Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Retirement: Do Dogs Ever Retire?

Did you ever wonder...

Do Dogs Ever Retire?



As I approach the fourth week of my retirement and adjust to all of the many changes, it occurs to me that our dogs have probably been affected by my retirement as well. 

I started to ponder whether or not Frederic, Mildred and Tarquin are also settling into retirement

And are they affected by the pitfalls of retirement that I am also grappling with? -  loss of identity, loss of structure, loss of purpose, depression, boredom, possible lack of personal interaction and knowing the difference between leisure and goofing off?  Frederic is certainly eligible.  In dog years, he would be 70, and the other two, both in their 30's (in dog years) should certainly be doing  their planning for retirement.

So let's start with loss of identity. 

This is often a problem for people who strongly identify with their jobs.  When someone would ask me what I did, I could easily say, " I am a librarian."  Now if someone asks me "What do you do? - what do I say?  This forces us retirees to contemplate the question, "Who am I?"

Just as I must cope with my own identity issues after having been a librarian for 40 years, likewise the dogs have their own identity issues.

If you were fans of my old library blog, you may remember Mildred's stellar performance as Hester Prynne in "The Scarlet Librarian." 





or her portrayal of The Ghost of Christmas Future in "A Christmas Carol." 


Her pointing her paw toward Scrooge's doomed future, if he didn't change his ways, was described by critics as "chilling." 


Or what about Tarquin's wonderful portrayal of Liberace in the remake of "Behind the Candelabra," which critics said rivaled Michael Douglas.



And no one can forget his hilarious turn as the rabbit "Harvey." 





Likewise Frederic, the more serious actor of the three, won accolades for his version of The Phantom in "The Phantom of the Opera. "




Now that they are no longer actors for my blog, how do they describe themselves when sniffed by a dog friend and asked "What do you do?"

 
Who am I?



Loss of Structure

In retirement, we might revel at first thinking that we can now do whatever we want whenever we want.  We don't have to report at 8am, work overtime, or take orders from anyone.  But that can pose it's own problems. 

How do we structure our days so they are meaningful?

Before I retired, the dogs' days began at 7:15am, as I would stumble down the stairs (I have never been a morning person), and they would bark their bark that said, "Give us our treat!"  

While I was at work, their days consisted of guarding the house,




eating, sleeping



 and fighting over the rope bone.



At exactly 5:15pm they would take their position at the door, start barking as I approached, and the "yay, she's home treat" was handed out.

Now that I am home all of the time, they don't know what's going to happen. 

For one thing, that morning treat doesn't happen until at least 9am, unless I have an appointment. While they try to maintain their structure of guarding the home,  I might call them to the bedroom to watch "The View" or a Lifetime movie with me.  While trying to maintain nap time, on a whim, I might get out the clicker to work on some impromptu training or tricks. They are totally thrown off their routine.

 Loss of Purpose

When one has a career, especially in the community service sphere, it is not difficult to find purpose. 

Every day at the library, I knew I was making a difference - from the many new U.S. citizens who graduated from our citizenship classes to the non-English speakers getting help with their English to the students in my computer classes, whose lives were enriched by finally mastering the computer.  I answered many questions that I knew made a difference in people's lives.  I always felt that if people really understood all of the free services available at the library, they would be beating the doors down.  Now that I don't have that daily experience, I must find a new purpose to my life.

So, too, it is for the dogs

They are no longer needed to guard the house, because I am here.  In fact it's a pain in the neck when they bark their heads off every time the FedEx truck drives by, so they get yelled at a lot for that. 

They are now no longer needed to act excited when I come home because I am always home.

They are not needed as actors in my blog, as I have decided that it is a cheap trick to use dogs and babies to get laughs.

I am more serious than that. 



So now they need to change gears and find more meaningful activities.

Depression and Boredom

Depression is a very real problem in retirement, once the "honeymoon phase" is over. 
Yes, it's great to be able to get up when I want and do what I want when I want, when for over 40 years I worked for someone else and had to adhere to a schedule.  But once that becomes the norm, then what? 

