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Archive for April, 2011

My mom had a saying which she used often, especially when she was stressed about not having enough time to two jobs that were of equal importance: “One can’t dance at two weddings on the same afternoon of the same day.”

I sometimes feel like that. My dad told us another story which applies to me as well. He, as a doctor, had a nurse of whom he was very fond. He said she did everything he told her to do efficiently and in a timely manner. But if he made the mistake of telling her to do two things, she became so confused that she didn’t do any one of them correctly.

Right now I fell exactly like his nurse. I spend my time being pulled in two different directions in my literary life, one is to promote my memoir, Becoming Alice and the other is to continue writing my next work which is a fictional story, based on true events.

The bottom line is that I can’t find enough time for me to spend to do either one of them justice, especially the writing aspect. Once I get going on a project, I like to keep going. I don’t like being pulled back and forth. I know I must make a decision soon or I’ll drive myself crazy. I know exactly how dad’s nurse must have felt. I don’t want to get to the point where I won’t be able to do either one of those jobs as well as I think I could.

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I was in the beauty shop last week getting a haircut. It was on a Friday and the business was booming; every one of the half dozen chairs was occupied with customers and operators working as fast as they could to process as many clients as possible. I often enjoy looking at the costumes of beauty shop operators because I think that they think they must be in punker garb to be successful. Purple and orange hair. Rings in noses, earlobes, belly buttons. You get the picture.

My beautician is dressed normal. She is fifty years old and perhaps that makes a difference. I don’t know. During a lull in my conversation with her, I overheard a customer at the other end of the row of chairs speak to her beautician. I couldn’t see either one of them since my head was tilted down so that we could cut around my neckline, but I heard, “I met this guy and he’s great. He owns his own business and he’s a Republican.”

It made me laugh and I said to my own beautician, “Never mind that he’s divorced because he beat his wife and cheats on his taxes, but he’s a Republican!

Of course, I know many people who have different formulas for whom they like. For example, mothers who don’t want their daughters to go out with anyone other than Jewish men, Mormon men, Catholic men, Armenian men, Germans, Swedes, Poles, and, of course, Democrats or Republicans. Need I go on?

What has happened to the time when we decided to like someone who was kind to others, ambitious for their families, charitable, intelligent, hard-working, lovimg, open to new ideas, or just simply nice.?

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I’m going to book a tennis lesson on my serve. That might seem ridiculous to anyone who knows how long I’ve played tennis, and who knows how old I am. I have played tennis most of my adult life. I’m not going to tell you how old I am. Most of my friends are still trying to figure that out by trying to put together a few hints that slipped out by mistake somewhere along the way. In any case, I have played tennis long enough to know how to make all the moves, but somehow I still can’t pull off a serve that has any power behind it. I guess I could support my decision to take a tennis lesson by pointing out that even the most successful tennis players of the world have coaches that point out to them certain ways of doing things, ways they may be totally unaware of, to improve their games. So, on that basis, I think I’m okay to take a lesson. Perhaps I’m not putting my shoulders into the right position, or not throwing the ball high enough, or following through the right way. We’ll see.

Now, as to taking that lesson at my age … that is another story. I am reminded of the fact that there have been some very successful people who started their careers at an age much beyond mine. One for example is Grandma Moses, the renowned American painter. She didn’t paint her first picture until she was seventy-six. She wasn’t discovered until she was seventy-eight, and she became internationally famous at the age of eighty. Luckily she lived until she was one hundred and one before she died so that we could behind a large portfolio.

Another remarkable story is the one about Harry Bernstein. He wrote an extremely successful memoir about his early life in England entitled “The Invisible Wall.” He was ninety-six years old. And in the first page of his book he tells his readers that he is “delighted to hear that Target has chosen my book … as its book club pick.” Wonderful! So, I don’t think I’ll apologize for taking a lesson on my serve right now. Perhaps someone will write about me having written Becoming Alice at my age.

You see, I think it is never too late to do what you think you must do. What I must do is get back to writing my next book, which is well on its way now.

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Having pondered the subject of guilt in an earlier blog, I am now thinking about its second cousin, the subject of regret. My parents had many regrets in their adult life, the main one being that they didn’t leave Europe at an early age and thus avoid the horror of the Second World War. But there were others, many of them being the decisions they made in either spending or managing their money. No matter how problematic my father’s relationship was with my brother, he never regretted anything he said or did in my poor brother’s regard. Remember, he was the one member of my family who never, never was able to say, “I’m sorry” except on one occasion.

My mother had many regrets, the most painful one for her was that she felt she was not close to her mother. And after my grandmother was killed, she was haunted by the fact that she never told her mother that she loved her. It’s mistakes like that which are the most lethal ones with which to live.

The other most painful regrets have to do with money. I heard my dad say, “I should have invested in that apartment house.” Of course his friend, who did take a chance on it, made a small fortune. Moreover, Dad didn’t learn from his mistake. He never was able to risk a dime on anything that wasn’t a hundred percent insured, solid investment. He had many regrets in his life.

Fast forward to my own regrets. I must be chip off the old block because I don’t really have any regrets regarding my interpersonal relationships. However, my husband and I both regretted not putting our house on the market a couple of years earlier when the market was hot. Our house is rented now and the regrets have diminished.

Moreover, recently there has been some talk about the fact that we may be going into an inflationary period in our economy, and owning a house may just end up being the best hedge against inflation that we could possibly have. So all this makes me wonder if we should really spend a whole lot of time kicking ourselves over regrets, when there isn’t much we can do to reverse things, and maybe, just maybe, our decisions may end up being the best ones we could have made in the first place.

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