Frazzled Marc, half way through my 40s!

Frazzled Marc, half way through my 40s!
Frazzled Marc, half way through my 40s!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

A couple of my favorite photos by famous photographers

A new segment in my blog will be photos, architecture, sculpture, and artwork that I have studied, admired, or just been blown away by! I hope you enjoy them as much as I have.

***I do not own these photographs and are just displaying them for educational purposes.




Man Ray "Tears" 1930
I have always been in love with the Surrealist photographer Man Ray. This is one of my all time favorites.




Dorthea Lange "Destitute peapickers in California; a 32 year old mother of seven children, February 1936" 1936  
I always felt the mother in this photograph looked so worn out, so sad, without hope. It conveys such feelings of struggle and emotional exhaustion.




Charis Wilson "Nude" 1936
I love the angularity of the woman's body in this photograph.




Robert Mapplethorpe "Grace Jones" 1988
I love this picture by Mapplethorpe. Grace Jones has such a haunting look about her. I particularly like her eyes.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Good Conversations

One of the things I enjoy about getting older are the good conversations that I have with others. In my 20's and 30's, conversations could range from being passionate about causes or just gossiping with friends. I still do this, but I realize a couple of things. Even though I may be passionate about a cause, such as saving the rain forests, I now listen to the other side and think about what they are saying. I have learned that listening in a conversation is just as important as correctly articulating my point. I also still like to gossip. I admit it. But this gets rather boring after awhile. You hear the same stories: who is sleeping with who; who is heading off to rehab; what is the hottest trend; etc. etc.

Since I have turned 40 and am progressing headfirst towards 41, I realize I enjoy really good stimulating conversation. I drive each day about an hour back and forth to work, the same boring drive 48 miles to Allentown. Before Mom passed away, I would have conversations with her. Mostly light-hearted stuff. We would talk about what I was doing in the evening, how John was, if I had talked to Sheryl or Adam. She loved also hearing about the prior evening's events. I have said it before and I will say it again, she loved living vicariously through her kids. It brings me to a smile thinking about this. She loved hearing about the most minutiae of details of where we were, who we were seeing, and what we were drinking or eating. It gave her such pleasure. After Mom passed, my drives became quiet and sad, and I succumbed to whatever radio show was on at the time.

I started having great conversations with my friend Jennifer and still do. We talk on and on about everything. No topic is off limits. Relationships, sex, good times, bad times, children, pets, and parents. Add on 50 topics to that and you still are not evening close to what comes up in our crazy "all over the place" conversations. She is a good friend, one that if I don't talk with every couple days, I start to feel lost without that familiar conversation.

When my sister Sheryl was hired by Amtrak down in Delaware, she and I wound up on the same commuting schedule. Sheryl and I have always been close and have always talked but this was a way to keep in touch a couple times a day. Sheryl and I have incredible conversations, good in depth conversations where we each think and talk about our arguments and opinions. We talk about world politics, entertainment, art, the environment, plus the normal bitching about family and friends. If she didn't know how much I appreciate them, she will now.  She has replaced the normalcy and stability that conversations with my mother gave me.

I have great talks with my brother Adam, too. We talk when he is commuting to work as well, or when one of us is buzzed and out having a good time.  More and more, it involves him putting my dear niece Angelica and nephew Johnny on the line. Sometimes I wish Adam would let me know that I am on speaker phone with them because Uncle Marc would try and censor his speech without so many dropping F-bombs! But I have to laugh, because whether he realizes it or not, my brother still dispenses older brother advice. Of course I love the advice ... whether or not I listen to it is another discussion entirely!

Over Thanksgiving, John and I went up to the Eaglesmere Inn up in Eaglesmere, PA. It's a lovely Victorian resort town in the Endless Mountains of the Poconos in northeastern PA. We have spent Thanksgiving up there a couple years in a row since Mom passed. The reason being that Mom used to host Thanksgiving and I just couldn't get myself to celebrate the holiday as we normally did. It is still tough even going to her house.

