Smelling my youth

October 24, 2014

There are several smells that immediately take me back to my youth – and no, I’m not talking about the smell of frat puke (or other frat smells), or my wannabe mac daddy days bathing in Jovan musk oil.

I’m going way back to the single digits, back to the deep dark 70s, when I was a young, husky lad growing up on Drexel Avenue.

My grandmother lived with us, and she ran a pretty tight ship when it came to cleaning. Two of her go to cleaning products were Pine Sol and Comet cleanser (Yeah, I know, I don’t normally mention brand names in these pages especially since I ain’t getting a shekel’s worth of endorsement fees from either of these corporate giants, but just this once, for the sake of creative license, I’ll put my principles on the shelf!)

A while back at the kid’s school, I got a whiff of a familiar pine smelling product. So I asked the custodian (Because aren’t we all on speaking terms with our kid’s school custodian?) what he was using, and he showed me a commercial-size vessel of good ole Pine Sol.

Pine SolI was immediately propelled back to the days of my grandmother and her trusty mop bucket – old school galvanized steel, of course. Her mop wasn’t anything like the new-fangled plastic contraptions we have now. Nana had a well-worn rag mop – with a strong wooden handle that could have been used as a bo staff in the prison scene from Enter the Dragon.

I wasted no time picking up a bottle of Pine Sol, and it has been my go to cleaning product ever since.

(By the way, grandma’s cleaning genes must not have been invited to the DNA cocktail party that led to yours truly’s Cesarean entry into the world.  If I listed the top 10 things that make happy, mopping wouldn’t be one of them, but on a rare occasion I have been known to toss some suds around.)

I thought that would be it – no more memories of Nana’s fanatical cleaning proclivities, until one day at the 9 to (way past) 5, I stepped into the men’s room, and then I smelled it (no, not that). I smelled the oh so familiar chlorinated aroma of that magical cleaning concoction Comet Cleanser. Our loyal custodian had moved on to continue her appointed rounds. Undaunted (and clearly on the clock for too long and ready to go home), I walked around the office floor until I found – not our custodian – but her trusty cart of cleaning paraphernalia . With no one in view, I took a peek at the various tools of the cleaning trade, and there it was – not the powdered version of my young memories, but a high-tech liquified version.MLC Comet

Comet Cleanser was the enchanted dust Nana used in our bathroom – especially to keep clean certain areas stained by a young boy with poor aim. And if you’re keeping score, yes, in a feeble attempt to relive the days when I could get away with that bad aim, I went out and bought a can of Comet Cleanser.

As I said, housecleaning isn’t something that’s (in my Julie Andrews voice) one of my favorite things, so in the rare occasions when I do perform this chore, it’s fun to bask in the aroma and in one of the pleasant memories of young boy’s life.


Getting back to it

October 19, 2014
Where have I been?

Where have I been?

I can’t believe I’ve gone nearly three months without bending your ears. Excuses? That’s not really my thing, but if I were going to travel down that dog ate my homework road, I guess I would talk about my trusty notebook computer crapping out, or how much extra time I’ve been putting into making the donuts, or I could go on about a extra curricular or two I’ve been working on (Interesting how these factors played into my last unplanned hiatus!).

Again, I make no excuses and offer no apologies. Let’s just say that the Midlife Chronicles slid a notch or two down the list of my life’s priorities (yeah, I turn 50, start reading AARP magazine and here I am talking about life’s priorities!), but because I’ve missed our occasional chats, I’m going to hoist them back up to the top of that metaphorical to do list that I keep tucked away in that teeny thing I call a brain.

So here we go…

Or is it?

Or is it?

How could a blogger with a blog titled Midlife Chronicles ignore a decent Wall Street Journal piece on life in the middle ages? If you haven’t read this article, it’s worth checking out.

The Myth of the Midlife Crisis

It reinforces something I’ve been realizing the past 5 or 10 years that midlife ain’t so bad after all, or as the author says “…midlife upheavals are more fiction than fact.”

Looking back over the past 10 years, there really haven’t been any serious crisis to speak of (well, that lung thing, but I’m not going to count that).

The article also talks about the 5th and 6th decades of life as “time of re-evaluation and reassessment.” I like this way of thinking because – in my opinion – the middle ages are more about taking what we’ve learned and trying to making it work in the third and fourth quarters of this game of life.

Pick your poison…money, relationships, health. Midlife is a time to learn from the mistakes and missteps of our youth and armed with life’s hindsight, avoid those slip ups in the future.

Big digression…don’t you hate it when you log on to LinkedIn and you get bombarded with People You May Know recommendations from people in a field in which you no longer (or perhaps should have never) worked in?

Sorry, where was I? Oh yeah – midlife.

I’m enjoying my middle ages, and paraphrasing what I said five years ago when we began our little tête-à-têtes, I’m excited about reflecting on my life’s first half and looking ahead at the possibilities awaiting in the second.


Ties that bind

July 20, 2014

“So what are you going to do once you retire,” said the curious person to the gentleman who will be punching out for the last time in a couple of months. The future retiree responded, “I don’t know, but whatever I do, I don’t plan on wearing a tie while doing it!”

Now I won’t go too deep and paint a metaphor suggesting that donning a neck tie every day of one’s work life is akin to tying a noose around one’s neck (Oh, but deep down I really want to, but that would not jibe with my trademark sunny disposition, now would it??).

Tie one on!

Tie one on!

Despite being a newly inducted, card-carrying, discount loving AARP member, I’ll still be knotting up the old Four-in-Hand (Windsor if I’m being fancy) for a good amount of pay periods over the foreseeable future, and I’m happy to have the opportunity to do so.

