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Sunday, May 29, 2016

The Clock, a Dialogue

--This is the end. The very end.


--The bitter end, do you mean?


--If that's the way you want it. I've been avoiding this conversation all day.


--I've noticed you haven't really been yourself.


--You noticed, did you? You felt my usual loving presence was missing?


--Are you going to tell me?


--When I came downstairs this morning I saw the clock.


--What clock?


--You know damned well what clock. Don't play the innocent with me because I'm on to you. I've seen you in this mode for years and I'm sick of it. I'm putting my cards on the table.


--So deal.


--See? That's what I mean. You'd better take this seriously because I'm really upset!


--About the clock.


--Yes! About the clock.


--You were there when I bought it. You even encouraged me to get it.


--Only because I thought you'd put it in the basement along with all your other back-up items. I thought you'd keep it in reserve for the next time a clock gives up the ghost.


--I didn't say that was what I'd do with it.


--No, you didn't. But that's what I thought you'd do.


--So what's wrong with the clock where it is? Where I put it?


--It shouldn't be there! You shouldn't have put it up in one of the public rooms where we don't even need a clock! Who wants to look at a clock while they're eating dinner? Time doesn't matter when you're eating! It doesn't belong there.


--But there's no other clock in the dining room.


--Of course there isn't! We don't need one there.


--You know what I think the problem is?


--You mean besides the friggin' clock in the friggin' dining room?


--Yeah, besides that.




--I think the problem is that I didn't tell you I was going to do it. You don't like it when I make a unilateral decision.


--That's not exactly true. You make them all the time. ALL the TIME! But I don't like it when you put a cheap plastic clock in full sight in the dining room. I don't like that at all. You could have asked me.


--What would you have said? You'd have said no.


--Well, we could have discussed it. You could have told me why you wanted a clock in this room. Maybe we could have found a better place for it—a less noticeable place.


--Well, that's a laugh! It can't be TOO noticeable because I put it up on Saturday right after we bought it, and it's been up for five days and you're just now noticing it.


--Just because I'm unobservant doesn't mean our guests are. It's an ugly clock and I don't want it there. And I hate the thought of how you might have hung it. What size nail did you hammer into that woodwork? Oh! I just looked again and it is SO out of place there!


--I still think you're just mad because I did it on my own.


--Think what you want. It's an ugly plastic clock and it's coming down. Just as soon as I have the energy to get the hammer so I can pry out the nail.


--Well, where can I put my clock, then?


--I know how I'd like to answer that question, but I'll refrain. After half an hour of deep breathing I might be able to discuss it more calmly. I'm sure we'll be able to find exactly the right spot for it—as long as it isn't the dining room.

Copyright © 2016 Ann Tudor

Sunday, May 22, 2016


In a recent conversation about aging, a friend said, "I feel as if I'm being robbed." She was talking about losing bits of herself and her abilities as she ages. I liked the way she phrased it and wondered whether I feel the same way. Do I feel robbed? I can't walk as far or as fast as I once did. Or is it just that I don't walk as far or as fast?


The problem with my memory (I know I talk about this a lot) isn't really memory as such. It's more about a curious loss of sharpness and mental capacity. Numbers look different. Sequencing numbers is different. I used to be a whiz at arithmetic (not math, I assure you, but adding and subtracting, and the times-tables).


What is happening to my mind is very real but too subtle to put into words; the more my capabilities diminish, the less I can document how it feels. It's very hard to explain how I can't follow a line of thought any longer, since the very situation precludes being able to describe it.


Do I feel robbed? What has been taken from me? I still have remnants of everything, so I can't catalogue absolute losses. That's the thing: I really didn't resonate with my friend's statement of feeling robbed because I still have so much: mobility is at the top of the list. I still have working hips and knees (and a massage therapist who keeps them well oiled). The memory thing? Well, live in the moment, honey, and you won't miss those old memories. One night recently when I couldn't sleep I was running over every single sin of my life—sins of omission as well as commission. And I don't even believe in sin. Well, those are memories I can gladly give away to any robber.


Let's face it. I don't have anything at all to complain about. Why wallow when I don't have to? A time for wallowing may come later, but for now, it's all good, as too many people say too often.



Copyright © 2016 Ann Tudor

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Denial and Cleopatra

Denial is the grease that makes our lives bearable. It's a bit like WD-40. If the D is for denial, what's the W? Wholehearted? Wee? I suppose it varies according to the denier.


