You Know You’re a Baby Boomer If…

  • you remember when you actually had to DIAL a telephone.
  • you remember having to get up and walk across the room if you wanted to change the channel on the TV.
  • you watched film strips in grade school during which the teacher is prompted to advance the slide by a “ding” sound.
    The Kenner Close ‘n Play phonograph played 45 rpm records and was all the rage in the ’50s and ’60s.
  • you had a Close ‘n Play.
  • you’ve seen every episode of The Brady Bunch (from 9/1969 to 3/1974) at least two times.
  • you participated in “duck and cover” drills in grade school in case of a nuclear attack.
  • you know what thisimage of 45 RPM adapter is used for.
  • you recited “The Pledge of Allegiance” at least once a week.
  • your baby teeth were worth somewhere between a nickel and a quarter.
  • your favorite songs were on “45s” and the “B” side always sucked.
  • the family car didn’t have safety belts–at least not in the back seat and DEFINITELY not in the “way back” seat (station wagons).
  • you thought the transistor radio was a really big deal.
  • cigarettes were still cool when you were a kid…and you remember when they were advertised on TV.
  • you were not a Boston Celtics fan, you knew you were pretty much SOL.
  • you loved “Laugh-In“–even if you were too young to get the jokes.
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Memories of Mom: Sunday Morning Pancakes

My mom’s been gone for a little over two years and I still experience twinges of grief at odd moments. I’ll hear a piece of classical music on the radio that reminds me of her, or a scene from a movie will spark a totally random, long-forgotten memory.

Shortly after she died I found myself making pancakes all the time–without even thinking about it. I’ve been known to go through phases with favorite foods. I’ll eat a lot of some sweet, carbohydrate-rich food for a period of time until I get sick of it and move onto something else–or abstain. It dawned on me during a carboholic pancake-craving moment that one of my fond memories of Mom from when I was little was Sunday morning pancake breakfasts.

Vera and Phoebe, circa. 1964, admiring a blue spruce in the backyard.

Mom and me in the backyard, circa. 1964

Mom, who was not a very good cook by most accounts, would make these amazingly light and fluffy pancakes on the Sunday mornings she didn’t have to work. She would get up pretty early–or maybe I just got up late. Whenever I heard her singing along with the radio–the local classical music radio station must have had an opera program on Sunday mornings–and smelled bacon sizzling, and sometimes burning, in the pan, I knew my brothers and I were in for a treat.

I’d go downstairs and perch myself on the stool next to the stove, watching her work. Mom would dip a soup ladle in the thick, slightly lumpy batter and carefully pour just enough onto the griddle to make perfectly round flapjacks that would bubble up with tiny little air pockets when it was time to flip them over. I’m sure I pestered her every time in the way little kids are so good at: “Are you going to make my animal pancakes, Mom?” I’d ask, even though I don’t ever remember a time when she didn’t. She’d smile and tell me to go set the table.

After using up most of the batter for the traditional, round flapjacks, she always made a few special pancakes for me in the shape of animals. She had the most success with bears, but she also tried making lions and elephants, too. That little gesture went a long way in making me feel special.

Posted in Caregiving, Family | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

Can a Song Put Your Life in Perspective?

Quick: What’s the first thing you think of when you hear Vanilla Ice? A frozen dessert on a stick? A refreshing summer sorbet? A famous ice sculpture?

For me, it’s “Ice Ice Baby,” the white rapper’s signature hip-hop song that exploded onto pop charts in 1990–a mere 20 years ago. The video is available here.

I was 27 years old the summer “Ice Ice Baby,” with its heavy sampling of one of my favorite songs–“Under Pressure,” by Queen and David Bowie–hit the charts. I had just moved back to Chicago after having spent the previous three years in Colorado as a ski bum. Unlike most of my peers, who followed a typical U.S. middle-class trajectory (college, career, marriage–not necessarily in that order), I was still “finding my way.” But I was definitely, by most people’s standards, what would be considered an adult.

So, when I read the following post on a friend’s Facebook wall this morning I suddenly felt…uh, mature:  “Another song I LOVED when I was little was Vanilla Ice–Ice Ice baby. My grandparents have it on video!!” I was, like, “when I was little?” “GRANDPARENTS?!” OMGawd, I’m a fossil!

I’m exaggerating, of course. I jokingly posted on my friend’s wall that the comment made me feel ooooold, but I know I’m not really a fossil–yet. Nevertheless, the wall post did get me thinking about the music I was listening to when I was little, and it sure as hell wasn’t rap!

I grew up mostly on folk and classical music. My parents’ record collection (neither cassette tapes nor DVDs had been invented yet, let alone the doomed 8-track tape) included Pete Seeger; Big Bill Broonzy; The Weavers; Peter, Paul and Mary–stuff like that.