There is something to be said about suiting up at the start of the day and eight (if I’m lucky) or so hours later, performing that symbolic loosening of the tie when it’s time to go home. I guess that’s why I’ve never been a big fan of business casual (which brings back horrible memories of my come as you are days early in the millennium rocking the NY tech PR thing).

I will say that there is a certain sense of freedom in knowing that one no longer has to begin the day with a silk (Or like me, more affordable man-made fabric) garrote around one’s neck.

But until then, excuse me while I pick out a tie for tomorrow.


Mac Daddy

July 13, 2014

I’ve never thought I was inflexible or set in my ways, but after a splash of cold water in the face bout of self-discovery this past week, I guess I have to adjust that assessment.

Let me explain.

I was working on a project with a friend that required me to spend some quality time with a Mac Book Pro. No big deal, right? The problem is, I’ve been hunting and pecking on Windows (also known as IBM if you’re an old school geek) hardware for nearly 25 years (prior to that we had these things called typewriters).

I had to laugh at myself (which I frequently do) over my ineptitude! Where’s the backspace key? Who moved the alt key? And what’s the deal with this damn Trackpad gimmick?!?

Courtesy TechCrunch

courtesy TechCrunch

We finished the project despite Johnny Jobs slowing things down.

There’s no arguing that the Mac Book is a beautiful machine, but my Windows loyalties are still in tact. I don’t plan on squirreling away a grand and a half of my milk money to join the Cupertino faithful anytime soon.

But this embarrassing attempt to be a cool Macboy has taught me that I might need to see if there are any other areas where this midlifer is stubbornly set in his ways.

Well, that’s it for now. My modem is overheating, which may knock out my AOL connection, and I’ve got to flip over the 33 and a 1/3 that’s spinning on my turntable!


Taking Care

July 7, 2014

 

I deeply regret that I’ve been derelict in my duties to bore you with my weekly (nay monthly) rants, but as one of my favorite motivational bloggers Scott Smith says sometimes “life gets in the way.” Such as been the case lately thanks to the combination of making the donuts, a side project here and there and just plain old hot fun in the summertime laziness.

No excuses, I just hope you’ll forgive me.

The good news is while I’ve been away, I’ve stockpiled more than a few things to ramble on about – things that made me laugh, things that pissed me off and as we’ll discuss today – things that have caught my eye and made me think.

Sometimes they get it right!

Sometimes they get it right!

I got an interesting fortune last week from a very nice Chinese joint near the 9 to 5. The fortune read You have a strong instinct to take care of people you love.

The notion of taking care jumped out at me. It’s one of those things that could be taken many ways. From the obvious – providing shelter and three squares to the more obscure. I recall reading an article about pro wrestling where the concept of taking care means not dropping a guy on his head or ‘catching’ the guy who’s jumping off the top rope so he doesn’t go splat on the concrete floor.

Taking care of someone you love is incredibly special, but to quote the great Tina Turner – What’s Love Got To Do With It? I would argue that you don’t always have to love someone to take care of them.

Treating people with respect is taking care. Being accountable for your mistakes and not pointing fingers or tossing folks under the bus is taking care (I’d elaborate on this, but unfortunately it would require me to breach my ‘no ranting about the gig’ firewall).

As I zip through this fascinating midlife period, I’ve come to realize not just the importance of taking care of someone, but the value in – to the greatest degree possible – cutting loose those who aren’t worth the time or those who don’t return the favor.

If I’m jumping off the top rope and you’re not there to catch me – to take care of me – don’t expect me to extend that trust a second time.

I’m grateful for whatever machinations of fate that made it possible for me to get that fortune cookie last week. Yes, I do have a strong instinct to take care of people I love – and for people I like.

I hope all of you in the sound of my voice have someone taking care of you, and I really hope you’re returning the favor.

 


Breaking my rule

May 25, 2014

 

I’m pretty consistent regarding topics I avoid in these pages. Generally if it’ll get me divorced, sued or fired, I stay away from it. I also try to stay away from the tried and true trinity of sex, politics and religion. But today, I’m going to put my self-imposed sanction on the shelf.

Friendship Community Church

Friendship Community Church

Something my pastor said this morning really stuck with me. I’m paraphrasing, but not much, he said that now that he’s older, he doesn’t try to impress people, he only tries to impress God.

Two months into my sixth decade, I could not agree more! I’m really beginning to learn that the older I get, the less I care about lesser important things – like trying to impress people.

I know I’m way under my usual word count, but I believe I’ve said all I need to say about this.

 


Choices

May 24, 2014

When did buying gas become so complicated? Well, not really complicated, but when did we get so many options?

It struck me earlier this week when I made a visit (an infrequent visit, I might add – thank you Seoulmobile) to my neighborhood filling station.

It really wasn’t in my neighborhood – more like on the highway en route to the 9:5. Also, I know they haven’t been called filling stations since the 70s. I just like to reminisce about the days when we had neighborhoods and neighborhood filling stations.

Five options, really??

Five options, really??

The pump has what must be an unprecedented five options. Choice is always a good thing, even when it comes to what you put in your tank (or fuel cells?). Always being a bit of a blue collar motorist, I’ve never had much need for anything more exotic than regular.

A relic from my youth!

A relic from my youth!

I’m not complaining, in fact I probably wouldn’t be ruminating on this if I had been paying more attention during the petroleum filling process. For the sake of full disclosure, while at the pump, I was too focused on the work day ahead instead of the immediate task at hand, and as a result I almost pumped diesel fuel in the Seoulmobile.  Not so much a senior moment, just a feeble attempt at multitasking!

I guess the days of having just a couple of choices – regular and high-test (those under 40, click here) – are over. How long will it be before we have a rocket fuel nozzle for George Jetson to gas up?

And another thing…when did we get so many Coke choices?!?!?

Just give me a Coke!

Just give me a Coke!


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