Could Robert Redford Actually be Normal?

My March/April issue of the AARP magazine arrived yesterday.  And, there, on the cover, smiling ever so slightly and directly at me was Robert Redford.  Strawberry blonde hair and all.  Talk about an upper!

I never met the man personally.  (Hey, before you guffaw, I HAVE actually met some celebrities!)  But there’s something about Redford that has always made him seem so, well, normal.  Because he does look intelligent, kind and humorous – all of those things we’d like to think us normal people are. 

And looking at his photo, Bob, if I may be so bold, doesn’t seem to have had Botox or undergone any extreme, age-defying procedures.  Although, if anyone could afford it, it would be him.  Without pointing them out, the signs of surviving decades of life are there in the photo.  No drastic retouching.  And he still looks great!  In fact, for his age, he seems pretty normal-looking. Yep, there’s that word again.

And it’s not that he’s just starting to appear to be a normal person now.  I’ve always thought he was fairly normal, even when he was devilishly handsome.  And I like the guy because he has always seemed naturally self-effacing, hasn’t required the constant attention of the media and has been genuinely interested in giving back, and not for PR purposes.  And sure, that’s an image that’s also been affected by the press or lack of it surrounding him.  But, I’m guessing you feel the same way about our buddy Bob.

He is, of course, “fiercely private” as the magazine notes, but I’ll betcha that if it came down to me and him sitting knee to knee at the counter in a quiet café late one evening in Santa Fe, we’d probably have a conversation…maybe about pie.  Admittedly, for a lot of reasons, it’s doubtful we’ll ever talk.

And it’s probably better that we don’t.  Because I have a question for him.  It’s probably not the one you think it is.  The question I have is spurred by the cover photo. 

What I really want to know is:  Does Robert Redford color his hair?  (In the interests of fair play, yes, I color mine.)  I know it’s none of my business.  Really, I do know that.  And, truthfully, I’m not even sure I want to know the answer, because I’m of two minds about it.

If he says, “yes,” I’ll be ecstatic!  It’s just one more thing that says he IS normal. I’d like him even more.

But, if he says, “no,” and I WILL believe him, I’ll be crushed.  Because it means that he’s an anomaly.  After all, how many other 70-plus men do you know who haven’t gone gray?  And therein lies the rub.  Having natural strawberry-blonde hair, though lighter, at his age means all of his normal-ness goes out the window.  Sure, I’d still like him.  But, who am I kidding?  It would be different.

So, I’ll probably stay away from Santa Fe just on the off chance, because some things are better not known.  And in Bob’s case, outside of a small circle, I’m guessing only his hairdresser knows for sure.  In this age of tell-all Facebook and Twitter, I can only hope it stays that way!

Posted in Humor | Tagged | 1 Comment

The 54-Year-Old Intern

Okay,  I’ll admit I haven’t seen the movie “The 40-Year-Old Virgin” in its entirety.  But, I get the gist of it.  And like Steve Carell in the role of Andy Stitzer, I’m doing something that some people can’t quite reconcile with my age.  I’m  an intern.  More precisely, I’m an unpaid 54-year old intern. 

I remember meeting the general manager (a scant few years older than me) of the software company who was interviewing me for the internship position.  Sitting across the table from me, he  reviewed my resume.  Frowning, he looked up at me, shrugged his shoulders and asked,  “Why are you doing this?”

I told him.  As a freelance writer, I’m always looking to expand my skills and technical writing is a relatively new area for me.  In this market, there are a lot of unemployed technical writers. Even with my extensive writing experience, there was little chance of being considered for any technical writing assignments.  Thus, the internship through a local university to get the experience I needed. 

Still somewhat baffled, he was happy to have the age and experience I brought to the table. 

So, here I am.  In between paid gigs to write articles and web content, I’m working gratis on a software user manual for a company that appreciates my talents and hasn’t been afraid to use them. 

And it’s been an amazing internship.  (Unlike my first one in the 80’s! Then, when I wasn’t fetching coffee, I was crowded around a small desk by the copy machine with two other interns, counting the minutes.)  The knowledge and the contacts I’ve gained have been invaluable and I’ve met some great people.  And – all part of an actual plan – this internship could well lead to contract work down the road.  Worth it?  You bet!

Sure, an internship may be unusual at my age.  And you’d better believe I’m going to use that to my advantage.  In addition to being a question and eyebrow raiser on my resume, I’m thinking it will lend me an air of “willingness to do whatever it takes” to achieve a goal.  Is there an employer anywhere who’s gonna sneeze at that? 

So, yeah, the older I get, the more skeptical I’ve become of “age appropriate” activities…and labels with ages attached.  I just plan on continuing to ignore them.

