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Welcome to Thursday Coffee Hour. This is an open topic thread so help yourself to the goodies and sit a spell and let us know what is new in your life. Yesterday I turned 65. I guess that officially makes me old. I have a Medicare card to prove it. Most of the time I don’t feel old. I guess having three teenagers around who think you are a “kick ass Aunt” helps to keep you young.

Looking back at 65 years there are so many things that stand out. I was lucky with my parents. My Dad encouraged me to dream and think. He was a scientist who was still fascinated by the paranormal. We often exchanged books on ghosts, the Bermuda Triangle, etcetera. We also exchanged books on black holes and astronomy. Dad was never sure what to do with an only daughter among four boys so he treated me like one of the boys. I was a tomboy, which helped, and we frequently played ball together. He taught me baseball and football. I can trace my love of sports to my sports nut Dad. I have the Joe Montana shrine to prove it.  I learned early that I didn’t have to conform to gender stereotypes.

I remember a report card from my second grade teacher, Mrs. Bluestein, with the words “take a look at her art.” That started me on the road to being an artist. It is something that I still do to this day. When arthritis made it impossible for me to hold a pen or paintbrush for any length of time I turned to computer art. I learned to let nothing get in the way of doing what I loved so much. Art is a part of me and if I need an ergonomic mouse to do it then that’s what I’ll use.

I remember the Beatles. I remember watching them on the Ed Sullivan Show. I still have original LPs from that era. The first time I wrote a letter to a newspaper was trying to explain to a columnist why this music was important to us and why we liked it. He wrote a column based on my letter and was actually respectful of my views. I learned if you present your views respectfully that you can get others to actually listen to you. I have been writing ever since.

I remember an announcement over the loud speaker in High School telling all students to report to the gym for an assembly. I remember looking at teachers crying and the principal announcing President Kennedy had been assassinated. I remember wondering what type of country would allow their President to be murdered. With the murders of Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King I knew. We are a country that values gun ownership over human life. I know the day that innocence died. It was November 22, 1963. That safe cocoon my parents placed around us began to break and the real world entered.

I learned that college can be so much fun. I majored in theater and my biggest regret is that I didn’t pursue acting as a career. I remember watching the sun come up over the ocean on a beach in Oregon while a very tipsy group of theater friends danced Greek dances on the sand.

I remember working tech for entertainment companies coming through at Denver because we had a fantastic theater. I remember one of the Irish Rovers asking me to run away to Ireland with him. Later Theodore Sturgeon would make the same suggestion to me. I should have taken them up on it.

I remember picketing the archbishop of Portland because he suspended our priest for doing a lecture on dissent in the Church. I learned that the Church I grew up in had its head firmly in the sand. I learned that the Church hierarchy was way out of touch with the priests, nuns, and lay people who truly believed that we were sent here to help others.

I remember in the 70s collecting signatures for a sensible gun control amendment in California and learning just how powerful the NRA was when with the help of Charlton Heston we went down in defeat. I remember my Dad being worried sick about me being out there but all he told me was to not get myself killed. Be careful.

I remember Cesar Chavez and the start of the Farmworkers Union and the grape boycott. I learned activism from the nuns and priests who were on the picket lines. I remember Father Bruno working in the poorest part of the Philippines trying to better the lives of the people while Ferdinand Marcos was in power. I remember blue chip stamps when the women of two parishes realized that we could buy him a jeep to help him in his work. A baby blue jeep was bought and paid for and shipped by Blue Chip. The government would confiscate that jeep and Father Bruno was arrested and imprisoned and finally deported because he advocated for the poor.

I learned at eight years old that science fiction and fantasy are great reads. I learned that geeks are good people. I learned that I would rather hang out with geeks then the “cool” people who were boring. I learned I would rather dream about the stars then who was dating whom in Hollywood. I learned that science fiction conventions were fun and an enormous amount of work. I ran my own for a few years. I learned that “stars” could be wonderful or absolute jerks. My favorite star will always be George Takei. I am so glad that he and Brad were finally able to marry and let the world see their love. One of my favorite t-shirts is my “It’s Okay to be Takei” shirt which apparently my grandniece took off with.

I learned that I could survive almost anything life throws at me. I got out of an abusive marriage and learned, that even though I was warned he might try to kill me if I left, that I could make the decision to do what was best for me even if it meant moving across the country. I am happy now and my life is not defined by anyone but me.

I learned it doesn’t matter that even though it is a part of the life cycle that death really hurts. My Dad was planting a bush and keeled over and was dead before he hit the ground. I was Mom’s caregiver for six years and even though I knew she could go at any moment it was still so hard when she died in her sleep. My oldest brother was not supposed to die like he did. He was supposed to have lived and moved down here to be near me and his only child and her children. I saw him last one year ago yesterday. He was down visiting and we went out to dinner for my birthday.

I learned that war is not the answer. Vietnam destroyed my brother. As much as I miss him I know he is no longer hurting. I remember during the Vietnam War sending him and his friends care packages. One Christmas I found a tiny tree and ornaments for him. I remember babysitting younger brothers while my parents went to Hawaii to meet Mike on R&R before he went back to Vietnam for a second tour. I remember contacting a newspaper columnist and explaining my brother was home on leave and was there any way to get tickets for the last Kingston Trio performance at the Hungry I. He had two tickets comped at the door for very good seats. I learned that civilians have to fight for our veterans. So many of them have been damaged physically and psychologically by wars and we need to respect their sacrifice and help them any way we can. I learned that you can hate the war but love the brave men and women who had to fight.

I learned that cats love you for who you are. Well that and your bed and your lap and the clean litter box and the full food and water dishes and while you’re at it the kitty toys that you will step on in the middle of the night. Their purrs are magical.

I’ve learned that friends are sometimes people you have never met. I realize that every night as I am warmed by the Community quilt that was made for me. I learned that when people embraced me and let me cry in the pain I was in from Mike’s death. I learned that from the number of times I wrote thank you on Facebook yesterday for all the birthday wishes.

Most of all I’ve learned over these last 65 years that time is not promised to us. I’ve learned that we need to cherish every moment. I’ve learned that I have a ton of things that I still want to do. I’ve learned that arthritis may have slowed my step but when your kids think you can kick ass then you will find a way to do just that.

My Zazzle account:

My Fine Arts America account:

Michele in one of her geek t-shirts with her tenth Doctor Who L'arpie. I may be older but it doesn't mean I have to be mature.

 photo DoctorandMe_zpsdcffda0b.jpg

Originally posted to Street Prophets on Thu Mar 28, 2013 at 12:00 PM PDT.

Also republished by Community Spotlight.

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