While we were up there our first year Thanksgiving 2009, John and I met a wonderful couple, Fern and Jack. From New York City, Fern and Jack are extremely well educated and cultured. We were drawn to each other immediately over a good Caberbet. They are our age and Fern works for the EPA as a lawyer and Jack is a chiropractor. Fern and I connected while John and Jack connected (although we all got along famously). We hung out in the "pub" room of the inn talking to each other long into the night. We were also so excited upon returning the second year to see them there as well. I kind of felt sorry for the other returning guests as it was obvious that the four of us were so excited to talk again amongst ourselves.

I embrace my forties as I really enjoy the "art" of good conversation: intelligently debating, agreeing, and arguing on worthy topics. These can last hours and as an adult, I rather enjoy spending an evening like this ... and a bottle of good wine helps move the conversation along!

Lastly, my father Robert Haynes and I have enjoyed some really great conversations. My father, now retired from over 30 years as an art professor, has resumed his original passion of being an artist. He still remains an art educator as he now chairs and is a member of several art committees and boards in Humboldt County, CA. Our conversations once began as father and son, with my father being the mentor and I as the pupil. I would seek advice and he would dispense willingly. Through the decades as his son, I had started, of course, to formulate my own opinions on topics. Dad had listened and either agreed or disagreed respectfully. Once thing I appreciated was that Dad never talked down to me about my opinions. I realize that he was allowing me and encouraging me to formulate my opinions with my own arguments. Now as I enter my forties, my conversations with my father have involved me sometimes dispensing advice to him. I don't remember the topic on what I first gave him advice about but was taken aback when he responded to me, "You are right and I will consider this." Now, my father is an extremely educated man whom I respect above everyone else. To here him say that made me realize I am figuring "it" out and on the right path. THAT was a conversation worth remembering.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Think twice about your butt..

I don't smoke, I never have. I really don't care if you do, that is your health and your decision. I know my mother's smoking directly contributed to major health problems including lung cancer, brain cancer, and liver cancer. Food for thought.

Whoever delivers newspapers in the morning to the set of mailboxes in front of my house constantly drops their "butts" on the ground. Besides it aggravating me because it is littering, I hate the fact that those damn cigarette butts take years to biodegrade. Specifically, one butt can take 3-10 months to decompose. Some say it can take as much as 12 years. The filter, which if made up of acetate, will never full break down.  Information is available on this, look it up on the internet.

The Palmetto Pride organization of Myrtle Beach, SC have a great campaign.
Their website is http://www.palmettopride.org/.
Check it out. They have put out drink coasters at various bars which argue against littering with your cigarette butts. Specifically they say, "Think twice about your butt .... Cigarette butts just don't decompose over night you know? Litter trashes everyone, don't do it."

Again, if you wanna smoke go ahead. Just don't litter with your butts.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Getting Shanghai'd While Thinking of Pipe Dreams

Definition of a "pipe dream" according to Wikipedia:

A pipe dream is a fantastic hope or plan that is generally regarded as being nearly impossible to achieve, originating in the 19th century as an allusion to the dreams experienced by smokers of opium pipes.

I love the origination of this term! I used to think that writing on an active basis, much less having a blog, was my pipe dream. Now I just think getting paid for it is. Ha ha.  I still have other pipe dreams I have yet to see come to life.  I am afraid my pipe dream list may one day segue into a bucket list.

Definition of "Shanghai'd" according to Wikipedia:

Shanghaiing refers to the practice of conscripting men as sailors by coercive techniques such as trickery, intimidation, or violence. Those engaged in this form of kidnapping were known as crimps. Until 1915, unfree labor was widely used aboard American merchant ships. The related term press gang refers specifically to impressment practices in Great Britain's Royal Navy.  Shanghaiing predominantly took place in the Northwest United States.