It could result in depression and boredom, as it becomes clear, this is it. 
The days spread out endlessly ahead for as long as you have left. Alcohol and substance abuse can be a problem for people as they age. 

It's no different for dogs. 
It's already a problem in our house. 

 


Lack of  Personal Interaction

This is an issue I worry about most. 

While working, it's easy to set up dates with colleagues to have a drink after work or go out to eat.  Once you are no longer one of the gang, you are often forgotten.  It's now necessary to take action to socialize, something I didn't have to do before.  Add that to the fact that we moved to Seattle 10 years ago not knowing anyone, and there is an added barrier to a social life.  Not being a big joiner, I have had to make an effort to get out there with my fellow humans. 

For the dogs, they have hardly ever socialized with other dogs, mostly because when I was working I liked to stay home on my time off.  OK, I was just too lazy to take them out that much, because they are not very well behaved.

Frederic routinely snarls at other dogs and talks smack, which is something relatively new.  I think retirement also makes you crabby. 

Tarquin and Mildred are OK, but once when we took them all to a huge dog park in Seattle and they were off leash, they stuck by our sides at all times. They didn't interact with the other dogs at all.  So in their retirement, making an effort to socialize will also be important for the dogs.  Not sure how I will transport them to their dates.

How To Know the Difference Between Leisure and Goofing Off

And then there is the whole issue of what is meaningful leisure and what is just goofing off and wasting time?

Is this leisure or goofing off?



What about this?

 


What?  Oh, ...Mildred, Freddy and Tarquin want to weigh in.

"Retirement? We are here to say that living with this nut job, we will never get to retire. 

We could be innocently sipping a glass of wine




 or drinking out of the toilet



and Mistress Rosy gets an idea for a photo op. 

Then we have to drop everything and obey.  Geez. 

If we ever have to wear a funny hat again or dress up as a film or book character, it will be too soon! "


Frederic, Mildred and Tarquin the Reviewers say....
 
DO DOGS EVER RETIRE?  HELL, NO!"


Well, there you have it from the horse's...er...dog's mouths.

Do dogs ever retire?
 
Not really. Even for working dogs like police and service dogs, when their working years are over, they still have purpose, the most important one: loving and bringing joy to their guardians and their loved ones.



So too is it for humans.  We may be retired from our jobs, but we are not retired from life. Our most fulfilling purpose in life is giving and receiving love and bringing joy to those around us. 



If we can do that, all of the other pitfalls of retirement fall away.

How are you coping with retirement? 

And your dogs?





Rosy the Reviewer's Week in Review



Films
"I watch the bad ones so you don't have to."



Resident Evil: Retribution


This is a perfect case of putting a movie on my Netflix list after seeing the preview.  The preview made it look exciting. Instead it was a cartoon.  I rarely give up on a film, no matter how bad it is, but this...couldn't finish it.  And you shouldn't either unless you like watching video games, instead of playing them.

Rosy the Reviewer says...Unwatchable.





The Incredible Burt Wonderstone



Rosy the Reviewer says...Not going to win any awards, but a lot of fun.  Jim Carrey is always a gas.



Carol Channing, Larger than Life



Documentary about this theatre legend.  At 89, she is the same irrepressible spirit.  Particularly fun is her marriage to her childhood sweetheart after a 40+ year unhappy marriage.  They knew each other in middle school and found each other in their 80's!

Rosy the Reviewer says...she is the originator of "Diamonds are a Girl's Best Friend" in the play version of "Gentlemen Prefer Blondes."

Here she is still singing it!







Cheshire Murders

HBO film about this true crime house invasion that resulted in the grisly deaths of a family.  Hard to watch but a serious examination of how something like this could occur and why it wasn't prevented.

Rosy the Reviewer says...it's a tough story to relive but an important one.  There is evil in the world and we need to be aware of it.



Love and Honor

 
A nice showcase for Liam Hemsworth and a fair depiction of what it was like to be a college student in the late 60's and in love with a soldier fighting in Vietnam.  I should know -- I lived it.

