Welcome to the Misadventures of Widowhood blog!

In January of 2012 my soul mate of 42 years passed away after nearly 12 years of living with severe disabilities due to a stroke. I survived the first year after Don’s death doing what most widows do---trying to make sense of my world turned upside down. The pain and heartache of loss, my dark humor, my sweetest memories and, yes, even my pity parties are well documented in this blog.

Now that I’m a "seasoned widow" the focus of my writing has changed. I’m still a widow looking through that lens but I’m also a woman searching for contentment, friends and a voice in my restless world. Some people say I have a quirky sense of humor that shows up from time to time in this blog. Others say I make some keen observations about life and growing older. I say I just write about whatever passes through my days---the good, bad and the ugly. Comments welcome and encouraged. Let's get a dialogue going! Jean

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Beginnings and Redecorating the Room



“I suppose our lives are nothing more than a collection of moments. Some moments tell us who we are. Others, what we’ve run away from. I was eight years old the year our story began.” Those are the opening sentences in Dan Snyder’s book, Fallen Angel. I love first lines in novels. Does anyone else wish they could spend a rainy afternoon in the library just reading the beginnings of books? I’d consider it time well spent. Hey, that should go on my Doable Bucket List.

Here’s a first sentence I love. It’s from The Princess Bride by William Goldman: “This is my favorite book in all the world, though I have never read it.” I have many books I’ve never read but I refuse to part with them so I honestly “get” that line. Sometimes just holding a book makes me feel good. It’s like holding a promise in your hands---read me from cover to cover and I’ll touch your life. Sorry, buddy-book, its back on the shelf you go until I have more time. 

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair...” I can’t tell you how many times I’ve tried to read A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens but I rarely get past the first chapter yet its long, rambling first line lives in my head. I did read the CliffNotes. Ya, I know that would have been cheating if the book had been on a required reading list, but it wasn’t. If I ever go blind, though, I have plans to listen to it on tape. It might work better than Ambien to put me to sleep. I can say the same about War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy. It’s on my If-I-Go-Blind Bucket List, too.

If Dickens’s first line was long-winded and lyrical (I only quoted a third of it above) you can’t say the same about the first line of The Marian by space nerd and author, Andy Weir. “I’m pretty much fucked,” he wrote. It’s a sentiment most of us no doubt would have said if we’d been accidentally stranded on Mars like Andy’s astronaut. And even if you’re not a fan of Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum series you can probably identify with her opening line in Seven Up: “For the better part of my childhood, my professional aspirations were simple–I wanted to be an intergalactic princess." Some first lines draw us in because we could have written them ourselves and others draw us in because there's no way on God’s green earth we could have so elegantly put those words down on paper.

I guess it’s time for me to find a way to work in the fact that I’m excited about getting an email notification about the sleeper chair I ordered for my new guest room/art studio. It’s sitting at the local freight terminal, waiting for them to call me to set up a delivery time. I didn’t know it ahead of time (so I worried unnecessarily) but Wayfair---where I ordered the chair and area rug---gives you a choice of deliveries: at the door, inside the door or to the room of your choice. I picked the latter because I couldn’t have wrestled that 100+ pounds box where it needs to go without calling the Canadian Mounties or the Texas Rangers and I’m sure they’d both charge more than the $69 the special treatment is going to cost me. The only hurtle left is whether or not I can put the chair together on my own. From reading the reviews I learned that attaching the back of the chair to the rest is all I’ll have to do. I’m hoping I can con my cleaning woman into helping me if the chair comes before she does on 8th. My niece offered to drive up from the boondocks if it came before the 3rd but it's the 3rd and the chair isn’t here. I did find a nationwide chain called 'Mr. Handyman' that advertises, among other things, that they put Ikea stuff together. It might be time to give them a try.