This is another term I had always wondered about. By the way, it is just a coincidence I have chosen two unfamiliar terms which are both Asian in reference and/or definition. I had always wondered where the term pipe dream came from and earlier in the week, I stumbled across Shanghai'd in a trivia book. I further read online that in Portland, Oregon, you can take a tour of the waterfront where getting Shanghai'd was a common practice. There are cells in tunnels by the docks which you can tour. On my next trip out to Seattle, I am definitely going to swing down to Portland, Oregon, and take the tour.

Here is the website:
http://www.shanghaitunnels.info/

It seems that the 1800's and first half of the 1900's were times of misunderstanding and mistrust of Asian cultures. Derogatory terms were invented out of ignorance, fear, and this mistrust. Even casual references with negative connotations were often used. Thankfully, today, our world has progressed where these hurtful words and expressions are not used too often, and of course, frowned upon. Still, I have always been interested in word origination and these two words are no exception to that interest.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Early Childhood Memories

My earliest memory was of my Mom and I. I was 2 or 3 and had managed to climb out of my crib in the apartment we were living at The Crossings in Glassboro, NJ. I clearly remember swinging one leg over and then the other and basically falling onto the 70's carpet below. I wandered down the hallway and surprised her in the kitchen. She wasn't upset but she was a little shocked that I had figured out how to get out. "What are you doing Marc!" she said surprised.  I said "I got out Mommy!" "You sure did!"

Another of my earliest memories was drinking out of a glass for the very first time. It was apple juice, sweet, and I remember holding so tightly with both hands while in the kitchen. I was a green juice glass. It seemed so big and heavy at the time. In retrospect, I figure my hands were just so small. I was so proud of myself. I said to Mom, “Look Mommy I am drinking just like a big kid!” She smiled and agreed. No more bottle for me! I have fond memories of catching pollywogs with Adam and my Dad in the stream which ran through the field next to the apartment building. Dad would allow us to hold the tiny black tadpoles in our little hands, watching them squirm around before releasing them back into the stream. It's one of my favorite memories. I remember playing with Lego's and blocks with Adam. We had these die cast metal toy planes that I loved to play with as well. There were 747's with stickers all over them. I see them in several pictures we have and have often wondered what happened to them. The wistful memories of childhood toys...

Adam and I would also play “ghost” with sheets over our heads. Unfortunately, we were not too smart and forgot to put eye holes in the sheets. Adam ended up falling and cracking his head open on one of Dad’s huge rocks he had collected in the apartment. Mom and Dad rushed him to the hospital and stitched up a gash on his forehead. You can just barely make out the scar today from so many years ago. I also remember doing lots of artwork with Dad. Being an art professor at Glassboro State College, he actively encouraged us to draw, color, paint, and create sculptures.

There are memories of playing with my brother and sister in the Crossings apartment. Adam would trick me into getting into the toy chest and shut the lid and shut the lid on me. Why I would fall for it every time is beyond me! Adam and Sheryl would also climb up the bunk bed ladder and play up there leaving me screaming down at the bottom because I couldn’t climb up. I was so jealous that they were having fun without me. Sometimes Mom would allow us to create forts with all of these sheets. She would walk into the  bedroom or the family room (when we moved to Wenonah) and would find every piece of furniture was covered and connected in sheets. We would be underneath plotting some battle against an imaginary foe. My sister Sheryl taught us how to create the forts. In the age before video games, she also taught us how to play games outside: Red Light Green Light, Mother May I, Simon Says, Flashlight Tag, Freeze Tag, Hide and Go Seek, kick ball, and whiffle ball. We would stay outside way past dark playing these games. Either Adam or Sheryl always won. It was tough sometimes being the youngest (although I did enjoy being spoiled by my parents).

It was a simple time and we were struggling financially but Mom always stretched her dollars and we never went without. I never seemed to noticed that we were poor, that’s just how it was. I always had toys, always had clothes, and always had food on the table. Mom’s macaroni and cheese, her meatloaf, her baked chicken all come to mind. Dad would make the best pancakes on the weekends and Sheryl, Adam,and I would have contests to see how many we could eat. I believe Adam won with eating thirty pancakes in one sitting! I still can smell them in my memories. There was lots of cereal, lots of soups, canned veggies, and applesauce. We were a “left over” house. Mom used up everything. Today, my sister and I feel that this is why were are so thrifty. Whether Mom realized it or not, she taught us the value of the dollar, even at so young an age.

