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

Saturday, February 4, 2017

The Cutie Pie CSI Guy and Seeking Tolerance



I’m going to sound like a broken record when I say I love the lecture series at the senior hall. This week, quite by accident, I sat with the lecturer’s ‘fan club’---his wife and assorted family members, probably fearing a pack of cougars would jump his bones. He was a clean-cut, perfectly polished and pressed guy with dimples and an easy smile. Movie star cute and he processes firearms and tools that are involved in crimes for the state police forensic science lab. Yes, a real life CSI investigator. When he asked the audience of 130 for a show of hands of those who watch CSI TV shows, almost everyone raised their hand. I was not one of them. But I learned a long time ago to sign up for all the lectures, whether or not I have a passing interest in the topic. I’ve been going to the lecture series for five years and only once did I find it a boring waste of time and ironically that lecture was brought up in the question and answer portion of this lecture. 

I’ve never served on a jury that dealt with a crime but now I know what type of detailed ‘education’ they get from expert witnesses. Cutie Pie showed us how they prove that the bullets found in victims or property match up with particular guns. It’s all very precise and scientific. We got to see crime scene photos from local, but closed, cases and all they go through to recover bullets from houses and cars. Did you know that our home owners insurance usually covers the cost of cleanup from crime scenes and repairs of property damage done by law enforcement processing those crime scenes? One scene he showed us had nearly two dozen of holes in the walls, floor and a washing machine but only six bullets were shot. The ability of bullets to ricochet is what prompted someone in the audience to ask the lecturer if he believed in the “magic bullet theory” regarding the Kennedy assassination---the topic of the one lecture I didn’t like. “Yes,” he replied. “I’ve seen ricochets do some crazy things.” In case you’ve forgotten, the Warren Commission concluded that one bullet entered Kennedy’s back, exited through his throat and went on to hit the governor riding in the front seat of the car. Conspiracy theorists dubbed it a magic bullet and dismissed it as not possible, giving rise to the two shooters and a coverup conspiracy. I didn’t like that Kennedy lecture, by the way, because I’d already seen more than my fair share of documentaries on the topic.

When I go to these lectures I usually pick a seat on the aisle, left hand side and about eight rows from the front. Why? I take notes and I don’t want anyone sitting on my right who could read what I’m writing---I’m left-handed and my hand can hide my words from someone sitting on the left. With the the 'Great Gatsby' house lecture recently, I broke that rule to sit in the last row with some friends and “the crafters”---a handful of woman who never go anywhere without their knitting or whatever fancy work they’re doing. When was the last time you’ve heard tatting, crocheting and cross-stitch called fancy work? Jeez, sometimes I think my head is stuck in the Victorian era, but I digress from what I wanted to write about and that would be---drum roll, please---purposely setting out to find something to like about a person that I’ve bristled around since I started going to the senior hall. She’s one of the crafters and I’ve avoided her because she’s very ‘churchy’ but my dislike intensified to an obsession last year when I overheard her refer the Obama family as “that infestation in the White House.” 

At the Gatsby lecture she was working on a loom, doing different stitches than I’ve ever done on mine so I got to talking to her about her work. She was sweet and patient showing me her methods and we agreed to bring a finish hat to the next senior hall event so we could compare them. We both followed through on that and as we talked I decided she and I are a microcosm of what is going on in the world. I’ve separated myself from someone who thinks differently from me on a couple of (important) topics without giving us a chance to get to know each other as complex human beings who might be able to find common ground on other topics. She introduced me to her husband as “the one who makes me laugh” and there was genuine warmth in her voice. Am I warming up to her? Yes. I decided if I want the world to be a more tolerant place then I need work on my own prejudices as well. Besides, she’s in her late eighties and I’m still young enough to run away should she start cooing over what a good job our current president is doing. I’m pretty sure she’s as smitten with him as I was with the cutie pie CSI guy. ©

21 comments:

  1. My preferred seat is the second row so I can hear clearly. I've stopped taking notes, unless it's finance related.

    I have a favourite Aunty whose knitting accompanies her like Mary's lamb. I observed and copied that habit of 'not wasting time', but have since dropped it. I now people-observe if I want to let my mind wonder, if the speaker (male/female) isn't cute enough, or not a fluent, knowledgeable speaker, etc etc.

    I smiled when I read your warming to that lady as I've had similar experiences, and swore to myself that I would NOT indulge in prejudice again. Then someone has to make an inflammatory statement and there I go again. Not much difference between Paolo's dog and me, sigh. I'm like a broken record myself: wish I could attend lectures on varied topics. ~ Libby

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    1. We had a discussion once at the senior hall on where people prefer to seat in an audience and a surprising number of us still sit by where we were placed in grade school i.e. people who's last name starts with 'A' like the front and those with 'Z' like the back.