And for any Andy Stitzer’s out there, I advise you to do the same.

Posted in Humor, Self Improvement | Tagged , , , | 6 Comments

CALM Law Reason to Get Excited!

TV remote at ready

Where's the darn volume control?

I couldn’t be happier!  Soon, I’ll be able to watch TV without my trigger finger nervously hovering over the volume control on the remote in anticipation of the decibel spike announcing the next commercial.  Yippee!

Hats off to Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-CA) and her  Commercial Advertisement Loudness Mitigation (CALM) bill.  Apparently, the bill was a result of Eshoo watching TV with her already hearing-challenged parents.  (Ouch! Makes my ears ring just to imagine the din in that family room.)  President Obama signed off on the bill on Wednesday, December 15, and advertisers will have a year – under  the FCC’s watchful eye, er, ear – to adjust the volume of  commercials to the same level of the TV programs they accompany.

But, while happy about the CALM Act becoming law, I can’t help but feel, well, naïve.  I thought loud commercials were possibly the result of some technical glitch or perhaps the fault of my own TV and/or cable provider.   After all, why would anyone intentionally assault the ears and senses of prospective customers at 10-minute intervals? 

Unfortunately, someone thought it was worth doing.  And the rest of the advertising world followed suit.  I certainly don’t think I remember a particular product’s features or benefits due to the obnoxious volume in which they were announced on TV.  Rather, my first instinct, when my ear drums vibrate uncontrollably and the paint begins to separate from the walls, is self-defense.  I quickly nudge the sound down in annoyance.   Hence, the reason for my tight grip on the remote and the  semi-permanent crook in my finger.  

Because of more and louder commercials, the ad industry’s behavior is speeding the migration of couch potatoes to Tivo, Netflix and Hulu and its online cousins.  I’ll be there soon enough.   Of course, that doesn’t necessarily mean commercials are phasing out.  If anything, it’s already cheaper to push advertising in a digital format.  But at least I can seek solace via the volume setting in the control panel.

Meanwhile,  I hope my ears – and finger – can survive the next 360-some days without permanent damage.

Posted in Entertainment | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

Does your Rolling Stone Gather Moss?

Guest post by Kim White,

It’s inevitable; as we get older we collect more stuff. But I’ve spent my adult life trying, and I think succeeding, in keeping my stone relatively moss-free.

When I was eleven, my mom, aunt, and all of us kids helped move my grandmother from a two-bedroom house into a modest, assisted-living apartment. My grandmother, a seamstress who worked out of her house, had collected a lot of stuff. As in wall-to-wall, floor-to-ceiling stuff. As in fabric, stuffing, threads, yarn, batting, binding, elastic, you-name-it stuff. Stuff filled every room including the bathroom. Stuff filled the attic. Stuff filled the yard. Much of it was old and unused stuff. Much of it was stuff she didn’t even remember she had.

We spent an entire weekend working through her house. I observed the stress my mom and aunt went through trying to get my grandmother to let stuff go. I watched my grandmother stress over what stuff to let go. By the end of the weekend my grandmother was safely in her new apartment, but the whole family was not only physically but emotionally exhausted. I vowed then never to let my stuff do to me or others what it did to all of us that weekend.

So I have a few simple rules that have served me well:

1) Trade Out
When I buy a new piece of clothing or other daily-use article, I get rid of an old one. I donate to Good Will or trash it if it’s too old to pass on.

2) The 6 Month Rule
Yes, I actually live by this! If it hasn’t been used, out it goes. No matter how much I paid for it, no matter how useful I think it might *someday* be, it has to go.

3) Living Space.
I live in a 1,400 square foot apartment. We have no attic, no garage, no yard and no rented storage space either. I know it is human nature to fill the space you have, so I’ve found that starting with less space is a great barrier to the ‘gathering stuff’ problem.

4) The Jones’s
I don’t compare what I have to what others have and try to keep up. If I did, we’d have a full-size dining room table rather than an a little bistro set. We’d have a big screen TV rather than a 32 inch one. I’d also probably have a pool, and a yard, and an attic – and all the things that come with having those thing.

What I learned from moving my grandmother was that too much stuff can weigh you down and stress you out and it can also be an incredible burden to those around you. And this stone has got too much rolling left to do to be weighed down with a lot of moss!

Posted in Humor, Self Improvement | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

Stop…Filter…Speak (or Not)

Do you:

  • Create awkward situations by saying the wrong thing? 
  • Start arguments by letting slip something you shouldn’t? 
  • Give your opinion a little too much or a little too vociferously? 

 Then, boy, have I got three questions for you.