My Nanny was the same way and probably instilled this unto my mother. She ironed wrapping paper so that she could reuse it. She saved boxes and countless bags. She made apple sauce from the crab apple tree in the back of her yard. I remember really not liking it. I was definitely a jarred applesauce type of kid. It is kind of comforting knowing and realizing how much you are influenced by your Mom and to an extent, your grandparents.

The reason I write about my memories is that as I get older, some of them get fuzzy. Some memories just become feelings, sounds, smells, or a freeze frame of what was once a large event. I don't like forgetting things but alas, that is what happens as we get older. I would watch my mother try and remember childhood friends from pictures and see the joy in her eyes when she would remember certain things about them or the day the picture was taken. She would state, "My God, I haven't thought of her in years!" It gave me joy to see her smile over them.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Thinking About the Japanese Earthquake

During this past week, the world experienced the 5th largest earthquake in recorded human history.  The Japanese earthquake registered 8.9 on the Richter magnitude scale. What the earthquake didn't topple, the tsunami afterwards swept away. As of this date, it is estimated that over 10,000 people have perished. It really makes you think how lucky you are. In an instant, everything can be swept away and destroyed. I am grief stricken for the Japanese people of Sendai seeing them try and cope with the devastation. They look in shock, they look helpless.  Everything they had was just gone in an instant.

I have thought about what I have and surround myself with. What would I really want to save? What really means the world to me? My family heirlooms, family photographs, and scrapbooks of course. I would want to save my writing. But of the other stuff? It is all replaceable. I really don't need any of it. I mean I love my various antique collections but in the long run, it is just stuff. More stuff to dust.  And even with wanting to save my heirlooms, photos, and scrapbooks, the only thing that really matters would be seeing my family safe as well as my pet family too. I think we all can agree with that. I am going to try and take a new attitude towards the stuff I own. Pare down, sell off, and either increase my savings or use those funds to start seeing the world and experience different cultures other than my own.

I admire the strength and endurance of those that have lost everything that they have worked so hard for. I am, at this point in my life, definitely not as strong as them. The closest I have come to that feeling is losing my mother and after two years, am still struggling certain days with that. To lose everything and survive is, I can only guess, how you would truly find yourself, find what you are made of, and find what your purpose is on this earth.

Prayers and thoughts to those on the other side of the world going through such difficult times.  This natural disaster is, once again, an eye opener for us all. A country which is known for having some of the best earthquake proof architecture survived only to be ravaged by its sister nemesis, the tsunami. I have to say that sometimes I am seriously thankful I live in Pennsylvania, an area of this world where we see some flooding, some blizzards, some bad thunderstorms, and the occasional tornado in the countryside, but nothing like what they see in other parts of the world.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

A friend's memory of my Mom

A close family friend recounted a memory of her's of my Mom that I wanted to share. She passed it onto my sister and I leaving us both the other week in tears (good tears though, missing our Mom.) Even though we are going on 2 years on April 10th, it still seems like yesterday that she passed away. It was was such a special and nice memory that I wanted to share it with you.

She wrote, "I'm going into the hospital for a routine procedure today. While I was getting ready, a vision of your mom popped into my head. I don't know exactly when it was. I was in late high school or early college. Your mom was in the hospital overnight for something and we went to visit her. I remember thinking "How can she be in the hospital and look this good?" I can *still* see her frosted pink nails; her face and hair were done to perfection. She could have jumped out of bed, put on a ballgown, and been good to go."

That was my Mom. She always looked beautiful and always had such a positive attitude when it came to herself and life. She always encouraged us to live life to the fullest. I often would complain to her that I didn't have time to do this or that because I had to do the household chores. She would say to me, "Marc, where is the laundry or cleaning gonna go? It will be there tomorrow. Enjoy yourself, you can clean tomorrow." 