      Escaping our prejudices is an ongoing pursuit, isn't it. Like you, inflammatory statements have me back to giving a cold shoulder.

      Our library system has a some of the same speakers that we do. Have you checked your community for what's available?

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  2. *Pavlov's* dog. Darn smartphone! ~ Libby

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  3. Your lectures sound interesting -- could use more varied topics at Sr. Center here, but much smaller audience than you describe.. Retirement Communities often may bring more speakers in for their residents, have some actual residents who offer interesting programs, others may receive a stipend.

    Can be interesting hearing others viewpoints, especially if all can discuss civilly.

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    1. Our speakers are all paid but not by our center. Our director finds sponsors---places and services that market to seniors. They get a table in the back of the room and hand out literature and an introduction to the group.

      If I didn't hear other people's viewpoints, I wouldn't have as much to write about. LOL

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  4. Brrr. My heart would have frozen at her comment about "that infestation at the White House." My hat's off to you for searching other rooms of her personality to find rays of love for her husband and her work. No one's all prejudiced or all loving, though her earlier comment would sure trigger my prejudice that some people are all prejudice!

    I adore detective shows. That's one arena where you can't get to the bottom of things and find the real bad guy ( or gal) if you pre judge.

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    1. I have a love/hate attitude toward CSI shows. The hate part is that it teaches criminals how to be more careful about leaving DNA and other evidences behind. The love part is that it's interesting how they can build cases out of that stuff. There is a new program now call 'Hunted' that uses real-life techniques to find fugitives and that's like a tutorial of what not to do on the run. One of my reoccurring fantasies involves running away from home (and all responsibilities) and changing identities. I should have done it when I was young...nearly impossible now. LOL

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  5. If I'd heard that infestation bit, I doubt I could've remained silenced. I blame it on my lack of estrogen. LOL

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    1. I don't make scenes in public places but trust me, I wanted to.

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  6. I agree about TV shows (and books) helping the criminals. I used to love to watch CSI but then it became too graphic. And I believe their stories were based (at least partially) on true stories which is even ickier!

    I am unlike you about choosing to go to a lecture that doesn't sound interesting. But maybe I could start! The same reason I don't join a book club!

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    1. To thou own self be true. Going to lectures is just a continuation of a lifelong love of learning new things. Up until my husband's stroke I was never without a class to take. You seems to be more about organizing people.

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  7. There is a lesson for me in this post. My hackles rise when religion comes up in conversation. I prejudge religious people. Need to work on that.

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    1. Me, too. I keep thinking they are going to judge me as harshly as they did when I was a kid growing up.

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  8. Watching CSI used to be routine. My mother loved it, along with those lawyer shows. We never liked the spinoffs, though: CSI Los Angeles and so on. The original was good, the ones that came later a little too centered on plots not related to the crime. NCIS was the best of the genre, I think. Besides, I always liked Mark Harmon as Leroy Jethro Gibbs. He carried the same sort of flip phone as I do.

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    1. Ah Mark Harmon! What's not to like about that cutie pie. LOL

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  9. Fred and I used to watch all the crime shows. Since he died--I just can't watch them. I don't know why--I used to be enthralled. Too much graphic news casts on the news every night I guess--just too much violence for me--I used to think of them as "just a movie", but now it all seems way too real to me.

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  10. I quit watching graphic stuff,, too, because I didn't want them to effect my dreams. Too many of those CSI shows are based on real crimes.

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  11. I watched the original CSI for many seasons and then just lost interest and never watched all the spin offs. I did find it fascinating and it sounds like Cutie Pie would have made it even more so!

    I am impressed with your ability to overlook the crafter lady's racist comment and find common ground. I'm working hard on my judgements, but I still have a lot of them and have a hard time understanding and forgiving this type of comment and that does interfere with my ability to find things I could enjoy about a person. I know we are all a great big giant ball of contradictions...it's really my "bad" for getting stuck. Your experience inspires me.

    Fancy work reminds me of my grandma who called it that; I loved watching her do tatting and embroidery. She taught me to crochet. Fond memories...

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    1. I would not be too impressed if I was you. I'm still a work in progress, especially around this woman. Though I have soften enough to actually talk to her, I will never let my guard down.

      I have done embroidery in public, when in hospital waiting rooms. Tatting fascinates me. I have never tried it, but it looks really hard.

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    2. I agree with Donnajurene. Just being willing to make the effort is impressive and a model for the rest of us. I'm reading Arlie Hochschild's Strangers in Their Own Land, and she describes this process as trying to climb over the "empathy wall."

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