My first-ever album was Peter and the Wolf, a story by Russian composer Sergei Prokofiev. He created a classical  piece in which various instruments represented different characters in the story. I think the album we had was the version performed by the New York Philharmonic Orchestra, Leonard Bernstein conducting, from 1960.  Rap was not even part of the music industry’s vernacular until the mid- to late 1970s!

So, when somebody posts on a popular social networking site that one of her favorite songs when she was a kid and that her grandparents have on video came out when YOU were in your 20s or 30s…does it make you feel old? I think it sparked a bit of nostalgia for me–and gratitude that my parents and siblings exposed me to different kinds of music that eventually led me to rock ‘n’ roll, R&B, soul music and jazz.

As for the grandparents who have “Ice Ice Baby” on video? I think they sound pretty hip!

Posted in Lifestyle, Musings, Social Networking | Tagged , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Talk About POSITIVITY!

So, I launched a new Twitter page to go along with this blog. The following exchange with one of my new peeps is so precious I just had to share it here:

@mochadad: On this Father’s Day Eve, I have hung my socks on the fireplace mantle.

@pushingfifty: That’s so cute! What if you wake up tomorrow and find them filled with coal? 😉 Happy Father’s Day!

@mochadad: Then I will place it on my BBQ pit and cook some steaks.

@pushingfifty: Awesome comeback! Talk about POSITIVITY! You’ve got it made! I hope you have a blessed, pampered day with your family. 🙂

*****************************

This is why I LOVE Twitter! I have connected online with some of the most amazing people I’ve never met! If you haven’t dabbled in social networking, I highly recommend it.

Besides, the online baby-boomer legions are growing. According to a report on BusinessWorld.com, more than 25 percent of people 50 years and older in the United States are connecting on social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter and MySpace! Considering that there are more than 78 million of us (and that number may be even higher once the 2010 census is tabulated), 25 percent is pretty significant.

The end of the article states that only 1 percent of this age group follows blogs, however. We’ll just have to work on that. 😉

Happy Father’s Day to all you dads and granddads! And remember, if you find coal in your socks, use it to grill some steaks! LOL!

Posted in Family, Musings, Resources, Social Networking | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

What a Ride!

Although I appreciate the thought behind the quote “Youth is wasted on the young,” I’m not sure I’d want to go back and do it all over knowing what I know now–especially if I had to go through all the angst and raging hormones of adolescence again.

With age comes knowledge, experience, the ability to make better choices, a broader sphere of influence and–if you’re lucky–some measure of wisdom. And it takes all those years of fits and starts, of falling down and getting back up again, to figure it out. I don’t see it as a waste–it’s simply part of the process.

I remember realizing when I turned 25 I could no longer use my age (i.e., youth) as an excuse for the terrible decisions I had made up to that point. I was expected to be a grown up, with all the attendant hassles and responsibilities that go along with it. Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on your perspective), I was not very good at following the rules.

On my 46th birthday (last year) I put my hair up in pigtails for the first time in, oh,  35 years or so, took a picture and posted it on my Facebook page. And then I told my friends I was freaking out because I was officially closer to 50 than 40. *gulp* It was a sobering moment because, regardless of what Oprah says (50 is the new 30), 50 sounds so ooooold to me. But I got over it, went to work for a few hours, ate chocolate cake my coworkers treated me to and then went home and played in the dirt for a while out in my garden. In other words, it was just another day.

This year wasn’t much different. I’m back in Chicago and will be gardening in a community garden again rather than in my back yard, but other than that my 47th birthday was no big deal.

What is different is how I feel inside. Some people call it serenity; some people call it contentment–some might blame it on lethargy. All I know is the worry and anxiety I had at 25–silly stuff like what do people think of me and what am I doing with my life and when is that guy at the end of the bar who’s been staring at me for the past hour going to get off his ass and buy me a drink–are no longer a part of my lexicon.

I am edging up on 50 and the path that has gotten me here has been a squiggly one–and you know what? It’s all good. On most days I am just fine with where I’m at, ’cause I know it’s right where I’m supposed to be. Yeah, I need to lose weight and I’m not in the best living situation right now and I’m definitely no millionaire, but I am OK with me today and am looking forward to tomorrow in a way I couldn’t even imagine at 25.

Welcome to my new blog. It’s about life pushing 50 and its attendant “unfoldings.” I hope to be able to use some of my knowledge and experience to find and share useful information for people “my age” and older.

It’s been a hell of a ride. But I wouldn’t trade a minute of it for the peace and contentment I feel right at this moment. How about you?

Posted in Musings | Tagged , | 2 Comments