But think of it: perhaps the opposite of denial is continual confrontation. Or maybe the opposite of denial is acceptance, which in a way is another form of denial: this person's behaviour is intolerable, but I don't want a confrontation, so I'll just accept it (and claim to any who ask that it is NOT intolerable). Isn't that denial?


With a good spritzing of WD-40 we can slide through the difficulties of our daily lives.


I was thinking that being in denial is like wearing the blinkers that they used to put on horses—those shields fastened at the outer edge of the horses' eyes to keep them from shying at unexpected obstacles. Blinkers that kept the horses' gaze narrow and straight ahead. Having thought that, I began to doubt the very concept of blinkers. Did I make up the word? Were horses actually blinkered once? Are they still? Was it only carriage horses that were blinkered, not riding horses? If so, that would explain why I haven't see a blinkered horse in years.


But then I thought, is that even the right word? Blinkered? It surely wasn't blinded, or blindered. And as I tried to wade through this murky memory I felt as if I had conjured up the whole thing: blinkers, horses wearing blinkers (how on earth were they attached?)—the very phrase seemed false, invented by my newly strange mind. Once I knew. Or maybe I didn't. Maybe I made it up. It could go either way.


And this brings me straight back to denial: am I still pretending to be a functioning human being, when the truth is that my mind is fit for , , , for treason, stratagems and spoils, it must be, since Shakespeare says that's what happens to a person who has no music in his soul. Well, that lack of music in my soul these days is a topic for a different essay.


Sufficient unto the day is the denial thereof . . . In this case, I think maybe denial is a good thing. Today's WD-40 will allow me to slip through the blockages and traffic cones of my brain, and just pretend, pretend. Oh yes, I'm the great pretender.


If you ask me why the title of this piece is "Denial and Cleopatra," I will deny any intention of including her in this essay. Deny, deny, deny.



Copyright © 2016 Ann Tudor

Sunday, May 8, 2016

A New Age

The blink of an eye. Two shakes of a lamb's tail. A nanosecond. That's how long it has taken me to go from zero to seventy-nine. Within viewing distance of the bit eight-oh. Age is the topic today.


At seventy I wrote the book on aging (well, a book on aging). And then I pretty much forgot about it for these almost ten years.


But it's back in my sights, filling the viewfinder of my camera's lens. At seventy I admitted (to myself and anyone else who was listening) that time was not going to reverse itself. I was getting older.


Now I'm at a new phase. Conversations with my peers often detour into the Age Talk. Conversations with my ten-years-younger friends are becoming advice sessions on the details of aging. Even my children, now in their early fifties, are becoming acutely aware of age and the dangers of a feckless approach to health.


So that's the preamble. Where's the amble? Well, one thing I didn't expect is how easy it has been to let go of Doing. As a (lifelong) Capricorn, I have been a go-getter, never without a project or two, able to multitask at an enviable speed. My friend Sally used to remind me of my motto at fifty: it it's worth doing at all, it's worth doing fast. That was me on speed. At speed. No one could keep up with me when I walked. This intensity was my persona.


Well, the mask is being removed! For the first time in my life I am floating free. I do have a project in the sense that I will have to promote and market the newly published cookbook, but other than that I'm just hanging out—and in the slowest possible way.


My perspective has changed. Although I'm aware of occasional worries, I no longer obsess about them. I think I have realized the validity of that much-repeated truism: life goes on. For the first time I am actually aware that life will follow its merry path with or without my meddling. I get to do nothing, if that's what I want to do.


Here I am in excellent health, no worries, and a soft life. Uh-oh. Sounds like the precondition for an attack of guilt. But no. Not yet, anyway. I'm just enjoying what comes. It's a New Age!



Copyright © 2016 Ann Tudor




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Sunday, May 1, 2016

Racing Raindrops

Watching two raindrops race to the bottom of the window pane is what I did when I was ten. In a moving car on a rainy day the drops raced sideways and I leaned my tired, bored head against the window and focused on the drops that dripped into the frame of my vision and I would forget the scrumbling siblings beside and behind me.


I saw the raindrops and idly wondered (nothing more involved than mild wonder) which would win. But before the match could conclude, the wind whipped two more racers into my line of sight and I would follow them with a peaceful gaze.  


It's been too long since I traced the path of racing raindrops. Next time I ride in a car in the rain, I'll sit by the window and watch the drops race.

Copyright © 2016 Ann Tudor