Rosy the Reviewer says...a notch above the usual Nicholas Sparks type fare.


Daylight

 


Rosy the Reviewer says....Very interesting little indie thriller that is all the more scary as it all plays out in the light of day.



The Pact


Three African American young men from Newark, N.J. make a pact to become doctors.  Inspiring true tale of Sampson, George and Ramick, three friends growing up in a neighborhood where many of their friends were involved in drug dealing, gangs or were in prison.  These three young men made a pact that they would help keep other in school, graduate from college and become doctors.  And this inspiring documentary tells how they overcame the odds (their high school had a 50% drop-out rate) and did it.  They are not doctors and tour the country as "The Three Doctors," giving motivational speeches.

Rosy the Reviewer says...look for it because it is worth seeing and will inspire you.


Food

Highly recommend Seattle restaurant Lola. Colleagues from work gave me a gift certificate to any Tom Douglas restaurant as my "parting gift" and we chose Lola.  Tom Douglas is one of our celebrity chefs and owns many restaurants.  He won a James Beard Award in 2012 for Best Restauranteur. In 2005 he competed on Iron Chef America and beat Chef Mirimoto.  Lola is named after his grandmother and features Mediterranean cuisine. Loved the pita bread with the various sauces, the succulent lamb, the squid and chicken kabobs and his signature "donuts" for dessert.

Rosy the Reviewer says... Even if you are retired, you should treat yourself to fine dining at least once per month and when I say fine dining, I don't mean Olive Garden or Outback Steakhouse, sorry.

Fashion

This isn't exactly fashion, but I have discovered the greatest shoes to wear for my Zumba class.  I am enjoying the Zumba class, as it's a fun way to get some exercise.  Anyway, these shoes were recommeneded by the instructor and are actually dance sneakers by Bloch, very flexible in the middle of the sole for all of those twists and turns we need to do as we samba, mambo and moonwalk all over the place.  I got mine at Amazon.

Fun

Books

Bouncing Back, Rewiring Your Brain for Maximum Resilience and Well-Being by Linda Graham



This is an interesting take on creating mindfulness, something I am working on developing.

Rosy the Reviewer says...mindfulness is a helpful skill to get the most out of life.  Remember, this moment right now is IT.  Try to live it.


VJ: The Unplugged Adventures of MTV's First Wave by Gavin Edwards.



Nina Blackwood, Mark Goodman, Alan Hunter, and Martha Quinn (remember them?), the original MTV VJs, give us an insider's view on what was happening backstage at MTV in its infancy.

Rosy the Reviewer says...nonfiction oral histories are a particular favorite and this one will delight the "children of the 80's."


Theatre

Pirates of Penzance



You may not know this, but I read that the top three theatre towns in all of the U.S. are New York, Chicago and Seattle, in that order. 

Seattle is rife with live theatre and this production was a perfect example of the caliber of actors and productions we are privy to.  The 5th Avenue Theatre  provides a combination of local talent and touring companies, and this show was a local production featuring local actors we have come to recognize.  And they are wonderful. Here's a little factoid:  Did you know the tune for "Hail, Hail the Gang's All Here," is from this Gilbert and Sullivan show?  Different words, but a highlight of the show.

Rosy the Reviewer says ... support the local theatre in your town.  Most towns of any size have local theatres or access to them and what a wonderful, fun way to get out and mingle with your fellow humans.  Live theatre is a kind of church - everyone comes together for a spiritual experience, and it's a great way to keep up your personal interaction in retirement.

**********

Final thoughts: Some definitions of the word "retire," are "withdraw," "retreat," "recede."  Even though we withdraw, retreat and recede from our jobs, we never want to withdraw, retreat or recede from life or our loved ones.  Read, watch movies, keep up on current events, go to the theatre, symphony and concerts, eat fine food, exercise and stay close to your families and your retirement will turn into your best years! 

The dogs concur.


