matter of seconds. I think to myself, “He looks like Jabba the Hut, he needs to go on a diet.” “If only she’d pay attention to that child it would stop screaming in the background.” Boom – world’s problems solved.  

Memorable Decorations

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Christmas Angels my children made years ago out of paper plates

These two angels that my kids made at an Advent Fair are part of the Christmas decorations I put out every year. My daughter’s has a sweet face – smiling and happy. My son’s is a tough guy – his scowling expression says, “You want a piece of me?”

Those pictures in magazines that show holiday homes with color schemes – turquoise birds on white trees with silver ornaments all matchy-matchy – that’s not happening in my house. Nothing coordinates. Just about everything has broken parts glued back on. I keep them for the same reason I’ve kept my kids’ angels all these years – they have a memory that makes me smile.

Presents

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Around mid-December, when I was eleven or twelve years old, my brother who was fourteen or fifteen, skulked into our house, hunched over a wrapped present tucked under his arm, looking from side to side like a cartoon thief. He went straight to the Christmas tree, got on his knees and slid the present all the way to the back of the tree so it would be completely hidden. When he stood back up, he had a scared look on his face. “Don’t tell anybody,” he whispered. “This is from (he said her name). I don’t want dad and momma to find out about it.”

I knew who he was talking about – the girl lived a few blocks away – part of a trashy family. We knew they were trashy because Momma used this descriptive title for anyone who didn’t take care of their house, or it had unsightly trash out front. Garbage, or cars up on blocks – that was obvious, but it could be peeling paint, rotting porch steps, or a yard full of straggly weeds. This girl’s family was well-known for several of these aberrations. It was nothing personal against the girl, but the lifestyle of the family cursed her all the same.

Focus

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There’s nothing like the holiday season to highlight my extreme and utter lack of focus. Ho Ho Ho!

Just this morning I went to the laundry room to get a clean cloth to wipe down a jar of my homemade Shea butter cream so I could put a label on it for a Christmas present. When I got to the laundry room I saw ten napkins that had hung overnight to dry and folded them. I went to the kitchen to make my morning tea and saw a scouter ant – that’s one of the ants the colony sends out to search for a microscopic drop of semi-sugary substance anywhere in your house so he can bring 9,000 of his friends to the feast.  

I got a ladder from the garage/bonus room because when I blew on the ant he started heading toward the ceiling. Back in the kitchen I cleared off two shelves in the panty where I saw the ant and wiped them down with vinegar water. I thought, “You forgot to wipe that jar and get that label on it.” I climbed up the ladder and followed the ant back to his entry hole above the cabinet. I feel sorry for ants and don’t kill them, just follow them home and caulk up their entry. 

Christmas Frenzy

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The Christmas frenzy came early this year. Long before Black Friday my email overflowed with people wanting me to spend money at their stores. Even my dentist is begging me to get something – anything – done to my teeth in time for the holidays. Tis the season!

I responded to Land’s End’s frantic 55% Off and Free Shipping! emails by ordering a bunch of stuff I don’t need, since I have nowhere to go. No holiday parties, no nights at the theater, no restaurants with old friends I haven’t seen since March. But just in case, I ordered a red sweater – they were practically giving it away. Also some cotton zip-up sweatshirt things to stay warm while I clean closets. I’ll wrap these items and give them to myself for Christmas. That way I’ll at least get a few presents I won’t have to return.

Thankful

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One of the things I’m most thankful for in this world is my electric teapot. Sorry if you were expecting me to say my family, my health, food on the table. Those are the big things, and I’m exceedingly grateful for all of them. But sometimes it’s the little things that have the most impact. Like when a child hands you a bouquet of scraggly wildflowers to show they love you – isn’t that more wonderful than a huge box of long-stem roses? Sure, the child is just trying to bribe you, but still, you see my point.

When my mother-in-law gave me the electric teapot for Christmas a couple of years ago, I rolled my eyes. Another gadget. She’s the queen of gadgets. If it’s been on TV, or a friend has told her about it, she’ll buy one for herself and one each for her daughter and daughters-in-law. At my house a few of these get used, some collect dust, others find themselves snuggled in with clothes and old toys headed for Goodwill. I pictured this gadget in that last group.

Talents and Fears

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We humans are a stew of talents, motivations, and fears. In the right proportions, our stew can end up being a huge success that feeds many others, or it can be something a dog wouldn’t touch. 

Take, for example, the metaphor I just tried to make. Shakespeare’s pen would have made it a culinary masterpiece. My keyboard has produced a bowl of gruel.

Here’s a mo’ better metaphor. A guy had three servants. He gave the first five talents, the second two talents, and the third, one talent. This metaphor is a tad confusing because a talent is an ancient measure for a weight in gold – approximately one gazillion micrograms to the third power or something like that.

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Copyright © 2021 by Suzanne Olsen