Tuesday 25 December 2012

Christmas 2012: Home Alone 3

Do earth-shattering events change traditions? Do life-altering experiences, well, alter life? Growing up, Christmas was always at Mom and Dad's. Even after I was grown up (snickers all around), Christmas was always spent "at home", at home meaning chez ma mère et mon père. (I have no idea why I slipped into French.) Somewhere along the way, there was marriage and the attempt to define new traditions: Christmas morning, opening the gifts under the tree. Whether in my own home or at my parents, there was the round of big dinners, visits from family, friends or visits made to family and friends. All good. All that is warm and nostalgic.

Traditions change: death and divorce. You get your arm caught in the wood chipper and have it ripped off. Like it or not, you will have to live the rest of your life missing a limb and you will have to learn how to button your shirt with one hand. You will learn how to decorate a tree and make gravy without two arms. Good? Bad? Happy? Sad? With the aplomb of a Zen master, I would say that sometimes life "just is": a tsunami has washed away your town; a wildfire has destroyed your home; the financial crisis wiped out your life savings. You accept and move on. You have to accept because you have no choice. And through acceptance, you do move on. As I said, with the aplomb of a Zen master. This does not preclude occasionally stopping, leaning over slightly while supporting myself with my hands on my knees, staring in the direction of the floor, taking a deep breath then slowly saying quietly to myself, "Fuuuccckkkk!!!"

In 2011, the world population crossed the seven billion mark. Out of that, approximately two billion are Christian. So that makes theoretically about two billion who celebrate Christmas and five billion who don't. In my first Christmas alone, right on the 25th of December 2010, I looked out the window of my apartment and saw a moving truck parked outside. Somebody was moving out of the building and during a couple of hours a group of four people went back and forth loading up furniture, clothes, and boxes of things for their next home. It made me think that for the most part, Christmas is just another day. People have jobs to go to; there are services which have to remain operational; and I was going to jog just as I did any day.

Don't Cry For Me Argentina
Christmas number three represents my new tradition: another day devoted to me: time for reflection, a little TV over the Internet, and of course some writing. Maybe I'll take in a movie. Maybe not. I'll jog. I'll exercise. I'll organise some of my personal files and do a little cleaning. If I feel like it, I'll take a nap. Just another day.

Sound sad? It's not. As odd as it seems, I am enjoying the peace and quiet. I have at times enjoyed the holiday hubbub but right now I'm enjoying the freedom from tradition. Yes, I sometimes get nostalgic but one has to come back to that Zen master stuff (or is it bulls**t?) and move on. You have to enjoy life right now as it is, for what it is. After all, what else exists? Is the glass half full or is it half empty? Heck, it's the only glass I've got!

On April 7, 2012 I suffered the worst sports injury of my life. I traumatised my upper left quadrant of my body but did not tear my rotator cuff (that would require surgery). I did however slightly separate the two bones in my forearm, pop the long arm of my biceps tendon out of its groove, and mildly herniate the C6 cervical disc. For four months I had pain twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week.

Where am I now? I was told it would take six months to a year to get back to where I was. I am just over the eight month mark. I have not taken any pain medication since August. I am back jogging. I do isometric exercises everyday but started a month ago to additionally work out with a resistance tube. I go back to physiotherapy not really for the therapy but to keep checking that everything remains in place especially the long head of my biceps tendon. This is the best I have felt since April.

I am lucky; very very lucky. Other people have told me stories which make my hair curl. (Okay, that's figuratively curl since I'm almost bald.) Some have required surgery and some have pain years after their original injury. Moi? I am kissing the ground. There but for the grace of God go I.

But what must I do to ensure this never happens again? I am consulting experts. I am paying attention to what they say and I do the exercises they prescribe. I am working up slowly and not trying to get overeager and damage myself. I have decided I am going to get myself a home gym system and when I get the green light, I am going to go back to resistance training. I want to work on strength to make sure I don't suffer from the same sort of weakness which caused my original injury. Besides, I wouldn't mind being able once again to do "The Slow Climb" from the Kama Sutra while standing up. Or at least "The Stand and Deliver". It's good to have goals. (And my goal in even mentioning the Kama Sutra is to get from you "spit take", "guffaw", or "Ooooo". Ha ha ha.)