So as Shakespeare's Henry the V said, "Once more onto the breach, dear friends..." the dogs and I are off for a walk on this beautiful Pacific NW day. 

See you next week.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Why The Beatles Matter

 
[I review the movies "Stoker," "Tuesday after Christmas," "Jack the Giant Slayer," "Road to Nowhere" and comment on food, fashion and fun.]


But first
 
Why the Beatles Matter









In my bedroom - 1964


It's 1964

 I am almost 16 years old. Like many kids my age, I am mad for The Beatles. 

On Fridays at school, we would talk about the new song that WLS in Chicago played the night before.  We would stay up for it.  (They always played the new single on Thursday nights at 11pm).

We dreamed of marrying Paul.  Well, I did, anyway.  But I never thought I would ever get to see him.  He lived all the way over in England, in Liverpool.  How would I get there?

And then it happened. 

I read in the paper or maybe it was "Tiger Beat," whatever...The Beatles were coming to Detroit in six months to play at the Olympia Stadium! 

I sent for tickets immediately.  No matter that I had no idea how I would get there.  I didn't have my driver's license yet, my Mom didn't drive, my Dad was always working, and we lived clear across the state from Detroit.  But I would find a way.  I had to.  My destiny awaited. 

My friend, Janice, was also a fan and Janice's older brother somehow knew the daughter of the manager of the Olympia Stadium, so he threw out the possibility of our getting backstage to meet them. Are you kidding me?  I just knew that if I met Paul he would look into my eyes, see what an interesting and sincere person I was, and my fate would be sealed.

 THIS HAD TO HAPPEN!  

So Janice and I hatched a plan to get her parents to take us.  And this was no easy task.  It was a long journey in those days and we would have to stay in a hotel, etc. We begged, we cajoled, we put on a talent show for them, we pulled out all of the stops until they said yes. When the tickets arrived, I noticed the seats were in row XX.  Even at that young age, I knew those were crap seats, but I didn't care.  I would see my idols. 

When we arrived in Detroit, we escaped the confines of the adults and headed out to find the Fab 4. We had heard a rumor that they were at a certain hotel, so we headed over there.  There was  a suspicious bus parked in the back of the hotel, so we decided this must be their getaway vehicle.  Didn't matter that we were the only ones who had figured this out and never mind that the bus driver had this silly smirk on his face when we tried to get him to divulge information.  He played along, probably enjoying flirting with a couple of young girls.

And then, just when we were certain we had sussed the Beatles out and they would be making their way to the Stadium via this bus, right in front of us....

THEY WENT BY IN A MOTORCADE A BLOCK UP THE STREET! 

Foiled.  No matter.  We still had our tickets and the promise that perhaps we would meet them backstage. 

The day of the concert arrived.  We dressed in our 60's finery and arrived at the Stadium, tickets clutched in our sweaty little hands.  Anticipation was high!

 
This is how I might have looked.  This outfit was on the cover of "Seventeen" magazine.  Note the matching skirt and beret. How I happened to have it is another story (and remember this is the early 60's.  Hippies didn't exist yet.  We were still wearing white gloves in 1964, and believe it or not, my mother did not allow me to wear jeans!)  I think I also ironed my hair.

As we handed our tickets to the ticket taker ready to run in and grab our seats, he looked at the tickets and said, "Sorry, kids, there are no such seats as those.  Those seats don't exist!" 

WHAT??????? 

He then said, "So we can refund your tickets." 

NOOOOOOO!!!! 

I think he realized he had  two teenage girls who were about to hit him with their bucket purses and go on a rampage, so he said, "OR you can go sit up in the press box." 

YES, YES, YES...WHERE IS THE PRESS BOX? 

And off we went to the press box, which hung halfway down the side of the stadium, much better than what our bogus seats would have been had those seats existed (SIDENOTE:  I clearly bought tickets from a scammer, who had no compunction about ruining a young teenage girl's life, so there were bad guys even back in the good old days.) 