The next time a potentially dangerous thought threatens to tumble from your tongue and through your lips unheeded, stop and ask yourself:

  1.  Does this need to be said?
  2.  Does this need to be said now?
  3.  Does this need to be said by me?

These simple questions act as a quick filter.  You can use them for most situations as a preliminary test to see if you should speak…or hold your peace.  If the answers to the questions are “no,” then keep your lips locked.  If the answer to any one of the questions is “yes,” then proceed with caution.

Of course,  the real trick is still to stop and think before you speak.  But it’s easier to go through the filtering process when the questions are already tucked in your back pocket.  (For some reason, I can remember to ask these questions but can’t remember the old trick of counting from one to ten.)

The first week I used these questions, I’m convinced that I sidestepped several arguments with a loved one, avoided an awkward moment at lunch with a new friend, and refrained from hurting a classmate’s feelings.    Not bad for three simple, but hardworking, questions.

Will these questions keep you out of trouble?   Probably not.  But, in my case, I’m sure I’ve swallowed words that were a better meal for my stomach than general consumption.

Take the questions out for a spin and let me know how it goes.

Posted in Self Improvement | Tagged | 2 Comments

Down in the Mouth

Teeth xrayMy mouth has occasionally gotten me into trouble.  But I never thought it would lead to threatening emails…from my dentist!

I recently received an email with photos of teeth that need to be attended to, as the email  ominously put it, “before they fall out.”  Okay, I’m a long-time flosser and dedicated brusher, which is evident from the brush marks on my teeth.  I’m diligent about my teeth!  Really!  So I was offended and appalled at such a personal message.  I mean, only my mother is allowed to speak to me like that.

For years, I’ve received fun, innocuous little postcards with playful displays of teeth dancing or singing, reminding me that it was time for a cleaning.  Cute, sweet communications that induced me to call, even though I knew there was pain involved in the typical cleaning. 

But this email was different.  And, to make matters worse, the scolding email arrived one day after the soothing voice message of the dental assistant reminded me I still needed some routine work done on my teeth. (What?  I only had 24 hours to call them back?) 

After the email,  I was dreading the next communication.  Would it involve big, pasty-faced guys in ill-fitting, dark suits and meaty hands showing up to harass me while I was loading groceries into my car?  Or would it be another email with a movie clip from “Marathon Man” showing Dustin Hoffman squirming in the chair while a sinister Laurence Olivier pulled out his teeth with pliers?  I had to reign in my imagination and quick!

To be honest, dental disaster isn’t imminent.  I’m just at that stage where replacement fillings should probably outrank a fun weekend at a nearby beach hotel.  Darn!  I do understand that this is a health concern.  And, truth be told, I’ve suffered through two excrutiating dental procedures in the last 10 months.  I’m just not ready to bare my teeth to anyone…except to bite them!

But, like the old saying goes, you can catch more flies with sugar than….  Sorry, but, even from a dental perspective, when the adage fits, ya gotta use it.

Dr. ________, bring back those postcards!  Please!

Posted in Humor | Tagged , | 1 Comment

Readers – Now You See ‘Em, Now You Don’t

ReadersWith six pairs of readers and a small house, you’d think there would be a pair always within reach, right?  Well, let’s take inventory.

One pair on my bedside table.  Ummmm.

Yep, that’s the only pair I can find during a quick walk-through.  Five pairs are missing in action.  The problem is, I just don’t know where to look for them anymore.  Used to be I slung ‘em off and they’d end up in plain sight, or I’d hear them as they clattered on the kitchen counter, on my desk, on the floor.  You know, the usual places.  Now, as my sight and hearing dwindle, my naughty readers are successfully eluding me.  They could be anywhere…seriously!

A few weeks ago, a pair appeared in my oven.  Obviously, I was in my usual kitchen panic mode  (I have no business in that room) and didn’t hear the glasses fall from their precarious perch on my shirt.  By the time I happened to smell them (at least that sense is still intact) days later, the plastic nose pieces resembled angry parenthesis and the lenses looked like concave lima beans pulling away from the frame.  (Of course, I had to locate another pair of readers to peer into the oven to see.  Thankfully, my head deep in the oven, the heat didn’t meld my mascared lashes together until I’d recognized the baked readers.)

Of course, I still have my resources, should I lose this last pair before a quick trip to Walgreens:   a box of ill-treated readers that aren’t quite scratched enough or broken enough to be thrown away. 

That’s okay.  I just won’t be able to take them out in public.  Uh oh.  that means no trips to the bookstore or library (no way I can read), no restaurant dates with friends (ditto; even the food photos will be blurry), no nothing until I purchase a replacement pair.  When did my life become dependent on readers?  Aaarghhh!

So, where to look next?  Washing machine?  Garbage disposal?  I’m at a loss.  Any ideas?  Where do your readers hide?

Posted in Humor | Tagged | 6 Comments