“If you want to be a grown up, you have to be your own hero.” That’s a line that someone just said in a Hallmark Channel marathon of Signed, Sealed and Delivered that’s playing in the background. It’s almost cosmic how that fits the way I’m feeling right now about being elderly and living alone. There are challenges that you didn’t have before when you had a life partner, when two hands and puny muscles aren't enough, when you have to debate both sides of why you should or shouldn't do this or that. Transitions in life, no matter what the reason, requires us all to write the first lines to our new stories if they're going to unfold in a way that makes us move forward. Maybe I’ll start mine out like this: “She’d been hiding from herself since her husband died but as she unpacked the box from her past her heart skipped a beat. Could she do this, could she reconnect with her first love again?” ©

NOTE:  The photo up above is the desk corner of my new guest room/art studio---I don't know what to call the room. When I get the room done, I'll do a whole post on the redecorating project and I'll tell you about everything in the photo.

24 comments:

  1. Whoo hoo! You did it! Can't wait to see the finished project. You are much braver than I am ... CONGRATS!!

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    1. I know! I can't believe how fast the room is coming together now that I've ending the planning stage and actually started the work.

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    2. I think we should call it The Everything Room. A little of this, a little of that. A great productive and creative space. Just for YOU!

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    3. Oh, I like that! It really will have a lot going on there. A guest bed/chair, a writing desk for my laptop, art easel with chair and rolling cart, storage for knitting, sewing and quilting and my sewing machine table set up in the closet.

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    4. You have so many hobbies and passions. I admire that!!! I need to get some solitary activities going.

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    5. And I need to socialize more like you do. LOL

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  2. "You have to be your own hero". Ain't that the truth? For widows? For all women? I don't think I've ever known a man that was MY hero. I've known a few women who were heroes to me, in my life.

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    1. My dad was my hero. I can't name a single negative thing about him or his character. Don wasn't exactly my hero because I considered myself his equal in every way. I admired and respected him as he did me. But that's not the same as him being my hero although he sure went out of his way to do a lot for me over the years.

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  3. I can't wait to see the finished room too. How fun. I'm with you on getting someone to help put the chair in there. I wouldn't be able to do that anymore either.

    Books, I read them from front to back and almost every book I read is my very favorite and then I move on to the next favorite.

    Have a fabulous day. ☺

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    1. I wish I could say the same. I'm not a fast reader and I usually have two or three going at the same time. I used to believe in reading cover to cover no matter what, but the older I get the less time I'm willing to invest in a book that isn't grabbing me by the throat by a 1/3 of the way in.

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  4. ELDERLY? What is with that "elderly" business? Of course, compared to the young flits flitting around we're older. And, yes, we're aging, but so is everyone, even the twenty-somethings.

    I've really been thinking about that word since I heard a radio announcer some months ago talk about some new benefits available to elderly people -- over 55. Good grief. I'll hit 70 on my next birthday, but I'm not ready for elderly, and neither are you. Well-aged, maybe: like a fine wine.

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    1. I'm not much older than you. I used to call myself 'old' tongue-and-cheek style and because I didn't want to get hit on by younger guys on a message board where I went often go. But last year there was a big debate at the 'Times Goes By' website about terms used for people over 60 and according to the them, 'elderly' is the preferred word. I'd rather be old than elderly but who am I to question Ronni's expertise at researching all things about aging? Mostly I use the word because it amusing me when my family and friends react just like you did. I got that from my husband who when he turned 50 told everyone he'd just turned 60 so he could hear them say, "You sure look good for 60!" But seriously, I'm not middle-aged and if I can't be old I'm at a loss for how to describe my age-bracket. For security sake I never tell my exact age or birthday online.

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  5. LOL You wrote such an interesting first line. Can I borrow that one? So funny! And what a profound sentence immediately preceding it "Transitions in life, no matter what the reason, requires us all to write the first lines to our new stories if they're going to unfold in a way that makes us move forward."

    O.K. I need to get my own... percolating...percolating...

    I love this corner of your art studio. Is this a hint that you're going to stay where you now live?