So there we were, up in the press box with about 50 others, feeling pretty smug and proud of ourselves.  There were even a couple of guys sitting in front of us who were sporting Beatles' haircuts and clothes.  All of a sudden, when one of them, who was trying to look like Ringo, stood up, a girl down on the floor spotted him, pointed and yelled "Ringo!" At that moment, thousands of young faces turned to look up in our direction and a stampede of young girls ensued.  Before we knew it, the press box was swaying and bouncing.  The ushers quickly locked the gate leading into the press box and spent a good while trying to convince the girls who had made it up the stairs, and who were crying and pressing their noses up against the chain link gate, that the guy in the press box was not Ringo.  When they finally believed him and went back to their seats, the usher went over to the Ringo impersonator and said to him, "Don't you dare get up again. If you do, you are out!"

The show opened with Jackie de Shannon
 (Remember "What the World Needs Now (Is Love Sweet Love)?")


 followed by The Blossoms.

While they were performing, I turned my binoculars over toward the entrance to the stadium where the Beatles would be coming out and noticed an arm leaning up against the wall.  The arm sported an ID bracelet which was a  popular item at the time. 

"Paul wears an ID bracelet," I thought.  "PAUL!" 

I watched that arm throughout the entire first two acts. 

And when it came time for the Beatles to enter the stadium, that arm came out attached to Paul!

The Beatles performed for exactly 20 minutes.  I know this because there had been much made in the press about the fact they were getting $20,000 for their performance, $1000 a minute, which everyone thought was just outrageous! 

And of course we couldn't hear a thing. 

Everyone was screaming from the moment the Fab 4 came out until they left the stage.  Janice and I had decided that we were not like those other girls.  We were more mature and sophisticated.  No screaming and crying for us.  But when Paul sang "All My Loving," I turned into the screaming mimi I really was.

Turns out there was no backstage invite, so I didn't get to meet Paul, but being able to see them perform, even if I couldn't really hear them, was a highlight of my young life, because the Beatles really mattered to me. 

Years later, I did get to Liverpool.

 
Paul's Family Home

 
Strawberry Field

 
Cavern Club

 
Penny Lane
 
And can I ask - what the hell was I wearing? 
It was the 90's - what can I say?


So the Beatles mattered then...

And the Beatles matter still...

They brought England out of the shadows of the deprivation that came with the end of WW II and created hope and enthusiasm for the future.  America was in mourning for President Kennedy and needed a lift.  With their "long" hair, Carnaby Street attire and music that came from the American black rhythm and blues they so admired, The Beatles inspired my generation to throw off the strictures of conformity and head into the future knowing we could do anything.  It was a time of promise for us young Baby Boomers, and the joy and cheekiness the Beatles exuded spilled over onto us and made us hope and dream for more.  Goodbye "Man in the Grey Flannel Suit" and the subservient housewife.  Hello freedom and equality.

Flash forward 49 years. 

Getting to the stadium to see Paul was almost as difficult as it had been 49 years ago (traffic, lines, crowds), but at least my ticket wasn't a fake.

 

 And there he was last Friday night at Safeco Field in Seattle. 

 Paul McCartney.
 

A 71 year old man, richer than Croesus (as my mother used to say, when describing someone richer than we were), but not sitting on his laurels as a Beatle, one of the most influential rock bands in history.  He clearly still enjoyed performing and playing and now he was being enjoyed by, not just us Baby Boomers, but also our children and grandchildren. 


He performed for three hours straight, rocking around the stage like a young man, voice still intact, obviously enjoying what he was doing, jamming with the remaining members of Nirvana during his encores.  

And as I looked around I could see that everyone there was in awe. 

 
Look at those faces.
 
Paul McCartney. Beatle.  Fantastic musician. He had mattered to them too.  You could see it on their faces. They all had a story to tell like mine. The Beatles had mattered to their generation, later generations and will to future generations. 

All of my feelings and memories from 49 years ago came back and I realized, I may be 65 now, but it's still a time of promise for this aging Baby Boomer. 

I can still do anything.

Do you have a favorite Beatles memory?