Other times I would tell her I was going to see my sister Sheryl in Philly or my brother Adam in San Diego. Afterwards, she always wanted to know ALL about our visits, right down to the last detail. There were weeks she would live vicariously through her children. No detail was too small for her. She beamed about us kids getting together so often. She would tell me, "I am SO glad you are close with your brother and sister.  Do you need any money?"  Of course I said yes, being the little devil my Mom knew me to be, and Mom would slip me a twenty with a hug and a kiss.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Workout Observations

Working out for an hour at a time gives you a lot of time to observe others' behavior at the gym. Enjoy.

Please stop playing your music like it's Studio 54. I don’t need to hear the “thump thump thump” of your Ipod bass from the treadmill next to me. I would say something to you, but you can't hear me as you have probably already made yourself deaf.

I appreciate the fact that you are spraying the exercise equipment down with disinfectant. But please remember that I am less than 2 feet away from you working my ass off and don’t need to be enveloped in a Bhopal-style chemical cloud.

If we are the only ones in the locker room and you just come in from lifting weights or working out, please undress or change several feet down from me as I don’t appreciate being sprayed with your sweat.

Grunting on an elliptical machine does not make me think you are “the man.” It makes me think you are "a beast." It doesn’t make you look cool either, just like an idiot.

Please don’t talk to me when I am midstride on an elliptical machine. It is not the time to chat and ask me if I saw “Resident Evil: Afterlife.” A simple “Hey Bud” will suffice.

To the gym staff, please don’t get annoyed at me if I ask why there is no hand sanitizer in the pumps. Just tell me it is on back order or whatever. I don’t need the eye roll you twentysomething “Juicy” couture-wearing tart.

I understand the reason for the twenty minute rule on the machines during peak time periods, but to the soccer mom climbing Mount Everest on the stairmaster next to me: How can you tell how much time you have left if you have covered the timer with a towel???

To these kids pumping iron with their friends: Please turn your hats around from the side and pull up your sagging gym shorts. I know that is the style but this is not the mall. (gosh I sound like a parent.)

To the couple so obviously in love working out side by side on the treadmills in front of me. The guys and girls in my row working out behind you are all thinking the same thing: Get a room, we hate you, and you will probably not last.

And lastly, why do they put the machines SO CLOSE to eachother? After working out, I go back to wipe down the machines with disinfectant and have just missed getting decapitated by an elliptical machine bar on more than one occasion.

OK, I am done. Time to work out these pent up frustrations!

Friday, March 4, 2011

The Fun Signs of Getting Older

The last couple of weeks have been stressful to say the least. John's parents have been living with us. His father, Joe, is 92, fresh off of surgery and rehab. His mother, Anne, is 89 and wants to do everything for us. I think I am going to start walker races and begin placing bets with the neighbors. Just kidding of course, it's quite obvious Anne would win every race. They are dears and I wouldn't want them anywhere else but it has been an adjustment for all four of us.

I had originally started the following blog in January. I wanted to write about the annoying changes that we all are experiencing while growing older. Well ... having an 89 and a 92 year old living with you really puts things in perspective. When you see someone just having trouble getting out of bed, a couple gray hairs or creaking joints don't seem all that serious. It has actually inspired me to go to the gym again on a steady basis so that I can finish out my 40th year in better shape than when I started it.

Nevertheless, I do want to document (still with mild annoyance, after all I am only human) the changes which I have noticed happening in the last couple years. Don't scold me for listing these as I will ignore you anyway. For the record, I know I can live with them and I do realize how lucky in life I am. It's actually interesting (in a perverse way) to see the physical changes occur. I figure if I approach them head on, rather than living in denial, it won't be so bad. Getting older is a fact of life. I do enjoy getting older in terms of the confidence and wisdom associated with it. I could do without the cracking knees, sagging body parts, or high blood pressure.