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    1. Yup, you got it...we each have to write our own first line for it to have real meaning. LOL

      Whether I stay another year or move in the spring I had to do something to this room that made sense. It's part of the downsizing process, too, to sort all my art stuff, my knitting and sewing stuff which are all housed in this room. I'm leaning towards staying.

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  6. How great that you have new furniture coming for your room! I've generally had good experiences with Wayfair.
    The year my mother was sick, I finally read A Tale of Two Cities after my mother and I got in a conversation about it while I was visiting her in the nursing home. (As a child, I had only read the Classics Illustrated version. LOL, I guess Cliff's Notes would have been a step up.) I was shocked to realize that that first sentence is very sarcastic. -Jean


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    1. This is my first experience dealing with Wayfair. The rug came remarkable fast and I think the chair would have, too, if not for the holiday weekend holding it up locally. I have since ordered some more stuff for the room. I can't wait for it to all come together.

      Oh my gosh, I think I may have read the Classics Illustrated version, now that you mention it. We had a whole set of those. My niece owns it now. I'll have to look next time I'm at the cottage to see if 'tales' was in it. I did run across the fact that the first sentence was written sarcastically somewhere in my travels which is one of the reasons why I like it and love to read it out loud.

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  7. Unfortunately I did have to read Tale of Two Cities in school as well as some other Dickens, which basically meant that I have never read any Dickens since. The same goes for Shakespeare...school ruined them. I actually saw a good BBC adaptation of Bleak House a few years back and was actually tempted to read the book...but I didnt!

    Yes I do think it would be a cool thing to spend a rainy afternoon in a library reading the beginnings of books and seeing what grabs and holds on. I do see some serious problems though: a book good enough to grab and hold on is not one you would be inclined to put down too quickly! So you would spend the rest of that lazy afternoon on a large pillow curled up with that book and would have to go back again to continue reading first lines! And then, to quote Kurt Vonnegut (but it wasn't a first line) "and so it goes"!
    Regards,
    Leze

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    1. I was a slow reader back in college so I avoided any class that would require that kind of reading. I could see how that would ruin those authors for you.

      I'd keep a record of all the first lines I read in an afternoon at the library and put a star by the ones worth coming back to, but I can also see one grabbing to tightly that I wouldn't want to wait to read the book.

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  8. “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair...” WOW! These words were so profound Jean. You are so brilliant placing them in your blog. Oh by the way the chair looks great.
    Ive read many books in my life and they all helped me in some manner. I just wanted to say that. Oh by the way, I agree with " shoreacres " ELDERLY? We are the more mature individuals who know more than anyone. Just ask the young of today if you can get them off their cell phones.
    Have a wonderful Tuesday my friend. See ya.

    Cruisin Paul

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    1. Glad you noticed the chair. I refinished when I was just out of high school and I really love it.

      I think we should call ourselves septuagenarians only I'm not sure how that's pronounced. And I sure as heck can't spell it without looking it up each time. Young people on their phones drive me crazy. It's not even considered rude anymore when they do it with other people sitting in right next to them.

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  9. I loved those Stephanie Plum books. The voice was so great...that series is the perfect example of how a writer's voice makes all the difference in telling a story.

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    1. Boy, are you right about that! I've read about half the series and Janet has such a clear writer's voice you feel like you know her through the characters she creates.

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  10. First lines...the best! I'll go to the library with you!

    I refuse the word "elderly" simply because the connotation is one of frailty and marginalization. I use the word Elder, if I use any word at all to refer to age. Some balk, thinking an "elder" is a role in a church or something, but in indigenous cultures it is a place of honor and I am all about re-capturing the "elder years" as those worthy of respect. I sometimes feel like lone-voice, but I am passionate about how the language we use creates our reality.

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    1. You can say "she's my elder" but that doesn't define an age bracket. You can be 20 and someone 25 can be your elder. If I wasn't so lazy I'd send you a link to a lengthy debate on Ronni's blog about using the word elderly vs old. She's rabid about the topic and she's tons of comments on the issue. I think I'll start calling myself an old broad and see how many people I can offend. LOL

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