Rosy the Reviewer's
Week in Review
(and it's been a busy week)!




Films:

As a side note, I get my films from top 100 lists, but that doesn't mean there aren't some stinkers in there, especially when you hit 88 or so on the list. 
I watch the bad ones so you don't have to!





Stoker

Speaking of bad ones, this is definitely one of those movies where the preview was better than the film itself. 
After having seen the preview for this many times,  I was really looking forward to it, only to be disappointed. 


Rosy the Reviewer says... In fact, I thought it was almost unwatchable.







Tuesday after Christmas



If you can't abide subtitles, you had better skip this one.  And if you don't like sex and nudity, ditto. Though I don't consider myself easily shocked, this is what I looked like after the first scene. 
Just kidding. 
But you had better also skip it if you don't like  movies where nothing happens for the first hour.

Rosy the Reviewer says...But if you can get past that, this Romanian film is a cinema verite character study of a man and the two women he loves and the secrets that lie beneath the mundaneness of life.  Very raw and painful. The acting is superb.






Jack the Giant Slayer


This one was lots of fun. 

Rosy the Reviewer says...If you are a lover of fantasy, highly recommended.  If you are a lover of Ewan McGregor, so am I!





Road to Nowhere


Though director Hellman is considered by many as an overlooked auteur and this is his first film in 40 years:

Rosy the Reviewer says...this film within a film is aptly titled:  it should have been the road not taken for me.






Food:
When you are attending a concert attended by 45,000 people don't assume you can walk into a restaurant and sit at the bar (which you can usually do most nights).  But fortunately, after wandering hungrily around near Safeco Field, Il Terrazzo Carmine took pity on us and we were able to secure a seat at the bar, where I think I had the best Caesar salad of my life and the most delicious crab bruschetta (and people, it's pronounced "brewsketta," not "brushetta," just so you know).


This picture doesn't do the bruschetta justice especially since it looks like hubby had already taken a bite out of one of them!






Fashion:

For fall, leopard is the new black.  Trust me.






Fun:

Though the Paul McCartney concert was the main event of the week, the night before we attended an outdoor "Music at the Marina" concert with our friend Karin starring the "Dusty 45's", a local rockabilly group that has recently been touring all over the country.  If they come your way, they are worth a look especially when lead singer Billy Jo Huells sets his trumpet on fire and plays it!



We are working our way through the book Seattle Stairway Walks by Jake and Cathy Jaramillo.  This last weekend we toured the Mount Baker neighborhood.  We are discovering neighborhoods in Seattle we didn't know about and getting exercise the same time.  Ninety minutes, 2.5 miles, 300+ steps up, 500+ steps down and many hills, but for me this is one of the most fun ways to get exercise.  Plus it's beautiful. 

You might not have stairs to climb in your town but there could be guidebooks for walks around your area and you can discover some new places and get some exercise at the same time.










As for books, I was into cults this week, though some would probably argue that Scientology is not a cult.  I have always been fascinated with the line between religion and fanaticism.







Banished, Surviving My Years in the Westboro Baptist Church by Lauren Drain.




Escapee from the Westboro Baptist group.  Those are the folks that picket soldiers' funerals, etc. saying God hates them. This sheds some light on where that all came from, though it still doesn't make much sense, which is probably why this person left the group.  

Rosy the Reviewer says...In general, these people are crazy.




Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood & the Prison of Belief  by Lawrence Wright.
A really excellent look inside the world of Scientology.  It explores what constitutes a religion and whether Scientology is in fact a religion and deserves the constitutional protections of the IRS.

Rosy the Reviewer says...Recommended, if you care about this sort of thing.




Beyond Belief, My Secret Life in Scientology and My Harrowing Escape by Jenna Miscavige Hill. 


A more personal look inside Scientology by another escapee, the niece of David Miscavige, Scientology's leader

Rosy the Reviewer says....Again, crazy.




Well that's Rosy the Reviewer's Week in Review. 
 
 Now pull out those Beatles records and get inspired!