Sometimes when I wake up or get home after a long day at work, I discover that I have a one inch hair coming off of my ear lobe. I mean when did this thing grow? It seems like it pushed its way out within a space of a couple hours. I swear it wasn’t there that morning.

My body creaks in the morning. My joints ache. My knees constantly crack bending down to tie my shoes. I have intermittent lower back pain, a pinched nerve which likes to flair up when I am stressed out, and my wrists are beginning to ache from what I think (or am self diagnosing) is carpal tunnel syndrome. YAY!

I am prone to sneezing fits. I hack up phlegm and I don't smoke or have a cold.

I have started waging a war against sagging body parts. No, I will not go into detail which parts are sagging. Use your imagination.

My gums were in pain the other year and I couldn't understand why. I brush and floss and go to the dentist for all my yearly check ups. I was told that I had periodontal disease. "Luckily," my dentist said, "we have caught it in time, it's hereditary from your parents, and you've only lost 25% of you teeth enamel below the gum line."  Excuse me Doctor, WHAT DID YOU SAY?  (Luckily I passed out from the pain from the "planing" procedure to remedy the situation.)

I have high blood pressure which forever needs to be controlled with a little pill each morning. Thanks Mom! What another fun trait passed down from parents to son!

Adult acne … what the hell is up with this? Didn’t I suffer enough when I was 16? And benzoyl peroxide doesn’t do crap on these adult zits. It just makes my already drying skin peel that much faster. I will get some random zit that erupts like Mount Aetna within the space of a day. 

Dry skin patches. My hands look like crepe paper. What did Mom say? Moisturize!

I have sun spots and minor scarring from years in the sun using baby oil. And oh yes, I also have freckles. The shoulder-to-shoulder sunburn blister from my senior trip to Florida in '88 has finally showed up as a patch-work of freckles.  Lovely.

I have gray hairs sprouting up like crab grass. I don't mind them so much anymore. On men, they even look distinguished. But you get that long crazy one, that again, seems to grow overnight! It is wirey and gray and might as well have a spotlight on it because it is glaringly obvious for the world to see. They are all over: my head, my beard, my chest, ... ahem ... down there! I have stopped plucking them because at this point I am convinced they come back double.

My hairline is beginning to recede. I keep trying to convince myself that it was like that in high school, but I just never noticed it.

I think I wake up alot more at night, even when I go to bed relaxed. I seem to have become a lighter sleeper. And don't forget those 3 in the morning bathroom breaks!

On the same note, I still can't believe I used to go out at 11 PM. Now I am in bed by 11 PM, barely able to stay awake for Letterman.

The sex drive. When I go on vacation, sometimes it stays home.

Indigestion from the wierdest and simplest foods.  Applesauce?  Are you serious? I have bloating and gas from applesauce!

My eye sight is worse. I am becoming farsighted and nearsighted. My eyedoctor gleefully told me to expect bi-focals in a couple years.  Thanks Doctor "Bite Me"!

After years of wearing braces to fix my lower bite, my lower teeth have decided to begin migrating in a sort of fucked up fashion. So much for those $2000 braces. Thankfully, the toppers have stayed right where they are (fingers crossed).

My endurance had started waning. But luckily the gym is starting to reverse that. I now just have random embarassing wheezing attacks which make the young lady next to me on the elliptical machine give me a pathetic look like "Should you really be on that machine?"

I started getting winded going up to the bar for a second round.  Just kidding, not that bad. But don't ask me to run any marathons.

I don't bounce back like I used to. I used to be able to stay up late and go to work the next day. Now for an extended happy hour, I need several days recovery.

Varicose and spider veins.  Ok ... yuck! Thanks again Mom and Dad for that hereditary streak!

The impending midlife crisis. Not sure if it is happening or not. Since I am not breaking out in cold sweats or running out to buy a sports car, I think I am good so far.

And lastly, thankfully I don’t suffer from menopause, but I am sure some random sexual disfunction is only down the road!