Bella DePaulo
Ms. DePaulo (Ph.D., Harvard, 1979) is a social psychologist and the author of "Singled Out: How Singles are Stereotyped, Stigmatized, and Ignored, and Still Live Happily Ever After" (2007). I haven't read the book but have read reviews and excerpts. Ms. DePaulo tries to set the record straight about singles that they are not losers or nutbars. From the book description on Amazon:

Singled Out Debunks Ten Myths of Singlehood, Including:
-Myth--The Dark Aura of Singlehood: You are miserable and lonely and your life is tragic.
-Myth--Attention, Single Women: Your work won’t love you back and your eggs will dry up. Also, you don’t get any and you’re promiscuous.
-Myth--Attention, Single Men: You are horny, slovenly, and irresponsible, and you are the scary criminals. Or you are sexy, fastidious, frivolous, and gay.

Good lord is that what people think when you introduce yourself as single? I'm doomed! Heck, we're all doomed!

Final Word
A new tradition is born. And I suspect it is a tradition practised by more people than any of us realise. Ignominious? Ignored? Ostracized? Condemned to walk the Earth forever like the Wandering Jew?

When I was 42 and still single, I was sitting in a doctor's office glancing through Cosmo. Yes, yes, I was reading Cosmo. There wasn't anything else to read but the front cover had something which caught my eye. An article about middle age men who were single basically said the following: if a guy is 40 and single it means one of two things. First, he's so messed up a woman should avoid him or two, he's gay. I was laughing as I realised that I was doomed! I'm not gay so I have to be screwed up. Ha ha.

Now here, in reading about Bella DePaulo I read that single men are either horny, slovenly, and irresponsible or they are sexy, fastidious, frivolous, and gay. Oh crap, here it comes again. I'm doomed!!! Well, is it at this point I just give up and try to go with the flow? And the only way to stop people from thinking I'm mentally unhinged is that I must now start decorating my apartment with a new eye. Hmmm, how about pink? Of course there is always fuchsia. I'm not sure what fuchsia is but just the way that word rolls off the tongue, I know that people are going to look at me in a new light.

"And to all a good-night!"


Single people: alone but not necessarily lonely
Singles only want to get coupled. Singles are miserable and lonely; their lives are tragic. If you're married, you will be healthier and live longer. Single women are not getting any and are promiscuous. Single men are horny, slovenly and irresponsible. They are also scary criminals. If a man is single, fastidious, well-dressed and sexy, he's gay and here gay is a bad thing.

Wikipedia: The Wandering Jew
The Wandering Jew is a figure from medieval Christian folklore whose legend began to spread in Europe in the 13th century. The original legend concerns a Jew who taunted Jesus on the way to the Crucifixion and was then cursed to walk the earth until the Second Coming.

Amazon: paperbook, 2007, by Bella DePaulo
"Singled Out: How Singles are Stereotyped, Stigmatized, and Ignored, and Still Live Happily Ever After"

Book description
Drawing from decades of scientific research and stacks of stories from the front lines of singlehood, Bella DePaulo debunks the myths of singledom---and shows that just about everything you’ve heard about the benefits of getting married and the perils of staying single are grossly exaggerated or just plain wrong. Although singles are singled out for unfair treatment by the workplace, the marketplace, and the federal tax structure, they are not simply victims of this singlism--single people really are living happily ever after.

From Publishers Weekly
DePaulo fastidiously defines the various categories of singlehood-divorced, widowed or just plain never been married-and gives their struggle a voice in this intriguing cultural study. According to DePaulo, "singlism" is the pervasive discrimination single people face in politics and everyday life, though DePaulo makes it clear he isn't equating it with racism or sexism. Rather, DePaulo uncovers society's immediate associations-conscious and otherwise-with the word "single," including the implication of loneliness, homosexuality and/or a personal defect that prevents a single person from achieving the dubiously enshrined goal of marriage. In addition, this exhaustive study reveals how marriage has come to represent the foundation of both American society and politics, and how the resulting system of discrimination pervades even in this modern age of financial freedom-including increased tax burdens, decreased social security benefits, and real-world wage disparity. In identifying the stigmas of being single and debunking myths like "marrieds know best," DePaulo has given this complicated subject the attention and respect it deserves, opening a dialogue without offering any pat solutions.

Wikipedia: Home Alone 3
Home Alone 3 is a 1997 American family comedy film written and produced by John Hughes. It is the third film in the Home Alone series and the first not to feature actor Macaulay Culkin or director Chris Columbus.


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